Winners

WINNERS

2020 Grand Prize Winner!

Exodus by Anthony Moore 

2020 Finalists!

Officer Involved by Tonya Cannon

A Girl in the Rain by Edward Givans

2020 Semi-Finalists!

Lifted by Cedrick Nichols

Alton by Zann Gill

Ace of Spades by Lyndon McGill

My Place is Right Here by Aaron Haddad

Small & Mighty by Christina Brandon

White Trash by A. Christian

Living in Sin by Erial Tompkins

North River by Joseph Montagna

Ragtime Warrior by James Saunders

Concrete Beauty by Keiland Gofigon

Wonderful news!  2018 Grand Prize Winner "Undaunted" by Susan Flakes was recently optioned by emmy winning director, Daniel Blake Smith! 

“I am grateful to have my script "Exodus" selected as this years Grand Prize winner. A lot of contests pay "lip service" to diversity yet continue to bypass great stories by minority writers but the BSM Team are the real deal. They look for real stories by minority storytellers. My interaction with the Director and staff has been outstanding and I see where they are already fulfilling their promise of promoting my work to the industry and getting it into the right hands. I highly encourage any minority screenwriters looking for a leg up through competitions to take a look at this contest.” - Anthony Moore 2020

“I want to thank Black Screenplays matter for selecting me as a finalist. I have received great feedback and a plethora of information to help me grow. Thank you for all that you do.” - Edward Givans  2020

“Thank you so much for everything you do to help bring visions of the underrepresented community to the forefront!” - Tonya Cannon 2020

“Truly honored to be chosen. Thank you so much for reading, for putting on a festival to hear black voices and stories, and your consideration.” - Erial Tompkins 2020

In 2020, our Grand Prize Winner was personally introduced to several agents, managers, and production executives including Seth Parks at Guy Walks into a Bar and Dan Seco at Schemers. Finalists were introduced to Conrad Sun of Meridian and Chris Deckard of Fictional Entity. Our grand prize winner was also awarded a one hour script consultation with Nick Fullen-Collins from Artistic Vision Entertainment. 

 

An interview with the talented and brilliant Anthony Moore.

What's your background? How long have you been writing?  And what made you choose and or transition into screenwriting?
Born and bred in a rough neighborhood on Chicago's south side, I've always been a writer. In grade school, my thirst for knowledge earned me the nickname "The Professor." I took Screenwriting in college in order to become a great Sci-Fi movie maker.

What screenwriting training have you received? And what were some of your biggest breakthroughs?
I took Screenwriting at Columbia College for the Arts in Chicago decades ago. Beyond that, I read books on screenwriting and screenplays. Receiving feedback from contests and rewriting based on those notes are the extent of my training. My biggest breakthrough was winning the "Fade In Awards" a couple of years ago. I've also won the "Back In The Box" (2016) and "Little Screenwriters" (2018) competitions.

What else have you written? What writing habits work for you?  Do you write in short bursts or long shifts, in the morning or late at night, do you write at coffee shops, at home, or at the office when no one else is looking?
In the past 8 years, I've written over a dozen screenplays. I usually write at work during my lunch hour, on a tablet or cell phone using web-based screenwriting software. Averaging 2-3 pages per day, it takes about two months for me to complete a first draft. Consistency is the key.

What's the title of the script you entered, and what's it about?
I entered "Black Screenplays Matter" with a script entitled "Exodus." On the surface, it's a Sci-Fi/Drama about an FBI Agent who's been assigned to find out why large groups of people are disappearing nationwide. Underneath, it's a tale that pays homage to the "Underground Railroad.”

Where do you look for inspiration and what inspired you to write this script? 

I don't look for inspiration so much as it finds me. I can be on the beach or a plane or at work, and something will spark an idea. A sound, a smell, a snippet of conversation, or even a color can start my imagination. "Exodus" was inspired by a conversation at work. We were discussing the fact that all the people giving orders were "white", while the people doing the work were not. It got me to playing "what if" in my head. What if all the "non-whites" left the company? Or the country? Or the planet? Then I started figuring out the logistics of it. Who would find out? And how? Where whey they go? And why? How would they go? And most importantly, who would try to stop them?

