The 6th Annual First Look Project fulfills the requests of major studios, production companies, and top managers by finding fresh, high-concept material across three main categories:
- Screenplay – divisions for Action, Comedy, Drama, Horror, and Sci-fi
- Teleplay – original pilots, any genre
- Short Film – produced short films or series pilots
Supported by Good Fear Film + Management, Panay Films, Lakeshore Entertainment, Silent R Management, Madhouse Entertainment, and other Script Pipeline partners, the competition presents the best scripts and filmmakers to major companies.
One winner in each category receives a share of $14,000 in prizes, industry circulation, and long-term personalized development assistance from Script Pipeline’s executive team. We also select up to 3 finalists for each division.
Unlike Script Pipeline’s main Screenwriting and TV writing competitions, entries for First Look are judged equally on writing ability and commercial potential. The originality of the concept and a strong understanding of genre and marketplace trends will take precedence, as well as overall writing ability.
Over the last 17 years, numerous Script Pipeline contest alumni have found 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 2000, in addition to several produced scripts, and many more currently in development and pre-production. View recent success stories here.
Our goal with The First Look Project is to circulate exceptional high-concept material to studios and push more scripts from our alumni into production.
$10,000 (Screenplay), $2,000 (TV), $2,000 (Short Film)
Studio-level exposure | Development assistance | Long-term industry circulation
*see Awards for more details
Submissions also accepted via:
– MAJOR SUCCESS STORIES –
After introductions by Script Pipeline to 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 has grossed over $400 million worldwide and spawned the 2016 film The Huntsman.
“Immediately after the competition, Script Pipeline introduced me to a manager, and the connection helped launch my screenwriting career.”
– Evan Daugherty (Rose Red, Divergent)
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 (Big Little Lies) 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 and Five Ghosts for Syfy. 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. Evan was tapped 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.
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.
Among all these projects, he’ll be making his directorial debut with Ink and Bone for Dimension Films and wrote an initial draft for Warner Bros. and MGM’s Tomb Raider reboot coming in 2018, starring Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina).
Tripper Clancy’s Contest-Winning Script in Production, Sells Other Projects to Major Studios
Contest winner Tripper Clancy signed with a Script Pipeline partner following a top-four finish in the contest. 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, and Tripper’s buddy-comedy pitch Winter Break was picked up by QED International as the last spec sale of the year. In early 2014, he was hired to write the animated comedy Shedd for Paramount, and in 2016 the comedy Hacker Camp for Hasbro.
“The impact Script Pipeline had on my writing career is extraordinary. Winning the contest directly led to my new representation, which in turn led to working with studios such as 20th Century Fox and Paramount.”
– Tripper Clancy (Stranded, The Ambassadors)
Fox picked up Tripper’s spec Stuber in April 2016, 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).
In addition, his contest-winning script Henry the Second is slated for production–Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps (The Spectacular Now) and 3311 Productions to produce.
Screenwriting Contest Winner “Militia” in Production
Jeffrey Dean Morgan to star in Militia, winner of the 2015 Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition. Writer Henry Dunham found representation less than a month after contest results were announced, signing with industry partner Madhouse Entertainment.
Ralph Ineson (The Witch) and Jack Huston (American Hustle) join Morgan in the cast. Dunham, repped by UTA, will also direct. Cinestate and XYZ films are producing the crime/thriller.
“Without the momentum my win gave me, I don’t know where my screenplay would be. I owe Script Pipeline for everything.”
– Henry Dunham (writer/director, Militia)
The script was a unanimous pick amongst Script Pipeline staff for top honors in the 2015 contest. Both CEO Chad Clough and Senior Executive Matt Joseph Misetich pegged the screenplay as a fresh, relevant spin on the genre, and an unquestionably strong calling card for the up-and-coming Dunham.
Robert De Niro Stars in Script Pipeline Contest-Winning Script
The Script Pipeline contest-winning screenplay Shrapnel was turned into the film Killing Season, starring Robert De Niro and John Travolta. Corsan and Millennium Films produced the action/thriller, which rehashed the original plot during development. It was released in 2013.
– View more news in the Success Stories section above –
Listed below are the First Look Project categories: Screenplay (with five genre divisions), Teleplay, and Short Films. Also noted are the companies receiving first look at the winners.
All entries must fit into one of the following categories. There are no budget requirements for any division, and both live-action and animation are allowed for any category.
Adaptations of work in the public domain, or material the writer has secured the rights to, is acceptable.
Open to feature-length screenplays of any genre. If your screenplay is an equal mix of genres (for example, action/comedy or sci-fi/horror), you may submit to whichever single category you feel fits best.
Action/Adventure – QC Entertainment (Get Out, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies)
Comedy – Panay Films (The Girlfriend Equation, Earth to Echo)
Horror/Thriller – Good Fear Film + Management (Rings, Polaroid)
Sci-fi/Fantasy – Lakeshore Entertainment (The Age of Adaline, Underworld)
TELEPLAY – Madhouse Entertainment (Prisoners, The Ark)
Original half-hour sitcoms, one-hour pilots, and TV movies/mini-series. Entries can be intended for network or cable television or digital. Spec scripts of existing shows or reality concepts will not be accepted. Must be for an original, scripted series.
Any type of produced narrative or documentary short film or series pilot (no scripts, we review the finished film or pilot only). Directing ability is taken into consideration. Submissions must be “short-form,” as judging will focus exclusively on the content’s potential for film or television adaptation.
- Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead) to star in Militia, winner of the 2015 Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition. Writer Henry Dunham found representation less than a month after contest results were announced, signing with industry partner Madhouse Entertainment.
