Winning the Finish Line contest was a shock. Getting the prize was a bigger shock. I didn’t quite realise that those 40 people on the mentor page meant all these people would be having one-on-one meetings with me. And these weren’t interns or junior assistants – they were producers, writers, execs, agents, managers, lawyers working in the heart of the system, all hand-picked as helpful, friendly people. Having lived a life entirely outside the gated community of Hollywood, this was genuinely a prize money could not buy.
The biggest shock of all was that so many of these wonderful meetings led to real interest in my winning script REVELATION. It wasn’t treated as a mere writing sample, it was seen by many as a highly desirable screenplay. In a matter of weeks I was juggling multiple offers from managers and production companies, and in January 2021 I signed with Echo Lake Entertainment to represent me and produce.
This was such a surprise in part because REVELATION had not got anywhere in any of the other script contests I had entered. It didn’t even make it to any quarter finals. Which begs the question… how come? Hollywood itself was biting my hand off for the exact same script, after all. Had I not entered the Finish Line, I would have inevitably deduced that I must be a terrible writer.
Even had I not won, I figured Finish Line was worth entering. I paid for feedback that ended up more use to me than every other set of notes I’d ever had combined, at considerably less than the going rate. 8 pages of insightful, thoughtful comments that made a material difference to a script I already thought was finely honed. I submitted the new draft, and this is what went on to win.
Screenplay contests in general don’t enjoy a great reputation. It’s easy to be cynical, and in my experience there is good reason to be. The Finish Line, and its force-of-nature creator Jenny, are the exception that proves the rule. They both have substance, and integrity. My career changed because of them.
So when I had my next script THE LOVE TRIALS ready, I knew I would be submitting it to Finish Line. I’ve submitted to many contests and most of them take your money and you never hear from them again. I can’t stress this enough, THIS CONTEST IS WORTH IT! The great part of this contest, and it’s the only one of it’s kind, is they let you resubmit your draft for FREE after rewriting it! No other competition I’ve submitted to does that. So even if you don’t place in the competition, your script will still come out better after submitting. Now let’s talk about if you’re lucky enough to win. Expect constant communication from Jenny. She’s extremely eager to get your script read by industry titans. After the contest was over, she worked with me to get the script ready to send out to producers, managers, and production companies. For the past few months, I’ve been talking with tons of mentors, each offering their insights and help pushing my script out to others. I’ve talked with legendary producers who’ve read my script, literary managers, and production company executives and they all are now part of my contacts. I can reach out to them any time for advice and they are all interested in reading my next script.
....from our 2019 Grand Prize Winner, Avi Glick
I started submitting to the Finish Line Script Competition a few years ago for their fantastic notes as the feedback they give is not only very insightful and intelligent, it’s highly executable. They quickly became my first line of defense before sending any script out. Prior to winning, scripts that I had received their notes on helped me obtain great representation and win or place highly in several of the most prestigious writing competitions. Upon winning this competition, I didn’t expect the win to provide me with much more than what I already had access to… I. Was. So. Wrong.
This has been unlike anything I’ve previously experienced. The reward is powerful, overwhelming, and has the potential to be life changing. The amount of meetings (with the top echelon of influential people) that I’ve received from this is simply gluttonous. It’s more than the entirety of the connections I made from Nicholl and Austin Film Festival multiplied by each other, and with very high profile people who sincerely want to help and work with you. Labeling Finish Line Script Competition as a “competition” is simply underselling its value. This feels much more like a fellowship.
The real value of the competition lies in its founder. Jenny essentially manages the winners (and the semi-finalists) and does everything in her power to break them into the industry. Her reach is beyond impressive. She connects you with her best contacts - a culmination she’s acquired from over 20 years in the representation business. In addition to the mentors that are listed on the website, she’ll use her connections to get your script to anyone she thinks would appreciate it. Should you place highly, expect constant communication, invaluable script consulting, training for your meetings, drinks with Oscar winners, studio heads, household names, and being introduced to a ton of people who have the power and desire to kickstart your career.
