Big break screenwriting contest

The contest that has launched careers for over 20 years

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About Big Break

Final Draft’s Big Break Screenwriting Contest is an annual, international feature film and television screenwriting contest designed to help launch the careers of aspiring writers. Writers who have entered Big Break have had their screenplays optioned, sold, and have secured high-profile representation.

As your partner on your screenwriting journey, Final Draft provides support, generous prize packages, and introduces you to a community of screenwriters in which you can begin to forge meaningful relationships and build your personal network.

Grand Prizes

Grand Prize Winners receive $10,000 in cash, an iPad, career coaching, meetings with renowned Hollywood screenwriters and literary managers, and much more.

  • A Trip to Hollywood

  • $10,000 Cash

  • Dell XPS 13 Laptop

  • General Meeting Preparation with Lee Jessup Career Coaching

  • General Meetings with Top Literary Managers

  • UCLA Extension continued education

NYFA Scholarship

Co-sponsored by The New York Film Academy, this unique screenwriting fellowship is a merit-based scholarship designed to raise each writer to a higher level of storytelling craft and provide intensive real-world training in the business of Hollywood.  Attended only by Big Break finalists, the fellowship is a unique opportunity for winners to build their recent success and further develop their careers.

Submission Rules

Fees & Deadlines

Early Bird April 12, 2022 $49.00
Regular June 21, 2022 $59.00
Extended July 12, 2022 $69.00
Last Chance August 2, 2022 $79.00

*Dates reflect deadlines for electronic submissions of scripts. All entries must be electronically submitted by midnight (PT) on their respective deadlines.

Big Break Testimonies

Every year we celebrate 11 Category Winners and 2 Grand Prize Winners. Over 60 past winners have sold scripts, received representation or gone on to professional writing careers.

Award Categories

Feature Awards

  • Action/Adventure
  • Comedy/Rom-Com
  • Diversity
  • Drama
  • Family/Animated
  • Period/Historical/War
  • Sci-Fi/Fantasy
  • Thriller/Horror

Television Awards

  • Diversity
  • Half-Hour Pilot
  • Hour-Long Pilot

Success Stories

Chris Pittas

2021 Top-10 in Thriller/Horror for Scorpions

Big Break

Signed with Matt Prater at Citizen Skull

Lindsay Grossman

2021 Semifinalist in TV Hour-Long for Lady Death

Big Break

Signed with Sarah Nezamzadeh at Stride Management

Manfred Lopez Grem

2020 Top-5 in TV Half-hour for Teleport

Big Break

Signed by Zero Gravity

Chris Hill

2020 Top-3 in Period/Historical/War for One Day Longer

Big Break

Signed with Lit Entertainment Group

Break Out

Chris is adapting Tether for the big screen.

Bill Poore

2020 Feature Horror category winner for Slaycay

Big Break

Signed with REALM

Asabi Lee & Paul Hart-Wilden

2020 Feature Diversity Quarter-Finalists for Haunting at 1600

Big Break

Signed with StoryDriven

Jessica G. Hill Cabrera-Cantaoi

2019 TV Diversity category winner for From Harm

Big Break

Signed by REALM

Break Out

Jessica’s feature Before I’m Dead picked up distribution and is now available to stream on Vudu and Amazon.

Ben Johnson

2019 Feature Diversity category winner for Canaan

Big Break

Signed by Plain Text Management who is developing Ben’s feature and pilot which they hope to take out this year in the US.

Break Out

Ben is head writer on his second South African show since Big Break, a 13-part drama, and is writing a feature for one of the directors of BBC’s Doctor Who.

Todd Goodlett

2019 TV Grand Prize winner for The Arsonist’s Handbook

Big Break

Signed by Larchmont Literacy Agency and attached an independent producer to the project.

Myles Reid

2018 TV Grand Prize Winner for Scattershot

Big Break

Signed by Silent R Literary Management

Break Out

Miles has since sold his winning pilot which is currently in development for Sony.

Jonathan Barger

2018 Quarter-Finalist for Station Zero

Big Break

Optioned by Zorg Studios with with Erwan Marinopoulos set to direct.

Natasha LePetit

2018 Quarter-Finalist for The Undertaker’s Children

Big Break

Optioned by Chayah Masters/Rumination Road with Alex Gayner set to direct and Ann Dowd attached to star.

