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Are Screenwriting Contests Worth It?

Are screenwriting contests the golden ticket to success or just a labyrinth of promises leading nowhere?

Aspiring writers often find themselves entangled in the allure of these competitions, hoping for a breakthrough.

Read on as I dissect the common pitfalls of screenwriting contests and why they might not be the best investment for emerging talent.

screenwriting competitions / script writing for beginners

Screenwriting Contests: The Illusion of Industry Connections

Screenwriting contests frequently tout the promise of connecting writers to industry professionals.

However, this commitment often remains elusive, with the term “industry professionals” being deliberately vague and unfulfilled.

The Hope Machine: Capitalising on Beginner Writers

One of the primary criticisms against many screenwriting competitions is their exploitation of novice writers.

By showering laurels upon participants, these contests hit writers with spikes of dopamine, allowing them to share their ‘achievements’ on social media, which keeps them coming back for more.

It’s important to remember that many of these contests work off a business model, and very few of them prioritise the writers’ success as their driving intention.

screenwriting competitions

Social Media Following vs. Credibility

While some contests boast a substantial social media following, this online presence doesn’t necessarily translate into genuine credibility within the industry.

Giving out laurels left right and centre allows these companies to extend their social media reach very easily, as screenwriters constantly share their successes, which serves as free advertisement for the platforms.

The question remains: does social media present equate to genuine opportunities?

screenwriting competitions

Getting Script Coverage From Screenplay Competitions

The promise of script coverage and valuable feedback is a common selling point for screenwriting contests.

However, the reality often falls short. Many contests employ underpaid, underqualified readers who desperately struggle to break into the industry.

These readers are usually given huge batches of screenplays at a time. To make it financially worthwhile, they often skim through the script or read just the first and last ten pages before delivering generic, templated responses. 

Even if the readers do take the time to read the whole screenplay, their notes are usually splattered with basic screenwriting principles lifted from ubiquitous screenwriting guides like “Save The Cat.”

Invest in Your Craft: Professional Notes Over Useless Laurels

Instead of chasing laurels that might lack substance, consider investing your money in developing your script.

Seek professional notes from a trusted screenplay consultant who can provide personalised and insightful feedback.

Knowing who is reading your script and understanding their qualifications adds a layer of transparency often missing in contest evaluations.

For example… I’m an experienced script consultant who reads screenplays for the British Film Institute.

I have written comprehensive coverage on over 1,000 scripts and have helped screenwriters get their work into development with production companies such as Imagine Entertainment and Screen Ireland. 

If you’re interested in getting quality notes from a professional script consultant, please feel free to browse my services below.

Which Screenwriting Contests Can I Trust?

Once your script is refined and polished, consider submitting it to screenwriting competitions with a proven track record.

Look for credible contests that offer tangible outcomes, steering clear of those that thrive on vague promises and unverified connections.

Click the button below to find a list of worthwhile screenwriting contests that actually lead to the prospect of representation, professional mentoring, training programs, writing labs or entry-level screenwriting jobs.

In conclusion, while the allure of screenwriting contests is undeniable, a strategic and discerning approach is essential.

Instead of succumbing to the appeal of generic feedback and empty laurels, focus on developing your craft with professional guidance.

Invest wisely, be sure to develop your screenplay from trusted sources and eventually ensure that you submit to contests that have a proven track record. 

Nick Fore Script Doctor / Script Consultant

Nick Fore is an experienced script consultant who reads screenplays for the British Film Institute.

He has written comprehensive coverage on over 1,000 scripts and has helped screenwriters get their work into development with production companies such as Imagine Entertainment and Screen Ireland. 

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