Like many screenwriters, I've entered my fair share of screenwriting competitions. Screenwriting competitions can be an excellent way for writers breaking into the industry to network, gain access to opportunities they wouldn't have otherwise, and even earn money. If you're a writer looking for new scriptwriting contests to enter, then you've come to the right place! Here are my top five favorite scriptwriting contests!
Austin Film Festival
This is one of the largest screenplay competitions out there! Austin has multiple categories, including features, shorts, teleplays, digital series, podcast scripts, playwriting, and a pitch competition. All entrants receive free reader comments, which are a brief but thoughtful summary of the readers' overall notes on your script. Second-rounders, semifinalists, and finalists have the opportunity to attend exclusive panels, script reading workshops, and roundtable discussions. Attending the festival is a unique, one-of-a-kind networking opportunity worth the price, in my opinion.
ScreenCraft offers an impressive array of contests including animation, drama, horror, sci-fi and fantasy, TV pilot, and action and adventure. ScreenCraft's website describes their contests as "competitions that build careers" and aim to find talented writers and connect them with managers, agents, and producers. They also offer a Fellowship Program that has helped many of the participants find representation.
International Screenwriter's Association
I should preface this by saying I am one of the ISA Fast Track X Fellows, so I've experienced first-hand how beneficial the ISA's contests can be!
Their Fast Track Fellowship is an incredible opportunity for the chosen fellows to be mentored by eight top-level agents, managers, producers, and executives during a week of meetings. After that, the fellows are invited onto the ISA's Development Slate for support and industry championing by the ISA for a full year.
Joining the ISA's membership will also allow you to enter the other competitions they host and have partnered with.
Probably the best known and most prestigious of scriptwriting contests, the Nicholl Fellowship is presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (which also hosts that little award show called The Oscars each year). Yearly, the Nicholl Fellowship awards up to five $35,000 fellowships. Winners participate in awards week ceremonies and seminars and will complete one feature film during their fellowship year. Keep in mind this competition is for features only.
WeScreenplay hosts four annual competitions; a features contest, a shorts contest, a television contest, and their Diverse Voices Lab. Their Diverse Voices Lab is an excellent opportunity for underrepresented writers. It provides winners with a trip to LA for mentorship and industry meetings. They also have a very reliable and thorough coverage service that I've personally used and found extremely helpful.
I hope I was able to introduce you to some new screenwriting competitions, as well as give you more information about some popular ones! Each of these contests offers incredible and unique opportunities to the writers entering them. Happy writing, and good luck with your screenplay competition entries!