Simply put, this is THE competition to break you into the industry and there’s nothing else close to it out there. To anyone who places highly, I can only offer one piece of advice: prepare to be spoiled rotten.
....from our 2019 First Runner Up, Barbara Nunberg
"My experience with Finish Line was as good as it gets. I submitted multiple scripts and received refreshingly smart, constructive notes before resubmitting to successive rounds. By the time I was selected as the First Runner Up, I felt confident, on the basis of Finish Line’s ongoing feedback, that my script was polished to the highest level. Finish Line then went the extra mile, and then some. They sent out both my winning feature script -- as well as a TV pilot which also benefitted from extensive Finish Line notes -- to a wide range of industry professionals and arranged an exhaustive set of in-person meetings that resulted in my signing with a top management firm that feels like the perfect fit for me. Finish Line provided personal advice to help me navigate each step of the way. In the process, I believe I now have a relationship with Jenny, the Co-founder, that I can call upon as my career moves forward. Bottom line: this is not a “factory” contest. It’s a bespoke, boutique approach that is, in my experience, unparalleled in the competition environment for emerging screenwriters."
- Barbara Nunberg (First Runner Up)
....from our 2017 Grand Prize Winner, R.B. Ripley
"The Finish Line Script Competition is a rare thing in the crowded world of screenplay competitions - it doesn't just stand by its goals, it wildly over-delivers on them, every step of the way. From the notes during the submission process to the many smart, creative and professional mentors, Finish Line gave my writing career an unexpected and welcomed shot of adrenaline that's created a lot of welcomed momentum.
Having entered and placed in a few other terrific competitions over the years, I have to say that Finish Line is one of the most helpful and useful I've come across. The opportunity to get notes and resubmit multiple times is a great way to not just improve a script, but hone my craft. Notes are succinct and candid, but always focused on helping me achieve my intention with the script. It was like having a great studio or network executive championing me along the way.
When I got the call that I was the 2017 winner, I was shocked because the odds of winning any contest are aways so high. But that surprise was nothing compared to when I learned about the mentors that I would be set up to meet - agents, managers and producers from all over the industry. It was like a rocket launch into a new orbit for me When I did meet the mentors, each of them was so enthusiastic and helpful... all TWENTY EIGHT of them. Some of those meetings led to other meetings, which led to other meetings. I've now spent the better part of three months taking one, two, and sometimes three meetings every week, discussing my winning script, but also building my network and pitching new ideas. It's been fantastic.
Finally, I'd be remiss if in talking about Finish Line, I didn't mention Jenny, the competition's founder. You'd be hard pressed to find someone as thoughtful, hard-working and genuinely supportive of writers here in Hollywood as Jenny. She prepped me for every single meeting, and debriefed afterwards. She advised and helped strategize, working tirelessly to get my script read by people who can help get it onto the screen. "Above and beyond" is the phrase that comes to mind every time we talk, and every email I get from her. In Jenny, I feel like I've found a trusted friend and advisor - and for my .02, that's some tasty frosting on the already delicious cake that is the Finish Line competition.
If you're a writer looking for a uniquely helpful screenplay contest, I couldn't recommend Finish Line enough. With a welcomed notes process, generous prize money, and a huge stable of working, professional mentors, the contest stands out in a crowded market."
- R.B. Ripley (Grand Prize Winner)
...from our 2017 First Runner Up, David McMahon
"Finish Line is a wonderful competition, on both creative and professional fronts. Their notes are incredible, among the best and most useful notes I’ve received. They are clear, thorough, thoughtful and precise, without being dictatorial. The folks at Finish Line encourage you to find and use your voice, as opposed to taking on theirs. And because you can submit a new draft after notes, you can really develop your script. In fact, my experience with Finish Line was the most essential component in the growth of my script.
