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Cinequest
Cinequest Screenwriting Competition
2023-2024
Reads in Coverfly
Active Since 2004
Renowned as the “future of the filmed arts," Cinequest provides a bastion of discovery that launches careers and empowers writers to take flight.
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About

Welcome to the 19th Cinequest Screenwriting Competition, presenting screenwriters with prestigious recognition, engagement with industry leaders, connection to an empowering community, plus the chance to win extraordinary acclaim and prizes. The Competition welcomes screenplays and teleplays of all genres and lengths. Cinequest inspires creative fervor and provides dynamic opportunities for writers to get discovered and have their work produced.

 

"I think the most important thing about Cinequest is it's definitely the first time I've ever come to a festival where my immediate reaction is, 'What do I have to do to be invited back?' and that's not normally my reaction. It's a perfect film festival in a glorious place."— Neil Gaiman, Maverick Spirit Award Winner

 

Cinequest is dedicated to launching new screenwriters’ careers and providing a platform from which their work can take flight. Cinequest was voted Best Film Festival by USA Today Readers. Set in the home of the world’s most influential media technology companies (Netflix, YouTube, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), Cinequest showcases premier films, renowned and emerging artists, and breakthrough technology—empowering global connectivity between creators, innovators, and audiences. Cinequest Film & VR Festival occurs in San Jose & Redwood City, California, and Virtually.

 

Amidst the energy and excitement of the festival, the Cinequest Screenwriting Competition empowers creative and innovative writers with the opportunity to interact with producers and industry professionals from around the world. Finalists will be honored during the Cinequest Writers Celebration, a day filled with a dynamic collection of Writer Meet Producer events, Business of Writing forums, Pitch Training, VIP Writers Lunch, and an awards ceremony announcing the winners of the competition.

 

Cinequest Finalist Juries (announced in January/February) feature many top industry leaders. Previous year's jury included:

 

•        Chan Phung, Fox Searchlights, SVP of Acquisitions & Development

•        Chris Grunden, HBO, Vice President of Film Programming

•        LisaHolmes, Music Box Films, Director of Home Entertainment        

•        Nathalie Jeung, Le Pacte, Sales Executive     

•        Lauren Fisher, Paramount, VP of Worldwide Acquisitions

•        Nitza Wilon, The Writers Lab, Co-Founder

•        Debra Zimmerman, Women Make Movies, Executive Director

•        Gabor Greiner, Films Boutique, Head of Acquisitions 

•        Carter Pilcher, Shorts International, CEO & Founder

•        Fiona Lamptey, Netflix, UK Director of Originals and Features

 

The prestigious Maverick Spirit Award will also be presented to a renowned writer during the Celebration. Past honorees include: J.J. Abrams, Neil Gaiman, Darren Star, Lawrence Kasdan, Chuck Palahniuk, Michael Arndt, Darren Star, and Diablo Cody.

 

TESTIMONIALS

 

"I've been submitting to Cinequest since 2013. The Cinequest judges' feedback has always been top-notch. I had a fantastic experience attending this year. The producers and staff do an amazing job. It's incredible...I'm over the moon to be working with The Solution and with the crew at CAA. — Jeremy Rush, Cinequest Feature Winner, WHEELMAN (Sold to Netflix )"

 

“What unites them all under the festival’s big tent is clear: Being a part of Cinequest is not to follow industry trends, but to witness the moment they’re being set.” — Max Weinstein, MovieMaker

 

"My cell was ringing with option interest before I even left San Jose. The Cinequest win helped me land representation in L.A., which resulted in attaching a seasoned producer who loves the script. I'm now being read by some of the most well-known production companies and all the major studios in Hollywood." — Bill Schreiber, SWITCHBACK

 

“Winning the Cinequest feature screenwriting competition gave me a chance to connect with other writers and filmmakers and provided me with amazing opportunities to open some doors. A top-notch competition!” — Stacie Shellner, SAINT CHLOE

 

"It's a surreal experience to see Our Lady Lupe go from CINEQUEST finalist script to screen with its premiere on national television! I learned so much from the writer's celebration, which definitely helped prepare me for this opportunity!" — Dominique Nieves, OUR LADY LUPE

 

"Cinequest offers the creme' de la creme' of screenplay competitions! All of the events were professionally run, and as a Screenwriting Finalist, I encountered wonderful networking situations, well thought out educational opportunities, and a warm embrace into this vibrant community." — Ashia Chacko, BLACK BOX

 

"I saw the word "maverick" and took a chance on a lark that maybe this was a venue that could help foster my own vision. I graduated from the USC Graduate Screenwriting program...whatever happens in my career from this point on, I will consider [Cinequest] as one of the key factors in my development as a writer." — George Chumo II, THE ICONOCLAST, and THE BRIDGE

 

“I can honestly say that Cinequest is one of the most writer-friendly film festivals I've ever been to. It was such a pleasure to meet everyone and, most of all, hear all of the stories. Here's hoping we all get a green light someday!” — Donna Laemmlen, SHEILA THE GILA MONSTER

 

"Everyone at Cinequest was great and I enjoyed the networking opportunities they provided. My screenplay is moving forward and we are seeking out investors to co-produce." — David Rich, THROUGH MARIA'S EYES

 

All submissions receive three lines of consolidated reader feedback upon request.

