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For the Screenplay & Teleplay Competition, a record number of 8,627 scripts were received this year and the Finalists were reviewed by an industry panel of judges including Jack Burditt (creator Last Man Standing; writer/executive producer Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Peter Craig (writer The Town, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Parts I and II), Mark Goffman (executive producer/showrunner Sleepy Hollow; writer Limitless), (James V. Hart (writer Hook, Bram Stoker's Dracula), Jenny Lumet (writer Rachel Getting Married), and Nicole Perlman (writer Guardians of the Galaxy) among others.

The following winners were selected:

  • Drama Screenplay Award presented by the Writers Guild of America, East: Detroit by Robert Rue
  • Comedy Screenplay Award: Maxwell 2.0 by Paul Sanford
  • Enderby Entertainment Award: The Great Debate by David Hoffman
  • Darkwoods Productions Sci-Fi Award: The Innkeeper by Michael Catinari
  • Horror Award: 77 Minutes by Shani Grewal
  • AMC One-Hour Teleplay Pilot Award: Friend of the Devil by Michael Ouellette
  • Sitcom Teleplay Pilot Award: Newsperson by Michael Drake
  • Short Screenplay Award: The New World by Brian Rawlins
  • Scripted Digital Series Award: Creepypasta by Will Zech & Alex Cope
  • One-Hour Teleplay Spec Award: The Americans: Custody by Larry Caldwell
  • Sitcom Teleplay Spec Award: Workaholics: Bring Your Kid to Work Day by Greg Brainos

Serving on AFF's Film Competition Jury this year were established filmmakers and notable industry insiders, including Dan Guando, Executive Vice President of Acquisitions, Production & Development at The Weinstein Company, Emily Best, founder of Seed&Spark, and Kathleen Grace, Chief Creative Officer of New Form Digital.

This year's film Jury Awards went to films and filmmakers from all over the world, including Spain, Finland, Australia, and The Netherlands. The winners include:

  • Narrative Feature: The Exile, written by Arturo Ruiz Serrano
  • POV Documentary Feature: Monsterman, directed by Antti Haase
  • Comedy Vanguard Feature: Baby, Baby, Baby, written by Brian Klugman
  • Dark Matters Feature: Sunny Side Up, written by Willem Bosch
  • Dark Matters Feature Honorable Mention: The Lion's Path, written by Sophie-Anne Beaudry
  • Narrative Short: Vainilla, written by Susana López Rubio
  • Narrative Student Short: Kimi Kabuki, written by Yoko Okumura
  • Documentary Short: Chau, Beyond the Lines, directed by Courtney Marsh
  • Animated Short: The Meek, written by Joe Brumm
  • Scripted Digital Series: School Nurse, created by Tom Beach, Laura Boersma, and John Stewart Muller

by Susan Royal

Getting Past Me: A Writer's Guide to Production Company Readers
by Mindi White (Limelight Editions)

This excellent book sheds light on what story analysts are really thinking. One of the particularly useful chapters is entitled "Kiss of Death," and warns against something as seemingly innocuous as putting one's profession on the title page, as with "M.D.". or "Esq." because readers have read a lot of terrible scripts written by doctors and lawyers. Other no-nos include racism, sexism, rape as comedy and plagiarism. Says the author: "I gleefully point out blatant theft in my coverage. I'm not alone. Do not steal. You'll be so busted."

Screenwriting Tips, You Hack by Xander Bennett (Focal Press) evolved from the blog of the same name by a former Hollywood script reader. Lots of insight and tips, including:

"Tip #32: The setting is like another character, so try to make it as three dimensional and interesting as all your other characters."

"Tip #92: Always remember that funny trumps everything. Your script could be written in crayon with your name spelled wrong on the cover, but if it's genuinely, screamingly funny, none of that matters."

"Tip #124: A quick and dirty rule for action paragraphs – nothing longer than three lines. Try to stick to it – you'll be amazed at how economical your description becomes."

