From Marc Teichmann:
Is there a website or database somewhere with a list of grants available for screenwriters? I know of the Nicholl contest, but what other ones? I absolutely love writing, and I feel like if I just had more time to work I could be so much better, but I gotta pay the bills!
Marc, to quote the late great Levon Helm, drummer and vocalist for The Band: “Music don’t owe anybody a living.” There is a parallel to that about the movie business and you can read my thoughts about that here.
Re screenwriting contests: I’ve always been ambivalent about them. First off, I never entered one, unless you consider submitting K-9 as a spec script to Hollywood a contest, which I guess in a weird way it is, perhaps the Big Contest. So because I’ve never entered one, I suffer a pretty significant lack of knowledge about them. Oh, sure, I know a lot of their names as I get peppered with emails from them all the time, asking me to promote their particular contest on the blog [which I never do]. I only actively cover the Nicholl [because it's the premier screenwriting competition with a proven track record of its winners getting representation] and the Austin Film Festival [because the Festival itself celebrates screenwriting]. But that’s about it.
So in the past when writers have asked me if they should enter this screenwriting competition or that one, my answer has always been pretty much the same: “If you have the time and money, why not? It may serve as motivation to finish your script, enable you to get some feedback, and who knows… you may win.”
But maybe I should revisit that response. Bumping around the Internet, I found this site with links to over 300 screenplay competitions.
300! Who knew?! Is there something going on out there I [and we] should know about?
At this point, I’d like to turn over the conversation to you, the GITS community. Maybe you can help out Marc with some good resources about screenplay competitions. Maybe you can help me out and let me know are they worth it? If so, in your opinion which ones are the best?
How about this: If you do submit a script to a competition, what should you be on the lookout for: entry fees, written coverage, who reads the scripts, track record of the competition, etc.
Maybe this, too: What type of writer do you think would benefit most from entering a screenplay in a competition? Beginner? Intermediate? Advanced?
And this: Is there a good, logical argument to be made why a writer should spend their time and energy on submitting scripts to competitions instead of going after representation directly?
While I hope we can answer Marc’s specific questions, I’ve rephrased it to solicit your honest feedback on a more fundamental subject:
What’s the low-down on screenwriting contests?
Thanks for your feedback.
UPDATE: A HT to @Thriller_Scribe for tweeting this link as being the definitive list of all screenplay competitions.