Category Archives: Opportunities

Screenwriting Contests

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Placing in a well respected screenwriting contest can bring your writing to the attention of the industry. Here’s my round-up of the best film and television writing contests in the UK and US. This list is updated at the beginning of every month so do subscribe to the blog to get future updates straight to your inbox. banner script angel screenwriting contests

Top Tip – get feedback on your script ahead of time to be sure you’re submitting the best sample of your writing.

Berlinale Talent Campus – Deadline: 1 September 2016.

Blue Cat Screenplay Competition – Deadline: 1 September 2016 (early) / 15 October 2016 (regular) / 15 November 2016 (final).  Accepting shorts and feature length scripts.

Tracking Board Launch Pad Features Contest – Deadline: 6 September 2016 (late) / 21 September 2016 (final).

Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition – Deadline: 8 September 2016 (regular) / 6 October 2016 (late) / 3 November 2016 (final). Accepting feature scripts up to 130pp, tv scripts up to 75pp, short film scripts up to 25pp.

American Zoetrope Screenplay Contest – Deadline: 15 September 2016.  Screenplays 82-145pp.

Cinequest Screenwriting Competition  – Deadline: 23 September 2016 (regular) / 14 October 2016 (late) / 4 November 2016 (final). Features, teleplays (60′ & 30′) and shorts.

4Screenwriting – Deadline: 25 September 2016 (final). Accepting screenplays (film or tv), stage plays and radio plays. Open to residents of UK and Ireland. Applicants must be available to attend the course in London on specified dates. Opens Monday 5th September.

BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing – Film Script Call – Deadline: 27 September 2016.

Nashville Film Festival Screenwriting Contest – Deadline: 30 September 2016 (regular) / 30 November 2016 (late) / 6 January 2017 (final).  Screenplays 80-120pp, short script under 40pp, half-hour tv comedy script 22-35pp, one-hour tv drama 45-65pp.

C21 Drama Series Script Competition – Deadline: 13 October 2016. Pilot script (max 60pp) and supporting document. Finalists receive high-level mentoring. Winning writer receives $10,000 and the script will go into development with eOne Television. 

Screencraft Action & Thriller Screenplay Contest – Deadline: 15 October 2016 (regular) / 20 October 2016 (final). Screenplays up to 140pp.

Cassian Elwes Independent Screenwriting Fellowship with The Black List – Deadline: 5 November 2016.

Screenwriting Goldmine Competition  – Deadline: 8 December 2016 (final) – Film & TV scripts 45-120pp. (UK focused) Opens 6 October 2016.

Screencraft Family Screenplay Contest – Deadline: 30 December 2016 (final). Opens for submissions 4 November 2016.

Screencraft Screenwriting Fellowship – Deadline: 30 December 2016 (regular) / 15 January 2017 (final). Opens 1 October 2016.

TO LOOK OUT FOR AT A LATER DATE:

Universal Pictures’ Emerging Writers Fellowship – Deadline: usually November.

Hamptons International Film Festival Screenwriters’ Lab – Deadline: usually January. Feature length screenplays only.

Seattle International Film Festival Screenplay Contest – Deadline: usually January.

The Red Planet Prize – Deadline: usually January. Accepting tv screenplays. 

Nickelodeon TV Writing Program – Deadline: usually February. Spec scripts for one of their listed shows. Open to US and international applicants.

London Independent Film Festival Screenplay Contest – Deadline: usually March.  Short & feature length scripts.

European Independent Film Festival Script Competition – Deadline: usually March. Short scripts 5-50pp & feature length scripts 80-130pp. Looking for scripts NOT aimed at mainstream Hollywood film markets.

Cinestory Screenwriting Retreat Contest – Deadline: usually March.  Screenplay 85-130pages.

The Sitcom Trials – Deadline: usually March. 10-minute sitcom extract with a cliffhanger ending.

The PAGE International Screenwriting Awards – Deadline: usually April. Short scripts up to 40pp, feature screenplays 80-120pp, TV drama pilots 50-70pp, TV comedy pilots 25-45pp. 

The Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting:  Deadline: usually May. Screenplays 90-120pp.

Edinburgh International Film Festival Talent Lab – Deadline: usually April. Open to screenwriters, producers & directors. Feature films only.

Scriptapalooza –  Deadline: usually April. Screenplays 80-140pp.

Script Pipeline Screenwriting Contest – Deadline:  usually May.  Feature length screenplays.

Script Pipeline TV Writing Contest – Deadline:  usually May.  Any length script, pilot of original or spec of existing show.

