ScreenCraft’s competitions and talent-discovery programs are the entry point for emerging screenwriters into Hollywood. Here are just a few writers’ stories of how ScreenCraft’s programs helped them breakthrough.
Deep-dive beyond the craft with regular interviews of ScreenCraft writers who’ve recently taken their first big step into the industry in our Subtext Series.
Celebrating the success of our writers.
2021 Film Fund
Signed with a literary manager at Bauman Management
"As writers it’s always challenging to distinguish yourself from others. I think ScreenCraft does an excellent job of encouraging and identifying unique talent and can put them in very advantageous situations which in turn breeds success."
Film produced and premiered on Hulu
"It took me a long time to believe in myself as a writer and to trust the process. I spent a lot of time being hesitant to share my writing and when I did, I would take any criticism as a I sign I wasn’t any good. The validation of placing in the competition really came at the right time. It was the little bit of outside juice that I needed to encourage me that I was on the right path."
2021 TV Pilot
Developed pitch with an executive at HBO
"You don’t need permission to follow your instincts. And if other writers out there are reading this now, YOU DON’T NEED PERMISSION. I did a lot of research on contests in the early days, thinking it would be a good way to assess my skill level and Screencraft had a lot going for it. The way Screencraft breaks out genre to compare apples to apples, the quality of judges, the access winners get to industry professionals, and the quality of notes. While contests may not be for everyone, they’ve been a key factor in understanding which of my skills needed sharpening. "
2018 TV Pilot
Options his first Feature to Producers
"I shared my idea for my most recent script, HOLY MAN, with author Simon Wells. He was the one that encouraged me to pursue my idea, even though I thought it was way beyond my capabilities. His feedback and encouragement pushed me beyond what I thought I could accomplish. I just got back from a trip to LA to have my first set of meetings with the production team that optioned HOLY MAN, and I have another meeting later this week they've set up with a very good rep in the industry. I know it's a long road and a process, but the team's faith in the script, and mine, make me very hopeful that we'll soon see HOLY MAN on the silver screen! "
2021 TV Pilot
Hired to write an episode of THE FLASH
"Don't worry about your dream being risky or impractical. People really do make it in this industry. When I moved to LA to start my writing career, I knew zero people in the industry. So when I took the traditional mailroom route, I felt like I was the only person around without any connections. Even when I wrote something I was proud of, I often felt like it was wasting away on my hard drive with nobody to read. I had been submitting to competitions for years now with some success, but I was particularly excited to enter ScreenCraft because of the genre-specific categories (horror, family, etc.) Plus, their partnership with Coverfly was exciting."
2021 Cinematic Short Story
Signed with a Literary Manager
"I'm at a place in my career now, where it's easy to feel frustrated, because time passes and I'm still side-hustling to support my writing when I would want to be writing to support my writing! But, I'm also in a place where I once aspired to be: I've had representation for a while, and recently added a TV agent to the team! And I'm celebrating my first produced TV credit (with writing partner Paul Seetachitt) — an episode of Creepshow that came out last month called "Time Out." It's gotten a lot of complimentary reviews, which is validating. These things give me hope that I'm getting closer to where I want to be. A good friend who knows that I also write short stories sent me the link to the ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story competition. At this point I've largely forsworn writing competitions, but for some reason I decided to enter... and it worked out! I got to meet with one of the judges (Sean Crouch) which was my first one-on-one meeting with a showrunner and was exciting for me. And while I already had representation, the buzz surrounding winning the Grand Prize inspired my reps to send the story out, and I think was key in their decision to add a TV agent to my team, which is something I'd really been wanting for a long time — so that felt like a big victory. I've really appreciated that ScreenCraft has a team of real people who have checked in on my progress since the contest. They've pushed me to evaluate those things that any writer can and should control — like online visibility and professional outreach — and encouraged me to be accountable and level those up. "
2021 Cinematic Short Story
Signed a Paid Option Agreement
"I hope this doesn't sound cliche but it really is always the passion for the specific story you're trying to tell. The initial spark of an idea and that burning desire to show everyone else that movie you see in your head, that's what it's all about. Option payments and these other kinds of external motivations are less important if you don't fully believe in your story and just love to live in that world for all the hours/months/years you'll spend developing it. We have been ScreenCraft Stans since our first spec feature The Memory Bank became a finalist in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Competition a couple years ago. The exposure from that and the engagement and care the ScreenCraft staff showed us led to some meaningful general meetings with awesome producers and managers. Everything we have written since has gone straight to a ScreenCraft Competition and we intend to keep it that way as long as we keep writing!"
