Is it a good idea to enter your Screenplay into a competition?
The answer is yes!
There is a caveat, which I’ll address in a moment.
There are 4 main reasons for entering a Screenplay competition
1. Finishing A Draft
Thinkers – Think
Talkers – Talk
Writers – Write!
The two biggest risks a writer faces with writing a Screenplay are:
not starting the Screenplay
not finishing the Screenplay.
Many writers are gifted procrastinators so nothing motivates action quite like a looming deadline. I know the grind of writing can be tough but successful writers finish what they start.
A great way to ensure you write your Screenplay is to use a Screenplay competition as a deadline. By setting the goal to enter a competition you have a submission date you must hit. Working backwards from that date you can devise a writing plan of easy to achieve milestones.
Let’s say you have had the idea in your head for a while and done some development work already and the next screenplay competition is 12 weeks away, your writing plan could be:
Week 1: Draft a Log-line & Develop Characters
Week 2-6: Plot Story
Week 6-7: Write Outline Or Treatment
Week 7-10 – Write Screenplay
Week 11 – Get feedback
Week 12 – Redraft Screenplay and Log-line
When the competition deadline comes around you will submit your Screenplay with a sense of accomplishment and irrespective of how it performs in the competition you achieved a major milestone of writing a draft of your feature.
If you need more detail on how to write a Screenplay download my 1-Step-A-Day Technique (free). I think you’ll find it an invaluable resource.
2. Coverage On Your Screenplay
Some Screenplay competitions have coverage or feedback from a professional reader on each submission.
Typically this comprises of a 1-2 page report detailing the strengths and weaknesses of your Screenplay. This is great value for money as you have not only finished a draft but you receive industry feedback and suggestions on how to improve the next draft.
As a screenwriter you really have two goals for each project, the first is writing the Screenplay and the second is selling that Screenplay to a producer who can make it. Screenplay competitions are great way to market your Screenplay and ‘get you out there’ as many industry people follow them closely.
The industry is constantly on the look out for new Screenplays to purchase and make so you can guarantee if you enter your Screenplay into a comedy competition, producers looking to make comedies will be reading the log-lines of each entry to find their next project. Many writers have been approached by a producer or production company through this method.
In fact some companies conduct Screenplay competitions specifically to canvas what scripts are out there to purchase or discover talent they can hire to write specific projects the company is developing.
Producers aren’t the only ones monitoring competitions, talent agents, executives and directors are also closely watching. If your Screenplay performs well in high level Screenplay competitions, meetings with all these people, developments deals and work offers will inevitably follow.
Screenplay competitions often have awards including, money, meetings and prizes.
Getting paid to be a writer, especially when starting out, is one of the most difficult parts of the job. Many Screenplay competitions have prize pools of cash, the amount of money varies greatly between competitions, and none will cover the hours you have put into writing your Screenplay, but any money helps with rent and bills.
The money is also helpful for covering the incidental costs of marketing your Screenplay such as travel to film markets, entry fees to competitions or paying for script coverage.
Certain competitions have prizes such as screenwriting software packages, attending film markets and face to face career development sessions with established industry figures.
All of these are great reasons to finish that Screenplay draft and submit your Screenplay but now to the caveat I mentioned in the introduction.
Not all Screenplay competitions are reputable and can be a waste of your time and money.
Research any Screenplay competition before you submit your project. There is a wealth of information on the internet about each competition and reviews from other screenwriters. Your money and Screenplay are valuable so don’t waste both on competitions that aren’t reputable.
On that note the best Screenplay competition is the Academy Nicholl Fellowship.
It has prize money up to $35,000 and if your Screenplay makes the finals you’ll be hot property.
The 3 deadlines for 2020 are
March 7th ($45)
April 10th ($60)
May 1st ($85)
That’s 4-6 months to write and submit your Screenplay so put that date in your diary, work out a writing plan and START WRITING!
Again, if you need more detail on how to write a Screenplay download my 1-Step-A-Day Technique (free).