Screenwriting competitions offer more than a shiny trophy or fancy certificate written in calligraphy. There are many reasons to enter a screenplay contest, and feedback on your script is one of them. Getting written feedback from an objective third party can help you take your screenwriting skills to the next level, offer insight you never considered before, and help you to understand where gaps may exist in your story. Then, if you enter a screenwriting competition again, you may be in the running to win!
He explained further why it’s essential to strategize which screenplay contests to enter based on this feedback criteria.
So, if you want to be ready to go, he suggests running your screenplays through one or more competitions first. It’s really a twofer: you get a chance to win something, and you get constructive criticism.
Some screenwriting competitions charge you to enter and then charge MORE for coverage. Many writers are already stretched thin enough, so we rounded up a list of screenwriting contests with the cred and the coverage, all for one reasonable price ($60-$80 is typical).
As a reminder:
Screenplay feedback offers more real-time advice from the reader as they’re reading your script, sometimes written in the margins or provided as a summary.
Screenplay coverage is more of a “book report” version of your screenplay and typically offers a pass/consider/recommend grade so that as the screenplay moves higher up the chain of command at a studio, execs can quickly tell which pile to put your script in. Screenwriters can also pay for script coverage or get it through a contest that offers more in-depth analysis and recommendations without that pass/consider/recommend grade.
Screenwriting Contests with Feedback or Coverage:
This one’s for all you shorts writers out there! If you have a short film screenplay that’s less than 35 pages, you’ll get a free, 1-page version of WeScreenplay’s script coverage services from the first round just for entering, including scores from that judge. You can add on three additional pages of coverage for $55.
For every round that you advance, another judge reads your script, and you’ll have a chance to resubmit your script based on the coverage provided in previous rounds if you make it to the semifinals. In fact, most of WeScreenplay’s competitions and labs offer this free coverage service, including the Diverse Voices Screenwriting Lab, the TV Pilot Screenwriting Competition, and the Feature Screenwriting Competition. I suppose that’s what you get from a company that sells coverage full time!
The Austin Film Festival’s Screenplay and Teleplay Competition is a standout contest that offers the winners notoriety. And those who don’t win? Well, they get something for the entry fee, too! Every single screenplay entry is read by a volunteer (but vetted) reader in its entirety. That reader must provide constructive notes on the script, which are then provided to you, the screenwriter.
The notes are brief but valuable, offering screenwriters a look inside the reader’s mind as they’re experiencing the screenplay. Austin Film Festival also offers in-depth coverage services, but for a fee. The contest features several different categories, so just about any screenwriter can find a place in this competition.
The Slamdance Screenplay Competition is open to nearly every genre and screenwriters anywhere in the world. Every single entrant will get constructive criticism on their entry, and if you want additional coverage, you can pay extra at the time of entry for more extensive feedback. But, you don’t have to, and even if your script needs some work, you could still be in the running. That’s because the competition has a new honor – the Mentorship Award – that will give one screenwriter a chance to revise their script based on the judges’ feedback while working side by side with competition alumni and screenwriting consultants.
“We read many amazing scripts that – with some polish and finishing – could be finalist contenders and stand a better chance of getting produced. We think it’s time to step up and take action on often-heard reader comments like,” if only the writer made another pass, cut down ten pages, fixed a few holes … it’d be a script to die for,” the competition states on its website. The winner of the Mentorship Award also receives an in-depth coverage report and an action plan for their next draft.
The BlueCat Screenplay Competition is longstanding and was founded by a screenwriter and filmmaker who wanted to discover AND develop up-and-coming screenwriting talent. Over the past 23 years, Gordy Hoffman has made it a committed tradition to nurture new talent and provide written analysis on every single screenplay that is submitted. Better yet? You can enter as many screenplays as you want – and yes – you’ll get feedback on all of them. However, in staying true to its commitments to new talent, you cannot submit any screenplays that were also submitted to contests before 2017. Screenwriters rave about the feedback they received on their submissions.
Are you looking for feedback and screenplay help without entering a contest? We’ve got a blog for that, too. Find out how to find an editor to take your script to the next level.
In it to win it, but also for the coverage,