WILLiFEST congratulates our 2017 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. 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

MUSIC BETWEEN US

written by

Tal Rayman

Synopsis: A British trench in France, April 1916, the height of World War One. Thomas, a British soldier, has been playing the same tune on his harmonica for weeks – the only tune he knows. His pals are sick and tired of it, and when he plays it again, one of them grabs the harmonica and throws it out to no man’s land. But it comes flying back – with a note from Paul, a German soldier, who’s looking to trade the harmonica back for food. Paul and Thomas start meeting in no man’s land and become fast friends. But when a major German attack looms, their friendship is sorely tested.

“Music Between Us” is about friendship in times of war. It explores how we make friends, how friendship changes our lives, and the difficult choices we face when we bind our lives with the lives of others.

Bio: When not writing plays and scripts, Tal Rayman works in the technology sector and spends time with his wife, kids and cat. Tal is a graduate of Tel Aviv University’s English and Life Sciences Departments. His first play, “A Cricket, A Grasshopper” was selected for the 2013 Pittsburgh New Works Festival. “Music Between Us”, his second play, was selected for the 2016 Different Readings festival at the Santa Fe Playhouse and has won several writing awards.

SECOND PLACE

SARDIS THE MERCIFUL

written by

Christian Thomas

Synopsis: When a king hears assassins creeping into his bedchamber, he knows his past has caught up with him. He must escape and make his way through caves where a deadly horror lurks, an erotic brothel where love is laced with betrayal, savage battles and gruesome mass graves – all for one chance at redemption, and bloody revenge.

Bio: Christian Thomas teaches writing at UC Santa Barbara, and works as a narrative designer in the video game industry. He has an MFA from the Creative Writing Workshop at the University of New Orleans.

THIRD PLACE

DEVIL TO PAY

written by

Kemmy Moran &
Julie Moran

Synopsis: When the daughter of wealthy power couple Luke and Janice Dodd receives a music box for her eighth birthday, strange things begin to happen and people around them start to die. Luke soon discovers that this seemingly innocent gift holds clues to a terrible family secret.

Bios: Julie L. Moran is a producer, writer and screenwriter whose works include a series (now an upcoming film), Miss Beverly Hills Ghost, co-written with Kemmy Moran, which has been selected for and won awards in numerous film festivals; her recent short story, “Lunch With Debbie” which earned a grand prize in the Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition; and her most recent screenplay, “Devil to Play,” also co-written with Kemmy, which has placed in film festivals. Julie received her Master’s of Professional Writing degree from the University of Southern California and her law degree from Fordham University School of Law.

Kemmy Moran is a screenwriter, director, and producer. She began her career in production at The Institute, co-owned by Michael Bay, and headed Sundance-winning director Matthew Harrison’s Film Crash screenplay competition. When Kemmy’s second screenplay placed in the Academy’s Nicholl screenplay competition, she decided to use her degree from Pepperdine Law School to co-found her own production company: MissDirection Entertainment, whose first production, award-winning series/film Miss Beverly Hills Ghost, is Kemmy’s directorial debut.

FINALISTS

(in alphabetical order)

Birthmom

written by

James Hsiao

Maria is a gestational surrogate, carrying another couple’s baby. Though she starts off on good terms with the biological mom, unexpected events occur, leading each to question the other’s true intentions. Maria then goes on the run, embarking on a perilous journey with the hopes of delivering the baby in a safe place and keeping it as her own.

Murder, Inc. (Pilot)

written by

Gregory Levy

Murder, Inc. is about outsiders, rejects and underdogs, fighting for their place in society during a hostile time. Set in the 1930s slums of Brooklyn, this drama, inspired by true events, follows a group of first-generation Jewish gangsters as they search for the elusive American Dream. Their longing for acceptance, respect, and power ultimately leads to the founding of Murder, Inc., a sophisticated crime organization believed to be responsible for up to 1,000 assassinations. The rise and fall of the Jewish gangster was surprisingly fast and, because subsequent generations of Jews were ashamed of their sordid past, the saga has become a forgotten footnote in the history of American crime. This series tells their story.

Never in Your Wildest

written by

Quincy Ledbetter

Evan Dumas, a failed author nearing the end of his short career, plagiarizes a late writer’s unpublished work and achieves nationwide acclaim. Things get complicated when the late writer’s children come to Evan for closure.

