Screenwriters looking for support, guidance and/or cash, here is a list of organizations hosting competitions and labs. Future articles alerting filmmakers to more grants will be coming soon as deadlines approach. Note that these are listed in order of deadlines:
Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting
What it does: The competition is open to anyone who has not earned a total of more than $25,000 from the sale or option of screenplays or teleplays or received fellowships or prizes of more than $25,000 that include a "first look" clause, an option or any other quid pro quo involving the writer's work. Winners are required to complete a new feature-length screenplay during the fellowship year. The Academy does not acquire rights to or become commercially involved with any of the scripts. Up to five winners will be announced in November for a $35,000 screenwriting fellowship.
Deadline: April 10
More information: http://www.oscars.org/awards/nicholl/index.html
Slamdance Screenplay Competition
What it does: Slamdance features four categories – Feature, Short, Horror and Original Teleplay – and awards the top three screenplays in each category. Each category has its own submission fees (example: $30 for early submission for Short Film, $40 for regular, $50 for late) on top of coverage fees ($75 for their feedback within 2 months, $115 for within 21 days). The 100 quarter-finalists will be announced on September 3, with 32 semi-finalists to come on September 10 and 12 finalists on September 17. The semifinalists and finalists will then attend a WGAW party on October 8, where the winners will be announced. A total of $11,000 cash prizes will be awarded to the winners, with $5,000 for the grand prize winner.
Deadline: Early acceptance April 8, regular April 9-June 10, late June 11-July 22, Withoutabox Extended July 23-29
More information: http://showcase.slamdance.com/Screenplay-Competition
What it does: Scriptapalooza will promote, pitch and push all semifinalists for one year, giving them opportunities to sign agents or managers and have their scripts optioned or made into movies. Over $50,000 in prizes are awarded, and screenwriters can order feedback with their submission. Competition entry costs $55, or $155 with feedback.
Deadline: Regular deadline April 14, final deadline April 21
More information: http://www.scriptapalooza.com/home.php
Beverly Hills Screenplay Contest
What it does: The Beverly Hills Screenplay Contest offers over $20,000 in cash and prizes, with introductions to producers, development executives and agents to boot. Entry fees range from $30 to $55, depending on how early the screenplay is submitted. For an extra $60, a professional screenplay judge will write a detailed, multi-page assessment of your screenplay. Winners and finalists will be announced January 31, 2015.
Deadline: Early deadline April 30, regular deadline July 31, late deadline October 31, final deadline December 31
More information: https://beverlyhillsscreenplaycontest.com/submissions-main
Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition
What it does: Script Pipeline connects aspiring screenwriters to producers, agents and managers across independent and studio markets. For an entry fee of $55 (and an extra $80 for feedback), a screenplay will enter the competition, where a cash prize of $20,000 awaits the winner, along with $75,000 worth of prizes for the runner-up and finalists.
Deadline: May 1
More information: https://www.scriptpipeline.com/screenwriting-competition
Sundance Screenwriters Lab
What it does: The screenwriters lab is a five-day workshop that gives screenwriters a chance to work out their screenplay with established writers. With a $40 submission fee, screenwriters can enter for the chance to attend the lab in January. Submit a cover letter about the project, an artistic statement, a biography, a synopsis, and the first five pages of the script.
Deadline: May 1 for U.S. entrants, June 15 for international
More information: http://www.sundance.org/programs/screenwriters-lab/
Film Independent Screenwriting Lab
What it does: Film Independent's lab is an intensive five-week program in Los Angeles that allows screenwriters to improve their craft and develop their voices as writers. In addition, screenwriters will be introduced to screen professionals and have guest sessions with established screenwriters. No more than ten scripts will be chosen. Winners will receive year-round support from Film Independent along with a pass to the Los Angeles Film Festival and eligibility to join the Indie Writers Caucus of the WGAw. Writers must submit the feature-length screenplay with a cover letter, a logline and synopsis, bios of key cast and crew members attached (if any), project status and history, and an application fee ($45 for a Film Independent member, $65 for a non-member).
Deadline: May 5
Virginia Screenwriting Competition
What it does: The Virginia Screenwriting Competition gives support to features that could be shot in Virginia. A first round of judging will have judges each pick two scripts as finalists. These are sent to professionals in the industry who select three winners. An award of $1000 is given to each of the winners without rank as part of the Virginia Film Festival, held in Charlottesville in November. Each entree will receive written feedback. Applicants must be legal residents of the state and cannot have earned an excess of $5,000 for screenwriting. Email a copy of the script and completed application.
Deadline: May 23
Writers on the Verge
What it does: This program lasts 12 weeks and will consist of two classes a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays at NBCUniversal in Universal City, California. Once accepted, students must attend all classes and complete all assignments. Classes concentrate on writing excellent spec and pilot scripts and learning how to pitch scripts. Writers will interact with industry veterans, and writing assignments on a NBCUniversal television show may be available after successful completion of the program. Applicants must submit one properly formatted television spec screenplay based on a show that aired new episodes during the 2013-2014 season on any broadcast or cable network, and must fill out a release form for their submitted script. Participants must provide their own housing and transportation.
Deadline: Accepting May 1-30
More information: http://www.nbcunicareers.com/writers-verge
American Zoetrope Screenplay Contest
What it does: The winner and ten finalists will be considered for representation by various agencies, including William Morris and CAA, and their scripts will be considered for film option and development by leading production companies. No entrant may have earned money or other consideration as a screenwriter for more than $5,000. An entrance fee of $35 for early deadline or $50 for final deadline must be submitted. Entrants must send their fees and screenplays online. Professional readers will read the scripts, and Francis Ford Coppola will select the winner.
Deadline: Starts accepting June 1, Early Deadline August 1, Final Deadline September 11
More information: http://www.zoetrope.com/contests/