Regular Deadline: Sept. 17
Costs: Teleplay (30 Minutes), $40; Teleplay (60 Minutes), $45; Short Film, $40; Feature, $55.
Details: Now in its 17th year, Cinequest’s screenwriting competition is part of a San Jose festival that combines Hollywood’s love of cinema with Silicon Valley’s embrace of innovation, with an emphasis on technological breakthroughs. Neil Gaiman calls it “a perfect film festival in a glorious place.” And it’s one of our 15 Submission-Worthy Screenwriting Competitions of 2021. Feature winners receive an $8,000 prize, a yearlong ISAConnect membership, the chance to have the script read by top producers and writers, a free listing on the InkTip Executive Index, an invitation to the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival, and an invitation to Storytelling Celebration, which includes special events and panels, as well as discounts on accommodation to the festival. If you miss the regular deadline, you can still hit the Late Deadline (Oct. 8), Extended Deadline (Nov. 5), or Super Extended Deadline (Nov. 30).
Final Draft Big Break
Regular Deadline: Sept. 21
Like a good script, the Final Draft Big Break rules are clean and concise. What else would you expect from a contest hosted by the industry’s premiere screenwriting software? Eleven winners will share in more than $100,000 in cash and prizes, and perhaps even better, receive the New York Film Academy Fellowship — a 12-week master class in which they will receive individual instruction and mentoring. Other cool prizes include an hourlong webinar with screenwriting career coach Lee Jessup, and three months of The Black List hosting. Feature writers can compete in the categories of Action/Adventure, Comedy/Rom-Com, Diversity, Drama, Family/Animated, Period/Historical/War, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and Thriller/Horror, and TV writers can compete for Half-Hour Pilot, Hour-Long Pilot, and Diversity Pilot. Our favorite rule: “Any entries over 150 pages WILL BE DISQUALIFIED.” As you may have guessed, Final Draft Big Break is also on our list of 15 Submission-Worthy Screenwriting Competitions of 2021. If you miss the Sept. 21 deadline, you can aim for the Oct. 19 Extended Deadline ($65) or Nov. 9 Last Chance Deadline ($75).
Regular Deadline: Sept. 30
Costs: Short film, $40; Pilot, $50; Feature, $60
Details: Another of our 15 Submission-Worthy Screenwriting Competitions of 2021, the Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition is part of a widely acclaimed spring festival that presents 200 works each year, drawing from more than 9,400 submissions from more than 50 countries. The screenplay competition was added in 2008, and winners have included James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now, The End of the Tour, Smashed, The Circle), Stella Meghie (The Photograph, American Princess) and Mike Makowsky (I Think We’re Alone Now, Bad Education). Feature winners receive $500, a travel stipend and three nights of accommodation to the festival, exclusive access to its annual Atlanta Film Festival Screenwriters Retreat, an all-access festival badge, and the chance to take part in a staged reading of the screenplay. If you can’t make the Sept. 30 deadline, you can make the Nov. 4 or Nov. 18 deadlines, but prices go up.
Regular Deadline: Sept. 30
Screencraft has competitions year-round in different genres or categories, but fall is perfect for horror writing. And Gabourey Sidibe will soon make her feature directorial debut with last year’s winning script, Pale Horse, by Asabi Lee and Paul Hart-Wilden. While no one can promise your script will be made, Screncraft Horror does give the winner introductions to literary managers, executives, or producers, acceptance into the ScreenCraft Writer Development Program, $1,000, a badge for the ScreenCraft Virtual Summit, and a lifetime subscription to Arc Studio Pro. The judges include A Quiet Place writers Scott Beck and Bryan Woods and Blumhouse executive Disney Hall. You can also add feedback and enter for the reasonable price of $119. Again, we always recommend signing up for feedback, especially early on in the process. Your friends don’t want to do it — they’d rather remain your friends. Also if you miss the Sept. 30 deadline you technically have until the Oct. 31 Final Deadline but why not spend that day with those friends you still have?
Final Deadline: Sept. 30
Sometimes if you’re script doesn’t win screenwriting competitions, you can just tell yourself the judges didn’t know what they were talking about. That isn’t the case here. The judges include representatives of AMC, 21st Century Fox, and Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad productions, as well as Chris Van Dusen, creator of Netflix’s most-watched series, Bridgerton. They’ll all consider you for mentorship if you win, and you’ll also receive $1,000, introductions to literary managers, executives, or producers, acceptance into the ScreenCraft Development Program, a badge or the 2022 Screencraft virtual summit. Hm, that sounds familiar. Feedback and entry is $139 which, again, feels worth it.