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28 Competitions and Fellowships for Screenwriters

Competitions and Fellowships for Screenwriters

Competitions, fellowships, workshops and residencies for screenwriters. Please check the relevant websites for full terms and conditions, and don’t forget that entry fees are applicable in many cases.

Nick Darke Award
celebrates the best writing for screen, stage and radio, awarding the winner £6000 to allow them to complete their script. It is open to all writers aged over 16. The theme is the environment; entrants may interpret the theme widely. The first submission stage involves outlining an idea in the form of a 25 word or less pitch, followed by an outline for the story idea in 750 words, suggesting character, plot and structure. Applicants are asked to also submit 20 pages that represent their writing, either in the form of a new or existing piece. Entries close 14 April.

PAGE International Screenwriting Awards
were established in 2003 by an alliance of Hollywood producers, agents and development executives. This competition awards a cash prize of $25,000 to a screenwriter who has written the best screenplay in any genre. There are also prizes in ten genre categories. The final date for entries is 15 April.

Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting
awards up to five fellowships of US$35,000 each year. This international screenwriting competition is open to writers based anywhere in the world, regardless of citizenship. All entrants must be aged over 18.The final entry deadline is 1 May.

BBC Comedy and the BBC Writersroom Initiative
are looking for 10 to 20 comedy writers to work with them, and each other, in creating the next wave of Scottish comedy shows. To participant, writers must first register and then attend one of seven free workshops being held across Scotland. Writers then need to submit two sketches by 13 June.

CBS Diversity Institute’s Writers Mentoring Program
aims is to provide access and opportunities for talented and motivated diverse writers. The program is held in Los Angeles but writers do not need to be American residents to apply (there are no travel grants or subsidies though). Applications close 1 May.

Norman Mailer Writers Colony’s Screenwriting Workshop
runs from 19 to 26 July in Salt Lake City, Utah. The program, lead by David Black, incorporates workshop sessions, writing on demand, lectures and group discussion. Scholarships cover full tuition but participants are responsible for all other expenses. Applications close 1 May.

Script Pipeline Screenwriting Contest
is now in its 12th year. The judging criteria is based primarily on the overall quality of of the script, including storytelling ability and fundamental screenplay components (e.g. dialogue, plot, structure, and characterization). Concept marketability and originality are also taken into consideration.  First prize is US$20,000 and there are additional prizes for the runner-up and for 18 finalists. International screenwriters are welcome to submit their work and entries close 1 May.

The Walt Disney Studios’ Feature Writers Program
is a paid one year residency housed in Disney’s live-action production group that provides up-and-coming feature writers with development and mentorship opportunities. Applications close 5 May.

Film Independent’s Screenwriting Lab
is an intensive five-week program that runs two to three evenings a week in Los Angeles in September and October. The Lab is designed to help screenwriters improve their craft, develop their voices as writers, and take their current scripts to the next level. During the Lab, Fellows receive feedback on their scripts from the Lab Mentor, outside advisors, and the other writers in the program. Applications close 5 May.

The BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Forum
aims to connect aspiring British writers and filmmakers with agents, development executives and established industry members. They are currently seeking comedy screenwriters to showcase at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival in August and at the New York Television Festival in October. Interested applicants should submit their work by 15 May.

The Writers’ Couch
invites writers to pitch feature film projects. To apply you must have completed a feature-length screenplay for the project you wish to pitch; be over the age of 18; live in the UK; and not have literary representation. Applications for the April round close on the 14th and the closing date for the May round is the 19th.

The David and Lynn Angell Student Comedy Fellowship
This fellowship was created to honour David and Lynn Angell. The Angells were aboard Flight #11, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center on September 11, 2011. David started his career on the staff of Cheers and went on to co-create Wings and Frasier. Lynn provided the opportunity for David to pursue writing by working as a librarian early in his career. Submissions are submitted through universities only. For more information, contact your school or the The HUMANITAS Prize. The winner receives US$20,000. Applications close 15 May.

NBCUniversal’s Writers on the Verge
is a 12-week program focused on polishing writers and readying them for a staff writer position on a television series. They are looking for writers who are ‘almost there’ but need that final bit of preparation with their writing and personal presentation skills.  The program consists of two weekly night classes to be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays at NBCUniversal in Universal City, CA. Applications close 30 May.

Austin Film Festival Screenplay and Teleplay competitions
are open to writers from all countries. All 2014 semifinalists and finalists will be included in the annual Producers Book, distributed to over 400 agents, managers, producers, and other industry professionals. The general entry deadline is 30 April, with late entries accepted until 31 May.

The Warner Bros Writers’ Workshop
is for new writers looking to start and further their career in the world of television. Graduates include Terrance Winter (Boardwalk Empire), Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives), Greg Garcia (My Name Is Earl) and Felicia Henderson (Soul Food). Applications close 31 May.

