Okay, you’ve finished your script and you’re ready to get some eyeballs on it. Maybe you want to enter a screenwriting competition. Maybe you want to take part in a screenwriting lab. Problem is… you’re not sure what the difference is.
Screenwriting labs and screenwriting competitions are two effective avenues aspiring screenwriters can take to develop their craft and launch their careers. However, even though they’re both valuable opportunities, the approach, expectations, and outcomes are pretty different.
Let’s go over some of the differences between screenwriting labs and screenwriting competitions so you can make the most informed choice for you and your project.
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A screenwriting competition is designed to elevate the best scripts, get them read by industry professionals, and help writers build some momentum and credibility.
Most competitions come with a monetary award, which can help pay the bills or go towards funding if a writer plans to produce their project themselves.
They are usually judged by anonymous readers at the entry levels and then notable industry pros that include showrunners, writers, agents, managers, or producers as the final judges. One-on-one meetings with those pros might also be part of the package, as well as, which helps winners begin to build their networks.
A screenwriting lab or fellowship is designed to help launch a sample or a career. They’re all different, but they generally consist of interactive hands-on workshops, industry meetings, and mentorships designed to elevate craft and business techniques for writers while bolstering their network.
In short, they are all designed to help improve your writing and set you up for success as a writer. The WeScreenplay Labs do this by developing the entry scripts, coordinating notes-giving sessions with peers, hosting specific workshops, and introducing writers to professionals in the industry.
Read More: What Exactly is a Screenwriting Lab?
Labs offer peer-to-peer reviews and connections, bolstering a writer’s ability to give and receive feedback while building a network. Professional workshops can include anything from learning how to pitch, working in a mock writers room, or deep dives into writing skills like revising drafts.
Labs like the WeScreenplay Diverse Voices Lab usually build in meetings with industry executives, literary reps, and working writers to help teach more about the craft and business of screenwriting. This is also a great way to build one’s network of people to connect with as a writer’s career progresses.
The Main Difference Between a Screenwriting Lab and a Competition
As you can see, the difference between screenwriting labs and competitions is primarily in their focus.
Screenwriting labs typically focus on providing mentorship, script development, and networking opportunities, while screenwriting competitions typically focus on finding the best scripts, awarding prizes, and connecting winners with industry professionals.
Both have their own advantages, and many successful screenwriters have benefited from taking part in both, however, writers looking to elevate their project with a hands-on, collaborative experience will benefit greatly from taking part in a screenwriting lab.
Are Screenwriting Labs and Competitions Worth It?
It isn’t easy to break in as a screenwriter in today’s climate. As more and more scripted television moves to a model of shorter seasons, writers’ contracts are shifting away from the 23-episode year-long model with opportunities for promotions as each season progresses. Now, we’re seeing writers struggling to negotiate the timing of potential staffing on multiple shows a year and repeating levels before promotion.
On the feature side, it’s hard to get greenlit without a star name or popular IP behind the story.
It’s a saturated market brimming with established talent, so getting that first job is tough. Emerging writers (and all writers, really) have to write something undeniable and that script needs to be seen by people who can do something with it. So when you haven’t built a network of those kinds of people, the options are limited.
That’s why screenwriting labs, fellowships, and competitions are so valuable. They help new writers attain that network of industry professionals by getting their work in front of them. However, screenwriting labs assist in ways competitions may not — by providing a space for writers to hone their craft, elevate their scripts, and become a part of an important community of writers who are dealing with many of the same struggles, setbacks, and challenges as they are.
How WeScreenplay Screenwriting Labs Help
Over the course of a few days, WeScreenplay Lab Winners will walk away with a network of peers and industry pros, top-tier knowledge of the craft and business of screenwriting, and a strong screenplay to use going forward, and maybe even a professional offer for representation or script development.
The labs are mindfully crafted to strengthen writers’ scripts and hone their professional expectations. Perhaps more significantly, the labs present writers with opportunities to network with each other and connect with industry members in meaningful ways.
Screenwriting contests take a great script and help launch it with accolades, a stamp of approval, and maybe monetary support or mentorship and introductions from the hosting company.
Either one can be a great device to help your career or give you feedback about how your writing is being perceived.
WeScreenplay also proudly provides feedback to each script submitted to competition, so there is always a benefit to every writer who takes a chance and puts themselves out there.
If you’re feeling inspired, check out details about the WeScreenplay Feature, TV, Shorts, or Diverse Voices Labs right here and keep an eye on the approaching deadlines! Happy writing!
Shannon Corbeil is a writer, actor, and filmmaker in Los Angeles with recent appearances on SEAL Team and The Rookie. An Air Force veteran, her articles have been published in Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, and Military.com. She has written and produced hundreds of digital videos with millions of views. You can read more about her on her website or come play on Instagram and Twitter!