Completing your first screenplay lifts a heavy weight off a person’s chest. Finally, that story you have been turning over in your head for years is down on paper. You perfected it every way you can without having to compromise your original ideas too greatly. You have given birth to great art beginning with a FADE IN and ending with a FADE OUT. The writing phase as finished as it will ever be, you are ready for the next step.
That next step is to get that script into the hands of a producer with a lot of money to spend. This is as hard as it may sound because producers usually have their hands filled with other scripts and invitations to exclusive parties. Hollywood is a closed off sector of society where breaking into the scene takes a lot of luck.
One option you may consider is entering your screenplay into a contest. Few contest winning scripts have ever been turned into highly successful films. Still, plenty of screenwriters have been discovered this way. With so many contests to choose from, here is an outline of some of the best you may want to try.
The Nickelodeon Fellowship is a contest despite the fact that it is also as much a job opportunity, which is the basic definition of a fellowship. Don’t let the Nickelodeon name fool you. They more than welcome half-hour spec scripts of existing shows that are more mature than the usual Nickelodeon programming. This would be a contest to enter if you are already a little bit established as they require you write a brief biography and discuss how you are diverse. The winner will be paid a stipend and work at the Burbank Studios crafting themselves into better writers for the next year.
New York Television Festival
An annual festival held every year in New York City, the New York Television Festival has a plethora of contests you may want to consider. Not all contests are exclusive to writers. The event also offers contests for documentary filmmakers, producers, and other people trying to make a name in the business. One featured writing contest they have each year is the Half-Hour Sitcom Pilot. All ideas must be fully original and not based on anything else. The best part about it is you don’t have to pay anything. There is no submission fee and you only have to email your script to them. The winner receives $25,000 and a developmental deal with Fox.
In some ways an ongoing contest, The Blacklist now allows writers to submit their work to the site whenever they want. A $25 fee per month to host the script, your screenplay will be available for anyone looking for new talent to read. For $50 you can get a professional review with very accurate and useful feedback. This is valuable because each year The Blacklist posts a list of the 100 Best Unproduced Scripts from the previous year. Past scripts on this list have included Academy Awards Winners and Nominees. Your script may not get to that point, but for such a small fee with valuable honest feedback readily available, The Blacklist is something all writers should get involved with.