SCREENPLAY CONTESTS (Careful, 72% of Them Are Scams. The Best 10 Are…)


Screenplay Contests come in 4 categories that are (1) They Suck & You’re an Idiot for Entering, (2) They’re Ego but it Helped You to Do a Re-Write, (3) They’re Good & You Could get Hired & Optioned or (4) They’re Great and You Have an Agent & Offers.

Be careful about Category 1 & 2. Submit to only 3 & 4. Now, permit me to explain the difference between excellent screenplay contests (3&4) and bogus script contests (1&2)


First, Script Contests, overall, offer a very good way for first-timers to gain access to Hollywood, Agents, Script Sales, Literary Options & Writer-For-Hire gigs… but you should be wary.


Be wary of strangers bearing gifts.


In the past 2 months I have received e-mails asking about Screenplay Contests and the Do’s & Don’ts.

“Should I enter”, “What do they cost”, “How do I win”, “What do I do if I win”, “Should I hire a Consultant” and the best are…

“I won, they want me to sign something”

“I won, it’s a $100K Sale, but I get no money. Huh Dov” 

“Dov, what should I do.. They want to buy it?”

Now some low-down on screenplay contests.

Be careful. A majority of them are slightly evil and prey on the naivete of first-timers. Now what do I mean by that.

There are globally 300-500 screenplay contests every year.

Do you know of a film festival that doesn’t have one?

However, at the most, possibly 10-15 script contests have merit and are worth the entrance fee. Hope you just read that… “entrance fee”, “submission fee” or “coverage charge”.

Here’s the bottom-line.

72% of Screenplay Contests “SUCK”.

20% of Screenplay Contests are satisfying to your “EGO”, get you good-but-expensive script coverage, which is positive, but inevitably lead nowhere.

5% are GOOD, but not great, but much better than nothing, so I’ll say they’re “OKAY”.

2-3% are “GREAT”.


Again, “what do I mean by that?” and which ones are you entering.

Lets talk numbers and the 72% that suck: There are 300-500 screenplay contests posted on the web every year and at least 200-300 (72%) of them are oriented to your vanity.

In the book industry, they’re called “Vanity Press” publishers.

Writing-1   Writing-1

Anyone, who has written a book, can find a printer (aka: Publisher), who claims they’re a publisher and will get your book to (A) all the critics, (B) garner reviews, (C) ship to wholesalers, and go on to claim that they actually (D) know agents, for your follow-up titles… and (E) have contacts in Hollywood who would like to make your book into a movie.

Sounds good but then comes the closing-line: “They’re excited about working with you. They want to publish it but they’need a minimum of 300 copies to forward to reviewers, wholesalers, critics, agents & Hollywood.”

You go “Oh”. They continue, and when orders come in “you should have an inventory of a minimum 1,000 copies to supply”.

You go “Oh” and ask “Uh. How much cost to print 1,300… or 1,500?”

The fake publisher/distributor then asks what size (9.5”x12” or 8”x10” or 6”x8”, etc), photos, charts, graphics and do you want the cover 4-Color, glossy, embossed title, cover price ($8.95, $16.95, $22.95, $29.95, etc.)… Oh decision, decision, decision.

You then ask again but “I only have a little bit money…”

The fake publisher (aka: vanity press) then states “I like you. I believe in your project.  I can get you 2,000 copies at only $6/book.”

You go “Uh. Oh. Thank you”.

Now pencil that out 2,000 x $6 is $12,000.

You sign the contract, sell your 2005 Harley “Bad Boy” cycle, or pawn your Hummel Collection, forward a 25% deposit (non-refundable), with another 25% once you see a “galley”, and the final 50% upon print approval.

Voilla…in three months you are out of pocket $12,000 and have 48 large Boxes piled high in your garage where your cycle used to sit.

Back to screenwriting.

Most, almost 72%, of screenwriting contests are very much like Vanity Press publishers and just want your entrance fee ($50-$200), tell you about obtaining some script analysis (aka: Coverage) to help your odds, which only costs $125-$250 and you have a very good chance of being in the top 3.

You are now out-of-pocket $175-$450.

They don’t stop there… Next comes the “You need a professional consultant for a re-write to get it to Hollywood standards for submission to 100 buyers & agents”

You go “Oh” and ask “What does that cost?”

They respond with quotes of $2,000-$10,000 to include script registration and copyright.

You go “Oh… OK… Why not…”

And if they (Script Contest Promoter) can get 100-200 people to do that every year…they made some money…this is a good business. But of course they are not going to go to heaven…. And no one complains as they try to discern what to do with 48 boxes of books in their garage.

Please, be careful about Screenplay Contests that have (A) Entrance Fees, (B) Offers for Script Analysis and (C) Consulting Deals with (D) Ghost Re-Write Offers.


