Best Screenwriting Contests 2018

Ready to submit your best work?

These competitions are Fandom Espresso’s picks for the best screenwriting contests to submit, be seen, and get hired.

As with all competitions, there are general rules and guidelines you must adhere to. Each competition has a unique set of rules, but it’s still considered best practice to only submit scripts that have not been optioned, purchased, or produced at the time of the event or are not in the public domain.

To remain safe, only submit work that is original and unreleased.

Austin Screenwriting Contest (Austin Film Festival)

The Austin Film Festival is an 8-day artsy and cultural extravaganza centered on story-telling.

It features over 180 films, and for the select few best, potential Hollywood access. According to 2015 award winner, Shani Grewal, says his win at the fest “is the only reason [he’s] in LA right now…”

2018 Deadlines and Fees

For features:

  • Early – March 30th – $45
  • Regular – April 20th – $55
  • Late – May 15th – $70

For shorts and teleplays:

  • Early – March 30th – $35
  • Regular – April 20th – $45
  • Late – May 15th – $60

If you’re not ready to submit, be sure to check out their coverage program.

Final Draft’s “Big Break” Screenwriting Contest

With up to $80,000 in cash prizes, Final Draft’s contest is one of the best.

Grand prize winners are flown to L.A., and others are introduced to producers and executives. There have been over 30 winners who have either sold scripts or received representation.

2018 Deadlines and Fees

  • Early – March 14th – $40.00
  • Regular – June 18th – $50.00
  • Extended – July 2nd – $65.00
  • Last Chance – July 17th – $75.00

Although you are not required to submit in the Final Draft .fdx format, it is user-friendly, industry standard software. You can buy and download it here.

Slamdance Screenplay Competition

Just down the road from Sundance Film Festival, Slamdance is a showcase by filmmakers, for filmmakers. Their screenplay competition is no exception.

It’s dedicated to discovering up-and-coming writers with professional talent. The judges pride themselves on accepting any genre from anywhere in the world. Feedback is offered for every entrant, and coverage services are offered.

Slamdance is a Withoutabox (WAB) supporter.

2018 Deadlines and Fees

(These are listed a bit differently than most due to their wide range of accepted submissions.)

  • Early – Feb. 14th, 2018 – April 9th, 2018
  • Regular – April 10th, 2018 – June 11th, 2018
  • Late – June 12th, 2018 – July 23rd, 2018
  • Withoutabox Extended – July 24th, 2018 – July 27th, 2018

For features between 41 and 120 pages:

  • Early – $50.00
  • Regular – $60.00
  • Late/WAB Extended – $75.00

For features between 121 and 150 pages:

  • Early – $65.00
  • Regular – $75.00
  • Late/WAB Extended – $90.00

For TV pilots – half-hour format up to 45 pages (including supplementary materials)

  • Early – $35.00
  • Regular – $45.00
  • Late/WAB Extended – $50.00

For TV pilots – one hour format between 46 and 80 pages (including supplementary materials)

  • Early – $45.00
  • Regular – $55.00
  • Late/WAB Extended – $60.00

For shorts up to 10 pages:

  • Early – $25.00
  • Regular – $35.00
  • Late/WAB Extended – $40.00

For shorts between 11 and 40 pages:

  • Early – $35.00
  • Regular – $45.00
  • Late/WAB Extended – $50.00

Coverage Fees (in addition to the submission fees) if interested:

  • Standard Coverage (within 2 months): +$80
  • Express Coverage (within 21 days): +$120

What Are Your Opinions on the Best Screenwriting Contests?

As always, Fandom Espresso would love to hear community feedback. If you have experience with any of these competitions (or others) let us know.

If you’d like to learn more about being a non-L.A. screenwriter, check out this guide.

Making an award-winning screenplay is difficult, but if you want to know what it takes, read through Fandom Espresso’s review of I, Tonya, then find the script for yourself. The best way to learn how to write a good script is to read one.

Author: Christopher Fain

Author, blogger, content writer, and screenwriter based in Orlando, Florida. He is earning a B.F.A. in Creative Writing at Full Sail University. Twitter: @chrisjf93

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