Taking the leap to pursue a creative career like screenwriting can be daunting.
Maybe you watch interviews or attend panels to hear about the varied ways that screenwriters get their start. You don’t want to make the wrong choice and potentially miss your window! They highlight networking, entry-level jobs on set or in writers’ rooms, and even determining your brand before you start putting your own work out there. It can be overwhelming to take it all in.
There is, however, an option that can provide you access to all of these varied paths in one shot: Screenwriting Competitions.
Now, there are a lot of screenwriting competitions that provide different opportunities to launch a burgeoning writer’s career, so it is important to look at what they’re offering to those who enter, regardless of whether or not you place. That’s where the Launch Pad TV Pilot Competition comes in. And the best people to hear from in terms of what this competition has to offer are the many writers who have successfully begun their screenwriting careers after submitting a script.
After interviewing a few of the finalists from previous competitions on why they submitted, the consensus was clear: feedback. The opportunity to receive feedback from industry readers and find out where they stood in the pecking order was a major draw for writers to submit. Some of them weren’t even trying to place!
Preston Walker, who placed in the 2017 Pilot Competition, said, “As a writer, you’re just trying to get better. So, best case scenario I get a manager and worst case I find out why.”
In fact, it was even more than simple notes for Preston. He submitted his script with a comedy partner while networking in Hollywood solo. “I wanted the feedback from someone anonymous to tell us if it was good, but I wanted to see if we could get staffed or sell the show together”
If there’s one thing that any writer who places well in the competition can look forward to, it’s potential representation. When you check out all the finalists, a large percentage comes out of the Launch Pad TV Pilot competition with a manager and/or agent representing them. This is a massive first step for any screenwriter. Getting your script read by the right people is tough. Representation takes that responsibility out of your hands so that you, your work, and your voice are introduced to the town in the best way possible.
Just look at Sarah Lampert who, after her Top 25 placement with the pilot I LOVE COLLEGE, signed with UTA and Writ Large. She has since gone on to sell the pilot GINNY & GEORGIA, which recently debuted to applause from viewers on Netflix.
Jess Harris-Distefano followed up her Top 10 placement in the 2019 Pilot Competition by signing with Brad Rosenfeld at Culture Creative Entertainment and manager Adrian Garcia at Recon Literary. That script, THE DISAPPEARANCE, is not set up at Warner Bros. with the legendary Rob Reiner attached to executive producer.
Staff Writing Jobs
Competitions that focus on television over features can be a great entry point for screenwriters. The threshold to enter is a script with fewer pages than a feature competition, which means you have to pack a bigger punch with a lot less space. These boundaries help writers get extra creative in their writing. On top of this, there are always going to be more jobs in television series than feature films, as long as writers’ rooms exist.
Launch Pad has a great track record with previous finalists getting staffed on a television series. For example, Natalia Temesgen landed in the Top 50 with BEA ROSE and then was staffed on Season 4 of Netflix’s DEAR WHITE PEOPLE.
And even if you don’t place, you can still find a great outcome! Gillian Muller didn’t expect to hear from anyone after submitting her script THE PLAYER’S SON, since she didn’t place. Yet, Romark Entertainment’s Dash Aiken responded to the submission and signed Gillian, and helped land her a staff writing position on the SyFy series THE SURREALTOR.
Establishing Your Voice
The team here at Launch Pad is also dedicated to continuing to help writers who submit to the competitions. Whether it’s notes on a pitch deck or answers to industry questions you may not know. If you succeed, Launch Pad succeeds, so they want to make sure that the writers they promote have a strong voice and brand.
When Preston Walker and his writing partner, Russell Carter, made it into the Launch Pad Top 50, they were quickly courted for representation meetings. Preston was still determining how to enter the business, having established connections on his own but still interested in being staff with a writing partner. The team at Launch Pad helped the duo prepare for meetings and properly communicate their brand. “Knowing what to expect, interpreting what a manager says… you don’t get any practice for that in school. So getting that meeting and communication from Launch Pad was vital,” said Preston.
Gillian Muller is now repped at Romark Entertainment, but they weren’t her first. “The first [script I wrote] was a thirty-minute dramedy called SPINSTERS about four women in their forties, who realize they like being spinsters. My first agent said, ‘No one is interested in a show like that.’ I wrote it anyway.”
Gillian’s confidence in herself propelled her further, and she was able to find representation that understood her voice through Launch Pad.
2020 Competition Winner Alexandra Amadio said, “Working with the writer development team was such a great experience. They genuinely care about helping writers who are ready to break through those last few barriers and get to where they need to be in order to succeed. There are countless books, blogs, and other resources out there that can advise you on how to write better scripts, how to enter contests, how to network, how to query managers and agents. But there is almost zero information about what happens right after that, once you get to the point of being on the brink of breaking in.”
Best Case, Worst Case
Whatever you might be looking for, competitions are a low stakes gamble to find out how far away you are from achieving your dreams. Like Preston said earlier, “best case scenario [you] get a manager and worst case [you] find out why.”
In an industry bursting with new platforms, formats, opportunities, and needs, this competition provides an outlet to those opportunities and access to a community of industry insiders and creatives that can only benefit you in the long run. You can’t reach the finish line though without taking that first step.
Are you ready to take your screenwriting career to the next level? Enter the Launch Pad TV Pilot Screenwriting Competition!