2023 First Look Project

Special Entry Deadline: February 25th, 2023

Submit

Winners Receive:
$15,000 (amongst 6 winners)
industry circulation | long-term development assistance

The 12th Annual First Look Project searches for higher-concept material across multiple categories:

  • Screenplay - Action & Sci-fi, Comedy, Drama, and Horror & Thriller
  • TV Pilot - Hour and Half-hour original pilots, any genre

One winner in each division receives a share of $15,000, industry circulation, and long-term development assistance from Script Pipeline’s executive team. A minimum of one runner-up is also chosen for each category.

Supported by Bellevue Productions (Infinite), Divide/Conquer (M3GAN), QC Entertainment (Get OutUs), Destro Films (Lizzie), and additional Script Pipeline partners, the competition introduces the winners and runners-up to these and other companies.

Unlike Script Pipeline's Screenwriting and TV writing competitions, entries for First Look are judged on both writing ability and commercial potential, in addition to the originality of the concept. In other words, for this particular contest, your script could be a little rough around the edges and still have a good chance to win, if we feel the story itself could stand out in the current landscape. Finalists and winners receive extensive development post-contest prior to industry circulation.

"I am in awe of this incredible honor—which would not be possible without the help of the Script Pipeline team. They saw something in Court 17 and collaborated with me to make sure we were maximizing its potential. I love the First Look competition because it leans into the collaborative process that is storytelling … No other contest will ever match up to them."
- Elad Ziv, First Look Project Winner
(signed with Bellevue, #2 on the 2022 Black List)

Over $8 million in screenplays and pilots have been sold by Script Pipeline writers as well as numerous scripts produced since 1999, such as studio releases Stuber by Tripper Clancy and Snow White and the Huntsman by Evan Daugherty. Pipeline Screenwriting finalist Bring Me Back by Crosby Selander sold to Legendary for seven figures—one of the biggest spec sales in years. And Helen Gaughran's winning script Visitation began production in 2023, starring Olivia Cooke (House of the Dragon) and Isla Johnston (The Queen’s Gambit). Several Pipeline writers have made The Black List, with Cauliflower by Daniel Jackson (2021) and Pure by Catherine Schetina (2022), both landing at the #1 spot. While winners Daniel Jackson (Screenwriting), Elad Ziv (First Look Project), and Brian T. Arnold (First Look Project) landed at Bellevue over the past couple seasons, many others have signed at UTA, Kaplan/Perrone, Alibi Management, and more after Script Pipeline introductions. View notable success stories.

The First Look Project selects six winners, with at least one runner-up in each category, who receive the following:

  • $15,000 awarded to winners ($2,500 in each genre category)
  • Long-term facilitation to Script Pipeline's industry network of producers, agents, and managers seeking features.
  • Development assistance from Script Pipeline's execs on both the screenplay and pitch
  • Additional script reviews and consideration of other material for industry exposure
  • Invitations to private events and Symposium panels hosted by Pipeline

DEADLINES

Special Entry: February 25th, 2023 - $35
Early: June 8th, 2023 - $45
Regular: September 20th, 2023 - $55
Late: October 5th, 2023 - $60

Submissions also accepted via:

      

The First Look Project focuses primarily on connecting the winners with production and management companies. One winner and one runner-up are selected for each category.

Screenplay

Winners (4): December 15th, 2023

  • $10,000 awarded. $2,500 to the winner of each genre category (Action & Sci-Fi, Comedy, Drama, Horror & Thriller)
  • Circulation to select production and management companies for first look; expanded circulation afterward

Runners-up (4, at least one in each category): December 15th, 2023

The Screenplay winners and runners-up receive:

  • Long-term facilitation to Script Pipeline's industry network of producers, agents, and managers seeking features.
  • Development assistance from Script Pipeline's execs on both the screenplay and pitch
  • Additional script reviews and consideration of other material for industry exposure
  • Invitations to private events and Symposium panels hosted by Pipeline

