Interview with producer-writer Allan Tamshen

We sat down to interview Allan, the producer and writer of Black Eyes — a short film that is currently in development as feature film with Mad Wife Productions.

You can watch Black Eyes short here (just in time for Halloween): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPgTKDoA3No&t=34s

MJ: How has the pandemic treated you?

Allan: Like a lot of people, I lost friends and relatives that mean a lot to me and I try to honor their life by being socially responsible and caring of others knowing that death can happen to anyone, anytime and anywhere.

MJ: How did you get into Filmmaking?

Allan: Funny you should ask… ha, ha. As you remember we met over a membership site reviewing each other’s scripts and when I found out you were filming No Virtue (now called Carp-e Diem) with Andrew, I asked that you read Black Eyes and we began pre-production three months later.

MJ: What was the inspiration behind Black Eyes?

Allan: Black Eyes came to me when I was thinking of how my Mom was domestically abused when I was a young kid and did not have the means to do anything about it. So I created a cop who witnessed her sister raped and killed then had her alter ego become the vigilante who teaches the cop that in order to catch evil you must become the evil that you are trying to kill.

MJ: How does the short script compare to the feature script for Black Eyes?

Allan: The feature script ties all the loose ends with Victoria and Vic battling control of their body and Sean getting attacked by the killer and how the person you least expect is the sister’s killer.

MJ: What did you learn from making Black Eyes?

Allan: A Lot! It’s a writers dream to see actors breathe life into their characters and watch what is on the page actually appear on the stage. I hope every writer can experience this.

MJ: Did you get to see Black Eyes short on the big screen?

Allan: Actually yes, I watched at the AOF Film festival in Vegas. It was awesome.

MJ: How was it working with the cast?

Allan: Jason Baduwalia (one of the Netflix power rangers) was fantastic. Christopher Blumen was right on as Victoria’s step-dad. Both actors bounced their dialogue off each other as if they knew each other for decades. Nicole Epper was intuitive as Victoria and her alter ego Vic giving a tremendous performance as she plays two different people inside her head and fighting for control of whether her vigilante half kills him or her cop half gets to bring him to justice and capture him.

MJ: So which is it?

Allan: You’ll have to wait until the feature come out.

MJ: How was the film festival experience?

Allan. It was great! Again, I was in Vegas and got to see it on the big screen. However, this was when the city had a mandate for everyone to wear masks but no one did so after the feature party I wasn’t able to pass along USB’s and talk to investors like I wanted to.

MJ: Have you any upcoming projects?

Allan: Yes. Black Eyes feature film of course but also Purgatory (As a priest goes blind, he is given the power to perform miracles that allow people to escape purgatory and enter heaven… until his father dies and is sent to hell). It’s going to be awesome.

MJ: Fantastic. Thank you Allan for your time and good luck with Black Eyes.

Allan: Thank you.

When Playwrights Become Screenwriters

Screenplay Copyright

by Sheila Duane

Mary Quinn is a visual/graphic artist with her roots in the learning disability community in the west of Ireland. She’s been in the United States with her daughter since her retirement in 2015. She was planning her first one person show, The Autistic Learner, in March of 2020. Needless to say, that event was cancelled. No video or online option has been offered to Ms. Quinn.

Playwrights are in a similar situation because of Covid 19… but we have options. Playwrights can become screenwriters, but it’s not easy. 

The Establishing Shot: According to the Columbia Film Language Glossary, “An establishing shot is a long shot at the start of a scene (or sequence) that shows things from a distance. Often an aerial shot, it is intended to help identify and orient the location or time for the scene and action that follow.” The establishing shot makes sense in film. The audience is in a movie theater or in a classroom or at home… the film begins. We are in Los Angeles… or we are in Seattle… then we move into the office or apartment or grocery store with the full context of that universe. We know that this Seattle office is near the Space Needle or the Public Market or in LA near LAX. That establishing shot expands the universe and takes the audience into a world of certain possibilities. And the audience expects to be oriented. 

Playwrights don’t think in terms of expansive orientation. The stage is the stage. Although the universe of the play isn’t limited to the space of the black box theater or proscenium or thrust stage, often the ‘beyond’ is not as important as the ‘within.’ The audience expects a very different orientation. Further, stages are often simply decorated: a park bench, a kitchen table, a single dying tree. How do playwrights orient their audiences? Certainly not the way filmmakers do. 

This is where screenwriting and playwrighting diverge. And this may be one of the reasons it’s difficult for the playwright to become a successful screenwriter. Difficult but possible. 

Screenwriting requires a different imagining of story… the expansive universe is the context of story in film (unless that universe is magically and cinematically restrained.) The audience climbs into the world with a willingness to populate that world. Screenwriting, the power of the cinematic takes place in the cosmos of human context, but the visual possibilities are endless. 

Playwrighting, on the other hand, dances on the principle that the more specific, the smaller, the less expansive, the more universal. Try for one moment to imagine a film version of Waiting for Godot. It’s not possible. Interestingly, it is the lack of orientation in that play that makes it so personal and heartbreaking. The audience isn’t drawn into the story, the story is forced into the heart and psyche of each member of the audience. It can only be the human presence on stage that ‘establishes’ a human context. 

There are individuals who prefer stage to screen. But most playwrights and screenwriters are storytellers who want to tell their stories. The majority of playwrights fall into that category. And unlike Mary Quinn the visual artist, playwrights have the luxury of learning to, either temporarily or permanently, readjust our thinking about how we orient the audience, how we imagine stories being told, turn off the ghost light and turn on the camera obscura. But it’s a change in our vision of storytelling, our vision of ourselves. 

One example I can offer is a stage play I wrote about a woman in a kind of witness protection program. Because of the encouragement of audience members, I ‘adapted’ it into a screenplay. However, I wanted to maintain the cage-like characteristics of the small apartment wherein the character was in protection. According to many people in the film industry, the screenplay failed as a screenplay. The universe wasn’t expansive. The spartan, cage-like setting was limiting, and telling the story through the experience of the witness was not enough to grab and hold the attention of a film audience. 

In a Covid 19 world, playwrights don’t have many choices. We can continue to write stage plays and hope the world stops spinning off its axis one of these days … or we can start writing cookbooks and making TikTok videos… or we can learn about telling cinematic stories. I don’t know what’s right. But I’m trying to adjust my second-generation American way of envisioning storytelling so that I can keep telling stories. 

And I hope Mary Quinn finds a way to tell stories too.

Sheila Duane was born in New Mexico and currently lives in New Jersey. She teaches writing at a community college. Most recently, her play “The Loom” was produced in NYC as part of the 2021 Downtown Urban Arts Festival. Several of her other plays have been read or produced locally. On a personal note, Sheila loves Andy Warhol and has written a five minute film about a woman’s obsession with him.  

Screenplay: The Loom

Logline: Two women find themselves tangled in a web of police corruption, the uncertainty caused by PTSD, and the competing definitions of what constitutes ‘incitement.’ 

