Big Break Prize Package Provides Industry Access for Writers
April 8, 2020
Behind every top screenwriting contest is a group of hardworking individuals tirelessly working to ensure the writers who enter have the best possible experience. Usually that includes access and exposure to the right people in Hollywood. One of the most revered contests in the business—Final Draft’s Big Break—also exists to help propel writers' careers to the next level. The Final Draft team works year-round to create, build and improve the screenwriting contest, including the prize package, which currently includes networking with Hollywood professionals, advice from an experienced screenwriting career coach, and the tools to climb the ladder in the often-ruthless industry.
The Big Break contest perks begin as soon as writers find themselves as finalists in the Top-3 of their genre categories. These finalists are invited to a one-hour webinar with Lee Jessup, a respected screenwriting career coach with over two decades of experience.
"Some of the people who enter our competition are aspiring screenwriters who don't know much about Hollywood," says Kala Guess, the director of Big Break. "Lee helps them capitalize on their placement."
Jessup works with approximately 33 writers, providing them feedback on meeting prep, general meetings, industry phone calls, and how to navigate Hollywood overall.
"We discuss the writer's narrative and story, the answer to 'tell me about yourself,'" Jessup says. "We start finding their nuggets; the stories that will be memorable and unique for them to pitch in a meeting."
Once the announcement of the genre winners is made, Jessup works with them individually to capitalize on their accomplishments. She displays options available to them, evaluates industry interest in their work, and even tries to help them find the best home for representation.
"Industry access is what it's all about," Jessup says. "I feel that the kind of access Final Draft provides to winners is almost unparalleled in the industry."
The contest winners typically learn of their advancement in late December, before the big awards show ceremony in mid-January. During the days leading up to the show, the grand prize winners for TV and film reap the benefits of their win starting with a networking opportunity with former grand prize winners.
On the morning of the awards ceremony, the grand prize winners eat breakfast with Pen Densham, a British-Canadian film and television producer, writer and director, who helps them prepare for their acceptance speech. Following the breakfast is a luncheon where the winners get to meet the judges who chose them.
Then, later that evening, a limo picks the grand prize winners up at their hotel and takes them to Paramount Studio in Hollywood. There, they walk the red carpet—sometimes their first—with the other category winners, fellow writers, celebrities and industry professionals. The winners are interviewed on the carpet and then give their speeches at the Big Break ceremony, followed by a cocktail reception.
"Our prize package introduces them into the industry in the best way possible," Guess says. "I think at the heart of it all—the whole prize package; the grand prize tour and all that we put into it year-round—is that Final Draft as a brand understands the writer."
"We understand what they go through even to get that script written in the first draft, let alone when it's ready to submit for a contest or to producers for an optioning deal. We understand the grit that goes into that, and so Big Break is Final Draft's way of giving back to our customers—the writers."
Writers interested in entering the Final Draft Big Break contest have until July 30th, 2020.
Written by: Allison NorlianAllison Norlian is a three-time, Emmy-nominated journalist who has worked as a television reporter and anchor in markets around the country. She has covered a variety of stories from the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia to President Trump’s travel ban in the fourth circuit court of appeals. Allison has also won AP awards for her work and a Catalyst For Change award from the Arc of Virginia for her reporting on the disabled community. Allison just moved to Los Angeles with her screen writer husband and two cats and is excited for all LA has to offer!