Describe your process? Do you outline your story first? Do you use notecards or a beat sheet? Or do you simply sit down and let it flow?
While coming up with an idea, I picture scenes or parts of the movie in my head. It's usually the ending and a couple of the more dramatic parts, like a car chase or someone getting shot. That's also how I get to know my characters. I see them in action before they are even on paper. At this point I do an outline to try to join these incoherent pieces together into a complete picture. After writing a good first act to introduce the characters, it’s just a matter of making each scene fit the narrative and be as interesting as possible, while building on the established tension.

What was your experience with our festival? Are you happy with your involvement? What did you like most about your experience? And what could we improve on?
I am extremely happy with my involvement with the Black Screenplays Matter competition. I've won a few other contests but with no effect on my career. Usually I get my name on a website, a check, and a hearty congratulations. That's it. BSM is the first contest that seems to promote my work in a meaningful way. Through BSM I have consultations scheduled and people looking to discuss my work with me. What I like best is that BSM is getting my name out to the industry. A check is nice, but industry recognition is better. Other than sending winning scripts out to more people in the industry, I don't see a way to improve the contest.

What are you writing now and what do you plan on writing in the near future?
Currently, I'm working on a Sci-Fi/Animation project. I've taken a comic strip I created back in college and turned the main character into a 3D model. I'm writing the script for a full-length animated feature based on the comic strip. I will also be creating a commercial to promote the screenplay. It's a detour, but it's also a learning experience with the chance to expand my skills.

Any advice for those about to dive into their first feature-length screenplay?
Read screenplays to learn proper formatting. Don’t “over-write,” because screenplays don’t need every little detail. Don’t include shooting directions, because that’s the director’s job. Be interesting, because if you’re bored writing a scene, the audience will feel the same watching it. Tell a story. Even the simplest fairytales have a humble beginning, a conflicted middle, and a satisfying end. The most important thing of all is to finish. No matter what you do or how you feel while writing, finish your script.

.

film-102681_1920

2019 Grand Prize Winner!

Sherwood Knights by Eric Sollars, Geoffrey Sollars, and Michael Sollars.

2019 Finalists!

Tulsa '21 by Anita Azenet & Jose Fikes

Rites of Passage by Tony Grady Martin (now titled Cosmic Ocean)

2019 Semi-Finalists!

Blind Justice by Ramona Taylor

When the Pendulum Swings by Renard Celestin

Always a Groomsman by Awan Wye

Blue Cadillac, White Girl by Lamarr Gray

A Good Example by Lawrence Whitener

Captain Smalls by Robert Whitehill

The Allegory of the Cave by Sandra Reed

Phantom Blues by John Imsdahl

Vault by Roni Brown

Houses on the Rock by Kenneth Masler

Dollar Party by Joshua Meekins

Unbreakable Bond by Deborah Harris

"I love this contest. It gives me hope to know and believe that someone else finds my work good and funny."

"This was an excellent screenwriting competition! I am extremely grateful they recognized my work. It gave me confidence to continue on this journey!!."

"Great professional contest. Excellent feedback on scripts with professional readers. Highly recommend the contest."

In 2019, our finalists were personally introduced to several agents and managers and our grand prize winner got a one hour script consultation with Janet Jeffries from Lawrence Bender Productions.

 

The following is from an interview with the brilliant and talented Tony Grady Martin - 2019 finalist.

What's your background? How long have you been writing?  And what made you choose and or transition into screenwriting?

I worked my way through high school and college working in restaurants. That turned into a career opening and overseeing big name brands like Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood across the globe. I was working in London when I got transferred to Los Angeles. I had always written and loved movies and TV but never put the two together. I got bit by the screenwriting bug living in LA. Been writing for 10 years now.

What screenwriting training have you received? And what were some of your biggest breakthroughs?

