What Screenwriting Competitions and Fellowships Mean To a Screenwriter
Learning how to write a screenplay can be daunting especially when you start running out of ideas to write about. We will go over some proven tactics the pro’s use when facing writers block.
By Chicago Screenplay Awards Dept.
Applying for screenwriting fellowships and competitions should be the goal of every aspiring screenwriter if they want to get noticed in the industry.
There are many writers who want their work to get the attention of production houses and companies in Hollywood. There is a lot of competition with hundreds of screenplays submitted to companies for the chance of getting selected. Now, let’s be real, not every screenplay is made into a movie or even read because the amount of screenplays to read are too much and if production houses started reading all of them they would not be able to work on creating and promoting movies.
Applying for screenwriting labs, competitions, grants and fellowships is the way to go. These provide a screenwriter with the opportunity to win with their scripts and have people interested in their work. Hollywood is a tough world to live in with many people having strong connections in places, as a novice writer you do not have those connections but with these competitions you gain a fair chance to spread your name and work.
In these competitions professional script readers are hired to read through the scripts and screenplays submitted and judge them objectively on the quality of the work showcased. When you apply to renowned competitions that are on a bigger level and have credibility attached to them, you can get a chance to have your screenplay read by professionals who have vast experience in the field. Do not lose this chance and work to hone your skills and submit your best work.
If you need more convincing then here are some benefits that applying for screenwriting competitions and fellowships may give you:
• It exposes you to the same conditions as are present in the industry
The work that you write will be judged subjectively by people in the contests in the same way as it would be in any production house or studio. The screenplays submitted in contests are read by professional script readers who have extensive experience behind them. These platforms provide you a great opportunity to have your content be judged by industry professionals without having any boundary or obstacle in the way of submitting your work for evaluation. They will evaluate your work in the same way as one would in the industry according to those standards of assessment and expectations.
Script readers have to read screenplays day in and day out which gives them the perfect amount of exposure to understanding and identifying good writing. In a competition anyone can apply so you will be able to have your script be read by such professionals without rejection.
• They are fair and merit based
Screenwriters who want to enter the film industry usually are found asking and wondering about how to get noticed by producers and directors if they do not have people they know in the industry. Though it is not always about who you know and who you do not know in the industry but these competitions, labs and fellowships provide a platform where anyone can enter and you will win if the quality of your screenplay is better than others. Merit is placed above anything else.
• More is better
Do not put all your eggs in one basket. When you apply to one competition don’t just sit around waiting for its results to be announced but rather write more and apply for other competitions taking place. Take this opportunity to write and improve your writing and storytelling skills. If your work is based on a niche topic then apply for competitions targeting that niche. The competition you will face will be relatively less, the more specific the contests are.
By applying in multiple contests and fellowships you have a greater chance of getting your work to be seen by industry professionals.
• If you win you may be given a mentorship by a veteran screenwriter in the field
The winners of these competitions are provided a mentorship with industry veterans who have accumulated experience and fame with their work. This type of industry access can do wonders for a novice writer just entering the scene. These mentors can help guide a writer on what they need to do to garner attention for their screenplays and get a job doing what they love. The winners are also given opportunities to meet the judges of the competition, the big shot directors and producers, and learn what they liked about the screenplay that was submitted by the writer.
• Winning isn’t everything
It’s great if you are able to win a competition because you get the cash prizes and recognition associated with it but it’s alright even if you do not win. The semi-finalists and other writers that come up on the top lists can find as much success as the winners of the competition. If your work is great and can get someone interested, it does not matter if you won or not, you can still have your work selected by producers. Screenwriting contests often involve producers and directors interested in finding new talent and unique screenplays thus, if your work catches their eyes, you can still find success. In the end what is important is getting your work out there for it to be seen if you win a competition while doing it then that is just an added advantage.
• It is a great platform to get feedback on your work
Do not worry about your screenplay being perfect because it will never be. Whenever you read it, you will find something that you do not like or something that could be improved. The only thing that you should worry about is to make sure that what you are submitting is good and quality content. Submit the best content that you have when applying for competitions. This will give you an opportunity to get feedback from professional readers which you can use to further improve your work and evolve as a writer.
These screenwriting competitions can prove to be beneficial to a screenwriter’s future and act as a means to get attention for their screenplays, so apply all you can!