Ten Reasons Why I Recommend Screenwriting Contests

Hollywood

by Pamela PerryGoulardt

Breaking into the business side of screenwriting can be challenging. However, entering Screenwriting Contests is an option for advancement and credibility. Here’s why:

  1. Screenwriting Contests help you to Focus. They are a highly charged energy 24/7 business force streaming information. Contests are a way to locate and connect with the people that sync with your energy and are interested in your story.
  1. Screenwriting Contests are opportunities for honest feedback. Feedback provides a perspective on how a reader is reacting to your story. It’s a window into how your writing is perceived. Feedback is for finding what is and isn’t working so you can rewrite improvements. They will always tell you what is working and what needs improvement. I have never received critical feedback that didn’t offer a suggestion that would elevate my story.
  1. Screenwriting Contests are Global. One of my first ‘Wins’ was a short story I entered into a contest in Rome. It was about a single woman who comes home to find an Alien in her apartment on New Year’s Eve. They said I captured the loneliness people often feel. Somebody finally got what I was striving to achieve! After that, I felt encouraged to enter contests from Spain, India, Paris, Hong Kong, Vancouver, London, Moscow, even Bali. Fifty percent of my website views are from the Global Market!
  1. Screenwriting Contests are motivational. They’re a ticking clock with a Final Deadline! If you’re working on a Thriller and you see a contest just for Thrillers with a final deadline in two weeks, you will mark it on your calendar and finish that story!
  1. Screenwriting Contests help you define your voice and develop your brand. I had the chance to interview Angelo Pizzo (RUDY) for an article I was doing. Angelo writes Sports Movies. If a college is famous for a sport and has a ‘true story’ they want to produce, they contact him directly. But how do you choose your brand if you don’t know what genre is the best career platform for your talent? Write what inspires you, enter the story in a contest. You will begin to see a pattern emerge of what stories resonate with people, what gets positive feedback, and what wins laurels!
  1. Screenwriting Contests are socially active and support each other. The best way for a contest to advertise is through you! You become a conduit of energy that sparks imaginations and encourages others. If you announce you have entered or placed in a contest and post it on social media other writers and filmmakers will ‘like’ your post and share it. Your name gets out there. Doors begin to open. You connect with actors, producers, musicians, location scouts, cinematographers. You build your tribe!
  1. Screenwriting Contests are often part of Movie Festivals. Independent Film thrives in the Festival Circuit. They are usually part of a community that looks forward to attending the yearly event. They are social, as well as business events, traditionally hosted by Movie Stars. If your screenplay Wins or Places, people will talk about it. The Judges might select your script for a Table Read. Festival runners have contacted me about my story and invited me to participate in their festival. Sometimes they provide a passcode to bypass the entry fee! Your story gains traction in production circles. You begin to move off the bench and onto the playing field!
  1. Screenwriting Contests offer prizes. Contests can open doors for valuable benefits and sometimes offer prizes beyond the prestige and the Laurel, such as: promoting your logline to producers and filmmakers in their monthly mailer, website, and social media platforms. In addition, your script may be selected for a Podcast of a Table Read or chosen for a ‘Proof of Concept’ trailer.
  1. Screenwriting Contests can open doors. Filmmakers and Producers often sponsor Screenwriting Contests seeking specific ‘expanded’ Genres, meaning they may want an Action/Adventure that has ‘Underwater’ action, or perhaps they are only interested in LGBTQ stories. If social media announces you have such a story, they will contact you with a substantial discount coupon to enter their competition. As a result, your expenses begin to go down. In addition, you connect with the people you need to move forward into production.
  1. Screenwriting Contests build confidence! Confidence is key! Once you start getting positive feedback, confidence soars, the magic awakens! You write with authority without holding back, and your characters become truly unique, sharing your voice with the world.

Pamela PerryGoulardt is a produced screenwriter and head writer for FlyingCloudStudios.com

Calamity Jane: Queen of Spades

Biopic Adventure.

Logline: After Frontierswoman and Sharpshooter Martha Jane Cannary loses both parents on the trail west, she becomes a scout in the US Army, finds a new reputation as the legendary outlaw Calamity Jane, and falls in love with Wild Bill Hickock.

Making of Ashes of The Order: A Star Wars Fan Film

Mad Wife Productions founder Andrew Arguello had one passion project in mind for several years – a Star Wars fan film. After numerous times almost attempting to do it but never finding it to be the right moment, he almost gave up hope of ever producing it.

That all changed in January 2021 when Andrew’s good friend Joe Rinaldi engineered a realistic-looking and functional lightsabers. This was the motivation for Andrew to finally say – we’re doing this!

Ultimately, Andrew wanted to create a film that was not too heavy graphically, something exciting and intriguing and yet entertaining and high quality. Something that people want to watch. Well, it turns out the age old adage of “making a film is hard” really pronounced itself in the making of this film.

Andrew “I’ve often heard that it’s a miracle any film gets finished. Normally I don’t agree with this as we’ve always been very good at hitting our deadline with not much issue. But with a zero-budget fan film, this was almost the case. While our idea on paper was easy, the execution of that idea would prove to be a whole lot more than any of us expected.”

Pre-Production

First step was coming up with the screenplay. Andrew and one of the actors, Jeremy Uithoven, got the initial story on the page with the help of screenwriter MJ Palo.

Next, Andrew reached out to several actors and crew members to ask who was interested in volunteering to make this film happen. Not only did we need story and lightsabers but also actors, crew, costumes and makeup.

Andrew “I reached out as many friends as I could and asked if they were a Star Wars fan and if they would you be willing to put numerous hours of unpaid work to help me make my passion project?

Surprisingly, everyone answered “yes” and was as excited as us to be a part of the process. The cast and crew had their first production meeting in February 2021.

Next, we looked for the shooting location. After a few searches, we found the perfect spot at the David Creek Regional Park. After meeting with Park Ranger Nick and getting the permits, we were finally ready to start blocking and choreographing the fight scenes.

With three amazing and athletic actors – Cameron, Greg and Jeremy – we rehearsed at the location during three weekends preceding the shoot. With popular hiking trail just next to the spot, we definitely received a lot of attention during the rehearsals.

We had a bit of a hiccup the week before we wanted to shoot when our leading lady, Cameron, injured herself. Luckily, she was able to mostly recover from the injury during the week.

This was of course not the only setback. Joe, who was building lightsabers from the ground up, was having a hard time getting the things he needed to finish the sabers. The machine he needed arrived the day before the shoot and Joe spent the entire night assembling the 3 sabers we needed. The paint was literally drying as he drove to set. But hey – we had everything done and we were ready to shoot our fan film!

And then the snow storm hit…

Production

It was a beautiful sunny March morning in Reno when the cast and crew met at the park at 8 am. And best yet, the snow had already almost completely melted and by the time we shot, it was gone!

We started with hair and make-up for the actors, while the crew hiked up a trail with all the gear – a brisk morning exercise!

We called action on our first shots with the drone around 10 am. After the drone shots, we started with the fight scene. A full 3 hours of shooting and we broke for lunch. Everything was on schedule.

