The 5th Annual First Look Project fulfills the requests of major studios, Hollywood production and management companies, and leading agencies by finding fresh, high-concept material across three main categories:
- Screenplay – four genre divisions
- Teleplay – original pilots, any genre
- Media – produced short films and reels
Supported by Benderspink, Energy Entertainment, Darko Entertainment, Lakeshore Entertainment, Paradigm, and other Script Pipeline partners, the competition presents the best scripts and filmmakers to major companies. One winner in each category receives personal development assistance from Script Pipeline’s executive team. We will also select up to 5 finalists for each division.
Unlike Script Pipeline’s main screenwriting and TV writing competitions, entries for First Look must be considered “studio-level.” Meaning the originality of the concept and a strong understanding of genre and the marketplace will take precedence, as well as overall writing ability.
Over the past 16 years, numerous Script Pipeline contest alumni have found elite representation and gained crucial introductions to otherwise impossible-to-reach execs. The result: $6 million in specs sold from Pipeline competition finalists and “Recommend” writers since 2003, in addition to several produced scripts in the past few years.
Our goal with The First Look Project is to circulate exceptional “high concept” material to studios, support our writers in the long-term, and help launch careers.
Special Entry Deadline: April 22nd, 2016
Entry Fee: $35 per script
$2,000 (Screenplay), $1,000 (TV & Media) | studio-level exposure
*see Awards for more details
Submissions also accepted through:
– NOTABLE SUCCESS STORIES –
Script Pipeline Contest Winner Sells Spec for $3 Million
After introductions by Script Pipeline to industry partner Jake Wagner, Evan Daugherty sold Snow White & the Huntsman to Universal for $3 million. It marked one of the biggest studio spec sales in years and subsequently made Evan one of the hottest young writers in the industry. The film was released summer 2012 and grossed over $400 million worldwide.
“Immediately after the competition, Script Pipeline introduced me to a manager, and the connection helped launch my professional screenwriting career.”
– Evan Daugherty (Divergent, Snow White and the Huntsman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Shortly after the Script Pipeline screenwriting contest, Evan landed an assignment with Warner Bros. to rewrite an adaptation of He-Man, which led to the sale of SWATH. Evan co-wrote an adaptation of the young adult novel Divergent for Summit Entertainment (Twilight). The film was released March 2014 and stars Shailene Woodley (The Spectacular Now) and Academy Award-winner Kate Winslet.
After selling a pilot pitch, it was later announced Evan would be one of the writers and executive producers on an adaptation of the DC comic franchise Midnight Mass. for NBC. Most recently, he was one of the writers on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Michael Bay film starred Megan Fox and was released summer 2014, holding the top box office spot its opening weekend.
Evan is tabbed to write and executive produce the event series Esmeralda for ABC Studios and signed on to pen the third installment of the GI Joe franchise for Paramount.
Among all these projects, he’ll be making his directorial debut with Ink and Bone for Dimension Films, and as of February 2015, he will write Warner Bros. and MGM’s Tomb Raider reboot.
In March 2016, Disney gave the go-ahead on developing Rose Red, based on an original script by Justin Merz and a pitch by Evan that will serve as a companion piece to the original Snow White story.
Robert De Niro Stars in Script Pipeline Contest-Winning Script
The Script Pipeline contest-winning screenplay Shrapnel was turned into the 2013 film Killing Season, starring Robert De Niro and John Travolta. Corsan and Millennium Films produced the action/thriller.
Script Pipeline Winner Tripper Clancy Sells Screenplay to Fox, Writing Comedy for Sony
Contest winner Tripper Clancy signed with a Script Pipeline partner following a top-four finish in the contest. Just a few months after the screenwriting competition ended, 20th Century Fox selected Tripper for their feature comedy writing team to help develop new material.
In September 2013, he sold the comedy The Ambassadors. Tripper’s buddy-comedy pitch Winter Break was picked up by QED International as the last spec sale of the year, and in early 2014, he was hired to write the animated comedy Shedd for Paramount.
“I cannot underestimate the impact that Script Pipeline has had on my writing career. Winning the contest directly led to my new representation, which in turn led to working with studios such as 20th Century Fox. ”
– Tripper Clancy (Henry the Second, Stranded)
It was announced in May 2014 that Tripper will write the action-adventure comedy Stranded for Sony Pictures, with Kevin James (Grown Ups, The King of Queens) attached to star.
