logo

Top 10 Screenplay Contests to Boost Your Career in 2020

We all know that winning or placing in a screenwriting contest can be a great way for new and emerging writers to get that important first foot on the ladder, but not all contests are created equal, meaning that different contests can open different doors for you, and some don’t open any doors at all. 

To help you plan your 2020 contest submissions, we’ve looked at the wide spectrum of feature contests happening this year and broken them down into two categories. The first looks at the biggest and the best. These guys have been around for a while and placing in any of these contests is probably enough in itself to put you and your writing on industry radars. The downside is that they’re highly competitive, meaning that your chances of success can be slim, so we’ve also created a secondary category looking at up and coming contests, which may be lesser well known, but still offer great prizes that can also get you to the top of the career ladder faster.

At Shore Scripts, we’re one of the dedicated few contests who want to see our winners get their projects produced and start careers rolling, and without blowing our trumpet too loudly, not only are our winning scripts read by our 47 OSCAR & BAFTA Winning Judges, but we’ve already helped 65+ Writers gain representation, option, sell, and have their screenplays produced thanks to our Roster of 120+ Production Companies as well as our Roster of 70+ Directors from around the world. In only two short months of announcing the winners of 2019’s contest, we’ve already had two of those scripts purchased by our roster members. This year we will be increasing our feature prizes to a $10,000 Grand Prize as well as offering 7 x $1,000 for the top genre scripts in the feature contest! For full details on all of our prizes and how to enter click here.

Now let’s take a look at this year’s top contests.

TOP 5 ESTABLISHED CONTESTS

 

NICHOLL FELLOWSHIP

Sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, this contest is regarded as one of the best screenwriting competitions in the world and has one of the highest cash prizes on offer.

 

Key Points

  • The accolade that comes from placing in this contest is probably worth more to your career than the cash prize.
  • Fellowship recipients are expected to complete at least one original feature film screenplay during the fellowship year.
  • As of 2013, 17 winning scripts have later been produced.

Notable Prizes

  • Up to five $35,000 fellowships are awarded each year to promising screenwriters.

Read more about the contest here.


 

AUSTIN SCREENWRITING COMPETITION

In conjunction with the Austin Film Festival, the contest attracts up to 7000 submissions per year.

 

Key Points

  • Free reader comments on every submission.
  • Discounts to one of the biggest parties of the year for screenwriters at the Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Conference.

Notable Prizes

  • Awards range from $1000-$5000 per winner plus reimbursement of roundtrip airfare up to $500 and hotel reimbursement at the Film Festival up to $500.

Read more about the contest here.


 

SCREENCRAFT

There’s a genre category to suit just about every writer at this professionally run contest/media consultancy.

 

Key Points

  • There are 13 separate genre categories including short scripts, stage plays, tv pilots, and books.
  • There’s also a film fund and a screenwriting fellowship that writers can apply to as well.
  • Past winners have gone on to

Notable Prizes

– Prizes range from category to category but all include a cash prize.

– Introductions and phone consultations with top Hollywood literary managers, agents, and/or studio executives and producers.

Read more about the contest here.


 

LAUNCH PAD 

Tracking Board has an impressive list of success stories stemming from its seven-year run.

Key Points

  • The teamwork to promote the winner via their hungrily awaited published booklets, best script lists, and industry announcements.
  • They help prepare winners for representation meetings, pitch meetings, and generals, helping you to craft additional works.
  • They track every read of your script, letting you know who’s reading your script and when.

Notable Prizes

  • The winner is flown to L.A. for an exclusive Launch Pad Industry event featuring dozens of industry professionals.
  • Both writers and scripts are showcased individually to agents, managers, executives, and producers looking for new clients.
  • Free Studio Coverage from the Launch Pad Coverage Program.

Read more about the contest here.


 

AMERICAN ZOETROPE 

While the cash prize isn’t particularly high, the doors that this contest can open are significant.

Key Points

  • Established by Francis Ford Coppola himself, who better to have as a champion for your script?
  • There are often some major league guest judges on board such as David Benioff, who are involved in judging the different contest categories.
  • Averaging around 1600 entries per year, the odds of winning are better than other major contests.

Notable Prizes

  • $5,000 cash is nothing to sniff at!
  • The winner and nine honorable mentions will be considered for representation by select agencies and their scripts will be considered for film options and development by leading production companies.

Read more about the contest here.

 

TOP 5 UP & COMING CONTESTS

 

SHOOT YOUR SIZZLE

As well as running seven genre screenplay competitions, Emerging Screenwriters offers writers the chance to have a proof of concept filmed to help promote their screenplay.

 

Key Points

  • The contest offers to produce a sizzle or scene for your feature/pilot script.
  • Initiated by the International Screenwriters’ Association, winners will receive an ISA development slate invitation.
  • Writers don’t need to be/or have a director to apply.

Notable Prizes

  • $5000 in cash plus Production and Post Production Services to the value of $27,500.
  • Mentoring from Production Consultants worth $7,500.
  • Screening and exposure of the final Sizzle.

Read more about the contest here.


 

FRESH VOICES 

This consultancy run contest has possibly gone under your radar, but the prizes on offer make this one you should definitely take a look at.

Key Points

  • The competition in its 10th year is heavily focused on career development.
  • They’ve helped dozens of writers secure literary representation, option agreements, and other work-for-hire writing assignments.

Notable Prizes

  • Fresh Voices offers Screenplay & Career Consultation for the winner.
  • Promises Industry Reads & Meetings.
  • 1-year subscriptions to InkTip, iPitch.TV, & Moviebytes

Read more about the contest here.


 

WESCREENPLAY

As well as a seasoned feature, short, and pilot contest, WeScreenplay also offers a Diverse Voices lab aimed at encouraging stories that are told from perspectives that are often underrepresented in Hollywood today.

Key Points

  • Every entry receives written feedback from its first-round judge.
  • Past WeScreenplay winners have optioned their projects, developed work with producers, and been signed by places like Heroes and Villains, Industry Entertainment, Zero Gravity, and more.

Notable Prizes

  • The top scripts will be considered by their industry jury which includes Hollywood producers, agents, and managers.

Read more about the contest here.


 

TABLE READ MY SCREENPLAY

Another contest that’s often missed, but the unique prize makes this well worth the effort.

 

 

Key Points

  • Having your script read aloud by professional actors can be a fantastic help to your writing.
  • Prior to the Table Read Showcase, an established director will personally meet with the winner to workshop the script.
  • The live table read is also recorded and broadcast on the ISA’s Curious About Screenwriting Network.

Notable Prizes

  • Cash, Flights, & Lodgings are also provided.
  • An invitation onto the ISA Development Slate where the team will work with the winner for a minimum of 1 year to get the writer and script in front of industry execs.
  • Career coaching from Lee Jessup.

Read more about the contest here.


 

CINEQUEST

This film festival isn’t exactly new, but the access it can provide emerging writers is growing.

Key Points

  • Finalists are presented alongside high profile Maverick Spirit awardees like J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, Chuck Palahniuk, Neil Gaiman, Philip Kaufman, Michael Arndt, Diablo Cody, Dennis Lehane, Jason Reitman and more.
  • Contestants can receive 3 lines of consolidated reader feedback on their script if requested.

Notable Prizes

  • $5,000 cash prize.
  • Invitation to the Cinequest Film & VR Festival with two Artist festival passes (passes valued at $1,000)
  • Exclusive invitation to Writers Celebration, which includes an opportunity to connect with industry leaders, Pitch Training & Challenge to a panel of industry powerhouses, and an inspiring Maverick Spirit luminary event.

Read more about the contest here.