Benefits

Awards & Benefits:

The 19th Cinequest Competition will award cash prizes (9K Total) plus a spectacular package of industry exposure and engagement, festival all-access passes (in-person and virtual editions), and exclusive career-building seminars to winners and top 10 finalists. Top 10 finalists in all categories are invited to both the in-person and virtual festivals for days of networking, community, panels, and celebrations. PLUS! All who submit will receive one COMPLIMENTARY month of ISA CONNECT Membership.


Top 10 finalists are announced via social and press release. Benefits as follows:   

  

FEATURE-LENGTH SCRIPTS, 60 & 30 MIN TELEPLAYS 

Each of these categories of submissions receives the following benefits and prizes: 

  

FEATURE-LENGTH SCRIPTS:

1st Place  

(1) Receives $5,000. Winning script by more than one writer will have cash prize split evenly between members of the writing team. NOTE: Feature Scripts submitted in the Genre Categories: Rom/Com and Sci-fy/Thriller will compete alongside all Features.  

(2) Complimentary 12 month ISAConnect Membership 

(3) Plus all Finalist benefits listed below: 

  

Top Three Finalists 

(1) Opportunity to have script read by top level industry producers, executives, and jury.  

(2) One free four-month feature script listing for any script/title on the InkTip Executive Index  

(3) Four months of 6-8 plus leads per week with InkTip Membership. 

(4) All of the Top 10 Finalist benefits listed below: 

  

Top Ten Finalists 

(1) Recognition (script title) on the Storytelling Celebration event page on Cinequest Film & VR Festival website. 

(2) Invitation to Cinequest Film & VR Festivals that includes complimentary All-Access Passes (in-person and virtual events). 

(3) Exclusive invitation to Storytelling Celebration, which includes a variety of special events and panels of industry powerhouses, and an inspiring Maverick Spirit luminary event. 

(4) Special discounts and rates on accommodations during Cinequest Film & VR Festival. 

(5) Complimentary 2 months of InkTip PROMembership.

(6) Complimentary 3-month ISAConnect Membership.  

(7) The Top 10 Feature Scripts will be sent to a panel of ISA jurors for consideration for the ISA Story Award. ISA will award one free ISA Development Evaluation and 12-month ISAConnect membership (value of $320) to the selected winner. 

Includes up to 5 pages of extensive notes covering your entire screenplay 

Consideration by the ISA Development Team for acceptance onto the ISA Development Slate, where the development team supports, champions, and promotes writers to producers, managers, and agents in Hollywood and beyond, forging relationships and building careers. Many Development Slate writers have had scripts optioned or produced, received representation, and been staffed on series, among other successes.



SHORT FILM SCRIPTS:  

1st Place 

(1) Receives $1,000. Winning script by more than one writer will have cash prize split evenly between members of the writing team. 

(2) Complimentary 12-month ISAConnect Membership 

(3) Future Invitation to screen (once produced) the short film made from winning script at the Cinequest Film & VR Festival. Cinequest is not responsible for the production of the film. 

(4) One free four-month feature script listing for any script/title on the InkTip Executive Index  

(5) Four months of 6-8 plus leads per week with InkTip Membership. 

(6) Plus all Finalist benefits listed below: 


Top Three Finalists 

(1) Opportunity to have script read by top level industry producers, executives, and jury.  

(2) All of the Top 10 Finalist benefits listed below: 


Top Ten Finalists 

(1) Recognition (script title) on the Storytelling Celebration event page on Cinequest Film & VR Festival website. 

(2) Invitation to Cinequest Film & VR Festivals that includes complimentary All-Access Passes (in-person and virtual events). 

(3) Exclusive invitation to Storytelling Celebration, which includes a variety of special events and panels of industry powerhouses, and an inspiring Maverick Spirit luminary event. 

(4) Special discounts and rates on accommodations during Cinequest Film & VR Festival. 

(5) Complimentary 2 months of InkTip PROMembership.

(6) Complimentary 3-month ISAConnect Membership.  


TELEPLAY 60 SCRIPTS:  

1st Place 

(1) Receives $1,000. Winning script by more than one writer will have cash prize split evenly between members of the writing team. 

(2) Complimentary 12 month ISAConnect Membership 

(3) One free four-month feature script listing for any script/title on the InkTip Executive Index  

(4) Four months of 6-8 plus leads per week with InkTip Membership. 

(5) Plus all Finalist benefits listed below: 

  

Top Three Finalists 

(1) Opportunity to have script read by top level industry producers, executives, and jury.  

(2) All of the Top 10 Finalist benefits listed below: 


Top Ten Finalists 

(1) Recognition (script title) on the Storytelling Celebration event page on Cinequest Film & VR Festival website. 

(2) Invitation to Cinequest Film & VR Festivals that includes complimentary All-Access Passes (in-person and virtual events). 

