The Best Short Screenplay Competitions & Screenwriting Contests You Need To Enter in 2022

Screenplays are a unique form of writing. They’re like miniature movies, packed with all the excitement and drama of a full-length feature film. 

And just like independent short movies, screenplays can be entered into contests and competitions. Some competitions even offer cash prizes and awards! 

So, look no further if you’re looking for a screenplay competition to enter! In this blog post, I will list the best screenplay competitions and contests out there, so be sure to bookmark this page for later!

The Best Short Screenplay Competitions & Screenwriting Contests You Need To Enter In 2022

Why You Should Enter Screenwriting Contests 

Every opportunity an individual gets to work on and hone their craft provides them with the ability to get their work seen by industry professionals. It opens up a window for the agents and other executives within the entertainment industry to be able to get to view their work and give feedback to help the writer. 

With screenwriting competitions, you can receive specific feedback (often called reader notes) about what stands out about your script and what doesn’t, what’s working descriptively and what isn’t, and whether the characters you are writing about in your script are relatable or not. 

In addition to the feedback you get, you also will get the opportunity to better network with the very individuals that you wish to be in business with once you get your script accepted somewhere. 

The more competitions that you participate in, the more of a rapport you develop with different industry professionals which could only benefit you in the long run, whether you win that particular competition or not. You may also develop a small circle of other creatives that are entering into the competition trenches alongside you and find people that you can network with and work with during the process and even after. 

In addition, you will gain more knowledge about the ins and outs of certain industry standards and practices. Now if none of that is enough for you to throw your hat in the competition ring then how about because it’s just fun so do try to find enjoyment in the process.

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Below there is a list of a few competitions including the prizes, the fee amounts, and the information on how you can submit to them to get started. Have fun putting your work out there into the world!

These Are Some Of The Top Screenwriting Competitions

The Academy Nicholl Fellowship:

The Academy Nicholl Fellowship:

Who is this competition founded by? 

Originally founded by Gee Nicholl and Julian Blaustein in 1985 and started as the Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting.

Who is this competition for? 

For amateur screenwriters

Entry Fee: 

Amount varies between $50-$90 depending on your time of submission. That regular deadline is $50 and the late deadlines are on the higher end.

Prize(s): 

The prize is up to $35,000 fellowships awarded to new screenwriters each year. 

How to enter: 

To enter you submit an original feature film screenplay in a PDF format, along with a completed online application form and the entry fee (amount varies between $50- $90, depending on your time of submission)

Full-time students who are in attendance at an accredited college/university are eligible for a discount on their entry fee in 2022. By indicating your status in the demographic section of the application and the discount will be offered once they reach the payment section. 

The deadlines for this competition are typically in the months of April (for on-time) and May (for late) of each year but you will have to consult the site for the firm deadline.

ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship:

Screencraft Screenwriting Fellowship:

Who is this competition founded by? 

This fellowship was launched in 2012 by Cameron Cubbison and John Rhodes

Who is this competition for? 

A fellowship designed to provide career guidance with personalized plans of action and curated industry meetings to emerging screenwriters.

Entry Fee: 

Standard entry fee is $49.50

Prize(s): 

3 emerging writers will be selected for ongoing mentorship and professional support. They will get:

3 months of one-on-one consultation with the ScreenCraft writer development team

Networking opportunities in order to build relationships within the industry and receive mentorship from previous fellowship winners. 

They will also have the opportunity to meet with literary agents and studio executives for seven days.

How to enter: 

TV pilot scripts and feature-length screenplays are both accepted. Submissions are accepted via electronic submissions ONLY. 

Entries can be any length (the standard ½ hour is between 20-40 pages, the standard hour is between 40-70 pages, and the standard feature is between 85-120 pages). However, any length longer than 120 pages will incur a $.50 per page overage fee for each page over 120.

The material must be submitted by the writer. Material written by writing teams must be submitted by one of the writers with consent from the other.

Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition:

Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition:

Who is this competition founded by? 

This is a non-profit organization that has been run by a team of volunteers for the past 28 years.

Who is this competition for? 

To further the craft of storytelling by inspiring other writers, filmmakers, and any artist who uses written and visual language to tell a story.

Entry Fee: 

Entry fees range from $40- $80 depending on the type and length of submission

Prize(s): 

The winner will receive:

A $2,500 prize

All expenses paid trip to Austin for a 3-day mentorship with Rooster Teeth’s team and meet with executives and their development team.

