Next week begins the Atlanta Film Festival’s 2017 Creative Conference. If you’re serious about screenwriting, you should attend to learn everything you can about the craft. If you’re serious about writing professionally, you should enter the screenwriting competition in Atlanta, and every other festival you can. “But won’t someone steal my idea?” No, they won’t. People don’t just hear an idea and run off and sell it. It’s not that easy.
Competitions are a great way to get discovered. Because one of the jobs Hollywood development executives are tasked with is combing contests for fresh meat. Just entering them won’t get you much. But winning them will. So will being a finalist. What if you win two contests? Or three? There’s no way any exec worth their salt can deny reading your work.
In 2016 Heidi Willis submitted her horror thriller Black Sunday to the Atlanta Film Festival’s screenwriting competition. From 500 screenplays sent from all over the world, a panel of readers narrowed it down to the twenty best. They were narrowed to ten. Then to three. Heidi’s clearly stood out as the best of the best to me and the others on the awarding committee. A couple months later she drove in from Alabama for the festival to receive adulation from her peers and workshop her script. Before, during and after the workshop, Heidi learned that, unbeknownst to one another, the Austin, Nashville, Bahamas and Final Draft competitions had also recognized her script as the best of the best. How? Because it was good! It stood out. And Hollywood came looking for her. All because she had the nerve… to enter the dragon. So get in the game. Enter your scripts. And come out for the conference!