- In February 2017, Script Pipeline partner Bohemia Group Originals (BGO) optioned two Screenwriting and TV Writing Competition finalists: Bradley Stryker’s action/thriller The Dragon Run and Diana Wright’s comedy pilot Franchise. The following month, they optioned Nadeem Siddiqui’s romcom Slut, also a 2016 Screenwriting finalist.
- Nir Paniry’s Princesses to be produced by Grey Matter Productions and Disney. Joachim Røenning (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) directing. Nir placed second in the Script Pipeline contest with his action screenplay The Coyote.
- Screenwriting Contest finalist Max Martini directing his feature Will Gardner starring Martini in the lead role alongside an all-star cast including Elisabeth Röhm (American Hustle), Lily Rabe (American Horror Story), Dermot Mulroney (August: Osage County), and Gary Sinise (CSI: NY). Martini’s company, Mona Vista Productions, will be donating 30% of the film’s profits to charity.
- 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.
- TV Writing Competition finalist Dani Messerschmidt (Hello, I Live Here) signed with John Zaozirny at Bellevue Productions in March 2017. Dani was introduced to reps from Bellevue at a Script Pipeline writer/industry event months prior.
- Producer Michael Klein (Dobre Films) picked up the sci-fi/action feature Moon Rush by Matt O’Reilly. Script Pipeline connected O’Reilly, who has other projects in various stages of development, with Dobre at the beginning of 2017.
- Howard Jordan (Family Be Like), runner-up in the TV Writing Competition, signed with Madhouse Entertainment and Paradigm in March 2017.
- First Look Project contest winner Kristi Hall is developing a feature script with Kersey Management. Script Pipeline execs worked with Kristi for over a year on a high-concept action/comedy screenplay before sending it to manager Andrew Kersey.
- 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.
- 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 contest.
- 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.
- Contest winner Jason Kaleko (Snatch) 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 production and management companies, in addition to monetary prizes across all categories.
One winner and up to three finalists are selected for every category and subcategory.
- $2,000 to the winner of each genre category (Action/Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Horror/Thriller, Sci-fi/Fantasy). $10,000 awarded in total.
- Initial circulation to the company sponsoring the winner’s category, plus long-term facilitation to Script Pipeline’s broader industry network.
- Additional material review and assistance in getting other scripts into circulation on a case-by-case basis.
- $2,000 to the winner
- Initial circulation to the company sponsoring the Teleplay category, plus other companies seeking original TV pilots.
- Additional material review and assistance in getting other scripts into circulation on a case-by-case basis.
- $2,000 to the winner
- Initial circulation to the company sponsoring the Short Film category, plus other companies looking for directors, writers, and emerging filmmakers.
- Assistance from Script Pipeline development executives to review any script or treatment adaptation of the short film or pilot.
- Additional circulation for other material from the winners and finalists.
Please review the following prior to submitting:
- For Screenplay and Teleplay, the script must not be under a representation, option, or purchase agreement at the time of entry.
- The same script cannot compete in multiple categories.
- Writers who have sold, optioned, or produced scripts in the past are eligible, however, the material submitted must not have been produced as a feature or TV series at any time in the past.
- Judging criteria equally emphasizes both writing ability and marketability, unlike our main Screenwriting and TV Writing competitions, which are centered almost exclusively on writing ability. Preference may be given to material intended for a broader, mainstream audience. In other words “studio-level.”
- There are no restrictions on amateur or professional status. The First Look Project is open to writers of all levels.
- The material must be wholly original. For adaptations, the story must be in the public domain, or you have retained the adaptation rights to a particular work.
Email our contest coordinator with any other questions on guidelines or judging criteria.
When is the next deadline? When are the winners announced?
The 2017 season will open on April 15th and close in October. Winners will be announced in mid to late December 2017.
What should go on the title page?
The title of the script only, WITHOUT name, contact info, or email. You can include the genre and logline, however. Logline is preferred, but not required.
How is the First Look Project different from Script Pipeline’s Screenwriting and TV Writing Competitions?
The First Look Project, however, focuses equally on both writing ability and marketability. A unique concept in line with current trends and industry preferences–something relevant that twists the genre or hits on relatable themes–will most likely fare well.
Writing ability is still critical, but the script needn’t be “circulation-ready” if it leans on a unique, commercial premise. All winners and finalists will go through an in-house development process with Script Pipeline execs prior to circulation, if necessary. We want promising writers with big, fresh ideas. Those who we can work with on this and other scripts down the line.
So I should submit a “commercial” script or short film?
For the genre categories (Action/Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Horror/Thriller, and Sci-fi/Fantasy), the entry should be considered “studio-level.” Something commercial, high-concept, character-driven. . . a script that will draw A-level producers and talent. Regardless of budget.
Short films and series pilots needn’t be commercial, per se, though innovative methods of storytelling and distinctive styles would be preferred.
Can I submit a new draft of my script after entering?
Yes, and there’s NO FEE to do so. If at any time after registering you wish to send an updated draft, email our contest coordinator.
*writers/filmmakers may register now and submit their material later at no additional fee
Do I retain the rights, even if I win?
All rights remain with the author. By entering, you’re not surrendering any rights to your script or film submission.
Can I get feedback on my entry?
*Notes are sent between 3-4 weeks from the date of registration or after judging is completed, depending on volume. If you need notes back ASAP, please let us know prior to or immediately after registering, and we will do our best to accommodate.
Do you accept multiple authors/filmmakers?
Yes. Please make sure any other writers or filmmakers associated with the material are noted by emailing that info to our coordinator. However, only one needs to register.
Can I send in an idea instead of a completed script or film?
You may 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 or short film.
Email us with any questions not answered here.
Do you accept animation scripts and films?
100% yes. In recent years, animation has placed in and won the First Look Project. You may submit any genre of animation as well, as long as it fits into a category.