What's the Scoop on Writing Contests?

Posted by Larry Brody on

Dear Gatekeeper:

Would you recommend entering a screenwriting contest? I have a script I would like to submit, and would appreciate some feedback on what they have to offer and any other advice on contests you can give me. Thank you. Janice, Washington, D.C.

Larry Brody Responds:
These days, with so many new writers out there with no credits, screenwriting contests serve as screening devices. Winning, placing, or even being a finalist or semi-finalist in any of the major screenwriting contests is almost as good as a production credit and gives a new writer credibility you otherwise wouldn't have had. I run a contest called the People's Picture Show, where first prize is supposed to be an option on the screenplay by a company called Cosgrove/Meurer Productions for a TV movie (C/M is a hot TV movie company). The winner of the contest last year refused the prize because the fact that he'd won the PPS gave him access all over L.A., and he SOLD the script outright to Porchlight as a feature within 12 hours of the announcement of his victory.

Can you submit the same script over and over? If it's a good one, and you keep placing highly, why not? But if you aren't a semi-finalist the first couple of times you enter the piece, I'd retire it and go onto something new. Hell, I'd go on to something new anyway. I mean, we're writers, aren't we? The fun is in the writing.

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