(3) Exclusive invitation to Storytelling Celebration, which includes a variety of special events and panels of industry powerhouses, and an inspiring Maverick Spirit luminary event. 

(4) Special discounts and rates on accommodations during Cinequest Film & VR Festival. 

(5) Complimentary 2 months of InkTip PROMembership.

(6) Complimentary 3-month ISAConnect Membership..  

  

TELPLAY 30 SCRIPTS:  

1st Place 

(1) Receives $1,000. Winning script by more than one writer will have cash prize split evenly between members of the writing team. 

(2) Complimentary 12-month ISAConnect Membership 

(3) One free four-month feature script listing for any script/title on the InkTip Executive Index  

(4) Four months of 6-8 plus leads per week with InkTip Membership. 

(5) Plus all Finalist benefits listed below: 

  

Top Three Finalists 

(1) Opportunity to have script read by top level industry producers, executives, and jury.  

(2) All of the Top 10 Finalist benefits listed below: 


Top Ten Finalists 

(1) Recognition (script title) on the Storytelling Celebration event page on Cinequest Film & VR Festival website. 

(2) Invitation to Cinequest Film & VR Festivals that includes complimentary All-Access Passes (in-person and virtual events). 

(3) Exclusive invitation to Storytelling Celebration, which includes a variety of special events and panels of industry powerhouses, and an inspiring Maverick Spirit luminary event. 

(4) Special discounts and rates on accommodations during Cinequest Film & VR Festival. 

(5) Complimentary 2 months of InkTip PROMembership.

(6) Complimentary 3-month ISAConnect Membership. 

Writer Success

2023-2024 Semifinalists on Coverfly

See Other Placements

Announcements

Feb 29th
Finalists
Mar 31st
Winners

Rules

At the program's request, Coverfly will automatically remove your title page for you if you include one when submitting to this program.

SCRIPT FORMAT 

 All genres accepted. Especially seeking drama, comedy, thriller/mystery, sci-fi, action, bio-pic, rom-com, horror, and highly original material. 

 

Cinequest is now accepting two new genre categories: Romance / Comedies and Sci-Fi / Thriller.

 

Script must be submitted in English and must be properly formatted according to industry standards. 

Length (not including title page):

• Feature-Length Scripts must be between 70 -125 pages

• Short Film Scripts must be 40 pages or fewer

• Teleplays (60 minutes) must be between 45-70 pages

• Teleplays (30 minutes) must be 45 pages or fewer 

 

Only PDFs will be accepted for submission. Printed scripts are not accepted.

 

Script must be properly formatted according to industry standards. 

 

Please include ONLY your script’s title on the cover page so that readers may remain unbiased in their decisions. Your COVERFLY tracking number will automatically be assigned to your uploaded script.

 

Maintain your full contact information in your COVERFLY registration. Do not include any contact information on your submitted script.

 

RESTRICTIONS

 

Once the entry is received no rewritten/corrected pages will be accepted.

 

Submission fees are collected by COVERFLY. Cinequest does not accept payment by cash, check, or money order. There is no entry fee refund for any scripts submitted.

 

Winning scripts by more than one writer will have the prize split evenly between members of the writing team.

 

Any script that becomes purchased, optioned, goes into production, or is produced before the final Jury decision on February 28, 2024, will be eliminated from the competition with no entry fee refund. Scripts written as adaptations of other works must have secured rights before being submitted.

 

FEEDBACK & NOTIFICATIONS

 

Contestants will receive 3 lines of consolidated reader feedback on their script if requested. Feedback will not be automatically sent, so please email your script title and the request for feedback to screenplay@cinequest.org following the season.

 

Writers will be notified of their status in the competition via the email address provided at the time of registration. Please include screenplay@cinequest.org in your contact lists to receive these notifications. See below for the selection process:

 

•        Top 50 and Top 10 notified in late February / early March 2024.

•        Top 10 Finalists listed on Website mid-March 2024.

•        Top 3 and Winners Announced in the 2024 Festival Awards Press Release.

 

Authorization:

As the authorized representative for the above-mentioned script, I accept the conditions and rules described in this entry form. I attest to the fact that this screenplay submission has not been optioned or purchased and is not in current production or post-production. Should the optioning, purchasing, or production status of the script change, I will contact Cinequest immediately in writing to have the script removed from the competition.

 

If this script is selected as a finalist and/or prize winner of the Cinequest Screenwriting Competition, I grant Cinequest the right to use all writers' names and likenesses in conjunction with the promotion of the Cinequest Screenwriting Competition without additional / any competition. This includes, but is not limited to, the listing of finalists and prize winners on the Cinequest website; in Cinequest press releases and media coverage surrounding the screenwriting competition; and Cinequest Film & VR Festival occurring in 2024.

 

Disclaimer:

Submitting to the Cinequest Film & VR Festival Screenwriting Competition is for competition purposes only and does not mean that Cinequest Inc., its employees, sponsors, or anyone associated with Cinequest will represent, produce, promote, or fund any project whatsoever. Cinequest is not responsible for lost screenplays.

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2023-2024