ATX TV Festival Opens Its 2020 Pitch Competition for Aspiring TV Writers

Submit your TV pitch now, and you could be in the room with studio executives by this summer.
ATX Festival Pitch Competition 2018
The Pitch Competition at the ATX Television Festival in 2018
Waytao Shing / ATX

Heads up, TV creators: If you’re sitting on the next big idea, ATX Festival is ready to hear it. The Austin-based TV festival’s annual Pitch Competition is currently accepting submissions, and 10 finalists will be able to pitch their show directly to studio executives before mid-year. Submit your idea here.

“The Pitch Competition represents a collaboration with ATX, The Black List and Sundance Episodic Program that celebrates the power of story and opportunity,” ATX Festival co-founder Caitlin McFarland said in a statement. “Ultimately, [co-founder Emily Gipson] and I started this competition within the festival based on the idea that access to decision-makers and building a community of mentors and fellow writers is imperative to creating television. More than any other medium, it is a community of collaboration and we wanted to build something that lasted beyond a single award or cash prize. As we go into our eighth year of the competition, we couldn’t be more proud than to have seven winners who continue to write TV, support one another, and have either gotten management, sold pitches, or been staffed directly from being finalists at The Pitch Competition.”

Entering its eighth edition, the Pitch Competition offers undiscovered creators a shortcut to Hollywood decision-makers. After submitting a 90-second pitch video and a five-to-10 page script sample, pitches are evaluated by Hollywood writers, executives, and more industry professionals over four rounds, including the live final phase at ATX TV Festival.

The Black List and Sundance Episodic Program serve as partners on the Pitch Competition, selecting a combined 25 finalists during the first round of competition from their own submission pools. Those selections join the 25 pitches chosen by the ATX TV Festival’s open competition, before the field is narrowed to 20 semi-finalists in Round 3 and 10 finalists for the fourth and final round, which is judged live in Austin this June.

The winner will receive an opportunity to pitch their series to one of the festival’s studio/network partners, a mentorship with an ATX judge or panelist, the latest script-writing software from Final Draft, and access to additional opportunities with The Black List and the Sundance Episodic Program.

Of the seven past winners, each has secured a range of industry opportunities, including securing management, multiple staffing positions on various series, and selling their pitch (which included being paid to write the pilot). Most have moved to Los Angeles and formed a supportive community among the veteran ATX champs.

Throughout the pitch competition, submissions will be judged by industry professionals, meaning writers’ ideas will be read and considered by staff writers, junior executives, showrunners, studio executives, and the festival’s network partners. Previous partners include FX, HBO, Hulu, Fox, Annapurna Pictures, Paramount Television, Sony Pictures Television, and more. Panelists for last year’s final round included Jenny Bicks (showrunner on “Divorce”), Stephen Falk (creator and showrunner on “You’re the Worst”), Sahar Vahedi (Director of Development at Blumhouse Television), and Nancy Cotton (the Executive Vice President and Head of Scripted Programming at EPIX).

Pitches are being accepted until Friday, January 17. The ATX Television Festival runs from June 4-7, 2020 in Austin. This year’s full lineup is still being unveiled, but reunions for NBC’s drama “Parenthood” and the FX series “Justified” have already been set. For more on this year’s lineup, keep checking IndieWire; to submit to the Pitch Competition, head right here, and for more information on the festival, head to ATX’s official site.

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