Screenplay contests abound. Notices for new screenplay contests arrive via email daily. Aspiring screenwriters could certainly go broke applying to the multitudes of contests in the hope of some sort of recognition. So, before handing over cash to a screenwriting contest, writers should really identify the value they get from a contest for the money they spend. Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope Screenplay Contest offers a chance to win $5,000 plus consideration for representation from major agencies and management firms as well as the possibility of optioning your screenplay to several notable production companies and studios.
For the uninitiated, American Zoetrope is Francis Ford Coppola's production company, perhaps best known for producing Coppola's masterpieces The Godfather, The Godfather Part II and Apocalypse Now, as well as George Lucas' first feature films THX 1138 and American Graffiti. You can learn more about the history of American Zoetrope's beginning as well as its financial collapse during the 1970s in Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, one of the 15 books from our film school on a bookshelf.
American Zoetrope continues to produce films, most notably all of Sofia Coppola's films as well as films from directors such as Bill Condon (Kinsey), Hal Hartley (No Such Thing), Robert Duvall (Assassination Tango) and Robert DeNiro (The Good Shepherd), among others.
The 10th annual American Zoetrope Screenplay Contest offers a grand prize of $5,000 to the winner, presented by Francis Ford Coppola. The winner, along with the ten remaining finalists, will also receive consideration for representation from several major agencies and management companies including William Morris Endeavor, CAA, ICM, UTA and The Gersh Agency, to name a few. Over thirty production companies and studios will also consider optioning and developing the scripts of the winner and ten finalists, including American Zoetrope, Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics, Samuel Goldwyn Films, IFC Entertainment, Paramount Vantage and Lionsgate.
Additionally, American Zoetrope publishes the writers and screenplay titles for its semifinalists and quarterfinalists, providing them with additional exposure and the possibility of industry contacts as well (although no promises in this regard). From last year's competition, American Zoetrope announced 16 semifinalists and 40 quarterfinalists along with the ten finalists and winner.
The upside to the American Zoetrope contest is the introduction to industry representation and independently minded production companies for the winner and ten finalists. The downside, like so many screenwriting contests, is a lack of feedback on a writer's work. Also, as always, it's subjective and it's a numbers game.
The early deadline is August 1, 2012, with an entry fee of $35. The regular and final deadline is September 6, 2012, with an entry fee of $60.
Have you had a personal experience with the American Zoetrope Screenplay Contest? Do you find screenwriting contests like this one valuable? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section.