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Big Break: Screenwriting Contest for Career Success in Film and TV

March 6, 2023
3 min read time

Is your screenplay or pilot contest-ready?

With dozens of screenwriting contests out there, it’s important to consider which ones are worth your time and money. Over the past 20 years, the Big Break Screenwriting Contest has become one of the most respected contests in the industry launching several careers for aspiring writers.

Big Break rewards screenwriters with over $80,000 in cash and prizes, including a series of meetings with A-list executives. The contest itself is judged by top industry professionals, including renowned agents, managers, producers, and studio execs, offering unmatched networking and career opportunities.

In recent years, over 50 Big Break winners, finalists, and semi-finalists have signed with professional representation. Many have had scripts optioned, sold, and produced, while others have found full-time work creating or working on television series for Netflix, FX, Apple TV, and Max.

Some Big Break success stories include:

  • Joseph Greenberg sold his script Man Alive to 20th Century Fox for Noah Hawley (Fargo) to direct
  • Aadip Desai signed to Good Fear Film & Management, received a 2019 ABC/Disney Fellowship, and became a staff writer on The Goldbergs
  • Paula Sabbaga signed with Brian Spink of REALM, staffed on The CW's Dynasty and Walker, and is adapting The Grimm Legacy novels for Disney+
  • Greta Heinemann is developing her own TV projects with Netflix and FX, in addition to working on a movie for Amazon Studios with Barry Levinson directing, Priyanka Chopra starring, and David Permut producing
  • Adam Kline signed with Circle of Confusion and has a feature in production at Netflix
  • Mira Z. Barnum signed with TFC Management and wrote for the Netflix series Partner Track, and is now staff writer on The Irrational
  • Frank Arthur Smith is in post-production on his comedy series Open to It
  • Aaron Horwitz's Big Break finalist script Green Bank has a director and actors attached
  • Michael Morro, notified only a few weeks ago that he was the 2022 Feature Grand Prize Winner, has already been in contact with several producers interested in his script

"Everyone recognizes the names Final Draft and Big Break. It absolutely made a difference in getting my material read" -- Frank Arthur Smith.

Big Break: Screenwriting Contest for Career Success in Film and TV_Barry Levinson


Creating a Screenwriting Career Off a Big Break Win

The primary focus of the Big Break Screenwriting Contest has always been to establish a screenwriting career for  winners and finalists.

One of the differentiators between Big Break and other screenwriting contests is Final Draft’s commitment to championing screenwriters, helping writers from all over the world get their material in front of the eyes of filmmaking professionals.

But how can screenwriters differentiate themselves from other writers?

Jeff Portnoy, literary manager at Bellevue Productions and a judge for this year’s Big Break, says it all comes down to originality.

“You need to stand out. That is hard when there are over 6,000 applicants in a competition like this. When it comes to concept/premise/logline, be bold. They should be loud and buzzy. And of course, the voice/prose on the page needs to grab your attention.”

When judging a script, Portnoy says character, dialogue, and voice are the first things that grab his attention.

But winning the contest is only part of establishing a career in film and television. Success is when opportunity meets preparation. Big Break can give you the opportunity, but you must be prepared. Are you ready to use that leverage to show off your ability to collaborate, and maintain your voice, while constantly working at your craft?

Not only do Big Break's winners gain professional opportunities, but so do many quarter-finalists, semi-finalists, and finalists, such as Natasha LePetit, whose quarter-finalist script The Undertaker’s Children is now in pre-production.

The Big Break Screenwriting Contest was created to turn aspiring screenwriters into working professionals. Part of that is encouraging success beyond the contest -- to offer real opportunities to work in the film and television industries. Big Break is more than just prizes; it’s the first major step to a screenwriting career.

Are you ready to take your screenwriting career to the next level? The Big Break Screenwriting Contest opens for entries Wednesday, March 13, 2024.

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