Overview | Application Guidelines


1. What’s new this year?

There are a few changes from last year:

  • The application window is open two additional weeks.


2. Who is eligible to apply?

Any Minnesota screenwriter who is writing fictional work for film. See “Qualifications” in the Application Guidelines.


3. What does it cost to enter?

For applications received by the Early Bird Deadline (August 11, 2017 5:00PM CDT) the application fee is $30.
For applications received between August 11 (after the 5PM deadline) and September 18, 2017 the application fee is $40


4. How many times can I enter?

Two (2). Each screenplay must be a separate entry, with a separate entry fee.


5. In addition to a screenplay, what else do I need to enter? 

In addition to your screenplay, you need to submit a logline of your script, and the application fee. See “Application Materials”  in the Application Guidelines.


6. What is a logline?

A logline is a one- to two-sentence description that boils the script down to its essential dramatic narrative in as succinct a manner as possible. Examples:

  • After a tornado transports a lonely Kansas farm girl to a magical land, she sets out on a dangerous journey to find a wizard with the power to send her home. (The Wizard of Oz)
  • A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential. (Whiplash)
  • A young man is transported to the past where he must reunite his parents before he and his future are no more. (Back to the Future) 


7. Where do I submit a plot synopsis?

In the past applicants had to submit a plot synopsis, but this year applicants only submit a screenplay and a logline.


8. Can I include additional information that would be helpful to the panel?

No. Do not include any additional information about the project.


9. Can I mail in my screenplay?

No. You must apply online.


10. If the panel is just reading the first 20 pages, should I only upload those pages?

No. Upload the entire script. Initially the panel will just read the first 20 pages, but if you advance to the next round, they will read the entire script.


11. Who will select the 10 finalists and the winner?

A local panel will read the plot synopses and the first 20 pages of every screenplay and score them based upon the Judging Criteria. Another panel will then read the top 20 screenplays in their entirety and select the 10 finalists from that group. These 10 screenplays will then advance to a national panel who will select the winner.


12. How will the panels decide who is the winner?

Entries will be evaluated upon the following criteria:

  • Concept/Story
  • Structure & Pacing
  • Characters
  • Dialogue
  • Potential appeal to an audience


13. Will FilmNorth be selecting the winner?

No. FilmNorth will have no input in the selection of the finalists or the winner. Our role is to administer this residency, and to ensure that everyone abides by the guidelines.


14. What should I include on my resume?

This is a trick question. You cannot submit a resume for this competition; the judging will be blind, without any names or identifying materials.


15. Where do I list all the screenwriting awards that I’ve won?

Another trick question. You can’t submit any information like this; it is a blind competition, based solely upon the screenplay and nothing else.


16. Why can’t I submit a screenplay that is an adaption?

Adaptations of any work (other than your own) are not eligible. The intent of the program is to identify talented screenwriters. One of the difficulties of evaluating adaptations in general is determining the screenwriter’s contribution, especially if the source material is unfamiliar. As an extreme example, if the characters, dialogue, story and plot are taken in their entirety directly from a novel, the screenwriter’s contribution may be little beyond formatting.


17. I wrote a novel that I’ve adapted as a screenplay. Is that eligible?

Yes, as long as you have retained the film rights to the work.


18. Are historical screenplays, or scripts based on actual events eligible?

Yes, as long as the script is not derived from a single source – a book, an article, a diary, etc. Here’s a simple rule of thumb: Scripts based on research drawn from multiple sources are eligible; those based on a single source are not.


19. I have a writing partner. Can we apply together?

Yes, as long as you meet these guidelines: screenplays must be the original work of one writer, or of two writers who shared in its creation. Collaborative work for which one writer developed the idea and another writer wrote the screenplay is not eligible. Collaborative work by three or more writers is not eligible. The collaborator’s name must be added during the online application process. If a collaborative work is selected as the winner, the two writers will divide the Residency award equally.


20. If I submit my script and then later have a revised version or need to make a correction, can I substitute a new draft?

No. Once you have submitted an entry, under no circumstances may the screenplay be changed. Please check carefully to ensure you are submitting the correct draft.


21. The screenplay I want to submit is currently under option from a production company. Can I submit it to this competition?

No. Screenplays may not be encumbered by any third party on the date of submission. Scripts that have been sold, produced, are currently under option and/or are attached to a third party in any manner whatsoever are not eligible. (If a script is optioned, sold or produced after it has been entered in the contest, it will remain eligible for an award.)


22. How can I find out my score from the panel to see how I did?

You can’t. The scores will not be shared with anyone. The process will only identify the top ten finalists and the winner.


23. I was a finalist last year. Can I reapply this year with the same screenplay?

Yes. The previous winner of the residency is not eligible to apply but last year’s finalists are eligible to re-apply with the same (or new) work.

24. Can you tell me more about The Black List, and the benefit that the 10 finalists will receive?

The Black List, an annual survey of Hollywood executives’ favorite unproduced screenplays, was founded in 2005. Since then, more than 325 Black List scripts have been produced, grossing over $26 billion in box office worldwide. Black List movies have won 45 Academy Awards, including four of the last eight Best Picture Oscars and nine of the last eighteen Best Screenplay Oscars.

In October of 2012, the Black List launched a unique online community where screenwriters make their work available to readers, buyers and employers. Since its inception, it has hosted more than 35,000 screenplays and teleplays and provided more than 60,000 script evaluations. As a direct result of introductions made on the Black List, hundreds of writers have found representation at major talent agencies and management companies, as well as sold or optioned their screenplays.

Currently, the Black List hosts over 3,000 scripts for consideration by over 3,500 film industry professionals ranging from agency assistants, to studio and network presidents, to A-list actors and directors.

More information on the Black List is available at www.blcklst.com.

All finalists will be provided with 1 month of hosting and 1 evaluation on blcklst.com, as well as 20% off of all site services thereafter.


25. Whom should I contact with additional questions?

Eric Mueller, Program Administrator, FilmNorth, 651-644-1912, [email protected]