Screenwriting : Screenwriting Contests that have done a good job of marketing their winners by Regina Lee

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Regina Lee

Screenwriting Contests that have done a good job of marketing their winners

Hi, I've had several people message me asking which screenwriting contests I recommend. I'm not sure which contests give the best notes, cost the least, have the fastest turnaround, have the best prizes, etc. I'm commenting here to talk about contests that I've seen do a good job of marketing their winners, sending our winners' loglines to industry pros, helping make intros to agents/managers, giving their winners strong credibility, etc. Some contests have both Film and TV categories. Please understand this list is based only on my personal experience, and I'm sure others have different experiences from my own. Apologies in advance for accidental omissions and for an obnoxiously long post!! In no particular order: -Academy Nicholl Fellowships - the granddaddy where respect is a "given"; if you place, reps comes knocking on your door; the Academy issues press releases and finalists get a lot of press and promotion -Austin Film Festival Screenplay Comp - execs love to go to Austin, the name has credibility, launched Oren Uziel into industry awareness with his SHIMMER LAKE script; execs can (or could in the past) request a packet of all the winners' loglines -Slamdance Screenplay Comp - ditto, beloved, credible Screenplay Contest - the judges are primarily managers, and almost every winner lands a manager or agent; helped launch Mickey Fisher and his TV pilot EXTANT -Tracking Board Launch Pad - I'm less familiar with them than, but it's a definite trusted industry go-to -The CineStory Foundation Fellowship - disclaimer: I'm on the Board of this nonprofit. I believe we are the only nonprofit screenwriting contest. Our finalists are invited to a writers' retreat, and the CineStory Fellow is given one year of free mentorship from the 2 mentors of his choosing. Winners tend to pick Mark Fergus (IRON MAN, CHILDREN OF MEN) and Joe Forte (Harrison Ford's FIREWALL) as their mentors. 2013 Fellow Patrick Tobin saw his movie CAKE get made within a year (!!) with Jennifer Aniston starring. (NEW INFO: CineStory has just run its first TV fellowship, so CineStory is now running both Feature and Series Fellowships. Thank you.) Honorable Mention: -PAGE International Screenwriting Awards - I feel like they used to do a better job of emailing industry pros with their winners' loglines packet -ScreenCraft Screenwriting Contests by Genre - new one for me, but I had a script consulting client who was a Semifinalist; when he told me who the judges were, I was totally impressed at the level of access Not on my personal list: -BlueCat and Scriptapalooza - why? because I feel like everybody and their brother placed in these at some time. They tend to be "standard" rather than "stand-out" imho. I think it's best to pair this win with another one in your query letter. And sticking to the topic of my post, I haven't observed the kind of proactive outreach that other contests do for their winners. In the ballpark, but not a screenplay contest: -The Black List - if you have your script covered and if yours is deemed "one to watch" that week, you'll be included in a weekly email that goes out to an incredible mailing list of industry pros; the bad news - there are a lot of emails from The Black List and a lot of scripts, so you could fall through the cracks; still this site is completely trusted by pros -Sundance Institute Writers/Directors/Producers Labs -Film Independent Labs, workshops, pitch practice sessions -AFI Directing Workshop for Women -Tribeca All Access -IFP programs -There is a NY independent filmmakers program whose name is escaping me - does anyone know it off the top of your head? -Screenwriters Colony -writers programs run by major TV networks and film/TV studios (Google them) Pitch Opportunities: -Stage 32 - I'm a newly active member of S32, but in only 2 weeks, I'm highly impressed by the work that Joey Tuccio is doing. Joey's results show that he is highly effective, and clearly, judging by Success Stories posts, people love working with him. Congrats and bravo! -Virtual Pitch Fest - a great way to pitch if you can't attend a pitch fest in person, a very long list of totally legit industry pros ranging from producers to buyers to agents and managers

Scott Kushman

Thanks for this list!

Devin Ryan

Thank you for the list. It is hard sometimes for someone just starting out to identify what contests to focus on. This list was very helpful and informative.

John Garrett

Thank you for sharing!

Mike Romoth

Thanks for taking the time to get your ideas in writing. Valuable to all of us.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Thanks Regina!

Regina Lee

Thanks, John, Mike, Beth.

Regina Lee

@Joey, that's fantastic. Congrats to your winners!

Regina Lee

Thanks, everyone! Glad the list helps give you a starting point!

Joaquín Carrasquilla

Thank you Regina, very usefull information !

Jorge J Prieto

Thanks, Regina for ALL that you do.

Regina Lee

Thanks, you guys. Hope the list (and Joey's additions) contributes to your growth as a writer in the market!

Daniel Magill

Anyone ever do the Cynosure contest? It's for films with female protagonists or featuring other cultures.

Boomer Murrhee

Thanks Regina for your time and insight. This is most helpful.

DeAnne Brown-Hirsch

Thank you - truly helpful for the newbie!!

Christopher Binder

Many thanks.

Shari D. Frost

Wow - thanks for taking the time to compile this list, Regina, it's much appreciated!

David Levy

Thank you for sharing, Regina! You are a true source of needed info!

Eoin O'Sullivan

I didn't think Bluecat had such a bad rep. I mean, it's an annual contest, so I'd don't see how anyone and everyone could have placed in it!? Prisoners (2013) came through Bluecat.

Regina Lee

@Eoin, I didn't say Bluecat had a bad rep. My personal experience when I have received query letters or VPF pitches is that many of those pitches include a reference to Bluecat. I feel like it's pretty ubiquitous, and therefore, not a true standout for me. However, something is better than nothing, and I wouldn't tell you to omit Bluecat from your credentials.

Regina Lee

To @Eoin and to others, speaking of Prisoners, check out I'm a huge fan of Kolbrenner. Impeccable taste, passionate, and a very nice guy.

Eoin O'Sullivan

@CJ never heard that before. I met a guy who read for them (and other contests) and he had nothing but nice things to say about bluecat and staff. With forum chatter etc., it can be sometimes hard to tell what's true and what's manufactured. PAGE posted on Facebook that they were busy replying to angry emails after the 1/4s were announced.

Michelle J Kenoyer

Thanks for this list, Regina! :) Helps to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to choosing the best screenplay contests to enter. Those entry fees ain't cheap.

Michelle J Kenoyer

Just entered the Tracking Board Launch Pad contest that Regina recommended (thanks, Regina!). Here's the link for anyone who's interested--sounds like a legit and very cool contest:

Regina Lee

Break a leg, Michelle! The Tracking Board is a very trusted industry site. Personally, I'm on more often because they reached out to me, and I consider them friendly acquaintances, but both Tracking Board and trackingb are very trusted resources in mainstream "Hollywood."

W. Keith Sewell

I hear that a lot about Tracking B when it comes to reputable contests. TrackingB is almost always mentioned in the Top 10 - 5 ...

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