Cinequest Screenwriting Competition

"I made myself a bargain that every day I had to write at least one really good sentence. Because if I could just do a tiny bit more in my day, other than just pay the bills...it would eventually add up to a book."
-- Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club), Cinequest Maverick Spirit Award Recipient

SUBMISSIONS WILL OPEN JUN 1ST, 2016
Please sign up so you can be the first to know when submissions are open.

Cinequest voted Best Film Festival by USA Today Readers.

The Cinequest Screenwriting Competition continues to empower global connectivity between screenwriters, filmmakers, producers, and innovators. Cinequest loves writers, and we welcome you to submit your screenplay or teleplay to our renowned competition. The Top 10 Finalists receive many empowering benefits including: VIP All Access passes to the Cinequest Film Festival and exclusive Writers Celebration, plus exposure to leading industry players and inspiring luminaries.

"I think the most important thing about Cinequest is it’s definitely the first time I’ve ever come to a festival where my immediate reaction is, ’What do I have to do to be invited back?’ and that’s not normally my reaction. It’s a perfect film festival in a glorious place." -- Neil Gaiman. Finalists are presented alongside high profile Maverick Spirit awardees like J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, Chuck Palahniuk, Neil Gaiman, Philip Kaufman, Michael Arndt, Diablo Cody, Dennis Lehane, and more at the highly anticipated Writers Celebration during the Cinequest Film Festival.

Submissions accepted June 1 – November 6, 2015 (see deadlines and fee schedule below).

Features

A $5000 cash prize will be presented to the winning feature-length script. Finalists will also get their scripts read by industry professionals. Previous industry readers have included: ICM Partners, Lions Gate Films, Happy Madison Productions, Entertainment One, XYZ Films, First Light Films, Lupovitz Productions, and Popular Films. (Rules and Information)

Shorts

Our short-film script category continues to attract a diverse international pool with a $1000 cash prize and screening opportunity at a future Cinequest Film Festival for the winning script. (Rules and Information)

Teleplays (60 Minutes)

Back by popular demand is our 60 minute teleplay category offering writers a chance to showcase what could be the next hit series on TV! This category offers a $1000 cash prize to the winner. (Rules and Information)

Teleplays (30 Minutes) NEW!

New to this year’s mix is a 30 minute teleplay category offering a $1000 cash prize to the winner. (Rules and Information)

Testimonials

Cinequest Screenplay Competition

SUBMISSION FORMAT

  • All genres are accepted. Especially seeking drama, comedy, thriller/mystery, sci-fi, and highly original material.
  • Contestants from all countries are eligible.
  • Screenplays must be submitted in English.
  • Length (not including title page):
    • Feature-length screenplays must be between 70-125 pages.
    • Short Film screenplays must be 20 pages or less.
    • Teleplay (60 minute) must be between 45-70 pages (approx. 1 hour show).
    • Teleplay (30 minute) scripts must be 40 pages or less.
  • Any script over the indicated page limit will receive automatic point deductions per page over.
  • Script must be properly formatted according to industry standards.
  • Digital submissions in PDF format only.
  • Cover Page Instructions:
    • Withoutabox Submission: Please include ONLY your script’s title on your cover page so that readers may remain unbiased in their decisions. You tracking number will automatically be assigned to your uploaded script.
    • Cinequest Website Submissions: Please include ONLY your script’s title and tracking number on your cover page so that readers may remain unbiased in their decisions. Your tracking number is automatically assigned once you complete the registration and payment process. You will need to update your script cover page before submitting your file.
  • Rewritten/corrected pages WILL NOT be accepted once the entry has been received.

RESTRICTIONS

  • There are no entry fee refunds.
  • Any script that becomes purchased, optioned, or put into production before the Final Jury decision on February 15, 2016 will be eliminated from the competition with no entry fee refund.
  • Scripts written as adaptations of other works must have secured rights before being submitted.

PAYMENT OPTIONS

  • ONLY Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover credit and debit cards accepted for submission payment.
  • Please DO NOT send cash or checks.

PRIZES

Notifications will be sent to finalists by February 2016. The winners are revealed during Writers Celebration at Cinequest Film Festival 2016 (March 1 - March 13, 2016).

Feature-Length Screenplays

First Place:

  • $5,000 Cash Prize. A winning script by more than one writer will have the cash prize split evenly between members of the writing team.
  • Presentation of an inscribed Crystal Award at Cinequest Film Festival 2016 during Writers Celebration.
  • Amenities listed below for Top Ten Finalists.