2020 Action Adventure
Signed with a Literary Agent
"I’m very lucky to have a really awesome (and patient) group of writer friends (and also my mom) who keep me sane. Sometimes all you need is people to say that you’re being silly and you need to stop stressing yourself out and just keep writing. I consider myself to still be at the beginning of all of this, but I just signed with a wonderful new manager who I am so thrilled to be working with! What attracted me to ScreenCraft was the fact that the competitions are genre specific. Some genre scripts can get lost in the shuffle of larger categories like “Drama” and “Comedy.” With ScreenCraft, I liked that I could submit my Action & Adventure script to the Action & Adventure competition. It was also very clear to me that ScreenCraft works with their winners and finalists to find representation, and that was an important factor for me as well. After I won last year, ScreenCraft was immediately in contact to help introduce me to managers. Winning and the assistance I received was that foot in the door that I needed."
Signed with a Literary Agent and Hired for an Assignment
"This industry is all I’ve ever wanted to work in. Whilst I was searching for something else to do after that decision to give it all up, TV and film kept just calling me back. Going back to absolute basics was exactly what I needed. Then my next move was to take a job as an assistant to the director and producer of a Channel 4/Hulu TV show called BAGHDAD CENTRAL. This led to me directing 2nd unit on the show, signing with my agent and making another short, MUSE which I threw everything at. It was a contained sci-fi that had the same themes as my script OUTMODER (the Fellowship Finalist) and served as a proof-of-concept but I also wanted it to work as a standalone short. The judges for each ScreenCraft competition were of a high level and also varied. You know your work will be looked at by intelligent, creative people. The competition introduced me to contacts in the US and I feel where I am in my career now it’s really starting to open doors. "
Signed with a Literary Manager
"Rejection is a tough thing. I came off Second City raring to go, believing the clout of that institution would set me up for success. But I had a few disappointments with pitching and staffing in the (admittedly small) Canadian TV industry. And when COVID hit and the live comedy world pretty much shut down, I felt like I was at a crossroad: quit, or pivot. I doubled down on writing, and started teaching screenwriting classes and submitting my work to contests. It was a revelation, and I wish I'd done it earlier. I've used ScreenCraft as a resource for years, but when I finally got into the headspace to start submitting to contests, ScreenCraft was the logical first step. Winning the fellowship opened many doors for me: I met other writers, mentors, reps, and dozens of executives at major studios and production companies, and signed with a manager."
Signed with a Literary Manager
"When I was really feeling down one day and thought about giving up on screenwriting, I imagined what that would be like, and in that moment I realized something huge: No matter what form the writing takes (screenwriting, prose, essays, poetry), I'm a writer at heart. No matter what I do, the urge to write will always spring forth from the deepest place inside me. ScreenCraft's amazing reputation was the first thing that drew me in, and the prize of participating in Fellowship Week (which consists of anywhere from 15-35 General Meetings with top Managers, Agents, Executives, and some Showrunners) is what completely cinched it for me. The meetings were absolutely incredible. In fact, on the very first day I signed with Cavalry! And I was able to take that incredible news and momentum into all the rest of the meetings, as well as have my Manager help me strategize for big ones and follow up with everyone I met. "
Signed with a Literary Manager at Inclusion Management
"Failure and rejection are a part of the process, a lesson I was lucky enough to learn at a young age albeit from a different context. However, mental exhaust and fatigue are very real deterrents. I learned to take calculated breaks from my work to replenish my soul. Last year, I decided to submit my work to as many competitions as I could afford. Screencraft in particular, was held in high regard. And I wanted to compete with the best. Have discipline as a writer and in your writing. As a writer: Do something everyday that pushes your skill forward. If you have writer's block, read books, screenplays, watch instructional videos, talk to other writers. Also heal. Take breaks from your writing to allow the lessons and stories in your head to rise from your subconscious. In your writing: Find a structure that works for you. Trust me, the older the better. Aristotle's Poetics or Asia's Kishotenketsu. Newer structures have too many steps and produce cookie cutter stories. Focus on the fundamentals: And, But, Therefore; Setup & Payoff, Conflict, Momentum, Crucible. "
Signed with a Literary Manager
"When I first entered the industry, I thought I wanted to work in scripted development. It was a stable, creative job that allowed me to express my passion for film and television, but was free from the constant rejections that often accompany a writing career. I worked as a development assistant for a couple of years, ultimately landing at DreamWorks, and I was happy enough. But when the studio merged with Comcast, I was laid off. The "stable" job I'd chosen ended up being the one that flipped my whole world upside down. I struggled for months to land another development job, at which point I questioned if I was meant to work in entertainment at all. But it was at that low point that I rediscovered my love of writing. Remembered why I chose to work in this field. I don't think I would have had the courage to pursue writing if it wasn't for that shake-up. Screencraft is one of the only script competitions that have Animation and Kids & Family categories, which don't get nearly enough love and respect from the greater industry. Having that "finalist" stamp of approval helped me feel like my script was in a good enough place to distribute for staffing and representation purposes. With that confidence, I was able to get it in front of a showrunner I know, and he in turn tweeted about how much he loved it. My manager reached out on Twitter, after having seen that post, and the rest is history. So in a way, one thing led to another and it started with this competition. "
2020 True Story and Public Domain
Signed a shopping agreement for their script TIS OF THEE with Creator Media after meeting the producer through the ScreenCraft True Story & Public Domain Competition.