Sundance Screenwriters’ Lab – Deadline: usually May. Feature length screenplays. U.S residents only.

Sitcom Mission – Deadline: usually May. Submit 15 minute sitcom script for tv, radio or stage.

Austin Film Festival Screenplay & Teleplay Competition – Deadline: usually May. Feature scripts 90-120pp, teleplays (original pilot or spec of existing show) 45-70pp, sitcom scripts 22-40pp.

Tracking Board Launch Pad Pilot Contest – Deadline: usually May. Original tv spec scripts up to 70pp.

Warner Brothers Writers’ Workshop – Deadline: usually May. Spec script of selected existing shows. Must be available to attend workshops in Los Angeles.

Disney/ABC Writing Fellowship – Deadline: Usually May. Applicants must be able to prove US employment eligibility.

Screamfest Horror Film Festival Screenplay Contest – Deadline: usually June.  Feature screenplays 75-130pp in Horror genre.

New York TV Festival Comedy Script Competition – Deadline: usually June.

Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting Award – Deadline: usually July. Submit 30-60 minute television drama script. Applicants must be under 30 and non-US residents.

Screencraft Horror Screenplay Contest – Deadline: usually July. Screenplays up to 140pp.

Emerging Screenwriters Screenplay Competition – Deadline: usually July.

Big Break Screenwriting Contest– Deadline: usually July. Teleplays 25-70pp / Screenplays 80-120pp.

Screencraft Pilot Launch TV Script Contest – Deadline: usually August.

Shore Scripts Screenplay Competition – Deadline: usually August – Feature screenplays 80-120pp, tv pilots 15-70pp, short screenplays 3-20pp.

Good luck!

The Bottled Water Tour of 2014 by Tony Lee

A very warm welcome to writer Tony Lee who is guest blogging this week on his experience as a Brit doing the meeting-rounds in L.A.

So a couple of weeks ago I was in Los Angeles for an entire week, partly due to the fact that I was a guest at the Gallifrey One convention but also for a variety of meetings, catch ups and get togethers across Los Angeles. This is my second year of solid meetings and I thought I’d talk a bit about them, and what I did – and more importantly what I learned.

First off, if you’re having meetings, make sure they’re booked. Don’t just rock up to a door and go ‘hi, any chance of a chat?‘ as cold calling doesn’t work in the main, as most production companies are on studio lots. Which means a studio security to get through first. That said, there’s every chance of being able to cold email someone going ‘hi, I’m in the area on Tuesday, any chance of a chat?‘ as long as they know you. How do they know you? Well, the chances are you’ve already spoken to them at festivals, conventions, networking days or even (as a couple of my friends have done) mild stalking on LinkedIn. Get to know them. Get a dialogue going with them. Then, when you’re in the area, let them know.

Now, here’s an important thing, don’t bother booking months in advance. These guys don’t know what they’re doing next week. So let them know a few weeks beforehand that you’ll be around, and then attack again a week before, nailing down some times. Don’t give them the chance to set the stage, give them two or three options.

‘Hey, I’m around on Tuesday. What’s best, 11am or 2pm?‘ If they say they can’t do Tuesday, ask if they can do Wednesday. If they can, offer to move things around so that they can be seen. Work to their schedule, but within your constraints.

It also helps if they know your work, or have seen your work. If they’ve never seen a single thing that you’ve written, rocking up with five pitches only shows you can pitch. Have a screenplay finished, something that you could even have sent in advance, as well as other ideas and pitches in your pocket.

Don’t be star struck. It’s difficult, I know. One of my meetings was upstairs from Aaron Sorkin on the Warner Lot, in a room with walls laden with movie props and awards. Remember that they’re willing to see you because you might offer them something they need. They’re not being a charity case here, they’re looking for product and you have some. Be confident. Drink the bottled water – trust me, you’ll need it.

Never sit in front of a window, if just gives them distractions. If you’re in a cafe or a Starbucks, lean in so that they unconsciously lean in as well. Don’t shut them out of the process, let them contribute to the story and take their notes on board – they might know better than you.

Now. The pitch. There are people out there who have done so many of these, and the things they always tell me are almost the same as what I was told in sales school twenty years ago. First off, people buy people. More importantly, within the first few seconds someone will decide if they like you or not. And if they like you, they’ll humour you more, allow for more mistakes. So, don’t walk in like a bulldozer. Talk to them, get to know them. The chances are that during this part of the conversation, you might learn that the pitch you have? Totally not right for them. This gives you ammunition.

