How to Select Which Screenwriting Competitions to Enter: Identify Your Goals

by Ann Marie Williams © 2020

Whether you are a new screenwriter hoping to discover how your script ranks or a seasoned screenwriter hoping to find representation, when trying to determine which screenwriting competitions are worthy of your script, your entry fee, and your time, it’s important to identify what you want to gain from the competition process.

It’s been my experience that the benefits of screenwriting competitions often fall into two main categories: exposure and information.

Seeking Exposure

If you’re confident in your writing and confident that your script is ready for the marketplace, then your reason for entering screenwriting competitions might be to gain exposure. You’re ready to start (or progress) your screenwriting career. In other words, you are going for the win—or a high placement—in the hopes it will jumpstart your career.

It is important to identify the type of screenwriting career help you need so that you can select the competitions most likely to provide that help if you win/place. Do you want mentorship? Guaranteed representation? Do you want the competition organization to arrange meetings for you with agents, managers, and producers? Do you want the competition to circulate your script’s logline to industry professionals? Are you hoping the judge who reads your script is so impressed that he/she wants to represent you, whether your script wins or not?

Once you’ve identified what you’re seeking, you can go about researching which competitions are most likely to be a good fit.

Seeking Information

If you’re new to screenwriting competitions, or unsure if you and/or your script are ready to win, then it might be best to enter competitions that give you the most insight into how your script ranks and/or those that provide written critiques.

Not all competitions provide particulars regarding how your script ranked, whereas others provide entrants with their scripts’ scores, written critiques, or other identifiers to help entrants determine how their scripts stacked up against the competition, and in which areas the script excelled or fell short.

Again, it’s a good idea to identify the type of information you need. Is learning your script’s rank enough? Or will you want to know how your script scored per judging criteria? If you find out your script scored well on plot, but scored low on character, will that data be enough? Or will you need written critiques that exactly why your character score was low? Will that be enough? Or will you need detailed written critiques that offer suggestions on how to fix the issues with the characters?

Summary

Each screenwriting competition is different. That means it takes a lot of time to sort through them all to find the right ones for you and your script. But it also means there’s the potential to find the ones that offer just what you need at this point in your writing career. So, identifying what your writing and your writing career need at this moment is the first step.


The above post is a slightly modified excerpt from Screenplay Competitions: Tools and Insights to Help You Choose the Best Screenwriting Contests for You and Your Script by Ann Marie Williams © 2019

Screenplay Competitions book front and back cover

Screenplay Competitions has received endorsements from Dave Trottier (author, The Screenwriter’s Bible, www.keepwriting.com), 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 (www.bang2write.com), and Emmy-wining writer Ken Levine (Hollywood and Levine).

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