Emerson Screenwriters Win Big in Austin

January 26, 2016

TV writer/producer Norman Lear '44 greets fellow Emerson alumnus Nathanial Charles '17 at the Austin Film Festival's Screenwriters Conference in October. Charles was a quarterfinalist in the short film writing competition.

A number of Emerson College students and alumni placed in the Austin Film Festival’s TV writing and short film writing competitions last October.

The Austin winners join several other Emerson writers who took prizes in 2015—the most ever in one year, according to Visual and Media Arts Associate Professor James Macak.

Another Emerson alumnus, legendary TV writer/producer Norman Lear ’44 (All in the Family, Maud, Sanford and Son), was honored in Austin with the prestigious Outstanding Television Writer Award on October 31.

Larry Caldwell, MFA ’05, won the competition for a TV drama script written on speculation (spec) for his episode of the spy thriller The Americans. Two of the six finalists in the TV spec contests were Emerson alumni: Matt Kenny ’14, for his episode of the animated TV comedy Archer; and Caitlin McCarthy, MFA ’94, for her episode of the drama The Good Wife.

Undergraduates Lyndsey Kempf ’16 and John Lemelman ’16 were two of three semifinalists with their spec TV dramas; and Tiffany Church ’16 was one of five semifinalists with her short film script.

Several other undergrads placed as “second rounders” (quarterfinalists) with short film scripts: Nathanial Charles ’17, Clara Lorant ’17, Brooke Hoppe ’17, Sabrina Lieberman ’17, CJ Hwang ’18, Jennie Cardin ’17 and Rachel Samson ’17. Pamela Mora ’16 was a quarterfinalist for her TV drama spec.

Graduate students Ivana Darson, MFA ’16, and John-Paul Dubuque, MFA ’16, were quarterfinalists for their TV pilots.

Alumni placing as quarterfinalists for their TV specs include Angela Jorgensen ’08, Kara Costello ’07, and McCarthy. McCarthy not only was a finalist in this category, but she also wrote a second spec script that placed as a quarterfinalist. Two other scripts written or co-written by McCarthy were quarterfinalists in the TV pilot writing category.

Emerson students placing in other writing competitions in 2015 include:

Sarah Fitzpatrick, MFA ’16, was a finalist in the Broad Humor Film Festival’s TV Comedy Competition for her comedy pilot, Millennials.

Darson was a finalist in the New York Screenplay Contest, again for her TV drama pilot, The Shelter.

David Briody ’17 was the first runner up in the Woods Hole Film Festival’s Short Film Script Competition for his script, My Grandfather’s Puzzles.

Natalie Pallay ’17 was a finalist in the Ivy Film Festival’s Short Screenplay Competition for her script, The Last Shot; and John McCabe ’15 was a finalist in Ivy’s TV Pilot Writing Competition for his dramedy, Stouche’s Washington.

Seven Emerson students scored in the two Acclaim TV Writing Contests. For the TV Pilot Competition, Dubuque and Darson again placed as semifinalists for their pilots, along with Diana Gray ’15. Isaac Esparaza ’15 received honorable mention in the contest.

For the Acclaim TV Spec Writing Contest, Douglas Corriveau ’16, Karin Nord ’16, and Mora received honorable mention.

Three Emerson alumni were finalists in the Acclaim competitions. Timothy Taylor ’14 was one of five finalists for his spec script, Brooklyn 99. Natasha Don ’14 and Kelly Roderick ’13 co-wrote a one-hour dramedy, Teen Show, which was one of five finalists in the pilot contest.

Emerson alumni won or came close in still more competitions in 2015, including:

Brad Cryan ’15 won the 2015 Great Gay Screenplay Competition with his script, The Gay Shoe Clerks. Brad’s screenplay received a staged reading during the Gay Film Weekend in Chicago last fall. Both the competition and the film weekend are sponsored by Pride Films and Plays.

Joe Rechtman ’11 has scored in four screenwriting competitions with his science fiction feature, The Encampment. He was the first runner up in the Cynosure Screenwriting Awards, a fellow for the Black List Mini-Lab in San Francisco, and a semifinalist for both the International Page Award and the Final Draft Big Break Award. The Final Draft competition is ongoing, and Rechtman is still in the running for the grand prize to be announced in February.

Writing partners Collin Kittredge Smith ’12 and Rachel Reuben ’12 made it to the finals with Disney Channel Storytellers, a 20-week writer incubator program for up-and-coming talent. Applications for this program can only be submitted by the writers’ agents.

Lauri Hochman ’14 was a finalist in the competition to land a seat in the Warner Brothers Writers Workshop—an extensive writing program that introduces writers and their scripts to WB executives and showrunners. This was the second year in a row Hochman made it to the WB finals with a TV spec script.

And Caitlin McCarthy, in addition to scoring at the Austin Film Festival with four scripts, placed in other competitions with these same four scripts. Her episode of The Good Wife won Stage 32’s TV writing contest in the one-hour spec script category. Her spec episode of Elementary was one of the top ten scripts in the TV writing category of the Final Draft Big Break Contest.  

The two TV pilots McCarthy wrote placed in the Cinequest competition’s Round II, an early round. And one of these—which she co-wrote with Jim Forbes—advanced to the quarterfinals (one of the top 40). This script was also a semifinalist in the Slamdance Teleplay competition and a quarterfinalist in Stage 32’s TV Writing Contest.