best screenwriting contests

16 Best Screenwriting Contests to Submit Your Screenplay in 2021

Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

With so many screenwriting contests in the world, winning a well-known screenplay competition can skyrocket a writer’s career into the industry. Screenwriting courses on Udemy, Coursera and Masterclass give tips on selling screenplays, however, at he same time screenwriting contests is also a wonderful way to get noticed. 

But it is really not that easy to choose the best screenwriting contest out of hundreds out there. Hence, in this article, I have mentioned the top screenplay contests which cover the following details:

  • Application fees for submitting a Screenplay
  • Prizes to be won by the winners

Most of these competitions are in the USA which is where maximum agents, writers, producers look for talent.

List of the Screenwriting Competitions

  1. Nicholl Fellowship Screenwriting Contest
  2. Final Draft Big Break Contest
  3. Page International Screenwriting Contest
  4. Script Pipeline
  5. Austin Screenplay and Teleplay Competition
  6. Sundance Screenwriters Lab
  7. Bluecat Screenplay Competition
  8. Stage 32 Script Services
  9. Nantucket Film Festival
  10. Cinequest Screenplay Competition
  11. Slamdance Film Festival
  12. New York International Screenplay Awards
  13. Write LA Screenplay Contest
  14. Toronto Metropolitan International Screenwriting Contest
  15. Raindance Film Festival
  16. Launch Pad Screenwriting Competition

1. Nicholl Fellowships Screenwriting Contest

nicholls screenwriting contest

Founded in 1986, this competition is regarded as the most prestigious competition in the world when it comes to screenwriting. It gets around 7000 entries per year. However, the rewards if you win the competition are also the best in the industry. Writers from all over the world are eligible to apply. 

Application Fee ranges from $48 to $88.

Deadline: 3rd May 2021

Prizes to be won 

  • Up to $35,000 Scholarships are awarded each year to the winners.
  • A trip to Hollywood and prize distribution on stage.

As the jury consists of members of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Arts (Oscars), this contest is worth way more than the money put into the application.

2. Final Draft Big Break Contest

Final-Draft-Big-Break contest

Yes, Final Draft also conducts its own screenwriting competition. Considered as one of the best in the industry, it not only accepts feature-length screenplays but also TV pilots.

And there are 2 winners in this contest

Application Fee ranges from $45 to $75.


  • Early Bird Deadline June 22, 2021
  • Regular Deadline September 21, 2021
  • Extended Deadline October 19, 2021
  • Last Chance Deadline November 9, 2021

Prizes to be won 

  • $10,000 cash prize to each winner
  • A trip to Hollywood, apple iPad & more

There are 11 categories where you can apply to in this competition. With competition intense but diversified, Final Draft really gives a Big Break to aspiring screenwriters.

Also Read : Top 10 Free & Paid Screenwriting Software Tools

3. PAGE International Screenwriting Contest

16 Best Screenwriting Contests to Submit Your Screenplay in 2021

As one of the well-known screenplay contests, PAGE international started in 2003 and since then, it has been quite a brand in the screenwriting competition industry. Many well-known producers keep track of the PAGE Awards to find the best talent living outside Hollywood.  

Application Fee is $75 if you are late to apply.


The submissions for this year’s awards are closed. Entries for the 2022 awards will be accepted starting in December.

Prizes to be won 

  • $25,000 grand prize to one winner
  • A fellowship to the Nostos Screenwriting Retreat in Italy.
  • $1000 prize for Gold prize winners

Also Read : 18 Best Books & eBooks on The Art of Screenwriting

4. Script Pipeline

script pipeline contest

Winners of the Script Pipeline screenwriting competition have been hired by big names like Warner Bros Studios, Netflix, etc. With over $3 Million distributed as prizes till date this contest has 4 winners for Screenplay submissions and 2 winners for TV pilots.

Application Fee is $70 if you are late to apply.


  • Idea Contest: 31st August 2021
  • Screenwriting Contest 10th September 2021
  • TV Writing Contest 10th September 2021
  • First Look Project 15th September 2021

Prizes to be won 

  • $25,000 for the winner and $2,500 for runners
  • Script development
  • Long term development assistance from the executive team

5. Austin Screenplay and Teleplay Competition

Austin film festival

Austin Film Festival is known as a platform for independent filmmakers to showcase their work to the film community of Hollywood and abroad. The screenwriting contest in this festival has nurtured budding writers and supported their work for over 25 years. 

There are even separate categories for submitting Teleplays.