That In-Between Period

written by

Mark L. Feinsod

Set in 1995 as Gen X enters the workforce while the Spice Girls and Rage Against The Machine boom from cassette decks everywhere, “That In-Between Period” is about the struggles of Patterson Deutsch, a recent college graduate forced to endure the humiliation of living back home in the New Jersey suburbs while he searches for a job in New York.

The Last Resort

written by

Martha Pinson & Sonja Greenlee

Imagine Charles Dickens wrote pulp fiction. In ‘The Last Resort,’ based on the novel by Sonja Greenlee, Daytona Beach, Florida, 1976, serves as a mythic underworld of death and loss from which unlikely allies Agnes and Brandy emerge with new lives. Agnes is a beauty from up north whose marriage to a narcissistic rock icon has driven her to run away, hoping to break the shackles of love. Brandy is a topless dancer with a small child on the lam in the swirling, dangerous world of bikers and dealers in town. The women are suspected of squealing when a drug deal goes sour.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

(in alphabetical order)

A for Alpha

written by

Jason Walter Short

Set against the backdrop of urban Glasgow, ‘A for Alpha’ is a story seen through the eyes of a teenage runaway who, after being kicked out of his father’s home for being gay, takes shelter with a streetwise rentboy and a band of social outsiders.

American Awesome

written by

Mike Gerbino

While attempting to toughen up his wimpy son, a beloved celebrity war veteran named Brock Thomas is confronted by a journalist who threatens to expose his legacy as a fraud.

Deadly Invisible Enemies (Miniseries)

written by

Harold Brown

Secrets have deadly consequences, especially in a digital world. A renowned computer security expert loses everything when security is breached at the highest level of government and he enters an invisible underworld where crime and terrorism are a global electronic game played, won and lost one byte at a time.

In Wonderland

written by

Summer Starrs

14 year old Alice experiences Wonderland Junior High school for the first time through the eyes of a long time home-schooled girl only to learn about a secret order to the chaos that runs the school. Alice struggles to understand this outside world away from her sheltered home, but soon realizes the inevitable actions she must take that would force her to lose her innocence in order to survive.

Run. Catch. Kill.

written by

Pete Klein

A genre mash-up that mixes the menacing terror of horror classics like Halloween & Friday the 13th with tight action sequences, dark & awkward-centric humor, and a sprinkling of bawdy high jinks reminiscent of Benny Hill. “Run. Catch. Kill.” delivers an unusual, admittedly campy, take on the reporter-horror figure/anti-hero story. It looks at a once great serial killer coming out of hiding 20 years later & re-emerging in a world where the idea of fighting back has become a much more common occurrence & his abilities are more than a little rusty.

Sendler’s Children

written by

Slavica Bogdanov

Sendler’s Children was inspired by the true story of Irena Sendler, a Polish woman who risked everything to save 2,500 children from the Warsaw ghetto during WWII.

Year of the Rabbit

written by

Julie Fischer

Once the Indian Removal Act is passed, the Georgia Guard begins to show their power and entitlement throughout the state. After an encounter with a Guard member a Cherokee girl, Tsutonka, is forced from the only home she has known. Spirit Guides and magical winds bring Tsutonka over the rough and unforgiving lands of Colonial America in 1831, from Georgia to Mexican Texas. This young woman survives and struggles through adventure and narrow escapes to find love and acceptance in the territory of Louisiana. After settling in and falling in love she must once again flee this home and journey on her own into the American Frontier. On the verge of war, the land is harsh and unsafe, yet beautifully untamed. Enduring a gunshot wound and lack of water, she finally finds her peace and the acceptance that came from within her own heart at the edge of a majestic canyon.

The Last Deer

written by

Steven Hoerger

“The Last Deer” chronicles the life of a family trying to cope with the reality of life in North Korea in the 1990s. Do-Yun and Bora are married during the transition from Kim Il-Sung to Kim Jung-Il. Bora is a true believer in all she has been taught about the regime, while her husband begins to have doubts. After the birth of their daughter, Mi-Ran, conditions in the country deteriorate rapidly. Most work comes to a stop and everyone is starving. When Do-Yun is sent to a camp, and Mi-Ran traumatized by being forced to watch a public execution, Bora’s disillusionment drives her decision to escape. The harrowing journey to South Korea means a long difficult trek through China to Mongolia. One false step means all will be lost.

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