Frequently Asked Questions
What inspired the name of this competition?
Our winners will be champions and we will work to champion our winners. We will inspire, empower and guide them with mentoring and coaching from industry professionals. We have some of the best teachers and consultants, who will help you jumpstart your career.
What is Champion Screenwriting Competition?
Champion Screenwriting Competition is sponsored by A-List Screenwriting, which is owned by Jim Mercurio. Jim has taught screenwriting to thousands of writers. As a story analyst, he has worked with A-list filmmakers (billions of dollars in box office) who fly him across the country for notes on film cuts; Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning clients; and regular writers who want to improve their craft. The Washington Post called the bonus material he wrote and directed for the film Hard Scrambled a “must-see” for all would-be filmmakers. The Champion Scene and Pitch Competition is a separate contest that runs concurrently with the Champion Screenwriting Competition.
Our motto is “Winning is just the beginning.” We don't want to write you a check, shotgun your synopsis around, and then wave goodbye. Win our competition and we will prepare you for what you can expect in Hollywood by giving you a team of mentors who will champion you, your current script, or even your next script and will help you to become a working screenwriter in Hollywood. At least 20 writers from the two competitions will win a seat into the Champion Lab, a three- or four-day immersive Champion Lab with Jim Mercurio. Ten TV writers will win a seat in Ellen Sandler’s TV workshop designed especially for us. 2010 Grand Prize winners have already signed with a manager and a 2009 entrant had his low budget thriller purchased and produced.
If I win your competition, why do I need all this extra help?
In the past two years, some of the top screenwriting competitions have had to disqualify finalists because they were already professionals. It was unfair for the pros to enter, but their scripts rose to the top of the contest heap. Winning a contest is just the beginning. We want to help our winners go from best in the contest to best in Hollywood, to help them become well-known working writers.
All writers have strengths and weaknesses. For some it's dialogue, for others it's concept or theme. For some, it might not even be a craft issue but how to market and sell themselves or their scripts. It might be the ability to write a great query letter or to pitch their story. We want our winners to use the insight from and support of our professional sponsors to identify and conquer their weaknesses and cultivate their strengths.
But if you only want the cash and other competition prizes, you can always turn down the mentorship and consulting services. To hear what winning writers had to say about the classes they attended, click here.
What kind of material are you looking for in this competition?
Great writing. In Jim's A-List Screenwriting classes, he does thematic analyses of Frozen River and The Dark Knight. And he is in the trenches raising money to make micro- and low-budget films. As coordinator of contests, he has championed dark dramas, family animation films, magical realist stories, sexually-charged period-piece biopics, high-concept comedies, and quirky interracial buddy films. As evidence of our willingness to award all types of stories, the Shorts section has a Best Comedy, Best Drama and Best Short Short (three pages or less) and the new Champion Scene and Pitch Competition has an award for Most Audacious Scene and its Pitch category is a freeform category that encourages any high-concept idea for a screenplay.
Do you accept adaptations of any kind?
We do not accept adaptations because we want to judge every writer on the same premise: the ability to take an original idea and flesh out a full-length screenplay. If a company published your novel, for example, the screenplay adaptation would not be eligible for our contest. However, if your script is based on your own unpublished work in a different medium, to which you own all rights, then that screenplay would be eligible. We would consider the earlier work merely a draft which led to your final screenplay.
Do you take entrants from outside the US and Canada?
Sure. We do require that scripts be written in English, and all prize money will be paid in US dollars.
When is your deadline?
Our late deadline is August 31, 2011. We will have a short deadline extension followed by Withoutabox’s exclusive extension. Enter early to save money, receive Contest Coverage faster and to be eligible for additional prizes. One seat to the Champion Lab will be given to a feature quarterfinalist randomly chosen from submissions before the Early Bird deadline. Please note that the Discount and Coverage Deadline (July 31) is the last day to enter into the Coverage Category or to have Champion Notes make a script eligible for resubmission. Our resubmission fees are the same (assuming you take advantage of WAB’s Filmsubmissions Discount Packs) throughout all of the deadlines. They do not increase.
See chart at bottom of page for details.
May I enter more than one script in the contest?
Yes. In fact, last year we gave away additional prizes to randomly selected writers who entered more than three features.
Do I put the contact information on my script?
Yes. But if it's not there, don't worry. Some contests forbid contact information on entries, but we only use trusted readers and make our decision based on the material, not the resume of or our relationship to the writer. There are no politics or inside connections here. The winning script has the best writing. Period.
Two brads or three?
None. Our contest is a paperless. It saves trees and time.
Will you accept hard copies?
No. We accept only electronic copies of scripts.
Can I submit or substitute a later/different draft?
