LiveRead/LA: The Best Screenwriting Contest You’ve Never Heard Of

by Angela Bourassa (@angelabourassa1)

As an aspiring screenwriter, you’re bound to sign up for online classes and get script coverage from a few different sources. You’ll visit websites like this one, and you’ll inevitably end up on some mailing lists. If you’re like me, you probably get incredibly frustrated by just how much spam you get about how you really need to enter the latest and greatest screenplay competition.

(I’d like to take a moment to point out that LA Screenwriter does have a newsletter, but we only send it out once a week, and we only advertise services/events that we truly believe in.)

My first thought when I get those competition advertisements in my inbox is always, “How many other people are getting this same email?” The most advertised contests must get thousands upon thousands of entries thanks to their aggressive advertising campaigns, which is great for the contest organizers but not so great for the people entering.

Advertising aside, the best contests remain the industry standards — the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards, the Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Competition, the Nicholl Fellowship, et al. But those contests also have a huge number of entrants thanks to their prestige.

So what’s the next level? What are the contests that don’t get insane numbers of entrants but still have great prize packages that are worth the cost of entry?

One such contest is LiveRead/LA.

If you haven’t heard of it, you’re not alone. This competition isn’t heavily advertised, which I take as a very good sign. LiveRead/LA is a contest on a six week cycle that offers two winners an awesome prize — the chance to hear thirty pages of their script read by professional actors in a theater in Los Angeles.

Isn’t that what Table Read My Screenplay offers? Yes, but TRMS is a massive production with an absurd number of entrants. LiveRead/LA is much smaller, which makes your odds much better. LiveRead/LA also has some other key benefits.

– The admission fee is only $25.

– For just $10 more, you can get “flash feedback” on your script — a few quick notes from the reader on their biggest takeaways from your script. (You can also get a half page of feedback for $45 total.)

– Each live read is open to the public (with a small admission fee) and features one industry member who will provide feedback on the winning scripts.

– The live reads are also streamed online for free.

If you’re a writer in LA and you’ve started to gather some network connections who are interested in your work, imagine being able to tell them that your script won a new contest and is going to be read live in LA? You could invite the industry players you’ve started to meet and do your best to turn some heads.

A live read is also a wonderful prize for newer writers who don’t have industry contacts. For one thing, hearing your words read by professional actors is a huge thrill that will fuel your writing for months to come. For another, table reads let you hear what’s working and what’s not. When a line doesn’t work, you can hear it. When a conversation isn’t funny enough, it will be painfully clear.

The team at LiveRead/LA also recently put together a writer’s lab that lets eight to ten writers in LA come together once a week and flex their writing muscles with the aid of real actors who read all of the presented pages. The fall lab is sold out, but spots in the winter lab are being sold now. Learn more about that here.

LiveRead/LA isn’t paying me to say any of this. I simply entered their September contest and was incredibly impressed with the professionalism, the fast turnaround on notes, and the opportunities presented. And hey, I finished in the top ten, so that helped.

But seriously, if you’re a writer in LA or you have the means to get to LA should your script win, I think LiveRead/LA is well worth the price of admission. Learn more and watch past live reads at their website,


Angela Bourassa is the founder and Editor in Chief of LA Screenwriter.

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