Meanwhile, as of October 2015, his contest-winning script Henry the Second is slated for production by summer 2016–Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps (The Spectacular Now) and 3311 Productions to produce.
Fox picked up Tripper’s spec Stuber in April 2016 as well, acquiring the script for the mid-six figures. The screenplay is based on an idea developed by Tripper and his manager Jake Wagner (Benderspink).
– View more news in the Success Stories section above –
Submission criteria is listed below for each section, as well as companies receiving first look at the winners. All entries must fit into one of the following categories.
Action/Adventure – Darko Entertainment (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies)
No budget restrictions, so the bigger the better. Have the next Raiders of the Lost Ark? A multi-layered adventure that would make a fantastic “tentpole” project? Perfect. Go epic. All variations of action and adventure included, such as mystery, period, and crime, as well as any mix of genres where action/adventure is the primary genre (family adventure, action/comedy, etc.) are accepted.
Comedy – Benderspink (Vacation, Horrible Bosses 2)
Originality in premise can make a huge difference. Combine that with great writing, and the script will certainly stand out from the pack. Something unique with humor that will appeal to broader, international audience gets huge bonus points. Subgenres can include romantic comedies, black comedies, parodies and satire, musical comedies, and dramedies. Anything where humor is the driving force behind the plot.
Horror/Thriller – Lakeshore Entertainment (Underworld)
Wide open. Gore, ghosts, monsters, insane ax-wielding maniacs, or a combination of all. Anything provoking a quick scare, or like some horrors, a lasting impression of creepiness (i.e. Rosemary’s Baby). Also accepts horror/sci-fi like Alien, thriller/crime such as Prisoners, and other hybrids of the genre, as long as the central plot sticks to horror or thriller. The key is catching us off-guard with plot twists that stray from the cliché, characters we can still relate to, and most importantly, an overarching idea that preys on natural fears. Execution (no pun intended) is also key. One of the easiest genres to conceptualize, but one of the toughest to make stand out.
Sci-fi/Fantasy – Lakeshore Entertainment (I, Frankenstein) and Energy Entertainment (Extant)
Bring out your inner Tolkien or JK Rowling and go way, way outside the box–or outside this planet. Fantasies tend to ditch Earth in favor of extraordinary new settings and characters, whether it’s mythological, supernatural, or simply a fantastic spin on an otherwise normal set of circumstances. As long as the story primarily features Fantasy or Sci-fi elements, any subgenre is possible. For instance, a sci-fi/comedy like Back to the Future. Keep it completely unreal and limitless in scope.
TELEPLAY – Energy Entertainment (Extant) and Paradigm
Original half-hour sitcoms, one-hour pilots, TV movies/mini-series, and pitches for television series. Live-action or animation. Entries can be intended for network or cable television, so don’t hold back. Conceptually “big” series ideas and pilots will be your best bet. If you’re submitting a pitch or idea, we require a complete package–either a detailed treatment of the show, or a series bible. Submissions more than a page or so, therefore, are preferred. Spec scripts of existing shows or reality concepts will not be accepted. Must be for an original, scripted series.
MEDIA – Benderspink
Accepted submissions include any type of narrative or documentary web series or short film already produced (no scripts). Live-action or animation, all genres accepted. For this category, it’s not entirely about the writing alone. Visuals and directing ability are taken into consideration as well. Anything unique and compelling will fare well–something that catches the viewer’s attention, whether it’s funny, dramatic, inspiring or simply has amazing special effects. Only restriction: no full-length feature films. Submissions to this category must be “short-form,” as judging will focus exclusively on the content’s potential for film or television adaptation.
- 2015 Screenwriting Contest winner Henry Dunham signed with Madhouse Entertainment and UTA less than a month after Script Pipeline announced results. His winning script Militia is currently being shopped for potential production.
- Script Pipeline industry partner Nasser Entertainment optioned the feature Snatched, written by 2015 Screenwriting Competition finalist Jennifer Goldson. The project is currently in the casting phase.
- Greg Martin and Eric Beu signed with Benderspink in 2015. The writing duo were named the winners of the 2015 TV Writing Competition with their original pilot Beachwood.
