Short com TV sitcom writing competition

Entries for the 2021 Short Com Sitcom Writing Competition are now open! 

After a successful debut competition in 2020, we are delighted to return the contest for 2021! 

Having screened some of the funniest short comedy films for several years by emerging comedy filmmaking talent to audiences and industry alike, we are now looking to unearth comedic writing talent to help kick-start their writing career. Scripts are carefully assessed by experienced readers before being whittled down to a final shortlist, which are put before our selected judging panel of industry experts; whose collected votes will decide a winner.

After the competition, we will be active in putting forward the shortlisted talent to agents and production companies. But more excitingly, feature in our brand new THE SHORT LIST. A page dedicated to our recommended writers and their scripts for interested producers and agents to view their profiles and request their scripts for consideration. This is an opt in service for any entrants who qualify to be featured on the page and Short Com will not seek any form of a finders fee in the scenario of a writer being optioned. We'd just be very pleased to have helped. 

What Are We Looking For?

It is one thing to be able to write funny ideas but can you also write a story within 23-30 pages and have characters that stand-out in a world that we’d want to come back and see in the next episode? Whether your idea uses a single-camera setup or is the more adventurous multi-camera format, we’re looking for solid sitcom ideas, great writing, and plenty of humour that shows wide audience appeal.

What is a sitcom? Sitcom is short for the term situation-comedy where a fixed set of returning characters carry on over from episode to episode which is often set in the same location. They’re sometimes considered an economical format to create a series in a minimalist setting, but even some of the big budgeted shows continue to return to their home setting, like the converted living room in Silicon Valley as an incubator hub to the squalor flat that Eddie and Richie wreaked havoc in Bottom.

In recent times, there are a slew of excellent shows that break the sitcom mould. Master of None, Dave, Atlanta, How To Sell Drugs Online (Fast) etc. It can be very well argued that these shows are comedy dramas than sitcom. For the time being, we will accept scripts that veer into this realm. 

Our expert panel of readers will judge over scripts by breaking down a script’s strengths in areas such as characters; plot, dialogue, concept, writing and how funny it is. The reading team are experienced script readers who have read for reputable production companies and script competitions. And have a G.S.O.H. ;)

What we value most, above all in this competition; is the quality of writing. People can have great ideas. But not everyone can be a great writer.

 

Rules

Scripts must be written in industry screenplay format. If you don’t know what that is… https://screenwriting.io/what-is-standard-screenplay-format/

Scripts are between 23-30 pages. No more, no less! 

Include a one pitch page that outlines your concept of the sitcom, series outline and potential ideal cast in mind. This isn't marked but it's handy to see your intended vision.

International submissions are welcome but all submissions must be in English.

No discriminatory language. 

Material is your own original writing. (Writing teams are permitted) Breach of copyright is not permitted unless prior permission is sought and granted.

Authors of submissions will contain the copyright of their own material.

Entrants cannot have a sitcom previously commissioned by a major network, broadcaster or streaming service broadcasted in the UK or US.

Entrants cannot approach readers or the judging panel enquiring the judging status of their script. Entrants can be immediately disqualified if found to have broken this rule.

Judging Panel

Our judging panel are made up of expert and experienced comedy producers and writers.

We’re proud to announce our panel of judges for the first Short Com Sitcom Competition are:

Michelle Farr-Scott - Head of Scripted at Ranga Bee Productions and experienced producer of shows such as Bluestone 42, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and Whites.

Sam Underwood - Producer of Channel 4's Lee and Dean

Sam Ward - Producer of BBC's Mandy and Threesome

 * Please note, the judging panel could be subject to change at any moment during the competition.

Tips

We’re not saying you have to obey the rules of screenwriting and the craft but it’s good to know what they are.

The BBC Writers Room has a good archive of scripts of some of their sitcoms from over the years that you can find here if you’re looking for examples of different sitcom scripts. * Do note, many scripts in the archive use various templates and formats that we are not looking for,

Structure can be a tricky thing to wrap one’s head around. This article by Luca Giordano has some handy tips to get you thinking about the importance of getting structure right in sitcoms.

