Cinequest Screenwriting Competition

"It’s a perfect film festival in a glorious place." — Neil Gaiman, Cinequest Maverick Spirit Award Recipient

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Cinequest voted Best Film Festival by USA Today Readers.

The Cinequest Screenwriting Competition continues to empower global screenwriters through discovery, recognition, opportunity, and cash prizes. 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 & VR Festival and exclusive Writers Celebration, plus exposure to leading industry players and inspiring luminaries.

"I was thrilled when Cinequest selected my pilot script as a finalist for the teleplay competition. Writers need all the support they can get and Cinequest gave it in abundance. Not only at the festival, with conferences and events for the writers, but long afterwards, when you’re back at the desk and find an email from one of the devoted people at Cinequest in your box. When they get behind you, they stay behind you and continue to do everything they can to help push your project forward."
— Matthew Dixon, 2015 Teleplay Finalists, THE GLASS HOTEL (optioned by HBO in 2016)

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 & VR Festival.


Celebrating the Screenplay Competition’s Top 10 Finalists, the electrifying Writers Celebration occurs during the Cinequest Film & VR Festival and includes opportunities for writers to connect with producers and enhance their careers, networks, and opportunities. Writers Celebration events will include:

  • Business of Writing Forum
  • Writer Meets Producer Mixer to connect with industry leaders
  • Pitch Training with expert pitch coaches
  • Pitch Challenge to a panel of industry powerhouses
  • An inspiring Maverick Spirit luminary event (past honorees: J. J. Abrams, Neil Gaiman, Lawrence Kasdan, Dennis Lehane, and more)


Submissions are currently closed. Submissions will open next Spring for Cinequest Film & VR Festival 2018.


A $5,000 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, Echo Lake Entertainment, and Popular Films. (Rules and Information)


Our short-film script category continues to attract a diverse international pool with a $1,000 cash prize and a future screening opportunity at Cinequest Film & VR Festival for the winning script. (Rules and Information)

TELEPLAYS (60 Minutes)

A $1,000 cash prize will be presented to the winning 60 minute teleplay. Finalists will also get their teleplay read by experts from companies like FX Network and PBS. (Rules and Information)

TELEPLAYS (30 Minutes)

Our 30 minute teleplay category offers writers a chance to showcase what could be the next hit series on TV! $1,000 cash prize to the winner. (Rules and Information)


Quarter Finalists notifications sent in December 2016.
Semi-Finalists notifications sent in January 2017.
Top 10 Finalists notifications sent week of January 23, 2017.
Winners announced during Writers Celebration (TBD Date) at the Cinequest Film & VR Festival, February 28 - March 12, 2017.


Click here for screenplay finalist testimonials.



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


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


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


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

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