THE REAL VALUE OF SCREENWRITING CONTESTS
Three things you should be looking for
The screenwriting contest world is very wide but yet remarkably limited. When a writer wants to submit his script to a screenwriting contest, he finds out that there’s a huge list of all the contests he could apply to. Nevertheless, if you start to investigate a little, you realize that everything comes down to a list of ten or fifteen best script contests that everyone ends up knowing.
Some screenwriters have bad experiences with screenwriting contests. Truth is that you have to be careful about where you submit your work. As a piece of basic advice, you should never submit your script on a script contest where you don’t hold its rights. You usually end up losing. You also have screenplay contests where they promise you plenty of awards but that, if you look closer, you realize that they are empty words. However, the best script competitions and the ones that become successful are those that offer added and real value to screenwriters.
As we mentioned several times in other posts, at Filmarket Hub we recommend screenwriters to participate in script contests as a way to move their project forward and promote new emerging talents. We want to encourage any screenwriter to submit their script to any screenwriting contest where they can win real awards, no-frills, and relevant opportunities. We know that there are many sceptics about script competitions so we bring you three very important reasons to submit your screenplay to a contest that REALLY CONTRIBUTES to your screenwriter career.
CONNECT WITH EXECUTIVES AND INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS
The most important part when choosing which screenwriting contest are you going to apply to is to be sure that your script will reach someone’s influential hands. And with that I mean to put a face, a name or knowing which company they work for. Remember that one of the main goals is to get your script read.
Many script contests have a well-known jury whether they are producers from prestigious companies, managers or even successful screenwriters. Having someone inside the industry that validates your work as great can make you take another step forward. Also, if you get to be in the final rounds some script contests recommend your work to their network of contacts. That could make you connect with some industry professionals that could be interested in hearing more about your screenplay or they could even want to know more about your experience as a screenwriter.
In our case, we considered essential to have a jury of experts formed by a TV executive, a manager and a script doctor. Moreover, all three finalists will have their scripts read by our competition’s partners that work for prestigious industry companies who will offer feedback about their screenplay. In the end, script contests are made to ease industry access. They shouldn’t be seen as the enemy but as a tool to professionally move forward.
WIN RECOGNITION AND VISIBILITY
Some screenwriters have the wrong impression that if they submit their script to a contest and they win, their script will be easily produced. Unfortunately, many of the scripts that arrive at the final rounds in script contests end up unproduced. But that’s not the main goal.
Every screenwriter must understand (and ends up learning even if it’s in a hard way) that there is no shortcut to success or any magic formula. There are some vehicles to go faster but the journey is the same. Being selected in a screenwriting contest gives you more visibility and provides you with a quality seal in front of the executives and industry professionals. It gives you the chance to keep moving.
Many screenwriting contests are popular for their success stories. There are screenplays that after submitting to contests become produced but it’s not immediate. Furthermore, many of these screenwriters that got their script produced had to wait years to see their script on the screen. Nevertheless, most of them admit that submitting their screenplay to a contest was one of the first steps to success.
We will never get tired of telling you… move your script! Don’t stand still waiting for a miracle to happen. Another of the main goals of our script contest is to provide you with the tools to keep your screenplay moving. For that reason, the winner will be offered a place in the final selection projects chosen to pitch live at the next Filmarket Hub TV Pitchbox in the UK. This is a live pitch event where seven drama series in development are showcased in front of leading UK TV companies such as Caryn Mandabach Productions, Entertainment One, Ingenious, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal, Sky, Sunny March TV, Working Title Television and World Productions. The two finalists will be also automatically selected as Special Mention.
In the same way that in the writing process nothing is immediate neither it is the process of bringing your script to the screen. Submitting your screenplay to a contest and winning doesn’t mean that your script will be automatically produced. But if you stay active and you are patient you will start to realize how little by little your script generates more interest.
QUALITY OVER EVERYTHING
On a screenwriting contest, everyone is judged equally. It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced writer or an amateur one or if you have a marketable project or a more independent one. No one cares. Here the only thing that matters is the quality of your script.
The good thing about script contests is that opportunities are the same for everyone. Screenplay competitions aren’t regulated by market trends but by the script concept, creativity and the ability of the writer to express it on the paper. They look for characters that we care about, smart dialogues, original ideas, surprising elements and, in short, scripts we can’t stop reading.
For that reason, it’s extremely important submitting to screenwriting contests when you believe that your script is ready. What often happens in script contests is that screenwriters are so eager to register that they write their script too quickly to reach the deadline. The screenwriter knows that his script has much to improve but he submits it with the hope that nobody notices and advances in the competition. Huge mistake. As we’ve repeated several times, in the screenwriting process… there are no miracles! The people that evaluate your script are expert readers and they’re very well trained in script analysis so for them is super easy to identify a script that has been worked on from one done in a hurry.
As script contests have tight deadlines, it is normal that the writer writes the screenplay faster than he normally would do but don’t let the rush spoil your project. In these cases, what usually happens is that the writer pays an entry fee and his script doesn’t advance in the competition. A waste of time and money. How to avoid it? The answer is very simple: don’t submit it. Yeah, you heard it right. If your script isn’t ready yet, don’t submit it to a contest. Work in the screenplay until it’s ready to present it and you really believe you’ve done everything that was on your hand to improve it. Because I assure you that if you’re not convinced about the quality of your script, you won’t convince the person that evaluates it neither.
Besides the reasons here mentioned, there are many reasons to submit your script to contests and lots of advantages that you and your work could benefit from like, for example, the cash prize that many script competitions offer. However, we believe that these three reasons are the ones that should really motivate any writer to do it. In the end, there are the ones that will provide you with real opportunities to take the next step in your screenwriting career.
We present our 2021 Screenwriting Contest for English language TV pilots. We are looking for fresh voices writing for the screen and the next great TV series. Our goal is to connect screenwriters with leading executives and key players in the industry.
With 3.000€ in cash awards, an invitation to pitch at our next UK Online Pitchbox event, access to leading production companies and many more benefits, this is a unique opportunity to demonstrate your writing talent and get industry exposure and support.