Sundance Screenwriters Lab:
The Sundance Institute – the Holy Grail of indie cinema – holds its career-launching Screenwriters Lab for 5 days every January. 12 winners are guided through rigorous rewriting by “Creative Advisors.” Sundance provides long-term commitment through its ongoing mentorship program, affiliated grants, and Directing lab.
Only 1st and 2nd time feature filmmakers can apply.
Deadline: May 1st, 2016.
Nicholl (“nickel”) is a big fish in terms of prestige and prizes: each year up to 5 fellowships of $35,000 each are awarded. This is more than a contest; winners commit to completing at least 1 new screenplay in the following year.
Open only to those who’ve earned less than $25,000 screenwriting.
Final Deadline: May 1st, 2016. Fee: $40-$75 depending on when you enter.
BlueCat accepts unproduced short and feature-length screenplays. For features, top prizewinners get $15,000 and 4 runners-up get $2500 each. There are separate prizes for best scripts from the U.K, a non-US/Canadian/UK writer, and India. Every screenplay submitted receives written feedback.
Early Deadline: June 15, 2015 ($35 for shorts, $55 for features)
Late Deadline: November 15 ($60 for shorts, $70 for features)
Screencraft.org offers separate contests based on genre: Short, Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Action/Thriller, Family, TV Pilot, and Residency and Fellowship programs. 1st prize is $2000 and phone calls with handpicked industry execs and agents. Screencraft is committed to helping winners network in Hollywood and market their scripts.
Deadlines vary, see site for details. Fee: $49
Scriptapalooza winners get cash prizes – $10,000 for 1st place – and numerous other awards, including networking resources, a Robert McKee seminar, and industry phone calls. Scriptapalooza commits to “promoting, pitching, and pushing” semifinalists and finalists for a year.
Deadlines run from January 6 (early) and April 29 (final). Fee: $45-$65.
Austin Screenwriting Competition:
Sponsored by the Austin Film Festival, this contest offers a range of prizes: $5000 each for Drama and Comedy winners, $2500 each for Horror and Sci-Fi, and a slew of awards for teleplays of all lengths and genres. Winners also get round-trip airfare and hotel allotments for attending the Festival.
Deadline: May 20. Fee: $40.
PAGE International Screenwriting Awards:
Held by Hollywood producers, agents, and development execs, PAGE awards prizes in 7 feature genres, as well as shorts and TV pilots. Grand Prize is $25,000 and a host of promotional services and gifts, and there are additional smaller cash prizes. This contest is not limited to amateur screenwriters.
Deadline: January 15 (early), May 15 (final). Fee: $39-$79.
With robust industry connections, Script Pipeline aims to market winning scripts. Top prize is $20,000 plus $250 toward airfare to L.A., and industry consultations. The top prizewinner, runner-up, and 18 finalists get seats at the “Secret Door Pitchfest,” held in August. Open only to those who’ve earned less than $25,000 screenwriting.
Contest opens September 1st, 2015. See site for fees.
Tracking Board: Launch Pad Competition:
Launch Pad wants to give writers careers in Hollywood. Grand prizewinners get a trip to L.A. packed with industry meetings, and submission of their scripts to thousands of industry insiders. Launch Pad is committed to getting writers repped and getting scripts optioned.
Deadline for Features: June 30 (early) – August 31 (late); Deadline for Pilots: March 31 (early) – May 31 (late). Fee: minimum $75