The 10+ Best Screenplay Competitions for Screenwriters [2024]

image of a winning statue for a screenplay competition

Looking for the best screenplay competitions to enter that offer real value and opportunities?

As a screenwriter, you know how important it is to have your work seen and reviewed by the right people. Screenplay contests can be a great way to get your script into the hands of industry professionals looking for new talent.

There’s no better way to get started as a beginning screenwriter than with screenplay contests. Opportunities abound, from live-read events with judges’ feedback to international competitions with substantial prizes. And the added benefit of some of these contests is the critique and constructive criticism you can receive to help you grow as a writer. 

Personally, I’ve entered more than 100 script contests over the years, and I’ve had numerous scripts place in the top 10 or even win first place. I know how beneficial placing in a contest can be!

an infographic on the best screenwriting competitions for screenwriters

So now that you’re interested in scriptwriting competitions – which ones should you enter with your own script? Check out this list of my top recommended screenplay contests!

TL;DR Screenplay Competition Summary

Competition:Cost to Enter:Types of Scripts:Important Dates for submission:Prizes:
Academy Nicholl FellowshipBetween $50-90, depending on the date entered. Feedback is available for an additional cost.Any original feature screenplay (NOT adapted from another work)Early March
Early April
Early May
Up to five $35,000 fellowships are awarded each year.
Austin Screenplay CompetitonBetween $45-85, depending on the length of the script and the date entered.Shorts and feature-length scripts; TeleplaysMid-March
Drama & Comedy – $5000; Horror & Sci-Fi – $2500; Short Script – $1000; Teleplay – $1000
PAGE International Screenwriting AwardsBetween $47-77, depending on the date entered. Feedback is available at an additional cost.Short scripts and feature-length scriptsMid-January
Grand Prize: $25,000
Gold Prize: $1000
Silver Prize: $500
Bronze Prize: $250
Sundance Institute Feature Film ProgramSee the site for details.See the site for details.January Screenwriter’s Lab;
March Online Screenwriter’s Intensive
Winners will get to participate in in-person (Lab) or online (Intensive) sessions with Industry professionals and established writers.
Slamdance Screenplay CompetitionBetween $30-115, depending on the date entered and the length of the script. Brief feedback is included, and coverage is available for an extra fee.Feature film screenplays, TV pilots, and short scriptsEarly April
Early June
Late July
Grand Prize: $10,000
The winners of the Feature, Horror, TV Pilot, and Short categories will each receive $2,000.
One winner will receive the Slamdance Screenplay Mentorship Award.
Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting ContestBetween $49-155, depending on the date entered and whether you buy script feedback.Feature film screenplays and teleplaysMid-April
Late June
Two Grand Prize Awards are given: $10,000 plus a list of extra benefits!
ScreenCraft Screenwriters Fellowship$50-150, depending on the competition selected, the date entered, and whether you buy script feedback.Multiple competitions in different genres are available (Horror, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Comedy, etc.)See the site for specific dates for each competition.Grand prizes include $1000 and a list of other benefits – see each competition for complete details.
Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition$60-65, depending on the date entered.Feature-length screenplay.Early May
Winner receives $25,000 and industry circulation for their script. Runner-up receives $2,500.
BlueCat Screenplay Competition$95Feature screenplays, TV pilot scripts, and short film scriptsMid-August
Late Oct.
Early Dec.
Grand Prize: $7500; Feature, Pilot, and Short Script Winners: $3000 each; Fellini Award: $2000
Stage 32 Happy Writers Feature Script ContestsVarious costs; see individual competitions for details.
Coverage is available for an additional cost.
Many competitions are available: short scripts, romantic comedies, female-driven, family-friendly, etc.Various dates; see individual competitions for details. Various prizes; see individual competitions for details.
Save The Cat! Screenplay Challenge
$119-159, depending on the date submitted.Feature films and TV pilots (30 or 60 minutes).Late Nov.
Late Jan.
Late Feb.
Late March
Grand Prize winners receive flights to LA, a three-night hotel stay, a table read of their script, and more!

