The 3rd Annual First Look Project fulfills the current requests of studios and top-tier production companies by finding new, high-concept material across four main categories:
Supported by Vinson Films, Green Hat Films, Lakeshore Entertainment, Vertigo Entertainment, Paradigm, and Benderspink, the goal of the competition is to present the best scripts and ideas to major companies. The winner in each category receives personal development assistance from Script Pipeline’s executive team, followed by meetings to discuss potential production. With regards to judging, all entries must be considered “studio-level”–in other words, concept, writing ability, and a stellar understanding of genre will take precedence.
Over the past 14 years, numerous Script Pipeline contest alumni have found elite representation and gained crucial introductions to otherwise impossible-to-reach execs. The result: $5 million in specs sold from Pipeline competition finalists and “Recommend” writers since 2003. Our intent with The First Look Project: to circulate exceptional material to studio-level companies, support our writers in the long-term, and help launch careers.
Final Deadline: November 15th, 2014 – $60/entry
Winner Announced: March 31st, 2015
- 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.
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 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.
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
2010 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.
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, his contest-winning script Henry the Second is in development with 21 Laps.
“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.” - 2010 Winner Tripper Clancy (Shedd, The Ambassadors)
- 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 – Vinson Films (Journey to the Center of the Earth)
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? Star Wars underwater? Die Hard on a space station? Perfect. Go epic. All subgenres or variations of action and adventure included, such as mystery, martial arts, and crime, as well as any mix of genres (family adventure, action/comedy, etc.) are accepted.
Comedy – Green Hat Films (The Hangover, Project X)
Originality in premise can make a huge difference. Combine that with great writing, and the script will certainly stand out from the pack. Naturally, dialogue has to be funny, but think fresh even with the jokes. Something unique and 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 – Vertigo Entertainment (The Strangers, It)
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–well, usually–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)
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 -Paradigm and Energy Entertainment (Extant)
Original half-hour sitcoms, one-hour pilots, TV movies/mini-series, and pitches for television series. Live-action or animation. No “rating” limitations, as entries can be intended for network or cable television. So don’t hold back for the sake of appropriateness (you’ve seen Game of Thrones, right?). 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.
ADAPTATION - Benderspink (A History of Violence) and Energy Entertainment
Includes fiction, non-fiction, and graphic novel adaptations for film and television. This could be your personal published or unpublished work, or another piece of material (as long as you legally own the rights). We’ll also accept treatments and proposals for adaptations based on any of the aforementioned material. Any length of synopsis or type of pitch presentation is fine–whatever best illustrates your project. Public domain stories (i.e. Shakespeare, anything by Mark Twain, the Wizard of Oz series) are an option, too. Surely, there are a few unknown Grimm fairy tales or an incredible true story begging to get made. . . .
MEDIA - Benderspink
Accepted submissions include any type of narrative or documentary web series or short, including director reels. 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 and visuals. Only restriction: no full-length feature films. All submissions to this category must be “short-form,” as judging will focus exclusively on the content’s potential for film or television adaptation.
- 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.
- 2013 contest winner Morgan Von Ancken (Cutting Numbers) signed with UTA.
- 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 2011 TV Writing Finalist Will Wallace and based on the comic by Justin Madson.
- 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) in 2013. As of 2014, twin directors Jen and Sylvia Soska are attached to direct.
- 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.
- 2012 winner Jason Kaleko signed with manager Jake Wagner (Benderspink).
- 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.
- Writer 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.
- 2012 & 2009 Finalist Kevin Jones signed with Zero Gravity Management.
- Sleeping Beauty by Tony Boland, a 2010 finalist, was optioned.
- 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.
- Screenwriting winner Tyler Smith (Henchman) signed with WME. As of 2014, he has multiple projects in development with major producers, including studio-level properties.
- 2011 finalists Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch signed with Kersey Management.
- Screenwriting and TV Writing finalist Julie Anne Wight published her first children’s book after introductions by Script Pipeline to publisher Intuary.
- Finalist script Shed optioned by producer Josh Goldstein.
- 2003 Script Pipeline screenwriting contest winning script 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 cash prizes across all categories.
- $1,000 to the winner of each genre category (Action/Adventure, Comedy, Horror/Thriller, Sci-fi/Fantasy)
- Circulation to the company sponsoring the winner’s category (Vinson Films, Green Hat Films, Vertigo, or Lakeshore Entertainment).
- 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.
Teleplay, Adaptation, Media:
- $500 to the winner of each category
- Circulation to representatives at Paradigm, Energy Entertainment, and Benderspink
- 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.
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
- Adaptations for film or television
- 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 can be submitted as well to 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.
- 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.
- If you are submitting media, please remove from public viewing (i.e. YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) and make private.
WHEN IS THE FINAL DEADLINE, AND WHEN ARE THE WINNERS ANNOUNCED?
The final (late) deadline is December 1st, 2014. However, we encourage all writers to submit by November 15th, the regular deadline date.
Winners for the 2014 competition will be announced by the end of February 2015 and contacted by phone prior to being posted to the site.
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 optional and are kept separate from the actual judging process. Turnaround time is approximately 5-8 business days.
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 as long as we receive before the next deadline window. After that date, writers can still re-submit before the final deadline, but must pay the difference in the new entry fee (either $5 or $10 depending on when the original submission was made).
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. 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.
WHO REVIEWS THE WINNING FEATURE SCRIPTS? WHAT ABOUT TELEPLAYS AND ADAPTATIONS?
The primary objective of The First Look Project is exposure. Industry representatives reviewing the winners are broken down by category: Vinson Films (Action/Adventure), Green Hat Films (Comedy), Lakeshore Entertainment (Sci-fi/Fantasy), and Vertigo Entertainment (Horror/Thriller). Winning TV scripts and adaptations receive circulation to Paradigm and Benderspink. Plus, ALL winning entries will exposure to selected executives in Script Pipeline’s network of over 200 companies.
CAN I SUBMIT ANY SCREENPLAY, IDEA, OR PITCH, AS LONG AS IT FITS INTO ONE OF THE CATEGORIES?
We’re searching for anything that can be adapted to film or TV. Let’s say you have a feature screenplay adapted from one of your novels. Your entry would go in the Adaptation category. Or if you had an original idea for a TV series, your entry would fall under Teleplay. Once we select the winners, our judges will determine where it would fit best, and your material will first be presented to the company supporting that genre.
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.