Nadia Abass-Madden

2018 Feature Diversity category winner for Tongs of China Town

Big Break

Sold her spec episode in the room to Fox’s 9-1-1 and is now a staff writer for the show.

Greta Heinemann

2017 Feature Grand Prize winner for Anatomy of a Breakdown

Big Break

Signed by Bellevue

Break Out

Greta sold her pilot Frankie Cash to HBO Max, has set up her biopic Dakar at Amblin and is currently a Co-EP on the upcoming Apple show The Secrets We Kept.

Charles & Hana Callaghan

2017 Big Break TV Winner

Charles and Hana Callaghan have attached Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Paige of Blazing Elm Entertainment to executive produce their winning script The “Untitled Clara Foltz Project” (fka Portia’s Law)

Kevin Bachar

2017 Top-3 finalist for My Boyfriend the App

Big Break

Signed by Zero Gravity Management

Break Out

His script The Inhabitant was made into a movie by Steelyard Pictures starring Dermot Mulroney. Featured in the ISA’s Top 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2021 list.

Nancy Duff

2017 Top-3 finalist for Dead Drop

Big Break

Signed by Jennifer Au of Untitled

Julia Mogerman

2017 Feature Drama category winner for Stray

Big Break

Signed by Bellevue

Greg Wayne

2017 TV Half-hour category winner for Starseed

Big Break

Signed by REALM

Nicolas Pinzón

2017 Feature Diversity category winner for El Camino

Big Break

Signed by Heroes and Villains Entertainment

JJ Bailey

2017 Hour-long TV category winner for Shelter

Big Break

Signed by Heroes and Villains Entertainment

Break Out

JJ has since sold two pilots in the room to NBC.

Rowan Wheeler

2016 TV grand prize winner for Socio-Pam

Big Break

Signed by UTA

Break Out

Rowan is now an Emmy-winning television writer-producer and has worked on many television comedy-specials like Under a Rock with Tig Notaro and Mariah Carey’s Holiday Sketchtacular.

Alexis Perkins

2016 Feature grand prize winner for Derby City

Big Break

Signed by Stagecoach Lit Management and Gersh

Matt Katzenberger

2016 Feature Family/Adventure category winner for The Snow Fight

Big Break

Signed by Entertainment Lab

Julia Cooperman

2016 Hour-long TV category winner for Phantasmagoria

Big Break

Julia was staffed on Colony

Break Out

Julia continued on as a staff writer throughout the Colony series run and is now a story-editor for Jupiter’s Legacy.

Paul Jarnagin

2016 Big Break Top-5 Finalist

Paul Jarnagin signed with Universal Writers Management

‘The Other Star Wars’ earned 4th place in the 7th Annual StoryPors International Screenplay Competition

His writing projects have placed him as a Quarter-Finalist in the Nicholl Fellowship and as a Top 50 Semi-Finalist in Cinequest

Nick Watson

2015 Big Break Half-Hour TV Pilot Quarter-Finalist

Nick Watson has signed with Abrams Artists Agency

He is now a full-time staff writer on the animated sitcom ‘Final Space’ for TBS

G.W. Freund & Daniel Bonjour

2015 Big Break Feature Grand Prize Winners

G.W. Freund & Daniel Bonjour signed with Natalie Covault of Brillstein Entertainment Partners

Eric Buchman

2015 Big Break Television Grand Prize Winner

Big Break

Signed by Magnet Lit Management

Break Out

Eric is a staff writer and co-producer for NBC’sBlindspot.

Paula Sabbaga

2015 Big Break Hour-Long TV Pilot Finalist

Paula Sabbaga signed with Brian Spink of REALM

Paula worked on ABC’s Nashville, The CW’s The Messengers, Freeform’s Guilt, and was the writer’s assistant on CW’s The 100

Joseph Greenberg

2014 Big Break Sci-Fi/Fantasy Category Winner

Joseph Greenberg sold his script Man Alive to 20th Century Fox for Noah Hawley of Fargo to direct

Man Alive also made the 2016 Black List

James Barclay

2014 Big Break Top-5 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Finalist

James Barclay signed with Magnet Management

Derek Asaff

2014 Big Break Hour-Long TV Pilot Winner

Derek Asaff signed with Derrick Eppich of Lee Stobby Entertainment

Peter Wulff

2014 Big Break Drama Category Winner

Peter Wulff signed with Jeff Portnoy of Bellevue Productions

Joe McClean

2014 Quarterfinalist in Thriller/Horror for Viral

Big Break

Joe is currently producing his script Viral for York Films with Blair Underwood attached to direct and Sarah Silverman attached to star.

