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February 14, 2023

Best Screenwriting Competitions 2024

Screenwriting competitions are a gateway into the industry. Paying for entry often means you are guaranteed to get your script reviewed by a key agent or executive and the exposure can be more valuable than any cash prize.

In 2024, with the decline in cinema, the burgeoning independent scene,  and big players like Netflix and Amazon hungry for their next big hit after a major tentpole series like The Crown ended, there’s never been a better time to put yourself out there.

Remember though if you want to do well in these competitions you need to ensure that your formatting is on-point. Competition is high. Thankfully this is where Arc Studio comes into play, it formats your script automatically. It's also totally FREE to download today.

Here’s our list of screenwriting competitions in 2024 to look out for and some insight into how much do screenwriting competitions pay writers.

Why should you enter screenwriting competitions in 2024?

With a new year comes exciting opportunities for screenwriters to gain recognition and advance their careers. One great way to achieve this is by entering your script into screenwriting competitions in 2024. Though the landscape is ever-changing, here are some key reasons you should consider entering the top screenwriting contests this year:


Competitions like the Austin Film Festival bring your work before industry eyes. These contests receive thousands of submissions, but only advance a handful to the final rounds. If your script makes it to the quarterfinals or beyond, it will get read by managers, agents, and producers looking for new talent. This exposure can lead to career-making connections.


The top tier competitions like the Final Draft Big Break award carry prestige. They are competitive and hard to win. But being able to say your script made it to the semis,  or won a PAGE gold prize lends your work and skill level credibility.


Entering competitions puts you and your work in front of people - fellow contest entrants, judges, and influential industry figures. You never know who you might connect with through a competition. Maybe an actor reads your script and wants to be attached, or a judge who runs a production company loves the concept. Competitions can help grow your industry network.


One of the best yet overlooked benefits of competitions is the feedback you receive. Most reputable contests provide entrants with reader comments and scores. This gives you insight into how your story and writing are landing with objective eyes. Use it to strengthen your craft and script.

Motivation & deadlines

Having a contest deadline lights a fire to finish your script. It provides a target to motivate you and give your writing schedule and structure. And placing in or winning a competition continues that momentum to keep writing at your highest level.

While not every competition experience will be positive or career-changing, the possible upsides make entering your best work into the top screenwriting contests well worth the entry fees and effort. Approach strategically and see where your script takes you in 2024!

Factors to be aware of when submitting to screenwriting competitions in 2024

Though competitions can offer benefits, there are also some drawbacks to consider before submitting your work:


Entry fees range from around $40 on the low end up to $80 or more for the major academies and fellowships. With submission limits, the costs can quickly add up, especially on a tight budget. Be selective and strategic with contests to maximize your investment.


Competitions come down to the subjective tastes of readers and judges. Your script may not align with what they find commercial or well-written. And factors like genre bias can unfairly sink your chances. Don't be discouraged if your script doesn't advance.

Time investment

Entering competitions eats up a lot of time. There's researching which to enter, prepping your script, submitting, following up, meeting deadlines for next rounds if you advance, and more. Be sure you have bandwidth for the time commitment required.

Ownership concerns

Some (though not all) competitions require you to forfeit at least some rights just for entering. Make sure you read the fine print before submitting to ensure you don't sign away more ownership than you intended. The terms and conditions should be available on each competition website.

Possible negativity

While reputable contests provide constructive, respectful feedback, you may occasionally deal with snarky, mean-spirited comments that offer little help. Try not to take it personally, but know it's a possibility. Writing is subjective and it may be that your script landed in front of a judge's eyes when they were having a bad day. If you submitted on a different day to a different judge you have gotten more reflective comments. We are all human.

No guarantees

Even winning a top competition is no guarantee of instant success. You still need to capitalize with networking and hustle. Manage your expectations realistically going in.

Entering screenwriting contests can absolutely be a smart move for your career. But being aware of the potential downsides allows you to navigate the landscape judiciously. Do your homework on competitions and maximize the experience.

Final Draft’s Big Break Competition 2024

Final Draft is the traditional choice of screenwriting software, though others players on the market such as Arc Studio are now challenging this. Details of the 2024 competition have yet to be released. However, it's likely to be a similar set up to 2024.

The judges last year included Matt Dy of Lit Management who previously ran the Austin Film Festival and Sonia Gambaro of 3PAS studios.

It’s important to note that coverage or feedback is not provided for this competition as it is with some others. However, there are cash prizes that change every year.

In 2024 the entry fee will be $45 for the early bird entry and $65 for regular entry. The early bird deadline is usually in April with the final deadline in August. Note that this competition does accept revised draft submissions up until the final deadline.

