Screenwriting: 2018 Final Draft Big Break Contest is On

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

As a recovering screenwriter, I know the long wandering in the wilderness that comes with trying to get your first big break. One of my teachers once told me that in this business, a screenwriter can literally die of expectation, waiting to catch lightning in a bottle. So any contest you can use to make your own destiny, is worth pursuing. Well, it’s that time again for Final Draft’s Big Break contest, and it definitely fits the bill.

The Big Break Screenwriting Contest offers film and TV writers in 11 genres the chance to win up to $80,000 in cash and prizes. Grand prize winners also get flown to Los Angeles to meet with managers, producers and executives. –

2017 Big Break Grand Prize Winners: Greta Heinemann (Feature), Hana Callaghan & Chad Callaghan (TV)

The 2018 Final Draft Big Break Contest will be open to scriptwriters who write feature and TV scripts in any of 11 different genre formats.  Awards will be given in both feature for genres that include: Action/Adventure, Comedy/Rom-Com, Diversity, Drama, Family/Animated, Period/Historical/War, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and Thriller/Horror. Plus three winners for  Half-Hour Pilot, Hour-Long Pilot, and Diversity Pilot. There will also be two grand prize winners.

Here’s some details on the rules:

  • All scripts must be submitted electronically in Final Draft (FDX) or PDF Format. This doesn’t mean you have to use Final Draft to write it. Far from it. But they do request that any screenplays submitted use FDX or PDF. No printed entries will be accepted.
  • Page count for feature length screenplays must be between 80 to 120 pages, while teleplays be 40-70 pages for hours long serials, and 20-35 pages for half hour genres, while half-hour multi-camera genres must have double space dialogue and a page count of between 50-60. This also covers the latest streaming/commercial free format with no act breaks.
  • Scripts must be formatted in standard industry format for motion picture screenplays and teleplays and must be written in English.
  • Do not include a title page or contact information, as it will be provided as part of the judging form. No personal identification, resumes, synopses, casting suggests or any other supporting documentation will be accepted. This is presumably to allow judges to solely focus on the story itself. The one exception is for teleplays, where recurring characters and information on future episodes is important to the telling of the story itself.
  • Multiple entires are allowed, with each submission having its own entry and filing fee.
  • Entrants must be 18 years of age or older at the date of entry.
  • Screenplays currently under option, sold or produced are not eligible.
  • Cowriters are allowed, with no more than four partners. All writers should be entered on the single entry.
  • Adaptations are not eligible unless original source material was written by the screenwriter
  • Revisions will not be accepted. All entries must be in their final form.  But contestants may resubmit their rewritten screenplay if it is submitted during the submission period and with a new entry and by paying a separate entry fee.
  • Big Break contestants retain all rights to their screenplays
  • By entering the Big Break Contest, you represent and affirm that your entry is an original creative work, and does not infringe, misappropriate or violate the copyright, trademark or other intellectual rights of any third party.

Final Draft will choose a winning entrant from each genre, plus two grand prize winners from the feature and teleplay category. All winners will receive a share of an $80,000 prize chest, which will include:

Each Feature and TV Award winner receives:

  • $1,000 Cash
  • Final Draft 10
  • The New York Film Academy Fellowship
  • Two months free hosting of your script on The Black List with two free evaluations from The Black List readers.
  • InkTip Script Listing : A listing of your script on InkTip so that producers and reps can find you
  • InkTip Magazine: Publish your logline in InkTip’s magazine sent to 4000+ producers and reps
  • Writer brand assessment from Lee Jessup
  • Truby’s Blockbuster Genres: How The Top 11 Genres Really Work Audio Course
  • Five-year Script Pipeline Database Membership – Winners reviewed by Script Pipeline Director of Development for assistance with industry circulation
  • StoryO from Jungle Software
  • Pitch Your Screenplay Like a Pro Ebook and Bonus Videos on marketing your screenplay plus guidebook “How To Capitalize on Your Big Break Win” by Melody Jackson, Founder of Smart Girls Productions
  • One-year International Screenwriters Association CONNECT membership

Grand prize winners will also receive:

  • An Apple iPad
  • The Final Draft Writer® App for iPad
  • A Trip to Hollywood
  • $10,000 cash
  • Roundtrip flight to Los Angeles plus hotel accommodations
  • Breakfast with screenwriter/producer Pen Densham (Riding the Alligator, Moll Flanders, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, producer of Backdraft)
  • Lunch with Big Break judges and other industry professionals
  • Dinner with working screenwriters and producers
  • 60-90 Minute Career/Meeting Prep Session from screenwriting career coach Lee Jessup
  • Copy of Save The Cat! Story Structure Software
  • Admission to the August 2019 Script Pipeline Secret Door Pitchfest
  • Admission to one Robert McKee Story Seminar in 2019 in London, New York or Los Angeles
  • Extended Screenplay Coverage
  • An Email Query Blast to market your screenplay and capitalize on being a Big Break Winner — from Melody Jackson, Founder of Smart Girls Productions
  • Query Letter or One-Sheet analysis and a personalized, signed copy of
    The Screenwriter’s Bible by Dave Trottier
  • Script consultation with a Script Pipeline’s Director of Development for potential industry circulation

Additional Prizes for TV Grand Prize Winner:

  • 1-3-5 Story Structure Made Simple screenwriting book and The Show Starter reality pitching book
  • Script Consultation from Jen Grisanti Consultancy including written/verbal notes and meeting to review the notes and your logline
  • One-hour career consultation with Carole Kirschner of Park on the Lot to create a step by step, personalized game plan for leveraging the contest win

To enter, go to the Final Draft Big Break website here and fill out the entry form, plus make an electronic payment of $40 if submitted before March 14, 208. $50.00 if submitted by June 18, 2018, $65 if by July 2, 2018 and $75 for the last chance deadline of July 17, 2018. All entries must be electronically submitted by midnight on their respective deadlines, and I’m presuming that PT.

For a copy of Rules, entry and FAQ, visit




About James DeRuvo 202 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

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