My Top 50+ Screenwriting Competitions, Labs & Fellowships

When I interviewed him for my book, Breaking In: Tales from the Screenwriting Trenchesmy good friend super manager Jewerl Ross (whom I also interviewed for Final Draft last year in a lively chat that included surprise guest appearances by Barry Jenkins and Lulu Wang) told me this about the importance of screenwriting competitions: 

“You need something to prove to me that you are worthy. You win a contest, maybe you’re worthy.”

For years, highly regarded screenwriting competitions, labs and fellowships have provided writers seeking to break in with the pedigree needed to break out of the pack and begin gaining industry traction. I’ve often been asked what screenwriting and TV writing competitions, labs, fellowships and programs I keep in my sights. After all, there are so many out there! How does a writer know which ones are worthy of their time and hard earned cash? 

With that in mind, I put together the following list of screenwriting and TV writing competitions, labs and programs, as well as a few competitions in the prose and playwriting space that I regularly keep my eye on, in the hopes that it would be of help. Note that submission dates, material requirement and other specifics are subject to change. Once you’ve identified those competitions, labs, fellowships and programs you are interested in submitting to be sure to confirm the most updated information, guidelines and specifics on their website.

One more thing: Not all of these competitions hold the same sort of weight with the entertainment industry; some certainly have significantly more industry-relevance than others. However, these are all initiatives that I continue to track and often recommend to my writers who are planning for the submission year ahead. 

ATX Television Festival Pitch Competition

  • Website: https://atxfestival.com
  • Type: Competition
  • Application deadline month: February
  • Event month: June
  • Open to: TV writers

Austin Film Festival

  • Website: https://austinfilmfestival.com/
  • Type: Competition
  • Application deadline month: May
  • Event month: October
  • Open to: Screenwriters, TV writers, playwrights, digital podcast writers
  • Note: Submit your screenplay or pilot by genre category.

BBC Writersroom

BET’s Project CRE8: TV

Black List & Google Assistant Storytelling Fellowship

Black List Feature Lab

BlueCat Screenplay Competition

CAPE New Writers Fellowship

  • Website: https://www.capeusa.org/cnwf
  • Type: Fellowship
  • Application deadline month: December
  • Open to: Feature & TV writers
  • Note: Diversity program for Asian Pacifics in Entertainment

CBS Writers Mentoring Program

CineStory Feature Retreat and Fellowship Contest

Cinestory TV Retreat and Fellowship

Circle of Confusion Writer Discovery Fellowship

Creative World Awards

Disney | ABC Writing Program

Film Independent Episodic Lab

Film Independent Screenwriting Lab

Final Draft’s Big Break Competition

Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition

Hillman Grad Mentorship Lab

Humanitas New Voices

Inevitable Foundation

  • Website: https://inevitable.foundation/fellowship
  • Type: Fellowship
  • Application deadline month: On a rolling basis – apply any time
  • Open to: Feature & TV writers
  • Note: Accepts applications from disabled writers

ISA Fast Track Fellowship

Mentorship Matters

MGM + The Black List Feature Partnership

  • Website: https://blcklst.com/mgm
  • Type: Incubator
  • Application deadline month: August
  • Open to: Feature writers
  • Note: Seeking writers from underrepresented communities. Occurs twice a year.

NBC Late Night Writers Workshop

NBC Writers on the Verge

  • Website: https://www.nbcunitips.com/writers-on-the-verge/
  • Type: Fellowship
  • Application deadline month: TBD
  • Open to: TV writers
  • Note: One of the Big 4 TV network programs. Favors diversity. Program currently going through a re-imagining. Waiting for update from program organizers about upcoming submission cycle.

NHMC’s Series Scriptwriters Program

  • Website: https://www.nhmc.org/writers/
  • Type: Fellowship
  • Application deadline month: April
  • Open to: Feature & TV Writers
  • Note: Open to Latinx writers

Nickelodeon Writing Program

NYWIFT Writers Lab

Ojalá Ignition Lab

  • Website: https://ojalaignitionlab.com/
  • Type: Lab
  • Application deadline month: July
  • Open to: TV writers
  • Note: Program is a joint venture between Tanya Saracho and UCP (Universal Content Productions). Open to Latindad, BIPOC writers

Outfest Screenwriting Lab

PAGE International Screenwriting Awards

  • Website: https://pageawards.com/
  • Type: Competition
  • Application deadline month: April
  • Open to: Feature & TV writers
  • Note: Submit your screenplay or pilot by genre category.

Respect Ability Lab

Roadmap Writers Jumpstart Competition

Screencraft Fellowship

Screencraft Stageplay Writing Competition

Screencraft True Story and Public Domain Writing Competition

Screencraft TV Pilot Writing Competition

Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition

Script Pipeline TV Writing Competition

Sony Pictures Television Diverse Writers Program

Stowe Story Labs Fellowships

Sundance Episodic Lab

Sundance Screenwriting Lab

Sundance Screenwriting Intensive I Feature Film

The Black List/WIF Episodic Lab

The Black List/WIF Feature Residency

The Disruptors

  • Website: https://www.artistdisruptors.org/
  • Type: Fellowship
  • Application deadline month: March
  • Open to: TV writers
  • Note: Open to writers of color who identify as trans and/or non-binary, disabled, undocumented and/or formerly undocumented immigrants

The Nicholl Fellowship

  • Website: https://www.oscars.org/nicholl
  • Type: Competition
  • Application deadline month: May
  • Open to: Feature writers
  • Note: This competition is put on by the Motion Picture Academy

The Orchard Project Episodic Lab

Tracking Board Launch Pad Feature Competition

Tracking Board Launch Pad Pilot Competition

Tracking Board Launch Pad Prose Writing Competition

Trackingb.com Feature Script Contest

Trackingb.com Original TV Pilot Contest

Universal Animation Writers

Universal Writers Program

Warner Bros. Television Writers’ Workshop

WarnerMedia Access Writers Program

Women’s Weekend Film Challenge: Pilot Accelerator

 

Are there other competitions, labs, fellowships or writing programs that you think should be added to this list? Email me at: lee@leejessup.com