Judging Criteria and Procedure

Screenplays are evaluated on a 10 point scale for each of the following attributes:

The idea behind the story. What the movie is about.

Standard spec screenplay or teleplay format (12 pt. Courier font, correct margins, etc.), as well as spelling, punctuation, grammar, and usage.

The framework of the script. Effective use of three-act (most common), odyssey, linear or non-linear story progression.

The actions, events, conflicts, and turning points that propel the story forward. How the story unfolds (points for originality/unpredictability).

The timing of the action, unfolding of plot elements and character development.


Personalities that are distinctive, compelling, multi-layered, and unpredictable. A protagonist and antagonist with clear and active goals.


Voices that are natural, succinct, and unique to each character. Use of language that effectively reveals character and moves the story forward.

The underlying message of the story as revealed through plot, dialogue, and visual elements.


The overall quality of the writing. Narrative that is distinct, cinematic, and effectively conveys the mood or “feel” of the movie.

Commercial Appeal

The audience appeal and marketability for the script's particular genre or niche.

Judging Procedure

The judging process is anonymous.  Judges are given the scripts by title and tracking number only.

The New York Screenplay Contest is judged by working professionals and experts in the film, television and entertainment industries, all of whom have years of experience reading, evaluating and developing scripts for studios, agencies, management firms and production companies.