When I first started, I took a 7-week writing course at New York Film Academy. I wrote my first feature, GRIFFITH PARK in that class. It went on to be a Nicholl quarterfinalist, Beverly Hills FF finalist. It was optioned but never produced. I went on to study at UCLA Extension and Writers' Bootcamp after that. My second feature placed again in the Nicholl and have been a finalist a few other contests with projects including, PAGE, BBC Writers Room, and Scriptapolooza.

What else have you written? What writing habits work for you?  Do you write in short bursts or long shifts, in the morning or late at night, do you write at coffee shops, at home, or at the office when no one else is looking?

I write features and for television. I have 3 feature and 2 pilot samples that I feel really proud of and use as calling cards. One day I'll tackle a novel, but right now it seems too daunting. I write mostly in the mornings. A couple of 2-4 hour sessions a day. I really have to be around people to write (too lonely an endeavor) and so I have a hot desk at a co-working place.  Makes a huge difference to have a place to go every day to write.

What's the title of the script you entered, and what's it about?

The script I entered is now called COSMIC OCEAN (formerly RITES OF PASSAGE.) COSMIC OCEAN is a supernatural sci-fi epic that follows descendants of the Chwezi, a mythical east African spirit tribe as they cross spiritual and temporal frontiers in search of immortality. It's a serialized anthology that’s equal parts horror, drama and thriller.  Each season explores a different cultural belief about the afterlife while highlighting exciting supernatural and technological means of cheating death. From 15th century east African shamanism to Victorian Era spiritualism; from Cuban brujería to microdosing meditators in a futuristic Silicon Valley, new incarnations of Chwezi spiritual soulmates find the means to cheat death and stay together. The stories weave together into a  global mythology from which to reconsider our place in the universe.

Where do you look for inspiration and what inspired you to write this script? 

I try not to look for inspiration and let it find me. As a member of the LGBTQ community and a practicing Buddhist I do feel drawn to tell stories that are representative of the wider human experience, which leads me to stories of marginalized or underrepresented communities. I had always wanted to do a series about a supernatural family. I started researching different philosophies and religions. At the same time I was really blown away by the movie Black Panther. Not long after I came across an article about how the Chwezi tribe seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth around 1500.  The rest as they say is history.  

Describe your process? Do you outline your story first? Do you use notecards or a beat sheet? Or do you simply sit down and let it flow?

Outlining is something I know I should do, but it doesn't naturally flow with my process. I am one of those writers that really discover as I go.  I have a mathematician kind of mind, so I feel like I can keep plot and character arcs straight in my head (usually) and can create on the fly. What normally happens is I'll sit down and knock out a logline.  That takes a lot longer than people might imagine. From there, I'll set down to start outlining. I normally get as far as outlining Act I, the key turns in Act II and most of Act III when I have to stop and just start writing pages. When I feel like I've written myself into a corner, I have stopped and gone back to the outline. I am also one of those writers that rewrite along the way.  I don't think I've ever down a vomit draft. Trust me, I think I should sometimes, but it's just not how my process works.

What was your experience with our festival? Are you happy with your involvement? What did you like most about your experience? And what could we improve on?

I did like the experience. I especially the quick turn around and the phone call I got about winning was really special. I am fully aware of the hustle and struggle it takes to break in. My advice is not specific to BSM, so much as everyone operating in the space.  Everyone wants to sell something or get a rep.  The reality is that is like winning the lottery. What has got me through the tougher times in my career and what the recognition from BSM did for me was to lift me up, help me to stop doubting myself and make me feel validated.  Any time contests and festivals can help writers feel those things, it’s a win for everyone. I think we do our best work when that happens. I’d still like to think something will happen with COSMIC OCEAN through BSM as it reflects a key reason I wrote it.  I also have rewritten the pilot and IT'S SO GOOD! There are a couple named producers that have requested the pilot and series one bible for the show. That's happening as I type this.

What are you writing now and what do you plan on writing in the near future?

I'm writing what I call a 'woke horror' feature. It would fall into the realm of Jordan Peele type of vibe. It's set about the very real and supernatural threats associated with gentrification. It's called CRAWLSPACE. 

Any advice for those about to dive into their first feature-length screenplay?

