2018 Screenplay Competition

Congratulations to our 2018 Screenplay Competition winners

We read all script submissions carefully and score each one in over a dozen categories including story arc, character development, and grammar/typographical accuracy. Below are our Winners, Finalists, and Honorable Mentions for this year. Being a judge for this competition was not an enviable task as we received many excellent scripts this year and picking the winners was extremely difficult. As was the case last year, if you submitted a screenplay and are not on this list, often you were in close contention for one of our awards.

FIRST PLACE

TAKING DOWN THE MET

written by

Andrea Forrest

Synopsis: A Rembrandt masterpiece, forged by its owner, looted by the Nazis and hidden away more than half a century, is given life by a widowed art authenticator. She uses technical skill, moral courage and the help of its 17th Century artist and subject, to overcome the art world’s arrogance and return a priceless treasure to its rightful owners.

New York City art authenticator ANDREA RAND, who has recently moved to a Vermont farm from Manhattan, takes on the biggest job of her career. She is handed what purports to be a genuine Rembrandt, hidden for over 70 years by its owners, a family that escaped with it from Nazi Germany. In 1933, forseeing where Nazi rule will lead, the family patriarch LEOPOLD KOPPELL, a German Jewish industrialist and art collector, commissions a master forger to duplicate his beloved Rembrandt, displaying the copy in his Berlin apartment and secreting the original. The problem: the forgery, subsequently seized by the Nazis and then trafficked by unscrupulous middlemen and a corrupt museum director, now hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Shortly before receiving the original for review, Andrea has recently resigned as a conservator at the Met, fed up with the museum director, EUGENE DE MANDEVILLE, who has made a career of cutting corners in the art world. De Mandeville, who oozes unctuous arrogance, knows that his Rembrandt has questionable provenance. Over the years, he has kept experts from looking at it too closely. But now, Andrea has in her hands a Rembrandt that may prove to be real and may expose de Mandeville and his acolytes themselves as frauds.

From an opening scene viewing the forged masterpiece hanging in the Met, the story moves to Andrea’s Vermont farmhouse studio, then successively, to Rembrandt’s 1665 work room, to the forger’s Berlin apartment, and back to the present. At Rembrandt’s studio, we see the portrait and its subject, GERARD DE LAIRESSE. We watch Rembrandt carefully mixing his unique ingredients, confirmation of which will only be discovered by Andrea’s 21st century technology. As the portrait is finished, we see the flourish with which Rembrandt affixes his distinctive signature, a gesture that 350 years later will be key to Andrea’s resolution of what’s real and what’s fake. And throughout the story, as an anachronistic, almost ghostly, presence, visual in shadow and heard subconsciously, there is the presence of de Lairesse, who guides Andrea throughout her authentication journey.

It’s a story of the meaning and depth of fine art, of the pain of history, and of the omnipresence of greed. It’s also a story of the triumph of science and the joy of obtaining justice, as the Koppel family is vindicated in its quest to validate, through his most precious treasure, their grandfather’s legacy.

Bio: Andrea Forrest was born in New York City and was an art major at Manhattan’s Hunter College. She holds a graduate certificate in art authentication from the University of Melbourne (Australia), one of the world’s leading institutions in that discipline.

Her research has included study into the provenance of looted Nazi art and research into using thermoluminescence in the dating of American artifacts. She developed a unique methodology for identifying counterfeit 17th, 18th and 19th century paintings produced by one of America’s most prolific art forgers. She is a long-time collector of early American furniture and artifacts and of Asian art.

Andrea began her career as a retail security specialist. She became one of New York City’s first female licensed private detectives, forming her own successful private security and investigative firm. She spent thirteen years as a licensed private investigator and polygraph examiner in New York City. Her exploits were featured in a cover article in Savvy magazine. She also served as director of corporate security for a large East Coast retail chain and wrote a regular column for Chain Store Age.

Andrea moved to Vermont in 1984 and fell in love with gardening, something that was entirely new to her. Increasingly frustrated by Vermont’s short gardening season, she responded by inventing a way to grow plants designed for warmer habitats. She holds three U.S. design patents on garden products that do just that. Additionally, Andrea holds two patents on an ultrasonic nail brush.

Her garden at Rockledge Farm, the 1799 estate where she and her husband call home, has been featured in Old House Journal, Vermont Magazine and Old House Interiors.

