Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

Need Exposure for Your Screenplay? Enter a Contest, Says Screenwriter Doug Richardson

There’s so much hard work that goes into your screenplay, and when you’re finally done, you want someone to SEE it! Easier said than done. “Someone” usually doesn’t include your friends and family members. They’ll tell you it’s great, and you won’t believe them. And rightfully so, because unless your friends know a thing or two about movie-making, they may not know how to spot a good script when they see one. Writing a screenplay is a journey, and the key to improving your writing is often rewriting. To get feedback, and determine where you fall in the pack, you’re going to need a subjective third party.

There is probably no simpler way to find eyes for your screenplay than to enter a contest (unless you’re one of those lucky people that knows people, of course!). And while all screenplay contests are not created equal, the result is usually the same - exposure.

“Anything that gets you exposure as a screenwriter, gets you read, and gets you feedback is a valuable endeavor,” Screenwriter and Author Doug Richardson told us.

Doug is the screenwriter behind movies including “Hostage” with Bruce Willis, “Die Hard 2,” “Bad Boys” with Martin Lawrence and Will Smith, and the Lucky Dey thriller series of books.

“Getting your screenplay into a competition and finding out where you are on the ladder, where you came in, did you win, did you not? That’s valuable feedback.”

“Exposure is extraordinarily important. And getting read is very important, whether it’s by a script consultant or someone who’s going to give you really honest feedback or a bunch of faceless judges in a screenplay competition,” he added.

So, where do you begin? First, understand the difference between screenwriting mentoring programs and fellowships and contests.  

Screenwriting Mentoring Programs and Fellowships

Submissions to mentoring programs should be treated more like a job application than a competition. Mentoring programs typically involve a small group of chosen writers (often TV writers) who are paired with executives to work on new material for the company that’s sponsoring the fellowship (i.e. HBO, Disney, Universal). They’ll also learn the ins and outs of the business, kind of like an internship. Sometimes these programs pay, and sometimes they don’t. Programs can last from a few weeks to a year or more, and successful fellowships often result in a permanent job or representation. Sometimes, it’s free to submit, as is the case with the Nickelodeon Writing Program and the Disney / ABC Writing Program.

Screenwriting Contest

Contests are almost always “pay to play,” with a few exceptions. And, you can pay more than the price of entry for extra stuff, like notes or scores on your script. If you win a prestigious and competitive contest, you could gain a massive amount of exposure. Plus, the laurel always looks great and adds to your credibility.

MovieBytes.com has a great list of top fellowships and contests. We asked Doug if he had any favorites, and he listed Nicholl Fellowship, Script Pipeline, PAGE Awards, Sundance Lab, and Slamdance, “aside from the best competition being that of getting your movie made,” he said.

Ah yes, that’s the hardest competition with the best prize of them all!

Let the competition begin,

You may also be interested in...

3 Ways to Write a Phone Conversation in a Traditional Screenplay

3 Ways to Write a Phone Conversation in a Traditional Screenplay, According to Screenwriter Doug Richardson

When is a phone call not just a phone call? When you have to show it, not tell it. There are at least three different scenarios to consider when you want to insert a telephone conversation in your screenplay. We asked Screenwriter Doug Richardson (“Bad Boys,” “Hostage,” “Die Hard 2”) how he approaches telephone conversations in his screenplays, and he said there are three things to consider: Are we seeing and hearing only one character? Are we seeing only one character, but hearing at least two? Are we seeing and hearing both characters? Give this some thought: It may be important to see both...
How to Write a Screenplay With Little or No Dialogue, According to Screenwriter Doug Richardson

Return to Silence: How to Write a Screenplay With Little to No Dialogue

From shorts to features, there are entire films made today that have little to no dialogue. And the screenplays for these films are often the perfect example of what a screenplay should be, a demonstration of showing and not telling. We asked Screenwriter Doug Richardson (“Bad Boys,” “Die Hard 2,” “Hostage”) what he believes are the keys to success when writing a screenplay with little to no dialogue. “Oh, that’s very simple,” he told us. “How to write a screenplay with little or no dialogue, and how to keep the reader engaged? It’s a very simple thing. Tell a story that makes the reader want to turn...
Screenwriter pay

How Much Money Does a Screenwriter Make? We Asked 5 Professional Writers

For most, writing is less of a job and more of a passion. But wouldn’t it be ideal if we could all make a living in a field that we are passionate about? It’s not impossible to get paid to do what you love, if you’re willing to accept the reality: there’s not much stability for writers who choose this path. We asked five expert writers how much money the average writer can expect to earn. The answer? Well, it’s as diverse as the backgrounds of our experts. Per the Writers Guild of America West, the minimum amount a screenwriter can be paid for a low budget (less than $5 million) feature-length film...

Comments