And of course, this is when the entire project almost fell apart.

One of the actors confirmed he could not return the next day. So our 2-day/12-hour shoot just turned into a 6-hour shoot!

Now, we were in “go-time” mode. We took our B cam that lives on the gimbal and started getting as much handheld coverage as we could. It was glorious. We had saber blades breaking, actors flying through the air but we call kept pushing before the Sun would set.

At the end of the day, we were beyond exhausted but it was worth it. And this was only the beginning – what followed the 1-day shoot was 1000-hours of post production…

Post-Production

Andrew handled the editing and color grading himself – it took him less than a month to go from raw footage to final cut. Wow, we were rocking this! Well, not so fast…

…what followed was 6-months of VFX and sound design. We found an amazing composer to do the score and sound designer team to handle the rest.

VFX was handled by Jennifer McWhirter – a first timer! Andrew recruited Jennifer to the project knowing she had the patience it takes to do the VFX frame by frame for the lightsabers. And without her spending hundreds of unpaid hours on this project, it would not exist today!

But in the end, we finally got our film!

Premiere and release

The premiere happened on September 11, 2021 with 50 VIPs in the audience. The film ended with thunderous applause and unanimous request to watch it again – which we did!

The film was released on YouTube on September 12 and got almost 2k views in the first day.

After months and hundreds of hours of hard work, the end result was worth it and the team cannot wait to do it again!

You can watch Ashes of The Order: A Star Wars Fan Film here: https://youtu.be/F-84omd6Qtg

Spring Winners Are in Production

Follow the production and get updates on this page.

We are excited to announce that the Spring winners’ scripts are in pre-production. We are holding auditions and securing locations. Production is scheduled for November 13-14, 2021.

The winning short script was optioned by Mad Wife Productions and is currently in pre-production!

You can watch audition tapes here and read the winning short script as well as TV pilot and feature proof of concept scripts below!

Tree O’mine by Bernhard Riedhammer

Logline: An eight-year old boy tries to plant and nurture a tree, believing it will save the life of his sick mother.

Cast of Tree O’mine

Interview with Bernhard Riedhammer

Tell us a little bit about your screenwriting journey: I’m a carpenter by trade, now working in marketing and business development. I hold a BA in Screenwriting from Staffordshire University in England and an M.Litt. from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. I have worked for some three odd years as an assistant and story editor for a daily soap, and I’ve written several features and shorts, placing high in dozens of contests and festivals (e.g., BlueCat, Scriptapalooza, Austin Film Festival, Cinequest, BigBreak, ScreenCraft, Richmond). In particular, I love writing stories that deal with real-life issues, something quirky and heartbreaking, which makes people laugh and cry at the same time.

Tell us a little bit more about your script: Tree o’ mine is a sweet and emotional tale about an eight-year-old boy who believes that he can save the life of his sick mother by planting and nurturing a tree in his backyard.

Heritage by Anna Maues

Logline: After losing her beloved father, a lonely and naive girl uncovers secrets about her family that will drag her down an increasingly dark and violent path.

Status: Script available

Cast of Heritage

Interview with Anna Maues

Tell us a little bit about your screenwriting journey: I am a Brazilian filmmaker that moved to New York with one dream in my backpack: becoming a screenwriter. I am totally passionate about writing and my life would definitely be greyer if I never tried to peruse this passion. Since I started writing screenplays, I have shot several short-films and written a one-hour episode TV series: Heritage. Heritage was really well received in many festivals, becoming even a winner in 2 big screenwriting contests. Now I am working on my first feature script and I intend to start a campaign to get it produced.

Tell us a little bit more about your script: Heritage tells the story of Liana, a young and naïve girl, that loses her father unexpectedly. Not too long after her father passes way, she starts to uncover dark secrets about her family and ultimately about herself. In a breakneck pace spiral, Liana finds out that her father seems to be involved in a series of murders that took place in the little town she lives in. Now she is determined to discover what is behind her father dark story and why that seems to be calling her into the same path.

Aunt Jeannie by David Gray

Logline: When Jake and his older sister are forced to go to a little league tournament with their odd Aunt Jeannie, they don’t believe her bizarre stories about espionage and assassins were true. When the ghosts of her past resurface, will the skills Aunt Jeannie learned in a life she left behind be enough to save them?

Status: In negotiations

Cast of Aunt Jeannie

Interview with David Gray

Tell us a little bit about your screenwriting journey: I’ve been writing for a while but only focused on screenwriting for the last 4 years. One of y scripts has been optioned and is in preproduction. I’ve entered many competitions and I’m most excited about winning the Reno-Tahoe competition because I’m so excited to have a scenes shot to show proof of concept! I focus on comedy and have 3 comedy TV pilots out there and 5 feature screenplays. I can’t wait to see some of these brought to life!

Tell us a little bit more about your script:  Aunt Jeannie is a tour de force opportunity for a physical comedic actress. There is family humor and silliness on the little league baseball field and the drama of a former life in espionage which catches up with her. This script was inspired by a true event, when my son realized a rifle case was a great way to carry baseball bats (which cant be carried onto a plane). Taking a rifle case into an airport certainly draws attention.

Screenwriter Highlights From the Spring 2021 Contest

The Reno-Tahoe Screenplay Contest Spring 2021 cycle closed on July 21 with 62 screenwriters announced as finalists, including 3 winners. We wanted to highlight some of these talented screenwriters here.

Winner of short script category: “Tree O’mine” by Bernhard Riedhammer

Tell us a little bit about your screenwriting journey: I’m Bernhard (Bernie) Riedhammer, a carpenter by trade, now working in marketing and business development. I hold a BA in Screenwriting from Staffordshire University in England and an M.Litt. from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. I have worked for some three odd years as an assistant and story editor for a daily soap, and I’ve written several features and shorts, placing high in dozens of contests and festivals (e.g., BlueCat, Scriptapalooza, Austin Film Festival, Cinequest, BigBreak, ScreenCraft, Richmond). In particular, I love writing stories that deal with real-life issues, something quirky and heartbreaking, which makes people laugh and cry at the same time.

Tell us a little bit more about your script: Tree o’ mine is a sweet and emotional tale about an eight-year-old boy who believes that he can save the life of his sick mother by planting and nurturing a tree in his backyard.

Winner of TV pilot category: “Heritage” by Anna Maues

Tell us a little bit about your screenwriting journey: I am a Brazilian filmmaker that moved to New York with one dream in my backpack: becoming a screenwriter. I am totally passionate about writing and my life would definitely be greyer if I never tried to peruse this passion. Since I started writing screenplays, I have shot several short-films and written a one-hour episode TV series: Heritage. Heritage was really well received in many festivals, becoming even a winner in 2 big screenwriting contests. Now I am working on my first feature script and I intend to start a campaign to get it produced.

Tell us a little bit more about your script: Heritage tells the story of Liana, a young and naïve girl, that loses her father unexpectedly. Not too long after her father passes way, she starts to uncover dark secrets about her family and ultimately about herself. In a breakneck pace spiral, Liana finds out that her father seems to be involved in a series of murders that took place in the little town she lives in. Now she is determined to discover what is behind her father dark story and why that seems to be calling her into the same path.

Winner of feature script category: “Aunt Jeannie” by David Gray

Tell us a little bit about your screenwriting journey: I’ve been writing for a while but only focused on screenwriting for the last 4 years. One of y scripts has been optioned and is in preproduction. I’ve entered many competitions and I’m most excited about winning the Reno-Tahoe competition because I’m so excited to have a scenes shot to show proof of concept! I focus on comedy and have 3 comedy TV pilots out there and 5 feature screenplays. I can’t wait to see some of these brought to life!

Tell us a little bit more about your script:  Aunt Jeannie is a tour de force opportunity for a physical comedic actress. There is family humor and silliness on the little league baseball field and the drama of a former life in espionage which catches up with her. This script was inspired by a true event, when my son realized a rifle case was a great way to carry baseball bats (which cant be carried onto a plane). Taking a rifle case into an airport certainly draws attention.

Honorable mention: “Snowflakes” by Ryan Costello

I am a screenwriter and playwright whose previous credits include the plays “Cody Stanfield, I Know You Stole My Gameboy Color in the Third Grade and Now the World Does Too” (Multiple KCACTF Honors) and “Emily Adams and Her Wonderful, Amazing, Extraordinary Death Ray”, as well as the films “Ears” (WINNER – Mary Hughes Screenplay Award, Cordillera International Film Festival) and “Detective Noir! An Interactive Adventure” (Finalist – Cordillera International Film Festival). I currently reside in Reno, NV where I regularly work and perform with the rapidly growing film and theater communities.

On the run from the FBI for their role in an unruly protest turned insurrection, two far-right conspiracy theorists must hide out and blend in with the progressive locals of a far-left mountain town. As they slowly begin to comprehend the severity of their actions, the two men are torn between embracing their new home for what it is… or making it “great again”. Despite the sensitive material, Republicans and Democrats alike can enjoy this hyper-relevant commentary on modern political discord.

Honorable mention: “Into the Jungle” by Chelsea Hazzard

In 2020, I paused my marketing career to study screenwriting at London Film Academy. I’ve since written several pilots, features and shorts, and have had some award placements, including: LA International Screenplay Competition (Quarter-Finalist), Launch Pad Feature Competition (Top 50). I look forward to producing my first project later this year!

Like his older brother, my dad was born deaf; but when it came time to attend school, he chose a school for the hearing. He didn’t want to be “different.” But kids can be cruel. Though he doesn’t talk much about this time in his life, I know it shaped who he is today: a talented artist, a loving husband, and a compassionate man. In the Jungle explores the discrimination he experienced in school, and how he not only survived but thrived due to the unique point of view his disability afforded him.

Honorable mention: “Wendigo” by David Zuckerman

I do have a few produced screenplays. I’ve been working as a screenwriter for the past several years. My first produced script, Presidents Day, came out in 2016 to great success, even gaining a small cult following. My script, Wendigo, has seen incredible success in several contests, and is currently seeking funding and development. With those, I have a myriad of other smaller scripts written and produced, in various genres. I currently am a 31-year-old, Pueblo Native American filmmaker, working in the industry, and really hoping to make a mark.

A disgraced Native American returns to his home reservation to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. Yet a greater evil, from ancient myth is at work, forcing the young man to face his demons and save his family. Wendigo is a story written by a Native American, about Native Americans, and starring Native Americans… This is our Get Out! Native culture has quickly taken over the zeitgeist of film, and this is the perfect blockbuster to bring that wave home.

Honorable mention: “Glow Stick” by Michael Raymond

I’ve written well over a dozen feature-length scripts… one small credit for a short. A few noteworthy accolades along the way (Nicholl Finalist, Austin winner), but just an unknown writer from Seattle who feels compelled to tell stories.

GLOW STICK is a story about a troubled teenager, who jeopardizes his future and alienates himself in the local community when he claims to see and talk to his best friend who was recently killed in a tragic accident. I tend to pitch this story as “Ghost” meets “Say Anything” with shades of “Lars and the Real Girl”. At its heart, GLOW STICK is about friendship, but also about the uneasy topic of death and grief, but laced with dark humor and poignant moments of levity.

The film certainly has the market appeal for the young adult crowd with modest budget parameters. However, after seeing the material brought to life at a recent live table read in Austin, if the elements resonate in the sort of profound ways that I hope they might (including the comedic beats), there’s exciting potential to deliver this film to multiple quadrants or any audience.

Finalists (in random order):

Burn by Armand Ariekan

I am new to screenwriting, having started writing less than two years ago. 2021 is my first crack at contests and having my screenplays actually seen and read. As I approach retirement, I hope that my screenwriting will turn into the next career chapter in my life.

A veteran detective is investigating a series of arson/homicides. During his investigations, he is haunted by the memory of his first case, that has since turned cold, a serial arsonist. The first time it was just arson, this time it’s arson/homicide.

A Warm Place in the Sun by Brad Perrot

This is my 1st and only, with the ONLY exception being a sequel as I left four different plot strands for one. I am an actor, but in frustration for waiting to act in my breakout, I simply wrote it. I don’t think I have any exceptional ability as a writer, but if you have determination, you don’t need it.

Coverage analyst: “it seems like every character wrote their own lines and not the author, if that makes any sense.” The author of this screenplay is a lifelong salesman, making the dialogue source like none other in this industry; past, present or future. A cop drama is the oldest trick in the book, and that’s because it works. But this screenplay features not only a dialogue source like none other, but the constant flow of new information and rapid thrilling pace makes this screenplay a fast and quite engaging read.

Cascadia by Tim Millette

I’ve written two screenplays and a short. I am currently in working on a third feature project.

Cascadia is a modern fairy tale set against the backdrop of the Grunge era of the Pacific Northwest in the early 1990s. Nye Valley is a place where magic and mystery entwine: Anything can happen. Using science fiction and fantasy, we tell the story of young couple in love who overcome tragedy. Oh, and there’s a battle with a giant beast as well! If Cascadia inspires wonder and awe while taking the audience on an emotional journey that results in a satisfying conclusion, then it achieved its goal.

Crankey Village by Alaina Warren Zachary

One Screenplay (best award but not produced yet.) These Broken Wings. One TV pilot – Crankey Village, NM winning a lot of laurels and looking for its production. Many comedy sketches, a two-person play.

No one really knows where New Mexico is unless you live here. Crankey Village, NM is a comedy love letter to all the quirkiness that abides here. Narcissistic widow, Lueella Crankey, wants to sell the family-owned retirement business so she can get a last chance at a Sex and the City lifestyle. I’m both younger than I feel and older than I look! I’ve had several scripts optioned and one sold and produced (very low budget). I’ve done well in multiple contests. That ‘breakthrough’ feels closer and closer. I’ve also done some seminars etc. in a writer’s group-type setting – love sharing what I know and have learned with others.