Top Ten Finalists:

  • Recognition on the Cinequest website and through a Cinequest press release.
  • Invitation to Cinequest Film Festival with two (2) VIP All Access passes (valued at $1,000).
  • Exclusive invitation to Writers Celebration March 2016 (date to be determined), which includes a private VIP Screenwriters Lunch for finalist and one guest, a practice Pitch-Session with industry leaders, and participation in Screenplay Competition Awards Ceremony with Maverick Spirit Honoree (past honorees: J.J. Abrams, Neil Gaiman, Lawrence Kasdan, Dennis Lehane, and more).
  • Special discounts and rates on hotel accommodations during Cinequest Film Festival 2016.
  • Opportunity to have script read by industry professionals. Past industry professionals on the screenplay panel have included:
    • Peter Trinh, Motion Picture Agent at ICM Partners
    • Hernany Perla, Creative Executive at Lions Gate Films
    • Judit Maull, Production Executive at Happy Madison Productions (Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, Click, The Longest Yard)
    • Grace Clark, Entertainment One
    • Nate Bolotin, Co-Founder of Production and Film Financing at XYZ Films
    • Nancy Rae Stone, President and Producer at First Light Films
    • Josh Grossman, Senior Vice President for the Goldstein Company (Pretty Woman, The Mothman Prophecies, Under Siege, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, Ringmaster)
    • Glen Reynolds, Circus Road
    • Dan Lupovitz, Producer at Big Bad Wolf Productions (Hunky Dory, Good, and Simpatico)
    • Tim Albaugh, Producer at Popular Films
    • Kate Sharp, Occupant Films
    • Diane McGee, McGee Creative (Girl In Progress, Memory Lane, and The Reckoning)
    • Leslie Kallen, Manager at Leslie Kallen Management
    • Eugene Mandelcorn, Principal for Film Artists Cinema & Television (FACT)
    • Lucy Shuttleworth, Co-Writer and Associate Producer of The Secret of Moonacre
    • Jaques Themalaque, President of Filmmakers Alliance, President of 5 Minute Film School and Co-President of FA Productions
    • Jessica Yingling, Production Executive at Cheyenne Enterprises (Live Free or Die Hard, Hostage, The Whole Ten Yards)
    • Scott Cornfield, Owner of Reel Good Pictures

Short Film Screenplays

First Place:

  • $1,000 Cash Prize. A winning script by more than one writer will have the cash prize split evenly between members of the writing team.
  • Presentation of an inscribed Crystal Award at Cinequest Film Festival 2016 during Writers Celebration.
  • Option to screen winning short film at future Cinequest Film Festival (runtime no longer than 20 minutes and must be independently produced, Cinequest is not responsible for production).
  • Amenities listed below for Top Ten Finalists.

Top Ten Finalists:

  • Recognition on the Cinequest website and through a Cinequest press release.
  • Invitation to Cinequest Film Festival with two (2) VIP All Access passes (valued at $1,000).
  • Exclusive invitation to Writers Celebration March 2016 (date to be determined), which includes a private VIP Screenwriters Lunch for finalist and one guest, a practice Pitch-Session with industry leaders, and participation in Screenplay Competition Awards Ceremony with Maverick Spirit Honoree (past honorees: J.J. Abrams, Neil Gaiman, Lawrence Kasdan, Dennis Lehane, and more).
  • Special discounts and rates on hotel accommodations during Cinequest Film Festival 2016.
  • Opportunity to have script read by industry professionals.

Teleplays (60 Minute)

First Place:

  • $1,000 Cash Prize. A winning script by more than one writer will have the cash prize split evenly between members of the writing team.
  • Presentation of an inscribed Crystal Award at Cinequest Film Festival 2016 during Writers Celebration.
  • Amenities listed below for Top Ten Finalists.

Top Ten Finalists:

  • Recognition on the Cinequest website and through a Cinequest press release.
  • Invitation to Cinequest Film Festival with two (2) VIP All Access passes (valued at $1,000).
  • Exclusive invitation to Writers Celebration March 2016 (date to be determined), which includes a private VIP Screenwriters Lunch for finalist and one guest, a practice a Pitch-Session with industry leaders, and participation in Screenplay Competition Awards Ceremony with Maverick Spirit Honoree (past honorees: J.J. Abrams, Neil Gaiman, Lawrence Kasdan, Dennis Lehane, and more).
  • Special discounts and rates on hotel accommodations during Cinequest Film Festival 2016.
  • Opportunity to have script read by industry professionals.

Teleplays (30 Minute)

First Place:

  • $1,000 Cash Prize. A winning script by more than one writer will have the cash prize split evenly between members of the writing team.
  • Presentation of an inscribed Crystal Award at Cinequest Film Festival 2016 during Writers Celebration.
  • Amenities listed below for Top Ten Finalists.

Top Ten Finalists:

  • Recognition on the Cinequest website and through a Cinequest press release.
  • Invitation to Cinequest Film Festival with two (2) VIP All Access passes (valued at $1,000).
  • Exclusive invitation to Writers Celebration March 2016 (date to be determined), which includes a private VIP Screenwriters Lunch for finalist and one guest, a practice a Pitch-Session with industry leaders, and participation in Screenplay Competition Awards Ceremony with Maverick Spirit Honoree (past honorees: J.J. Abrams, Neil Gaiman, Lawrence Kasdan, Dennis Lehane, and more).
  • Special discounts and rates on hotel accommodations during Cinequest Film Festival 2016.
  • Opportunity to have script read by industry professionals.