The thing I tell everyone to do? When in LA, hire a car. Driving in LA is super easy. Yes, there are buses and cabs, but having a car (I’ve found) is an instant ice breaker. How is it driving in LA? How big is the car? Play up the Alien in Los Angeles, it’s an icebreaker. But more importantly, you give the impression of a writer who’s confident and comfortable in LA. Producers like that.

Never be late for a meeting, so before you confirm everything check the distances on Google Maps and double the time it says. That’ll give you enough time to arrive and get five minutes to plan your day. Learn what ‘Validate’ is – never pay for parking if you don’t have to. Try to keep your meetings in the same area, a bulk of Production companies are in Burbank, which makes things easy, but Burbank is a big place and you might accidentally find yourself on a Freeway. Not good. And one of my days was Santa Monica – Burbank – The Valley – Glendale – Sunset Strip. Plan for delays!

Have plenty of business cards, and never be shy in giving them out. You never know who’s going to be in the meeting. Ensure you have a working phone with a data plan, as well – meetings often get moved on the fly and if you have to wait for wifi to get your emails, it might be too late. I have an unlocked iPhone and I have a T Mobile US Sim. Every day I use it I pay $3, but I get unlimited calls, texts and 4G data. So I’m good to go.

If it’s a lunch meeting on site? Don’t eat a large breakfast. On one day I made the mistake of expecting a very light lunch and had a breakfast with some friends at 9am at the IHOP. That’s INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF PANCAKES, and should give you an idea of how big the portions are. At 10am I leave for Dreamworks and my lunch meeting at 12pm. But while driving I learn it’s now been moved to 11.30am. Which isn’t a problem to get to, but when we arrive I learn that Dreamworks give AWESOME lunches, full buffet affairs – and I’m two hours from a stupidly large breakfast. I ate light. And felt bad.

Always always ALWAYS find out what else the producer is up to, you never know what you can get involved in. One of my meetings ended with them talking about a series of books they’re reading and discussing which one of these books would be a good fit for me to adapt into a film. Another is working on a series involving a set of books that are my favourite books ever, so naturally by the time we finished discussing those, he knew that I was enthusiastic, quick with ideas and flexible – without a single word of any of my projects being spoken.

Enjoy the time between meetings. Look around the local sites. One of my meetings was at Hollywood and Highland, so I took some time to visit Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Two of my meetings were on the Warner Lot, and after the second of these I was able to stroll around the lot itself, watch some filming, visit a couple of stages. All of this reminded me exactly why I want to do this for a living.

Don’t kill yourself, but pack the time in. Explaining to a producer that I had twelve meetings in three days showed a) I was busy but also b) I was in demand. The fact that many of these meetings were PURELY because I was only around for three days is irrelevant.

I had twelve meetings between Tuesday and Thursday. One was a catch up at a comic company. Three were with television companies. One was an independent producer I met at San Diego who wants me involved on a project he’s doing. The other seven were with film companies who wanted to hear about my movie ideas. Of which I had one scripted, and one in treatment. Of those seven, five wanted to see the treatment when it was finished. Four wanted to see the film I’d finished already and three had other projects that, down the line I could be involved in.

If I get nothing from these, I still walk away with the same amount that I would have had if I hadn’t gone to them. And that’s what you have to remember. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And as I play the post-meeting email tennis, I know that I gave it my best shot.

Tony Lee is a New York Times #1 Bestselling author of comics, books, audio adventures and screenplays. Find out more about Tony’s work here and follow Tony on Twitter @mrtonylee.

 

Script Angel / LSF Mentoring Competition – WINNER

Congratulations to REBECCA HANDLEY who wins 6-months of script development and mentoring.

I was hugely impressed by Rebecca’s writing. The opening ten pages of her script combined exciting action and edge with strong characterisations and poignancy.  I’m very much looking forward to working with Rebecca to help develop her projects.

In addition, I have decided to offer runners-up DANIEL SUNLEY and KRISTINA DAY free feedback on a project (script or treatment) of their choosing.

The standard of entries was incredibly high and I was impressed by the strong writing style demonstrated by both Daniel and Kristina. I’m delighted to be able to offer my help to both writers.

Script Angel / LSF Mentoring Competition – Top 3

We’re delighted to announce that the top 3 writers are:

Daniel Sunley

Kristina Day

Rebecca Handley

We’ve been hugely impressed by the standard of entries so thank you to everyone who entered and congratulations to the top 3.

The winner, who will receive 6-months script development and mentoring with Script Angel’s Hayley McKenzie, will be announced later today.

Script Angel / LSF Mentoring Competition – Top 25

A big thank you to all the writers who entered the competition. It was great to see entries from across the world – as well as many from the UK we had writers from Switzerland, Canada, France, Australia and the US.