- Script Pipeline Writers Workshop “Recommend” Micah Barnett sold a one-hour drama, Ricochet, in September 2013 to NBC, a few years after finding management through a Pipeline industry contact.
- Contest winner Morgan Von Ancken (Cutting Numbers) signed with UTA.
- Screenwriting Finalist Craig Weeden and veteran comic writer/inker Jimmy Palmiotti (Ultimate Spider-man, Jonah Hex) optioned an adaptation of Painkiller Jane to Solipsist Films (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For).
- The Living Wake, Script Pipeline’s first produced film, starring Academy Award-Nominee Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) and comedian Mike O’Connell, was released theatrically in 2010, eliciting from Variety: “A stunning feature debut. . . . Eisenberg is note-perfect. Supporting ensemble couldn’t be more colorful.” View the film here for free on Hulu.
- Screenwriting winner Tyler Burton Smith (Henchman) signed with WME and manager Chris Goble (Grandview). As of 2014, he has multiple projects in development with major producers, including Spooked, with Dan Lin producing, and Five Nights at Freddy’s, which he’s co-writing with director Gil Kenan (Poltergeist).
- Precious Cargo, a finalist in the 2010 Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition written by Max Adams, was released in April 2016. The film stars Bruce Willis, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, and Claire Forlani.
Contest winner Jason Kaleko signed with Energy Entertainment in 2015. He was previously developing feature material with Script Pipeline execs.
- Finalists Sean Fallon and Charlotte Barrett had their first feature, Virgin Alexander, produced after their placement in the Script Pipeline contest’s top 20 sparked interest in the project.
- Brian Watanabe’s “Recommend” script Operation Endgame was produced with Zach Galifianakis, Adam Scott, Ellen Barkin, Ving Rhames, Maggie Q, Bob Odenkirk, and an ensemble cast. Script Pipeline owner Chad Clough first brought the project to Sean McKittrick (Donnie Darko) at Darko Entertainment.
- Screenwriter Rob Nelms was hired to pen the script Between after introductions to a director by Pipeline CEO Chad Clough. The film premiered at Sundance and later aired on Lifetime.
- Finalist Matt Altman signed with APA and Parallax Talent Management. In 2014, he and co-writer David Matalon sold their feature script The Feud to Vandal Entertainment, and in January 2015 he sold his spec Sam & Liz: A Killer Love Story to Relativity Media.
- Geno Scala, finalist in the Screenwriting Competition, received over 14 feature film writing assignments due in large part to his contest placing. In 2015, he was hired to write and develop a horror for Templeheart Films.
- After placing as a finalist with the horror/thriller Shed, Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch went on to direct the 2014 hit film Starry Eyes.
- Script Pipeline Screenwriting Contest winner Slammin‘ sold to Warner Bros. for six-figures in 2003.
Numerous other writers have optioned their work, found paid writing jobs, produced their films, and garnered management or agency representation through Pipeline’s extensive network of over 200 companies.
The First Look Project is focused primarily on connecting the winners with specific film and TV producers, in addition to monetary prizes across all categories.
- $2,000 to the winner of each genre category (Action/Adventure, Comedy, Horror/Thriller, Sci-fi/Fantasy).
- Circulation to the company sponsoring the winner’s category.
- 1-on-1 consultations from Script Pipeline development executives to prepare the winning screenplays for industry circulation.
- Additional support to get other material developed and into circulation.
- Up to 5 finalists chosen in the four genre categories, with potential for industry exposure.
Teleplay and Media:
- $1,000 to the winner of each category.
- Circulation to representatives at Benderspink, Energy Entertainment, and other top companies looking for TV material.
- 1-on-1 consultations from Script Pipeline development executives to prepare the winning material or pitch for industry circulation.
- Additional support to get other material developed and into circulation.
- Up to 5 finalists chosen in each category, with potential for industry exposure.
Completed scripts, media, or pitches that fall into the following categories:
- Studio-level feature screenplays (must be action/adventure, comedy, horror/thriller, or sci-fi/fantasy)
- Original teleplays; any genre, cable or network
- Media such as short films, webseries, clips, or other short-form narrative or documentary content
If submitting a pitch only, a 1-2 page synopsis or full treatment is acceptable. Entries can be submitted into more than one category for separate entry fees. Animation is allowed for any category, including Media. Please review the rules and restrictions below to avoid disqualification.