Application Fee is around $75 if you are late to apply.


Submissions are closed for this year. Entries will be accepted again starting in early 2022.

Prizes to be won 

  • $5,000 to winners of the drama and comedy category
  • $2500 to winners of the sci-fi, horror, short screenplay category
  • $1000 to teleplay competition award winners
  • The festival takes place in October. Winners are announced during these awards.

Also Read : 8 Best Laptop Stands for Screenwriters to write comfortably

6. Sundance Screenwriters Lab

Sundance Institute screenwriting and film festival

The Sundance Film Festival was started by the famous actor Robert Redford. The Sundance Screenwriters Lab is a five-day writer’s workshop where selected independent screenwriters are given the opportunity to work alongside Hollywood screenwriters to further develop their screenplay. 

This gives them an opportunity to learn new techniques in writing and enhance their skills helping them to make their screenplay into a feature-length film.

International projects are accepted. Screenwriters Lab selects 12 projects out of thousands of applications. It takes place in Sundance Mountain Resort, Utah, each year. The cost of flights, accommodations, meals for up to 2 participants is taken care of by Sundance.

The Screenwriters Lab takes place in January each year.

Application Fee is around $40-$50.

Deadline: January 2022

Prizes to be won 

In terms of exposure, the amount is not even comparable to other film festivals.

  • Grand Jury Prize (Amount unknown)
  • Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship (2019 winner Tesla received $20,000)
  • Results are generally announced in the first week of February.

7. Bluecat Screenplay Competition

Bluecat Screenplay Competition

Founded by screenwriter & filmmaker Gordy Hoffman in 1998, the Bluecat competition has become one of the best screenplay competitions in the world. They accept feature scripts, episodic pilots & short film scripts. And a major reason might be due to the fact that each & every submission receives feedback.

Their requirements are also very minimal and straightforward. 

Application Fee is around $50-$75.


  • Early Bird Deadline 12th September 2021
  • Regular Deadline 11th October 2021
  • Final Deadline 14th November 2021
  • Final Resubmission Deadline 21st February 2021

Prizes to be won 

  • $5000 to the Grand Prize winner.
  • $2000 to each of the winners in the Feature, Pilot & Short Screenplay category..
  • $1000 winners living out USA will get the Fellini Award for Best screenplay from any category. 

Also Read : 28 Bestselling Novels Adapted Into Screenplays

8. Stage 32 Script Services

stage 32 script services

Founded by Richard Botto, Stage 32 differs from other contests in a way. It is a crowdsourcing platform connecting educators & filmmakers alike. Stage 32 also various film making & screenwriting competitions. Richard poses as the judge for Stage 32 & has produced many TV shows, documentaries, films including ‘Chick Fight’ which starred Alec Baldwin

There are two main screenwriting contests in Stage 32. 

Application Fee is around $50-$70 depending on the genre.


  • Diversity Springboard Contest : 18th August 2021
  • Action/Thriller Screenwriting Contest: 1st September 2021

Prizes to be won for both:

  • Grand Prize Winners will be flown to LA for meetings with writers & producers.
  • 2nd place winners will get one-on-one meetings with leading industry executives.

Also Read : 15 Best Screenwriting Podcasts for Writers

9. Nantucket Film Festival

Submit Screenplays — Nantucket Film Festival

For the last 25 years, Nantucket Film Festival has been nurturing & mentoring talent from around the world. Definitely, a festival to submit your film to. But what about screenplays? Yes, screenplays too without a doubt. 

It takes place in June each year on the Island of Nantucket in Massachusetts, USA. Actor Ben Stiller is one of the board members of this festival. 

Application Fee is around $50-$80.


  • Early Deadline 20th November 2021
  • Regular Deadline 15th January 2022
  • Late Deadline 19th March 2022

Prizes to be won

  • $1000 prize for one winner.
  • The winner gets to attend the Screenwriters Colony on Nantucket for   2 weeks to a month.
  • Winners are announced in June.

Go to the link to submit your screenplays.

10. Cinequest Screenplay Competition

Cinequest competition

Founded in 1990, Cinequest is an independent festival held annually in March in San Jose, California. USA Today’s readers voted Cinequest as the best film festival. And that’s why applying to its screenplay competition is worth it.

You can apply for the 2021 Screenplay Competition for Features, Short films & Teleplays. The application fee ranges from $30 to $70 in these categories. The Features deadlines are given below.

Application Fee is around $45-$70.