She is an award-wining screenwriter for her screenplay Taking Down the Met. In 2017-2018, her screenplay scored first place in the Universe Multicultural Film Festival, the NOVA Film Festival, the New York Short Film and Screenplay Festival and the Williamsburgh Film Festival. It was a finalist in four other screenplay contests.

For the past thirty years, she has lived in Northern Vermont, where she gardens, invents, writes and researches fine art.

SECOND PLACE

MANIA

written by

Greg Mania

Synopsis: Greg Mania is fired from his retail job at a high-end consignment boutique in SoHo, Manhattan. Severely short with money for rent, he uses his connections in the world of New York City nightlife to rope him and Toni, his forty-something-year-old best friend and roommate, into a gig at a burlesque bar in the Lower East Side. Even though the owner of the bar, Chuck, says no, Greg, who we already know has no respect for authority, takes over Chuck’s bar for one night when Chuck conveniently has a gig with his band that same night. Toni takes over the turntables to spin a vinyl set while Greg go-go dances, but things go awry when a fog machine malfunction in the middle of their show causes the fire department to show up — just in time for Chuck to arrive for a nightcap after his gig.

Bio: Greg Mania is a New York City-based writer and comedian who is best known for his satirical columns for OUT Magazine. His work has also appeared in The Huffington Post, PAPER, BULLETT, Posture, LADYGUNN, CREEM, Baron, among other international online and print platforms. He’s also an award-winning screenwriter, and has recently co-wrote and co-produced his first feature-length film, Deadman’s Barstool. He’s a recent graduate of The New School, earning an MA in Media Studies with a concentration in screenwriting. He’s currently working on his first book.

THIRD PLACE

RIDING ON DUKE’S TRAIN

written by

Mick Carlon &
Ken Kimmelman

Synopsis: Told in flashback, RIDING ON DUKE’S TRAIN is about eleven year-old Danny Bolden, an African-American boy living in the backwoods of Georgia with his beloved Granny, in the 1930s. His life is suddenly and dramatically changed when his Grandmother dies, and he is left an orphan.

Facing an uncertain future, Danny decides to take his chances; he leaves his home and heads north to seek a new life. He narrowly escapes a KKK lynching party and then, one moonlit night, he comes upon a beautiful silver train. Entranced by this almost ethereal vision he sneaks aboard. Danny soon discovers he is on Duke Ellington’s private train carrying the legendary jazz composer and his famous orchestra. Ellington and his talented musicians take Danny under their wing and make him part of their touring family, with Ellington’s lead vocalist, Ivie Anderson, becoming a big sister to him. The adventure begins!

Bios: Mick Carlon’s three young adult novels—RIDING ON DUKE’S TRAIN; TRAVELS WITH LOUIS, and GIRL SINGER (Leapfrog Press)—are now in the curriculum of 100+ schools in America and Europe. He is honored to be collaborating with Ken Kimmelman on the film version of RIDING ON DUKE’S TRAIN.

Ken Kimmelman is an award-winning filmmaker and consultant on the faculty of the Aesthetic Realism Foundation in New York City. He received an Emmy Award for his work
on Sesame Street, and an Emmy for his anti-prejudice PSA, The Heart Knows Better. He produced films for the United Nations against apartheid, and prejudice. He was also nominated for an Emmy in 1992 & 1993 as a director on the animated TV show Doug. He teaches the class, “If It Moves It Can Move You”: Opposites in the Cinema, at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, soon to be published as a book in 2019.

His film, Thomas Comma (2010), received many awards, and airs on PBS. Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana (2006), based on the prize poem by Eli Siegel, won numerous awards, and also airs on PBS and is included on the website The Montana Experience.

He is currently in collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center on an animated feature-film about Duke Ellington, titled, Riding on Duke’s Train, based on the book by Mick Carlon. He has taught Film and Animation at NYU and SVA. His work was part of the 2006 Whitney Biennial.

As a lecturer on racism and bullying, he has spoken at numerous schools, colleges and public libraries.

FINALISTS

(in alphabetical order)

Last of the Burly Girls

written by

John Pisano-Thomsen

Confronted by curious granddaughters who discover “questionable” items in a trunk, 95-year-old Letty Kowalski Baxter recounts her life as a runaway circus orphan turned burlesque soubrette in 1935 New York, her tragic romances, and the backstage rivalry with another showgirl that brought “family” back into her life. “Last of the Burly Girls” is a celebration of late 1930’s New York burlesque at it’s finest (before Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia shut it down) and the indomitable spirit of those fearless, independent women who graced the burlesque stage while surviving the Depression and a sexist world.

