Getting your screenplay noticed by the right people is a daunting task. Fortunately, there are more opportunities than ever to expose your script to those that matter in the industry. This article focuses primarily on national screenwriting competitions; however, I have also included some additional avenues of opportunity that will lend exposure to your creative writing through online communities of screenwriters that can facilitate your advancement in this profession and can fast-track your writing career.
Promoted by the Academy, this extremely prestigious screenwriting competition's sole focus is to discover new screenwriting talent. Since its creation twenty-five years ago, many of the winners have gone on to have extremely rewarding careers in the film and television industries. Notable writers include Andrew Marlowe ("Castle", TV series), Rebecca Sonnenshine ("The Vampire Diaries", TV series) and Doug Atchison ("Akeelah and the Bee", feature film). They award up to five $35,000.00 fellowships each year. Screenplay submissions are accepted for the competition from late February through mid-April. Entry fees begin at $35.00.
Founded in 1998, this contest has been at the forefront in identifying new talent and promoting their creative work. Past winners have won major awards at national film festivals, with some selling their screenplays to major studios. The feature screeenplay winner receives $15,000.00 and the four finalists each win an award in the amount of $2,500.00. They accept submissions from mid-June through Mid-November each year, with a starting fee of $55.00.
Their objective is to discover top screenwriters and to promote not only the competition winners but also semifinalists for an entire year to help them make a sale. Contest winners have won Emmys and movies have been made of their screenplays. Prizes include $10,000.00 for first place and $500.00 each for the genre winners, along with a variety of other prizes for second place, third place, etc. In addition, the first place winner will make contact with over one hundered producers via their network. Submissions are accepted from early January through late march. Entry fees begin at $45.00.
Organized over twenty years ago, this competition seeks both screenplays and teleplays that offer a unique voice to the film industry. Finalists and semifinalists are granted access to special panels, allowing them additional hands-on development of their work. You can submit your writing from late April through late May of each year. Currently, specific monetary amounts awarded to winners is not listed on their site.
This competition is hosted by the company that created the Final Draft screenwriting software. They offer over $80,000.00 in prizes for both feature film screenplay submissions and half hour & hour long TV pilots. Their goal is two part in that they provide both financial assistance to new talent and introductions to A-list executives. They accept submissions from late April to late July, with entry fees beginning at $40.00.
This is a free screenwriting software site that is, hands down, the best online app for creating screenplays. Members are encouraged to share scripts & ideas with their online community of writers. They also have a very active screenplay discussion forum and host a variety of smaller writing contests.
Scripped website 2015 update: Scripped has transitioned into a new online screenwriting software company called Writer Duet. Unlike the free service Scripped had offered writers, Writer Duet features paid memberships.
Created by actor Kevin Spacey in 2002, this site offers new screenwriters the opportunity to have their scripts read and evaluated by a community of like-minded individuals. Scripts that rank high rise to the top of the pile and are analyzed by industry professionals, which can lead to a possible sale or option. Screenplays are reviewed on a credit system: For every two scripts a member reads they receive a credit which they can then apply to one of their submissions.
Triggerstreet Labs website 2015 update: After thirteen years, this popular online writing community has closed its doors.
Strictly speaking, this is not a website that allows screenwriters exposure for their own work, but it does provide writers the opportunity to express their views on upcoming film projects slated for release to the public. This is a testing ground for Amazon projects, whereby you can provide feedback on pilots, storyboards, promos and "test movies" (script presentations in video format).
~ RJ Wattenhofer, February 11, 2014