The Top 13 Screenwriting Contests To Enter for 2017


The Top 13 Screenwriting Contests To Enter In 2017

To learn how to become a screenwriter, screenwriting contests are a great way to get started.

One of the best ways to get noticed by agents and managers – especially if you don’t have many Hollywood connections – is by winning screenwriting contests and competitions.

Winning screenplay contests is not an automatic ticket to success, but your work is more likely to be read by potential managers, agents, and producers.

Screenwriting Contests Overview

There are at least 74 screenwriting contests (you can find them here and here), but only a small number (in my opinion) are worth entering.

If you want to enter all the screenplay contests, go for it (though this can get expensive), but I recommend that you focus on taking fewer, higher-quality shots by entering the top screenwriting contests to which industry executives pay attention.

The following screenwriting contests are a viable avenue for getting representation and breaking in (especially for those who are outside LA).


The Top Screenwriting Contests

The Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting and Austin Screenwriting Competition are the best screenwriting contests because many agents and executives read the winning scripts.

There is a proven track record of writers who have sold scripts, gotten representation, and launched their careers based on winning these screenwriting contests.

Academy Nicholl Fellowship

Deadlines for 2017:

  • Early Entry: March 7 ($45)
  • Regular Entry: April 10 ($60)
  • Late Entry: May 1 ($85)

Odds of winning (based on 2016 entries): 6915 submissions, 5 winners = 0.00071685

Austin Screenwriting Competition

Deadlines for 2017:


  • Early: March 31 ($45)
  • Regular: April 20 ($55)
  • Late: May 15 ($70)


  • Early: March 31 ($35)
  • Regular: April 20 ($45)
  • Late: May 16 ($60)

Odds of winning (based on 2016 entries): 9100 submissions, 10 winners = 0.00109890

Screenwriting Contests Worth Considering

BlueCat Screenplay Competition

Deadlines for 2017:

  • Early Entry: March 20 (Feature Screenplay $45; Short Script $35; Pilot $40)
  • Regular Entry: June 1 (Feature Screenplay $55; Short Script $45; Pilot $50)
  • Final Deadline: June 26 (Feature Screenplay $60; Short Script $50; Pilot $55)

Finish Line Script Competition

Deadlines for 2017:

  • Early: February 17th ($40)
  • Regular: April 28 ($45)
  • Late: June 13th ($45)
  • Final Re-submissions: June 30
  • Quarter-Finalists Drafts Due: July 28

*Includes TV category

Final Draft Big Break Contest

Deadlines for 2017:

  • Opens to submissions mid February
  • Early: Late February ($40)
  • Standard: Late June ($50)
  • Extended: Mid July ($65)

The fees and dates have not been confirmed yet. I have listed the 2016 fees for your reference.

PAGE International Screenwriting Awards

Deadlines for 2017:

  • Early Entry: January 17 ($39)
  • Regular Entry: February 17 ($49)
  • Late Entry: March 17 ($59)
  • Last Minute: April 17 ($69)


ScreenCraft’s screenwriting contests are broken down by genre, with multiple dates for each. Fees range from $39 – $59 depending on selected deadline. See below for 2017 dates:

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Deadlines for 2017:

  • Early Entry: January 6 ($45)
  • First Entry: February 1 ($50)
  • Regular Entry: March 10 ($55)
  • Late Entry: April 17 ($60)
  • Final Entry: May 1 ($65)

Scriptapalooza TV Contest

Deadlines for 2017:

  • Deadline: April 15 ($45)

Script Pipeline Screenwriting Contest

Deadlines for 2017:


  • Early: March 1 ($50)
  • Regular: May 1 ($55)


  • Early: March 1 ($50)
  • Regular: May 1 ($55)

Slamdance Screenplay Competition

Deadlines for 2017:

  • Early Entry: February 21 – April 10
  • Regular Entry: April 11 – June 12
  • Late Entry: June 13 – July 24
  • Withoutabox Extended Deadline: July 25 – July 28

Fees range $25 – $90 and vary according to genre and entry date.

Sundance Screenwriters Lab

Deadlines for 2017:

  • Closed for January 2017 Lab

Deadlines for 2018:

  • Regular Entry: Open from Mid March – Early May ($40)

The fees and dates have not been confirmed yet. I have listed 2016 fees for your reference.

Please note there are two labs; one for American citizens and one for international applicants. They share the same application dates.

Sundance Episodic Storytelling Lab

Deadlines for 2017:

  • Final: February 1 ($40)

TrackingB Feature and TV Script Contest

Deadlines for 2017:


  • Early Entry: July 30 ($95)
  • Late Entry: September 4 ($110)
  • Really Late Entry: October 9 ($125)


  • Early Entry: January 22 ($89)
  • Late Entry: February 26 ($99)
  • Really Late Entry: April 11 ($109)

Tracking Board Launch Pad

2017 Launch Pad Manuscript Competition – starts March 31, 2017

  • Early Bird: March 31st – April 15th ($50)
  • Regular: April 16th – May 15th ($60)
  • Late: May 16th – June 15th ($70)
  • Last Minute: June 16th – June 30st ($80)

2017 Launch Pad Feature Competition – starts May 22, 2017

  • Early Bird: May 22nd – June 10th ($65)
  • Regular: June 11th – July 9th ($75)
  • Late: July 10th – August 6th ($85)
  • Last Minute: August 7th – August 20th ($95)

2018 Launch Pad Pilots Competition – starts November 13, 2017

  • Early Bird: November 13th – December 3rd ($65)
  • Regular: December 4th – January 7th ($75)
  • Late: January 8th – February 4th ($85)
  • Last Minute: February 5th – February 25th ($95)

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Why Enter Screenwriting Contests?

Screenwriting competitions are FANTASTIC motivators because of their rigid deadlines.

Lots of writers struggle with procrastination (do you?) and committing to even just one screenwriting contest deadline can be a big boost to your productivity.

“Because of the anticipated surge in submissions, we cannot guarantee access to the online application form during the last six hours before the entry deadline. –Submission Rules, Academy Nicholl Fellowship

Many people wait to submit until the final six hours of a screenwriting contest that happens once a year, so you aren’t alone struggling to get projects written and submitted.

Another reason to enter the top screenwriting contests is to stay motivated. Making it to a quarterfinal or semifinal or top 25% (or however they whittle down the standings) can prove to an aspiring writer that they’re doing something right.

My Advice On Screenwriting Contests

Choose a contest and a deadline. Then, submit at least one script to one of the top screenwriting contests I recommend.

If the script gets recognized in any way (i.e., it doesn’t win but it makes the second round, or top 10%, etc), revise it and submit to three different contests.

If the script doesn’t get recognized, then keep it in your library of projects, pick something new from your development slate, and write something else.

Instead of submitting multiple projects to several contests (which can get expensive), you only make multiple submissions when you have objective evidence that your work is good enough to have a chance to win, and you spend more of your valuable time writing new material.

That’s plenty of work, I know.

And it doesn’t take into account the other aspects of how to be a professional writer that have nothing to do with writing that I cover in my course (e.g., networking, pitching, selling).

But over time, if you write and submit at least one script every year to one of the best contests, you will get better and your material will get better. If you submit multiple scripts only when they have received positive feedback, your chances of being successful go up.

What Screenplay Contests Have You Entered?

Writing down a goal increases that chances that you’ll complete it. Who wants to commit to entering one of these screenwriting contests? Tell me in the comments which of these screenwriting competitions you are entering.

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Wednesday, 22 May 2019