Here is a list of some of the most popular screenplay contests available for screenwriters to enter – as of 2015.
I do not endorse any of these contests. The list is simply a list in alphabetical order. When I am familiar with the contest, or have entered it, I will write a brief blurb about it.
Do your own research and make your own decision based on your own situation, levelheadedness and gut feeling.
Some general comments:
– Small contests are a great way to test the waters for beginning screenwriters. The biggies (Bluecat, Nicholl, Page) usually contain seasoned veterans of the contest “circuit” and are incredibly difficult to place in for beginning screenwriters. Discouragement and despair are killers for a beginning screenwriter. Avoid these career killers at all costs.
– For the beginning screenwriter, avoid those contests that allow already-optioned, professional screenwriters into the mix. It’s not a fair fight. Do your research.
– Screenplay contests come and go. Back in 2008 when I entered my first screenplay contest (and made it past the first round – surprise) the list was lengthy. I saved a website dedicated to listing these contests to ‘My Favourites’. Recently, when researching this article, I went back to that list and found that many of these contests had gone belly up.
– Some screenplay contests appear and are legitimate, with the people running them genuinely interested in finding new talent. Others are… just the opposite and it would appear that the only goal is to make money out of desperate spec screenwriters. Sometimes, contests don’t catch on or just can’t continue financially. In the end, it should be a priority for the screenwriter to do due diligence on any screenplay contest before they enter. Contests that are in their 10th or 15th year are usually a safe bet. Those with a slipshod website, no (or impossible) contact information, no person (or people) publicly named behind the contest, cash only, non-secure (http, not https) upload/transaction page, and a website that hasn’t been updated in months/years should be dissected with a CSI kit. Personally, I would avoid them.
For your convenience, each contest is a link to the contest’s web page.
American Gem Short Screenplay
Austin Film Festival
Creative World Awards
Fade In Awards
Final Draft Big Break
Mile High Horror
Nashville Film Festival
Nickelodeon Writing Program
SoCal Film Festival
Stage 32 Happy Writers
Zed Fest Horror
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