The Slamdance Screenplay Competition is dedicated to discovering and supporting emerging writing talent. We welcome screenplays in every genre, on any topic, from anywhere in the world. A unique feature of the competition is providing constructive feedback for every entrant. In addition to this, we also offer a more intensive coverage service for a supplementary fee. Now in our nineteenth year, we have a history of highlighting talented, independent screenwriters and introducing them to the entertainment industry. All of our readers approach scripts differently, but in general we are looking for originality and promise in a work. As an organization, we strive to foster an independent spirit among new writers and filmmakers. We've established a strong track record through our competition successes and are committed to continuing our pursuit to champion outstanding new work.
Our competition consists of four categories. Awards are given to the top three scripts in each category. In addition to that, Slamdance will present the Grand Prize for the best screenplay, regardless of category.
Notification: September 3rd 2014 - Announce 100 Quarter-Finalists; September 10th, 2014 - Announce 32 Semi-Finalists; September 17th, 2014 - Announce 12 Finalists - In no particular order; October 8th, 2014 - WGAW Party for Finalists and Semi-Finalists - Announce Winners.
A total of $11,000 in cash prizes will be awarded to the winners this year.
The Grand Prize winner will receive $5,000 in cash.
The winners of the Feature, Horror, and Original Teleplay categories will receive $2,000 in cash, each.
The winning Short/Webisode script will have an option to be produced and screen at Slamdance 2016.
The top three screenwriters in each category will receive prize packages that include Festival Passes good for all screenings and parties at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah (January 2015)
The top three screenwriters in the Feature and Horror category are eligible for membership in the Writers Guild of America's Independent Writers Caucus.
The winning Short/Webisode and winning Feature screenplays will receive $2,500 in legal services from Pierce Law Group, LLP.
The top three screenwriters in each category will receive merchandise from the Slamdance SHOP (T-shirts, beanies, etc.).
The top three screenwriters in each category will be included in the 2015 Slamdance Film Festival program which is distributed to industry professionals in Park City and year round.
Production companies, studios, top agencies and managers request to read our top scripts.
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Saturday, January 23, 1999
It didn't start off well. My scheduled 1:00 PM flight from San Francisco to Salt Lake City was delayed due to fog. I was already cutting it close. A 4 PM arrival, a mad dash through the luggage carousel and a shuttle to Park City would get me to Slamdance by 5:30 PM--just in time to attend the opening night press conference. But as I watched the fog roll on the runway, I knew missing the press conference was a foregone conclusion.
Then again, perhaps a delayed arrival was a blessing in disguise. I had mixed feelings about attending a week-long film festival anyway. I was excited by winning the Slamdance Screenwriting Competition, but I was a writer--not a great schmoozer, self-promoter or interviewer. Yet, the possibilities intrigued me. I boarded the delayed flight.
I arrived in Park City with the usual fanfare--lost luggage and without a shuttle reservation. I was buoyed by the relatively quick resolution of these problems.
My Slamdance experience began the moment I stepped into the airport shuttle filled with chatty Internet executives and filmmakers swapping Sundance stories. I had apparently entered the proverbial lion's den. I prayed that no one would ask me why I was in Park City. My prayer went unanswered. Except for the van driver who bitterly responded by insisting that he was a published writer and artist because he translated books into Hungarian, ("an intricate, complex, and lyrical language"), my van mates offered heartfelt congratulations and my script became the topic of conversation for the long ride.
I arrived at the hotel just as opening night festivities began. I checked into the Slamdance office and was relieved to see the two faces I recognized: Allen Glazier--Slamdance Screenplay Competition Director and Peter Baxter--Executive Director of Slamdance. I received my Slamdance Filmmaker's pass (which although a bit of a misnomer at this point still felt good), hung it around my neck like a badge of honor and headed across the street to the Opening Night Party.
I was approached and welcomed by many of the Slamdance staffers who had read my script and couldn't wait to tell me how much they loved it. It is every writer's dream to be surrounded by people who love your work as much as you do. I had just met my new best friends.
As I was introduced to other Slamdance Filmmakers, I realized that for purposes of this festival, my name had been changed from "Kate Alfieri--Attorney" to "Kate Alfieri--Winner of the Slamdance Screenplay Competition". Although somewhat disorienting, I realized that as the only verified winner in town, I was something of a novelty.
Sunday, January 24, 1999
Since I arrived in the dark the prior evening, the next morning I decided to find out precisely where in the hell I was. Let's just say that Utah is not the favorite state of your average San Francisco, mid-thirties, unmarried woman. My very presence in the state may have violated several antiquated laws.