The 10+ Best Screenwriting Competitions

top choice overall

1. Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting

Important Dates: Opens in late January and closes in early May.
Prizes: Up to five writers are each awarded $35,000 fellowships yearly.
Formats accepted: Feature.
Genres: All.
Feedback: Optional for an extra fee.

If you’re a budding screenwriter looking to break through with a fiction feature screenplay, the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition is one of the best opportunities.

Since its inception in 1985, this international screenwriting competition has accepted entries from people worldwide and offered over 700 fellowships worth over $4 million.

By entering this annual competition, you’ll gain access to some of Hollywood’s top professionals. If you win, you’ll also receive mentored guidance regarding film financing and a cash prize of up to $35,000 toward the development of a new original feature film screenplay.

Neil’s Notes on the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting

The biggest and most prestigious competition – this one is a must!

I’ve been fortunate enough to place in the Nicholl Fellowships four times with various scripts, and simply reaching a quarter-finalist level (approximately the top 3-5% of all entrants) was enough to warrant read-requests from multiple studios and executives within the film industry.

The script competition feedback I received for each script was well worth the extra cost.

top choice in a film festival

2. Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition

Prizes: Up to $5,000 depending on the category, travel/hotel reimbursement, film festival passes, AFF Bronze Typewriter Award.
Formats accepted: Feature, Short, Teleplay, Digital Series, Stage Play, Podcast.
Genres: Drama, Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi.
Feedback: Included, in-depth coverage is optional for an extra fee.

Entering the Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition could be a life-changing decision.

With its long-standing reputation of over two decades, it’s not the only competition out there, but it can give you incredible results if you play your cards right.

Not only could you emerge with gifts and awards like the coveted Bronze Typewriter Award or even land an agent, but industry icons attend AFF every year – so you never know who you could rub shoulders with. And even if you don’t bring home anything physical from the event itself, the contacts that you make at AFF are worth far more than gold.

Neil’s Notes on the Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition

I love that this competition provides each entrant with a brief summary of one Reader’s overall notes about their script for free with entry!

In addition, besides the many screenplay and teleplay formats they accept, Austin Screenwriting Competition has expanded to include stage plays and narrative podcast scripts as well, making it a go-to for up-and-coming writers of all kinds!

best for specific feedback on your script
PAGE screenwriting awards

3. PAGE International Screenwriting Awards

Prizes: Up to $25,000 grand prize, promotional services, gift certificates.

Formats accepted: Feature, Short, TV Pilot

Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Comedy, Family, Historical, Thriller/Horror, Sci-Fi.

Feedback: Optional for an extra fee.

If you are looking for a top-notch screenplay competition to enter, the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards is a great option, especially considering the feedback that they give you!

This prestigious contest was founded in 2003 and has provided opportunities for burgeoning screenwriters ever since. Each year, they evaluate dozens of projects while offering over $50,000 in cash and prizes – with gold, silver, and bronze prizes in each category and one $25,000 cash prize for the grand prize winner – to the most promising scripts demonstrating originality and excellent writing, and viability.

Not only is the PAGE screenplay contest judged by Hollywood producers and others searching for new cinematic projects and prospective clients, but entries are divided into ten different genres – guaranteeing at least one relevant category for all aspiring screenwriters!

Neil’s Notes on the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards

The feedback offered by PAGE is insightful, focusing on what works and what doesn’t with a given script from an industry insider’s perspective, as well as a breakdown of scores given, such as premise/concept, plot, pacing, characters, and so on.

I found the notes useful for my own work, as they allowed me to see what needed adjustment and how to better impress readers in the future.

best for mentorship opportunities

4. Sundance Institute Feature Film Program

Prizes: Opportunities to attend workshops for emerging writers to work with established professionals are awarded.

Genres: Any.

Feedback: Included.

While not technically a screenplay competition, the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program is worth considering for emerging screenwriters and filmmakers.

This well-known and highly-respected program is designed to help up-and-coming writers on their journey to create compelling and widely loved stories. There are several different options within the program, such as a screenwriting lab and various fellowships, but each gives access to esteemed mentors who can provide advice and feedback throughout the process.

You can also attend industry events and enjoy networking opportunities during the program. There’s a chance of getting industry funding through this program as well.