CONTACT

For more information about the Cinequest Screenwriting Competition, please contact: Antonea Colon at screenplay@cinequest.org

Cinequest Screenwriting Competition

Testimonials

"I think the most important thing about Cinequest is it’s definitely the first time I’ve ever come to a festival where my immediate reaction is, ’What do I have to do to be invited back?’ and that’s not normally my reaction. It’s a perfect film festival in a glorious place." -- Neil Gaiman, Maverick Spirit Award Winner

"My cell was ringing with option interest before I even left San Jose. The Cinequest win helped me land representation in L.A., which resulted in attaching a seasoned producer who loves the script. I’m now being read by some of the most well-known production companies and all the major studios in Hollywood." -- Bill Schreiber, Switchback

"Winning the Cinequest feature screenwriting competition gave me a chance to connect with other writers and filmmakers, and provided me with amazing opportunities to open some doors. A top-notch competition!" -- Stacie Shellner, Saint Chloe

"Cinequest offers the creme ’de la creme’ of screenplay competitions! All of the events were professionally run, and as a Screenwriting Finalist, I encountered wonderful networking situations, well thought out educational opportunities, and a warm embrace into this vibrant community." -- Ashia Chacko, Black Box

"I saw the word "maverick" and took a chance on a lark that maybe this was a venue that could help foster my own vision. I graduated from the USC Graduate Screenwriting program...whatever happens in my career from this point on, I will consider [Cinequest] as one of the key factors in my development as a writer." -- George Chumo II, The Iconoclast and The Bridge

"I can honestly say that Cinequest is one of the most writer-friendly film festivals I’ve ever been to. It was such a pleasure to meet everyone and, most of all, hear all of the stories. Here’s hoping we all get a green light someday!" -- Donna Laemmlen, Sheila the Gila Monster

"Everyone at Cinequest was great and I enjoyed the networking opportunities they provided. My screenplay is moving forward and we are seeking out investors to co-produce." -- David Rich, Through Maria’s Eyes

"Meeting other artists and sharing in their journey was the inspirational spark that I really needed..." -- Sean Corrigan, Awareness, teleplay pilot

Click here for screenplay finalist testimonials.

Deadlines & Fees

Submissions open June 1, 2015.

 

Announcements

Winners revealed at Writers Celebration at Cinequest Film Festival 2016. Finalists from all categories are invited to participate in the Writers Celebration during Cinequest Film Festival 2016, March 1 – March 13, 2016.

2015-2016 Winners and Top Ten Finalists

Congratulations to our 2016 Cinequest Screenwriting Competition Winners and Finalists!

FEATURE FINALISTS

WINNER: Wheelman by Jeremy Rush
2ND PLACE (TIED): Byron: Mad, Bad, and Dangerous by Jay Natelle and Martyn Hobbs
2ND PLACE (TIED): Sardis the Merciful by Christian Thomas
3RD PLACE: Donaldina: Based on True Events in the Life of Donaldina Cameron by Carol Lee Hall

Crime Extraordinaire by Howard Fridkin
Diamonds in the Rough by George Mastrogiorgis
ECNESERP by Allison Phelan
Nothing to Do by Mike Kravinsky
Please Close the Gate by Rhys Wakefield
Ribbons by Brian Abrams

SHORT-FILM FINALISTS

WINNER: Shiva by Vishnu Sekar
2ND PLACE: The Klawg by Rob Rex
3RD PLACE: Yours Always Death by Geoffrey Campell

Asymmetric ’Usury Maze’ by Ira Rosenblum
Entrenched by Joseph Chebatte
Funeral on Snake Island by Tyrell Mills
Geodesic Life by Laura Sophie Helbig
Season of Sacrifice by Nick Hatton Jones
The Amazing Luck of Aunt Carmela by Luis Miguel Arce Romero
The Joans’ Killer by Jimmy Kelly

TELEPLAY 60-MINUTE FINALISTS

WINNER: Brooklyn Bus by RJ Marx
2ND PLACE: Durango by Robert Brickman
3RD PLACE: Girl In Trouble by Alan Porter

Bayou City by David Harris
Gilded Cages by Trish MacEnulty
Six Counties by John Millikin
Star Power by Benjamin Hurvitz
Static by Keith Davidson
The Empress by Brennan Elizabeth Peters
The Last West by Lou Iovino and Evan Young

TELEPLAY 30-MINUTE FINALISTS

WINNER: Patient by M. Rowan Meyer
2ND PLACE: Heavenly Bonds by Laurelei Ballard
3RD PLACE: Earth On Heaven by Micah Paisner

Go Fork Yourself by Laurelei Ballard
Layover by Adam Toltzis
News/News by Lindsay Duke
Sawyer by Spencer Reed
Self Help by Julie Livingston
The All-American Mini-Mall by Buzz Belmondo
The Muffia Family by Esa Nurminen

Thank you to our generous sponsors!

         New York Film Academy Los Angeles - Screenwriting School