Screenwriting

16 Best Screenwriting Contests to Submit Your Screenplay in 2020

So you have written a screenplay and wish want to send it to Hollywood. The best screenwriting software tools can only get you to write a good screenplay. One excellent option to get your script into the hands of agents and producers is by applying to screenwriting contests. With so many screenwriting contests in the world, winning a well known screenplay competition can skyrocket a writer’s career into the industry. But it is really not that easy to choose the best contest out of hundreds out there.

Hence, in this article, I have mentioned the Top 16 Screenwriting Contests in 2020 which cover the following details:

  • Entry Deadlines: Start & End dates to apply for the contest
  • Fees for submitting a Screenplay
  • Prizes to be won by the winners
  • Timeline for Results

Most of these competitions are in the USA which is where maximum agents, writers, producers look for talent.

List of the Screenwriting Competitions
  1. Nicholl Fellowship Screenwriting Contest
  2. Final Draft Big Break Contest
  3. Page International Screenwriting Contest
  4. Script Pipeline
  5. Austin Screenplay and Teleplay Competition
  6. Sundance Screenwriters Lab
  7. Bluecat Screenplay Competition
  8. Stage 32 Script Services
  9. Nantucket Film Festival
  10. Cinequest Screenplay Competition
  11. Slamdance Film Festival
  12. New York International Screenplay Awards
  13. Write LA Screenplay Contest
  14. Toronto Metropolitan International Screenwriting Contest
  15. Raindance Film Festival
  16. Launch Pad Screenwriting Competition

1. Nicholl Fellowships Screenwriting Contest

5 Best Screenwriting Contests to Submit a Script in 2020

This competition is regarded as the most prestigious competition in the world when it comes to screenwriting. It gets around 7000 entries per year. However, the rewards if you win the competition are also best in the industry. Writers from all over the world are eligible to apply. 

Entry Deadline
  • Application Deadline (early) – 6 March 2020 – $48
  • Application Deadline (Regular) – 9 April 2020 – $63
  • Application Deadline (Late) – 1 May 2020 – $88
Prizes to be won 
  • Upto $35,000 Scholarships are awarded each year to the winners
  • A trip to Hollywood and prize distribution on stage
Results
  • Quarter finalists are informed by 1 August 2020
  • Semifinalists are informed by early September 2020
  • Winners are announced in late October or early November 2020.

As the jury consists of members of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Arts (Oscars), this contest is worth way more than the money put into the application.

Related: Is the Screenwriting MasterClass Really Worth it?

2. Final Draft Big Break Contest

Screenwriting Contests for submitting a screenplay this year

Yes, Final Draft, the top notch screenwriting software used by professionals, also conducts its own screenwriting competition. Considered as one of the best in the industry, it not only accepts feature length screenplays but also TV pilots.

And there are 2 winners in this contest

Entry Deadline
  • Application Deadline (early) – 30 April 2020 – $45
  • Application Deadline (Regular) – 25 Junel 2020 – $55
  • Application Deadline (Late) – 30 July May 2020 – $75
Prizes to be won 
  • $10,000 cash prize to each winner
  • A trip to Hollywood, an apple ipad & so much more for other finalists also.
Results
  • Results will be announced in February 2021.

There are 11 categories where you can apply in this competition. With competition intense but diversified, Final Draft really gives a Big Break to aspiring screenwriters.

Related: 7 Best Udemy Courses to Learn Screenwriting Online(2020)

3. PAGE International Screenwriting Contest

Screenwriting Contests for sending screenplays in 2020

As one of the well known screenplay contests, PAGE international started in 2003 and since then, it has been quite a brand in the screenwriting competition industry. Many well known producers keep track of the PAGE awards to find the best talent living outside hollywood.  

Entry Deadline
  • Application Deadline (Late) – 20 April 2020 – $75
Prizes to be won 
Results
  • They haven’t mentioned the exact date however, winners might be announced in late August 2020.

Related: 10 Best Writing Courses on Coursera (Screenwriting Included)

4. Script Pipeline

The Best Screenwriting Contests to Submit Your Screenplay in 2020

Winners of the Script Pipeline screenwriting competition have been hired by big names like Warner Bros Studios, Netflix, etc. With over $3 Million distributed as prizes till date this contest has 4 winners for Screenplay submissions and 2 winners for TV pilots.

Entry Deadline
  • Application Deadline (Regular) – 1 May 2020 – $60
  • Application Deadline (Late) – 15 May 2020 – $ 70
Prizes to be won 
  • $25,000 for the winner and $2,500 for runners
  • Script development
  • Long term development assistance from the executive team
Results
  • Winners will be announced by late June 2020

5. Austin Screenplay and Teleplay Competition

5 Best Screenwriting Contests to Submit Your Scripts in 2020

For the last 25 years, the Austin Film Festival has been known as a platform for independent filmmakers to showcase their work to the film community of Hollywood and abroad. The screenwriting contest in this festival has developed many notable screenplays from winners. 