The logo of the Big break screenwriting software in blue letters with yelllow page edges.
The Big Break Screenwriting Contest by Final Draft is one of the best competitions to enter

You could therefore submit a rough draft of a screenplay and enter a revised script closer to the deadline though we wouldn’t recommend this; we always recommend waiting and handing in your most polished, best work.

Also remember that this competition is open to users of all screenwriting software and not just Final Draft. So Arc Studio users are welcome to apply.

We will update our blog with updates for Big Break 2024 when we get them.

Reel HeART International Film Festival 2024

Sponsored by InkTip and Final Draft, this festival has several competitions you can enter. Writers should enter a short film script that must be less than 30 pages. The top 3 winners will get a readout of their script in front of a live studio audience.

The late deadline is on 1st February 2024 with an extended deadline on 1st March 2024.

The feature screenplay competition is the chance to submit a full-length screenplay with a maximum page limit of 120. The top prize is the same. Filmmakers will be able to post their nominations and wins on their IMDB Profiles.

This competition is also open to any genre including non-fiction films.

The great thing about this competition is that all scripts receive written coverage via email so you are guaranteed some feedback.

The deadlines are ongoing and you can find out more information here.

What are the Reviews like for Reel HeART International Film Festival?

The ReelHeART International Film and Screenplay Festival has garnered positive reviews for its engaging and detail-oriented approach. Participants have appreciated the festival for its recognition of talent, attention to detail, and the insightful Q&A sessions that lead to unexpected and thrilling discussions.

Other participants highlight the festival's exceptional feedback, describing it as detailed, constructive, and applicable. This level of response has encouraged her to recommend ReelHeART to her peers, and she expresses genuine excitement for winning the best feature script.

Another participant extends heartfelt gratitude for being part of the festival, emphasising the honor and acknowledging the team's patience and professionalism, with reaching the finals being described as a dream come true. These testimonials reflect the festival's commitment to fostering a supportive and enriching environment for screenwriters.

ATLFF Screenplay Competition

The Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition returns again to our list for 2024 for the second time in a row. This year ATLFF is celebrating its 48th anniversary and they need your help to make it a good one with some stand-out scripts.

Seeking originality and surprise

Judges this year have a keen interest in scripts that push boundaries and present characters that defy expectations. Writers are encouraged to think creatively and venture beyond the traditional narrative structures.

Diverse categories for entry

The competition is segmented into three main categories:

  • Short film: For screenwriters crafting concise and impactful narratives. The top prize includes a $250 cash reward, a travel stipend, two nights of festival accommodation, and a live reading.
  • Pilot screenplay: Tailored for those with a vision for television, this category awards $350 plus accommodation for two nights and a live reading to the winner.
  • Feature screenplay: For a more expansive storytelling canvas, with the top prize being $500, a travel stipend, three nights of accommodation, and participation in a live reading event.

Mentorship: the ultimate prize

ATLFF places a strong emphasis on mentorship, understanding its value in guiding and shaping the careers of emerging screenwriters. Winners will have the privilege of mentorship sessions with esteemed industry professionals, offering an unparalleled opportunity for growth and networking.

Submission deadlines and fees

While specific deadlines for 2024 were not provided, it is noted that fees tend to escalate as the submission date approaches, with the earliest deadline traditionally at the end of June. Screenwriters are advised to submit early to take advantage of lower entry fees.

Recognition and opportunities

ATLFF takes pride in being a platform that significantly boosts the visibility of winning screenplays. Winners can look forward to adding their achievements to their professional portfolios, including credits on IMDB.

Please note that the exact deadlines and fees for the 2024 competition have not yet been confirmed. Check the Atlanta Film Festival's official channels and we will update our blog throughout the year as annocuemenls are made.

To submit your screenplay to ATLF 2024, be sure to click here.

Save the Cat Screenwriting Challenge 2024

At Arc Studio we love Save the Cat. It’s a simple framework that can help you finish your scripts when you’ve got writer’s block.

So we’re also big fans of the 2024 Screenplay challenge. The big pull of the Save the Cat competition is that every script gets a full read by the Save the Cat! Master Cat Readers.

The logo for the Save the Cat! Screenplay Challenge. Orange and green letters and spotlighted picture of a cat swinging by. rope
Save the Cat is a great structure you can use for planning your story structure and they also run a screenwriting competition

Rarely do you get such an opportunity as many agents and executives will read the first few pages of the script and decide whether to pass on it. Feedback on a full read-through gives you so much more on structure, pacing, and your ending that sometimes gets missed.

All writers receive 50 points of analysis that are grounded in the Save the Cat methodology. This means you will get concrete steps for how to improve your script not just more general comments about your tone of voice and style.

Full script read-throughs by Master Cats

What sets the Save the Cat competition apart is the assurance that every script submitted receives a thorough read by the Master Cat readers. This depth of feedback is a rare opportunity in the industry, where agents and executives may often base their decisions on the first few pages alone.

