Are you an aspiring screenwriter looking to launch your career in the film industry? There are many great screenwriting contests out there to help jumpstart your career and allowing you to gain more recognition from industry professionals. Keep reading to learn about some of the great competitions out there in 2023!

 

screenwriting contests

It is famously difficult to break into the film industry as a screenwriter, especially if you don’t have a network of connections to point you in the right direction. Luckily there is an alternative to peddling your unproduced scripts around town. Entering screenwriting contests is an excellent way to gain the attention of agents, managers, and film industry influencers.

There are hundreds of screenwriting contests from around the world to choose from. If you are serious about securing an agent or getting your work produced, here are 5 contests for young screenwriters that all aspiring filmmakers should know about!

 

screenwriting contests

ACADEMY NICHOLL FELLOWSHIPS

An internationally renown screenwriting competition, the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting is aimed to identify and encourage talented, new screenwriters looking to work in film. They have a fantastic record of emerging writers who were able to launch their careers after winning.

Type of Script:

  • Feature Film

Qualifications:

  • The contest is open to screenwriters who have not earned more than $25,000 writing fictional work for film or television.
  • Original feature film screenplay (no shorter than 70 pages and no longer than 160 pages) in PDF format only
  • Entry scripts must be the original work of one writer, or of two writers who collaborated equally.
  • Scripts must be submitted in English.
  • Adaptations and translated scripts are not eligible.

Prizes:

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

Deadlines (2023 Deadlines TBA):

  • March 2, 2022: Early Entry ($50 USD)
  • April 2, 2022: Regular Entry ($65 USD)
  • May 2, 2022: Late Entry ($90 USD)

Notable Winners:

  • 2022 – Jennifer Archer – Into The Deep Blue
  • 2021 – R. J. Daniel Hanna – Shelter Animal
  • 2020 – Beth Curry – Lemon

 

 

screenwriting contests

AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL

The Austin Film Festival (AFF) Screenplay and Teleplay Competition is well known for consistently lining up a fantastic panel of judges from major agencies and production companies, and drawing the attention of agents. For almost 30 years, the Austin Film Festival has helped to launch the careers of many writers, and is known as one of the best screenwriting contests in the industry. If you’re looking for an opportunity to sign a contract, land an agent or learn from industry leaders, the Screenplay and Teleplay Competition is one of the best contests for young screenwriters.

Type of Scripts:

  • Feature Film
  • Short
  • Teleplay

Qualifications:

  • The contest is open to emerging and established screenwriters.
  • All scripts must not have been optioned or sold prior to October 26, 2023.
  • Scripts must be submitted in English.
  • Screenplays/teleplays must be the original work of the applicant.

Prizes:

  • Cash awards range from $1,000 – $5,000 depending on the category.  
  • Winners will be reimbursed for round trip airfare and hotel to attend the AFF.
  • A Producer’s Badge to attend the AFF and Conference.
  • The AFF Bronze Typewriter Award

Deadlines:
Feature Screenplay:

  • March 23, 2023: Early Entry ($55 USD)
  • April 18, 2023: Regular Entry ($65 USD)
  • May 25, 2023: Late Entry ($85 USD)

Short Screenplay, Teleplay, & Digital Series

  • March 23, 2023: Early Entry ($45 USD)
  • April 18, 2023: Regular Entry ($55 USD)
  • May 25, 2023: Late Entry ($65 USD)

Notable Winners:

  • 2022 – Nick Gambino – The Fuck-It List
  • 2021 – Amanda Smith – Atalanta
  • 2010 Finalist Christopher Cantwell went on to sell his series Halt and Catch Fire to AMC.
  • A huge number of winning writers have been hired on television shows, including: Bojack Horseman (Netflix), Silicon Valley (HBO), Empire (Fox), Community (NBC/Yahoo), and many others.

 

 

screenwriting contests

SUNDANCE SCREENWRITERS LAB

The Sundance Film Festival is a prestigious event for indie filmmakers worldwide, and the Sundance Screenwriters Lab is no different. The Screenwriters Lab is for writers, writer/directors, and writer/director teams wanting to create their first or second fiction feature film. The event is a month-long program where you’ll work with accomplished creative advisors throughout the entire filmmaking process. Twelve projects are selected for the Screenwriters Lab.

Type of Script:

  • Feature Film

Qualifications:

  • Applicants must be developing their first or second narrative feature film.
  • Those who have previously had more than one narrative feature produced are not eligible to apply.

Prizes:

  • Admission to the five-day Sundance Screenwriters Lab.
  • One-on-one sessions with creative advisors and industry professionals.

