2016 Winners' Showcase

Feature Winner

Willie Warren Jr.

My name is Willie James Warren Jr and I was born and raised in East Cleveland Ohio. I studied and majored in Finance and Marketing at the University Of Miami Florida where I also walked onto the Miami Hurricanes football team as a wide receiver. After college 2 of my best friends and myself bought one way tickets to LA/Hollywood to pursue acting. 

 

It was never my intent to get into screenwriting, but I have always loved writing and literature myself. I took classic literature courses and did creative writing all through my college years, and I have always been pretty good at telling stories also.  During my two years studying acting at a Meisner conservatory in Santa Monica I met my good friend Adam Simon (writer of MAN DOWN). He is an AMAZING screenwriter. I told him I had this great idea for a story but I need a writer to help me turn it into a screenplay. I had already basically written the novel by hand between two spiral note books over the past 2 years. I ran the story by Adam and he got excited, so we made  a few meeting to start writing the script. After a few sessions I couldn't get Adam to meet me anymore (MAN DOWN was getting traction and taking off) and I got frustrated. Eventually he got back to me while he was on the road promoting at comic con and he told me not to be afraid of screenwriting. I already have a story and all I need to do is lock myself in and grind it out. So I went to STAPLES got Final draft Vol 8 and did exactly that. For months, with the FInal Draft tutorials running on my computer, and a screenwriting book open on one side and my SUNFLOWER note book open on the other, I sat down for hours at a time and slowly translated my notebook novel into a screenplay.

 

The inspiration for SUNFLOWER came from a few different places. While I was studying Miesner I got heavy into Dustin Hoffman's work. I really fell in love with Kramer vs Kramer and that film has been a big influence on everything I have done as an actor and a writer here in LA. I also reunited with a friend who was also an exchange student to Japan with me back in high school. We hadn't seen each other in over 15 years and had no idea we were living about 6 blocks apart in Hollywood for almost 2 years. When we caught up I found out he was pursuing writing and  his day job was working with Autistic children, so he became a big influence in that way. Originally The Sunny character was going to be seen but not heard. But the more I researched and learned about Autism through families with Autistic children who shared their lives with me as well as caretakers -like my writing friend I spoke of earlier- the more SUNNY developed. Eventually Sunny's character became a hybrid of three real life Autistic children and the stories I heard about them from their parents. 

 

I have a whole slew of new writing and acting projects I'm working on next. I am in the re-write phase of  two feature length screenplays. One is a relationship drama about a hooker and a bartender in Hollywood called "Hooked: A Hollywood Tragedy". The other is an ensemble heist comedy called "Take it To The Bank" about four 30-something under-achieving bank-tellers who decide to try and change their fortunes by pulling off a copy-cat heist of their own bank, but the problems start when the real bank robbers come after them. I am also co-writing three episodes for two cross-over sitcoms (a la The Jeffersons and All In The Family from the 70s) that I wrote a treatment for a while back and I am in the research phase of a feature film story based on the real life valor of two Korean War heroes. 

Shorts Winner

Sam Kench

My name is Sam Kench, I'm 19, and I am a writer/director/editor/action choreographer. I come from New England, spent many years growing up in a part of New Hampshire where there is pretty much no interest in film at all so I taught myself how to write and make movies.

 

I got into screenwriting and filmmaking in general through the world of film criticism. I started by writing and recording reviews for movies, which I still do. After a while of reviewing movies it wasn't enough to just talk about them any more, I had to make them myself. I love the entire filmmaking process but writing is definitely my favorite aspect and I think the area where I'm strongest.

My script Snow Day is inspired heavily by memories of experiences I had as a child. The overall plot is fictional but certain moments, relationship dynamics, and the textural feel of the story all come from my life.

I am working on turning Snow Day into a 2D animated short film. I have a zero dollar budget for this project so it will be difficult but progress is being made. We have a number of the characters cast and even have a lock on the two lead performances but are still searching for animators. Other writing projects involve a number of feature length screenplays and countless short screenplays. I also have a Youtube channel youtube.com/brickwallpictures where I release at least two videos every week, striving to get as much content made as possible, movie reviews, game shows, video essays, short form action vignettes, and tons of other stuff can be found there.

Feature Finalist

Chris Lawing

I am a filmmaker with over two decades of directing and editing experience in film, video and broadcast. I got into filmmaking as a writer but took a seventeen year hiatus from writing to focus on other aspects of the craft and just recently returned to my first love. House of God is my fourth feature length script. I’ve always been fascinated with post-WWI America as well as the struggles and rise of labor unions. House of God is the perfect story for me to explore that part of American history and the untold stories that shaped our country. Currently, I am in post-production on a short film I wrote and directed called “Greg’s Going to Rehab."

Feature Finalist

Skyler Hardegree

My name is Skyler Hardegree and I live in Southern California. I’ve lived in the same house in California my whole life, I love it here. California has everything you need and everything I want. My whole life I’ve been pretty decent at writing, though I’m awful at spelling, so I’d like to give a shout out to Spell Check. Love you buddy. Anyway, I love movies. I love going to the theater rather than waiting for a movie to be playing at home as I do not mind the high price of going to the theater. To me, the experience is well worth it, but the food, not so much. My admiration for movies really pushed me to attempt to write one. I took a few web classes to learn the basics and just dove right in. I do not have any college experience in this field, though I do have an associate’s degree in entrepreneurship (yes, I did use spell check on that word). If I do find success in screenwriting then I’m positive I’d be considered a Cinderella story. Who doesn’t love an underdog though?

The screenplay, Apartment 69, is my second completed script. I wanted to write a horror story and I felt the genre of horror comedy was underused, so I just went for it. I love horror and I love comedy, it’s the perfect match for me.

 

For my next screenplay I am writing a more family friendly script. It’s more in the lines of Finding Nemo or A Bugs Life.  It should be completed relatively soon.

 

I consider myself a gambler and I know trying to make it in the movie industry is incredible difficult, but the gamble of time and money is well worth the potential prize at the end. Plus, it’s fun to do anyway.