There are even separate categories for submitting Teleplays.

Entry Deadline
  • Application Deadline (Late) – 20 April 2020 – $75
Prizes to be won 
  • $5,000 to winners of the drama and comedy category
  • $2500 to winners of the sci-fi, horror, short screenplay category
  • $1000 to teleplay competition award winners
Results
  • The festival dates are from 22 – 29 October 2020. Winners are announced during these awards.

6. Sundance Screenwriters Lab

The Sundance Film Festival was started by the famous actor Robert Redford. The Sundance Screenwriters Lab is a five day writer’s workshop where selected independent screenwriter’s are given the opportunity to work alongside Hollywood screenwriters to further develop their screenplay. This gives them an opportunity to learn new techniques in writing and enhance their skills, in turn helping them to make their screenplay into a feature length film.

International projects are accepted. Screenwriters Lab selects 12 projects out of thousands of applications. It takes place in Sundance Mountain Resort, Utah each year. Cost of flights, accommodations, meals for upto 2 participants is taken care of by Sundance.

The Screenwriters Lab will take place on January 15-20, 2021.

Entry Deadline
  • 11 June 2020 – $40
Prizes to be won 

In terms of exposure the amount is not even comparable to other film festivals.

  • Grand Jury Prize (Amount unknown)
  • Alfred P Sloan Fellowship (2019 winner Tesla received $20,000)
Results
  • Results are generally announced in the first week of February. 

You can apply here for the 2021 development track (Screenwriters Lab).

Related: 14 Best Screenwriting Websites to Learn Writing Screenplays

7. Bluecat Screenplay Competition

Founded by screenwriter & filmmaker Gordy Hoffman in 1998, the Bluecat competition has become one of the best screenplay competitions in the world. They accept feature scripts, episodic pilots & short film scripts. And a major reason might be due to the fact that each & every submission receives feedback.

Their requirements are also very minimal and straight forward. 

Entry Deadline
  • June 28th, 2020 (Early) – $50
  • September 13th, 2019 (Regular) – $60
  • October 25th, 2020 (Final) – $70
  • December 13th, 2020 (Late) – $75
Prizes to be won 
  • $5000 to the Grand Prize winner.
  • $2000 to each of the winners in the Feature, Pilot & Short Screenplay category..
  • $1000 winners living out USA will get the Fellini Award for Best screenplay from any category. 
Results
  • Winners will be announced on May 18th, 2021.

Related: 18 Best Books & eBooks on The Art of Screenwriting

8. Stage 32 Script Services

Founded by Richard Botto, Stage 32 is different from other contests in a way. It is a crowdsourcing platform connecting educators & filmmakers alike. Stage 32 also various film making & screenwriting competitions. Richard poses as the judge for Stage 32 & has produced many TV shows, documentaries, films including ‘Chick Fight’ which starred Alec Baldwin

There are two main screenwriting contests in Stage 32. 

First is the New Blood Screenwriting Contest. It is for the horror, thriller & suspense genre.Second is the Feature Screenwriting Contest. It accepts feature length screenplays in any genre.

Entry Deadline (for New Blood Screenwriting Contest)
  • Early Deadline  – 25 June 2020 – $59.50
  • Final Deadline – 5 August 2020 – $79.50
Entry Deadline (for Feature Screenwriting Contest)
  • Regular Deadline  – 17 June 2020 – $59.50
  • Final Deadline – 22 July 2020 – $79.50
Prizes (to be won for both)
  • Grand Prize Winners will be flown to LA for meetings with writers & producers.
  • 2nd place winners will get one-on-one meetings with leading industry executives.
Results
  • Winners will be announced on 20 Nov 2020 for the New Blood Screenwriting Contest.
  • Winners will be announced on 30 October 2020 for the Feature Screenwriting Contest.

9. Nantucket Film Festival

For the last 25 years Nantucket Film Festival has been a nurturing & mentoring talent from around the world. Definitely a festival to submit your film to. But what about screenplays? Yes screenplays too without a doubt. 

It takes place in June each year on the Island of Nantucket in Massachusetts, USA. Actor Ben Stiller is one of the board members of this festival. 

You can apply for the 2021 Competition.

Entry Deadline
  • Early Deadline  – 18 October 2020 – $50
  • Regular Deadline – 11 March 2020 – $80
Prizes
  • $1000 prize for one winner.
  • Winner gets to attend the Screenwriters Colony on Nantucket for upto 2 weeks to a month.
Results
  • Winners are announced in June.

Go to the link to submit your screenplays.

10. Cinequest Screenplay Competition

Founded in 1990, Cinequest is an independent festival held annually in March in San jose, California. USA Today readers voted Cinequest as the best film festival. And that’s why applying to it’s screenplay competition is worth it.