If you are lucky enough to win or place in the competition, the prizes are great and useful. But the real reward is having Jenny as an advocate for your script. She gets your script to the right producers, directors, real players in the industry. She is tenacious, a champion for writers. I’m grateful for her support and faith in my work. She rocks! Finish Line has been, by far, the best script competition that I’ve entered."
- David McMahon (First Runner Up)
...from our 2016 Grand Prize Winner, Charlie Jones
"Winning the Finish Line Screenplay Competition came as a huge surprise to me. My screenplay, "Freedom Ain’t Free", was my first attempt at writing a feature-length script, and to have industry professionals judge it worthy enough of winning this competition was so encouraging, especially for a new writer. It has inspired me to continue writing in this form and motivated me to pursue writing as a career.
Since entering the Finish Line Screenplay Competition, my writing has improved dramatically. Finish Line provided me with extensive feedback on my script and pushed me to write, rewrite, and rewrite, helping me to familiarise myself with the form. The notes I was given during the rewriting stage of the competition forced me to think about my story in different ways and allowed me to develop aspects of the story and characters which I would otherwise have overlooked. I certainly owe it to Finish Line for how my screenwriting has strengthened.
Since winning the competition, Finish Line has put me in contact with a number of industry professionals, including producers, creative executives, directors, and other writers, all of whom have provided me with invaluable advice on how to improve my screenwriting and how to navigate the film and television industry. Speaking to such a wide range of people has made each conversation fresh and exciting, and has exposed me to many unique perspectives of filmmaking. I have been able to follow up with many of the mentors a number of times, and through them make new contacts and expand my networking opportunities.
Finish Line has also put me on the path of securing representation. I have spoken and met with several literary managers and agents, which would undoubtedly have been much more difficult had I not won the competition. I am hoping to secure representation soon, and confident that I will do so with Finish Line’s guidance. In the meantime, I am working on a second screenplay, which many of the mentors and managers I have spoken with are keen to read upon completion.
Winning the Finish Line Screenplay Competition has really kick-started my writing career better than I could have hoped for, and for that I am very grateful."
--Charlie Jones (Grand Prize Winner)
....from our 2016 Second Runner Up, Maziar Lahooti
“Finish Line provides fantastic feedback that was key for the further developments of my screenplays, and for my overall understanding of the craft itself. Jenny and her staff are also very helpful in following up on the script’s momentum through the industry towards the holy grail of production, as well as on offering advice to industry newcomers like myself.”
--Maz Lahooti (Second Runner Up)
The Finish Line Script Competition is unique in that it pushes you towards a better script.. The feedback on my script was detailed and professional. There's no doubt that my resubmitted draft improved because of it. Good communication also. It would benefit any screenwriter to seriously take a look at entering this competition. – William Speruzzi
Regardless of result, the quality of the feedback was detailed and has helped in other competitions, was incredibly prompt, and any questions I asked to the organizer were answered with kindness and professionalism within hours via email. – Ryan Mills
The notes I was given really helped me improve the script and the support through the whole process was really appreciated. I'd definitely recommend entering. – Nick Kirby
Great experience! I ended up being so happy with every aspect of this contest. Their communication was incredible and their notes on my script were really valuable. – Thomas Clary
Generous respectful feedback shows a professional read my script with care. Guidance will be followed as the reader suggests--to the extent I see value added--which in my case is totally! Writing IS about rewriting. – DD Lippman
I got the kind of professional feedback that help me to develop, deepen and bring out greater content into the story than ever before without any judgmentalism such as I've experienced in the past. The most serious competition I’ve entered - Mark Rigoglioso