Neil’s Notes on the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program

Though I have no personal experience with this program, it looks like an amazing opportunity for those lucky enough to be selected.

The mixture of hands-on workshopping of your work with experienced writers and personalized feedback at every step of each screenwriting lab makes it a must to apply.

great for features, shorts & TV pilots

5. Slamdance Screenplay Competition

Prizes: $10,000 grand prize, $2,000 top category prizes, legal services, mentorship.

Genres: Any, Horror/Thriller.

Feedback: Included, in-depth coverage is optional for an extra fee.

The Slamdance Screenplay Competition is another great option for screenwriters.

Established in 1997 in conjunction with the Slamdance Film Festival, this competition is dedicated to finding the best and most creative voices in the entertainment industry. Not only do you have an opportunity to showcase your writing, but you can also meet industry members who can help you get further with optioning and producing your work.

The most critical factor with Slamdance is that they are looking for scripts that bring something new and different to the table, so challenge yourself to think outside the box! Entering a competition like this gives you an amazing potential platform to take your writing career even further.

Neil’s Notes on the Slamdance Screenplay Competition

The feedback included with the entry is just a taste of what a judge thinks of the script, while the add-on coverage is much more in-depth, covering most aspects of the story’s strengths and flaws as well as suggestions for improvement.

best for variety of prizes offered

6. Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Contest

Prizes: $10,000 grand prize (one feature, one TV), $1,000 top category prizes, iPad, laptop, a trip to Hollywood, software, consultation, and more.

Genres: Action/Adventure, Comedy/Rom-Com, Diversity, Drama, Family/Animated, Period/Historical/War, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Thriller/Horror.

Feedback: Optional for an extra fee.

Entering the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Contest can be a great career move for any aspiring screenwriter. It gives you access to industry-leading judges, top consultants, alumni winners, top prizes, and incredible visibility.

The competition is open to talented writers worldwide and provides personalized feedback from experienced assessors for an extra fee. This means that even if you don’t win, your screenplay still has the chance of being seen by industry professionals and may open up more opportunities for you.

Neil’s Notes on the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Contest

Though Final Draft Big Break is a highly competitive script contest, the combination of cash and other prizes, along with the trip to Hollywood to network with writers and other professionals, makes it worth the entry fee.

best now-defunct competition

7. FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards

Though it seems to be defunct as of 2020 (the last contest appears to be in 2019), this contest was worthwhile to enter.

After winning the grand prize, I received $2,500, writing software, in-depth coverage, and the Emerging Artist Trophy for Best Screenplay of the Year.

This win opened doors for me with a number of producers and directors and led to writing work on other projects.

best for specific screenplay genres

8. ScreenCraft Screenwriting Contests

Prizes: Various (depending on the contest entered).

Genres: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Family, Animated, True Story, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Horror, Short Story, Cinematic Book, Stage Play, Film Fund, Virtual Pitch.

Feedback: Optional for an extra fee.

If you’re looking for an exciting screenplay competition to help showcase your work, particularly in a given genre or format, then the ScreenCraft Screenwriting Contests might be a good option.

With multiple format and genre categories available, such as Comedy, Sci-Fi and Fantasy, True Story, Horror, Stage Play, and even Cinematic Book, you can pick one that best fits your screenplay and get your work seen by experienced industry professionals.

The competition also allows you to earn recognition and gain invaluable feedback to refine your writing. There is even a Screenwriting Fellowship Competition that you can enter for a chance to win a series of personal meetings and consultations by industry professionals in your field.

Moreover, numerous prizes are available, including cash awards and potential meetings with Hollywood producers – it is worth entering!

Neil’s Notes on the ScreenCraft Screenwriting Contests

As a previous finalist in the Horror contest, the result was one that gained recognition among industry peers and professionals alike, opening certain doors that otherwise might have remained closed for somewhat longer.

In addition, the feedback I received from Screencraft was among the best of any contest.

best for highest cash prize

9. Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition

Prizes: $25,000 grand prize, consultations, industry meetings.

Genres: All.

Feedback: Included for Quarter Final and higher placement, optional for an extra fee.

If you’re looking for a great way to get exposure, check out the Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition.