Nicholas Anthony

2013 Big Break Half-Hour TV Pilot Winner

Nicholas Anthony was hired as a writer for CBS’ ‘The Inspectors’

Judges

Matt Dy

LIT ENTERTAINMENT GROUP

Sonia Gambaro

3PAS STUDIOS

Jeff Portnoy

BELLEVUE PRODUCTIONS

Leyla Kader Dahm

CITIZEN SKULL PRODUCTIONS MANAGEMENT

John Zaozirny

BELLEVUE PRODUCTIONS

Zack Zucker

BELLEVUE PRODUCTIONS

Jonathan Hersh

HOUSEFIRE MANAGEMENT

Jason Lubin

FIRST STORY ENTERTAINMENT

Scott Stoops

GOOD FEAR ENTERTAINMENT

Brian Spink

REALM

Juan He

HOUSEFIRE MANAGEMENT

Will Deasey

ZERO GRAVITY MANAGEMENT

Peter Katz

STORY DRIVEN

Ery De Jong

PRODUCER

Karina Wilson

INDEPENDENT STORY AND DEVELOPMENT CONSULTANT

Matt Dy

LIT ENTERTAINMENT GROUP

Sonia Gambaro

3PAS STUDIOS

Jeff Portnoy

BELLEVUE PRODUCTIONS

Leyla Kader Dahm

CITIZEN SKULL PRODUCTIONS MANAGEMENT

John Zaozirny

BELLEVUE PRODUCTIONS

Zack Zucker

BELLEVUE PRODUCTIONS

Jonathan Hersh

HOUSEFIRE MANAGEMENT

Jason Lubin

FIRST STORY ENTERTAINMENT

Scott Stoops

GOOD FEAR ENTERTAINMENT

Brian Spink

REALM

Juan He

HOUSEFIRE MANAGEMENT

Will Deasey

ZERO GRAVITY MANAGEMENT

Peter Katz

STORY DRIVEN

Ery De Jong

PRODUCER

Karina Wilson

INDEPENDENT STORY AND DEVELOPMENT CONSULTANT

FAQs

What is the Diversity category? Is it for scripts about Diversity issues?caret

The Diversity category is for scripts written by underrepresented writers. The story itself does not have to be about inclusion or issues of equality. When submitting, you will be asked to select the Diversity category and the actual genre of your script, for example, Diversity – Horror.
If you are a writer who qualifies for this category you are welcome to submit in both Diversity and non-Diversity categories of the competition. The Diversity category exists to encourage writers who have underrepresented voices in Hollywood to enter the contest. These writers are also welcome to submit their scripts to any of the other categories they are eligible for.

Would you accept a screenplay that is an adaptation of a published book, where the writer has contractually optioned the movie rights to the book?caret

No, the source material for an adaptation must be written by the screenwriter entering the contest, unless the material is listed as being within the public domain. For example, if you have adapted the screenplay from a novel you did not write yourself, we would not accept this screenplay for contest entry. This is to ensure that when a winning screenplay gets to an industry representative, there are no sudden copyright/ownership issues. For more information on what works fall within the public domain, click here.

Why do you have a Diversity category?caret

There is a great demand in the film and television industry for stories from writers from diverse backgrounds. The Diversity category allows us to easily identify these writers for industry professionals.

Since I shouldn't include my personal information in the body of my script or on the title page, how do I remove or clear the title page?caret

For instructions on removing your title page, click here.

Do I retain the rights to my screenplays after submitting to the Big Break Contest, whether or not I win?caret

Yes, you retain all rights until you choose to sell or option your screenplay and/or teleplay.

Can I submit multiple screenplays and/or teleplays during one contest year?caret

Yes, you may enter as many different scripts as you wish. Each script must be submitted as a separate entry.

Is coverage provided?caret

We do not provide coverage for screenplays entered into the contest, however coverage is included as part of the prize package for winning scripts.

Who will be reading and judging my screenplay?caret

Our readers are professional script analysts from diverse backgrounds who carefully evaluate each entry and sign confidentiality agreements to ensure that your work is protected. After screenplays are narrowed to finalists, a panel of notable industry professionals conduct the final judging to determine the winners. These jury members represent award-winning writers, producers, and A-list executives. A current list of our judges can be found here.

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