Detailed feedback using Save the Cat principles

Every participant will receive 50 points of detailed analysis based on the Save the Cat principles, providing actionable advice for script enhancement beyond mere commentary on style and tone.

Categories and prizes

Screenwriters can submit their work across various categories, including feature films and TV pilots (both 30-minute and 60-minute formats). Winners are not only provided with insightful feedback but also awarded an all-expenses-paid 3-day trip to Los Angeles, including a 3-night hotel stay valued at $1,200. This prize also includes a meeting with industry judges and a chance to have their work presented in a live read. The networking potential in L.A. is unmatched, making this challenge a must-enter for those with refined and compelling scripts.

2024 deadlines and judges

The competition's deadlines are as follows (please verify these dates on the official competition website as they may change):

  • Regular Deadline: January 31, 2024
  • Late Deadline: February 26, 2024
  • Extended Deadline: March 26, 2024

The judges include Sheila Hanahan Taylor (Founder, Practical Pictures, films include American Pie, Cats and Dogs) and Juliet Berman (Head of Development at Treehouse Pictures, Executive Producer on Sand Castle (both for Netflix)

Austin Film Festival Competition 2024

Austin is popping right now with many independent creators and filmmakers setting up a base here for a change of scene from the traditional hotspots of New York and Los Angeles. In recent years well known people and independent creatives like Joe Rogan and Elon Musk have also jumped ship from L.A and San Fransisco.

Check out the Austin Film Festival’s competition which features a teleplay section and a feature (film) section. The feature film competition has two categories drama and comedy whilst the teleplay section has comedy and drama for both spec scripts and pilot scripts.

The festival itself will take place between October 24th - October 31st 2024. The early bird deadline for all categories is 3/22/24 and the regular deadlines vary by genre but are generally in April and May 2024.

The categories are:

Feature & Short Film

Screenplay & Teleplay

Produced Digital Series

Scripted Digital Series

Fiction Podcast Script


The 2024 judging panel has yet to be annouced. We will update our blog with updates as we get them or you can check the Austin Film Festival offical website.

The judging pannel in 2023 included Dayo Adesokan – writer/producer Superstore, Nick Austin – Director of New Media & Emerging Platforms Development for Sony Pictures Television, VJ Boyd – writer/producer S.W.A.T., Justified, Chuck Hayward – writer Dear White People, Fat Camp, Step Sisters, and Cooper Barrett’s Guide To Surviving Life.

The prize for winners in both the narrative feature category and documentary feature category has also yet to be revealed. However, in 2023 there was a cash prize of $2,500 and reimbursement (up to $500) of a round-trip flight to Austin to attend the festival as well as reimbursement (capped at $500) for a stay at an AFF hotel during the Festival; and the AFF typewriter award.

The Golden Script Competition

The Golden Script competition has more finalists than most other screenwriting contests. Their top 30 picks are referred to as the Golden List and are shared with top Hollywood studios and producers.

The deadline for the 2024 competition is March 21st 2024 and you can enter via Coverfly or ISA.

The top prizes for 2024 will include mentorship from BAFTA-nominee John J. McLaughlin and three-time EMMY-nominee Jesscial Sharzer. The entrance fees  are a little bit more expensive than other competitions. They include a feature screenplay for $59.99 or a feature or TV pilot with feedback for $69.99.

Note that all of these prices increase if you miss the initial deadline of 21st March and wish to submit to the extended deadline of March 28th. Screenplays can be up to 140 pages. You can still submit screenplays longer than this but you need to pay an additional fee.

Submit to screenwriting competitions 2024 to be in-it-to-win-it

It’s easy to get cynical about screenwriting competitions especially when you have to pay to enter.

But it can be worth it. The entrance fee acts as a barrier that puts other amateurs off. The payment often goes to the judges to make sure they have the time to properly review your script, often from the first page to the last.

Some of the competitions also provide feedback for all entrants from an industry professional which is invaluable.

So entering screenwriting competitions in 2024 is definitely worth a shot.

Don’t forget if you need help formatting your script to make sure it looks as professional as possible before you submit it, Arc Studio has your back. Our industry-standard tools take the hassle and stress out of this aspect of the process.

Be sure to download our software for free today!


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Best Screenwriting Competitions 2024
Harry Verity

Harry is a professional writer. His first novel The Talk Show was published in the U.S and the U.K by Bloodhound Books in 2021 and he is currently working on adapting it for screen using Arc Studio. He's also written for Media Magazine - a UK magazine for students of A-level Film, Media and Television Studies. His journalism has appeared in The Guardian, Readers' Digest and Newsweek, amongst many other publications. He has just finished his second novel for young adults, set in a boarding school. He holds a BA in English from Loughborough University.

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