Screenwriting Competition Terminology: The Difference Between Readers and Judges

Except from Screenplay Competitions: Tools and Insights to Help You Choose the Best Screenwriting Contests for You and Your Script by Ann Marie Williams © 2019

It’s common for screenwriting competitions to use the term judge and/or the term reader to refer to an individual who reads, evaluates, and ranks scripts in their competitions. 

Why the two terms? It’s not entirely clear. 

Quite simply, it could be because “reader” doesn’t sound quite as harsh as “judge.” 

Or, for those competitions that use both terms, it could be that the terms refer to different levels of judges and/or competition. 

For example, perhaps a competition’s initial rounds of judging are evaluated by script analysts and aspiring screenwriters, so the competition refers to these individuals as “readers.” But perhaps the final round is evaluated by top film producers, so the competition refers to these individuals as “judges.” This allows the competition to promote the high-profile status of their “judges,” while still differentiating between them and the early round “readers.” 

Screenplay Competitions book front and back cover

Screenplay Competitions is available on eBay, Amazon, and direct from the publisher: Bluestocking Press.

Screenplay Competitions has received endorsements from Dave Trottier (author, The Screenwriter’s Bible,, Professor Richard Walter (former Screenwriting Area Head, Associate and Interim Dean UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television), Matt Dy (former Director of Script Competitions at Austin Film Festival), Professor Harry M. Cheney (Chapman University Dodge College of Film and Media Arts), script editor Lucy V. Hay ( and Emmy-wining writer Ken Levine (Hollywood and Levine).