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.
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)."
2020 Cinematic Short Story
Book published in the UK by Impspired.
"There was a call for short story writers for their cinematic short story contest. The competitions gave me recognition. I am currently working on a historical novel set in 1912 that continues to 1918. I’m excited about my first collection of short stories, "Stepping Up". My advice to writers is - don't procrastinate, do it now. "
2021 Film Fund
Project picked up for distribution by UrbanflixTV.
"The biggest obstacle to reaching my screenwriting goals was getting to/through the gatekeepers. As writers, we’re great at practicing the craft, but getting your work out there can often prove to be the harder part. Learning to advocate for yourself and persevere through the “no’s” is really hard. I was interested in the ScreenCraft Film Fund to earn finishing funds, and though we didn’t win, making it to be a finalist was a nice talking point to help legitimize what we had. My first feature film is currently playing in festivals and is set to debut exclusively on UrbanflixTV this fall. I’ve got another feature in development that I’m looking forward to getting started on in the next year. "
Signed with a literary agent at Claire Best & Associates
"At the time I had only written and directed a small indie feature and was not repped in the USA. Australia (at the time) looked down upon genre films and TV shows and Amazon were demanding I pay extra for international shipping (we went back and forth - ultimately I lost). So I started to write the films and TV shows I wanted to see but wasn't allowed to make them. Having ScreenCraft recognise my work absolutely helped to boost my career and give me the motivation I required to keep my head down and write and just stick with it. Writing is what I really love to do more than anything else... well... directing too, but that's only because I'm just a little crazy. Every day I try to get 3-4 pages down. No matter what (Thanks C. Robert Cargill) and just try to have 1-2 screenplays banked at the end of each year. I hope that one will get picked up one day and I can finally buy that standing desk that Amazon keeps advertising to me. But I should probably just keep my head down and write."
2019 TV Pilot
Signed with a Manager at Well Told Entertainment
"You think if you do all the right things, work tenaciously at them, eat, sleep, drink to hone your imagination and your voice – do your 10,000 of practice, and climb the ladder (if you can find one) - then success will surely find you, or at the very least, some reward. But it’s not true. Working in the film and television industries does not align with hopeful platitudes, it’s filled with quicksand, trick mirrors, clowns, and roller coaster rides. For many years I wondered how I would know when to give up. I wanted there to be a final, irrefutable hard line in the sand of rejection, but that too is an illusion. I think the equation to hanging on is an honest assessment of your fortitude and your talent. There were plenty of moments when I thought I should give up. Certainly, to the outside world, who didn’t see the excruciating grind of 24/7 doggedness, my creative life, with little to show in return, must have looked like madness. But to toil in storymaking is not an outward thing and the truth is that going into the worlds and characters in my head was both intoxicating and necessary. I’m lucky that I have had a lifetime partner who believed in me and kept a roof over our heads when I couldn’t while we raised children and kept each other in good humor. Not everyone is that lucky. I’m in my sixties now with the same excitement and determination I had when I made an award-winning grad thesis film."
2020 Stage Play
Optioned her project GENERATION POR QUE? to HBO Max
"My biggest inspiration in creating GENERATION POR QUÉ? is my life. I’m the child of Cuban immigrants and grew up with very strict, conservative parents. I’m also a comedy nerd and adore coming of age comedies like Sex and the City, Insecure, and Broad City. But when I would watch Carrie in bed with Mr. Big, I would literally ask myself, “Where are her parents? Why aren’t they calling her right now and asking if she’s coming home to go to her cousin’s baby shower this weekend?”, because that was my life. Lol! I was shocked by how much freedom and independence these women had in this world because immigrant parents do not roll like that. The idea for A Visitor’s Pass on the Virgin Mary (the play that was a Screenscraft Finalist) came to me before I even attempted screenwriting. It was a story I needed to tell and immediately saw it on a stage. Screenwriting came along when I started writing and producing comedic sketches. But I never set out to write a play, pilot or film. This may sound cliche, but the idea comes to me first and then listen to what it wants to be. Aside from providing great feedback on my work, the team has connected me with some fantastic executives and helped foster relationships which is what a lot of the industry is about. In practical terms, Screencraft is great for giving me deadlines to submit my work."
