DC Shorts is proud to present a different kind of screenwriting competition. Six finalists are selected and their scripts are performed in front of a live audience who choose the winner of $2,000 ($1,000 when announced and another $1,000 finishing funds) and a slot to screen their film in the DC Shorts International Film Festival when the film is complete.

• The DC Shorts Screenplay Competition awards up to $2,000 to a winning script, and guaranteed acceptance into the DC Shorts International Film Festival the year the film is completed.

• We consider screenplays in every genre and subject matter. However, because the finalists are read in front of a live audience, the judging committee looks for material that can be successfully conveyed to a general audience in a table reading.

• Scripts must be under 15 pages (not including a cover page).

• Scripts must NOT be in production. The purpose of the competition and award money is to foster the creation and successful completion of an independent short film. All shooting must take place AFTER the award presentation.

• The 2018 script winner, By Any Other Name by Peter Kimball, premiered his film at the 2019 DC Shorts Film Festival.

One script will receive $1,000 up front, plus a $1,000 upon completion of the final film. The final film is guaranteed acceptance into the DC Shorts Film Festival the year the film is completed.

==> Please read this agreement carefully before you submit your script. By submitting your script, you expressly acknowledge and agree that you shall be bound by the terms of this agreement.

- Screenplays must have been completed after January 1, 2020.
- Scripts must NOT have been previously submitted.
- Scripts must NOT exceed 15 pages in length, excluding cover page.
- Scripts must be in English, formatted according to the current industry standards in 12-point courier font.
- All non-English language screenplays must be translated and submitted in English.
- Scripts submitted to the competition must NOT have been previously optioned, purchased or produced at the time of entry.
- If a submitted screenplay becomes optioned or purchased between the time of submission and the end of the judging period, the applicant must notify us and that screenplay will no longer be eligible for an award.
- No adaptations of other written work will be accepted unless the writer owns the rights to the original material.

- All entry forms must be submitted and paid for through FilmFreeway.
- A separate entry form and additional entry fee must be submitted for each script.
- Screenplays must be uploaded as Acrobat .PDF file with your online application.
- Entry forms that do NOT include full payment of entry fees and PDF file by the appropriate deadline will not be considered.
- Submissions may NOT be withdrawn from the Festival once they have been entered, except at the sole discretion of the Festival directors.

Earlybird Deadline - $50
Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees and uploaded materials by January 31, 2021 will not be accepted.

Regular Deadline - $60
Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees and uploaded materials by February 28, 2021 will not be accepted.

Late Deadline - $70
Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees and uploaded materials by April 30, 2021 will not be accepted.

*We do NOT grant waivers.
*Entry fees must be paid online with any major credit card.
*We do NOT accept checks.
*Entry fees are non-refundable.
*Entries will NOT be viewed without payment.
*Script Feedback will NOT be provided.

REVIEW AND SELECTION PROCESS. DC Shorts will review scripts in their entirety. Scripts will be read and numerically scored by members of the Selection Committee, a volunteer group of area filmmakers, film enthusiasts and critics. After the final submission deadline, the Selection Committee will review the total scores of all the scripts in competition, and select final scripts from a group of the top scorers.

AWARD INFORMATION. Five to seven screenplays will be featured at the competition on Friday, September 17, 2021 in which the screenwriters must attend, and cast a live reading of the script from a bank of actors and directors. DC Shorts will not pay for transportation costs to Washington, DC for the live competition, but does offer free guest housing, and various meals. The live readings will be performed in front of an audience who will vote on their favorite, and, along with the scores of the readers, will determine a competition winner. DC Shorts will present $1,000 to the winning screenwriter (awarded immediately at the reading), plus $1,000 if the film is completed. The film is also guaranteed to screen at the DC Shorts Film Festival the year the film is completed. The winning film must contain the final single card, on-screen credit “Produced in association with the DC Shorts Film Festival, dcshorts.com” The purpose of the competition and award money is to foster the creation and successful completion of an independent short film. All film/video shooting must take place after the award presentation. If it is discovered that principal photography was begun before the live reading, the screenplay will be disqualified from the competition. Restitution for associated expenses will be sought from the screenplay submitter. Prizes are subject to change, and updates to the prize package will be posted online at festival.dcshorts.com.