Nevertheless, I took a pleasant stroll down Main Street and was relieved to find a Starbucks. Now I know it is politically incorrect to like Starbucks. But when you are away from home, creature comforts are a necessity. Starbucks isn't the best coffee in the world, but at least we all know the short, tall, grande, venti pecking order and the coffee can be depended upon to taste exactly the same in Park City as it does in San Francisco. Fortified by my tall, double cup, no sleeve, room for cream coffee, and my barrista's knowing wink, I ventured through town.
I returned to Slamdance and watched several movies and a Lounge Short program. I was amazed that many of the same bedraggled kids I had met the night before had made the thoughtful and provocative films I was seeing. I was in extremely talented company.
I quickly learned that the Slamdance lobby was a major hub of social activity. I began hanging out, drinking coffee and eating with several filmmakers, actors and staffers in the lobby between films or whenever I had nothing much to do.
That evening, I saw the documentary "The Girl Next Door" by Christina Fugate. I was blown away. I am a fan of great documentaries and did not expect to see one that would make my all time ten best list at Slamdance.
Later that evening, Peter Baxter was kind enough to provide me with passes to "The Soundman Party" at Harry O's where former members of "Guns 'n Roses" were scheduled to play. At the party, I was surprised to be approached by several managers and agents inquiring about my script. (I actually was cornered in the bathroom by one particularly aggressive agent). We chatted, I pitched and pocketed several business cards.
At one point in the evening I was introduced to a producer who had read my script and whose name I actually recognized. I was floored when she jumped to her feet, hugged me and thanked me for writing my script. "G" and I became fast friends.
I learned a few things that night. First, you will lose your voice when you yell over a ninety-minute Guns 'n Roses set. Second, it is smart to shorten the description of a script to "Psychological portrait of a female serial killer" in such circumstances. Third, if you drink every drink that is bought for you, you will awaken with a hangover. Fourth, do not arrive back to your room before 4 AM or you will be perceived as a party pooper.
Monday, January 25, 1999
Somehow I managed to make it to the 9 AM Filmmakers breakfast where I met and chatted with other filmmakers. I was surprised at my resiliency.
I was invited to go see "the other" porn documentary at Sundance with a couple of potential managers. As we stood on line waiting for several hours to buy tickets, I saw many of the same agents and producers I had met over the past several days. Quite frankly, I was exhausted. It is hard to be "on" all of the time. I decided to just relax in line as my friends were chatting with an attractive, middle-aged woman.
One of my potential managers grabbed me by the arm and asked me to hold her purse with a serious look in her eye. I obliged. She pulled an envelope halfway out of her purse and held it so that only she and I could see what she was writing. She drew a huge arrow pointing to the attractive, middle-aged woman with the word "BIG PRODUCER". I shrugged. Then she wrote a list of all of the huge films this woman had produced over the past five years. I flipped "on" my "pitch switch" and needless to say she is reading my script.
I then had a late lunch with a Slamdance director who is interested in directing my script. Finally submitting to exhaustion, I sneaked (lest anyone think I could not operate on 2 hours of sleep per night) back to my room and napped for the rest of the afternoon.
That evening I had dinner with some potential managers and came back to Slamdance to watch "Dill Scallion". The screening room was abuzz with the news that Cheryl Crow was in town and would be performing at the Scallion party later at Ciceros. The director I had lunch with provided me with a pass and I was set to go.
Faun Kime, a Slamdance staffer, and I headed over to the Dill Scallion party with our bar coded, party passes hanging around our necks only to be turned away because our names were not on the list. Unwilling to give up without a fight--after all, the prize was Cheryl Crow--we launched a search for Peter Baxter. We scoured the Slamdance Hotel, office and even resorted to false emergency transmissions over the walkie-talkies. No luck. But we would not be denied--we systematically hunted him down. We finally found Peter and he graciously escorted us past the ogre-like Ciceros doormen. We were in.
I noted that many of the folks at the "Scallion" party, like many of the folks at the "Soundman" party, were Sundance rather than Slamdance attendees. I met agents, producers, and directors, pitched my script, and collected business cards with one eye focused on the stage. After all, the goal this night was to be within spitting distance of Cheryl Crow--my career could wait. As though sensing my distraction, producers began sweetening the pot with talk of allowing me to direct my script--an idea I had all but given up on.
Faun and I were standing in the first row when Cheryl Crow took the stage and sang "My Favorite Mistake". We high-fived each other. The moment was made all the sweeter by the difficult road we had traveled to be there.
