Empire Screenplay Contest:

as of March 18, 2002


The value of professional services offered free to Contest finalists and winners, beyond what was initially promised, includes:

  • professional critique ($250)
  • line-by-line mark-up ($250)
  • individual marketing ($500)
  • weekend workshops ($250)

The expert advice offered through this website without charge is difficult to value. This information serves as the basis for the above services and workshops for a combined total value of $1,250. Thoroughly and carefully applied, the information found here could have far greater worth than that.


The Fifth Annual Contest saw the fewest submissions ever, with only 50 projects advancing to the quarterfinals in both categories combined (also the fewest ever). Unfortunately, the quantity and quality of these projects was not sufficient to continue with the judging process. The entire process is geared around advancing writer careers and identifying writers and projects for Hollywood. To go forward in these efforts with projects that don't merit the attention would be a misapplication of resources all around. For these reasons, the related clause found in the guidelines has been employed. All Fifth Annual quarterfinalists may resubmit their projects for a free professional critique valued at $250. The total value of this offer equals $12,500 when applied to all 50 quarterfinalists, well exceeding the $4,000 total cash prizes originally offered to ultimate winners.

A dozen scripts have been processed related to this offer, a few of them returned without critique due to the lack of apparent application of the guidance related to word use, readability, and presentability found at this site. Half a dozen more were thought to be late Contest submissions, but might have been addressed improperly (for whatever reason). All projects returned to writers, and any yet to be submitted, still qualify for the free critique. Screenplays not yet reviewed may be submitted to any of the weekend workshop locations.


All three finalists in each category have been named winners, rather than a single winner per category as originally promised. This compensates somewhat for lateness-- of judging, notification, and response to e-mails--by spreading the winning benefits more broadly. It also makes for a more marketable slate of projects (more appealing to Hollywood than any one of the projects singly). Prizes will be allocated as appropriate once the guidance and marketing of these projects (for which we receive no fee or other compensation) has been completed. Free Final Draft screenwriting software has been requested from Final Draft, Inc. for each winner. Direct follow-up with the maker is encouraged to confirm address information and delivery. A press release has been sent to the major trades. Direct marketing to roughly 700 Hollywood producers is now complete. Historically such efforts have resulted in numerous requests to review marketed projects. Due to the lateness of Hollywood marketing efforts, each of the winning projects, and subsequent scripts as appropriate, will be marketed individually to Hollywood producers ($500 value per script). Please watch this space for instructions on what material will be needed from writers, and how and where to submit it (or join the Yahoo!Group below).

Beyond the winning project, each winner may submit an additional screenplay for a free professional critique and a line-by-line mark-up ($500 total value per script). Screenplays yet to be submitted for critique may be sent to the location of the winner's designated weekend workshop.


Finalists and winners benefitted more fully than ever before from the industry exposure and publicity promised that year. With 15 Hollywood industry representatives reviewing more than 200 Contest screenplays--meaning finalists and winning projects were considered five times by industry judges--the level of industry exposure during the judging process was unprecedented and quite extensive by any measure. Press releases were sent out to trades, related websites, etc. trumpeting their successes.

The Hollywood or Bust winner, one of the very finest writers ever to enter the Contest, cooperated fully with efforts to enhance his material and market it to Hollywood (services not promised the year he entered, but added since) and was rewarded with a dozen additional requests to see his script from Hollywood producers. This added to the five who had reviewed it as part of the judging process.

The High Value winner, who also cooperated fully with supplemental guidance and marketing efforts on his behalf, had a half dozen more Hollywood producers request his script as a result. Informed of the disappointing attendance in the past, he declined the staged reading of his script (offered in the first three years only to High Value winners).

Additionally, Final Draft screenwriting software was requested from Final Draft, Inc. (not promised in the year they entered, but added since). The offer of a professional critique of their winning scripts, review and input on their marketing tools (submission letters and synopses), and direct marketing to Hollywood producers, was offered to both winners as compensation for late payment of cash prizes.

In summary, the two winners in the Third Annual Contest have each benefited from goods and services not offered in the year they entered valued at $2,000:

  • direct marketing efforts ($750)
  • guidance on marketing tools ($150)
  • professional script critique ($250)
  • screenwriting software ($300)
  • supplemental marketing efforts, combined with those of the Fourth Annual Contest ($300)
  • weekend workshop ($250)

The $4,000 total matches the cash prizes offered that year.

All nine finalists were offered free guidance on their marketing materials ($150 value) and a free professional critique of their scripts ($250 value), the combined value of this offer being $3,600. The $4,000 total value of goods and services provided the two winners, plus the $3,600 in total value of services offered the remaining finalists--for a total of $7,600--compares favorably with the $4,000 in cash prizes promised.


Cash prizes to all winners are expected to be satisfied by year-end 2002 through receipts from weekend workshops and professional critiques. Weekends will be designated to specific writers, as posted to the workshop page. Winners may wish to urge screenwriters to participate or submit in order to expedite satisfaction of Contest prizes.


For updates on progress on Contest commitments, and this screenwriting resource:
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Winners, finalists, semifinalists, and quarterfinalists from any year may participate in workshops without charge.