How Winning a Screenwriting Competition Can Impact Your Career

by ScreenCraft on December 2, 2020

Act Two Podcast hosts’ Tasha Huo and Josh Hallman sat down with the 2019 ScreenCraft Action & Adventure competition winner Nicole Ramberg, who won the contest with her script, The Ghosts of Le Griffon.

Ramberg worked in the industry for several years after studying film and television at Northwestern and working as a page for NBC Universal, where she did a variety of tasks before becoming an executive assistant at Universal for two years. Ramberg, who has been working as an executive assistant for Amblin Partners for the past year, submitted her coming of age screenplay.

Despite working full-time, Ramberg worked on her own screenplay and looked to screenwriting contests to get her work and name out. Now that she’s won this ScreenCraft competition and signed with a manager, she has advice for how to parlay a contest win into tangible results. You can (and should) listen to the full podcast episode. But if you don't have time, here are five key takeaways about the importance of screenwriting competitions and what (can) happen after you win.

How to find the right competition

Ramberg knew she needed to seek out the right opportunities to get her script into the right hands. But finding reliable competitions, festivals, and screenwriting opportunities can be challenging. That's when she discovered ScreenCraft’s Action & Adventure contest through Coverfly.

“The cool thing is when you submit [via Coverfly] they keep a numeric scoring system so you can privately check how well your script is performing at different festivals or competitions. If you get a good score, they promote you and that’s how a lot of people get connected to managers.”

Ramberg was ready to get her screenplay noticed and since she didn’t have a manager at the time, she thought competitions were a great way to accomplish her goal of getting representation. “It was very much that phase of trying to get some legitimacy,” she said. “I think the biggest thing was getting recognition through various competitions. I guess I was under the mentality that if I can prove that some third party thinks my script is good then I can show it to people and they will read it.”

Be strategic with your submissions

Ramberg points out that most writers do not have the time or budget to apply to every competition available, so it is important to be selective. She found that while many competitions were for comedy or drama, ScreenCraft’s was specific and perfectly fit the genre of her script. “I did try to be targeted to who I was submitting to,” she said. “I was excited that it was genre specific.”

Research companies before entering competitions

Before choosing to enter ScreenCraft’s contest, Ramberg read through the website and social media accounts. One of the reasons she submitted was that she saw how ScreenCraft worked with its winners and stayed in contact with them.

“When I was looking at competitions I wanted something more than bragging rights,” she said. “For one there was a cash prize, which I will never say no to, but the biggest thing was they really were in touch with me after I won.”

ScreenCraft also communicates with contestants as they advance in the competition. Ramberg said she was told when she became a quarterfinalist and had more in-depth emails from the judges when she was selected as a finalist.

“They notify you basically every step of the way,” she said. “With ScreenCraft a win comes with advice. They were basically my managers to get my manager.”

Trust your instincts

Throughout the entire process of selecting screenwriting competitions to choosing a manager, Ramberg stressed that you have trust yourself. “I feel like you have to trust your gut,” Ramberg said.

Whether it’s deciding who to share your script with or what notes to take or disregard when you get feedback, Ramberg said staying true to yourself is important. You should also be targeted with who to show your work to because everyone has genres they enjoy or have expertise in. “I want to share it with people who legitimately like the genre I’m writing in,” she said.

Networking is essential

Coverfly endorsed Nicole and sent targeted emails to people they thought would respond to her script. “And that endorsement is how I met my manager,” she said.

Ramberg also used the connections she made throughout her career to meet the right people and put her screenplay into the right hands. “One of the good things of going through the studio side of things is that a lot of my friends are executives,” Ramberg said. 

Work toward finding a manager

Be clear and realistic with your goals. “It’s such a barrier without representation,” Ramberg explained. Very recently Ramberg signed with a manager at Zero Gravity and she said it’s important to find a representative that not only likes your writing style, but your ideas as well.

“I wanted someone who was as equally excited about my career as I was. I wanted someone who had the same vision that I did.”

Should you enter a screenwriting competition?

Still hesitant to enter a competition? Ramberg says to go for it. 

“To me when I was applying, I didn’t see a downside. If you apply and you don’t place, no one needs to know. Worst case scenario you don’t get in. Best case scenario is you win and suddenly you have people who want you to succeed because it makes the competition look good.”

Ready to take the next step in your screenwriting career? Enter one of ScreenCraft's screenwriting competitions and see if your script is ready for the big screen.

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