The Blood Grinder

written by

Dave Conte, Nick Schwartz, Matt Braunsdorf

After large-biceped newlywed Ronnie America witnesses his wife’s gruesome murder at the hands of The Blood Grinder, he must take the law into his own fists when a floundering police investigation stands between him and justice.

White Water Rescue

written by

Harold L. Brown

Barely eighteen and haunted by the final moments with her father, an Olympic kayaker struggles to find closure and purpose on the unforgiving waters of a Rocky Mountain river and reconnects with her deceased father in a way she could never have imagined.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

(in alphabetical order)

Alter Ego

written by

Linda Gentry

When a couple struggles to recapture their intimate relationship, they turn to a sex therapist that recommends role playing. This works at first, until the wife’s alter ego threatens to take over their lives and ruin their marriage. Once the diagnosis is made, it’s a race against time before one personality crushes the other. It becomes a game of cat and mouse where only the strong survive. Can this young marriage survive the turmoil and come out whole on the other side?

Bermuda

written by

Laura Puccia Valtorta

Mildred, a large, athletic, very bad poet, believes she deserves a trip to Bermuda. She kidnaps her son to steal his VA disability benefits.

Chasing Nightmares

written by

Chris McGowan

Laura Sanders has been plagued with nightmares since she was a young child. After discovering a photograph of the same house from her dreams, she begins asking questions. Not satisfied with her parents’ vague answers and frantic for the truth, she uncharacteristically tricks her friends to join her on this forbidden trip.

Upon arriving at a secluded lake house, Laura shares her true intent of solving this mysterious crime that she believes is associated with her family. Her friends, with disbelief and uncertainty, ultimately comply with Laura’s plea to stay by her side.

Piece by piece, the twisted nightmares begin to take shape, but at a grave price. The sadistic masked man from her dreams is very real and terrorizes them. With several friends already perished and her family now involved, she needs to make the decision to continue seeking justice or submit that dangerous pasts are best left alone and surrender.

Four Glorious Years

written by

Anthony Marinelli

A fictionalized life of Preston Sturges who, from 1940 to 1944, made seven classic all-time great comedies and paved the way for others who dreamed of writing and directing their own movies.

Gone Wild

written by

Kenneth Guidry

A mother and her teenage son travel to New Orleans to tour a college campus right in the middle of Mardi Gras, then find themselves getting caught up in the debauchery as soon as they visit Bourbon Street.

Postnuptials

(stage play)

written by

David Earle

Postnuptials is a ménage à trois of love, secrets and drag, set in present day San Diego that begins shortly after newlyweds Kevin and Lillian cross that threshold of matrimony only to have their first night of wedded bliss degenerated into a nightmare of chaos and confusion when a female impersonator from the Las Vegas strip named Joey (a.k.a. Amber Star) arrives at their apartment with the intent of bringing closure with his husband who jilted him the morning after their impromptu wedding in The Little Chapel on the Strip. When the news that Kevin is a homosexual bigamist married to a drag queen reaches the wedding party still at the reception at the Hotel del Coronado; in-laws, a sibling maid of honor, a drunken best man, and a dim-witted ex-fiance join the fray that culminates into a surprise ending while it explores thematic concerns of gay marriage, heterosexual infidelity, the extent of unconditional love, and an individual’s quest to challenge parental conditioning, laid down in childhood that at times may inhibit an adult’s own choices in life, and perhaps the meeting of true minds and hearts in a search for love.

Tested

written by

Lisanne Sartor

After her minister husband suffers financial problems, Allyson Flynn is forced to take a regional health center job notifying people that they’ve been exposed to STDs. Though her first case starts out as straightforward gonorrhea notifications at a retirement community, she soon discovers that the case has spread like wildfire and the flames are burning down her front door.

The Date Rape Club

written by

Christine Clayburg

Four highly unstable sexual assault victims set off on a road trip to warn an unsuspecting potential victim, but they aren’t quite done with their therapy yet.

The Strip

written by

Cherie Song

Jessica will do anything for her family with her husband in prison and bills mounting, she needs cold hard cash now. Her prayers are answered one night when she wins a thousand dollars at an amateur striptease contest at the local gentleman’s club. Emboldened by her newly discovered talent, Jessica plunges headfirst into the racy, intriguing and dangerous world of exotic dancing, but at what price?

The Phoenician

written by

L.W. Thomas

When a Phoenician slave wins his freedom from the gladiator games, he returns to his homeland in search of his enslaved family members.

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