Any additions to the prize pool will be listed on their site. 

How to enter: 

All screenplays/teleplays must be submitted in English. An already-optioned or sold script cannot be submitted. When submitting by mail, a completed entry form including the authors’ original signatures must be attached along with the appropriate submission fee. Your signature should not be photocopied.

Film Independent Screenwriting Lab:

Film Independent Screenwriting Lab:

Who is this competition founded by? 

It was founded in 1981 by Gregory Nava and a close group of directors, writers, and producers.

Who is this competition for? 

For emerging screenwriters for the purpose of sharing their individualized stories so that they can receive further career development.

Entry Fee: 

The fee is free for those who are members of Filmmaker Pro; It is $5 for those who are members of Film Independent; and for non-members, the fee is $65

Prize(s): 

The winner of the fellowship will be awarded $12,500 in order to support the development of their project and the provision of industry mentorship.

How to enter: 

Please include a cover letter detailing what made you want to apply to begin with and why it’s the right time for you to participate in the program (max of 500 words). Include one complete feature-length screenplay; include an artist statement explaining the genesis of the story, your creative vision, and your intentions for the film (max of 750 words).

A logline (max of 35 words) and synopsis for the film; include Bios of attached key cast and crew, if any; project status and history, including relevant development history, awards received, or labs and markets attended with the project. A narrative directing sample if it is your plan to direct the film that you are applying for; and a lookbook (this is optional).

Finish Line Script Competition:

Finish Line Script Competition:

Who is this competition founded by? 

This competition was founded by Jenny Frankfurt and is based on the idea that rewriting is essential to being a successful writer.

Who is this competition for? 

This is for screenwriters looking to advance their careers and improve their craft and who see the value in receiving notes and guidance from top-tier mentors and industry professionals. 

Entry Fee: 

Fees vary depending on the time in which you apply and the type of feedback you wish to receive. The range is between $35 and $116 and can be further detailed on the site. 

Prize(s): 

The Grand prize winner receives: 

$1,500 as a cash prize, 

Meeting (either in person or virtually) with 47 industry professionals

Filmed table read of their script

Free consultation from script consultants for a year

A copy of script reader Pro’s course Script Hacker

A copy of the brand new Final Draft

Free access to support and help to get their script out, and 

5% of the earning from the competition will be donated to the winner’s charity of choice; 

The first runner up receives: 

$500 as a cash prize

The ability to send their script to up to 8 of the industry pros on the list, along with some other prizes included in the grand prize package.

The second runner-up will receive

$250 in a cash prize

The ability to send their scrip to up to 4 industry pros from the list, along with some other prizes included in the grand prize package. 

How to enter: 

To enter simply provide a PDF copy of your feature film screenplay or television pilot, a completed online application form, and an entry fee depending on when you submit and the services you choose. 

Unlimited entries are welcome. You will need to fill out a separate application and application fee for each pilot or screenplay you submit. 

Slamdance Screenplay Competition:

Slamdance Screenplay Competition:

Who is this competition founded by? 

Founded in 1995 by Peter Baxter 

Who is this competition for? 

Dedicated to discovering and nurturing emerging screenwriters.

Entry Fee: 

N/A

Prize(s): 

A total of up to $18,000 in cash prizes will be awarded to the winners with the grand prize winner receiving $10,000 in cash. The top three screenwriters in the feature and horror categories are eligible for membership in The Writer’s Guild of America’s Independent Writers Caucus. Other prizes can be further detailed on the website. 

How to enter: 

You can submit a 41-140 page feature with all narrative genres welcome; Up to 80 pages of a TV pilot, up to 80 pages, half hour, one hour, or a webisode. All narrative genres are welcome and entries may include a show bible up to 5 pages in length at the end of the script. Shorts and Horror or Thriller of up to 40 pages are able to be submitted as well. 

Scriptapalooza:

Scriptapalooza:

Who is this competition founded by? 

This was founded in 1998 by Mark Andrushko 

Who is this competition for? 

To help nurture talented emerging screenwriters and create career opportunities.

Entry Fee: 

Fees vary depending on when you submit, whether early or late, between $50- $75 for screenplays, $30- $55 for Shorts

Prize(s): 

First place winner will receive: 

$10,000 in cash

Access to over 150 producers through Scriptapalooza’s network for a full year 

Writer’s studio from Write Brothers 

6 months of international Screenwriter’s association connect membership

A year online subscription from backstage, and 

4 months of InkTip Pro membership. 