Advice for your first feature. That's a tough one. I would say be wary of doubt that comes masquerading as wisdom. When you start second guessing your original idea or inspiration because you talk yourself into believing it's not enough or that something new/different will be better.  I also recommend finding other writers to relate too. It can be a very lonely experience.  There's a big writing community on Twitter. Sometimes I go on their and read success and feel energized and horror stories that remind myself of the size of the mountain I'm scaling and to be patient.

Last, but not least, what have been your biggest victories since entering our festival? Any more awards, any representation, any options, connections, new opportunities, and or plans to move to New York or LA?   
A feature that I wrote called MAIDENS OF BABYLON was selected for the 2019 Black List Writers Lab. It's about the first investigative reporter shining a light on human trafficking in Victorian England.  I was in LA last August for the Lab and it was an amazing experience. MAIDENS was also just named Top100 on TrackingBoard. I'm looking to produce it as a radio show/podcast this year as a way to attract more attention.  I lived in LA for 14 years and moved to Oakland last year to have a new writing experience. I'm in LA a lot. If staffed on a show or HBO Max or someone snaps up COSMIC OCEAN, i'd be quite happy to move back. But I do love Oakland and doing some of my best writing here. I'm setting new script, CRAWLSPACE, here.

typewriter-2095754_1920

2018 Grand Prize Winner!

Undaunted by Susan Flakes 

   Optioned to Emmy Award Winning Director Daniel Blake Smith

2018 Finalists!

Glen by Sheldon Shaw

Shetani by Joshua Keller Katz

2018 Semi-Finalists!

Egalite by Michael Head

Bison Man by Michael Rhodes

2-12-Delta by David Brichetto 

Big City, Big Problems by Wm. Derek Grasty

Letters to My Father by Mike Ray

Bad Ass Bitch: Rise of Furie by Christopher E Ellis

The Zombays by Lance Barnett

Daring to Soar by Stampp Corbin

At the Mercy of Faith By Samuel Lee Taylor

Gun by by Ausar Moore & Brittany Chrishawn

Box and Boxer by K.C. Wilson

Alcus by David Neubert & Alcus Todd Thompson

The Flag Pole by Gabrielle Restivo

HI-DE-HO-MAN (The Cab Calloway Story) by Clotile S. Galbraith & Ron Salkind Meliment

"It is great that there is an online competition looking for the thousands of African American stories that have not been told. You are an important festival in the screenplay competition landscape."

"Fantastic script competition! Very conscientious staff. I highly recommend Black Screenplays Matter."

 

The following is from an interview with the exceptionally talented Sheldon Shaw.             

What's your background? How long have you been writing? And what made you choose and or transition into screenwriting? 

I'm an actor, screenwriter, playwright, and a personal trainer. I got serious with writing within the last nine years. Screenwriting was my first choice in writing because I was auditioning as an actor, and the roles for my "type" were few and far between. A good friend of mine was having similar issues with auditioning, and we decided to write our roles and make short films. 

What screenwriting training have you received? And what were some of your most significant breakthroughs? 

The initial training I had for screenwriting was with a woman named Ela Thier, where she promised to save us two years of an MFA and shared the most important things we needed to know to write a compelling screenplay. My breakthroughs came through when my film partner and I wrote a couple of screenplays, shot them, and then got accepted in a few festivals. The shooting of the films didn't turn out as professional as I would've liked, but the stories were compelling. That's when I knew I was on the right track with writing. I continued to study on my own and read as many screenplays that I could get my hands on.

What else have you written? What writing habits work for you? Do you write in short bursts or long shifts, in the morning or late at night, do you write at coffee shops, at home, or the office when no one else is looking? 

I've written two feature films, four short films, four full-length plays, and three short plays. I usually write in short bursts. And then every year for the last eight years, I work in Nantucket for the month of June, which gives me enough time to put all the short burst writings together and form full scripts. I'm a morning writer when doing rough drafts and an afternoon to evening writer when working on rewrites or edits. I can write in any place except for at home for some reason. I do all my final edits and drafts on my main computer at home, however.

