Coverfly Inside Look: The LAUNCH Million Dollar Collegiate Screenplay Competition

By | Contests, Inside Look, Interview

The LAUNCH is a Million Dollar Screenplay Competition for college students with the mission to inspire the next generation of great screenwriters. The LAUNCH will enable one talented screenwriter to realize their dream by having their screenplay made by Hollywood producers as a feature film, with a budget of at least $1,000,000 USD. Plus, the top eight finalists will be awarded a total of $100,000 USD in education grants and other prizes.

Zachary Green is an entrepreneur, film producer and most importantly, one of the judges and brains behind The LAUNCH. He began his career at the prestigious William Morris Talent Agency in their infamous mailroom and has since had a successful career in brand storytelling, ranging from social media/marketing companies like House Party, to traditional promotional marketing firms like Equity/Pitch (Burger King) and Simon Marketing (McDonald’s, Toys R Us, Warner Bros. Paramount, Artisan Entertainment), to game-changing startups like internet incubator Idealab and others.

We recently had the opportunity to ask Zachary a few questions about The LAUNCH. See his answers below.

Coverfly: What does THE LAUNCH Million Dollar Screenplay Competition offer student screenwriters?

Zachary Green: The mission of The LAUNCH: Million Dollar Screenplay Competition is to find the next generation of amazing collegiate screenwriters from around the world. Through the screenplay competition, The LAUNCH awards $100,000 in education grants to the top eight screenplays, with the top three receiving an offer of representation with APA and Valor Entertainment, and the grand prize winner will have their screenplay produced as a feature film with a budget of approximately $1 million. The competition offers college students an amazing chance to break into the entertainment business.

CF: How did this screenwriting competition come about and who’s involved? 

ZG: Philanthropists Chuck and Marni Bond approached producers Jason Shuman and myself about starting a program to benefit college students in the arts. They wanted to help college students find a way to break into the entertainment business, while helping to offset some of the rising costs of attending school.  After a few different iterations, The LAUNCH: Million Dollar Screenplay Competition was born.

CF: Tell us a little bit about your first year’s winner Stanley Kalu and his screenplay, THE OBITUARY OF TUNDE JOHNSON.

ZG: Stanley Kalu is now 22 years of age, a senior at USC and a screenwriting major.  He is originally from Nigeria, now calls Kenya home and his winning screenplay The Obituary of Tunde Johnson was written his sophomore year and was the first screenplay he ever wrote.

The Obituary of Tunde Johnson is a gripping and emotional drama about a queer, wealthy black teenager stuck in an endless time loop of police brutality until he can come to terms with his sexuality and confront his current toxic relationship.  After reading it, Zachary and Jason knew they had found the perfect screenplay to select for the Grand Prize in the inaugural year of The LAUNCH Million Dollar Screenplay Competition.

CF: What’s one unique piece of advice you’d give to writers who enter your screenplay competition?

ZG: The biggest piece of advice I can give writers entering the competition, is to write about what you know and write from the heart.  The top three screenplays in last year’s competition were all deeply personal screenplays and from just about page one, you could feel each of the writers emotional journey on the page.  If you write about something you’re passionate about, something you’ve lived, something that has deeply affected you, it will come across on the page in ways that will engage the reader on a different level.

CF: What can writers do to be best prepared to capitalize on winning this contest?

ZG: I think the best thing writers can do to prepare themselves in the advent they win and/or place in the competitions is to prepare for a lot of work, collaboration, to have patience, be open to learn and enjoy the ride.  If your screenplay is chosen as the grand prize winning screenplay, you will have to strap in on the rocket ship.  Stanley was about to be a senior at USC when his screenplay was chosen as the winner and in less the three months, his film was in production and his life was changed.  His career was jumpstarted in the most amazing way, going to multiple meetings a week with production companies, other writers, studios, etc., all the while remaining humble and appreciative along the way.


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Calling All Writers! Weekly Contest Roundup — 4/29/19

By | Contests

Screenwriting competitions are tried and true when it comes to planting a foot firmly in the appropriate door. Here are five of the hottest contests that are wrapping up soon. – Some with deadlines this week! Keep up to date with all of 2019’s top competition, fellowship and lab deadlines here.


APRIL 29 — FALL NARRATIVE LAB & SIDEWALK NARRATIVE LAB — Final Deadlines — $45


APRIL 30 — SCREENCRAFT COMEDY CONTEST Final Deadline — $69


APRIL 30 — ROADMAP’S DARE TO SCARE COMPETITION — Late Deadline — $70


MAY 1 — SCRIPT PIPELINE SCREENWRITING COMPETITION & TV WRITING CONTEST — Regular Deadlines — $65


MAY 2 — SHORE SCRIPTS SHORT FILM FUND — Late Deadline — $50


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Calling All Writers! Weekly Contest Roundup — 4/22/19

By | Contests

Screenwriting competitions are tried and true when it comes to planting a foot firmly in the appropriate door. Here are five of the hottest contests that are wrapping up soon. – Some with deadlines this week! Keep up to date with all of 2019’s top competition, fellowship and lab deadlines here.


