The Atlanta Film Festival has a four decade long history of discovering and nurturing new filmmaking talent, having shown early works by Robert Rodriguez, Spike Lee, and Victor Nunez. The Screenplay Competition was founded in 2008 to expand this tradition by recognizing the foundation of the filmmaking art form.
The 2018 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition is devoted to finding the best screenplays from around the world and offering their authors an opportunity for a once in a lifetime writing workshop and mentorship with professionals in the film industry.
Three feature film screenplays, one pilot screenplay, and one short film screenplay are chosen to take part in one-on-one mentorship meetings. Not only do they get notes on their winning screenplay, they also get to build lifelong relationships with industry professionals, and network with the diverse and experience crowd of filmmakers and industry insiders that attend the Atlanta Film Festival every year.
Winners of the Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition have gone on to be honored by the Black List, sign with representation, option their winning scripts, and write/direct critically and commercially successful indie films.
Diana Ossana - Oscar Winning Screenwriter (Brokeback Mountain)
Kathryn Dean - Producer (Winter’s Bone, Hell or High Water, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks)
Michael Lucker - Screenwriter/Emory Professor (Vampire in Brooklyn, 101 Dalmatians 2, Mulan 2, Kronk’s New Groove, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron)
Kent Osborne - Head of Story (Adventure Time), Writer (Spongebob Squarepants), Voice Director (Steven Universe, Adventure Time)
Danny Manus - Former Development Executive (Sidney White), Founder No Bullscript Consulting
Diane Drake - Screenwriter, UCLA professor, and former VP of Creative Affairs at Mirage Enterprises (Only You, What Women Want)
Robin M. Henry - Screenwriter (Meet the Browns, House of Payne, East Los High), Producer (East Los High, Kevin Hart's Guide to Black History)
James Ponsoldt - Director (Smashed, The Spectacular Now, End of the Tour, The Circle), Writer (Smashed, The Circle)
**Notable Competition Alumni**
James Ponsoldt, 2008 Feature Screenplay Winner, went on to become a successful writer/director, helming projects such as: The Spectacular Now, The End of the Tour, and Smashed. His most recent film The Circle, starring Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, and Jon Boyega, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017, followed by theatrical release.
Stella Meghie, 2011 Feature Screenplay Winner, went on to direct her winning script Jean of the Joneses which played at the Atlanta Film Festival in 2016. Her film Everything, Everything, starring Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson, was released in theaters in 2017.
Mike Makowsky, 2016 Pilot Screenplay Winner, went on to become a Blacklist honoree. His feature film I Think We’re Alone Now premiered at Sundance in 2018 under the direction of Reed Morano (Director of Meadowland, Cinematographer for Beyoncé: Lemonade, The Skeleton Twins, Kill Your Darlings) and starring Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning.
"What sets ATLFF apart is what makes Atlanta itself such a great city -- a sharp sense of humor, a warm sense of hospitality, and a taste for adventure. One of my favorite film festivals."
-Jonathan Mason, 2018 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition Pilot Winner
“[The ATLFF Screenplay Competition] gave us the most valuable reward of all. Meetings with three outstanding mentors [...] Atlanta Film Festival provided airfare, lodging and meals for the weekend, so all we had to worry about was taking notes on how to improve our screenplays. We also participated in a table read with SAG/AFTRA actors to hear the words we had written interpreted by professional actors so we could see what was working and what wasn't. The experience was beyond invaluable.”
- Denise Meyers, 2017 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition Feature Winner
"The screenplay retreat was a unique and immersive experience in that it not only provided specific unbiased insight into the world of my script, but also refreshingly candid knowledge about the world of the industry itself. The festival truly does a commendable job of nurturing diverse talent and offering the rare opportunity to workshop your material in a concentrated, safe, and fun environment with mentors who genuinely want you to put your best foot forward, both with your script and the industry at large."
- Melanie Schiele, 2013 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition Feature Winner (2013 Slamdance Screenplay Competition Winner and 2017 NYU Purple List Honoree)
"The ATLFF was absolutely a career high. I was so honored to be a part of such a prestigious festival. From day 1, the staff and volunteers were professional, courteous, and encouraging towards my endeavors in screenwriting. The mentors chosen for the screenplay winners were kind, very knowledgeable of their craft, and accessible. I had a blast laughing, creating, and viewing all the wonderful talent throughout the festival. Thank you again ATLFF for such an uplifting experience!"
- Tonya Holloway, 2013 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition Feature Winner
“This competition offers you what very few can, a personal and relaxed atmosphere to meet with professionals who are willing to take the time to not only get to know your writing but you as a person.”
-Wenonah Wilms, 2008 Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition Feature Winner
Pilot and Short Film Screenplays
The winners of the pilot and short film competitions will receive a one-on-one consultation with an industry professional in their genre. For pilots, we provide consultation with an Atlanta writer working in either the television or web series industry. For short films, we provide consultation with a short film writer/director in the Atlanta area who has extensive experience with production and the festival circuit. These opportunities are designed to give our winners the chance to sit down and talk about the next steps for their script, discuss paths for jump starting or furthering their career, and develop a connection with someone who can serve as a mentor on future projects.
The winners of the feature screenplay competition will be given the opportunity to participate in our annual Atlanta Film Festival Screenwriter’s Retreat. This exclusive, all expenses paid program, offers our winners the chance to sit down with industry members and workshop their screenplay one-on-one during a two day retreat. Our mentors are all screenwriters who have worked in the industry, had festival success with their work, and earned major academic qualifications. This workshop is one of our most lauded successes and gives our winners invaluable experience that will help bolster not only their current screenplay but their future work as well. (Travel is only guaranteed for winners in the US and Canada).
All Winners receive an All-Access Badge to the Atlanta Film Festival where they can network with directors and industry members from all over the world. At the festival, they will also have the opportunity to take part in a staged reading of their screenplay for the festival attendees. This reading will be conducted by Atlanta SAG actors, which provides the invaluable experience of hearing your words brought to life in front of an audience of filmmakers, industry members, and general movie lovers.
*Estimated value of Goods/Services: 2,500 U.S. Dollar