  • Early Bird Deadline 9th July 2021
  • Regular Deadline 17th September 2021
  • Late Deadline 8th October 2021
  • Extended Deadline 5th November 2021
  • Super Extended Deadline 30th November 2021

Prizes to be won

  • They haven’t stated the prizes however, Hollywood industry exposure along with the innovators of silicon valley has been the highlight of Cinequest for years.
  • The Top 3 finalists & winners are announced in March-April.

11. Slamdance Film Festival

Slamdance Film Festival

Slamdance started in1995 & has been regarded as one of the best festivals for independent filmmakers & writers. Slamdance DIG is it’s own branch which focuses on digital storytelling.

It has launched thousands of artists from every continent. One of the best directors of our time, Christopher Nolan is an Alumi of Slamdance. You can submit a Feature, TV pilot & Short script.

There cannot be a better platform for upcoming screenwriters than the Slamdance Screenwriting Competition.

Application Fee is around $60-$70.


  • Submissions have closed for this year. Entries will be accepted again in early 2022.

Prizes to be won

  • The Grand Prize winner will receive $8000 in cash.
  • The winners of the Feature, Horror, TV Pilot, and Short categories will each receive $2,000 in cash.
  • Top 12 finalists will be announced in September-October.
  • The winner is announced at the WGAW awards party.

Also Read : 30 Best Screenplays of the 21st Century to Learn From

12. New York International Screenplay Awards

These Awards are sponsored by Inktip, Script Reader Pro. They have partnered with FilmFreeway to accept submissions.

Application Fee is around $50.


  • Early Bird Deadline 12th July 2021
  • Regular Deadline 29th November 2021
  • Late Entry Deadline 24th January 2021

Prizes to be won

  • The Golden Prize winner will get An InkTip prize package (includes one InkTip script listing and one InkTip magazine listing) + Online Screenwriting course from Script Reader Pro & much more .

You can submit your screenplay here (via Filmfreeway).

13. Write LA Screenplay Contest

Write LA _ a screenwriting competition presented by LA Screenwriter & LiveRead_L

Write LA is in its 3rd season this year. Moviebytes has selected this contest as the Top Contest to Enter in 2021. One of the Title sponsors is Final Draft. You can Enter via Filmfreeway or Coverfly.

The previous winners have included a one-on-one meeting with industry experts from Showtime & Warner Bros execs.

Application Fee is around $60.

Deadlines: Submissions are closed for 2021. 

Prizes to be won

  • The winner is flown to LA if he/she resides in the USA.
  • Script reading in front of a live panel, Final Draft software.
  • The event usually takes place in November.

14. Toronto Metropolitan International Screenwriting Contest

Toronto International Screen Writing Competition

One of the best contests in Canada, this contest has the glamour of Hollywood & the judging talent to launch a great writer into the screenwriting world. It accepts entries from all over the world.

Application Fee is around $60.

Deadlines: Entries are closed for 2021.

Prizes to be won

  • Introductions to at least three top industry executives in New York, LA, or Toronto along with other prizes.
  • Top 2 finalists also receive 1 consultation.

15. Raindance Film Festival

Raindance film festival-The Home of Independent Film

Raindance Film Festival is the biggest independent film fest in the UK. Based in London, it has been running for 27 years and has launched careers graphs of literary thousands of screenwriters alone. 

It attracts 500 industry professionals from not just Hollywood but from all over the entertainment industry on earth. This festival has to be definitely on your list even if you are not in the UK.

The 28th Raindance will take place October 28 – 7 November 2020 in central London.

Application Fee is around £70.

Deadline: Entries are closed for 2021

Prizes to be won

  • They haven’t mentioned it on the website however, the kind of exposure your screenplay will get if you are even a finalist, will be a launchpad for your career.

Also Read : How to Write a Text Message or a Tweet in a Screenplay

16. Launch Pad Screenwriting Competition

Launch Pad Screenwriting Competition - Hollywood Talent-Discovery

It was launched nearly a decade ago and since then has helped sign up hundreds of deals for upcoming writers & Independent filmmakers.

Application Fee is around $65-$80.

Deadline: Entries are closed for this season.

Prizes to be won

  • Their Partners this year are Romark Entertainment & Recon Literary who have signed many writers from this competition in the last few years.


There are still many more contests that are backed up by film studios and producers based on different genres. Film festivals that are less popular but have equal industry exposure for winners are also a great opportunity for getting known in the industry. 

So..what are you waiting for? Start submitting your screenplays.

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