Well, it’s that time of year again when screenplay competitions start vying for our scripts. Page Screenwriting Awards and scriptapalooza have both started. If you’re new to the world of contests you may be wondering which ones to choose. Believe me, there are hundreds out there all dying to get your entry and probably the entry fee that comes with it.
Before you rush into it and enter every contest that comes along, you need to ask yourself.
What do they offer in the way of prizes?
If you’re paying $40-$50 dollars a pop for an entry, it soon adds up and your bank balance is going to feel the impact sooner or later. And what will you really get in return for that expense? Probably nothing.
Who are the judges?
Do the entries get read by production companies? Because it’s no good if Mr.Random Guy off the street reads them? What’s the point of that? Zero, nothing...
Who sponsors the contest?
Do they list previous winners, semi-finalists, quarter-finalists?
What success stories do they have?
Is the contest really geared to helping the screenwriter?
There are so many questions you should ask yourself before entering a screenplay contest.
If in doubt, email the organizers. If they take forever to reply to your email and questions. Especially if they don't reply. That should tell you something about how the contest is probably run.
If they’re quick and polite in their response... chances are the contest is run well.
What contests should you enter?
There are probably five worth considering:
Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting
The Grand Daddy of contests.
Being a finalist or even being placed can put you on the map. But it’s tough, they’ll probably be pushing 7000 entries next year, so make sure your screenplay is as good as it can be.
Austin Film Festival
Very much geared toward the screenwriter. It’s probably worth attending if you can so that you can absorb the whole experience. Again reaching the finals or doing well could possibly open doors for you.
Page Screenwriting Awards
Has been running for a long time and has a great reputation. Good thing about this contest is that they have genre categories for your entries. So your horror will be up against other horrors etc. Also they offer discount if you wish to enter your script into other genres.
They’ve changed their format this year, so it’s actually similar to Page Screenwriting Awards. They have genre specific categories for the entries now. Not sure if they offer discount on multiple entries. Hopefully they will do this or will consider doing this in the future if they don’t currently.
Again been going for quite a while and the entry fee is very reasonable. Winning and being placed can do things for your career.
There are probably a few more out there. But those ones are definitely worth considering. Just make sure your work is the best it can be.
Are they worth the entry fee or are they all just one big fat money making scheme?
When I first started writing I knew nothing about screenplay contests. The notion that a writer should pay someone an entry fee in the hopes of progressing in a contest seemed a little farfetched. I believe the terminology that some would use, it’s a crapshoot.
Not to mention.
I think it’s a little naive if a writer believes that if they win a contest or get placed highly a producer is suddenly going to scream from a very tall building that they have found that script they’ve been looking for. But as far as a calling card goes and getting noticed by agents and producers, I don’t think a writer has anything to lose. As long as they choose wisely which contests to enter. There are probably only a handful of contests that are truly worth entering.
Even being placed in a contest can gain attention from producers and agents. Especially if you are consistently being placed. This doesn’t mean they’ll be knocking down doors to get to you, but it certainly won’t do any harm.
Do your research and choose wisely.
Use them to see how your writing compares to other writers. If you are getting placed in competitions consistently, use this in your query letters. Use contests as a stepping stone to progress as a writer.
Welcome to Russell’s website. A storyteller who enjoys writing screenplays for movies. Even though the process is hard. It keeps his imagination working overtime.
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