What's the title of the script you entered, and what's it about? 

My script was called "Glen," and it was about a hospice caregiver who gains the power to heal people.

Where do you look for inspiration, and what inspired you to write this script? 

Inspiration for this script came from my sister's husband, who works in a hospice. He would tell me some of his work stories, some funny and some tragic.

Describe your process? Do you outline your story first? Do you use notecards or a beat sheet? Or do you sit down and let it flow?

I meditate, and through that process usually, stories start to flow through me in scene form. I collect scenes about particular situations and put them all together at some point until I have a full script.

What was your experience with our festival? Are you happy with your involvement?

I was pleased with my experience with your festival. I didn't necessarily get a deal with my script that I entered, but winning your contest opened other doors that I didn't think I would ever have, I wrote a script for a well-known person soon after.

What did you like most about your experience? And what could we improve on? 

I like the fact that you focused on black writers and black stories. I feel you read the script; with other contests, I'm not sure they even read the scripts. One improvement would be more career advice or even introduction to other black writers in the industry.   

What are you writing now, and what do you plan on writing in the near future? 

I've had success with my plays and am working on getting them produced. Next, I will be working on a feature film called "Brotherhood," which is about Nazis/Skinheads vs. The Nation of Islam, in a battle to the death. I am kidding, but something close to that happens in the script. Brotherhood is about an ex skinhead/Nazi sympathizer who infiltrates his old gang to help find the brother of an African American childhood friend.  

Any advice for those about to dive into their first feature-length screenplay?  

My advice is to read as many screenplays as you can. Watch and study as many films as you can. Read books about writing. And most importantly...Write! You have to buckle down and write as much as possible. There are no shortcuts. Write, edit, and repeat, often. 

Last but not least, what has been your most significant victories since entering our festival? Any more awards, any representation, any options, connections, new opportunities, and or plans to move to New York or LA? 

After the festival, With my screenplay "Glen," I won the New York Screenwriting Festival and then I was asked to write a pilot for a famous New York DJ. I'm delighted with the result of winning the Black Screenplays Matter competition. And Black Screenplays do matter!

 

basketball-925511_1920

Winter 2017 Grand Prize Winner!

Just Like Mummy by Nadia Fenty


Winter 2017 Finalists!

Thank you, Amelia Earhart by Al Mertens

The Children by Bill Kalmenson


Winter 2017 Semi-Finalists!

Elijah by T.Will

Victim #1 by Tarik Davis, Don Hooper and C. LeMar McLean

Armor by Bryant Daluz

The Choir Singer by Barry M. Putt, Jr.

The Arrows Of Niani by Alan Dixon

The 313 by Jessica Tanner

Roll with the Punches by Judah Ray

The Pack - Bond of Blood by Devvin J. Mattison

Broken Promise by Margie Walker

General Harriet Tubman by Joseph Lawrence Thompson

Red Ivory by  L.W. Thomas

Crescent by Edward Worthy

A Rose that Grew from Concrete By Shylo Shaner, Debra Trevino & Valery Ortiz

Fostering Curtis by Luke Ryan

Black Diamond by JT O'Neal

The Color of the Puck by Mark Golik

Gideon By RW Hahn

Truth Be Told by Slavica Bogdanov

Gridiron by Charles Gillis

Four Negro Girls in a Church by Phillip E. Hardy

At the Mercy of Faith by Samuel Lee Taylor

"Excellent Festival! Would definitely recommend entering no matter where you are in the world."

"A class act from start to finish. What nurturing folks!"

"To be honest this was one of the biggest events of the year for me and to be singled out as a winner among one's peers is a massive honour."

"Really cool vibe. Full of people with positivity that wanted to help get me where i want to go."

"A very good competition that makes personal communication about your work and very encouraging for black filmmakers and screenwriters. I highly recommend it."

 

The following is from an interview with the brilliant and talented, prior winner, Tony Hendricks.

1. What's your background? How long have you been writing? And what made you choose and or transition into screenwriting?

