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Submit Your Scripts: The 7 Best Online Screenwriting Contests

Jourdan Aldredge

We picked the best screenwriting contests and competitions you can submit to online. Plus, check out some scripting tips and tricks to help you along the way.

Cover image by VGstockstudio.

Writing a solid script requires a sharp wit, a cinematic mind, and lots and lots of free time to put pen to paper. (Or, more accurately, keystroke to favorite script-writing software.) But what’s a budding filmmaker or aspiring screenwriter to do once the script is complete?

Sure, you can always grab a camera and rally a few friends to help you shoot a short or start a feature. But for many fresh-faced screenwriters and filmmakers, entering a few script contests might be a more beneficial option.

Why Screenwriting Contests Are Worth it

Hit your deadline.

Deadlines are a solid motivational tool that can help you stay focused. Image via Casper1774 Studio.

If you’ve ever been in a film or screenwriting program that gave you assignments, you’ve likely seen how the combination of structure, deadlines, and goals can motivate you to stay on task.

Having a target contest with a due date and guidelines keeps you up against the clock and the calendar, and it forces you to hold yourself accountable for getting your scripts done and submitted on time.

Another benefit of a script contest? You’re going to hone your screenwriting skills outside of a vacuum by putting them up against the skills of your peers. Plus, many of these contests offer at least some level of critical feedback into why your script was chosen or rejected.

These early returns — good or bad — are highly important information for you to document as you push yourself to grow. I’d also highly recommend attending as many of these competitions and festivals as you can, be it online or in person. They’re great resources for networking with fellow writers and learning from panels and workshops. And yes — it’s also a real confidence booster to soak in the sweet, sweet acclaim you’ll receive if you’re lucky enough to get a script through!

Additional Screenwriting Resources

Before we dive into our recommendations for the best places to submit, here are some helpful resources to check out before putting your script out there as a finished product. These articles include tips for formatting, structure, breakdowns, overcoming obstacles, nailing rewrites, and more:

For reasons both practical and motivational, here are our picks for the seven best online screenwriting contests and competitions to look into, follow closely, and eventually submit your work. Don’t dawdle — some of these entry deadlines are right around the corner.

1. Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition

Austin Film Festival

The Austin Film Festival is well known as the “writers festival” due to its heavy emphasis on well-crafted narratives and abundance of screenplay competitions, workshops, and speakers. This is the one to shoot for if you want to be ranked with the best of the best.

AFF has a rich history with big-name past participants like Robert Altman, Greta Gerwig, Walter Hill, and Keenan Ivory Wayans, just to name a few.

In addition to their screenwriting competition (which has 10+ sub-categories), all submissions are guaranteed to receive free “reader comments” with a brief, overall summary of feedback and notes for your script.

  • Deadline: June 1st (Late Deadline)
  • Categories: Feature Screenplay, Short Screenplay & Teleplay
  • FilmFreeway: Submit Here

2. Script Pipeline Screenwriting and TV Writing Competition

Script Pipeline Screenwriting and TV Writing Competition

One of the more familiar names in the screenwriting world is Script Pipeline and their “Screenwriting and TV Writing” competition. Script Pipeline writers get the opportunity to actually push chosen projects through development towards completion.

As one of the premiere screenwriting competitions, many who have made it through the “script pipeline” have gone on to tremendous careers, including Tripper Clancy (Stuber) and Laura Bensick (Everyday Insanity). Script Pipeline also saw the single largest spec script acquisition ever when Evan Daugherty sold Snow White & the Huntsman for $3.25M. So, yeah — this one is worth your time.

  •  Deadline: May 31st (Extended Deadline)
  • Categories: Screenwriting Competition, TV Writing Competition
  • FilmFreeway: Submit Here

3. Plot Point Awards

Plot Point Awards

A solid screenwriting competition worth your research and consideration is the Plot Point Awards. This competition encourages submissions from all possible genres, and it ‘s a good option for getting one of your first scripts out there.

This is a relatively new, online-friendly contest that doesn’t have a large list of past winners, so it’s a good one for aspiring screenwriters looking to try out some of their early scripts before submitting to some of the bigger competitions and festivals.

Plus, with cash prizes up to $1,000 for the feature screenplay winner, it’s worth a shot for the project-funding possibilities alone.

  • Deadline: June 1st (Late Deadline)
  • Categories: Feature Screenplay, Short Screenplay & Teleplay
  • FilmFreeway: Submit Here

4. Write LA

Write LA

Write LA is new, a little different, and definitely exciting, thanks to the fact that it offers one of the best prizes: An opportunity to fly out to Los Angeles and actually meet with film industry producers. Oh, and winners get a live stage reading of their script. Pretty cool, huh?

In addition to offering the grand-prize trip and table read, Write LA is one of the few screenwriting contests to keep its readers and reviewers in-house, and they use a singular head judge for every year’s contest.

The top 15 scripts for each category take home some solid prize packs that include some great screenwriting resources, feedback and promotions with industry executives, and a free copy of Final Draft 11.

  • Deadline: June 15th (Final Deadline)
  • Categories: Feature, TV Pilot
  • FilmFreeway: Submit Here

5. Nashville Film Festival Screenwriting Competition

Nashville Film Festival Screenwriting Competition

Remember, there are a ton of festivals outside of Hollywood. I highly encourage you to check out a few local and regional fests as soon as possible. They’re a terrific place to make solid contacts, meet vital collaborators, and they often throw screenwriting competitions of their own.

Take the Nashville Film Festival, for example. Already known as one of the best film festivals in the world, the Nashville Film Festival offers a unique program for screenwriters who want feedback, critiques, and support for their scripts before they’re submitted into competition.

The Coverage Program offers feedback on everything from loglines to full script markups and even your pilot’s show bible. In the words of NFF, “Coverage gives screenwriters an opportunity to see how their draft will be perceived by industry professionals.”

  • Deadline: June 10th (Extended Deadline)
  • Categories: Feature, TV Pilot
  • FilmFreeway: Submit Here

6. Festigious Los Angeles – Monthly Film Competition

Festigious Los Angeles

Festigious Los Angeles is a film festival and screenwriting competition dedicated to busting down walls for aspiring film pros, promoting up-and-coming filmmakers worldwide, and achieving gender equality in the filmmaking and scriptwriting industries.

The fest also has an interesting approach to competition that’s perfect for screenwriters compelled to tinker with their scripts — it’s held online on a monthly basis with rolling submissions all year long.

  • Deadline: Monthly
  • Categories: Best Screenplay – Short, Best Screenplay – Feature
  • FilmFreeway: Submit Here

7. Emerging Screenwriters Genre Screenplay Competition

Emerging Screenwriters Genre Screenplay Competition

If you fancy yourself a budding genre screenwriter — action, sci-fi, horror, etc. —  you can actually find a few script contests that cater specifically to you. One of the best is the Emerging Screenwriters Genre Screenplay Competition, which has been supporting genre filmmakers and screenwriters for over a decade. This is an especially solid option for screenwriters who are looking for more feedback than many other festivals provide.

The Emerging Screenwriters competition offers script feedback options like a full ISA Development Evaluation designed to connect up-and-comers with agents or managers, along with five pages of comprehensive industry-specific notes for getting your script development-ready.

  • Deadline: August 27th (Final Deadline)
  • Categories: Feature, TV Pilot
  • FilmFreeway: Submit Here

For more screenwriting resources and filmmaking tips and tricks, spend some time with the articles below: