The Bigfork Independent Film Festival's first Montana Screenwriting Competition is eager to find narrative screenplays that demonstrate the exceptional talents and skills of Montana writers &/or highlight the special qualities of Montana locations.

This Montana-focused writing competition accepts ONLY narrative Feature and Short Film screenplays (no documentary film scripts, teleplays or stageplays). Your screenplay will be reviewed by a judging panel of Montana-based writing professors, Hollywood screenwriting consultants, writer-directors, filmmakers, and other industry experts.

The competition is open for submissions from 11/9/19 to 2/2/20. It will conclude with a Live Reading of our "Best of BIFF" winner at the 2020 Bigfork Independent Film Festival. This Special Event -- at 2pm on Sunday 4/5 -- will be presented by a cast of experienced local actors before a live audience at the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts. The winning selection will be either a feature length or a short screenplay, and will be read in full if a short or in part if a feature.

To be accepted and reviewed, all submissions must be either:
a) a Feature-length screenplay (90-140 pages)
-- OR --
b) a full Short Film script (between 20-40 pages)
-- AND --
c) written by at least one Montana-connected writer (if co-written by a pair or team)
-- OR --
d) include story-relevant Montana locations

If you have a narrative feature or short film that is qualified for submission to BIFF 2020, you can also submit its screenplay to MTSC here! Get info on film submissions:

More info on BIFF:

If you have any problems submitting your screenplay as a PDF file, please email MTSC Coordinator Barbara Schiffman at -- include your full name, phone number and submission question or problem to get a return email or call.

The AWARD PACKAGES for all 2020 semi-finalists, finalists and the "Best of BIFF" winner will each include:

* One VIP All Access BIFF 2020 pass per writer
* Name inclusion on BIFF website as a semi-finalist, finalist or winner
* A downloadable copy of Movie Magic Screenwriter software (a $249 value, provided by contest sponsor Write Brothers Software)
* Additional very cool perks plus bragging rights and kudos

Our "Best of BIFF 2020" Winning Writer (one writer of either a feature or short screenplay) will also receive:
* An additional VIP All Access BIFF 2020 pass for a spouse or friend (total of 2 passes for Winner)
* A Table Reading of the winning screenplay as a one-hour 2020 festival weekend Special Event
* Screenplay feedback and mentoring from Barbara Schiffman (coordinator of the 2020 Screenwriting Competition; formerly a Hollywood story analyst, script consultant and creative executive)
* One annual All Access Pass to online courses at
* Additional very cool perks plus bragging rights and kudos


1) SUBMISSION TYPES & LENGTHS: BIFF 2020 Screenwriting Competition accepts only narrative Feature Length or Short Film screenplays (no documentary scripts, teleplays or stageplays). Feature length screenplay submissions must no less than 90 pages and no longer than 135 pages (for a 90-120 minute film). Short screenplays must be between 20-40 pages (for a 20-40 minute film). All genres will be considered (exceptions: sexually explicit content or gratuitous violence).

(a) Submissions must be written by at least one screenwriter who either currently lives in Montana or has significant Montana connections (via family, previous schooling, etc). If written by a collaborative team, at least one writer must have a connection of this type to Montana. NOTE: screenplays by Montana writers do not need to be set in Montana.
-- OR --
(b) If NOT written by a Montana writer, submissions MUST include Montana locations (at least in part) and specified as locations in Montana (not just scenes that could be shot in Montana or somewhere else) -- special consideration will be given to how the special qualities of notable Montana locations are utilized and described.

3) MULTIPLE SUBMISSIONS: Writers are welcome to submit more than one screenplay any time before the submission deadline -- but each requires a separate application plus the current non-refundable entry fee (paid at time of submission).

4) ORIGINAL CONTENT: Feature length and short film screenplays must be the original work of the submitting writer(s). If a submitted screenplay is based on another person’s life or copyrighted ideas, characters or storylines without proper permission from the originator, it will be disqualified without refund of submission fees.

5) ONLINE SUBMISSION PROCESS: All submissions must be made online as PDF files. No scripts submitted in other formats or sent by USPS, UPS or Fedex will be accepted. All screenplays will be considered as “complete” once submited; no revisions or updated copies will be accepted.

6) SCREENPLAY FORMATTING: All screenplay pages must be numbered (except the title page) and typed in 12 point Courier font. Screenplays must also be written in English and formatted according to current industry standards (see links to useful articles on screenplay formatting below).

7) TITLE PAGE & WRITER CONTACT INFO: The Title page for each submission should not be numbered (see #3 above) and MUST include:
* full screenplay title,
* full name(s) of writer(s),
* contact info (submitter's email, phone #, writer's website if any).

8) PRIVACY POLICY: While we do not require writer anonymity to be able to review each screenplay, we promise to keep all submitted concepts or ideas confidential. We will announce and publicize info on any semi-final, final and winning screenplays only with their writers' permission.

9) COPYRIGHT & OTHER RIGHTS: Submitting writers retain ALL rights and copyrights to submitted screenplays other than those granted specifically for this competition (see #10 below for more info). Writers are encouraged, however, to copyright their work &/or register screenplays prior to submitting to any contest with the Writers’ Guild of America West:

10) RIGHTS GRANTED TO BIFF-MTSC: By making your submission, you grant the BIFF Montana Screenwriting Competition the right to use your name(s), the screenplay’s title and logline, and any other relevant information about the writer(s) or screenplay in BIFF festival and screenwriting competition promotion for 2020 and beyond. This also includes the right to name inclusion on BIFF website if your screenplay is a semi-finalist or finalist, as well as to relevant info and participation of writer and winning screenplay in the 2020 "Best of BIFF-MTSC" table reading event.

11) OTHER LEGAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF WRITER(S): By submitting your work for consideration to the BIFF Montana Screenwriting Competition, you affirm acceptance of full legal responsibility for the intellectual property therein. The submitter and all writers associated with the project indemnify and hold harmless the Bigfork Independent Film Festival and any representative or affiliates from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses which may be incurred in relation to this submission.


DENNIS FOLEY - former Hollywood writer-producer, also a published novelist and popular writing instructor at Flathead Valley Community College and
More info:

KATHY DUNNEHOFF - Published novelist and writing instructor at Flathead Valley Community College, inc. screenwriting courses for credit or continuing education and the annual NaNoWriMo Challenge.
More info:

MITCH UNDERHILL - Independent filmmaker, screenwriter, actor and producer; BIFF 2020 Technical Coordinator; credits include indie film "The Beast" (premiered at BIFF 2017)

BARBARA SCHIFFMAN - MTSC 2020 Coordinator; former creative producer and Hollywood story analyst for major film and cable producers, currently a writing coach and book editor in Whitefish MT. Her chapter "Key Things to Know Before You Write" is included in Tarcher/Penguin's book "Now Write! Screenwriting."
More info:

Additional judges will be added -- stay tuned!

If you have any QUESTIONS on any of the items above, e-mail Screenwriting Competition Coordinator Barbara Schiffman at Please include your full name and your phone number if you'd like a return call to address your needs.

For useful tips and examples of check out these helpful articles or pdf samples:


If you need additional info about screenplay formatting, email Barbara Schiffman at -- include your specific question and your phone number so she can respond directly.