"ROB: If your desire is to make screenwriting your full-time career, then you have to do whatever it takes to get your scripts out there - finding the right representation, networking, and, yes, entering into the right screenwriting competition, which can support and help get your story out there. Because of our 2021 Screencraft win, our script TIS OF THEE was optioned by Kyle Benn of Creator Media (The Hunger Games, John Wick and SAW Franchises, among many others). He has been incredible as a mentor, and, along with the team at Screencraft, continues to champion our work. BRODRICK: It was the managers, agents, and producers who were judging these contests for us. We won the true story public domain competition and got our project optioned with a former Lionsgate Studio Executive. That totally transformed my career and put me and my team on the map. SCARLETT: Winning Screencraft's True Story & Public Domain Competition for our project, Tis of Thee, presented us with the wonderful opportunity to connect with a like-minded producer who has provided invaluable insight and support. Further, the Screencraft team is truly invested in our continued success."
2021 True Story and Public Domain
Signed with a Literary Manager at Bellevue Productions
"We submitted two scripts to various ScreenCraft screenwriting competitions and requested feedback for several of the rounds. Receiving that feedback was invaluable to see what could be improved in our scripts. Screencraft also provided us with great access to the industry, especially when we became Finalists in ScreenCraft’s True Story & Public Domain Competition 2021 and had the opportunity to connect with the other writers and get industry advice. Prior to this summer, neither of us lived in Los Angeles. So, in order to get our writing out there, we submitted our work, notably our feature drama FOUR FLOORS IN RAQQA, to screenwriting competitions. Kate found Laila’s profile on Coverfly in the midst of that process and reached out. We had a great conversation with her, and luckily, she was interested in working with us. "
2021 True Story and Public Domain
Signed an Option Agreement with producers Rob Alicea & Brodrick Haygood
"I gave up every day and the next morning I went back to work. Because I’m an actress, I equate writing to rehearsal. You discover something new each day. There are no answers only better questions. got my break when I sent my screenplay to Rob Alicéa for feedback. Rob had helped me with a logline for a pilot last year and now he and Brodrick Haygood are my first two producers for my screenplay, LIL. My advice to my younger self is - Just because you are dyslexic doesn’t mean you can’t write!"
2021 TV Pilot
Chris Webster & James King optioned their pilot AMERICAN ALLIGATOR to executive producer + showrunner, David Knoller, who they met as one of the jurors of the competition.
"Chris: The funny thing is, AMERICAN ALLIGATOR actually came about precisely because I did want to quit. It was the summer of 2019, I hadn’t worked as an actor in two years and I was thirty-two. My mother and father had both just passed away and basically nothing seemed to be going right. I wrote a script out of that pain and realised I had no-one to send it to who would care, other than my dear old friend James back in England. I sent it to him, he read it, and told me what I already knew – that it was good but far too angry and sad to ever be commercial. I was at a really low ebb, and so my wife called James and told him he should come over to California and that he and I should write something together. And guess what? He did! He flew out two weeks later, pitched me American Alligator, and we just got started on that. After that my luck changed. James: Winning the competition has been enormously helpful to us in terms of gaining exposure for the project and providing us with networking opportunities. Neha Dutta and Tom Devers and the whole ScreenCraft team have been so supportive and encouraging –– setting up general meetings for us with David Knoller and Crystal Holt from AMC. David Knoller expressed an interest in coming on board the project right at the start of our very first general meeting, which was amazing but also very surreal and completely caught us off-guard. He’d been an instrumental figure in so many of the shows that we’d grown up with and been inspired by –– FREAKS AND GEEKS, BIG LOVE, CARNIVALE –– that to hear he wanted to be involved in our project was unreal. But he was super passionate, sincere and confident that the show would sell and just wanted to help out in any way he could."