"Tip #150: If you're going to break the rules, do it in spectacular fashion. That way it's obvious you are breaking the rules, not ignorant of them."


This section (updated regularly) lists screenwriting competitions and sidebars associated with or sponsored by film festivals.

Some film festivals present industry workshops, labs and conferences on the subject of screenwriting:

The Austin Film Festival was the first film fest dedicated to celebrating the writer as the heart of the collaborative filmmaking process. The festival holds a Heart of Screenwriting Conference and Competition which attracts major screenwriters and producers as speakers.

The BlueCat Screenplay Competition has a BlueCat Lab, which accepts pitches and shorts along with feature screenplays, with a chance for three writers to come to Los Angeles and workshop their projects with local professionals and mentors.

The Los Angeles Film Festival presents "Coffee Talks" with a panel of screenwriters and holds a 7-week Screenwriters Lab.

The Nantucket Film Festival offers a number of panels focusing on screenwriting as well as a series called "Morning Coffee With...", which enables festival-goers a chance to meet with screenwriters.

The Rhode Island International Film Festival presents a Master Class in which the grand prize winner will have segments of the work produced and video taped.

The San Diego Film Festival collaborates with the American Screenwriters Association to present the "Selling to Hollywood" conference. Also a competition with cash and prizes and a development package.

Each February the Santa Barbara International Film Festival manages to round up all or most of the recently Oscar-nominated screenwriters for a seminar held during their festival February.

The Sundance Film Festival is sponsored by the Sundance Institute. In addition to the annual festival, the Institute puts on a Screenwriters Lab (a five-day workshop for developing scripts) twice a year in January and June. Those chosen to participate develop their films under the concentrated guidance of veteran filmmakers and actors.

Screenplay readings are staged by some fests, including these:

At the Atlantic Film Festival one writer will be chosen to receive a live staged full read-through with local actors at the Scrip Out Loud session during the festival.

The L.A. International Short Film Festival (L.A. Shortsfest) provides staged readings of selected screenplays by professional actors.

The Slamdance Film Festival holds an annual screenplay competition and then puts on a staged reading of the winning script during the festival held each January.

The Seattle International Film Festival presents a theatrical read-through of the winning script in the Washington State Screenwriting Competition.

The organizers of the Nantucket Film Festival describe it as "a screenwriter's festival presenting features, short films, documentaries, staged readings and panel discussions." Writers are encouraged to present their films and works-in-progress and get feedback from other writers and filmmakers.

The The Ohio Independent Film Festival presents a year-round screenplay reading program called Script Mill.
In addition, the winner of the Ohio Independent Screenplay Awards will be read at the fest.

The Rhode Island Film Festival holds a script competition. The winning screenplay receives a staged reading at Scriptbiz, a script marketplace and seminar.

The Tribeca Film Festival develops and showcases scripts with scientific and technological themes and or characters in its Tribeca/Sloan Screenplay Program.

The Women's Image Network, which puts on the WinFilm Fest, conducts "WinFemme Monthlies," an industry staged reading of selected screenplays.

The Breckenridge Festival of Film gives awards to screenplays in each of four categories: Adult Drama, Comedy, Action-Adventure and Children-Family.

The Great Lakes Film Festival has a scriptwriting competition for screenplays, stage plays, and teleplays. Prizes for the winning script include $500, 2 complete passes to and accomodations at the festival. For more info go to:

The motto of the Hollywood Film Festival is: "Bridging the gap between Hollywood and emerging independent filmmakers and storytellers." Toward that end, it presents Discovery Programs and Awards. Go to:

Film Fest New Haven hosts the not-for-profit New Century Writer Awards which is open to writers of all nationalities, backgrounds and countries. Works accepted in two categories. Category I includes screenplays and stage plays. Category II includes short stories and novel exerpts. The top three prizes are cash awards for both categories I and II. Top fiction winners are also considered for publication in Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope All Story literary magazine. One screenplay or stage play is selected from each year's competition to be presented as a stage screenplay reading during the film festival weekend.

