There are numerous channels open for writers regarding getting your hands on actual screenplays of produced films at no cost–something every writer should be checking out on a regular basis. One of the most helpful sources for this can be found at the New Hampshire Institute of Art library where you can find a list of links to the best places you can download scripts for free. It’s a great resource to have at your fingertips without having to plow through pages of Google entries.
And when it comes to a good and accurate list of screenplay competitions, you can quickly get buried in various lists and advice when you start to Google the topic. There are hundreds of contests for features, shorts, tv pilots, you name it.
However, I’ve found that Moviebytes.com has a comprehensive list and the best organized information about the various opportunities open to you as you swim through the maze. Also, Script Magazine has some great advice as you ponder if your hard earned dollars should be sent away to contests in the form of hefty entrance fees along with your script–a controversial topic in itself. There are many other sources where you can find lists of competitions–the “best,” the “most worthy,” and on and on.
Once you start searching, your hunt can be pretty exhausting. However, it’s worth knowing what’s out there and what you’re in for when you decide to start sending your baby out into the harsh, cruel world and see how it measures up to the tens of thousands of other scripts that are constantly floating through the ether. And unless you have a powerful inside connection to a viable production company, this is something that at some point you’ll have to face up to and seriously consider or your script will continue having that adoring audience of one.
I will say that many of my current and recently graduated MFA students have been entering competitions and their track record has been pretty impressive, winning or placing in a number of them. It’s a reasonable way to get your work out there when it’s ready and to start building some credits for yourself if you do your research thoroughly and are selective. Launching a career in this script writing business is an uphill climb to be sure, but you always want to play it smart and take advantage of those opportunities that seem at least somewhat reasonable and are out there for the taking. Winning or placing in a competition may not ultimately get your script produced, but it sure doesn’t hurt your reputation as a legitimate player in the field.
I’m the Program Director of the low-residency MFA in Writing for Stage and Screen being offered by the New Hampshire Institute of Art. Our next residency runs January 3-11, 2016 and we are now considering applications for starting the program in July 2016. I’m also a playwright and screenwriter, producing partner in my production company Either/Or Films (The Sensation of Sight and Only Daughter), and a professional script consultant.