Now, let’s chat the Ego Satisfying Script Contests.

Writing-2   Writing-2

These are usually part of a Film Festival whose wealthy, artistic, philanthropic director(s), thought it a great idea to promote/sponsor a Screenplay Contest for it  gets local press, sells more tickets to the festival screenings, creates a photo op or two and most important has them feel like they truly are doing something for the local artistic writing community.

POI: I am absolutely not negative on these. I am just not very excited about them and winning one of these awards truly means very little to the real Producers, Buyers & Agents in Hollywood but it will motivate & validate you as a screenwriter.

These script contest charge a token $45-$75 for entrance and actually have (I never know who) people to read them and I imagine that that “reader” gets the $45-$75for his/her 2-3 hours of work.

The prize is usually $5,000-$10,000… in goods-and-services (no cash)… which usually is a $2,000 Consulting Award (service), a $750 out-dated Software Program (goods), a second $1,000 Professional Analysis Consultation (service) from someone who says “I’m a Hollywood pro and has contacts” (service), along with a gift of a $250 Canon/Sony/JVC/GoPro camera (goods) and a $250 Printer (goods), with a $500 years supply of ink/cartridges (goods)…but they promoted the winner gets $5,000-$10,000 in prizes… so they throw in $2,000 worth of On-Line Screenwriting Tutorials (goods) and (get this) an Agent (service) interview.

There is nothing wrong with these contests, as long as they only charge $45-$75 bucks, for it gets your script read… and I feel it will motivate you to do a solid re-write but nothing really happens with the award (ho-hum) winner which you will likely frame and hang in your guest bathroom.


Now, how about the next 5%, which I say are “OKAY”.

DovSimens Film School   DovSimens Film School (My 3 affordable Film Programs ($89-$289) will get you the real information to launch your career in only 20-hours… Next live “2-DAY FILM SCHOOL” in Hollywood are April 23-24, Sep 17-18 or Dec 10-11.  DETAILS:

These Script Contests are basically Facebook postings by Producers, who are not yet in the major Hollywood agent pipeline, and receive scripts from the agencies like WME, CAA, ICM, UTA, etc., who represent professional writers, but need to get everyday, non-represented people to send them their scripts….

…So, they come up with a “pseudo” screenplay contest in which the winning prize is actually cash.


However, “IF YOU WIN”, you don’t get the $10,000-$50,000 instantly…

…you get a Congratulations E-mail, you sign a contract, and although the prize is supposed to be $10,000-$50,000 you only get a check for $2,000-$10,000 (20% option deposit) and, in essence, they, the creators (hustling producers) of this alleged script contest, have just discovered a “hot property” (which you paid them to read) and optioned it from you for 3-4 years with a nominal amount of money.

This type of screenplay contest, is just a promotion to get 100s, if not 1,000s of people to send them their scripts.

From the Producer’s (Script Contest Promoter’s) point of view this is a very good entrepreneurial way to get these 100s, if not 1,000s, of script submissions very cheaply from first-timers like you and, if one is great, the purchase (aka: option agreement) price will be very small.

These Screenplay Contests have some merit for it gets your script read by a real, although not powerful or wealthy, producer, and can have your property optioned.


Another benefit, although indirect, from Script Contests, promoted by young but knowledgeable producers, is that they themselves have numerous ideas for movies and are constantly looking for inexpensive writers, who have shown that they have a gift for dialogue (aka: “A Good Ear”) and now they have just read your script and discovered… (A) you know how to format properly, (B) you have an ability to tell-a-story and (C) your characters are unique (aka: “Believable Dialogue) then you have proven to have a “Good ear” and I almost guarantee you they will call you and want to hire you (pay-money) for a re-write or two.

This is how most writers, outside of the Hollywood or Manhattan arenas, get their first “paid” non-union writing assignment.

Now, let’s get realistic. You are a first-timer. You might have written 3-4 scripts but none of them have been made. That means you’re still a first-timer. You have an agent but not a “real agent” who has sold one of your 3-4 scripts in the past 4 years… so these contests appear to be the only thing available. They are not scams. They are not illegal. They are slightly mis-representative of what they are…but they are “OKAY”, because you have very little other options.


So, “what about the 2-3%” & “Who the hell are they” are your queries now.

2-3% of 300-500 screenplay contests, or 5-15, are “GREAT”.

And if you win or come in the top 3 of any of these 5-15 you will…

(A) Get a big check, (B) Still own your script and (C) Have a real agent (WME, CAA, UTA, ICM, APA, etc.) want to (D) Sell your script and (E) want to represent you as a writer.

Cool. This is what you want. But remember it exists in only 2-3% of the Script Contests.

