Truant Pictures launches screenplay competition for emerging writers

Toby Nalbandian and Greg Schmidt.

Animal Logic Entertainment’s live action genre arm Truant Pictures today launched a screenplay competition designed to discover new talent.

The call-out is for any writers who are Australian citizens or permanent residents and who earned no more than $30,000 from fiction screenwriting in the past 12 months.

The scripts must be in the genres of horror, science fiction and/or thriller.

The winner will receive $5,000 cash, a hot desk for one week at Truant Pictures’ Sydney office and mentorship from Truant’s development and production executives Toby Nalbandian and Greg Schmidt.

Two finalists will each receive $1,000 cash and all three will be read and given notes from one of the three judges: Stuart Beattie (Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl), Yolanda Ramke (Cargo) and Zak Hilditch (1922, These Final Hours), plus written feedback from LA-based ex-pat Aussie script consultant Tim Schildberger.

Entries opened today and can be submitted until September 2, with the winners announced in November.

“We’re looking for compelling stories, unique voices and writers who may be young and new to the game and who may not have received Screen Australia funding,” Schmidt tells IF. Feedback may be offered to more than the top three in the quest to find new talent, he says.

Launched last August, Truant Pictures’ mission is to produce genre films in Australia with Australian creatives for international audiences.

At launch the development slate included The Haunting of Mary Todd with Zak Hilditch and Justin Monjo; Biohackers with Stephen McCallum and Michael Kratochvil; The Galvanist with Shayne Armstrong and S.P. Krause; and The Gooynboon with Jub Clerc.

Since then, projects from Joan Sauers, Nicholas Verso, Andy Friedhof and the writing team of Michael Alexei Mizin and Ryan van Dijk have been added to the slate.

“That development work is paying off,” Nalbandian tells IF. “We aim to get the first film into production by the end of 2019 or early 2020. We hope that at least a few of these projects will come to fruition; they are looking pretty good.”

All reading and judging for the script competition will be done in collaboration with LiveRead/LA ( – an LA-based organisation dedicated to helping writers improve their skills.

Entrants can apply here