IF THEY WERE OF US by Rosemary Griggs

I have an MFA in Creative Writing. SKY GIRL, my poetry book about a flight attendant before and after 9/11, won the Alberta Prize and is published by Fence Books. My poetry and prose have been published in a number of literary journals including BEST AMERICAN POETRY 2014. I’ve produced one short film I wrote and am currently coproducing another. I’ve written 6 feature length screenplays. My screenplays have been recognized by the Nicholl Fellowship, Page Awards, Austin Film Festival, ScreenCraft among others, and have won 3 Best Screenplay Awards. I’m in my 40’s and support myself as a flight attendant normally working the SFO-CDG route as a French Speaker. Stay tuned for my French-American flight attendant script that I believe I’ve finally cracked!

IF THEY WERE OF US (True Crime Drama Feature) – Inspired by a true story, a middle-aged FBI Agent in suburban Chicago soon finds his latest murder case is invading the lives of the people he loves. This is about my dad who was an old school, gritty, every day American hero who died of Covid-19. He represents the hard work, integrity, and honesty that’s becoming increasingly difficult to find.

Secret Passage by Jennifer Healy Gloeb

I am a former tv news producer turned screenwriter. I have an optioned script and one script that is in pre-production. I have written several feature length screenplays, including a fantasy-adventure, rom-com, and dramas. The short I submitted to this contest was my first and only thriller.

“Secret Passage” is a single location thriller about a black female protagonist who takes a trip down memory lane to visit her grandparent’s former homestead that was once part of the underground railroad. When the seemingly innocuous white middle-aged homeowner invites her inside to take a look around, she soon realizes he is the serial killer the news has been warning the public about. Trapped inside, she must rely on memories from her childhood to get her through the secret passage ways and out to freedom.

I wrote this for a director to really showcase his/her talent. I think if this is done right, it has great potential to be nominated for an Academy Award. I think having a strong, black female lead and the backdrop to the Underground Railroad has immense appeal. I am a white woman, but I grew up watching Roots, Queen, North and South, and most recently Harriet, and I have always been interested in the plight of the African-Americans during that time in our nation’s history. I love that our strong protagonist turns the tables on her white abductor using the tunnels and weapons of the civil war era.

A Girl to Love by Joe Thayer

I am a 47-year-old, self-taught screenwriter. This is my first screenplay. I am writing a second with a director friend, and have been hired to write a third.

A Girl to Love is a different kind of love story about a young man prone to fantasy and hallucinations. His only friend is an imaginary six-foot statue of Michelangelo’s David, which helps him cheat at poker. He finds purpose and family when he latches onto a beautiful hustler and her little sister. When things go wrong with their illicit underground delivery service, he must put his demons aside to save the 11-year-old girl.

Forget-Me-Nots by John Dummer

I’ve been writing for some years now, and I’ve had some nibbles and some option offers. I put a great deal of thought and effort into each script. My sense is that eventually the right script will catch the eye of the right person at the right time. Until then my job is to keep writing stories that audiences will connect with, and to keep improving my craft.

FORGET-ME-NOTS is the intimate tale of three humans, scarred by personal loss, who face a threat epic in scale. With its small cast, limited locations and modest budget, FORGET-ME-NOTS bears comparison with 10 Cloverfield Lane, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Signs. In today’s chaos of pandemic and civil unrest, the story has proven even timelier and less fantastical than I’d anticipated when I began writing it.

Music Tech by Paul Blake

I started writing 4 years ago when I had a sketch idea. This became a 20-minute comedy short which was my first ever. I was immediately hooked and started to research writing from the ground up. Since then, I have written 6 short films, 3 sitcoms and have 2 film ideas.

Music Tech takes place in a run-down university just north of London England; it’s a course which is apparently one of the best, but the first day during the forced orientation activities it is obvious that’s not the case. The students don’t care, it’s seen as a free ride for those who don’t know what to do in life, so for Ryan; the 29-year-old pushing 30 trying to restart his life, it’s a nightmare. He quickly befriends Chris, a younger student with the mental age of a 50-year-old, he’s bitter and hates everything and Sophie, the only female on the course who is constantly patronized and belittled by others, she finds this hilarious. The three of them for their own personal reasons have to fight through the crazy mess and embarrassment to complete the 3-year course.

No Right Of Way by Samantha Reynolds

I am a woman of 52 who is returning to writing after having a child and teaching Montessori. I did go to USC graduate film school some years ago and now am returning to my creative roots. This is the first screenwriting competition I have submitted to and am thrilled and honored to be a finalist. The story I have submitted is based on my personal experience.

Feature Script Pitch: When her last chance of becoming a mother is stolen, a married 40 something school teacher, slowly spirals into her own altered reality and hatches a covert plan to give birth to her aborted fetus still inside her so she can experience the taste of motherhood – to the horror of those around her.

Out of the Shadows by Jeff Rosenberg

I was working in customer service and always wanted to be a writer. A co-worker had a friend who wanted to make a web series, so we hooked up and I started writing. The show failed but I kept writing. I made contact with the incredible actress Adrienne Barbeau on Facebook, and she graciously offered to read a script I wrote. The feedback was amazing and helpful. I wrote a horror script, “Betrothed”. and connected with a producer, also on Facebook, who read and loved the script so much he produced it. I’ve been working as a writer for hire for a few years, trying to get noticed.

“Out of the Shadows” is a fast paced horror that’s like “The Fog” meets “The Babadook”. Trapped by a blizzard, a front desk clerk fights to protect the guests and staff at her remote mountain lodge from creatures that seem to be nothing more than shadows; pitch-black silhouettes, featureless, evil, malevolence personified.

Rube by Dan O’Brien

“Rube” is my first screenplay although I’m working on others. I’ve also served as a script consultant for a friend who directs independent films. My background is TV news/sports where I wrote and produced a number of documentaries. Another friend is a longtime unit publicist in the film industry. He occasionally hires me to assist with press packets. This includes major films directed by the likes of Ron Howard, George Clooney and Sam Mendes.

“Rube” is the incredible true story of George Edward “Rube” Waddell, baseball’s eccentric Hall of Fame pitcher. Though likely mentally challenged, Rube rose to fame as baseball’s most dominant pitcher and biggest drawing card during his era (early 1900s). His exploits off the field was as colorful as his performances on the diamond. He was known to wrestle alligators, fight fires or lead parades. Born on Friday the 13th, Rube died on April Fool’s Day at age 37, the result of his heroic efforts during a massive flood on the Mississippi River. For more visit my website: http://rubewaddell.net

Canyon Rock by Ellen Golden

Seemingly a lifetime ago, I walked through the doors of The Betty Ford Center as a 28-year-old cocaine addict. I left thirty days later, profoundly changed, and eternally grateful to the remarkable place that gave me a second chance at life.

In my script, Canyon Rock is a high-profile addiction center struggling to survive in the current time as it fights the newest political and economic realities.