So make sure you stay away from those 72% “vanity press” screenplay contests, enjoy the 20% ego contests, but don’t get excited and hire them to be your re-write consultant and hope to be discovered in the 5% producer contests to obtain a non-union writing assignment…


Now on to the Top 10 Screenplay Contests.

The best Script Contests…. The top 2-3% where if you win, you get a check, you keep the money, you still own your script and you have a real Literary agent representing you and your project…

The Top 10 are….


Happy Filmmaking


If you’ve entered a Screenplay Contest please share the (A) Costs and (B) Results.

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94 comments on “SCREENPLAY CONTESTS (Careful, 72% of Them Are Scams. The Best 10 Are…)”

  1. Margaret says:

    Thank you thank you thank you thank you

    1. Trent says:

      Does ANYONE have an opinion on Final Draft’s BIG BREAK Contest? Looking at the rules, it states that the judges look at tons of scripts that come their way and may have something “SIMILAR” to your script or idea….Is this a WARNING SIGN???

      1. Brian says:

        I do not know of 1 screenplay that led to a film that went to theaters in that contest. They’ve had a hundred thousand 100,000+ submissions but not 1 film has went to a theater. I find that odd and I heard that they only give the award to friends of friends. The Page awards however has had films that went to theaters… God bless….

      2. tim jenkins says:

        I enter their contest twice. The first time I received a notice that I wasn’t chosen. The second submission I received nothing. When I inquired why, I was told due to the amount of submissions they couldn’t respond to everyone. When you enter any contest feedback is what you’re are purchasing. I’d stay away from their contest until they commit to feedback to all who submit scripts. Also, if you look at who wins, it seems that all already have some foot in the industry.

        1. Danny Fish says:

          I took Top 5 in the Final Draft Big Break competition and nothing came of it. No emails, no calls, no agents. So there’s that. I can’t speak for anyone else, but that’s my experience.

          1. Noir says:

            I won my category, first place! but had the same no emails, no calls, no agents experience. So yeah,

    2. Plato says:

      I was surprised to find many of the readers were PAs or individuals who have NEVER MADE A FILM or WRITTEN A FILM THAT WAS MADE.
      As far as the capacity to recognize anything beyond conventional or standard story telling:
      I can almost assure you any anonymously submitted Tarantino screenplay to would wind up in their garbage.
      The great writers are writing. Not judging. The great stock traders are trading. Not selling stock tips.

      1. Brian says:

        Very True. I could not agree more. Critics are people who don’t have the ability to create so they criticize others as they say. God bless you.

        1. DiDi Goldberg says:

          Unfortunately, after 2009, many screenwriters and producers realize because of the social media explosion that the screenwriting business is more lucrative than actually trying to make a movie! Since 2010, thousands of screenwriting contest has popped up! (For example, I did an extra in a recent TV show. I got to meet the producer, exe. producer and the writers Now I can start a screenwriting contest promising access to these guys, hire a few of my acting buddies to read scripts walla! Instant cash cow)

  2. joe sixpak says:

    i had the chance to be a script reader for a contest
    all i had to do was volounteer a minimum number of hours
    and to attend the showing of the films to judge them too

    qualifications required:
    work free for minimum amount of time they had specified

    they kept the money and made a bundle on free labor
    with minimal expenses for the viewings (which for all i know they may have conned theatres into donating too)

  3. experienced writer says:

    I wouldn’t put Script Pimp, Final Draft and Blue Cat over the Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Competition. Also, what about Page? Austin and Page carry a lot more prestige.

    1. Karen says:

      Absolutely true! I think maybe Dov has some old information. The top 3 contests these days are Nicholl, Austin and PAGE. BlueCat and Scriptapalooza have no real clout in the industry and no success stories. And I don’t think TriggerStreet even exists anymore, does it?

    2. Brian says:

      Exactly!!!!! Your name says experienced writer… With the comment you posted, I believe it. -Brian E Stead. – God bless you and I hope we get to watch each other’s films one day soon!!!

  4. Mary Rodriguez says:

    What about Pipline under Withoutabox Screenwriting contest. Is this one of the top ones you are referring to?

  5. Izzibella Beau says:

    Great article and thank you so much for all the valuable information for us newbies.

  6. Geo says:

    I agree with Ex. Writer. I would not put BlueCat above Austin or even on the list.

    1. Vee says:

      I agree. Blue Cat has no place on the list. I’ve entered their competition a few times and the script readers are rude, period. Gordy said if you had any comments/issues to email him. I told him how hateful and unhelpful one script reader was and he never replied.