Signed with a Literary Manager at Five Successes
"I had a hard time standing out in general script competitions (even ones that were specific to LGBTQ+ stories!) with an animated family feature so I was drawn to the genre competitions. I wasn't expecting the script to go as far as it did, but was so happy that the folks at Screencraft saw the potential in my queer animated story. The folks at Screencraft have been fantastic to work with and incredibly supportive during what was a difficult process with lots of rejection along the way. My advice to emerging writers is perseverance! I wouldn't be where I am today if I wasn't stubborn enough and believed in myself enough to just keep on going despite the huge pile of rejections in my wake. As a queer and trans nonbinary Jewish person trying to break into the kid's and family space, the search for representation seemed to have very little to do with whether my writing and ideas were good, and everything to do with whether a rep was convinced that I could make them money, if they bought into my overall mission, and understood how they could fit into the ecosystem of my work. It was a real needle in a haystack situation and it took a lot of patience and perseverance and constantly reminding myself that it honestly had very little to do with my capabilities as a writer. I needed to find someone to work with who can dream as big as I can and knows how to make those dreams a reality, and I think I found that with Kate and Andrew at Five Successes!"
2019 Sci-Fi and Fantasy
Directing his Finalist script, LEVELS
"I think for me, the biggest obstacle was finding the confidence to write the stories I wanted to tell. I overcame the hurdle by writing, and then making projects! Even though there’s so much I would change about my first short films and feature specs, I got them out there, and learned an immense amount from the process. When I submitted LEVELS to ScreenCraft sci-fi, the thought was “well, I have no idea how this will stack up, but it’s a great way to get some initial coverage, and see how it’s received.” Becoming a finalist was a tremendous confidence booster, and receiving multiple rounds of insightful coverage was a huge help in starting the rewrite process. My advice to writers is to write the stories you want to see, and keep at it!"
2019 Sci-Fi and Fantasy
Finalist script, RUSALKA, now in casting and production
"I had some early success, that lead me to believe it all might come easy for me, but when it didn’t pan out and I faced the rather difficult realization I was not going to break early. This was was my first big hurdle, I had to answer the question, “Can I persevere? Am I in this for the long haul?" I persevered. And I am still grinding. Screencraft provided a real point of validation. As a repeat finalist it has offered me some “proof“ that my work can stand up to both scrutiny and competition. That’s a great feeling. Secondarily, it gave me another reason to reach out to potential agents and producers, which absolutely proved useful. "
2018 Cinematic Book
Semi-finalist in the 2018 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Competition
"After my book, The Man Curse, made Screencraft's semi-finalist list in the cinematic book contest in 2018, and my adapted screenplay for The Man Curse (a pilot) was a quarterfinalist, I signed with a management team at Echo Lake Entertainment last week. I now have two managers working with me. They're part of a larger team of about 20 or so who will give me the lift I need. I found this management thanks to a fellow writer on the Screencraft finalist FB page. Echo Lake immediately requested my novel, The Man Curse. They were also impressed with some of the other things I've managed to do - like currently developing two shows with Ed Burns, co-creator of The Wire. I also signed a shopping agreement with a producer for my novel The Man Curse. This all happened after my random decision to enter a Screencraft contest. Becoming both a semi-finalist and quarterfinalist gave me the confidence I needed to push forward and believe I have a chance at success in this crazy world of TV writing. "
Signed with Manager at Bellevue Productions.
"ScreenCraft really helped when I was seeking representation. Being new to the industry, it was good to have a team to offer insight on the representation process. Outside of that, I’ve found Screencraft’s Q&A’s very informative and inspirational."
2020 TV Pilot
Signed with a Manager at 3Arts Entertainment
"ScreenCraft has been a wonderful resource for me. I felt when I was first starting out that the most important thing to have was representation. If I had that, I would finally be able to relax (ha) and then I’d get some writing done (ha ha). ScreenCraft believed in my work. They’ve stopped at nothing to get me represented at a company that aligns with my goals. The positive reinforcement of having them on my side, plus the endless action around building a larger network of support for me is something I could never have given myself on my own, as much as I’d tried."
2020 True Story and Public Domain
Optioned Script to Noble Film Company
"ScreenCraft has been so helpful along the way. I started entering competitions only six years ago and the genre-specific nature of ScreenCraft’s competitions were a perfect fit. The feedback I received from readers there were excellent and helped pinpoint issues that could be improved. And after being a finalist in several ScreenCraft Family Competitions, the team at ScreenCraft introduced me to several producers who expressed interest in them. ScreenCraft has been very helpful along this journey."