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  • Writer's pictureSL Eastwood

Screenwriting Competitions Are Stressful…

Updated: May 11

My experience entering the Thousand Films competition (for the second time)…

Back in 2019 I learned about the Thousand Film screenplay competition, which at the time was in association with Sid Gentle Films (production company behind the hit, Killing Eve).

I found out about the competition from Danny Stack through his incredibly helpful Facebook group, Screenwriters UK. If you’re a writer based in the UK or Ireland, I very strong recommend joining this group.

The first time they ran the Thousand Films competition, it was a free competition only open to female writers, so I immediately looked into it.

It is an interesting competition, as instead of one winner with a monetary prize, this one is more like a talent pool or an elevator program.

When I applied in 2019, I submitted two scripts, both science fiction, one of which was long-listed, although I didn’t make it through to development.

After the 2019 competition, I waited eagerly for 2020 to roll around, but unfortunately it didn’t. I was gutted. I couldn’t believe such a great competition had fallen so quickly.

However, just a few months ago, Danny Stack popped up in my news feed once more to say that the Thousand Films competition was once again open for business.

While it is safe to say, I am thrilled to hear that TF has returned once again, but I must also admit that screenwriting competitions are stressful…

How I am approaching it this time

The last time I applied to this competition, I don’t think I really had a strategy or knew what I was doing all too well. I pretty much chose my favourite script at that time and tightened it to send.

I knew there were issues with the story when I sent it, but it was the best I had in my repertoire that fit the bill, and I figured I had a better chance submitting than not. I was both thrilled and surprised to long-list last time around.

This time I have been much more strategic about things, I have already submitted my first entry a few weeks ago, which I feel reasonably confident about.

I was also working on another script, but similar to my entry in 2019, this one has some issues and I’m not sure I can resolve them before the deadline in January.

I have some other pilots that I can work on, that may be a good option. However, I am caught between sending something that is not quite perfect, or putting all my eggs on one submission.

I think, even if I don’t get another script that is perfect, it is worth it to try to get a second entry into the competition. Just in terms of my odds.

Do I think this is a competition worth applying to?

I think it is always best to take reviews about writing competitions with a grain of salt, because while there are a lot of scammy writing competitions out there, there are also a lot of writers who will trash a competition because they didn’t get the experience they expected from it.

I haven’t got much experience of this competition, having only entered it once before, but I had a great experience with Thousand Films.

For a free competition, it is well-marketed, they communicate clearly and when they say they will, and their portal is extremely easy to use. Plus, the fact you can submit two screenplays (FOR FREE) is awesome.

This isn’t a normal pay for feedback competition, it is more of a talent pool, much like the BBC Writers Room, meaning there isn’t only one winner. The only expectation of the program is you submit original work that is production ready.

That means, with two screenplays, you have an extremely good chance of being picked for development.

I preferred the application process this year (2023) over the previous (2019), as the application process last time was much more involved. We had to essential write a pitch book, which when you’re still ironing out the details of your story, can be a bit daunting.

This year the only expectation was the script submission and a logline, which I expect is to reduce the volume of work for the competition readers.

Dates of the competition and application details

There is still time to enter the Thousand Films competition, which extended their deadline to 8 January 2024.

If you’re based in the UK or Ireland and have two decent, production ready pilots ready to go then you should definitely apply.


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