The show is equally a story of the human struggle. All these hugely diverse people – patients and staff – find themselves together, 24/7, in a community with seemingly nothing more in common than the fact that they have hit rock bottom and their lives are filled with secrets and lies. The powerful bonds and seismic divides that develop are the stuff of compelling drama and, yes, unexpected humor.

A life-long New Yorker temporarily living in Atlanta, I am incredibly keen to share the grit and exceptional beauty of the enchanting city of Santa Fe, home of Canyon Rock, with worldwide audiences. Canyon Rock is my first television drama. Canyon Rock is a high-profile addiction treatment center struggling to survive in a changing new world order of healthcare and politics. It is where an eclectic group of colleagues still dedicate themselves to saving patients, as they continue to confront their own punishing secrets. Canyon Rock is set in Santa Fe, a city of grit and exceptional beauty, with as many contrasts and contradictions as the characters who populate the show.

Web Trail by Drew Wagner

I started writing right after college, when I realized my heart wasn’t in my chosen occupation and that my dream was and always had been screenwriting. I have a couple produced short films. As far as unproduced scripts I’ve written, I have eight features, a handful of short scripts, and seven pilots of various genres in my stable.

“Web Trail” is an investigative drama that takes aim at the dual, sometimes conflicting, realities we now live in with our physical and our ever-expanding digital worlds. When a co-worker goes silent on all social platforms, our hero must navigate both the hidden truths found in people’s social media presences and the real world that she doesn’t quite fit in to. In the process, she will uncover lies, tragic realities, and perhaps even something sinister.

All The Bright… by Patrick Griffith

Only just started my screenwriting journey in 2018 with a certificate course at UCLA Professional Programs. I don’t have any produced credits yet and only two short screenplays completed with a feature on the way; the feature is an ongoing challenge. I’m 53 and finally decided it was time to get serious about the screenwriting desire (once and for all) – better late than never…?

I took the title from a line in “The Great Gatsby”, “All the bright precious things fade so fast, and they don’t come back” – Daisy Buchanan. It’s a story about the end of an engagement before it really began after the protagonist’s best friend dies. The ‘event’ of his friend’s death provides some badly needed clarity and he changes the trajectory of his life. The bright, precious engagement ring accompanies us through the story and fades as the relationship fades…and doesn’t come back.

Commemorar by John Iadarola

I’ve been a writer for a few years but never really submitted to festivals or pursued a career. At some point I decided to take it more seriously and even though I haven’t had any luck, I’ve learned that I at least have some talent.

I was inspired to write this during a road trip from my childhood home in CO to my new home in Los Angeles. If you’ve ever been on a smaller highway in the desert chances are you’ve seen the white crosses smattered along the roads. There’s always so many and you’ll never know the stories. I saw an old couple cooking around a cross one day. I only saw them for maybe 10 seconds but it sent my mind going. It’s so macabre but also beautiful in a way. I wanted to write something about why someone would do that, and what they’re looking for. I’m in no way a spiritual person but the script became that. It’s one of those stories you like to tell yourself. It’s comforting.

Rising Above Mania by Kelly Karam

After experiencing a felon for a dad, a roving-eyed husband, raging teenagers, and teaching K-12, Kelly Karam bought a laptop and began a career in writing the year that she turned fifty. All of it, whether good or bad, has played a role in becoming the kind of award-winning screenwriter who brings human experience to diverse characters living in worlds where the rules in life are never fair but always worth the journey.

2020 Page International Screenplay Winner “Straight Man” is a short drama inspired by true events about an old man who turns the tables on the young addict who invades his home. It is a small story about how addiction affects the whole family to what is now the leading cause of death among Americans under fifty – drug overdoses.

“Rising Above Mania” is a dark comedy about an aspiring writer struggling with bipolar who discovers her script is stolen by the bullish bodyguard to a box office king and must track him down to tell him the truth. In the end, there is only one question: Can a screenwriter struggling with mental illness better the world, exorcise her demons, and find friendship writing a 90-page screenplay as her only hope to thwart depression? And the answer is:  Yes! Yes, she can!

Remind Me by Kristian Noonan

I do have 1 film that has been produced prior, a short comedy by the name of “In Jeopardy.” Besides that, I am a published short story author (“La notte senza stelle” in the Vagabond Journal, Spring 2016 issue) who graduated from UC Santa Barbara. “Storyteller” is the answer I want to give when people ask me what I am or what I do, and I hope to reimbue that social role with the responsibility and compassion it deserves.

Imagine While You Were Sleeping, but from Peter Gallagher’s perspective. We rely on our memories for everything, from making sure our pantry’s stocked to our liking, to maintaining those connections we could never live without. Oftentimes we choose to forget things, like pain, disappointment, suffering, things that make life less than what we dream it could be. If we really forget them though, how can we know when those things are coming back? That’s Riley’s problem, if you’d wanna watch! (Oh, and there is an expansion of this script I’ve been toying around with that puts it more in a While You Were Sleeping + Antman vibe. Let me know if that’s of any interest!)

My Right-Hand Man by Anthony Moschetto

I come from the world of stand-up comedy, and I began my writing journey later in life when it was clear my stand-up career wasn’t going to happen. I enrolled in the UCLA Writer’s Extension, earned a certificate in feature film writing, and never looked back. Since then, I’ve written multiple TV pilots, short scripts, a couple of features, and a stage play. I’ve yet to be produced, but who knows, this could be the year.

After another epic bout of social anxiety leads to yet another job loss, NORMAN seeks comfort with his old coping device, a thirteen-inch hand puppet, dressed in a scout uniform named the Anxiety Ranger. When Norman wakes up the following day, he’s shocked to realize the anxiety hand puppet is not only stuck to his hand, but it SPEAKS to him. Incredibly, the voice is ARNOLD FITZKEE, a newly deceased, bitter stand-up comedian with a nasty drug addiction who discovers his spirit is trapped inside Norman’s anxiety puppet. Worst gig ever. Irreverent, inappropriate, yet often touching, MY RIGHT-HAND MAN is a comedy that proves how sometimes the most unlikely of friendships can fit like a glove.

RED PLANET BLUES by William Gunn

RED PLANET BLUES had an Inauspicious Beginning under another Title: MARS GENERAL.  Under that Title I began numerous false starts that led nowhere. I’d have to remove entire sections, rewrite entire scenes that didn’t make any logical sense in the overall storyline. Characters were Aimless, Dialogue was Logy and Stilted.  The whole thing was an absolute Mess!

That is until I joined Stage 32.  After that I began learning my skills and with a lot of Practice and Hard Work my screenwriting became better and better.  The culmination of those skills is my screenplay, RED PLANET BLUES.  But it’s Not my last.  I intend to do as much more screenwriting as I possibly can.

