How to win a screenwriting competition | Raindance Film School

Winning a screenwriting competition is a great way to build up esteem with your script before sending it out. Even placing in the finals of a reputable competition could be the difference between a producer or production company really paying attention to your story.

Screenwriters Network have curated and researched 5 elements of award winning screenplays, taking data from not only their own screenwriting competition (SWN Screenplay Competition) but other prestigious competitions too!

The Judging Processes

To fully understand what makes an award-winning screenplay we have to look at the judging process. Below you will find our exact marking system which is very similar to many other competitions too.

You may be asking yourself, why is that? We have found and researched what makes a script great. What makes a film impactful and how it resonates with an audience. Check out our results…

The SWN Screenwriting Competition Judging Process

Each judge is given a procedural judging sheet which incorporates marks out of 10 against many aspects of a winning screenplay; character desire, structure, plot, character development, cinematic potential, denouement, prologue, call to adventure, dialogue and pacing.

Character Desire

What is the one burning desire that your protagonist has? Is it meaningful? Are the audience going to relate or connect with your protagonist on their journey? Do we care?

Structure

Is there some form of structure to your screenplay that makes your story easy to digest? Is it unstructured and chaotic, or does it read and flow smoothly?

DISCLAIMER: We do not advocate or favour any theories or teachings; 3-act structure, 5-act structure etc. As long as your story has some form of structure that makes the story flow smoothly, that’s what we’re interested in.

Plot

What does your story consist of? Is the bulk of your story great action, meaningful moments and interesting plot related scenes. Or is it a little mild, unrelated and/or too reflective of everyday life? What events does your script consist of to pull in the audience? Is it related to the character desire and potential theme?

Character Development

What interesting character traits do your characters have? Are they 3-dimensional and interesting? Do they have a past? Are they unique and fascinating? Are they boring, passive and/or underdeveloped?

Cinematic Potential

Does your script have many moments that will translate well visually? Is this script non-visual and unimaginative? Does it have a mix of exciting, interesting or unfamiliar locations? Does it have any breathtaking, thematic or nuanced scenes? Will a director be able to interpret this script well?

Denouement

The denouement is the culmination of all events of your script; the pay off! How impactful is your ending? Is your resolution satisfying and related to your character’s desire? What’s the lasting impression on the audience? Have all loose ends and sub-plots been resolved or addressed?

Prologue

The prologue is your opening image, the introduction to your story. Does your opening set up a theme? Is there a hook or device that draws the audience in at the beginning? Is the introduction to your story memorable, impactful or shocking?

Call to Adventure

The call to adventure is often a very good predictor of how strong your characters desire is. This works hand in hand with your protagonist’s desire. What is it that sets your character on their journey? Is it an impactful or emotional event or series of events? How strong is your call to adventure?

Dialogue

Is the dialogue overused, too obvious and revealing? Is it repetitive? Is the dialogue used in a way that’s unique? Is there subtext involved? Do all of the characters speak differently? Is the dialogue poignant? Is there a good amount of conflict in the dialogue? Is the dialogue too long?

Pacing

Is this script well-paced? Does it have any slow moments? Is the pacing too fast without any breaks in the drama or action? How well paced is the beginning, middle and end acts? Could the story be shorter? Could it be longer?

5 Most Common Winning Elements

screenwriting competition

So now you’ve got the winning formulas, it’s time to see where you’re at with your writing abilities…

Are you ready to submit your screenplay into a competition?

SWN Screenwriting Competition

Screenwriters Network  are dedicated to support all contestants, rather than just the winners. For simply entering your screenplay, these are the submission benefits that you will receive:

  1. Every script submitted gets registered with SWN for free. No need to register with the writers guilds (WGA, WGUK etc.).
  2. You will receive a £10 gift card from us to be redeemed on our Script Coverage services.
  3. Receive 15% off of all subsequent SWN Screenplay Competitions. 

SWN’s Judges

The top scripts will be read by the following judges:

Ed Solomon: Ed Solomon is a producer, director and multi award-winning screenwriter. Most known for penning many classic and genre defining films, such as Men in Black (1997), Now You See Me (2013) and also co-writing on Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989).

Kenneth Kokin: Kenneth’s career broke out when he Produced and Directed second unit on the Oscar winning and Emmy nominated film, The Usual Suspects. Recently he worked as an executive that co-financed such films as US, Glass, Darkest Hour, and Jurassic World 2.

Peter Aperlo: Peter is a screenwriter and author. His supernatural feature-length thriller, Devil’s Gate, premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. He has feature films under development with such producers as Gianni Nunnari, Lloyd Levin, and Zack Snyder, and his current project is a Norse mythology anime series for Netflix. 

Fleur Costello: Fleur has written feature films, documentaries and in many popular TV shows including Waterloo Road and River City. She was a Comedy Development Producer at the BBC and also a Script Developer at the Walt Disney Company. Fleur also judges for the Writers Guild Awards.

Our Network Outreach

The top scripts in our screenwriting competition get sent to some of the most prestigious production companies in the industry, including:

  • Aardman (Chicken Run, Wallace & Gromit,  Flushed Away, Arthur Christmas)
  • Baby Cow Productions (Northern Soul, Philomena, A Cock and Bull Story )
  • Big Talk Pictures (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Grimsby, Baby Driver)
  • Cloud Eight (Steve Jobs, 127 Hours, Selma, T2 Trainspotting, Trance)
  • DNA (28 Weeks Later, Dredd, Ex Machina,  The Beach, Trainspotting)
  • DMG Entertainment (Twilight, Iron Man 3, Looper, Point Break)
  • Ealing Studios (The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Black Mirror, Darkest Hour, Downton Abbey)
  • Heyday Films (Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood, I Am Legend, Gravity)
  • Manage-ment (Garden State, The Art of War, The Virgin Suicides, Nixon)
  • Number 9  (Colette, On Chesil Beach, Youth, Carol)
  • Pulse Films (Gangs of London, Beastie Boys Story, XY Chelsea, PIG)
  • Red Production Company (Traces, Happy Valley, Cucumber, Last Tango in Halifax)
  • Ruby Films (Saving Mr. Banks, Jane Eyre, Suffragette, Tulip Fever)
  • Scott Free Productions (Gladiator,  Blade Runner 2049,  The Martian,  Alien: Covenant)
  • Seesaw Films (The King’s Speech, Shame, Lion, Macbeth)
  • Vertigo (Monsters, Bronson, The Football Factory, Pusher)

Have any questions about the SWN Screenplay Competition? Get in-touch with us: info@screenwritersnetwork.co.uk

Visit our website for more FREE resources such as the SWN Script Library and more screenwriting blogs.

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Screenwriters Network (SWN) is a support network and learning resource for budding screenwriters and filmmakers. We help develop writers' abilities and if a writer is ready, also connect them with our network of industry contacts.

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