Lauri’s List of Screenwriting Fellowships, Labs, and Contests

This is a list of screenwriting fellowships, labs, contests, and other opportunities that I think are the most worthwhile.

I define “worthwhile” as providing one or more of the following:

  • industry-recognized validation of script quality that can help a writer get a script read and/or help a writer get represented
  • effective promotion of top scripts, leading to read requests
  • professional mentoring
  • significant financial support (especially where there’s no entry fee)
  • script feedback and workshopping (more than just written notes)
  • in-person introductions to industry professionals
  • professional training programs
  • entry-level screenwriting jobs

These opportunities are highly selective, and can have thousands of applicants for a handful of slots. It’s usually a waste of time and/or money to enter a first draft.

Some programs (including the Nicholl and Austin) offer script feedback, but most don’t. If you want to see if your script is competitive before entering, you could consider getting free peer feedback from a site like Zoetrope. You can also pay for professional reviews from a site like The Black List

Hundreds of contests not on this list are legitimate — in that they actually pay out the prizes they offer. A few contests are outright scams. Most contests not listed here offer only a very small chance at a monetary prize (in exchange for a hefty entry fee) and maybe a press release announcing the finalists/winners. Sometimes, winning one of these other contests will advance a writer’s career.

For more on why most screenwriting contests aren’t worth winning, check out this Scriptnotes podcast.

If you want to explore additional contests you can find an exhaustive list here.

To suggest corrections, updates, additions,  or deletions, please contact me.

Last updated December, 2018

Check websites for specific deadlines, which may vary from year-to-year. Entry fees are indicated where known. Many programs offer discounted fees for early entries or impose higher fees for late entries. Some programs may be discontinued or not offered every year.

Deadline Program Details
JAN Nickelodeon Writing Program Paid full-time writing job for six or 12 months, based in LA (Burbank).   Application must include a half-hour comedy spec script from the Accepted Shows List.  

No fee.
JAN Imagine Impact See details below.
JAN CAPE New Writers Fellowship Sponsored by the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment but open to writers of any race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability or sexual orientation.  

Each Fellow is matched with a high-level industry mentor to help them revise their scripts into professional-level writing samples to get them noticed and land that all-important first job.  

Fellowship runs from early March to mid-April with each Session and Writing Lab meeting weekday evenings for approximately 2 hours in the Los Angeles, CA area.  

$65 fee.  Fee waivers available.
JAN BBC Writersroom

(Drama)
Must be resident in the UK or Republic of Ireland.   

Only for drama scripts (TV, film, radio, stage or online); other deadlines apply for comedy.  

At the end of the process, a group of writers (usually between 10 and 15) will be selected to join the BBC Drama Room writer development group.  

No fee.
JANUGC Writers Campus by Series ManiaA week-long TV series writing workshop, conducted in English, open to 20 screenwriters. The 2019 edition will be held in Lille in northern France from March 20-27.

Only open to candidates with some professional experience (including digital series) and graduates from one of the partner schools.

Participants’ lodging, workshop participation, and festival attendance are covered. Participants are only responsible for their own travel costs to and from Lille and meal expenses.
JANJohn Braboure AwardsEligibility: “You have worked for a minimum of two years in the Film and/or TV industries (including aspects of online broadcast). However, your experience does not have to be continuous and can be accumulative. Your career focus should be primarily based within UK Film and/or TV at the time of applying.”

Individual financial awards up to £5000, which can go towards production projects, scriptwriting and development, education and training, and technology or equipment needs.

Also offered in July.

No fee.
JAN- FEB ISA Fast Track Fellowship Gives two screenwriters the opportunity to be mentored by eight top executives in LA.  

$29 and up; early application in December.
JAN- FEB BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Competition

(TV Drama)
For UK passport-holders and residents only.  

Selected script extracts are performed by a professional cast to an audience of producers, development executives, directors, actors and literary agents, aiming to give a platform to emerging writing talent from across the country.  

£42 fee; fee bursaries available.
JAN-APRCinestory Feature RetreatRetreat takes place over four days in the mountains of Idyllwild, California. Attendees receive three 90-minute one-on-one sessions with mentors.

Grand prize includes $10,000 and a 12-month mentorship.

$55 and up.
JAN- OCT WeScreenplay Diverse Voices Screenwriting Lab A screenplay contest and lab that strives to encourage stories that are told from perspectives that are often underrepresented in Hollywood today. This includes writers of color, women writers, writers with disabilities, writers over 40, writers in the LGBTQ+ community, and any other voices that have historically been ignored by Hollywood.

Four winners will be flown out to LA for mentorship and meetings with industry professionals.  

