While listening to the most recent Scriptnotes podcast, John August and Craig Mazin discuss screenwriting contests, and their merit and usefulness. In particular, a listener reflected on his experience entering in the Beverly Hills Screenplay Contest. During this experience, the listener became a gold winner in a category won only a coupon (valuing at less than half of the contest’s entry fee). In the end, the listener ended up with cash compensation in place of a prize, and the contest company removed the prize from their website. After this debacle, John and Craig pointed out to be weary of any contest that doesn’t detail its prizes explicitly, and that one that says “Over $(whatever the amount may be) in prizes may not be an actual cash prize. Craig suggests that the software that you can win isn’t worth it, and screenwriting contests generally aren’t worth it. John suggests that your goal should be to start a career, whether or not it is to enter contests or something else. The general idea between the two is to be very careful, because a large majority of contests can’t help further a screenwriting career, or allow you to gain contacts; the only potential long-term benefit is the possibility of listing winning a screenwriting contest on a resume in the future. I found this podcast highly helpful to myself, as I’m essentially just starting my screenwriting career, and have often wondered if screenplay competitions should be something that I should be interested in.

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