The 2nd Annual ScreamCraft Horror Script Contest
is open for entries. First place prize is US$2000 cash and a phone consultation with writer-director Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose). The early bird deadline is 15 April, with entries closing on 1 June.

The Jerusalem International Film Lab
is an initiative of the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School. It aims to foster the development and production of full-length feature films by some of the world’s most promising talents. The Lab brings to Jerusalem 12 talented young director-writers who are at the advanced stages of writing their first or second full length feature film. All participants do their writing over a seven-month period, and are invited for two periods of writing and discussion in Jerusalem under the mentorship of three of the world’s top script editors, in addition to online internet contact throughout the entire period of rewriting. Applications for the 2015 program are due by 5 June 2014.

The Djerassi Residency Award/SFFS Screenwriting Fellowship
provides a one-month residency at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program for an emerging or established screenwriter. Located in the Santa Cruz Mountains, 40 miles south of San Francisco, the program provides artists with uninterrupted time for work, reflection and collegial interaction in a professionally supportive and inspirational environment. Applications open in June 2014.

The Sundance Screenwriters Lab
is a five-day writer’s workshop that gives independent screenwriters the opportunity to work intensively on their feature film scripts with the support of established writers in ‘an environment that encourages innovation and creative risk-taking’. The Screenwriters Lab will be held from 16 to 21 January, just before the Sundance Film Festival. Applications from the US are due on 1 May; international applicants have until 15 June.

The First Look Project
is presented by Script Pipeline and aims to ‘fulfill the current requests of studios and top-tier production companies by finding new, high-concept material across four main categories’: feature screenplay, adaptation, media and teleplay. This is an international competition, and writers worldwide are welcome to submit. The early entry deadline is 15 June.

Catalina Film Festival Script Contest
is for feature film scripts between 60 and 180 pages. All top 10 finalists receive Catalina Film Festival Laurels, two Filmmaker Passs to the film festival, and discounted travel and accommodation opportunities. The final entry deadline is 3 July.

The Slamdance Screenplay Competition
welcomes screenplays in every genre, on any topic, from anywhere in the world. There are four categories:  Feature, Short/Webisode, Horror and Original Teleplay. This competition provides constructive feedback for every entrant. The Grand Prize winner will receive US$5000 and a further $6000 will be distributed amongst the other winners and finalists. The final entry deadline is 29 July.

The African Film Commission International Screenwriting Competition
encourages screenwriters around the world to actively participate. There are three categories: Africa (focused on stories and people from Africa), Go Green (sustainability and environmental issues) and International (no limits on subject matter or content). The feature length, short and documentary winner in each category will win prizes and a trip to the African Film Conference in Mozambique. The final entry deadline is 31 July.

Big Break
is an annual, global screenwriting contest designed to launch the careers of aspiring writers. There are seven feature categories (Action/Adventure, Comedy/Rom-Com, Drama, Family/Animated, Period/Historical/War, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and Thriller/Horror) and four television categories (Half-Hour Spec, Half-Hour Pilot, Hour-Long Spec, and Hour-Long Pilot). The eleven winners will share US$80,000 in cash and prizes. The final entry deadline is 31 July.

The WriteRoom.Org Screenplay Competition
aims to discover and recognise new talented, original voices (an entrant’s total earnings for motion picture and television writing may not exceed US$5000). The competition supports screenplays of women for the benefit of an international and domestic audience. Men are also invited to participate but all screenplay entries must either have a female protagonist, feature dimensional female character(s) or have been either written, co-written or be from an original idea by a women co-writer. The grand prize is $1000 and the final entry deadline is 31 August.

The National Hispanic Media Coalition Television Writers Program
was created in 2003 and is an intensive scriptwriters workshop to prepare and place Latinos in writing jobs for the major television networks. This five-week workshop is mentored and guided by former NBC VP of Script Development Geoff Harris and is conducted in Burbank, California. Applications open in April and close in August.

The Reach Film Fellowship
is a new program the process of being developed by Cinereach with support from the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms initiative. The reinvented Fellowships program is tailored to each fellow, creating an environment of risk-taking and artistic exploration as fellows work towards developing new concepts. Application details are not yet available; visit the website to register for updates.

is an advanced course designed for professional European screenwriters and/or writer/directors wishing to work in the field of adaptation. AdaptLab is a long-term training course consisting of three 6-day residential workshops and two online sessions for 12 participants. Applications for the 2014 program have now closed; applications for 2015 are expected to open in January.

For more writing competitions check out our most recent Opportunities for Writers post. For screening advice and inspiration read Joss Whedon’s Top 10 Writing Tips and Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling.



1 Comment

  1. David
    18 October 2015 / 8:32 am

    Hi, I’m a movie script writer looking for fellowship programs or competitions to enter into. I need help in how to become the next Steven Spielberg.

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