With prizes ranging from cash rewards to direct introductions to agents, managers, producers, and other industry representatives, in-depth script reviews, and development assistance for finalists and higher, this competition is worth your time and effort.

It is an international competition that awards recognition from a panel of professional judges, allowing you the chance to make yourself stand out in a big crowd. And the top prize is among the highest on the competition circuit.

good for short scripts & tv pilots

10. BlueCat Screenplay Competition

Prizes: $7,500 grand prize, $3,000 top category prizes, $2,000 Fellini Award.

Genres: All.

Feedback: Included.

The BlueCat Screenplay Competition is another excellent place competition.

With 25 years of discovering and developing storytellers, the BlueCat screenplay contest provides a complete read of your script, along with a written analysis included in the submission fee.

Not only that, the winners and finalists have been able to make valuable connections in the industry, which jump-started their professional careers.

They feature generous cash awards totaling $18,500 – with a special Fellini Award for the best script written outside of the US – and they take feature screenplays, TV pilots, and short film scripts!

best for screenwriters wanting to work in la

11. Stage 32 Happy Writers Script Contests

Prizes: Various (depending on the contest entered).

Genres: All.

Feedback: Optional for an extra fee.

Entering screenwriting competitions can be a great way to boost your writing career, and Stage 32 Happy Writers Script Contests are some of the best around. They feature many different contests, including short scripts, romantic comedies, female-driven, feature-drama, action-thriller, comedy-feature, animation, and many more.

With awards ranging from travel to LA for in-person development meetings with production companies to cash prizes in the thousands of dollars to access to Stage 32 forums and webinars, any screenwriter would benefit from looking into them.

The submission process is easy, too; you select your category, upload your screenplay, and wait for the results! It’s an excellent way to network with others in the film community and receive recognition for your craft. Also offered is the option for in-depth coverage of your script for an additional fee.

top new screenwriting competition

12. Save The Cat! Screenplay Challenge

Prizes: Top prize – airfare and hotel to LA, live table read, meeting with judges, Black List one-year subscription, writing software.

Genres: All.

Feedback: Included.

The Save The Cat! Screenplay Challenge is one of the newer screenwriting competitions on this list, but it’s one you might consider entering.

This screenwriting contest is open to writers worldwide and offers categories for features and TV pilots. Unlike the other script competitions on this list, there is no cash prize listed, however, the in-person meetings with industry pros and a live table read of your script in LA more than make up for that.

In addition, each entry receives feedback with 50 points of analysis based on Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat Beat Sheet methodology. So, no matter what kind of project you’re working on, there’s an opportunity for you at Save The Cat!

a screenplay competition award

Final Thoughts: The Best Screenwriting Competitions

All in all, entering a screenwriting competition can be a great way to hone your writing skills, gain industry attention, and win some money in the process! If you’re looking for ways to break into the screenwriting industry, this could be it.

Put in the work upfront, research the best competitions that align with your goals, and ensure you read and follow each competition’s rules closely. It could be a lot of work, but don’t let that deter you from trying – the potential rewards are more than worth it.

Last but not least, keep at it! While most screenwriting contests happen once or twice a year, even if you don’t get chosen for one opportunity immediately or quickly afterward, submit again and again until something sticks! Success takes dedication – so don’t give up! You got this.

Common Questions (FAQs)

What are the best screenplay labs?

In my opinion, the best screenplay labs include the Austin Film Festival Writers Conference, the Sundance Institute Filmmaker Labs, and The Black List’s Writers Room. All three offer incredible mentorships and networking opportunities in addition to expert feedback.

Is the Nicholl Fellowship worth it?

In a word, yes! While the cash prize alone makes it worthwhile, the Academy Nicholl Fellowships are unlike other screenwriting contests in that they have the highest prestige, being associated with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. They also offer an unprecedented opportunity to work alongside other Nicholl fellows and highly regarded industry professionals, with a level of exposure for your work unlike anywhere else.

Looking for more info on screenwriting? Check out these other helpful articles!

What is a Spec Script? [& How Do I Write One?]

How To Write Flashbacks in Screenplays (With Examples!)

Writing Effective Scene Headings: A Guide for Screenwriters

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