The 10th Great TV Show Idea Contest is searching for the next big television series–marketable concepts that can legitimately stand out on concept alone. A story that opens the door for an engrossing plot and a clever spin on the types of successful shows currently getting picked up by networks and digital outlets. Think of the evolution of TV programming: what’s next, what haven’t we seen, and what type of an idea holds the potential for a long-running series?
Accepted entries include loglines, synopses, video pitches, or full treatments and outlines. Completed pilot scripts are not reviewed, nor are entrants required to have a completed pilot.
Script Pipeline provides intensive development assistance to polish the pitch, or help the writer complete a circulation-ready pilot. At that point, we connect the winner with top studio producers, including execs from Madhouse Entertainment (The Ark, Prisoners), Lakeshore Entertainment (Age of Adaline, Million Dollar Baby), Good Fear Film + Management (Rings, Polaroid), and other major companies looking for new TV concepts.
Since 2000, Script Pipeline has established relationships with hundreds of production companies, managers, and agents, resulting in $6 million in specs sold from previously undiscovered writers. The Great TV Show Idea Competition looks to not only increase that total, but get visionary creatives on the right track toward exposing their stories to the world.
$1,000 | long-term consultation and development | industry circulation
Early Deadline: April 25th, 2017
Entry Fee: $25/pitch
Submissions also accepted via. . . .
– NOTABLE SUCCESS STORIES –
Universal Buys Script Pipeline Contest Winner Spec for $3 Million
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.
“Immediately after the competition, Script Pipeline introduced me to a manager, and the connection helped launch my professional 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 (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 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 is 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.
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, starring Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina).
Tripper Clancy’s Contest-Winning Script in Production, Hired to Write Studio Features
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 (Henry the Second, Stranded)
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 (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 brought a new plot to the project during development.
– View more news in the Success Stories section above –
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Script Pipeline’s criteria is based primarily on the overall originality and marketability of the concept, preferably hitting the “Goldilocks zone” between commercial/mainstream and artistic/visionary.
Although we’re extremely strict on judging, all types of genres, styles, and premises are accepted (must be for a scripted series, not reality or game show). In the past, selected ideas have ranged from character-driven dramatic series, to sitcoms and animation, to true stories. Anything unique is fair game. Come up with a fresh twist on an old concept, and you’ll have an excellent shot at getting selected.
Industry contacts reviewing finalist pitches include:
- Jake Wagner (manager/producer)
- Michael McKay (producer, Lakeshore Entertainment)
- Brooklyn Weaver (manager/producer, Energy Entertainment) – Extant
- Sean McKittrick (producer, Darko Entertainment) – Donnie Darko, Bad Words
- Tripp Vinson (producer, Vinson Films) – Journey 3, Rose Red
For other industry execs interested in reviewing Script Pipeline competition winners, email us or fill out the industry request form here. We will only consider applicants who are active producers, agents, managers, or directors.
Grand Prize Winner (1) – Announced July 2017:
- Consultation sessions with Script Pipeline executives to get your concept ready for circulation
- Assistance in getting a completed TV pilot script circulation-ready (depending on the writer’s experience level)
- Exposure to producers and other companies for potential development
- Review of additional pitches and material
Runner-up – Announced July 2017:
- Extended consultation with Script Pipeline’s Director of Development to fine-tune your pitch
- Consideration for industry circulation
We accept pitches for:
- Scripted television series in ANY genre
- Original, standalone mini-series (EX: Fargo, True Detective)
- Webseries pitches intended to be adapted for cable or network television
- Note: Pitches for reality TV and game shows are no longer accepted. Must be for a scripted series.
Written or video submissions accepted. For written pitches:
- Anything from a two-sentence logline to a 3-5 page treatment–entirely up to you on how to best present your idea. We don’t judge on format, we judge on the idea itself. Extended treatments and supplemental materials (illustrations, etc.) are also accepted. Please do not send full-length screenplays–summaries ONLY. Pitches may be emailed direct.
- Remove your name and contact information from the materials prior to submitting.
- Longer submissions are judged on the SAME criteria as short ones, so whatever length you think is best.
For video pitches:
- Submit a link to the video after registration by emailing email@example.com. We prefer it be a private link on YouTube, Vimeo, or any other video hosting site or your personal website. *make sure to include the password, if private
- Videos can be any length, but shorter is typically better. Web series are also accepted, but our judges will only review the first episode and any supplemental pitch materials.
- Concept must be for a scripted television series or mini-series.
- Adaptations from your own published or produced work (e.g. a graphic novel) are accepted.
- It is highly advised that you register your concept with the WGA prior to submitting, however it is not required. Script Pipeline will not share your idea with anyone unless you’re chosen as a finalist and give us explicit permission to do so.
- Previous Script Pipeline writers and former Great TV Show Idea entrants are welcome to submit.
- Goes without saying, but the concept must be WHOLLY ORIGINAL and not based on an existing series. Even if you have the most amazing spin on Game of Thrones, think of your own original story. Spec scripts of existing shows may be submitted to our TV Writing Competition.
WHAT ARE THE DEADLINE DATES AND ENTRY FEES?
Special Entry Deadline: March 8th, 2017 – $15/pitch
Early Deadline: April 25th, 2017 – $25/pitch
Regular Deadline: June 15th, 2017 – $35/pitch
HOW SHOULD I FORMAT MY ENTRY?
We’ll accept anything from a logline (as brief as a sentence) all the way up to a full treatment with supplemental materials. We’ll also review video pitches through a private link or as an attached file. Whatever format you prefer that best exemplifies your idea. Also remove your name and contact information from the materials prior to submitting.
CAN I INCLUDE MY NAME ON THE TITLE OR COVER PAGE?
For entrants whose pitch documents have a cover page, please exclude your name and email. Should only be title of the project.
WILL I BE DISQUALIFIED FOR A FORMATTING REASON?
No. If for some reason we can’t open the file, or link, or there’s an issue with the entry itself, we’ll contact you immediately, and you’ll be able to re-send.
DO I GET FEEDBACK ON MY ENTRY?
For all contest entrants, we offer an exclusive discounted rate on Treatment / Pitch Notes that cover everything from plot and concept to tone and character. A sample can be found here. Additional notes are optional and are kept separate from the actual judging process.
IF I WIN, DO I NEED THE COMPLETED PILOT SCRIPT?
Not at all. If you do, great, but it won’t affect the outcome of the contest. We’re only looking for original, unique concepts. No TV writing experience necessary. Our Director of Development and executive team will assist in refining the pitch and helping you get started on the script itself.
CAN I SUBMIT MORE THAN ONE IDEA FOR THE SINGLE FEE?
There is no limit to the number of entries. Each idea, however, is a separate entry fee.
WHAT IF THE IDEA IS FROM MY EXISTING SCRIPT OR NOVEL? AM I STILL ELIGIBLE?
Yes, as long as the idea is original (i.e. your own creation).
IS MY IDEA PROTECTED? WILL I RETAIN THE RIGHTS TO MY IDEA?
All rights remain with the writer, regardless of the contest results, and no one outside of Script Pipeline’s small team of judges will review your entry. For the winner, we will not send out their winning idea until we have their consent.
IS THE COMPETITION OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL WRITERS?
Yes, absolutely. Anyone worldwide can enter.
Email our contest coordinator with any other questions.
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