2016 Winners Announced: March 20th, 2017
Next Season Opens: April 3rd, 2017
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, reels, or pilots/series
Supported by Good Fear Film + Management, Energy Entertainment, Darko Entertainment, Lakeshore Entertainment, 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 last 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.
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.
$2,000 (Screenplay), $1,000 (TV & Media) | studio-level exposure
*see Awards for more details
– 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 (Good Fear Film + Management).
– 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 – Good Fear Film + Management
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 pilots will be your best bet. 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 – Good Fear Film + Management
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.
- Kevin Jones, winner of the Great TV Show Idea Competition and a three-time Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition finalist, signed with Jake Wagner (Good Fear) and UTA in 2016. Script Pipeline helped develop his contest-winning pitch into a pilot script, which is being shopped to major producers and networks.
- Six years after winning the 2010 Screenwriting Competition, Debbie Chesebro and Tyson FitzGerald optioned their screenplay Prom Queen to Classy Films as a result of Script Pipeline’s long-term facilitation.
- 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 in pre-production and made the 2015 Blacklist as one of the most popular unproduced screenplays of the year.
- Production wrapped on the feature Galileo, written by competition finalist Jen Goldson, in October 2016. At the 2015 Script Pipeline writer/industry event, Jen met director Jay Silverman and producer Bethany Cerrona, who optioned the script immediately. It took less than a year to get the film made. Santino Fontana (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) and Dania Ramirez (Entourage, Devious Maids) star in the romcom.
- TV Writing Competition Runner-up Laura Bensick (The Mother) signed with UTA less than a few weeks after placing in the 2016 Script Pipeline TV Competition. She’s currently repped by Tom Drumm at ThinkTank Management.
- Android, written by Script Pipeline Fellowship selection Matt O’Reilly, attached Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad, The Path) in October 2016. Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace) set to co-star in the sci-fi/thriller and had been attached since 2015. Niall Johnson (White Noise) directing, with Infinite Studios and Picture Films producing.
- Screenwriting finalist Andrew Martin Robinson (Cut Its Head Off) signed with Peter Katz (Story Driven) in August 2016–less than a week after his horror screenplay was circulated to Script Pipeline’s industry network.
- Greg Martin and Eric Beu signed with Good Fear Film + Management (formerly Benderspink) in 2015. The writing duo were named the winners of the 2015 TV Writing Competition with their original pilot Beachwood.
- Finalist Matt Altman signed with APA and Parallax Talent Management. He and co-writer David Matalon sold their feature script The Feud to Vandal Entertainment, and Matt later sold his spec Sam & Liz: A Killer Love Story to Relativity Media, and in August 2016, the script Red Widow to studio STX Entertainment.
- Howard Jordan (Family Be Like), runner-up in the TV Writing Competition, signed with Velocity Entertainment Partners in December 2015.
- Contest winner Jason Kaleko signed with Energy Entertainment. He was previously developing feature and TV material with Script Pipeline execs.
- Screenwriting winner Tyler Burton Smith (Henchman) signed with WME and Grandview. He has multiple projects in development with major production companies, 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.
- Script Pipeline “Recommend” Micah Barnett sold a one-hour drama, Ricochet, to NBC, a few years after finding management through a Script Pipeline industry contact.
- After placing as a finalist with the horror/thriller Shed, Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch went on to direct the hit indie film Starry Eyes. They were tabbed in January 2016 to direct the sequel to Universal’s breakout horror Mama and are also attached to direct Summit Entertainment’s Exorcism Diaries.
- 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 project is in development.
- 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.”
- Brian Watanabe’s “Recommend” script Operation Endgame was produced with Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover), Adam Scott, Ellen Barkin, Ving Rhames, Maggie Q, Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), and an ensemble cast. Script Pipeline CEO and producer Chad Clough first brought the screenplay to Sean McKittrick (Donnie Darko, Bad Words) at Darko Entertainment.
- Screenwriter Rob Nelms was hired to pen the script Between after introductions to a director by Pipeline’s Chad Clough. The film premiered at Sundance and later aired on Lifetime.
- Script Pipeline industry partners Marty Berneman, Eric Balfour, and Stephanie Varella (Off the Grid Entertainment) are representing the TV project Breathers, a sci-fi/drama written by TV Writing Finalist Will Wallace and based on the comic by Justin Madson.
- Script Pipeline Screenwriting Contest winner Slammin‘ sold to Warner Bros. for six-figures in 2003. It was the competition’s first major success story, and the first Script Pipeline writer to sell a spec for over six-figures.
Many other writers have optioned their work, found paid writing jobs, produced their films, and garnered management or agency representation through Script Pipeline’s exhaustive process of industry facilitation for top screenplays and pilots.
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 Good Fear Film + Management, 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 or media 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
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?
2016 Winners are announced on or around March 20th, 2017.
The 2017 season will open in April.
CAN I SUBMIT A NEW DRAFT OF MY SCRIPT AFTER ENTERING?
As the late and final deadline has passed, we won’t accept new drafts for the 2016 season.
WHAT SHOULD I PUT ON THE COVER PAGE?
The title of the script only, WITHOUT name, contact info, or email. You can include the genre and logline, however. It’s preferred, but not required.
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.
*Notes are sent between 3-4 weeks from the date of registration and after judging is completed. If you need notes back ASAP, please let us know prior to registering.
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.
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 are allowed to supplement materials such as a synopsis, treatment, or any other type of written or video pitch to any category, but these materials would be in ADDITION to a completed screenplay. 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 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.