2019 Film Fund
Project 'This is Gwar' got accepted into Fantastic Fest.
"I really love all aspects of making a documentary film. The outlining, filming, and definitely the editing, So the biggest obstacle for me is probably handling the not creative side. The business aspect. But luckily I have some great people to work with who are good at all of that."
2019 Sci-Fi and Fantasy
Her film KINETIC premiered on DUST
"The first few years of finding my voice was the toughest for me. Figuring out who I was as a writer and what I wanted to say was a real challenge. I didn’t want to get completely autobiographical, but everywhere I turned, I was encouraged to ‘write what I know.’ Of course, when I was dreaming about writing grand space operas and high-paced action thrillers, that was a bit discouraging as I’ve never been to space or in a high-speed car chase. However I finally figured out that writing what I know meant writing about the relationships and emotions that I’m familiar with. I didn’t need to be a telekinetic superhero to write about one - but placing her in a troubled childhood home and giving her a complicated relationship with her mother really helped me to relate to that character. I realized that as long as I could create realistic relationships and emotions for my characters, their circumstances could be as far-flung as I could imagine. One of the biggest draws to ScreenCraft was both the quality of judges as well as the wide slate of competitions. It’s been a great asset to share my success as a finalist in a ScreenCraft competition, and I’m so proud to be amongst such a talented group of writers."
2020 Action Adventure
Signed with a literary manager at Citizen Skull and optioned two TV projects to different production companies
"After I’d written and produced my first short film, I had no idea what the next step should be. So I just kept writing - features and a TV pilot - and kind of randomly submitting them to various festivals and competitions haha. The path felt very murky and uncertain, until I was accepted in to the AFI Conservatory for my MFA in Screenwriting. After I’d finished at the AFI Conservatory and was interviewing with managers and sending my projects out to production companies, there was a string of rejections that were hard to digest. I did a lot of research and looking around online to figure out which competitions were worth submitting to - ScreenCraft kept coming up as one of the good ones. I think it’s helped me in two main areas: 1) knowing when a script is ready to show and when it needs work; and 2) external validation and a pat on the back which helps as motivation to keep going!"
2021 TV Pilot
Signed with two literary managers at Stagecoach Entertainment
"When I moved to LA to start my writing career, I knew zero people in the industry. So when I took the traditional mailroom route, I felt like I was the only person around without any connections. Even when I wrote something I was proud of, I often felt like it was wasting away on my hard drive with nobody to read. I've worked in support staff for the last several years, but I'm most excited to have recently signed with a team of managers. Fingers crossed they can help me start to be seen as a writer, not just an assistant. I've been submitting to competitions for years now with some success, but I was particularly excited to enter a contest with so many genre-specific categories (horror, family, etc.) Plus, their partnership with Coverfly was an exciting push to polish my pilot for ongoing online hosting. Even though ScreenCraft has been over for months now, I still track my reads and score on Coverfly (both of which got a nice bump from my finalist placement). My advice to writers is to not worry about your dream being risky or impractical. People really do make it in this industry."
Attached producer John Shepherd to his feature script 'How the Yellow Mellow.'
"I was about to give up screenwriting about two years ago. I just wasn’t seeing any markers of success, and I wasn’t loving what I was writing or doing at the moment. I didn’t have a clear identity at that time. My breakthrough moment was somehow landing a spot as a finalist for the 2019 Screencraft Comedy Competition. Around that time, I started realizing that my niche was writing diverse genre comedies. I discovered which aspects of my writing voice worked best and committed to parts of myself. I recently got a producer attached to a funny teen comedy script inspired by my days as my high school’s Asian American club president. We’re sending it out and trying to find it a home, and that’s so exciting! I was drawn to Screencraft after seeing the judge panels. They’re really legit and have some of the most remarkable people in the industry reading your stuff. The competition gave me some confidence about my writing, but the team behind the competitions really check in with you after and help you, too. "
2019 Sci-Fi and Fantasy
Hired to write a feature for an acclaimed director with Heller Highwater shopping the project
2021 TV Pilot
Signed with a literary manager at Code Entertainment.
