Welcome to the 18th Cinequest Screenwriting Competition, presenting screenwriters with prestigious recognition, engagement with industry leaders, connection to 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 awards ceremony announcing the winners of the competition.

Cinequest Finalist Juries (announced in January) feature many top industry leaders. Last 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

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.

The 18th Cinequest Competition will award cash prizes (17K in 2022) 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. Top 10 finalists are announced via social and press release on February 15. Benefits as follows:

FEATURE-LENGTH SCRIPTS, 60 & 30 MIN TELEPLAYS

Each of these three categories of submissions receive the following benefits and prizes:

1st Place
(1) Receives a cash prize. 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) 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 and 4 months of 6-8 plus leads per week with InkTip Membership.
(3) 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 6 month ISAConnect Membership.

SHORT FILM SCRIPTS:

1st Place
(1) Receives a cash prize. 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) 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 and 4 months of 6-8 plus leads per week with InkTip Membership.
(3) 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 6 month ISAConnect Membership.

SCRIPT FORMAT

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

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 FilmFreeway tracking number will automatically be assigned to your uploaded script.

Maintain your full contact information in your FilmFreeway 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 FilmFreeway. 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, 2023, 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.

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 2023.
• Top 10 Finalists listed on Website late February or early March 2023.
• Top 3 and Winners Announced in the 2023 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 2023.

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.

Overall Rating
Quality
Value
Communication
Hospitality
Networking
  • Dirk Sanders

    Loved Cinequest. Really enjoyed the staff and other writers. Attended the Film Festival in San Jose as well, and really enjoyed the venues and the people we met.

    September 2022
  • Kent Moran

    Great festival, great experience, thank you!

    July 2022
  • Elizabeth Stevens

    Very positive and professional experience. Very good communication.

    April 2022
  • Susan Brightbill

    Was honored to have my script "Sold Out" be a semi-finalist. Wonderful, clear communication. Hope to be back with a film soon.

    April 2022
  • Addie Talbott

    The team at Cinequest astounded me with their care, commitment, and innovation in creating a virtual format for the fest and finalists. A truly wonderful festival and a great experience!

    April 2022