    2. David-Damien Mattia says:

      I wrote a script that I entered into BlueCat – about 10 years ago. In the script, “Vicki” a featured extra, says the line: “This place is fabulous,” That was the extent of Vicki’s dialogue — four words. The coverage I got from the READER was: The script is good and has merit but the character of Vicki often says things that are out of character for her.” Obviously this reader didn’t read it. A few years later, a young producer saw the script, raised some money and hired some famous name actors. Then, he opted to make it into 13 TV episodes, but that didn’t seem to work. The film was edited down to a 32-minute short film which won the Van Gogh Grand Prize at the Amsterdam Film Festival and a bunch of other festivals — some prestigious and some shady – BUT – since then, 2014 – I have had 4 screenplays optioned but not one agent will sign me or even respond to me. Go Figure that? Lucky for me that my day job is working as a racehorse trainer. I mean, I have an awesome and lucrative day job, but Hollywood stuff really sucks.

  7. Mark says:

    Hahaha, this is really concerning when this list is massively wrong. Might have been more appropriate 5 years ago.

    Script Pimp? LOL

    No top 10 list is complete without these:

    – Tracking Board Launchpad
    – Austin Film Festival
    – TrackingB
    – Universal Pictures Emerging Writers Fellowship
    – Film Independent

    1. Alan Camber says:

      I’m not an expert on these but I’m pretty sure that, yes, Script P.I.M.P. hasn’t existed for years. It may have changed its name to Script Pipeline. It’s not the single mistake that calls the article into question; it’s the fact that this mistake indicates that the information is very old. Situations change very rapidly in the world of movie production and writing! I’d write LOL but I don’t like to. So I’ll just say “Ha Ha?”

      1. David-Damien Mattia says:

        I suspect that this article is meant to shill for the “GREAT” contests mentioned rather than to inform hungry writers,.

    2. sharon ohara says:

      So I entered LA International Screenplay Awards and got a complimentary response. Said mine is a “contender” for their 2020 competition. Does that even mean anything? Should I not open the champagne yet?

  8. David says:

    There’s the problem I have with screenplay contest. The readers, they are all failed screenwriters or just gradated from film school. To call them readers is a insult to those of us do read. I think they should call themselves, skimmers. That is clear when you get notes from them. They’ll find pat flaws that they could say about any screenplay. They all have friends and friends of friends who write screenplays. The only contest I’m aware of that asks you to leave your name and title off is the Austin Film Festival.

    1. Chris says:

      But leaving a name off of a screenplay can also be a dangerous thing. If you’ve ever heard about Coming to America with Eddie Murphy he was sued by the actual writer of the film when his shooting screenplay didn’t show his name. Though his original draft did, when he mailed it back to himself double registered but, never opened it once he had it delivered back to himself. He won the case and settled off for about 28 million dollars of the box office sales. It might be more I don’t know. But still, leaving a name off of a script gives rise to those very devious script hunters who love to steal a person’s script without protection. Such as a name and the advertisement of showing how the script was notarized or copyrighted by the library of congress. Without those indications on the front page of the screenplay, you’re basically saying; “Hey I just submitted my script, no name, no copyright protection, no registration, nothing. Go ahead, steal it if you want. I won’t lift a finger to prove I wrote it.” And even if you did copyright it to begin with, it would be hard to prove it in court if it got used without any of the above things I just mentioned. Unless you have an original draft completely protected out of the contest and kept safe inside a safety deposit box, you wouldn’t have a chance. So don’t just rely on contest rules, you can still keep your name on the script along with lawful information. They can’t disqualify you just because you are trying to protect your dream. And if they did, then their contest wasn’t as copacetic to begin with. Blind readings are very dangerous. It shouldn’t matter who’s name is on the script as long as its written in the proper format, and contains all of the foundations to make the script worthwhile to read. The nicholl fellowship is another contest who requires names be left out so they can do a blind reading. I sent them four scripts all signed and not one made it through. One of those scripts called Necromancer won a grand prize at the screenplay festival in Los Angeles in 2012 and it was signed. Anonymity is their condition to the contest. But like I said, it shouldn’t matter if it is signed or not. It’s the content of the script, not the name of the author. So always make sure that if you are going to enter a contest where they do blind readings, keep an original draft both in paper form and data form locked up in a safety deposit box. It sounds like a tedious thing to do, but in the long run it will help your dream stay safe from predators.

      1. Joe Blow says:

        Whether your name is on or off your script isn’t going to make an iota of difference to a thief. Producers cheat screenwriters every day out of net profits despite having written contracts. Anonymous competitions theoretically are better because as others here have pointed out, the readers and judges all have friends or friends of friends who write and it’s easy to rig the judging in their favor. It happens at companies too. I once heard a d-girl admit she downgraded a good script she was assigned to read because a friend’s script was submitted at the same time and she wanted to boost its chances and not be beaten out by the better script.