TV Pilot

Winners (2): December 15th, 2023

  • $5,000 awarded total. $2,500 to the winner of each category (Hour and Half-Hour)
  • Circulation to select production and management companies for first look; expanded circulation afterward

Runners-up (2; one in each category): December 15th, 2023

The TV Pilot winners and runners-up receive:

  • Long-term facilitation to Script Pipeline's industry network of producers, agents, and managers seeking original pilots and new TV writer clients.
  • Development assistance from Script Pipeline's execs on the pilot and series pitch or bible
  • Additional script reviews and consideration of other material for industry exposure
  • Invitations to private events and Symposium panels hosted by Pipeline

RULES + GUIDELINES

Please review the following prior to submitting:

  • For both Screenplay and TV, the script must not be under a representation, option, or shopping agreement at the time of entry (if after, that's absolutely fine!).
  • 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 and released as a feature film or TV series at any time before the end of the season.
  • Judging criteria emphasizes both writing ability and concept, unlike our Screenwriting and TV Writing competitions, which are centered almost exclusively on writing ability. Preference may be given to higher-concept material intended for a broader audience.
  • The material must be wholly original. For adaptations, the story must be in the public domain, or you have retained the adaptation rights.

Email our contest coordinator with any other questions on guidelines or judging criteria.

View complete rules and guidelines here

CATEGORIES + INDUSTRY REVIEWING

Screenplay
Action & Sci-Fi - Bellevue Productions
Comedy - QC Entertainment
Drama - Destro Films
Horror & Thriller – Divide & Conquer / Alibi Management

TV Pilot Hungry Man
Half-hour
Hourlong

For screenplays, no page length restrictions, as long as it's intended to be a feature film. Mixed genre screenplays are fine, but writers must submit to only one category—would recommend selecting the primary genre of the script. If it's half and half ... your choice.

For TV, all genres accepted, including animation.

WHAT ARE THE DEADLINE DATES?

Special Entry: February 25th - $35
Early: June 8th, 2023 - $45
Regular: September 20th, 2023 - $55
Late: October 5th, 2023 - $60

WHAT SHOULD GO ON THE TITLE PAGE?

The title of the script, without name, contact info, or email. Logline and genre is preferred, but not required.

CAN I UPDATE MY DRAFT AFTER ENTERING?

We'll accept updated drafts (no extra fee!) up until the final deadline in October. Yes, really!

HOW IS FIRST LOOK DIFFERENT FROM SCRIPT PIPELINE'S OTHER COMPETITIONS?

Main difference would be the judging criteria. Our annual Screenwriting and TV Writing Competitions are critiqued almost exclusively on their writing ability for film and television.

The First Look Project, however, focuses 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 (obviously) still critical, but the script needn't be "circulation-ready" if it leans on a commercial premise. All winners and runners-up 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 now and in the future.

DO I RETAIN THE RIGHTS TO MY SCRIPT?

Yes. All rights to the material remain with the writer, regardless of whether they place.

CAN INTERNATIONAL WRITERS ENTER?

Yes, applicants outside the US are welcome to enter ANY Script Pipeline contest.

ARE NOTES INCLUDED?

Written feedback is not included on entries, but entrants may add general notes as an optional service during registration, for a reduced rate. Feedback is kept separate from judging—meaning you'll have a different executive reviewing your contest entry, and the notes have no bearing on the judging process.

View sample here

Alternatively, full notes from one of our development execs can be requested through the Workshop.

CAN I SUBMIT TO OTHER CONTESTS OR COMPANIES AFTER ENTERING?

Yes. There are no restrictions on submitting to other writing contests, programs, etc., or sending your script to industry while in competition.

WILL YOU ACCEPT SHORT SCRIPTS OR PITCHES?

Only full-length feature and TV scripts are accepted. Pitches may be submitted to our Idea Competition. Short scripts may be submitted to Film Pipeline.

Contact our contest coordinator with any other questions.