The Nantucket Film Festival (see above) gives the Tony Cox Award for screenwriting, sponsored by ShowTime Networks, Inc. The winner receives a cash prize and a first-look option from ShowTime.

The Love Unlimited Film Festival and Art Exhibition hosts the Screenplay Writing Exhibition and Awards. Festival organizers say: "The theme is all screenplay writing that is directly, indirectly, literally, or symbolically related to love. This is a not-for-profit event and ticket fees to the awards and exhibition are free of charge in Portland, Oregon; Urbana, Illinois and Austin, Texas. Ticket fees in California are $20 with no one turned away for lack of funds. Over 40 awards will be given out for screenplays in over 30 different categories with a People's Choice Award held in each region. The awards welcome people of all backgrounds from all over the world. In 2011, the Screenplay writing awards will take place in Austin, Texas; Urbana, Illinois; Los Angeles, CA and Portland, Oregon."

The Ohio Independent Film Festival awards for Best Screenplay and Best Northcoast Screenplay.

The Santa Monica International Film Festival has included a screenwriting competition as part of its Moxie! Awards.

Some competitions have been established for scripts with particular subject matter or setting:

The Asian American International Film Festival has an annual Screenplay Competition every spring where five finalists are chosen by readers and a final winner chosen by a panel of judges. The winning screenplay gets a live staged reading and Q&A with the writer during the festival, in addition to other prizes. Go to:

The International Family Film Festival in Santa Clarita, California is a family-themed festival which has a showcase for screenplays that have "no gratuitous sex, violence, nudity or obscene profanity." Go to:

The Flicks on 66 Wild West Digital Shootout solicits short scripts from around the world, selects the six best, then brings the writers to Albuquerque for one week in July to shoot, edit and premiere their movie. For more info, go to:

Moondance Film Festival has an award program "to promote and encourage women screenwriters, playwrights and filmmakers." Go to:

WinFilm Fest (formerly the WIN Femme Film Fest), the Women's Image Networks' Film/Video/Screenplay Festival, is dedicated to promoting positive images of women in the media. Screenplays must have a positive female protagonist. They award a staged reading of the winning screenplay and hold a screenplay pitch session with film executives. For more info, go to:

The Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema presents a "Set in Philadelphia" Screenwriting Competition. The scripts must be set primarily in the greater Philadelphia area and preference is given to "scripts which capture the spirit, characters and/or locations of the region."The winning screenwriter is awarded cash and two professionally cast readings of the screenplay.In addition, the Irene I. Parisi cash award is given to an outstanding writer under 30. Go to:

The Hollywood Black Film Festival, held at the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, holds a "Storyteller Competition" for black screenwriters only. For more information call (310) 348-3942 or go to:

The IFP Market gives a cash award – The Gordon Parks Award – to an African American Screenwriter. Go to:

Urban World Film Festival holds a screenplay competition with the 5 finalists presenting staged readings at Tribeca during the festival.

The IFP has a sidebar entitled No Borders for approximately 50 screenplays or works-in-progress in need of financing.Distributors meet with producers, directors or writers who are selected for No Borders. For more info, go to:

The Hollywood Film Festival has a market for works-in-progress.
Call (310) 288-1882 or go to:

Worldfest Houston has an entry category for unproduced screenplays.

OTHER FILM FESTIVALS which include screenwriting awards and/or events:

Big Bear Lake Film Festival

Carolina Film & Video Festival and Screenwriting Showcase

Cinequest (San Jose Film Festival)

Great Plains Film Festival

Jackson Hole Film Festival

Jacksonville Film Festival

Kern Film Festival

Lake Arrowhead Film Festival

New Hampshire Film Expo

Screamfest Horror Film Festival


SoCal International Film Festival

Valley International Film Festival

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