  9. John Q. Public says:

    Hogwash. What Dov Simens doesn’t know about screenplay contests would fill a very large book. What he doesn’t wouldn’t fill a comic book, and that’s with the pictures. If you want a reliable list of the best screenplay contests, go to this page at Moviebytes, to read evaluations by those who have actually entered contests:

    1. John Q. Public says:

      Oops…That’s supposed to say, “What he does know wouldn’t fill a comic book…

  10. Wale M says:

    I’ve been doing contests for several years now and have been fortunate enough to make the top finals in some of them on this list. However, I’m going to have to agree with the growing body of opinion (that can be easily found online) that Script Pipeline is essentially a scam.

    Aside from the strong evidence of nepotism someone found between the owner masquerading behind a social media account and a family member (believe it was on Reddit) two issues I’ve learned from participating twice with them is that A) The contest is billed as inclusive as existing TV specs, however, this year I counted literally 1 existing teleplay out of all the quarter finalists. I’ve seen two separate divisions for pilots and existing shows but never 99% one with a cameo from the other.

    B) FOR THOSE WHO VALUE YOUR INFORMATION, SCRIPT PIPELINE IS SELLING YOUR INFORMATION TO COPYRIGHT FIRMS FOR DISTRIBUTORS. Apparently I downloaded an episode of the show I wrote for almost a year before the week before results were announced. That Monday my cable was shut off because of that download nearly a year ago (a time gap for these sort of things I’ve never heard of), the same as the episode I submitted, what a coincidence!

    At the end of the day, the UI on the site is just a nightmare itself, I had to email the guy after to get the script submitted properly. I’ve never had this much difficulty or suspicious behavior from any other major contest, and in my honest opinion, Script Pipeline has no place on these lists if they’re genuinely written to help aspiring writers.

  11. May West says:

    This is an utter disgrace! Thanks for sharing!

  12. kasur mobil says:

    Hi there, its good article on the topic of media print, we all understand media
    is a wonderful source of information.

  13. Mark J says:

    I have to agree that based on my experience, I deeply feel Script Pipeline is a scam. The Blacklist rated my screenplay with a score of 7 twice. I kept submitting to Script Pipeline, and every time I changed my script to what they suggested, they continued to find things wrong with it. Never giving my script a “recommend.” Meanwhile, the Blacklist readers found my script hilarious and hugely marketable and gave that same script very positive coverage. I’ve read where Script Pipeline expects you to spend $1000 before they give you a “recommend.” I get a 7 TWICE on Blacklist and the scam artists at Pipeline didn’t even give me a “consider.” They just suggested more notes to make corrections where I can pay for their services. RUN from Script Pipeline, in my opinion. They’re nice though… nice while they pocket your money.

    1. apickylady says:

      I’ve been vacillating for the last three hours whether or not to trust Pipeline. Glad I kept looking for evidence of scam potential. Thanks!

    2. Dennis says:

      i was just going to submit a screenplay to them, but after reading this article, I’m glad I didn’t. Also if you read their disclaimer, they state that the person reading your script can be a screenwriter, and you can’t sue if they use a Theme, Story line, Characters. or plot that is like yours. That’s a Red Flag to me.

  14. HuwH says:

    I’ve just had an unpleasant experience with The Shore Screenplay Competition, which I chose as it has both US and UK credentials and judges. I had a screenplay set in the UK and wanted a dual perspective. Quite expensive in UK terms, but standard for the US. They undertook to keep people updated as to the script’s progress in the competition. Months went by, I queried the lack of response, was told it “would have been sent” on certain specified dates. As it hadn’t been received, or appeared in a junk/spam folder I asked them to resend the emails. They didn’t; I asked again. They started with the snotty attitudes, still didn’t send. During my polite queries, the email sender changed from a “David” (presumably the David listed as the organiser) to The Team, to an unaddressed, unsigned “I’m having trouble understanding your email” type response, and still none of the notifications sent. Despite some name judges including Richard Walker in the US and some UK judges whom I can approach anyway, this is a poorly managed mess, exacerbated by the rudeness of the response. If they had a UK address, I’d be reporting them to the UK’s Trading Standards. Taking people’s money and providing such an insulting service when faced with a problem marks them out as one to avoid. And I’d recommend you all avoid them too.

    1. Eva says:

      Thank you for this info. I had a last-minute change of mind because of your experience. Fifty dollars saved. Will drink your health. 🙂

    2. Cyril Scoville says:

      Thanks. Got my feet wet when I published with a, for now, questionable publisher. Cost me about $700.00. I have decided to try my hand at a movie script, and am now in the process of finding genuinely good people to deal with. Also, I have been working on starting up something, that, when finished, will be the end of ALL scammers everywhere. This might seem to be a crazy thought, but that’s okay. Most of the people I know are used to my crazy side. They also know that when I set out to do something, it gets done. This will be a long time doing, but the reward of seeing a totally honest playing field for all to enjoy is not a thing out of reach. I dream in sci fi, and well know all things are possible. Rock on.

