Screenwriting 101: From Passion to Profit
Which screenplay contests are worth entering?
The film industry, with its promises of success, glittering lights and lush red carpets, and for some even stardom, still has the same allure of its Golden Age. But now that the era of star-centric media is drastically changed, it is not only dreamed by aspiring actors and wanna-be celebrities: the artists and minds behind the scenes are recognised as the true authors of the films that move audiences love. Screenwriters, in particular, have been emerging as a crucial figure of similar importance to directors, and a rising number of aspiring writers has developed in and outside of Hollywood. While the idea of a big breakthrough with little work might seem romantic and appealing, the truth is much harsher.
Writing competitions are often the only door to Hollywood available to young script-writers with no connections in the industry. The best screenplay contests are just a click away: once your original script is polished and ready, consider submitting it online to independent or company-run script contests. Although there are various esteemed contests, competitions such as Slamdance Screenplay Competition, Page Screenplay Contest, Jameson First Shot and the world-famous Nicholl Fellowship are definitely in the top 10 screenwriting competitions that an amateur script-writer may want to submit their work to, it is also wise for a screenwriter of any level to consider what they are getting from their hard earned entry fee.
Some contests get you a read by hired readers that read thousands of entries, other screenplay contests get you a look by agents and managers but only if you place as a finalist. A unique competition, the Capital Fund Screenplay Competition, is the only one that gets your work in front of real industry film investors and private equity players that can make an offer to buy or produce your film script from the moment you enter regardless of whether you are a finalist or not. And they have your script as a potential project for years to come, not only during that contest season.
To this end, the best screenplay competitions are often the most prestigious ones and therefore an open door to guaranteed success, but the number of amateur writers who submit their work in that hope makes the chances incredibly low. However, once a writer is a finalist or semi-finalist of an important competition, their chances of getting noticed increase. But getting noticed by film investors is even more difficult.
Film finance companies are the financial core that run the international movie industry. Film production is an economically risky process and private companies are usually the safest way to turn a script into a visual experience. Examples might include Relativity Media, which produced many projects including “The Spy Next Door” and “Dear John”, and focuses on genre films, especially big-budget ones and potential blockbusters. Another company worth noting is Alcon Entertainment, that, with its deal with Warner Brothers, focuses on big and medium budget movies, for instance “The Book of Eli” and “The Blind Side.”
There is a link between Capital Fund Screenplay Competition and finance companies: it is the investor’s way of discovering new talent. It is for this reason that entering such a contest is a key step in the career of a screenwriter, which should be considered as an investment for the writer in themself for the prospects of future profit. Past winners of our script contest have definitely agreed.
“Capital Fund Screenwriting Competition provides tremendous opportunities for developing screenwriters and their fulfillment as professionals. By placing our work in the hands of investors and financiers around the world, CFSC leaps over the usual barriers to script marketing and sends promising scripts directly to the decision makers. What a concept!
It is such an honor to win the professional table read award in the 2016 CFSC competition. The event and the venue were wonderful. Casting the key speaking roles was superb–my guests and I loved the actors and their performance of my screenplay. Steve and Mike and other CFSC staff were helpful and encouraging, and they all made the table read a memorable event for everyone. Thank you, CFSC staff and sponsors, for this great opportunity!”
James C. Peters, Screenwriter
And the industry has noticed as well: Ranked in the Top 20 screenplay contests next to Page International, Script Pipeline, Scriptapalooza, and Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope Studios, we are proud to be bringing this one of a kind opportunity to writers found in no other competition. We think of it less of a screenplay contest and instead as a direct look at your material by active finance groups you simply cannot reach on your own.