- The script is not currently under a representation, option, or purchase agreement.
- Entries in the screenwriting genre categories must be intended for a studio market.
- Writers who have sold, optioned, or produced scripts in the past are eligible, however, the material submitted to First Look must not have been produced as a feature or TV series. There are otherwise no restrictions on amateur or professional status. The First Look Project is open to writers of all levels.
- Preference may be given to material that has not seen wide circulation.
- The material is wholly original, or you retain the rights to the work submitted and can submit proof of such.
WHEN IS THE NEXT DEADLINE? WHEN ARE THE WINNERS ANNOUNCED?
The special entry deadline ends on April 22nd, and writers may submit for $35/script (entry fee goes to $50 after the 22nd). The regular contest deadline is November 15th.
IF I REGISTER NOW, CAN I SEND MY MATERIAL LATER?
Yes. You’ll have until the regular deadline, November 15th 2016, to submit your script direct to firstname.lastname@example.org. There is NO EXTRA FEE as long as we receive the script by November, so writers are encouraged to register early.
CAN I SUBMIT A NEW DRAFT OF MY SCRIPT AFTER ENTERING?
All entrants, including those requesting optional written feedback, may submit an updated draft of their script at no extra fee. Therefore, we encourage everyone to register before the entry fees go up closer to the final deadline in November.
DO I GET FEEDBACK ON MY ENTRY?
For all contest entrants, we offer an exclusive discounted rate on General Notes that cover everything from plot and structure to dialogue and character. A sample can be found here. Additional notes are entirely optional and are kept separate from the judging process.
SO FOR FEATURE SCREENPLAYS, I SHOULD SUBMIT A COMMERCIAL SCRIPT?
For the genre categories (Action/Adventure, Comedy, Sci-fi/Fantasy, and Horror/Thriller), the entry must be a studio script. Something commercial, high-concept, character-driven. . . a script that will draw A-level producers and talent. Regardless of budget. While you may have a fantastic, “smaller” indie script, we’re only looking for STUDIO projects.
WHAT SHOULD I PUT ON THE COVER PAGE?
Preferably: name, contact info (including phone number), and email. However, it’s at the writer’s discretion. You won’t get disqualified if your cover page is missing any of this information. Co-writers should be listed on the cover page as well.
DO YOU ACCEPT ENTRIES WITH MULTIPLE AUTHORS?
Yes. Please make sure any other authors are noted on the title page of the entry, or we’re made aware of co-authors or dual owners of the material.
I DON’T HAVE A COMPLETED SCRIPT, SO CAN I SEND IN JUST AN IDEA? IN WHAT FORMAT?
You may submit a synopsis, treatment, or any other type of written or video pitch to any category. No length requirements, whatever you feel sufficiently sells your concept. Multiple submissions are allowed as well. Please keep in mind that feature screenplay concepts must be geared toward studio needs–high-concept and commercial.
DO I RETAIN THE RIGHTS TO THE MATERIAL?
All rights remain with the author. By entering, you’re not surrendering any rights to your script, idea, or media submission.
IF I WIN, AM I GUARANTEED MY SCRIPT WILL BE OPTIONED OR SOLD?
Winning writers of the teleplay and feature screenplay divisions are introduced to our industry partners, who will review their material and solely determine if they wish to move forward.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I WIN AND CAN’T MAKE IT TO LOS ANGELES FOR MEETINGS WITH PRODUCERS AND OTHER COMPANIES?
Not a problem. We’ll ensure that the winning entrants are given the opportunity to speak with any interested parties via phone and email. You don’t have to be based in Los Angeles to benefit from industry circulation.
I HAVE AN ADAPTATION OF A STORY IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN. IS THIS OKAY?
Stories in the public domain, or works you have the legal adaptation rights to, are acceptable. If you do have ownership of material (i.e. the rights to a novel or true story), we do require submitting proof with your submission.
DO YOU ACCEPT ANIMATION SCRIPTS?
100% yes. Any genre as well, as long as it fits into a category.
ANY OTHER RULES?
Preference is given to scripts that have not won any other major contests, or have not been widely circulated to industry. We’re primarily looking for true “first look” material.