  15. TheBardNamedMe says:

    Wow! Thank you for taking the time to write this!! Very informative and extremely helpful.

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  17. Ramona Frye says:

    I figured most of them our scams and don’t even read your script. I would never enter a contest unless they answered a few questions about my script or gave me a free script review just for entering so I know that they actually read it. Many years ago Project Greenlight actually answered those questions to prove they actually read your script but I don’t know of any that do that anymore.

  18. Patrick Duzan says:

    I haven’t entered the contest fully yet but am on the verge of turning and handing something into Final Draft Big Break or whatever it is called. The cost is $75.00-$85.00 I just needed to get some confirmation if it is a wise thing to do or not.

    1. Trent says:

      Does ANYONE have an opinion on Final Draft’s BIG BREAK Contest? Looking at the rules, it states that the judges look at tons of scripts that come their way and may have something “SIMILAR” to your script or idea….Is this a WARNING SIGN???

      1. DiDi Goldberg says:

        Not really. I worked in Los Angeles, trust me your idea is already there in some form or fashion. Especially with the social media explosion, now everyday joe can get an idea or script idea to multiple agencies through the thousands of screenwriting contests that have popped up over the last 10 years! IMOHP join a local film community and produce your own content in 5/10 min videos, then post them in your own media company! that’s your calling card to getting investment or purchasing your material. You fare better than trying
        to break in through Screenplay contests (They are nothing but cash cows now for struggling producers, students, and production companies)

  19. Aisay Asefa says:

    Hi their my name is Sisay Asefa, I’m a screenwriter. I finished my screenplay, so can you accept my screenplay?

    1. TOM HAINES says:

      I have one screenplay that I will be sending to a contest. As for who reads it, I don’t care as long as they know the craft. They need to know about good midpoint plot-twist (mirror point) and all the other things that can make an OK script better. I was in the comedy business for over 20 years. I built clubs, managed comedians, performed (ahhh, yeah), booked comics weekly in dozens of comedy clubs, critiqued stand-up submissions (well over a thousand), wrote stand-up comedy, and for just short of a decade taught stand-up. (For two hours on a Monday night, I often had students come in from six states.) About three months ago I saw one of my students on the Tonight Show. Believe me credible readers arn’t asked to read because they once told a really funny knock-knock joke.

  20. Tony Johnson says:

    How does a new writer like me survive about all these scams? I thought to get my scripts to Hollywood meant winning a contest. So from now on, I’ll not register to any contest. Thank you for letting me know that about 72% of the contests are scam…

  21. Novotny Ingersol says:

    Nicholl. Austin. PAGE. What’s so hard about that? And why would anyone need/want to submit to more than three?

  22. Caitlin says:

    I made the mistake of submitting a screenplay to some of the ‘Lift-off’ festivals. They have London Lift-Off, Sydney Lift-Off, New York Lift-Off etc. etc.all under the one umbrella. Complete waste of time and money for the below reasons:
    1/ I Paid for feedback from Sydney Lift-Off. Notifications of whether your screenplay was ‘selected’ were sent October 24 2018. Mine was not. Fair enough. But I am STILL waiting for my paid feedback and it’s February 2019!
    2/ There was no notification at all of who the winner/winners were. No email. No update on their website. No twitter post. No Facebook post. Nothing. The only way I know who the winners were was by chancing on a twitter post by someone who was one of the 5 winners chosen. If I hadn’t stumbled across that post I’d still have no idea.What’s the point in winning a competition if you’re the only person who gets told about it?!
    I also share the sentiments of the people who posted about Shore Scripts and Script Pipeline. The worst and least constructive feedback you will ever receive – often just surly and downright rude.

  23. kit remsen aroneau says:

    What about the Page Awards? Thought that supposed to be a very
    good one… Paid late submission of 65. instead of 55 and went into 2 categories, 3 judges


    Thanks for raising the flag on – I submitted my script couple years ago, and it got no results. I was considering it today again, since the deadline is in a day. I found the comments of other writers concerning… won’t be wasting $65

  25. Richard M. Kjeldgaard says:

    I have WON several screenplay contests over the years. All of them went nowhere. These “Contests” are out for one thing…$$$. I’ve also paid for promos for my screenplays that have been posted online and again, nothing. These contests will give you a creative pat on the back and tell you that you have talent. One feature action film was labeled by one contest as one of the best action/thriller specs out there. Went nowhere.
    This went on for years after I was told in the beginning that the best way to get noticed is through the contests. Not true. I’d estimate that over the last few years I spent $3,000.00 for contests and promotions. Wa$te.
    There is no clear cut way to promote your material except to learn the craft and network with other writers. One established writer I do know told me that if they were really into your script, they’d just forward it to a studio or representation.

