Contests: Screenplays 2023


Frequently Asked Questions


What is the purpose of the contest?

The contest's aim is to seek out and encourage compelling new narratives for the screen, and to introduce the next generation of great screenwriters to today's leading production companies and agencies.

What are the prizes?

The winner will receive $5,000. The winner and nine finalists will be considered for representation by a select list of agencies, and their scripts will be considered for film option and development by leading production companies.

What is the deadline to submit?

The competition opens to submissions on June 1, 2023. To meet the EARLY-BIRD DEADLINE, submissions should be entered online no later than July 17, 2023, at 11:59:59 p.m. Pacific Time. To meet the FINAL DEADLINE, submissions should be entered online no later than September 12, 2023, at 11:59:59 p.m. Pacific Time.

When will the winner and finalists be announced?

The winner and nine finalists will be announced February 12, 2024, on the competition website and via email notification. The semi- and quarterfinalists will be announced at the same time.

How do I submit a script to the contest?

Visit, and submit your entry using our online submission system. Please use this system for both feature and television/streaming pilot scripts. WE DO NOT ACCEPT HARD-COPY ENTRIES.

How will I learn whether I'm the winner or a finalist?

The winner and nine finalists will be contacted directly by American Zoetrope via email on February 12, 2024. We also will send an email to all those who included an active email address with their submissions; this email will link to the full list of winner, finalists, and semi- and quarterfinalists. We do not send announcements by postal mail, and we are unable to respond to individual requests for rankings, results, or scores.

Who's reading the scripts?

A handful of American Zoetrope staff and paid professional readers, who are bound by confidentiality agreements, read the scripts. The American Zoetrope staff and Francis Coppola select the winner from ten finalists.

What are these readers looking for in a screenplay?

The readers are looking for a screenplay with a strong story and solid execution, regardless of genre, subject matter, or budget requirements. We seek original voices whose work will contribute to the quality, diversity, and longevity of contemporary cinema. These standards are applicable to both feature and television/streaming scripts.

Do you provide notes, coverage, or feedback to entrants?

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide notes, coverage, or feedback to entrants. The purpose of the competition is to introduce new writers to industry professionals and thereby help launch or further careers in the industry.

How do I update my contact information if my email, mailing address, or phone number changes?

Please send a request to update contact information to [email protected].


Does the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike impact participation in the competition?

Screenwriters can submit scripts to our competition without violating WGA strike guidelines. Our competition seeks simply to honor scripts of merit, and the writers who create them. After announcing the honorees, we prepare packages of the top-ten scripts for participating talent agencies and production companies; if the WGA strike is not resolved by spring 2024, when we would normally send those packages, we will hold materials until the strike is resolved.

Are citizens of countries other than the United States eligible?

Yes, the competition is open to international entries. However, scripts must be in English.

Can I submit a screenplay adapted from another work?

Yes, an entry may be based on another work or a true story. If the script is an adaptation or based on source material to which you do not own rights, you must indicate such on the title page.

Should I include my name or contact information on the title page?

No, you should NOT include your name or contact information on the title page. Our judging process is blind.

Can I submit a television/streaming pilot script?

Yes, we accept scripts for both one-hour and half-hour original television/streaming pilots. We recognize that many of the most compelling cinematic narratives today are being produced for television or streaming. Our purpose is to introduce great storytellers to producers and agencies, whether their stories are intended for the big or small screen. Pilot scripts should include the word "pilot" on the title page. We do NOT accept spec scripts for series already in production or for previously produced series.

Are television/streaming pilot scripts considered in a separate category?

No, there are no separate categories for film and television/streaming scripts; all scripts are evaluated together.

What happens if, after entering the contest, my script is sold or optioned, or I earn more than $50,000 as a screenwriter?

We require only that the writer and script be eligible at the time of entry.


How can I confirm that my entry was received?

You will receive an automated confirmation email after completing the registration process.

What happens if there's a problem with my electronic file?

If there is a problem with your file, we will contact you, via email, and allow you to return a replacement file.

May I enter more than one script to the contest?

Yes, you may enter as many scripts as you wish to submit. But please note that each submission requires a separate entry fee.

May I enter the same script from a previous year's competition?

Yes, you may enter a script from a previous year's competition. We have a sufficient number of readers that it is unlikely your script would be read by the same person as in a previous year.

If I revise my script after submitting it, may I replace the original version with the new one?

No, we are unable to substitute revised or updated drafts, as noted in the Official Rules. But you are welcome to submit a revised or updated draft as a new entry.

What is the page-count requirement?

Feature-film scripts must be between 70 and 140 pages. One-hour television/streaming pilot scripts must be no longer than 70 pages. Half-hour television/streaming pilot scripts must be no longer than 40 pages.

What if my script is a few pages longer than the limit?

Unfortunately, we cannot make exceptions to our page-limit rule. An essential part of writing for the screen is the ability to work within guidelines and constraints. The page-count lengths we have designated are the industry standards for unsolicited scripts. (A good rule of thumb for estimating the length of your film is that one page of a script equals one minute of screen time.)

What is the US Motion Picture industry standard screenplay format?

To learn more about correct screenplay formatting, you can consult any number of screenwriting books or screenwriting software. There are numerous resources available on the Internet for learning about standard film and television/streaming script formatting. A small error will not disqualify your script, but please do your best to ensure that your screenplay is formatted correctly and is free of typos, as well as spelling, punctuation, and grammatical mistakes. Also, please ensure that your script's pages are properly numbered.

Do I need to tell you my script is a pilot and not a feature-length screenplay?

Yes, if the script is a television/streaming pilot, please include the word "pilot" on the title page.

Will you disqualify my script if it isn't formatted correctly?

We'll consider scripts in which the formatting is fundamentally similar to standard screenplay format. To ensure your formatting is maintained, please submit a PDF file.

What file types do you accept for online submissions?

Please submit your script as a PDF. All screenwriting software (such as Final Draft) enables easy conversion to PDF. We do not accept hard-copy submissions.

Should I include a logline or synopsis or, for television/streaming pilots, a show bible?

No, you should not include a longline, synopsis, or show bible. You will not be penalized for including a logline, but we will not read any materials beyond the script itself.

Can I include an illustrated title page to set the tone for my script?

No, you should not include any artwork or illustrations with your script. Graphics sometimes interfere with files uploading properly to our submissions database.


If I enter the contest, particularly if I'm the winner or a finalist, am I giving up rights to my script?

No. 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 by that party.

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 US copyright questions (e.g., related to procedures, fees, etc.), consult the Library of Congress's copyright website at


What is American Zoetrope?

American Zoetrope is Francis Ford Coppola's motion picture production company. In our first fifty 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 the company 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.