Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of the contest?
The contest's aim is to seek out and encourage compelling film narratives, and to introduce the next generation of great screenwriters to today's leading production companies and agencies.
How do I update my contact information if my e-mail, mailing address, or phone number changes?
Any member of the Virtual Studio, www.zoetrope.com, can access his or her member page; the script's title will appear in the upper right side of the member homepage. Click on the script and edit the appropriate information. Others may send a request to update contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If I revise my script after submitting it to the 2013 contest, may I submit the new version?
We do not swap in revisions or updated files, as noted in the Official Rules.
How do I submit a screenplay to the contest?
All entries and payments will be received exclusively through our online submission system. We do not accept hard-copy entries.
When will the winner and finalists be announced? Will the quarter- and semi-finalists be announced earlier?
The winner and ten finalists will be announced February 1, 2014, on the website. The semi- and quarter-finalists will be announced at the same time.
How will I learn whether I’m the winner or a finalist?
The winner and top-ten finalists will be contacted directly by American Zoetrope on February 1. We’ll also send a list of winners and finalists to all those who included an active e-mail address with their submission. We do not send announcements by postal mail.
Will you provide updates on the winner and top-ten finalists from the previous contests?
Yes. When we hear news from past winners and finalists, we post notice on the website. If you're a previous winner or finalist and have news about your career since the contest, please send it to email@example.com.
If I enter the contest, particularly if I'm the winner or a finalist, do I automatically give up rights to my script?
All entrants—including the winner and finalists—retain complete and exclusive rights to their work. Should a participating agency or production company (including American Zoetrope) wish to buy or option your script, represent you, or hire you for other work, you will be contacted directly.
What happens if, after entering the contest, my script is sold or optioned, or I win a cash prize of more than $5000 or secure an agent?
We require only that a writer and his/her script be eligible at the time of entry.
What happens if there's a problem with my electronic file?
We will contact you, via e-mail, as soon as we encounter problems with a file and allow you to send a replacement file.
How can I confirm that my entry was received?
Members of the Virtual Studio, American Zoetrope's free online workshop, can track submissions from their member homepages. To join the Studio, opt in to become a member after completing your entry. A member will see his/her entry listed on the top right side of the member homepage.
Who's reading the screenplays?
A handful of American Zoetrope staff and professional readers, who are bound by confidentiality agreements, read the scripts. Judge Francis Coppola will select the winner from eleven finalists.
What are these readers looking for in a screenplay?
The readers are looking for a screenplay with the best story and execution—regardless of genre or budget requirements.
Do you provide notes, coverage, or feedback to screenwriters?
No, we do not.
What file formats do you accept for online submissions?
We accept Adobe Acrobat PDF, Microsoft Word, and Rich Text Format files that are less than 1MB. Please do not upload scripts in other formats. (To Final Draft and Screenwriter users: Both programs allow easy conversion to PDF and RTF files; please check the Help sections of those programs for instructions.) We do not accept hard-copy submissions; we cannot make exceptions.
What do I do if my screenplay is in Final Draft or Screenwriter format?
Both software programs allow users to convert scripts easily to PDF and RTF documents. Please check the Help function of the program for instruction.
Are citizens of countries other than the United States eligible?
Yes. However, screenplay submissions must be in the English language and will be protected only under U.S. copyright law.
Must I register copyright of my screenplay before entering?
No, we do not require that the copyright of a script be registered (whether with the Library of Congress, the WGA, or another agency) before the script is entered into the contest.
Should I choose to do so, how do I copyright my work?
As noted in the Official Rules, you are responsible for ensuring copyright of your work. For answers to all U.S. copyright questions (e.g., about procedures, fees, etc.), consult the Library of Congress's copyright website at www.loc.gov/copyright.
Can I enter more than one screenplay to the contest?
Yes, but please note that each screenplay submission requires a separate entry form and a separate entry fee.
Can I enter the same script from a previous year's contest?
Yes, but we discourage writers from re-entering a script unless it's fundamentally changed since the previous entry. Each year, we employ the same handful of professional readers, so it's unlikely that, without substantive changes, a script would place differently from one year to the next.
Should I include a title page and, if so, what should be on it?
There is no need to include a title page as submissions are read blindly and identified only by assigned tracking numbers. However, entries submitted with a title page will still be accepted. We'll simply remove that information from the script before giving it to a reader.
Should I include a logline or synopsis?
We do not read loglines or synopses. We prefer that each script speak for itself.
Can I submit a screenplay adapted from another work?
An entry may not be based, in whole or in part, on any other work for which the writer does not own rights or which is not in the public domain. An entry may be adapted from the applicant's original work, works in the public domain, and from works to which the author owns all film rights—this should be noted in the entry form. If the script is based on a true story, historical or contemporary, that should be noted in the entry form.
What is the U.S. Motion Picture industry standard screenplay format?
You may consult any number of screenwriting books or screenwriting software. You may also refer to our guide to standard screenplay format, which is in the Screenplay section of the member area of this site.
Please do your best to ensure that your screenplay is formatted correctly. Proof your screenplay for typos and spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors. Please make certain that your pages are properly numbered.
Will you disqualify my screenplay if it isn't formatted correctly?
We'll consider scripts in which the formatting is fundamentally similar to standard screenplay format. As well, we certainly understand that formatting may be lost in electronic transfer; entrants will not be penalized. However, to ensure your formatting is maintained, please submit a pdf file.
Screenplay submissions are supposed to be 82 to 145 pages in length. Is this page count strictly enforced?
Yes, the page-count limits are enforced. To be considered, a script must be between 82 and 145 pages; we cannot grant exceptions.
What are the prizes?
The winner will receive $5000. The winner and ten finalists will be considered for representation by William Morris Endeavor, CAA, The Gersh Agency, Exile Entertainment, ICM, Oasis Media, UTA, The Radmin Company, Prolific Entertainment, Energy Entertainment, and Dontanville/Frattaroli. Their scripts will be considered for film option and development by leading production companies, including: American Zoetrope, Samuel Goldwyn Films, Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics, IFC Entertainment, Paramount Classics, Lionsgate, Icon Pictures, Lleju Productions and Films, Second and 10th, Working Title, Dimension Films, Frelaine, Michael London Productions, Hope for Film, Kulture Machine, Number 9 Films, Folo Films, Next Films, Pretty Pictures, Roserock Films, Benderspink, Astrakan Films, Industry Entertainment, Category 5 Entertainment, Nine Yards Entertainment, Anonymous Content, Jim Wedaa Productions, Robert Evans Company, Fortis Films, Jean Doumanian Productions, Agape Media International, FX, and Ziskin Productions.
What is American Zoetrope?
American Zoetrope is Francis Ford Coppola's motion picture production company. In our first thirty years, we have produced some of the most important films in American cinema, which have gone on to receive sixteen Academy Awards and seventy-two Academy Award nominations. Four Zoetrope-produced films are included in the American Film Institute's top one hundred American films.
American Zoetrope has constantly embraced the creative possibilities of technology, and is known for orchestrating alternative approaches to filmmaking and challenging Hollywood standards. American Zoetrope is headquartered in the historic Sentinel Building in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood.
What is a zoetrope?
Zoetrope [fr. Gk. zoe, life + tropos, turning, changing]: an optical toy that converts a series of pictures of successive attitudes into the semblance of continuous motion: wheel of life: life revolution.
With all other questions, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.