After the Cheryl Crow set, the Scallion cast began singing tunes from the movie and I drifted back to my producer and agent "friends". I hooked up with my producer friend "G", who now had a 5'11", blonde actress friend of hers named "H" (I am not making this up) at the Slamdance party and then we headed to the Miramax party. H was particularly fond of my script and wanted to hear all about it. I didn't realize what an asset she would turn out to be until later.
We finally wound up at some local bar hellhole and I forgot all of the things I had learned the night before except the pre-4 AM = party pooper equation.
Tuesday, January 26, 1999
Although hungover and exhausted, I somehow never missed the Filmmaker's 9 AM breakfast. It wasn't for the free food, believe me. Chatting with other filmmakers passionate about their films somehow started my day off on the right foot.
A little later, I ran into Janeane Garofalo on line at Starbucks, which buttressed my theory about the place. (Later in the week I ran into Tim Roth and Stephen Baldwin there as well--further proof).
Around noon, the actor, actress, director and I met to rehearse the reading of selected portions of my screenplay that was scheduled to be performed that evening. I was a bit nervous as I had never heard or seen my work read or performed by actors. Hearing my words come out of the actor's mouths moved me emotionally and I have to say I got a bit weepy. I was relieved that the rehearsal went well since several producers, studio VPs, and agents were attending the reading.
Later that afternoon, I got a call from a producer friend who had been trying to find out for me whether there were any lesbian and gay social events happening around Park City. (Kind of an oxymoron I know). There was one event from 4-6 PM at Café Triega hosted by Fine Line. I was on my way.
As I entered the café, the sweet, older, gay doorman asked me if he could see my invitation. An invitation? No one said anything about an invitation. I said to him "Look, this is the only lesbian and gay event in town. I'm from San Francisco and I'm dying here." He laughed and let me in.
The party was as I had expected--three women and a room full of gay men. One particularly funny guy, whose name I later learned was "Ant", took a shine to me and escorted me around the party and introduced me to all of his friends which seemed to include everyone in the room. He was hysterically funny and very entertaining. I was having so much fun that I lost track of time and had to abruptly leave to attend my screenplay reading.
As we were leaving, Ant asked me whether I was going to the "Sugar Town" party later that evening. I wanted to go, (Allison Anders was a personal hero of mine), but I didn't have a pass. He told me that he would wait outside the party at Mulberry's for me at 10:15 PM and give me a pass. When I looked at him askew, he told me he was a man of his word and would be there at 10:15 PM.
The best thing I can say about the screenplay reading was that it began on schedule. Slamdance did a great job but I suppose it is never easy for a writer to hear her words changed. The audience was apparently none the wiser as I received congratulations and many agents, managers, and producers' cards afterwards.
That evening I went out to dinner with a potential manager and a potential agent at the seafood restaurant on Main Street. We had a great dinner but I was depressed by the reading and decided to sit back and watch the interplay between the two. I felt as though I was watching a performance staged especially for my benefit with each trying to outwit the other.
At this point, I was unimpressed--since neither of them could get me a ticket to the Allison Anders party. On the other hand, my man Ant held a world of possibilities. I decided to head to the party with a few friends to see if Ant was true to his word.
I arrived at Mulberry's with my producer friend "G" and her 5'11" blonde friend "H", (who I would soon learn that straight men were extremely fond of), at 10:05 figuring it was better to be early than late. As we walked up to the door, there stood Ant--early and true to his word holding a ticket for me. He greeted me with a hug and handed me the ticket.
I asked him whether he could get two more tickets for my friends. "Now you're pushing it" he said as he disappeared into the party. He reemerged a few seconds later with two more passes. We were in.
We made our way into the inner sanctum of the party...I wanted to see Allison Anders. I am not sure I ever did. I definitely saw Ally Sheedy, Eric Stoltz, Flea and Roseanna Arquette (who is actually more beautiful in person than on screen). I couldn't help but stare. Alright, so I was a bit star-struck.
"H" pulled me out of my movie star daze with news that she had rounded up a bunch of fellas who were interested in chatting with me about my script. Apparently, "H" had been pitching my script. She introduced me to an ICM agent, a UTA agent, and several producers. It was glorious. H had already done most of the work--they were already sold on reading the script. I relaxed, chatted, answered specific questions about the script, talked once again about directing it, and collected business cards.
H convinced me to drink shots of tequila, which I hadn't done since high school, because an ICM agent bought them for me. She explained that if an agent from a lesser agency had bought the shots she wouldn't have made me drink them. I thought about hiring H full time.
Wednesday, January 27, 1999
I hit the Filmmakers breakfast again and awaited the arrival of a friend who was meeting me for the rest of the week. When she arrived we both went back to the room and passed out 'til late afternoon.