You can apply for the 2021 Screenplay Competition for Features, Short films & Teleplays. The application fee ranges from $30 to $70 in these categories. The Features deadline are given below.

Entry Deadline
  • Early Deadline  – 10 July 2020 – $45
  • Regular Deadline – 18 September 2020 – $55
  • Late Deadline – 9 October 2020 – $70
Prizes
  • They haven’t stated the prizes however, Hollywood industry exposure along with the innovators of silicon valley has been the highlight of Cinequest for years.
Results
  • The Top 3 finalists & winners will be announced in March 2021.

11. Slamdance Film Festival

Slamdance started in1995 & has been regarded as one of the best festivals for independent filmmakers & writers. Slamdance DIG is it’s own branch which focuses on digital storytelling.

It has launched thousands of artists from every continent. One of the best directors of our time Christopher Nolan is an Alumi of Slamdance. You can submit a Feature, TV pilot & Short script.

There cannot be a better platform for upcoming screenwriters than the Slamdance Screenwriting Competition.

Entry Deadline
  • Regular Deadline – 8 June 2020 – $60
  • Final Deadline – 27 July 2020 – $75
Prizes
  • The Grand Prize winner will receive $8000 in cash.
  • The winners of the Feature, Horror, TV Pilot, and Short categories will each receive $2,000 in cash.
Results
  • Top 12 finalists will be announced on 29 September 2020.
  • Winner will be announced at the WGAW awards party.

Related: How to Correct Writing Mistakes in a Novel or a Blog

12. New York International Screenplay Awards

It takes place in New York..(obviously). They are sponsored by Inktip, Script reader Pro. They have partnered with Filmfreeway to accept submissions.

Entry Deadline
  • Regular Deadline – 15 December 2020 – $40
  • Final Deadline – 5 April 2021 – $60
Prizes
  • Golden Prize winner will get An InkTip prize package (includes one InkTip script listing and one InkTip magazine listing) + Online Screenwriting course from Script Reader Pro & much more .
Results
  • Winners will be announced on 6 May 2021.

You can submit your screenplay here (via Filmfreeway).

13. Write LA Screenplay Contest

Write LA is in the 3rd season this year. Moviebytes has selected this contest as the Top Contest to Enter in 2020. One of the Title sponsors is Final Draft. You can Enter via Filmfreeway or Coverfly.

The previous winners have received a one-on-one meeting with industry experts from Showtime & Warner Bros execs.

Entry Deadline
  • Final Deadline – 15 June 2020 – $65
Prizes
  • The winner is flown to LA if he/she resides in the USA.
  • Script reading in front of a live panel, Final Draft 11.
Results
  • Winners will be notified on 15 September 2020. The event takes place on 6-7 Nov 2020.

Related: 15 Best Screenwriting Podcasts for Writers

14. Toronto Metropolitan International Screenwriting Contest

One of the best contests in Canada, this contest has the glamour of Hollywood & the judging talent to launch a great writer into the screenwriting world. It accepts entries from all over the world.

Entry Deadline
  • Regular Deadline – 17 July 2020 – $55
  • Final Deadline – 8 January 2020 – $65
Prizes
  • Introductions to at least three top industry executives in New York, LA, or Toronto along with other prizes.
  • Top 2 finalists also receive 1 consultation. 
Results
  • Winners will be announced on the day of the event on 19 February 2020.

15. Raindance Film Festival

Raindance Film Festival is the biggest independent film fest in the UK. Based in London, it has been running for 27 years and has launched careers graphs of literary thousands of screenwriters alone. It attracts 500 industry professionals from not just Hollywood but from all over the entertainment industry on earth. This festival has to be definitely on your list even if you are not in the UK.

The 28th Raindance will take place October 28 – 7 November 2020 in central London.

Entry Deadline
  • Late Deadline – 6 July 2020 – £70
Prizes
  • They haven’t mentioned it on the website however, the kind of exposure your screenplay will get if you are even a finalist, will be a launchpad for your career.
Results
  • Winners will be announced during the event on October 28 – 7 November 2020.

16. Launch Pad Screenwriting Competition

It was launched nearly a decade ago and since then has helped sign up hundreds of deals for upcoming writers & Independent filmmakers.

Entry Deadline
  • Regular Deadline – 12 June 2020 – $65
  • Final Deadline – 14 August 2020 – $85
Prizes
  • Their Partners this year are Romark Entertainment & Recon Literary who have signed many writers from this competition in the last few years.
Results
  • Final Winners will be announced on 28 January 2021.

Conclusion

And that’s my screenwriting contests list based on the most popular contests in the year 2020. There are still many more contests which are backed up by film studios and producers based on different genres. Film festivals which are less popular but have equal industry exposure for winners, are also a great opportunity for getting known in the industry. 

So..what are you waiting for? Start submitting your screenplays.

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