You’re no doubt familiar with the big screenwriting contests that have been known to launch careers: the Nicholl Fellowship, PAGE International, Austin Film Fest, Scriptapalooza, BlueCat, Sundance Lab, the Tracking Board, etc. Then, there’s the television network fellowships: CBS, Disney/ABC, FOX, NBC, the WB, Nickelodeon, and HBO, just to name a few. Thousands upon thousands of scripts flood into these contests and programs year after year, and out of the pile, only a handful of writers get their work seen by the people who can take them to the next level professionally. Best case, at the end of the day, a writer gets staffed, or sees their screenplay produced. This, however, is essentially playing the screenwriter’s lottery.

What most people DON’T know however, is that a sure fire way to beat the odds is to enter the annual UCLA Extension Feature Film and Television Writing Competitions, which are 100% exclusive to Writers’ Program students. If you have taken one or more courses with us within the last three years, you may be among the limited, privileged group of writers who are eligible to submit a feature film script, television spec, or television pilot.

The UCLA Extension Feature Film and Television Writing Competitions are designed to showcase the best, most recent and relevant work created within our program. We also take great pride and go to great lengths to promote our winners each year. The top three finalists in each category (feature, TV spec, TV pilot) receive one-on-one mentoring with an instructor over the summer, get featured in an advertisement in The Hollywood Reporter and are also included in a newsletter mailed to thousands of entertainment industry professionals across town. The result is direct meetings with agents, managers, and producers.

As if that isn’t enough, this year, the Writers’ Program added a new dimension to the prize package: a private, 2-day seminar for the top three finalists in each category, entitled Prepping for a Professional Writing Career, designed and taught by top former talent and literary agent Nancy Nigrosh. As writers on the cusp of potential film or TV writing careers, our winners will get rare insight into what a professional partnership with a literary agent really means. Specifically, students learn what an agent actually does; how to get one; what rubric for success an agent uses to evaluate his/her potential clients; how to solve creative problems in the work of other writers in collaboration with creative teams on multiple projects; and how to engage successfully when pitching ideas to win the essential advocacy of agents, literary managers, producers and creative executives. In addition, students will learn how to how to navigate, evaluate, and maximize the connections that may arise from being a top finalist.

Transitioning from student to screenwriter has never been more probable. It still takes a lot of hard work, dedication, perseverance, and yes, even luck. But given the odds here, this is without a doubt the biggest and best chance we give to our students to stand out from the pack and get noticed.


Eligibility is limited to Writers’ Program students. For more information on rules, prizes, or to apply, please visit the online application page here.

An up-to-date list of contest success stories can be found here.

Jeff Bonnett is the Program Assistant for Screenwriting (Onsite & Online). Contact him at or (310) 206-1542.


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