We’re delighted to announce that the top 25 writers are:

Amanda Duke

Annas Eskander

Carys Davis

Claire Yeowart

Craig Donaghy

Daniel Sunley

Dee Chilton

Gareth Meredith / James Merigan

Jason King

John Morrison

Jon Ryan

Katia Hadidian

K T Parker

Kristina Day

Leon Metcalfe

Liz Holliday

Maggie Innes

Mary Evans

Philip Miles

Rebecca Handley

Richard James

Simon Underwood

Stephan Burn

Tracey Flynn

Trina Grosvenor

The standard of writing was extremely high and many who didn’t make the top 25 still showed a lot of promise – so don’t give up!

Congratulations to the top 25 writers. I’ll be reading all those entries again and will announce the winner on Tuesday 7th May.

Want free professional help with your script?

I love helping writers to develop their scripts, be it a feature film or a television show, and I know I’m really lucky to do it for a living. I don’t apologise for charging for my services and I think my testimonials and CV speak for themselves. However, I often get  approached by writers who want me to give them feedback on their script for free. If I said ‘yes’ to everyone who asked I’d have a full-time job earning no money and I just don’t have that luxury. But I won’t pretend it’s easy to write those replies – I feel bad when someone asks for help and I can’t give it.

So, a few months ago I got to thinking about how I could help someone who can’t afford to pay for my services. That’s when I teamed up with the London Screenwriters’ Festival and we decided to offer my services for six months as a prize to one LSF 2013 delegate. I could of course just pull a name out of a hat but I want to offer my help to a writer who I feel has the most to gain from it. We’re asking writers to submit a ten-page writing sample and a one-page outline of the project they want to develop. Check out the London Screenwriters Festival Mentoring Competition page for information on the submission process and what’s on offer.

So, if you want professional help developing one script over multiple drafts plus several other projects to treatment and advice on your screenwriting career then get your entries in quick. Deadline is just one week away – Friday 19 April.  Good luck!

 

Production Companies (UK) Accepting Unsolicited Scripts

Getting your unsolicited script made, or even read by a production company, is about the toughest way to break into the industry, but lots of people still ask me about it so here’s my two-pennies-worth…

get unsolicited script read by production companies

If I go back only ten years I could have written a list here of nearly a hundred film and television production companies who would accept scripts submitted by new writers (writers they didn’t know, and who didn’t have an agent).  I know because I made a living reading for about twenty of them.  Sadly, that is no longer the case. It costs money to employ readers to plough through tens of thousands of scripts each year.  The reality is that of those thousands of spec scripts, only a handful will be good enough for the production company to want to develop it and try to get it made.  In essence the return on the money invested in reading unsolicited scripts is too small to make it viable for most companies.

However, maybe you are that one in ten thousand whose script is pretty much perfect but you don’t yet have an agent or any credits or a script competition win to your name.  So how do you get a production company to read your script?  Well, there are still a handful of places accepting unsolicited submissions. But remember – you only get ONE CHANCE to impress so make sure you’ve had constructive, professional feedback and rewritten it so that it really showcases your writing.

I’ve listed below all the places I’ve found that do still accept unsolicited script submissions.  Check out their websites and follow their submission guidelines. If in doubt, contact them and ask what their policy is.

BBC Writersroom – not a production company as such but as part of the BBC the Writersroom has the connections within the organisation to connect you and your project with the drama production part of the BBC.

BFI Film Fund – a funding source for script development and production but they are looking for submissions ideally from a team that can get the film made (writer/producer/director).

BabyJane Productions

Blast Films

Braidmade Films

Cascade Media – Writers’ Couch

Feelgood Fiction

Fidelity Films

Ipso Facto Films

Little Green Jade

One Eyed Dog Films

Phantom Pictures

Panther Pictures

Picture Palace

Red Production Company

Red Planet Pictures

RS Productions

Shooting People – online pitching available.  Subscription required.

Spectre Vision

Do bear in mind that I’m not recommending these production companies, I’m just pulling together information that’s already in the public domain.  It’s up to you to do your homework.

It’s also worth looking at emerging producers who are starting to get films made and might be looking for new projeccts. Look at who is being awarded funding by schemes like the BFI Film Fund or iFeatures2.

Also check out these great blog posts on making your submission a ‘solicited’ one:

‘Can’t Get Read? Yes You Can!’ by Lucy Hay (Bang2Write)

‘Submitting To Companies That Don’t Take Unsolicited Material’ by Ashley Scott Meyers.

Good luck!