PRODUCER RIGHTS. DC Shorts retains the rights as a producer to act as a non-exclusive legal representative of the film to assist the writer with developing distribution and marketing deals with other film festivals. DC Shorts reserves the right to screen the final film based on the winning screenplay at DC Shorts sponsored events in perpetuity.

NOTIFICATION OF ADMISSION. Letters of Inclusion or non-inclusion will be sent to the email address provided on the entry form no later than July 8, 2021. DC Shorts does not send physical mail — please ensure that your email address is accurate in your application.

COMMUNICATIONS. DC Shorts does not send physical mail — please make sure the email address in your entry form is accurate. Changes of email address can be sent to info@dcshorts.com. DC Shorts is not liable for emails delayed by spam filters, server rejections, outdated email addresses or any other technical or human error.

PUBLICITY AND MARKETING. All selected films and scripts may be excerpted for publicity purposes. DC Shorts reserves the right to promote any film or script to print, broadcast or internet media as required to market the Festival or our parent organization, the DC Film Alliance.

INTERNET BROADCAST. DC Shorts may make scripts performed at DC Shorts available for commercial internet broadcast and download. Writers participating in this venture will receive 50% of the profits (total revenues collected minus total expenses to produce and distribute the content) from the licensing for internet broadcast and download. This is an optional program in which the writer has the ability to opt-in on acceptance of the Participation Agreement, sent on inclusion into the festival.

CONTROLLING LAW, VENUE AND SEVERABILITY. This License shall be governed by the laws of the United States and the District of Columbia without consideration of conflicts of laws provisions and principles.. All claims between the parties, regardless of legal theory and whenever brought, shall be resolved in the state or federal courts of the District of Columbia, USA, and you stipulate that you expressly submit to the personal jurisdiction of such state and federal courts, and you further agree that any judgment may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof. If for any reason a court of competent jurisdiction finds any provision, or portion thereof, of this Agreement to be unenforceable, the remainder of this License shall continue in full force and effect.

COMPLETE AGREEMENT. This License constitutes the entire agreement between the parties with respect to the use of films and supersedes all prior or contemporaneous understandings regarding such subject matter. No amendment to or modification of this License will be binding unless in writing and signed by an authorized representative of DC Shorts Film Festival. Nothing in this Agreement constitutes a waiver of DC Shorts’ rights under the United States of America patent and copyright laws or any other Federal or State law, nor of any of DC Shorts’ rights under the rules or laws of any country, territory, republic, and/or province. DC Shorts reserves the right to remove a script from the festival program for any reason or for no reason and shall not be liable for any refund or claims of any kind arising out of such removal.

Overall Rating
  • Excellent and well organized festival! They went above and beyond to accommodate all the participants, especially considering the pandemic restrictions.

    September 2020
  • Jeffrey Morin

    They do a fantastic job taking care of their selected screenwriters! Much appreciated. This is a contest to enter for the benefit of hearing your screenplay come to life on another level. Thanks again.

    September 2020
  • Lisa Marie Tedesco

    This festival was so much fun and welcoming. I was one of the screenwriters chosen for a live table read and their process is just unbeatable. Joe and Peter made the casting process fun and easy. If you’re thinking about submitting your short to a festival look no further. Highly recommend!

    October 2019
  • This was an exceptional competition for screenwriters. The communication was good throughout and the hospitality of the festival is unmatched. They did a great job for the screenwriters selected from reception to casting to performance. In fact, this is one of the best experiences I've had at a festival as a screenwriter. I give DC Shorts my highest recommendation and look forward to participating in the future.

    October 2019
  • Felicia Johnson

    A great film and screenplay festival to showcase your projects. I had a great experience since this was my first film festival and submitting my screenplay for the first time as a finalist.

    October 2017