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How Writer Jason Kaleko Got His Foot in the Door With Big Break

May 6, 2024
5 min read time

In a world filled with countless screenplay competitions, how do you know which ones can have the biggest impact on your writing career? For writer Jason Kaleko, Final Draft's Big Break Screenwriting Contest was the competition that leveled up his career in Hollywood.

Kaleko shares how entering his screenplay, EFFIGY, into Big Break has changed his writing life completely by providing him needed support that champions his screenwriting career.

Read More: 10 Benefits to Entering Screenwriting Competitions

Final Draft: What drew you to Final Draft Big Break? 

Jason Kaleko: Final Draft Big Break has always been one of the biggest contests out there. Along with the Nicholl Fellowship and a few others, Big Break has a pedigree that really means something in Hollywood and can help get you read by reps, which was my main goal at the time I entered. The world of screenwriting contests is very exciting these days with so many to choose from, but it’s hard to know which ones are worth the entry fee. With Big Break, there’s no question. It’s worth it. 

FD: How did working with Final Draft help you to overcome obstacles you've encountered and strategize the next steps in your career?

JK: Since having success in Big Break, my writing life has completely changed. My new reps and the Big Break team worked together to get me dozens of meetings in 2024 so far. Everyone who’s ever had a general knows the question you need to be ready to answer is, “What else do you have?” Luckily, I have a few projects written, so I’ve been able to get other work out there and build meaningful connections with executives and producers.

The foot-in-the-door that Big Break provided means I have tons of places to send my next script now. I’m no longer writing in the dark.

Read More: Breaking In: The Business of Screenwriting

FD: Would you share how winning Final Draft Big Break elevated your screenwriting journey by offering insights for fellow writers? 

JK: When you win Big Break, it’s so much more than a pat on the back and a simple, “Where should we send the prize money?” You meet the people behind Big Break and become friends with them. They become champions for you and your career. And that’s what every writer really needs—champions who want to see them succeed. The people at Big Break are truly in your corner and will do anything they can—now or years down the line—to help get your work out there.

FD: If you could give a writer currently where you were a year ago one bit of advice, what would it be? 

JK: Enter contests. Simple as that. Definitely Big Break, but others as well. Multiple scripts. As many as you can afford. Here’s how silly this business is—the same script that won Big Break didn’t make it past the first round in a lesser contest. Think about that—if I had only entered that one contest, I might be too discouraged to try again.

Writing will always be subjective, but with enough data points, it becomes a little less so. Don’t be discouraged. Write another. Submit it. Watch how you go from quarters to semis and beyond. That’s how it happened to me. Just keep writing.

Read More: 10 Direct Questions to Ask Yourself About That Script You're Writing

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