$35 and up.
NOV-FEB Screencraft Screenwriting Fellowship Up to four winners will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles for meetings with agents, managers, screenwriters and studio executives.   

$69 fee.
FEB Film Independent Episodic Lab 5-week lab in LA, which will meet several nights a week, will accept a diverse group of 6-8 writers or writing teams and provide them with critical support and mentorship.  

$65 fee.
FEB HBO Access Writing Fellowship Designed to give emerging, diverse writers the opportunity to develop a half-hour or hour script suitable for HBO or Cinemax.   Series of master classes held over one week in June at the HBO campus in Santa Monica, plus 10 months of remote mentorship.  

No fee.
MAR The Writers Lab Four-day script development program for women over 40, sponsored by Meryl Streep.  

$55 fee.
MAR Humanitas New Voices Mentorship plus $7,500 grant.  

$100 fee.
MAR Sundance – Episodic Lab program for original pilots.  

$40 fee.
MAR? Stowe Story Labs Fellowships Stowe Story Labs brings emerging screenwriters, filmmakers and creative producers from around the world together with seasoned industry professionals to help get projects made and seen. Four-day intensive program in Vermont.  

Fee?
MAR- APR BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Competition

(TV Comedy)
For UK passport-holders and residents only.  

Selected script extracts are performed by a professional cast to an audience of producers, development executives, directors, actors and literary agents, aiming to give a platform to emerging writing talent from across the country.  

£42 fee; fee bursaries available.
MAR- MAY Austin Film Festival Accepts screenplays, teleplays, stage plays, and digital series.

$35 and up.
MAR-MAY CBS Writers Mentoring Program For diverse writers.

Eight-month structured program of career development, support, and personal access to executives and the decision-making processes, with the goal of preparing aspiring writers for later employment opportunities in television.  

No fee.
MAR- MAY Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Considered the most prestigious fellowship for amateur screenwriters.  

Up to five $35,000 fellowships are awarded.  Fellows are invited to participate in awards week ceremonies and seminars in LA in November.  

$45 and up.
APR BBC Writersroom’s Comedy Room   Must be resident in the UK or Republic of Ireland.   

A six-month development scheme for writers identified through an open submission script room and other talent searches.   Writers usually meet once a month and receive targeted training and development including workshops (with practical writing exercises), masterclasses, introductions and networking events, and writing briefs with the opportunity to pitch.    

No fee.
APR- AUG National Latino Media Council (NLMC)/ National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) Latino Television Writers Program   Open to people of all races and ethnicities.  

During the five-week, Los Angeles-based, intensive program (October and November), participants create a mock writers room led by an entertainment executive to develop at least one television spec script.   

Stipend of $250/week plus Southwest Airline vouchers, housing, and meals will be provided to accepted participants from out of state.  

No fee.
APR- MAY Sundance Screenwriters Lab Five-day writers’ workshop in Utah.  

Fee.
APR- MAY Sundance Screenwriters Intensive Two-day workshop in LA.

Supports writers, writer/directors, and writer/director teams from underrepresented communities who are developing a first fiction feature screenplay.  

Fee.
APR- MAY Sundance Asian American Fellowship For writers or writer/directors developing their first or second fiction feature film and of Asian American descent or with significant themes and/or characters portraying the Asian American experience in their screenplay.

Fee.
APR- MAY Sundance Feature Film Program Latinx Fellowship Supports one U.S.-based Latinx writer or writer/director through participation in either the Screenwriters Lab or the Screenwriters Intensive. In addition, the fellow receives an unrestricted grant of $2,500 in support of their work as well as ongoing creative and tactical support.

Fee.
APR- MAY Sundance Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship and Commission-ing Grant Supports the development of screenplays with scientific or technological themes (NOT science fiction).    

Fee.
APR- MAY Sundance Open Borders Fellowship Applicants must be a writer/director or director developing their first or second feature-length fiction project.   Filmmakers from all countries outside the US are eligible.

Includes a development grant as well as a trip to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City to receive the award and attend a curated slate of industry meetings, networking opportunities, panels, and screenings. Filmmakers are eligible to receive year-round creative and strategic support from the Sundance Institute Feature Film and Documentary Film Programs for their next feature-length project.  

Fee.
APR- MAY Sundance International Screenwriting Labs Labs in Greece, Mexico, Cuba, and other locations (check website).
MAY Disney | ABC Writing Program   12-month program. Pays $50,000 per year.  

No fee.
MAY NBC Writers on the Verge Weekly evening classes at NBCUniversal in Universal City, CA. Two nights per week for six months.  

No fee.
MAY Warner Bros. Television Writers’ Workshop   Runs October-April with a meeting on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, CA one evening a week.  

No fee.
MAY- JUL BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Competition

(YA and Children’s Media)
For UK passport-holders and residents only.  

