15 Screenwriting Contests Worth Submitting in 2022

“Every competition, you roll the dice,” says Haley Bartels, whose script can’t put it down pumping blackon blood doping in the world of competitive cycling, won him a Nicholl Fellowship last year.

“You have to have a great neat script, but you also have to roll enough times to hit those double sixes. Thinking about it like that, the Nicholl was well worth not just that entry fee, but every dollar I spent on any contest.

This list can’t help you write a fantastic script, but it will help you find the contests with the best possible results. To help you spend less time researching screenplay contests and more time writing, we’ve compiled this year’s list of 15 screenplay contests worthy of submission focusing on the ones we think will make really the difference.

Nicholl Academy Scholarship

Registration fee: $50 to $90

Submission period: March 2 to May 2

With the support of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Nicholl Fellowship has become one of the most prestigious screenplay competitions. Each year, five amateur screenwriters receive $35,000, with the hope that they will write a new screenplay within the year, under the mentorship of an Academy member. All scripts are read twice, quarter-finals are judged by industry professionals, and semi-finals are judged by real Academy members.

Former scholarship recipients include Alfredo Botello (F9), Destin Daniel Cretton (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), and Rebecca Sonnenshine (The boys). Bartels, who we quoted in our introduction, noticed an immediate difference when she became one of five fellows last year.
“Winning the Nicholl changed the trajectory of my life. It launched my career in ways I could never have imagined,” she says.

Before we get into this one, you might want to listen to the five current Nicholl Fellows on the Filmmaker podcast, talking about their scripts and what they have in common. All five fellows agree that Nicholl likes very personal stories. This doesn’t necessarily mean autobiographical stories – it means stories that no one but you could write. You can read their advice in this story and in more detail on our podcast, available on Apple or Spotify or here:

Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition

Registration fee: $30 to $100

Submission period: June 10 to November 18

One of the most exciting things about the Atlanta awards is that winners of shorts, pilots and features are invited to the festival (which also happens to be one of our 50 film festivals worth the entrance fee) to participate in a staged reading of an excerpt with the actors of the SAG.

“The staged reading was my favorite part of the whole process. My script is about a group of Jewish friends who plan a robbery at a Swiss bank, recovering long-lost Nazi gold. It’s inspired by of my grandmother’s experience fleeing Europe during the war, and the festival was kind enough to dedicate the reading to her. Through and through, they nailed the personal touch,” said the 2020 winner , Val Bodurtha. Filmmaker. She added that the festival “also put me in touch with a very competent mentor in the world of comedy! As a comedy writer first and foremost, I felt particularly seen.

Three feature film winners are also invited to an all-expenses-paid retreat to meet industry professionals and a workshop on their screenplays. Winners will also receive a cash prize of $250-500, a travel stipend, and an All-Access badge to the festival.

Val Bodurtha, whose screenplay The stick-up won the 2020 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition. Photo courtesy of Val Bodurtha

Austin Film Festival

Registration fee: $40 to $80

Submission period: March 25 to May 16

The Austin Film Festival — another one of our 50 film festivals worth the entry fee — is a juggernaut of a screenwriting competition and festival. AFF is the place to be for screenwriters, whether your screenplay is accepted or not.

Contest winners receive cash prizes and the coveted bronze typewriter trophy, but the biggest draw is meeting your peers at the historic Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin. If you don’t place and just attend the conference, you’ll still find that networking opportunities are everywhere: you can attend multiple roundtables and workshops with professional writers, managers, executives, and agents.

Blacklist Features Lab

Listing fee: $30 per month for script hosting

Submission period: January 5 to July 17

Six to eight writers are selected for The Black List Lab, a month-long program in September. It will begin virtually and end with an in-person workshop in Los Angeles, where screenwriters will work on a feature film script during one-on-one sessions with mentors and peer-to-peer workshops.

Former Black List Lab alumni include Noga Pnueli, whose 2018 screenplay Meet Cute is being turned into a film starring Kaley Cuoco and Pete Davidson.

“Through their various programs — their website, their writing lab, and their live readings — Blacklist gave me the exposure I needed to launch my career,” Pnueli said. Filmmaker. “But perhaps even more helpfully, the community they build within and around their writers is one that has provided me with the solidarity, support and knowledge I need to maintain and further develop my career without losing the mind.”

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