The first thing we look at when screening entries is if formatting is correct. So here are some no-no's and some things that aren't necessary.

 

Dialogue should be no more than 35 characters long per line. 

All action description in CAPS..

Act and scene no.s ,transitions  aren't really necessary unless you're sending it to a director or producer.

If your script does not look close enough to this example then it will likely be turned down.

The best thing to help you get formatting right, is to use screenwriting software. Obviously we highly recommend Final Draft and it is the best out there. But there are free alternatives such as Cellt Txt, Fade In or Highland if you currently can't afford Final Draft.

How To Enter?

Please send a PDF copy of your script to info@shortcom.org with the title of your sitcom in the subject line along with a one page pitch of your sitcom idea. Submissions are quickly screened first to deem whether they qualify for entry. Once verified, you will be asked to make payment of the entry fee either by bank transfer, Paypal or Wise. Paypal transactions may include an extra small charge to cover handling fees.

There are three options for entering. Standard feedback that includes a minimum of one page of feedback. A no feedback option. Or an extended feedback option of £60. This is a recommended option for fairly new writers to screenwriting. If we are that impressed with a writer's script who has opted for feedback and we feel there's not a lot that we can say, we will offer a partial refund.  

If very new to screenwriting and looking to learn but not sure where to begin. We can offer a mentorship programme to help you into screenwriting. For more information, please scroll down to the bottom of the page. Please note. This option will mean that you will not be able to enter this year's contest.

Fees

Early Bird Deadline – April 19th - £35//£10 No Feedback

Regular Deadline – June 21st – £40/£15 No Feedback

 

Late Deadline July 9th - £45/£20 No Feedback

Prizes

FAQ

Can we send more than one script?

Yes you can. We recommend that it’s only worth getting feedback on one script thus it would be £10 to enter another script.

Why does it have to be in industry format?

Screenwriting is a craft. You can be a good writer but being a good screenwriter is a totally different ball game. And that is what we and the industry are looking for. If early in your screenwriting career, we recommend using screenwriting software than work office software. It will help you a great deal! We obviously recommend Final Draft but there are alternatives out there.

Why do we have to pay?

First of all, we want our readers to be paid fairly for their time and expertise. Reading a script is not as simple as it sounds. Readers are analysing every aspect of the story, writer’s ability and it’s potential place in the market. They are the first judge on whether they recommend a script or writer be considered to have something eventually developed and made. That will cost upwards of a few hundred thousand pounds to millions. That’s a hard job. Writing analysis and feedback takes time, skill and relevant experience. Effectively, they are estate agents for stories made for screen.

Will my script be evaluated less worthy if I opt for a no feedback option?

Absolutely not. First and foremost, we want to champion good scripts and good writers. The longevity of this competition is dependent of the quality of entries and not how much money can be made. We also understand that some people face financial barriers to entering competitions like these so we want to try and make it accessible to all. Some of the shortlisted entrants from last year had opted for no feedback when entering.

Will poor grammar and spelling cost me?

 

It can but we will try to see past it. As a dyslexic/neurodivergent, I know all too well how easy it is to unknowingly to make mistakes without realising them. Especially if you do not have someone to proofread your work. Do check out the site Grammarly that can really help to smooth out those kinks. 

Can I enter a revised script from last year?

If you feel that confident in it then yes you can. 

Are there any discount codes available?

Maybe sign up to our newsletter on the homepage to find out. Wink wink.

Mentorship

If at the fairly early stages of your screenwriting journey and looking to develop your knowledge and ability. We can run a one-to-one programme with you via continuous script development on a single project. Whether it be a short, sitcom or feature film. For further details, email us at info@shortcom.org​

Best of luck,

 

Short Com

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Final Draft have kindly renewed their sponsorship with us by donating a digital certificate for a copy of the latest premium screenwriting software version of Final Draft 11.

The British Comedy Guide are also kindly donating a year’s membership to their BCG Pro platform for comedy creatives. Or for current subscribers, another year for free.

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