Why is MTV under fire for this screenplay contest?

Not all screenplay contests are good.

We’ve done our best here at No Film School to alert you to screenwriting contests, courses, and forums that we think are worth your time and money. We did a breakdown of hedging services and whether or not they were worth the money, for example.

This week the internet blew up on one of the most potentially exploiter competitions that we have never seen. The worst part of it all? It’s from MTV, a company big enough to know more about.

The story goes like this.

MTV Entertainment Studios was looking for a way to reinvent A Christmas Carol like an original movie. This idea is in the public domain, so anyone can work on it and write a spec about it. MTV decided that the best way to develop this idea, instead of hiring established screenwriters, was to create a competition for new screenwriters, the First Time Screenwriters Contest.

Contest rules state that you cannot be part of the Writer’s Guild. You must also waive intellectual property rights and royalties whether you win or lose or not, and can only win $10,000 to $60,000.

But you might also not make any money, lose your idea forever, and have to deal with it.

Credit: The contest FAQ

Yes, this is all real. And you can read the contest details on the MTV website.

It seemed that Twitter immediately objected to these rules.

The video is no longer available: twitter.com/totallymorgan/status/1491192688712241157?s=20&t=fDTS24fgtM6_PyvYmmSAdQ

It was pointed out that this competition, aimed at “diverse” writers, was incredibly exploiter of marginalized voices. Worse still, people showed that MTV would own almost every idea submitted, whether they paid for it or not.

This element became a point of unity for many, who rightfully demanded answers from MTV. Although none have come yet.

When looking for places to spend your screenwriting money and effort, we highly recommend that you do your research. Never enter a contest where you waive your rights to any material.

And never enter a contest that pays you less than the WGA minimum to own the rights to your project.

There are so many people here trying to get writers to work for free or for next to nothing. It’s a brutal trend that devalues ​​creativity and your ideas.

It’s so hard to break into Hollywood. Believe me, I understand. But there are no shortcuts. Most contests aren’t worth it. I think maybe the Nicholl scholarship is worth it now. It sucks to hear that, but most are scams and disrespected. Do your best to write, have a great script, make personal connections, and try to get it around.

Good luck and write well.