    1. Cyril Scoville says:

      One thing we all definitely need is a vast solid group dedicated to not only our safety as writers, but also dedicated to the exposure of all of the con artists until they are no more. Maybe some of us can get that ball rolling. Rock on.

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  27. Vee T says:

    Yes, I think many of the ones listed on here are old. Definitely, I would not list BlueCat. A few of the readers are rude jerks.

  28. sharon ohara says:

    what LA International Screenplay Contest?

  29. Word Gets Out says:

    Add “The Script Lab” to the list of scam contests. Submitted the same exact script for two consecutive years (inadvertently) and was scored 8-9/10 the first year and 5/10 the second year. Zero credibility. Their “Free” contest is actually an email harvest.

  30. Diana says:

    I used to be a reader for the Austin Film Festival. The festival started giving feedback for all the scripts including ones that are rejected. I entered one of my rom coms in some small comedy film festivals last year and got best rom com in the Houston Comedy Film Festival and finalist in two categories at the Austin Comedy Short Film Festival. Why would my script do so well at two comedy film festivals and do so poorly at the Austin Film Festival?

    This is the feedback I got from the Austin Film Festival:
    Script Title: The Love Chef
    Category: Comedy Feature Screenplay
    ID: 2070
    Comments: The script has a unique take on a man restarting his whole life from scratch. It does need help in several areas. The entire script needs to have correct punctuation and grammar. Without it, the story reads as if it is an unfinished draft. This script would benefit from a punctuation/grammar pass. The script also over describes the description in the action lines. Every movement, breath, shrug is choreographed. This slows down the overall pacing of the story, and distracts from the conflict in the scene. Also, there are a few instances in the script where something is described in the action lines that should just be stated in the dialogue. For instance, when Bethany gives Ross a phone number, that moment is merely stated in the action. This needs to be a specific line of dialogue, where Bethany gives Ross the actual number to call.

    Small film festivals are so much better than the big ones. I think the big film festivals are scams including the Austin Film Festival.

  31. Marie says:

    How do we know that it is indeed a screenplay and not a scam?

  32. Chantel Patel says:

    Screencraft is the absolute worst of the bunch, especially considering they are now teamed up with Coverfly. They have so many categories, they are raking it in. They claim they are helping writers connect in the industry but the writers who get staffed or produced, did so primarily through other avenues. All of these jackals make me ill.

  33. This article and the comments that followed are eye-opening. As someone who has entered multiple contests eight years ago and won a generous portion, (while still losing some), I can say that the majority of competitions are not scams. They may be poorly ran, but not out to scam you and aren’t making money hand-over-fist.

    And believe you me, contests are NOT cash cows for 80% of the contests. With all that it takes to run a contest, they would be doing well if they broke even. In fact, film festivals (for example) usually don’t make money, and are in the red for 5 years before they actually make more than it cost to run. And attracting people to submit their material is daunting as they have to overcome lack of name recognition, lack of big ticket prizes and lack of trust from people who have never heard of them.

    I have been on both sides; as a screenwriter who submitted to many competitions, and also the founder of a nonprofit who created and ran two different film festivals and screenplay competitions in the past.

    Also, if you win in one completion and don’t place in another; that is absolutely common and not an indication that they didn’t read your script. They just found others more to their liking. You have to accept rejection as a writer.

    Eight years ago I turned to writing novels and how to books, which has made me a pretty good living; but I have swung back to wanting to write for television and film, and so I find myself again submitting to competitions. I came across this post, and although dated, still had some very useful information.

    After a little research, I submitted television specs, original pilots, screenplays to the following competitions through Coverfly mostly:

    Austin Film Fest
    WeScreenplay TV
    Screencraft Drama
    Script Pipeline

    I’m not giving a vote of approval for all of these; but each one had something unique that I saw as valuable.

    Getting my second wind, I decided to put aside a certain amount of money for the year on contests and try to enter during their first deadline. (I just came upon Page during their final deadline and the cost was too high to enter. Next year). Then, whether you make it to the next round, or not, you’re already in a place of acceptance.

    I will return to this page periodically and hope to read more experiences from my fellow writers.

  34. This is awesome. Glad that I found this site.

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  36. Thanks for sharing this great information, very useful info.

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  40. Candyce Petersen says:

    No one has mentioned the ISA. I am a member, because I truly believe the people who work here care about the future of screenwriting. They run smaller contests (some for free, if you are a member) and give screenwriting lessons. Check them out.

  41. Are screenplay competitions scams?

  42. David says:

    Are screenplay competitions scams?

    1. Frampton says:

      Really? Are screenplay competitions scams?

  43. how much says:

    There is nothing wrong with these contests, as long as they only charge $45-$75 bucks, for it gets your script read… and I feel it will motivate you to do a solid re-write but nothing really happens with the award (ho-hum) winner which you will likely frame and hang in your guest bathroom.

