First Act, First Look Screenplay Contest - Think your first act has what it takes to captivate an audience? Submit the first 30 pages of your feature script for the chance to win $500 from the Virginia Screenwriters Forum (VSF)!

Acclaimed director, producer and filmmaker Jesse Vaughan, recipient of more than 30 Emmy Awards, is the guest judge. Honored with the 2020 Ted Yates Award for lifetime achievement from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Vaughan will select the Grand Prize winner, who will be announced September 1.

Scripts entered into the First Act, First Look Screenplay Contest will be read by members of the VSF. This storied organization includes produced screenwriters, published authors, and other members of the local creative community.

For the contest, VSF is partnering with James River Writers (JRW), an acclaimed organization connecting, supporting and inspiring writers in central Virginia and beyond. JRW provides programming year-round to help writers at all skill levels develop their craft as well as the business side of their work. To learn more, please visit jamesriverwriters.org.

For our inaugural screenwriting contest, the First Place Winner will receive $500 and a script analysis from a panel of award-winning writers! Your feedback will total up to three pages of notes.


This competition is open to any screenwriter, 18 or older, who has not earned or won $1,000 or more as a screenwriter or sold or optioned a script. Entering the competition constitutes permission to use the winners' names and likenesses for publicity and promotions with no additional compensation. We reserve the right to publicize and promote any and all progress, development and success of the entered scripts.
• Submit scripts in English.
• Submit one copy (PDF form) of the first act of your feature screenplay.
• Do not exceed 30 pages. Do not encrypt or password protect your PDF.
• On the cover page of your script, please DO NOT include your name or address. We only want the title of the script on the cover page.
• Any script from any genre will be considered.
• Multiple entries are accepted, provided you fill out an application and pay a submission fee for each script.
• Multiple authorship is acceptable. If the screenplay wins, that award will be divided among the writers, by the writers.
• Screenplays must be the original work of the author.
• No substitutions of new drafts or corrected pages for script entries will be accepted under any circumstances. If you wish to submit a new draft of your script you must treat it as a new entry and pay the submission fee.
• Body pages must be numbered.
• Scripts must be in industry standard format 12 point Courier font.
• The decisions of our Judges are final and may not be disputed.
• Please do not send CD’s, treatments, synopses, letters or resumes.
• First Act, First Look is not responsible for submissions that are lost, stolen or damaged.
• Material submitted must not have been optioned or produced and must be fully owned by the screenwriter.
*All copyright, ownership, and derivative rights to the material submitted to the contest will remain with the original rights holders and/or author.