Which Festivals Should I Submit My Screenplay To?
In short, all of them, and here’s why.
Sitting at your desk (or laying on the sofa like me), and hammering out your screenplay can be a daunting task. You get to spend days, weeks and sometimes even months, in solitude, outlining and writing the next Oscar worthy script. Sounds fucking glamorous, doesn’t it?
Eventually, the day comes where you finish writing and you put the laptop down. You get to admire this thing you created, your newborn baby in which you have given life.
So there you sit, fresh pages in hand and you are trying to figure out where to submit your screenplay. I claim that you should submit to ALL of them, or at least all that you can comfortably afford, and I stand by that statement. Oh, I’m sorry, is that not a satisfying answer? You want specifics? You need me to hold your hand as you skip your happy ass down the fucking yellow brick road? Needy fucker...keep reading.
As you’ve probably heard(or maybe not) this is a must submit. Place in the top 5 of this baby and Hollywood signals Scotty to beam your ass up to the big leagues. Who the hell doesn’t want the fast track? If I had the fast track I sure as hell wouldn’t be here, drowning my woes in vodka and talking to you about all my failures as a filmmaker. I’d likely be somewhere on a fucking yacht by now.
Anyway, for about $60 you can submit and have the chance of a lifetime. I’d say that’s worth the money. Keep in mind, EVERYONE submits to this festival so your chances of getting into the top 5 are damn slim. I wont say impossible, because you know, 5 people get in every year and that would make me a fucking liar, but it’s damn close.
This is likely number two on everyone’s list and it should certainly be on yours. Place high in this festival and Hollywood once again signals Scotty to beam your ass up. Unfortunately, he doesn’t answer the call because he’s preoccupied with the Nicholl Fellows, but they still find a way to get your ass on the Enterprise. Why am I using so many Star Trek references? I’m not even THAT big of a fan. I’m more of a Star Wars guy, you know? Team Jedi and shit.
Again, for about $60 you can submit and make your run towards a Hollywood future. The goal here is to make it into the third round. Even with a TON of submissions, about one in four scripts (25%) make it to the second round. Make it one round further and you have a chance at getting noticed by some agencies. This is a good thing. Make it further and you’re sure to have possibilities for a bright future.
ANY SMALLER FESTIVALS
This might be the most important one on the list. Why? Because we need some goddamn positivity in our lives people. You just spent months alone, riding the emotional roller coaster that is screenwriting and you’re in desperate need of a win. We all love to feel validated. We want to feel like our work matters. Give yourself a chance at that feeling.
Getting rejected never feels good, in fact it fucking hurts. The chances of getting rejected from Nicholls and Austin is a very likely scenario. Hell, I get rejected from both every year. So give yourself a chance at some sort of happiness in your life. Submit to a few smaller festivals of your choosing. If you get in, feel good. Scratch that, feel great! It’s a fucking accomplishment and you should be proud.
Remember, at the end of the day your screenplay is initially judged by someone's unqualified personal opinion. Nothing more. I’ve seen some of these first round judges and they know as much about screenwriting as you do, sometimes less. They judge solely on personal opinion. If they like your story, you have a chance and if not, try again next year. It’s a sad and unfortunate reality.
There’s no guarantee that you’re getting into any of the festivals listed above and that’s not a bad thing. You should submit and submit often. Get rejected, who gives a shit. It’s good for you. You need to feel that failure in order to grow. You don’t want to be the person who falls and never gets up. Likewise, you don’t want to be the person who never falls. Fall, pick yourself up, dust that shit off and try again. Fail more. Fail often. Fail better.