  44. Great information. It`s very interesting and helpful. Thanks for the share.

  45. Spencer says:

    I’m thinking of entering the Finish Line Script Competition, since it is cheap and has names in the film industry attached as judges. Also, past winners and runner-ups are having their scripts produced (although, admittedly, some of them seemed half-established already). Any experiences, good or bad, with Finish Line?

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  51. Jen says:

    That’s fine to say these 10 are the best, but who are you? What is your credibility? It’s one thing if Michael Hague or John August say these are the best contests but, just like there are a million scam contests out there, there are also a million scam web sites recommending what they say are the best contests.

  52. I just applied for and accepted a job with Wiki Screenplay Contest as a reader. I had to resubmit my review several times to be finally told they woouldn’t be moving forward with me. Jobs of this type have a learning curve, they have a specific critique writing format and file type, as well as several different templates, so it’s natural that I screwed up on the formats initially. The job I have is along those lines and did require a learning curve, and still does, as it’s entertainment related, can be complicated, and the software is constantly, seemingly anyway, updated, usually in small ways, but every once in a while in a major way.

    Here’s the issue – I did submit a decent analysis of one script that would be enough if I were reading it for any network. They don’t want a life story about every single element before they decide to kick it up or not. But Wiki Screenplay Contests wanted me to write two paragraphs of each of the following and assign a score. This is what I actually wrote:

    Concept/Originality: (8)

    Sweet and unusual, a different take on an overall concept proven to be successful.

    Structure: (8)

    Moves along quickly and nicely.

    Plot: (7)

    In line with this type of story, not complicated and easy to follow.

    Pacing: (8)

    Pacing is fine, no issues.

    Characters: (6)

    Characters are well defined, personalities are in line to be expected in this type of story, none have any outrageous qualities, and all seem like they fit for this type of a story. None have any outrageous qualities yet will become more evolved as the story progresses.

    Dialogue: (6)

    Dialogue is fine and in keeping with the characters of the story. It’s easy to follow and has light humor at times.

    Tone: (6)

    Family drama, tone is in line with successful shows of this type.

    Conflict: (5)

    There are no major conflicts with the exception of those between the ghost of one sister and the living sister. These are resolved amicably, after a few conversations, although it is a different force, a dream, that does this. There are opportunities for greater conflicts as the story progresses past the pilot in numerous ways.

    Emotional Response/Investment: (7)

    People gravitate towards this type of story. It’s a fantasy and escape from life. Many will feel as if there are elements of the characters and the story itself they wish were true of their lives. Consequently, it’s likely the people that do watch will become consistent viewers.

    Marketplace Potential: (8)

    Marketplace potential is high. It’s along the lines of Medium or Touched By an Angel. Sugary and sweet, with harmless supernatural fantasy.

    You don’t really need two paragraphs for each of those. Tone? Two paragraphs on tone? Plot? It’s either easy to follow and enticing to the target audience, or it’s not. They don’t want a synopsis, so you can’t write that, although that does help in some of these sub categories to explain why such and such is rated as it is. Pacing? Two paragraphs? Jesus Christ, it moves along at a reasonable rate or it doesn’t. If there aren’t any real issues, why do I need to write two paragraphs about it?

    Pay is abysmal – starting at $5 for something simple and $25 for a 110 page script with comeplete notes. The only reason I considered it is I could do two jobs at once, and might benefit from understanding some of the writing techniques people use through osmosis. They also require all sorts of degrees, ideally, that anyone with those degrees would only take the job, considering the horrible pay, if they were very desperate.

    They have monthly contests with small cash prizes, $75 to $250 tops in three categories. Of course they upsell to writers, the first template I sent was incorrect and included a pitch for these services.

    None of the contest winners are listed on the website. Of course this was a job through Craigslist.

    The one positive testimonial I could find was from the Script Revolution forum, and was about the notes. My notes were useful to anyone who understands the basic idea of storytelling. One would hope they don’t need to read two paragraphs about the Tone, for Christ’s sake, to understand what they’re doing.

    The person who wrote the Script Revolution positive post may also be on IMDB. Someone with his name is, anyway. But the project he touts as Wiki Screenplay Contest Honorable Mention, is not.

    Oh, I also had to sign an NDA. Well, fuck em and their NDA. Sue me, cocksuckers.

    1. Jason says:

      Haha 😆 I’m sure you’re a fine reader.

  53. Jeff says:

    I looked up the street address for Script Pipeline in Santa Monica, CA. It’s a Fantastic Sam’s hair cutting location.

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  61. James says:

    I don’t have anything bad to say about these. Winning one of these awards will inspire and validate you as a screenwriter, but it really means very little to the real Hollywood producers, buyers, and agents, so I’m not all that excited about them. See:

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  64. Albert Steve says:

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