General Questions | How the Competition Works



General Questions


Q.  Can I participate if I don't live in the United States?

A.  Yes, writers may participate from anywhere in the world.


Q.  Can I participate if I'm under 18 years of age?

A.  Yes, but anyone under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian send their consent to with the following information:
1. The subject line of the e-mail should be: Parental Consent for the Short Screenplay Challenge 2020
  2. Their consent for your participation in the competition in the body of the e-mail. For example, "I am the parent/guardian of __________(Legal Name of Participant) and I hereby provide consent for him/her to participate in the Short Screenplay Challenge 2020 on"
  3. The full name and phone number of the parent/guardian in the body of the e-mail.


Q. Can I write under a pen name?

A.  Yes, but you must specify it on the registration form.  When you are entering your name on the registration form (Last Name, First Name), please enter the name you would like to be displayed on the website.  This can be your legal name or a pen name.  You will have an opportunity to tell us your legal name on the registration form as well so that we have it for our records in case you win prizes.


Q. What if I live in a different time zone than New York?
A. All competition start and end dates are in the Eastern Standard Time Zone (New York). If you live in another time zone, you will need to make sure you are aware of how many hours ahead or behind you are from New York. For example, if the competition start time is listed as 11:59PM EST on a Friday and you live in Los Angeles, CA, the competition will begin at 8:59PM local time on Friday. If you live in London, UK the competition will begin at 4:59AM local time on Saturday. There will also be countdown clocks on the website to help writers keep track, but we also recommend you mark your calendars with the correct times so you know when the competition starts and ends so there is no confusion later.


Q.  Can we provide previously written short screenplays during the competition?

A.  No.  All screenplays must be created during the competition and must be based on the genre, location, and object assignment provided.


Q.  Are the screenplays meant to be self-contained with a beginning, middle, and end or is it supposed to be the first 5 pages of a feature script?

A.  It should be a complete story with beginning, middle, and end, and NOT the beginning of a longer piece or feature script.


Q.  I've never written a screenplay before.  Is it important that I get the format right?

A.  If you are serious about screenwriting, it is extremely important to know the basic formatting rules.  It doesn't matter if you have an amazing story, a script that isn't formatted properly immediately jumps out as "unprofessional" to readers, producers, actors, and anyone that is accustomed to reading scripts as part of their profession.  Getting a screenplay produced is tough enough without putting yourself at a disadvantage with an incorrectly formatted screenplay.  Click here to check out our own guidelines on proper screenplay formatting.


Q.  What are the proper screenplay formatting rules?  Do you have any recommendations?

A.  As mentioned above, click here to check out an article we posted that goes over the basic rules for formatting a screenplay.  In addition to our article, there are many, many resources available to writers that want to write a screenplay.  Simply Google "Proper Screenplay Format" for dozens of links explaining the basics.  If you are serious about screenwriting, you should also look into screenwriting software, which helps immensely with the planning, organization, and formatting of your screenplay.  For free screenwriting software, check out Celtx or Scripped.  If you don't mind spending money for screenwriting software, Final Draft and Movie Magic have a very good reputation in the industry.  Either way, do some quick research to find out what best fits your needs.


Q.  Is the short screenplay meant to be the start of a longer piece or a complete story with beginning, middle, and end?

A.  The short screenplays in this competition are meant to be self-contained with a beginning, middle, and end and NOT part of a longer piece.  Essentially, they are meant to be short films, NOT the opening scene(s) of a feature film.


Q.  Can teams of writers (more than 1) work on the screenplays?

A.  Yes.  You may list additional writers on the registration form, but please note that ONLY the writer who registers will be eligible for the prizes.


Q.  Who owns the rights to the screenplays created during the competition?

A.  You, the writer.  NYC Midnight reserves the right to publish the logline and personal website of any writer that enters the competition for publicity purposes, but that's it.


Q.  Can I post the screenplay(s) I create for this competition on my personal website or social media?  Can I submit it to other competitions or festivals?

A.  Yes.  Since you retain all the rights to the screenplays you create during our competitions, you are welcome to do whatever you like with them. 


Q.  How closely do we have to follow the assignment?

A.  The screenplay must be within the assigned genre, the location must be the predominant location used in the screenplay but does not have to be the only location used, and the object must physically appear at some point in the screenplay.  For example, if the object is a wig and a character speaks about a wig but an actual wig never physically appears in your screenplay, it will not qualify.


Q.  Do you have some examples of past genre, location, and object assignments?

A.  Yes, here are a few examples of past assignments:
     Sci-Fi / A drug rehab center / A wig
     Comedy / A luxury spa / An exit sign
     Romantic Comedy / An ambulance / Onion rings
     Horror / A rooftop / A wheelchair
     Open / A space station / A glass eye


Q.  What are the acceptable formats for the screenplays?

A.  The only acceptable formats are .pdf (Adobe Acrobat) or .doc (Word Document).


Q.  What is a logline for my screenplay?

A.  A logline is a 1-2 sentence description of your screenplay.  It should be simple, yet very enticing (the main goal is to make the reader excited to read your screenplay).



How The Competition Works


Challenge #1 : September 25-27, 2020

Writers are placed randomly in groups.  Each group is assigned a genre, a location and an object that must be included in the screenplay.  Once the judging is complete, writers receive points based on what place they end up in their group (see below):


1st Place

  15 points

6th Place

  10 points

11th Place

  5 points

2nd Place

  14 points

7th Place

  9 points

12th Place

  4 points

3rd Place

  13 points

8th Place

  8 points

13th Place

  3 points

4th Place

  12 points

9th Place

  7 points

14th Place

  2 points

5th Place

  11 points

10th Place

  6 points

15th Place

  1 point


Challenge #2 : November 13-15, 2020

Writers compete in the same group they were placed in for Challenge #1.  Writers receive a new assigned genre, location and object which must be included in the screenplay.  Writers receive points based on what place they end up in the challenge.  The total points from Challenge #1 and #2 are added together, and the top 5 writers in each group advance to the 2nd Round. 


For example, if a writer comes in 4th place (12 points) in Challenge #1 and 13th place (3 points) in Challenge #2, than his/her total points for the 1st Round is 15 points.  If 15 points is among the top 5 highest point totals in the group, than the writer will advance to Challenge #3.  The points writers accumulate in Challenges #1 and #2 are only to determine which writers advance to Challenge #3, and have no effect on the judging in Challenge #3 or #4.


Challenge #3 : January 8-10, 2021

The writers that advanced after Challenge #2 will be divided into new groups.  Each group is assigned a new genre, location, and object and have 2 days to submit a 5 page screenplay.  The top 5 writers from each group will advance to the 4th and final challenge. 


Challenge #4 : February 26-28, 2021

The writers that advanced out of the Challenge #3 will participate in the final writing challenge.  They are assigned a new genre, location, and object and again have 2 days to submit a 5 page screenplay.  The judges choose winners and they'll share in thousands in cash and prizes.




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