Only feature screenplays that are entered in our Contest Coverage Category or have elected Champion Development Notes within 24 hours of their entry are eligible to resubmit a new draft by entering in the following category: Screenplay (feature-length) Resubmission. Other resubmissions or substitute drafts are not allowed.
How does the coverage process and resubmission process work?
You may submit a script before the July 31 Coverage Deadline into the Screenplay (Feature-length) with Contest Coverage category. It will cost an additional $60 and you will receive one to two pages of coverage-style notes and the status of whether your script advances to the Quarterfinalist stage. Coverage is always a subjective process, but we want to give your script the best chance to advance to where it will be read again by the contest judges. Our readers and company will not be available to answer questions about the content of any individual Contest Coverage. Writers who would like more extensive feedback (four-five pages of notes) from a Champion readers and the ability to resubmit their feature can select Champion Development Notes. All entrants receive a 5% discount on story analysis services by Champion’s owner Jim Mercurio’s if they sign up when submitting their script(s). Only writers who have used the Contest Coverage service or selected Champion Development Notes within 24 hours of their initial submission will be able to resubmit their script in the Screenplay (Feature-length) Resubmission category which has a (Discounted) price of $20 through all deadlines.
Until we perfect our registration form, writers have three days from their original submission to order Champion Development Notes and still be eligible for resubmission. To place an order for a previously-submitted feature, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does Champion Screenplay Competition own or control any of the rights to my work if it wins?
We never ask for or acquire any rights to your material. The awards are merely to encourage and support our winners. Last year, the Low Budget Horror Prize involved an outside company offering an option or writing assignment to a writer, but writers have no obligation to accept such offers.
How do I apply?
For the Champion Screenwriting Competition, we only accept digital submissions and payments through our online application process or via the Withoutabox (WAB) system. It's free to join WAB, and an upgraded membership gets you special discounts to contests and festivals. WAB stores your entry-form information so you can easily apply to numerous other contests. Log on to http://www.withoutabox.com/login/7735, fill out the application, and upload your script in any electronic format.
For the Champion Scene and Pitch Competition, we only accept digital submissions and payments through our online application process.
Why did you add TV Category this year?
When Ellen Sandler signed on as a judge and committed to a private TV workshop in the spirit of the Champion Lab, it became a no-brainer for us. With Ellen’s career and craft help for our winners, we realized we can also champion TV writers.
What the heck constitutes a Pitch?
The Pitch Competition is a freeform category where we will accept any format or combination of formats including screenwriting, prose, logline, beat sheet, step outline, “scriptment”, summary or synopsis. This is a chance to illustrate that your high-concept pitch can sustain a 100-minute feature. We don’t care if it’s just an idea, an expanded logline or a summary of a completed script. We are going to support someone who has a viable high-concept premise.
Are you going to help us sell our pitch?
We would be doing a disservice to writers to promote the idea that an idea, logline or short synopsis is a viable way to start a career as a working writer in Hollywood. However, the current spec market seems to favor high-concept (and moderately budgeted) material. We want to give a writer an abundance of support and development help in turning a clever and captivating story idea into a polished and presentable screenplay. If that counts as “helping to sell the pitch,” then our answer is YES!
When will you announce the winners?
We will post our schedule in the summer and give constant updates at our site on our announcement dates. Our official announcements will be made by email via Constant Contact (use the sign up box to confirm you are signed up for Champion Competition updates) and at our Champion Blog. Contest updates and results will also be announced in Champion Screenwriting's Craft & Career, a free monthly e-newsletter (see sidebar at right to sign up). As a green contest, we do not send out any paper.
Who are your Readers and Judges?
Most of our first-round readers have extensive industry experience. Many have advanced degrees in film, work as writers, and have development backgrounds or filmmaking experience. Our least-experienced first-round readers have gone to school for film, writing, or a related art; have experience as readers; and have passed a coverage test to become readers for the contest. All readers beyond the first round are film industry professionals – writers, directors, managers, producers, and agents. Their input is used to help Jim Mercurio make the final decision. For the television category, a professional writer working on a current network show will co-judge with Ellen Sandler.
Please note there are 3 different categories for feature-length screenplays:
Screenplay (feature-length) – For feature-length screenplays that have not and are not planning to use the coverage service.
Screenplay (feature-length) with Contest Coverage – For feature-length screenplays that are using the coverage service.
Screenplay (feature-length) Resubmission – Only for screenplays that used the Contest Coverage or Champion Development Notes (at the time of submission) and are being resubmitted.
|FEES AND DEADLINES||
One Week Ext.
|Screenplay (feature) w/Contest Coverage||$115||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Screenplay (feature) Resubmission||n/a||$20||$20||$20|
|TV (half hour, hour)||$40||$45||$45||$50|
|Scene or Pitch*||$15||
*Entry for Champion Scene and Pitch Competition only available here via this site.
If you have any more questions, please contact us at email@example.com.