APRIL 22 — SCRIPTAPALOOZA TELEVISION WRITING COMPETITION — Final Deadline — $50


APRIL 29 — FALL NARRATIVE LAB & SIDEWALK NARRATIVE LAB — Final Deadlines — $45


APRIL 30 — SCREENCRAFT COMEDY CONTEST Final Deadline — $69


MAY 1 — SCRIPT PIPELINE SCREENWRITING COMPETITION & TV WRITING CONTEST — Regular Deadlines — $65


MAY 2 — SHORE SCRIPTS SHORT FILM FUND — Late Deadline — $50


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Calling All Writers! Weekly Contest Roundup — 4/1/19

By | Contests

Screenwriting competitions are tried and true when it comes to planting a foot firmly in the appropriate door. Here are five of the hottest contests that are wrapping up soon. – Some with deadlines this week! Keep up to date with all of 2019’s top competition, fellowship and lab deadlines here.


APRIL 1 — KAY SNOW WRITING COMPETITION — Final Deadline — $10


APRIL 1 — LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL SCREENPLAY AWARDS — Early Deadline — $59


APRIL 3 — NEW MEDIA FILM FESTIVAL Regular Deadline — $90


APRIL 7 — DARE TO SCARE COMPETITION — Regular Deadline — $55


APRIL 8 — SLAMDANCE SCREENPLAY COMPETITION — Early Bird Deadline — $50


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Calling All Writers! Weekly Contest Roundup — 3/25/19

By | Contests

Screenwriting competitions are tried and true when it comes to planting a foot firmly in the appropriate door. Here are five of the hottest contests that are wrapping up soon. – Some with deadlines this week! Keep up to date with all of 2019’s top competition, fellowship and lab deadlines here.


MARCH 28 — THE WRITERS LAB — Extended Deadline — $75


MARCH 29 — SOCREATE – GET WRITING — Final Deadline — FREE


MARCH 31 — HUMANITAS NEW VOICES Regular Deadline — $75


MARCH 31 — SCREENCRAFT SCI-FI & FANTASY SCREENPLAY CONTEST — Final Deadline — $69


MARCH 31 — THE LAUNCH MILLION DOLLAR STUDENT SCREENPLAY CONTEST — Regular Deadline — $30


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Calling All Writers! Weekly Contest Roundup — 3/18/19

By | Contests

Screenwriting competitions are tried and true when it comes to planting a foot firmly in the appropriate door. Here are five of the hottest contests that are wrapping up soon. – Some with deadlines this week! Keep up to date with all of 2019’s top competition, fellowship and lab deadlines here.


MARCH 18 — STOWE STORY LABS – FALL NARRATIVE LABSIDEWALK NARRATIVE LAB & WRITERS’ RETREAT (deadline is March 22) — Early Bird Deadline — $35


MARCH 20 — FILMMATIC SCREENPLAY AWARDS – SHORTS — Early Deadline — $25


MARCH 21 — ROADMAP’S DIVERSITY INITIATIVE COMPETITION Final Deadline — FREE



MARCH 22 — HOLLYSHORTS SCREENWRITING COMPETITION
 — Regular Deadline — $45


MARCH 28 — THE WRITERS LAB — Extended Deadline — $75


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Coverfly Inside Look: HUMANITAS

By | Contests, Inside Look, Interview

Pictured above: HUMANITAS President Ali LeRoi (Everybody Hates Chris), The Kieser Award Recipient Marta Kauffman (Friends), Gloria Allred, and HUMANITAS Executive Director Cathleen Young.


HUMANITAS has empowered writers for more than 40 years. They’re a non-profit organization with several prestigious screenwriting competitions. On Coverfly, we feature HUMANITAS New Voices, The Carol Mendelsohn College Drama Fellowship and The David and Lynn Angell College Comedy Fellowship. We recently had the opportunity to ask Executive Director Cathleen Young a few questions about HUMANITAS. See her answers below.

Coverfly: Can you tell us a little bit about HUMANITAS New Voices?

Cathleen Young: At HUMANITAS the writer is the star. While film and television are collaborative mediums, the heart and mind of the writer is always the driving creative force. That’s why we honor the vision and voices of gifted film and television writers and help launch the next generation of writers.

CF: Why is your contest valuable to writers?

CY: Do you want to get into “the room?” As in “the writer’s room?” It’s the most valuable piece of creative real estate in Hollywood. And getting that door open is not easy.  HUMANITAS helps opens that door by pairing talented writers with working showrunners. That’s like jumping to the head of the class. We have a very unique program that no one else offers in this town. And it comes with a $7,500 grant to buy you some time to focus on your craft.