Born in Jamaica; product of a mixed marriage; mother a woman; father a man; dad Jamaican; mum English; I went to school and learned to play the fool. Moved to the UK, played drums, toured and recorded with bands, then produced music videos before returning to Jamaica, to act and do stand up.

Started writing for radio, TV and the stage. Produced five seasons plus two specials of “PALEFACE POINT OF VIEW” a comedy TV show with me. Wrote and produced plays, stood up to locals and tourists, then went back to the UK to do stand up before finally deciding to concentrate on screenwriting. Currently live between Jamaica and Florida with wife and 2 cats.

2. What screenwriting training have you received? And what were some of your biggest breakthroughs?

No formal training. Watched movies and TV all my life. Read all the usual suspects: Field, McKee, Vogler, MacKendrick, Booker, Snyder, etc.

Having written and performed for TV, radio, and live work, and generally not been booed off (much), gave me confidence that I could write for the screen, stuff people would respond to and want to see.

My first draft of “SHOOT THE GIRL” won a place in a British Council and Jamaica Film and Television Association (JAFTA) workshop with English script editor Ludo Smolski. His teachings have been invaluable.

Couple drafts later, “SHOOT THE GIRL” won Black Screenplays Matter, and ScreenCraft Screenwriters Program, and was runner up in Cannes Golden Plume International Screenwriting Contest. That was amazing validation.

3. What else have you written? What writing habits work for you? Do you write in short bursts or long shifts, in the morning or late at night, do you write at coffee shops, at home, or at the office when no one else is looking?

“LAUGH JAMAICA” was the most successful comedy review in history of Jamaican theatre. We sold out hundreds of shows, toured the UK and US, sold VHS to DVDs, got millions of hits online, still do. Wrote, produced and acted in that.

“THE LIGHTNING BIRD”, a short about a distraught mother with a terminally ill son who will do anything to save him but when science stops working she tries the supernatural. Screenplay in the works.

“GANJA BAY”, a one hour pilot. Finalist in: ScreenCraft Pilot Launch, WeScreenplay TV Pilot Contest, and Filmmatic Pilot Contest.

I write every day at home but I can write anywhere. Once I’m locked in, nothing distracts me! Apart from the internet, my fridge, iPhone, English Premiere League; Man United in particular, Netflix, my cats, and my wife, not necessarily in that order.

4. What's the title of the script you entered, and what's it about?

“SHOOT THE GIRL” is a breathless thriller taking place over two and a half days on the streets of Trench Town, Kingston, Jamaica, the mansions above, and sewers below. An impetuous young girl vows to avenge her father’s murder by a bloodthirsty don proving: “Brain will always beat brawn”. How does a thirteen year-old girl overcome a gangster called Satan? By using her smart phone as a weapon, her wits as ammunition and social media as her firing range. It’s City Of God meets Kickass or Run Lola Run meets Harder They Come.

5. Where do you look for inspiration and what inspired you to write this script?

Inspiration comes from everywhere: observation; understanding; connection; empathy; all life. Small things can becomes big ideas.

In the case of “SHOOT THE GIRL”, my best friend was born in Trench Town and I’ve spent a lot of time there with friends. It is a tough place to live and miserable at time but there is also plenty of joy, laughter, love, a strong sense of right and wrong and more often than not good outweighs the bad and the human spirit triumphs. I wanted to tell a story of someone with a strong moral code, taught with love, bringing together a community to do the right thing and overcoming evil, without guns. The bad guys incite violence; the good guys ignite intelligence.

6. Describe your process? Do you outline your story first? Do you use notecards or a beat sheet? Or do you simply sit down and let it flow?

An idea forms from wherever they come from, a character, a journey or an inciting incident comes to mind, I’ll make notes, let it percolate. Sometimes it’ll come almost fully formed. I’ll work out the theme and write a logline. Once I can convey an idea in a sentence I convince myself I know what I’m talking about and get started.

