Competition, Pitchfest & Festival Information


1.  Nicholl Fellowship Competition – Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences

The biggest, most well-respected and highest paying contest out there is the Nicholl Competition, which is put on every year by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Per their website, “Each year, the Academy Nicholl screenwriting competition awards up to five $35,000 fellowships to amateur screenwriters. To enter, submit a feature length screenplay and entry fee via the online application when the competition is open for submissions. Fellowship winners are invited to participate in awards week ceremonies and seminars and expected to complete at least one original feature film screenplay during the Fellowship year.”

Though they claim to entertain all genres equally, in my experience and from what I’ve read, they tend to have a bit of a bias toward drama. 

Qualifications: Screenwriters who have not earned more than $25,000 writing fictional work for film or television. Entry scripts must be the original work of one writer, or of two writers who collaborated equally, and must be written originally in English. Adaptations and translated scripts are not eligible.

More info at:

— 2.  Final Draft – The Big Break Contest – Sponsored by the creators of the Final Draft software for television and film scripts.  Per their website, “Eleven winners share cash, prizes and the New York Film Academy Writing Fellowship” with a total value over $80,000”. 

The seven main feature genres for entries are:

• Action/Adventure – Films that feature lots of action sequences and/or include elements of adventure (e.g., exotic locales, military operations, etc.).

• Comedy/Rom-Com – Romantic comedies, mainstream, edgy or raunchy comedy, satire, parodies, etc.

• Drama – More serious, realistic scripts that tell emotionally resonant stories and explore powerful themes.

• Family/Animated – Scripts aimed at the children/family market; this material can be enjoyed by the whole family and often includes animated features.

• Period/Historical/War – Biopics, scripts based largely in the past, war epics, and scripts featuring historical characters.

• Sci-Fi/Fantasy – Space travel, disaster and post-apocalyptic stories, scripts set in alternate worlds or universes, stories with magical elements.

• Thriller/Horror – Scripts that employ suspense, fear and/or tension as main story elements, spy and crime thrillers, psychological thrillers, mysteries, ghost, zombie and monster stories.

More Info:

3.  Austin Film Festival – “The Writers Festival”

For films, screenplays and teleplays. In the feature screenplay competition, there are two first prizes, one for drama, one for comedy.  $5000 cash award, plus airfare and hotel to the festival.  This is a great and very popular festival that focuses especially on writers, and is held every year in the fall in Austin, Texas.  Highly recommended. 

More info:

4. PAGE Awards

The PAGE International Screenwriting Awards competition was established in the fall of 2003 by an alliance of Hollywood producers, agents, and development executives. Our goal: to discover the most exciting new scripts by up-and-coming writers from across the country and around the world.” 

More Info:

5.  Fresh Voices

Fresh Voices promises $15,000 in cash and prizes, free feedback and “guaranteed consideration from leading Hollywood Production companies.’”(For the winners).

More info:

— 6.  Scriptapalooza

Scriptapalooza says they will promote, pitch and push all semifinalists for one year, giving them opportunities to sign agents or managers and have their scripts optioned or made into movies. Over $50,000 in prizes are awarded, and screenwriters can order feedback with their submission. Competition entry costs $55, or $155 with feedback.

More info:

— 7.  Slamdance Screenplay Competition

Slamdance features four categories:  Feature, Short, Horror and Original Teleplay, and awards the top three screenplays in each category. Each category has its own submission fee, (example: $30 for early submission for Short Film, $40 for regular, $50 for late), on top of coverage fees, ($75 for their feedback within 2 months, $115 for within 21 days). 

More info:

— 8.  Zoetrope Screenplay Contest

Created by Francis Ford Coppola. They say the winner and ten finalists will be considered for representation by various agencies, including William Morris and CAA, and their scripts will be considered for film option and development by leading production companies.  Professional readers will read the scripts, and Francis Ford Coppola will select the winner.

More info:

— 9. Blue Cat Screenplay Contest

Put on by Gordy Hoffman and his team, this competition features a $15,000 grand prize and four $2500 prizes for the finalists.  They also have special separate entry categories for best short screenplay, best screenplay from the UK, best screenplay from India, and another ‘outside the US, Canada or the UK’ category. 

More info:

10.  The Tracking Board Contest – Launchpad  The Tracking Board 

For tv pilots and feature films.  Looking for marketability, high concept, high salability. 

More info:

11.  ScriptPipeline 

They sponsor a variety of contests for screenwriting, tv writing, students and even “great ideas” with varying deadlines.  They offer $25,000 to the winning script and say that with this comes introductions to managers, producers, agents, etc. 

More info:


1. Sundance Screenwriters Lab – :

Sundance is probably the most well known, well-respected and oldest program of its kind out there.  The emphasis here is on indie, lower budget, non-studio type projects. Some successful recent films to have gone through the Sundance lab include, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, THE LUNCHBOX, and WHIPLASH. 

Per their site, “Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, the Sundance Institute Lab Program was created in response to the shared conviction that the budding independent film movement had the potential for far-reaching creative and cultural impact if given adequate resources and a place to foster self-expression and a sense of community. Thirty years later, under Michelle Satter’s continued leadership, the FFP’s network of Labs continues to provide a one-of-a-kind opportunity for filmmakers to incubate their most audacious ideas in an environment where risk-taking is encouraged and failure is regarded as a valuable step in a project’s creative evolution.

The Screenwriters Lab is a five-day writer’s workshop that gives independent screenwriters the opportunity to work intensively on their feature film scripts with the support of established writers in an environment that encourages innovation and creative risk-taking. Through one-on-one story sessions with Creative Advisors, Fellows engage in an artistically rigorous process that offers them indispensable lessons in craft, as well as the means to do the deep exploration needed to fully realize their material.”

— 2.  New York Women in Film & Television Writers Lab – Deadline June 1

Funded with the generous support of Meryl Streep and organized by Iris. The Writers Lab brings eight women screenwriters over the age of forty together with established mentors from the film industry for an intimate gathering and intensive workshop at Wiawaka Center for Women on Lake George, NY. 

The only program of its kind, The Writers Lab evolved in recognition of the absence of the female voice in narrative film, along with the dearth of support for script development. The lab offers eight promising films by women over forty a springboard to production.

3.  International Screenwriters Association FastTrack Fellowship

Two winners are flown to LA for five days to be mentored by agents and Producers.  Both are featured on the ISA Success Stories Page.  The ISA team will spend a year working with both writers through their ISA Development program. 

— 4.  ScreenCraft – Contests & Mentorships –

These are divided into various genres and forms, with various deadlines and rewards.


— 1.  The Hollywood Pitch Festival –

This event has a lengthy and impressive list of companies and agencies attending.  The focus of this two and a half day event seems to be largely on the pitching, with comparatively fewer speakers/workshops and more time devoted to actual pitch meetings & opportunities. 

— 2.  Story Expo –

Held in September near LAX, and bills itself as, “the world’s biggest convention of writers from all mediums – screenwriters, TV writers, novelists, filmmakers, gamers, journalists, graphic novelists, actors, business people, comic book writers and more. Featuring over 110 world-renowned speakers, 100+ classes and 30+ exhibitors, Story Expo covers all aspects of story and writing – from craft to business to pitching to career.”  


Share This