Are you Here? By Andrea Cabañas

I’m Brazilian-Australian, a published writer and former producer with years of experience in the Brazilian entertainment industry (including directing two TV programs). Working with Brazilian soap operas has drawn my attention to screenwriting. I took short courses in this field and worked as a screenwriter assistant for a while before moving to Australia in 2007. It was only in 2014, when I decided to pursue my career as a writer/screenwriter writing only in English as Australia became my home. I got one script optioned once, but the producer didn’t get the funds. Then, two of my scripts were shortlisted in a screenplay competition in 2019 (Get it Made LA). As a result, I became part of a screenwriter community, the Get it Made X (GIMX), in which I’m one of the Ambassadors. While writing my second novel, Sonata for You, I developed the proof of concept Are you Here?, a finalist at the Get it Made LA short film competition, in 2020. Now, the same script got to the finals in your contest. I know, I am a producer, and you might be asking, ‘Why don’t you produce your own shorts?’ Well, I quit the production industry for a reason, so here I am. Extra notes: when I was in high school, I wanted to be an actor, but life led me to work behind the scenes. Nevertheless, my grand achievement on stage was performing in a play called The Clean House by Sarah Ruhl. This was in 2017. I’ll turn 50 years old this year; I’m happily married, no kids. I manage our dental clinic business parttime, and the other half, I write and write. Drama is my genre, and I’m also a huge fan of Pedro Almodovar.

Are you Here? is a proof-of-concept film based on the second novel I’m editing at the moment, Sonata for You. It’s a fiction drama with a hint of magic realism. It tells about Liam, a ten-year-old Australian boy who’s overcoming loss and grief. His grandparents raised him, and his grandfather Graham dies. Liam didn’t say goodbye to him. While going through the five stages of grief, his grandmother, who’s in a nursing home with dementia, tells Liam that Graham visits her every night. On top of it, he learns through his father’s girlfriend about the existence of the afterlife. She’s Brazilian and a follower of a religion that believes in the survival of the spirits. With this hope in his heart, Liam gets obsessed with the idea to communicate with his grandfather. He even tries to summon spirits, bringing conflict with his mother. When communication happens—and only his cat senses it—Liam freaks out. This is the exact moment portrayed on my POC. Nevertheless, this is not a haunting story. This movie is about grief and loss; it’s about love and afterdeath communication. But most importantly, it’s about Liam’s acceptance that death is not the end; it’s just a physical loss.

Retirement Road Trip by Joe Leone

I am relatively new to Screenwriting, just started penning my first script three years ago. I currently have (3) Feature Film screenplays and (2) Short Film scripts complete at this stage of my writing career – still a “works in progress, but improving.” No produced credits as of yet. I previously worked for Paramount Pictures in Motion Picture Marketing for six years before leaving the Entertainment Industry many years ago. I am in my Mid-50’s. My advice to young writers, never give up on your dreams. It’s never too late to tell your story.

Below is the ending description from a recent screenplay review about Retirement Road Trip. I believe that it sums up the feeling of the story, quite well. ‘Retirement Road Trip’ is a story about self-discovery as much as it is the goofy road trip among childhood friends after life has knocked them around hard. The writer leaves us with the poetic idea that it is ‘only a few good minutes of open talk amongst friends’ that is needed to end the frictions that have stopped life from being what it could have been. But quite often, those few minutes come a few decades too late, a few thousand miles away from home and in the middle of a life-threatening incident.

Logline: A commercial airline pilot (Kyle) plans to retire and do nothing, but comfortably relax in his paid-off custom-built home. However, his plans suddenly change, when a demolition crew levels his home by accident.

Tagline: Retirement is not the end of the road. It is the beginning of the open highway.

Roswell ’97 by Samuel Bollen

25 years old, Princeton grad. I have been paying the bills with marketing and screenwriting on the side. I have a few produced commercials under my belt, but no feature or TV work that has seen the light of day yet. I have written 3 features and about 5 TV pilots. Many, many short films and short stories as well.

ROSWELL ’97: A young housewife falls pregnant after an alien abduction. After being cast out of her community, she makes a cross-country road trip to Roswell, NM, where she hopes to find acceptance, safety, and self-determination. Adventure-comedy with light sci-fi elements. Think Raising Arizona meets Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Among the Spirits by Emily McClain

I am a published/professional playwright but I am very new to screenwriting. Among the Spirits is my first screenplay.

Among The Spirits is a historical thriller featuring the partnership between Harry Houdini and Rose Mackenburg as they expose fake mediums and spiritualists in 1920’s New York.

Two Ladies by Rajiv Kachappilly

I have written a few shorts, optioned one short, assisted in a web series, and have one unproduced feature screenplay.

Two Ladies is a high stakes horror short that involves four female characters in one location. Two young con artists think they can rob two elderly women by sneaking into their remote home at night. Once inside the house they start to make frightening discoveries about who these two women really are and ultimately lead to their demise.

Firemore by Piper Ozmer

I’ve always loved storytelling, but until recently I only wrote “user stories” – that is, technical requirements for software development. I attempted my first screenplay in 2019 and was instantly hooked. Two years (and a lot of Googling) later, I’ve written a grounded sci-fi romance, several holiday features (including a ScreenCraft Finalist), and a handful of short scripts. I also optioned a faith-based script for a fantastic producer, which has given me the opportunity to see the industry up close and quickly synthesize feedback with production in mind. It is an absolute joy to get to write!

As a clinically proven love potion supplement takes the world by storm, a happily married couple argues whether or not they should give it a try. One partner will do whatever it takes to guarantee the relationship’s success, even if it’s fake. The other refuses to consider it, but hides a dark secret that could destroy the entire relationship. Set in one house with one main couple and one supporting, this short is intimate, twisty, and darkly satisfying. 

Verity’s Game by Jennifer Giacalone

I’m in my third metamorphosis in life; I spent my twenties as a rock musician, touring and recording. I spent my thirties as a graphic artist, creating artwork for top fortune 500 companies and honing my drawing skills for my personal satisfaction. And now in my forties, I’ve blossomed into a writer, bringing the breadth of my experiences into both novel and screenplay formats.

Verity’s Game is the first of the four screenplays I’ve written since last fall, a fast-paced action movie that takes a moment now and then to reflect on themes of loyalty, love and morality. It’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith meets Killing Eve, set against the backdrop of Mexico City and intended for two dynamic women of color as they navigate a world of corporate criminals and corrupt politicians to save each other’s lives.

Running by Sean Chandler

My background is mostly in theater writing. I’ve had two plays and one musical produced in five different states and one European country — Ireland. I’ve written three full screenplays and two series. I’ 56 years-old and live in New York City with husband, David.

“Running” is the story of a political family whose closeted-gay, mayoral candidate patriarch is outed in a very lurid, public manner and how that affects his campaign and, most importantly, his family.

Shape of my heart by Isaac Lucas

Shape of My Heart… is loosely based on my time as a volunteer with Ronald McDonald House and Camp Quality NZ (children with cancer) as well as a young boy I got to know online who passed from the disease.