CF: Do you think entering contests is a good path for aspiring writers?

CY: I believe every aspiring writer should enter as many contests and competitions as they can. It gets their name out there — and it forces you to sit down and write! Winning a contest or competition is a powerful way to attract the attention of agents, showrunners and executives. Winning can be game-changing for the careers of focused, ambitious writers.

CF: Who are some HUMANITAS NEW VOICES alumni?

CY: SJ Hodges – Showrunner for Awesomeness TV’s Guidance, Mentored by Jason Katims

Martin Zimmerman – Executive Producer/Showrunner on Netflix’s Spanish language series, Puerta 7,  Producer on Netflix’s Ozark, Mentored by Alan Ball

Luisa Leschin – Co-Executive Producer on Amazon’s Just Add Magic, Co-Executive Producer on CBS’ Everybody Hates Chris, Mentored by Ali LeRoi

Will Pascoe  Supervising Producer on Hulu’s Shut Eye, Mentored by Hart Hanson

Greta Heinemann – Producer on CBS’ NCIS: New Orleans, Mentored by Pam Veasey

Damir & Dario Konjicija – Executive Story Editors on CBS’ Young Sheldon – Mentored by Carter Covington

CF: What’s one unique piece of advice you’d give to writers who enter your contest?

CY: I always tell up-and-coming writers to NEVER, EVER forget the 4 most important words when writing. Well, technically it’s 5 words. Here they are: “I’ll fix it later.” Meaning, keep writing. Don’t get stuck endlessly rewriting the first act or the first chapter. Tell a story that is true and authentic to you and KEEP AT IT until you get it right. 

CF: What can writers do to be best prepared for capitalizing on a winning the competition?

CY: A giant red flag for me in judging a potential candidate is when they haven’t written very many scripts. Writers need to write. A real writer WANTS to write. Writers need to write a bunch of BAD scripts so they can learn to write GOOD scripts. If a writer doesn’t have multiple scripts in his or her portfolio, it’s hard for me to take them seriously. Another “skill” that is critical to success is being able to hear a good note. The superpower skill needed for success is the ability to make a good note your own… and to take a bad note and make it a good note that addresses some weakness in your script. 


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Calling All Writers! Weekly Contest Roundup — 3/11/19

By | Contests

Screenwriting competitions are tried and true when it comes to planting a foot firmly in the appropriate door. Here are five of the hottest contests that are wrapping up soon. – Some with deadlines this week! Keep up to date with all of 2019’s top competition, fellowship and lab deadlines here.


MARCH 11 — CINESTORY FEATURE RETREAT & FELLOWSHIP COMPETITION — Late Deadline — $75



MARCH 13 — FINAL DRAFT’S BIG BREAK
 — Early Bird Deadline — $45


MARCH 14 — THE WRITERS LAB — Regular Deadline — $55


MARCH 15 — WESCREENPLAY’S DIVERSE VOICES Regular Deadline — $65



MARCH 15 — PAGE INTERNATIONAL SCREENWRITING AWARDS
 — Late Deadline — $65


For all the latest from Coverfly, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Calling All Writers! Weekly Contest Roundup — 3/4/19

By | Contests

Screenwriting competitions are tried and true when it comes to planting a foot firmly in the appropriate door. Here are five of the hottest contests that are wrapping up soon. Keep up to date with all of 2019’s top competition, fellowship and lab deadlines here.


MARCH 11 — CINESTORY FEATURE RETREAT & FELLOWSHIP COMPETITION — Late Deadline — $75



MARCH 13 — FINAL DRAFT’S BIG BREAK
 — Early Bird Deadline — $45


MARCH 14 — THE WRITERS LAB — Regular Deadline — $55


MARCH 15 — WESCREENPLAY’S DIVERSE VOICES Regular Deadline — $65



MARCH 15 — PAGE INTERNATIONAL SCREENWRITING AWARDS
 — Late Deadline — $65


For all the latest from Coverfly, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Calling All Writers! Weekly Contest Roundup — 2/25/19

By | Contests

Screenwriting competitions are tried and true when it comes to planting a foot firmly in the appropriate door. Here are five of the hottest contests that are wrapping up soon — Some with deadlines this week! Keep up to date with all of 2019’s top competition, fellowship and lab deadlines here.


FEBRUARY 28 — SCREENCRAFT SCREENWRITING FELLOWSHIP — Final Deadline — $79


FEBRUARY 28 — THE LAUNCH MILLION DOLLAR STUDENT SCREENPLAY CONTEST — Early Deadline — $20


FEBRUARY 28 — THE FILM EMPIRE’S DIVERSITY MENTORSHIP FOR SCREENWRITERS — Late Deadline — $45


FEBRUARY 28 — ROADMAP’S DARE TO SCARE COMPETITION Early Bird Deadline — $45



FEBRUARY 28 — STORYPROS AWARDS
 — Early Deadline — $40


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