"Every time you get a “no,” it stings a little. My first year in LA, I submitted to a bunch of jobs, fellowships, contests, and film festivals, only to get nothing but rejections. There were times when I felt insane for giving up a good job back home and moving here, where I knew nobody. I didn’t have a steady job for the first two years I lived here and was just scraping by on savings and odd gigs. It was tough. But in the process, I learned a lot about what the industry is looking for. I now keep an Excel spreadsheet of contests, jobs, festivals, and opportunities that I apply to. I mark rejections in red, wins and finalist placements in blue. In 2020, I applied to about 200 different opportunities in total. And while I ended up with a lot of redlines on my spreadsheet, I’m getting more and more blues and that keeps me going. The competition has been very helpful because my finalist placement gave me the confidence to reach out to managers, and to friends who could recommend me to managers, to help take the next step in my career. I was able to have a few meetings, and signed with a management company. "
Signed with management at First Friday Entertainment.
"The worst rejection is the “almost” rejection—when you almost make it, and then they’re like, “haha, psych!” I had a pilot reach the hands of the vice president at a big production company. He passed it along to the big boss and the big boss said “nope”, and that was that. It hurts. There are lots of things you can’t control, but you CAN control how rejection fuels you. I mean, don’t go out and wreak havoc or anything (unless it’s fun and I’m invited). I’m just saying, it’s important to remember that everything is subjective. A screenplay of mine that was a runner-up in one contest, didn’t even place as a quarterfinalist in another. Keep writing. Push your work out there so it can be read by people willing to help you achieve your next milestone. On days when I feel defeated, I look back to where I started—a basic word processor and no clue what INT. meant—and then I’m like, “okay, you’re a bad mofo. Keep going.” And then I keep going. My advice to other writers is to stop comparing yourself to others. Hardly anyone talks about their failures. Surround yourself with friends who believe in you so hard that they’ll never let you give up. If you struggle, like me, to celebrate the small victories, allow yourself to try it. It feels nice, I promise. Read bad screenplays. There is just as much to learn and deconstruct from a poorly written script as there is from an Oscar-worthy one. If you’re struggling to find one, reach out, and I’ll send you some of mine from, like, ten years ago. Ooof! ScreenCraft advocates for the unknown writer better than any other company I’ve seen. It’s nice when your work is appreciated, but it’s incredible when a team of people care about evaluating your goals and helping you set intentions. I’ve had scripts place high in other contests, but nothing ever happened. There wasn’t a lot of support or communication beyond putting my name on a list. Even after I signed with representation, ScreenCraft has continued to nurture their relationship with me, and check in on my progress. I’m always in awe of this. They are an invaluable resource. "
2021 Film Fund
Film produced by Buffalo 8 after they discovered it through the ScreenCraft Film Fund.
"I had been offered two option agreements at one time from a well known production company in Canada but I was not going to be guaranteed a writer's credit for scripts I wrote. I turned down the offer and never regretted it. It just meant, the journey was going to be a little longer. The money didn't matter to me, receiving a writer's credit for a script I wrote was more valuable to me. I was never at a place that I was going to actually give up, it was more like a sign that I needed to take a break from the business so that I was coming from a place of feeling inspired again. Writing comedy is a lot of fun so as long as I was having fun that was all I needed to keep me going. I also like to set creative challenges which came in handy for writing a horror/thriller . What also motivated me was when a Screen Craft competition is coming up for a particular genre I write for. This super charges my energy. And of course, the breakthrough moment is the ultimate motivation. I am very excited to announce that I am currently in development with my very first comedy feature, Life of Groupies which is being produced by Buffalo 8. "
Signed with a Literary Manager at Underground Entertainment after working with the ScreenCraft team.
"I think one of the biggest hurdles to writing is just carving out the time and mental space to do it regularly and well while still enjoying the process. If you find yourself writing all the time and never doing anything else, your writing (and mental health) are going to suffer and you might grow to hate the project you're working on (which in turn will make it worse). Conversely, if you only talk about writing but are constantly busy with work, and social events, and other commitments, you're a writer in theory not in practice, and you'll never get anything done. So finding that balance, especially early on when I was broke and had no time, was really important for me. When I started applying for script competitions, ScreenCraft's panels of judges really stood out to me. They were filled with big names and people who had major roles at well-known companies, so knowing that the competition wasn't just a random dude in a basement stealing my money made me more interested in applying. Since placing in the Top 10 finals, ScreenCraft has helped a ton in getting meetings set-up and in general championing me and my work (like with this right now)."