We watched a few movies and a lounge program, had a nice dinner, saw "12 Stops on the Road to Nowhere"--which I loved, and called it an early night.
Thursday, January 28, 1999
My friend and I hit the Filmmaker's breakfast, she saw Dill Scallion while I hung around the lobby chatting with my buddies. We next saw "Chi Girl" (which we both loved) and took in another short Lounge program.
The big event of this day centered on the party at the Lakota for "Thick as Thieves" starring Alec Baldwin. My friend G had a pass to the exclusive party because she coproduces with the producer of that film.
G had been trying to get her coproducer and his partner to read my script for several weeks. After a few minutes of chatting with him and his partner they promised to read the script on the plane ride home, were very interested in producing it and considered allowing me to direct it. Another successful schmooze. (I should note that to me, a successful schmooze only results in a read of my work. All writers need to be read).
I still hadn't seen Alec Baldwin. G and I scoured the party and finally found him sitting in a booth surrounded by a bunch of burly guys--completely unapproachable. I really wanted to meet him. He didn't know it, but we have a lot in common. He grew up two towns over from me on Long Island. But there was no way to get near him, unless I vaulted myself over the table. I decided at this point that he wasn't looking very good. He had gained weight and his head looked puffy--the look that older men get when they gain weight around their neck. I returned to my friend G upstairs.
I met several other agents and producers and chatted and pitched the night away. Long story short: I left with two "Thick as Thieves" T-shirts for my sons (a whole other story).
Friday, January 29, 1999
By this point my voice was shot. I could barely speak above a whisper. My friends and I hit the Filmmaker's breakfast once again and saw "Following" a clever black and white, noir-type film. We spent the rest of the day tooling around Park City taking pictures, buying T-shirts and the like.
I had a 5 PM coffee date with a studio VP who loved my script but believed that because his studio had a hard and fast rule against doing crime stories, would be unable to buy the script. He assured me that on the strength of my writing, he would like me to do some writing for them and wanted to maintain a relationship with me. He offered me passes to the Sundance Award Ceremony the following night. I was leaving Park City the next morning and had to pass up the biggest party of the festival--I had made my first social faux pas.
When I returned to the Slamdance hotel, some of my friends were complaining that they didn't have passes to the big UTA party that night. I was covered because I had a UTA agent I had met earlier in the week place my name and my friend's name on the guest list. Nevertheless, I called the Los Angeles UTA office, chatted with the woman in charge of the list, apparently sounded as though I was someone important, and had her place all of my friends on it.
That evening at the Slamdance Award Party, I received the coveted Sparky Award, a $2000 check, scriptwriting software and a subscription to In Hollywood. I was interviewed by several media people--don't ask me who. All I know is that it is a lot tougher to talk into a microphone with that bright camera light in your eyes than you would think.
I headed down to the big UTA party with my friends, proudly carrying my Sparky in tow. It was a madhouse. Hundreds of people were lined up. My New York sensibilities kicked in and I threaded my way through the crowd to the door with my entourage in tow. I gave the doorman my name and was let in. Several of my friends also got in. One friend didn't. Apparently the Fire Marshal had arrived and would not allow another person into the party.
The party was wall-to-wall people. I sat at a table with my friend G, a producer from a production company that had made "Bound" (one of my favorite films), a woman who worked for New Line and a former Paramount exec.
Suddenly, out of the crowd, H emerged and dragged me to her table. She introduced me to a Touchstone exec, a Propaganda exec and a couple of agents to whom H had pitched my script and were interested in talking to me. I chatted and pitched, and obtained several business cards to add to my ever-increasing collection. Another successful, late-night party experience.
Saturday, January 30, 1999
I didn't want to go home. I was not ready to leave. But all attempts to change my flight to a later departure had failed.
As I stood in the Slamdance lobby in the early morning light awaiting my shuttle to the airport, I reflected on the most phenomenal week of my life. I had made real and lasting friendships with many Slamdance staffers, actors, filmmakers and producers. I chatted with movie stars and obtained so much free movie paraphernalia that I had to buy another suitcase to carry it home in. Most importantly, I learned that I can pitch, schmooze and party with the best of them.
Thank you Slamdance.
An interview with screenwriter Will Hartman regarding the Slamdance Writing Competition.
An interview with screenwriter Andrew B Smith regarding the Slamdance Writing Competition.
An interview with screenwriter Amir Ohebsion regarding the Slamdance Writing Competition.
An interview with screenwriter Gary Miner regarding the Slamdance Writing Competition.