If I don’t get too excited and start running away writing a treatment, I’ll write a two page synopsis, then a beat by beat outline/treatment, that can be anything from 10 to 20 pages. There’ll be copious notes lying around on my iPhone, on notepads, post its, napkins, the cat, until I finally start the screenplay confident that I know where I’m going. Then all my characters come to life and tell me otherwise. At which point things change but at least we all have a clue where we are heading.

7. What was your experience with our festival? Are you happy with your

involvement? What did you like most about your experience? And what could we improve on?

My experience with BSM was fantastic. I won. It doesn’t get any better than that. Every time I pitch the script I begin with “winner of Black Screenplays Matter” and people immediately take note. To win anything is cool. To be able to say “Black Screenplays Matter”, is in and of itself a wonderful privilege and a massive peer endorsement.

8. What are you writing now and what do you plan on writing in the near future?

Sounds crazy but I’ve just completed synopses for three short films. One is a pilot for a TV series, another is a feature. Along with those I’ve completed treatments for two other screenplays. So, on Tuesday I’m holding a séance to ask my dead ancestors to help me decide which to write first. Kidding. Who holds a séance on a Tuesday? Seriously, I’ll write the TV pilot first.

9. Any advice for those about to dive into their first feature-length screenplay? Before starting every screenplay I ask myself these three questions:

1. Am I truly passionate about this? Passionate enough to spend a year, and possibly more, making this as good as I can?

2. How best can I convey that passion to my audience so they feel what I feel, care as much as I care and is my hero compelling enough for them to follow through anything to the ends of the earth. Is it the right hero, should it be their cousin, sister, or dog? (I know that’s a lot of questions within a question but ask them.)

3. How can I show don’t tell

10. Last, but not least, what have been your biggest victories since entering our festival? Any more awards, any representation, any options, connections, new opportunities, and or plans to move to New York or LA?

Winning a pitch competition with “SHOOT THE GIRL” and getting a healthy payday was cool. Winning an all expenses paid trip to Berlin Film Festival for winning another was even cooler and gave me the confidence to pitch to anyone, anywhere, language never a barrier, no environment an obstacle.

“GANJA BAY”, only my second screenplay, getting to the finals of three contests is huge. It means winning with my first screenplay wasn’t a fluke.

LA and New York are great places to be, meet people, and gets things done, but they’re not the center of my universe. In this day and age of cyber space, I feel happier, more inspired and confident in the bosom of my family and lap of inspiration, betwixt Jamaica, Florida and London.

africa-290434_1920

Summer 2017 Grand Prize Winner!

Tony Hendriks - Shoot the Girl


Summer Finalists!

Andre Joseph - The Saxophonist 

     This script went on to be produced and was the winner of multiple awards. See more at imdb.

Aaron Shaw - Mayday

Dianne Janis - Sweet Dreams

"It was a wonderful experience. I highly recommend anyone with a diverse cast to enter this competition. I really felt they took time to read and digest my script because their response to the script was extraordinary."

 

"This competition was such a pleasant opportunity. Before entering, I wrote a script which featured a diverse cast, and had the opportunity to pitch the script to an industry professional. The professional stated he liked the story, but that I should replace my African lead with a white male to make casting easier. I was shocked! After attempting several rewrites, it just didn't feel right to whitewash the script. I was convinced that my story was important with the African characters as they were. So, I entered into Black Screenplays Matter, and placed as a finalist. They have promoted and shared the script, as well as other great things. This placement is much needed validation that stories like this are in demand, and deserve to be seen and heard. Thank you for this amazing opportunity!"

 

"Black stories need to be told, shared and appreciated. Continue your success!"

 

The following is from an interview with the immensely talented writer/director Andre Joseph               

What's your background? How long have you been writing?  And what made you choose and or transition into screenwriting?

I am an independent filmmaker in directing, producing and screenwriting. I was born and raised in Staten Island, NY. Most of my earliest memories were reenacting various movies and animated TV shows with my action figures. I would say it had an early influence in my storytelling abilities because I eventually formed my own ideas that went beyond the scope of what I would watch. I started writing when I was nine and I took a writer’s workshop class at my school where we published short stories for our classmates. Screenwriting came naturally later on in my teens once I got seriously interested in film production.