Shape recently had a table read with Chad Kukahiko from We Make Movies. Feedback was that it should either be silent or with lines throughout
(as at the read-through), which is interesting since it began as a ‘silent’ short. So now, the latest draft is back to non-dialogue and is only 8 pages in length. My first short was also a children’s one – The Odd Sock Thief, which features Jimmy the Dwarf and newsreader Judy Bailey in a cameo (plus one cute Husky).

The Angelic Rebellion by Paul Skinner

I started writing screenplays in January of 2017, and am in my fifth year, still forging away at the age of 59 I transitioned into this creative endeavor that has lifted me out of mid.- life malaise. I must say I love it and it has given me great purpose and pleasure. I have written six features, one of them has been optioned, and I am a co-executive producer for another feature. I have written three original TV pilots. I have placed in the finals, semi-finals, and quarterfinals in 14 prestige’s screenplay contests. These include the Austin Film Festival twice (2019 & 2020), ScreenCraft One-hour TV-pilot and the Reno Tahoe competition

The Angelic Rebellion is set in the distant future. The world is on the verge of Armageddon and the Anti-Christ has come to power. An Elon Musk character (Rand Jamison) realizes he and his crew must go back in time to when the universe was created and use powerful technology to destroy Lucifer and his celestial allies, before they ascend to heaven and wage war with God.

The General: Black Genesis by Joseph Lint

As far back as I can remember I wanted to be a gangster … err writer. Writer. I have been writing stories since I learned to spell. It’s something I must do. The ideas come and nag at me. If I don’t write them down, they pile up in my mind and I can’t think straight. Movies and TV are my preferred mode of storytelling, but I am a huge fan of novels, graphic novels, and comic books. I have won and placed in several screenwriting contests with various screenplays. I have also been in negotiations for an option of one of my screenplays (with two different production companies). However, we never did end up sealing a deal. I have around ten completed screenplays now and MANY more (of all different genres) on deck. It’s all about finding the time between family and work to get them down. Lucky for me, I’m newly married (at Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe) and my exquisite wife is very understanding and supportive of my writing. So I have been getting more and more of a chance to write.

“The General: Black Genesis” tells the story Marcus Caracella, an honored General in the Ancient Roman Army. But after a battle with an African Witch Doctor, he is transformed into a Vampire, and must struggle with what he has become and defend himself from his once loyal soldiers. “Black Genesis” is the first episode in a series and further episodes would follow Marcus throughout time. Bouncing back-and-forth to different times and places in history, it would involve all different genres. Sometimes Marcus would be the hero, sometimes the anti-hero, the love interest, or even the villain when he’s hunting humans.

MUSTANG by Gordon Phipps 

After school, I joined the navy and served in two  aircraft carriers, during which I became interested in aviation. After 7 years in the navy, I worked as a camera operator in airborne minerals and geographical survey as a means to getting some air under my ass, then became an air traffic controller, latterly with experience in searches for missing aircraft, which inspired my first screenplay, Mustang.  I took early retirement when it was offered, to try my hand at writing, something that I had always wanted to do.

Know Your Rights as a Screenwriter​

Screenwriter Rights in the Development Stage

Know Your Rights as a Screenwriter

Pro Tip: Start with a logline

Are you aware that your creative rights as a screenwriter are protected under law? Yes, screenwriters have been provided protected rights which are there to ensure that if anyone uses your scripts without your consent, they can be punished accordingly under the law. 


Screenwriters are scared that if they market their screenplay ideas to people there is a great chance that they will get stolen. Though that fear is valid as Hollywood is a pretty intimidating place to be but it is also true that times have changed so it’s not easy for people to easily steal ideas or copy content from others. The reason being that the repercussions are harsher than ever before. There are many laws now that are set in place to make sure that writers do not suffer any loss by the hands of others. The fines that are given for copyright infringement after they are sued can cost the company or studio more than what it would take them to make the movie and profit from it. Thus, people in the industry are now more on guard and careful about their actions.


It is never bad to be cautious but do not be scared to market your idea and screenplay to a limited number of trustworthy people, industry professionals, who do not go on to tell it to other people. You should know how to sell your screenplay in the industry properly and smartly. 


There is also one important thing to keep in mind that just because someone has a similar storyline or characters to yours that they have released as a film, it does not mean that they have violated your protected rights. There are so many films out there and so many ideas that have been explored already that it is hard to have a completely original idea that does not have any connections with all the stories out there. A screenwriter may write a screenplay or pitch a sample screenplay that they came up with but there have been instances where that idea has already existed or made before them. To avoid facing a dilemma like this, make sure to do your research beforehand. 


Worry not for we are here to help you understand the complexities of the legal framework and make you aware of the various protected rights that you, as a screenwriter, are given. 


The basis of these are the rights offered by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) which will help you deal with any situation or problem that may arise in your future in Hollywood. 

Though it is suggested that you conduct your own research on the specific rights you are offered in your specific state or country, as these tend to vary.

• Know your Copyright

If you have a copyright screenplay then you are given five basic rights as an exclusive owner of that intellectual property;

1. Reproduction of Copies

2. Distribution of Copies

3. Right to Prepare Derivative Works

4. Public Display Rights

5. Performance Rights

You do not necessarily need to buy the copyright of the screenplay that you have written to attach a © symbol in front of your title. When you complete a screenplay that is your original work then at that moment you own the copyright to that piece of content and can determine who you want to sell it to and how to distribute it. After selling a screenplay you should know that you are transferring the copyright to the buyer, thus, giving them control over the screenplay.  

 

• Screenwriter Rights in the Development Stage

Screenwriter Rights in the Development Stage

There are certain rights that screenwriters possess during the development stage of the screenplay that they created. The development happens before pre-production and this is where the final draft for the screenplay is made.
The original writer of the screenplay possesses the right to write the first draft of the Spec Script in a time period of 6 months to a year. You can always waive this right if you want to but it is recommended that you keep it as it could impact your payment for any additional drafts you write in the future. A screenwriter also has the right to consult with the director or producer about any changes that are ordered, to discuss why a change is required or if it will work or not.
If you are brought in to work on an original assignment then you should know that you can be replaced and will be paid according to the contract, until you are kept on.
The basic rights that are provided to a screenwriter under the Minimum Basic Agreement created by WGA are a given when signing contracts with studios or companies but you can negotiate and discuss with them to add or change any details, giving you more control or compensation for works.

• Pre-Production and Production Stage Rights

Screenwriters have a say in the pre=production and production period as well. They can discuss the different aspects of the adaptation of the screenplay into a movie with the producer and director. You can, as the writer, talk to the producer and work with them in choosing the director and how the story will be portrayed, which angle to focus on.
As the original writer of the story you can also visit the sets during shoots to observe the progress and participate in the script readings, though it is not a right per se, but it is a practice that is allowed.

• Post-Production Rights

The journey doesn’t end just because the script was finished or the movie was wrapped up. As the writer you are invited to the events, press conferences, or festivals where the movie is screened or discussed. You also possess the right to watch a cut of the film and get sneak previews.

The most important right that you are provided as a screenwriter is to have your name written in the sequence of the credits of the movie or its ads.