When I submitted my script to Finish Line and they paired me with my script consultant, whether through serendipity of shared experience or just her deftness in dealing with baby writers, we hit it off, My consultant gave me the freedom to feel good to cut a story, with bullshit-free notes that elevated my concepts but not my ego. There was no questioning where she stood on my ability, and therefore even less was the question about where I should move. Forward. And my Finish Line was not even winning the first competition, but it was receiving a 9/10 on the Blacklist and then securing a wonderful manager in Derrick Eppich of Lee Stobby Entertainment. - Jared Egol (semi-finalist)
Since entering the Finish Line Screenplay Competition, my writing has improved dramatically. Finish Line provided me with extensive feedback on my script, "Freedom Ain't Free" and pushed me to write, rewrite, and rewrite, helping me to familiarize myself with the form. Finish Line has put me in contact with a number of industry professionals, including producers, creative executives, directors, and other writers, all of whom have provided me with invaluable advice on how to improve my screenwriting and how to navigate the film and television industry.Winning the Finish Line Screenplay Competition has really kick-started my writing career better than I could have hoped for, and for that I am very grateful. - Charlie Jones (Grand Prize Winner)
I believe wholeheartedly in the goals of Finish Line Script Competition. To work with writers side-by-side so they may finish with a stellar script. My analyst provided me with pages and pages of copious notes. And because of her/his instruction the script improved with rewrites and went on to win in several other festivals. Because the best part of Finish Line is that they simply don't stop caring about you and your story once the competition is over. Finish Line has heart. It's demonstrated as they continue to follow you and your story's success even after the season has ended. - Kelly Jean Karam
This competition was a wonderful writing experience. The readers really invested themselves in the story looking far beyond all the structural "writing cliches" of Hollywood textbooks - enabling me to bring a left of center idea to life rather than telling me "No, you can't do that!!" like so many other readers. I was close to giving it all up but now I am more inspired to see what can be achieved on the page. I trust their judgment. -Sasha Siljanovic (semi-finalist)
I have had feedback from contest and highly paid professionals. Nothing was as in depth as the feedback from Finish line. They helped me rewrite my script with valuable insight every round and I watched my script grow into the best version of itself. Really can’t say enough. Well worth the entry fee. - Amanda Samaroo (Semi-finalist)
The feedback I received on my script from Finish Line was tough but very fair. I rewrote the script a number of times, and it definitely got better. I know this because it was a semi-finalist in the Finish Line Script Competition. And I just learned that it is currently a semi-finalist in the Cinequest Screenplay Competition. I’m working on another script and I fully intend to submit it to the Finish Line—and start the process all over again! - Kieran Angelini (semi-finalist)
As a beginning screenwriter, the Finish Line Script Competition provided inspiration and encouragement without foregoing viable, true criticism. They are an organization of well-versed, real live people focused on fostering a relationship to help writers and their scripts achieve their potential rather than being yet another black hole to simply ship scripts off into and wait. They're a well-deserved follow on Twitter, too! - Jake Quinn (semi-finalist)
Being placed first runner up in Finish Line Script Competition has been a huge validation for my writing and faith in my script "Coaching Class". If the script has come this far, it's only because of your great feedback and notes. I also appreciate your continuous efforts to have the script read by industry pros. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for your constant support in my screenwriting journey. - Adite Banerjie (1st Runner Up)
This is a fabulously run contest. You would never know it was the first year. Communication was top notch. They met their dates when they said they would and the notes were beyond helpful. - Colin Costello (semi-finalist)
Amazing. The notes I received were priceless and helped change my screenplay for the better with a night and day difference. Highly recommend everyone enter this competition! - Kevin Kraft (semi-finalist)
I chose to get feedback and then resubmit. The notes were extensive, constructive and very helpful. They came to me within 2 days. The chance to resubmit is a really great idea- awesome value for money. All my correspondence with the festival was professional and quick. Such a great comp to be a part of. I will definitely enter a new project next year! - Sally Pitts
This is an excellent screenplay competition indeed. The fact that they give notes and then allow you to submit new drafts is excellent. The notes they gave my script helped it out immensely and led to it being a semi-finalist! - Charles Pieper (semi-finalist)