What screenwriting training have you received? And what were some of your biggest breakthroughs?

My primary screenwriting training took place at Emerson College where I graduated with my B.A. in Film. When I was there as a student, I studied feature film screenwriting with Jean Stawarz who co-wrote the independent film Powwow Highway as well as short film screenwriting with TV writer Jim Macak who was mentored by David Milch of Deadwood. I think the breakthrough I had at the time was conceiving an idea for a short script about a kid and a college fraternity party that Dr. Macak believed had serious potential for a film and he helped me give my script some real shape. This eventually became my short film called TEMPTED which I would get made 8 years out of school and has since played at a few significant festivals.

What else have you written? What writing habits work for you?  Do you write in short bursts or long shifts, in the morning or late at night, do you write at coffee shops, at home, or at the office when no one else is looking?

Three of the feature films I wrote, PRICELESS, DISHONORABLE VENDETTA, and VENDETTA GAMES, were independently produced by me and the latter of the 3 has just received worldwide distribution through ITN Distribution for later this year. I also wrote the dramatic short film, NIGHT STREAM, and co-wrote a short dark comedy called THE DINNER. The writing habits that work best for me are being at home in the evening on my iMac when I can really settle into the mood of my script. It often varies whether I get an idea for a scene and write it as quickly as I can or sometimes I get on a roll when a flash of inspiration hits and I pump out multiple pages within an hour.

What's the title of the script you entered, and what's it about?

The script I had entered into Black Screenplays Matter was called THE SAXOPHONIST. It’s about a struggling young jazz musician in NYC who’s torn between a business opportunity and his new romance with a French ballet dancer.

Where do you look for inspiration and what inspired you to write this script?

Inspiration can come from anywhere. Sometimes it comes out of life experiences and what goes on in the media. Other times, I just get strange ideas from not only watching other movies but also from playing old video games and reading books. With THE SAXOPHONIST, I wrote the script initially when I was in college and I was taking a History of Jazz course about every famous musician who broke ground at the height of their careers. I was also going through some personal things as I was maturing into adulthood where I thought the concept of being a struggling artist and making life sacrifices would translate into a unique romantic tale.

Describe your process? Do you outline your story first? Do you use notecards or a beat sheet? Or do you simply sit down and let it flow?

Sometimes I start with a rough treatment with the baseline of my story: Who the key characters are, where they start, how they naturally evolve through the course of the story, and then the resolution. Then I jump straight into the script and I try not to always get hung up on form and technique. I will write what comes to mind spontaneously and then try to sharpen all the key story elements and dialogue in revisions.

What was your experience with our festival? Are you happy with your involvement? What did you like most about your experience? And what could we improve on?   

I was happy to get the direct phone call to announce the judges’ decision and to discuss it in more detail. What I think I liked most about the experience was that it helped to elevate the project with a certain level of legitimacy that brought more financial support to it.

What are you writing now and what do you plan on writing in the near future?

I just recently co-wrote the story for a feature-length western called AMERICAN GUNSLINGERS with Chris Corulla, Jr., Drew Henriksen which won “Best Western Screenplay” at the Las Vegas International Film and Screenwriting Competition last summer. In terms of what I plan to write in the near future, I am looking at writing a detective thriller, a drama about journalistic integrity, and the 3rd installment to my Vendetta trilogy.

Any advice for those about to dive into their first feature-length screenplay?

Pace yourself and don’t worry about striving for perfection on the first draft. Write with your heart first. Then rewrite with your head.

Last, but not least, what have been your biggest victories since entering our festival? Any more awards, any representation, any options, connections, new opportunities, and or plans to move to New York or LA?

Among the biggest victories I have had since the festival were having THE SAXOPHONIST not only win “Best Film” at the NY Jazz Film Festival but also get picked up by their festival’s new BeBop Channel for online streaming. I also won “Best Director” at the Brightside Tavern Film Festival last year and we have interest in the film from some notable producers in Hollywood which I am keeping my fingers crossed about.

model-2411750_1920
_SS-LOGO-TRANS-WHITE