Deadlines:

  • January 2023 – Specific dates TBD

Notable Participants:

  • 2020 – Nanny – Nikyatu Jusu
  • 2019 – Mounia Akl – Costa Brava, Lebanon
  • 2017 – Edson Oda – Nine Days
  • 2013 – Ryan Coogler – Fruitvale Station

 

 

screenwriting contests

THE SAVE THE CAT! SCREENPLAY CHALLENGE

The Save The Cat! Screenplay Challenge is a competition that provides practical feedback grounded in the Save the Cat! method (the same method used by working screenwriters and decision makers around the world. The Save The Cat! 2023 Screenplay Challenge is for writers of feature films and 60-minute and 30-minute TV pilots. The Grand Prize winner(s) of the challenge will receive a 3-day trip to LA, a live table read to bring the script to life, meetings with judges as well as a scriptwriting software subscription. Top 5 finalists will also receive a meeting with a judge of the competition and a subscription to scriptwriting software.

Type of Script:

  • Feature Film
  • 60-minute TV Pilot
  • 30-minute TV Pilot

Qualifications:

  • Script must be the original work of the submitting writer and may not be encumbered by any third party.
  • Scripts that have been sold, produced for a profit, or are currently under option are not eligible.
  • Prior contest-winning scripts from other contests are acceptable.
  • Length requirements for full-length features: 70-130 pages. No exceptions.
  • Length requirements for TV- Pilot: 20-70 pages. No exceptions.
  • Script must be in industry standard format. Formatting is taken into consideration in judging.

Prizes:

  • Grand Prize Winner(s)
    • Flight to LA ($600)
    • 3-night hotel stay ($1200)
    • Live table read to bring your work to life
    • 12-month subscription to host your work on The Black List on us
    • Save the Cat! Story Structure Software – 12 Month Subscription
  • Top 5 finalists will receive the following
    • Meeting with one of the judges
    • Save the Cat! Story Structure Software – 12 Month Subscription

Deadlines:

  • November 27, 2022 – Early bird Deadline
  • January 31, 2023 – Regular Deadline
  • February 26, 2023 – Late Deadline
  • March 26, 2023 – Extended Deadline
  • August 18, 2023 – Notification Date

Notable Participants:

  • 2022 – Ronald . Taylor & Nelson Handel – Red & White Blues
  • 2021 – Hernan Jimenez – April Knows Best
  • 2020 – Thomas Steventon – Gaijin & Samson

 

screenwriting contests

PAGE INTERNATIONAL SCREENWRITING AWARDS

Founded in 2003, the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards aims to connect new, up-and-coming screenwriters with Hollywood executives. The PAGE International Screenwriting Awards is one of the industry’s top sources for new screenwriting talent. The contest has helped launch the careers of many talented new screenwriters from across the country and around the world. Winners are announced in the fall of each year, with Gold, Silver, and Bronze Prizes to be presented in ten genre categories – along with a 25,000 Grand Prize.

 

Type of Script:

  • Feature Film Script
    • Action/Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Family Film, Historical Film, Science Fiction, Thriller/Horror
  • Short Film Script
  • TV Pilot
    • TV Drama, TV Comedy

Qualifications:

  • Screenwriters must be at least 18 years of age at the time of submission.
  • The writer/writing team may not have earned more than $50,000 (or foreign equivalent) for work as a screenwriter and/or fictional television writer.
  • Script must be the original work of the submitting writer.
  • Adaptations of books, plays, or any other source material written by another author are not eligible.
  • Scripts that have been sold, produced for a profit, or are currently under option are not eligible.

Prizes:

  • $25,000 Grand Prize (Nostos Screenwriting Retreat Fellowship)
  • Category Prizes (10 in total)
    • Gold
    • Silver
    • Bronze

Deadlines:

  • January 10, 2023 – Early Entry Discount ($47 USD)
  • February 10, 2023 – Regular Entry ($57 USD)
  • March 10, 2023 – Late Entry ($67 USD)
  • April 10, 2023 – Last Minute ($77 USD)

Notable Participants:

  • 2022 – Alexandra Qin – Thirstygirl
  • 2021 – A. J. Bermudez – iCon
  • 2020 – Claire Tailyourn – Mother Wild

 

InFocus Film School Writing Program

Click here to learn more about InFocus Film School’s Writing for Film and Television Program!

If you’d like submit your work to even more screenwriting contests, some honorable mentions are: ScreenCraft, The Universal Pictures Emerging Writers Fellowship and the Script Pipeline. Good luck, and happy writing!

 

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