Not all screenwriting competitions are created equal. Some are better than others. How do you go about deciding which ones are worth your time and money to enter? Today I’m talking about what to look for and consider when entering screenwriting competitions.
- What are you getting out of entering or winning the contest?
Different competitions have different rewards, and when considering which ones to enter, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of your return on investment.
Entering competitions will require a good amount of your time as well as your money for entry fees. Any competition that offers cash to the winner is great - we’re all struggling to break in, and receiving a financial boost is always helpful. And, competitions that provide exposure, networking, or mentorship are extremely helpful in launching a new writer’s career.
I’ve won money as well as mentorship and fellowship opportunities in competitions. Let me tell you, the mentorship and fellowships are invaluable, especially for a writer not currently based in Los Angeles. Through mentorships and fellowships, I’ve been able to meet people and network in ways I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. The money is nice, but it can’t necessarily buy you this kind of access.
- Does the contest offer you script coverage?
Speaking of what you’re getting out of it: Some competitions will offer script coverage, either as something you’ll pay extra for or as a free bonus for entering their contest. You really can’t go wrong with free, so that’s great if you come across a competition that offers that. If the coverage is an additional charge, I recommend doing some research to see what people think of the coverage provided by that competition. See if you can find any other writers’ reviews of the coverage they received before shelling out additional money for a service you might find yourself unhappy with.
- Will anyone recognize the screenwriting contest name?
How recognizable is the competition? Small film festival-based competitions can be great for meeting people in your area. Still, it’s helpful when networking with established industry folk if the achievements you have are with competitions that they’ve heard of. Austin Film Festival, PAGE International Screenwriting Awards, and the Nicholl Fellowship are just some of the big-name competitions.
- Have you done your research?
Research! I cannot stress this enough! Always look into a competition first, primarily if you’ve never heard of it. Just because it’s new or unknown does not mean it’s not worth your time, but you should still ask around. Ask other screenwriter friends on social media if they’ve heard of or had experience with this particular competition. Don’t just throw your time or money away on a competition that your gut tells you is sketchy. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Do your research first!
Screenwriting competitions are great. I don’t know where I’d personally be without them. When you first begin entering, you might find yourself wanting to enter all of the competitions. It’s crucial to weigh the merits of each competition and decide if it’s one that you want to put your time and money into. You don’t want to get carried away and break the bank trying to enter every competition you come across!
Hopefully, this blog gave you some things to mull over and consider when looking for screenwriting competitions to enter. Happy writing and good luck in any competitions you enter!