There is second-place, and third-place prizes as well and those are detailed on the website

How to enter: 

When applying online scripts are only accepted in PDF, Microsoft Word, or Text format and they only accept scripts by email. After filling out the application you then need to pay the entry fee via PayPal or you can call the office and make a payment over the phone.

TSL Free Screenplay Contest:

Tsl Free Screenplay Contest:

Who is this competition founded by? 

N/A

Who is this competition for? 

To search for top new writers and projects.

Entry Fee: 

There is no entry fee for this competition

Prize(s): 

Winners receive distribution to The Script Lab’s (TSL) network of almost a thousand industry executives, a career consultation session with Coverfly’s Writer Development team, one-year membership to TSL 360 screenwriting video library, and 20 free tokens for peer-to-peer notes through Coverfly. 

In addition, the first-place winner will receive $500 plus an optional written article published on The Script Lab (TSL) about your work and journey and distributed to over 200,000 monthly readers and members. Further prize details can be found on the website.

How to enter: 

Submissions are accepted through electronic submission only and must be entered by the final deadline. Only one submission per writer is allowed. It is recommended that shorts be between 2-30 pages, ½ hour TV script between 40-65 pages, and Features between 80-120 pages.

Filmmatic Horror Screenplay Horror Awards:

Filmmatic Horror Screenplay Horror Awards:

Who is this competition founded by? 

This competition was created by Daniel Tysdal

Who is this competition for? 

This competition was formed to identify and promote up-and-coming thriller/horror screenwriters as well as to empower and educate those talented writers who are still waiting for their invitation to the mainstream industry.

Entry Fee: 

The entry fee ranges from $25 to $119 depending on the time of your submission and whether you are submitting shorts, feature-length screenplays, or television scripts

Prize(s): 

The prizes include $1,000 cash to the winner, LIT Manager project/career consultation for the winner, Organized press and exposure for the winner, 10 finalists and over 100 semi-finalists, and INKTIP listing packages. Other prizes are detailed further on the site. 

How to enter: 

All scripts must be submitted in English, and entry fees must be paid in U.S. dollars. Writers must list their names in the online entry form. You must submit your script in one of the following formats, PDF, Final Draft, Movie Magic Screenwriter, Microsoft Word, Rich Text, or Text. Be sure to retain a copy of your submission as the submitted scripts will not be returned to you. 

Warner Bros. Writing Fellowship:

Warner Bros. Writing Fellowship:

Who is this competition founded by? 

N/A

Who is this competition for? 

It is designed to give emerging screenwriters from underrepresented groups the ability to write a project for Warner Bros.

Entry Fee: 

There is no entry fee to apply for this fellowship

Prize(s): 

Exposure to top industry writers and executives. For up to 8 diverse writers they will be able to take part in a series of master classes held over the course of a week in Santa Monica. In these classes, HBO executives and showrunners will discuss the craft of writing and a variety of other topics relevant to writers. 

How to enter: 

Applicants must submit a resume or bio, two original samples within the same genre (TV scripts preferred, but narrative writing is accepted within 30-65 pages), and agree to the terms and conditions. 

How To Format Your Screenplay Correctly For A Contest

Proper script formatting is extremely important when entering a screenwriting competition. It is a tedious process but a necessary one because movies are budgeted and scheduled directly from the length of the script and how many scenes are on a single page. 

You must keep in mind the proper screenplay format which includes: scene headings (slug lines), action lines, character names, dialogue format, and parenthetical(s). If you are concerned that you won’t know how to format the screenplay correctly, the best solution to combat that concern is to use screenwriting software. 

Screenwriting software is specifically designed to handle all the formatting so that you can just focus on the story you are telling. Some screenwriting software that you can consider is Final Draft 12, Grammarly, Celtx, Writer Duet, Squibler, Studio Binder, Movie Magic Screenwriter, and Fade In. 

Are Screenwriting Competitions Right for You?

In the end, whether you take the leap into the competition ring is completely up to you and what you can handle in terms of the level of rejection that is possible to receive combined with the negative feedback that you may also get. 

It also may depend on where you are at in your screenwriting journey and whether you feel you need a competition to give you that extra push into the industry you are striving to be a part of. Only you can make the choice about what is right for you. 

Competitive writing isn’t for everyone but if you feel you are up for the task, hopefully, you can get a good start with these competitions.

Best of luck! 

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