Finalist Sold Spec in Seven-Figure Deal

Crosby Selander's finalist script Bring Me Back sold to Legendary Entertainment in 2020 after a bidding war. The deal landed in the seven figures, making it one of the most lucrative spec sales in years—and one of the few specs ever sold for over $1 million from an unproduced writer.

After placing in the top 10 of the Screenwriting season, Bring Me Back was circulated to several Pipeline industry partners, with Kaplan/Perrone signing Crosby.

Pipeline judges called the script a "wonderfully sprawling genre hybrid ... expertly drawn by a writer with a profound understanding of the human condition."

Winning Screenplay Visitation In Production

Helen Gaughran's Visitation, winner of the Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition and First Look Project, went into production in January 2023, with Nicolas Pesce directing. The cast includes Olivia Cooke (House of the DragonSound of Metal), Isla Johnston (The Queen’s Gambit), Stephen Rea (Interview with the Vampire), Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones), and Penelope Wilton (Downton Abbey).

Entertainment One, Blinder Films, and Rumble Films producing.

After winning the 2019 Screenwriting season and getting wide circulation to industry execs, Helen signed with UTA. A unanimous choice for both the Screenwriting Competition and genre-specific First Look Project, Script Pipeline execs called Visitation "a haunting depiction of this time and place," "a refreshing, grounded twist on the genre," and "one of the most impactful scripts we've ever read from a new, rising screenwriter."

The horror will be Helen's first produced film.

Tripper Clancy Sold Specs to Fox, Wrote for Multiple Series

Contest winner Tripper Clancy signed with a Script Pipeline partner in 2011 before selling several specs to studios.

A few months after the Screenwriting Competition ended, 20th Century Fox selected Tripper for their feature comedy writing team to help develop new material. Later, he was hired to write the animated feature Shedd for Paramount, Stranded for Sony, the Amazon film High Five, the comedy Hacker Camp for Hasbro, and an adaptation of The Art of Fielding for Mandalay / IMG. He sold two specs in that span: The Ambassadors and Winter Break.

Tripper's first produced studio feature, Stuber (2019) sold in the mid-six figures. The action-comedy stars Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick, Silicon Valley), Mira Sorvino, and Betty Gilpin (Glow)Following the release of Stuber, he was brought on to write the Varsity Blues reboot and joined the staff of the Netflix series I am Not Okay With This, starring Sophia Lillis (It).

He's the co-creator, writer, and co-producer as well of the series Die Hart, starring Kevin Hart, Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones), and John Travolta.

One of the Biggest Spec Sales in History from Script Pipeline Winner

After introductions by Script Pipeline to management, Evan Daugherty sold Snow White & the Huntsman to Universal for $3.25 million. It marked one of the biggest studio spec sales of all-time and subsequently turned Evan into one of the most in-demand writers in Hollywood. The film grossed $450 million worldwide.

Shortly following the contest win, Evan landed an assignment with Warner Bros. to rewrite the adaptation of He-Man, which led to the sale of Snow White.

Amongst selling a pilot pitch, Evan wrote the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, produced by Michael Bay. Other studio projects: the adaptation of YA novel Divergent for Summit Entertainment, starring Shailene Woodley and Academy Award-winner Kate Winslet, the Tomb Raider reboot starring Alicia Vikander, a reimagining of the cult hit Anaconda, and Rose Red, based on an original script by Justin Merz and a pitch by Evan.

His 2008 winning script Shrapnel was also turned into the film Killing Season, starring Robert De Niro and John Travolta. Corsan and Millennium Films helmed the action/thriller and rehashed the original plot during development. It was the first Script Pipeline winner to get produced.

TV Contest Runner-up Staffed on Netflix, BET, Fox, and CBS Shows

Howard Jordan (Family Be Like), runner-up in the TV Writing Competition, signed with Verve and Lit Entertainment. He went on to write for the CBS sitcom Superior Donuts, followed by the CBS comedy The Unicorn, Netflix's Family Reunion, where he won a WGA Award, then joined the staff of the BET show Bigger and Fox's Call Me Kat.

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