Selected script extracts are performed by a professional cast to an audience of producers, development executives, directors, actors and literary agents, aiming to give a platform to emerging writing talent from across the country.  

£42 fee; fee bursaries available.
MAY-OCTCinestory Television RetreatRetreat takes place over four days in the mountains of Idyllwild, California. Attendees receive three 90-minute one-on-one sessions with mentors.

Grand prize includes $1,000 and a 12-month mentorship.

$45 and up.
JUN Hedgebrook Screenwriters Lab   Supports five women screenwriters in developing their projects over a weeklong residency, with two mentors from the film industry, at a retreat on Whidbey Island, Washington.  

Fee.
JULJohn Braboure AwardsSee above (January).
FALL Sundance YouTube New Voices Lab Four-day lab followed by two-day lab. Supports developers of scripted digital series.  

Fee.
AUG- SEP BAFTA Rocliffe New Writing Competition

(Film)
For UK passport-holders and residents only.  

Selected script extracts are performed by a professional cast to an audience of producers, development executives, directors, actors and literary agents, aiming to give a platform to emerging writing talent from across the country.  

£42 fee; fee bursaries available.
SEP-OCTChannel 4 StoriesApplicants must be UK residents.

Six writers will be tutored by and work with experienced drama producers at BlackLight Television to develop an original half hour idea as part of an ambitious anthology series to showcase their unique voice. Of those six, three will then be chosen for further development and production.


Particularly interested in hearing from people who are currently under represented in TV drama, namely: women; people with a disability; BAME talent; and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

No fee.
OCTUniversal Writers ProgramThe one-year paid ($72,662/year) program engages writers to create material for development consideration; however, concept development is not guaranteed. From pitch to final draft, writers are afforded creative guidance from executives, producers and designated creative consultants. In addition to penning two (2) feature-length scripts, writers participate in a curriculum designed to strengthen their creative and professional development, as well as overall knowledge of the Studio production process from pitch to premiere. The Program also provides access to agents, managers and various industry professionals through meetings and/or events.

No fee.
OCT Film Independent Screenwriting Lab Five-week workshop beginning in May, designed to provide individualized story and career development for emerging screenwriters.   

$65 fee.
NOV Athena IRIS Screenwriting Lab Two-day script development intensive that will take place during the Athena Film Festival.

Designed for women screenwriters who have not yet had a feature-length script, pilot, or teleplay produced, the Lab is also a chance for participants to receive seasoned mentorship. Screenplays must include one or more strong female characters in leadership roles at the center of the story. 

Fee.
NOV Missouri Stories Scriptwriting Fellowship An international competition for screenplays and television pilot scripts with story lines set in Missouri.

The winning writers will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to a concentrated fellowship experience, held in Missouri in February. The writers will be joined by accomplished industry mentors who will work with each fellow.  

$45 fee.
NOV- DEC Sesame Street Writers’ Room   Must come from an underrepresented racial group.

Emerging storytellers who are selected to join the Writers’ Room fellowship will receive hands-on writing experience guided by Sesame Street veterans and other media industry leaders.   Weekly sessions take place at the Sesame Street NYC offices in the summer.   Up to two participants will have the opportunity to receive creative development deals and further mentorship.  

No fee.
DEC NBC Late Night Writers Workshop 5-Day workshop in New York City.  

Focused on exposing talented sketch and comedy writers to NBCUniversal’s late night & alternative line-up and readying them for a staff writer position. “We are looking for writers who are “almost there,” but need that final bit of preparation and exposure to key industry players. We particularly encourage female writers and those of diverse backgrounds to apply. The selected writers will create new sketch material and gain insight into the dynamics of a late night writers’ room. Participants are given the chance to interact with key writers and producers from across NBCUniversal’s late night and alternative shows, as well as receive feedback on their material.”

No fee.  
DEC The Distillery Five-month script development program in New York City.      
No fee.
DEC Made in NY Writers Room   Only for New York City residents.  

While the fellowship is open to everyone (in accordance with the eligibility requirements) women, people of color, and others underrepresented in the television writing profession who lack access are encouraged to apply.

For six months, fellows receive mentorship from seasoned New York City-based showrunners and career development education from other local television writers and executives.  The goal of the Fellowship is to increase diversity in the pipeline of writers in NYC, and also the number of shows written in the city.

Stipend of $10,800.  

No fee.
     
Varies The Black List Offers various labs and other opportunities during the year; see site for details.   No additional fee for those who have scripts hosted on the site ($25 per month).
Varies Imagine Impact Eight-week, LA-based program.   Provides $40,000 to cover living expenses in Los Angeles.   Takes place several times per year.  

No fee.