By Sydney Levine | Sydneys Buzz June 3, 2014 at 12:30PM
Despite numerous efforts, the film and TV industry are still struggling with diversity. However, a sign of positive change are the many distinct voices from diverse backgrounds that rose to the top in UCLA’s 2014 Screenwriters’ Showcase competition. The school’s Bunche Center reported in its “2014 Hollywood Diversity Report” that the proportion of female and minority actors, writers, directors and producers ranges from just one-twelfth to one-half of their actual population percentage. This lack of diversity has had a trickle-down effect on Hollywood’s highest award accolades as well, according to the report.
However, more than 200 respected industry professionals who served as judges during this year’s UCLA Screenwriters’ Showcase chose a diverse group of writers to honor. During this annual competition, student scripts are submitted anonymously and voted on by a jury of development executives, accomplished screenwriters, producers, agents and managers. This year, the screenplays and teleplays that garnered recognition represent women, LGBT screenwriters and writers of color.
During the Showcase event – taking place at 7:30 p.m., Friday, June 6th, at UCLA’s Bridges Theater, 235 Charles E Young Dr., Los Angeles, CA – the department of Theater, Film and Television will give special recognition to screenwriter and producer Callie Khouri. An acclaimed writer who won an Oscar as well as the WGA and Golden Globe awards for the legendary film “Thelma and Louise” is creator and writer on the hit television show “Nashville”, which has recently been renewed for a third season. At the event, Khouri will accept the school’s annual Excellence in Screenwriting Award, which honors trailblazers in the industry.
New Elements to Competition
Film Executive and Black List Founder Franklin Leonard has partnered with UCLA to offer Screenwriters’ Showcase honorees free hosting and reads on his Black List database site, www.blcklst.com. Winning scripts will have the opportunity to be evaluated by professional script readers, and subject to that evaluation and the site’s algorithm, be sent to the site’s more than 1,000 industry professionals.
Also this year, Showcase – the typically exclusively MFA screenwriting competition – was opened up to include undergraduate UCLA students. As a result, undergrads also will be honored at this year’s competition.
Information on the Showcase student honorees and other current MFA screenwriters will be featured on the re-launched UCLA Screenwriters’ Creative Directory. Visit www.uclascreenwriters.com to find loglines and contact information for featured students.
MFA Showcase Winners and Honorable Mentions
This year’s MFA TV winners include: Gaia Violo (“Absentia”), Kynan Dias (“Going Straight”), Jarod Roe (“Littlefoot”), Steven Canals (“Providence”) and Jessica Blaire (“Unheavenly City”). Feature winners include: Jason Romaine (“26.2”), Kameron Blake (“Forgive Me”), Novin Shakiba, (“Shallow Creek”), Noga Landau, (“Tau”) and Anastasia Matveyeva (“Woman Up!”).
MFA TV honorable mentions include: Linda Sweigart (“Border Saints”), Beto Skubs (“Cataclysm”), Han-Yee Ling (“The Smart Ones”), Kiley Donovan (“The Tennants”) and Jennifer Gimblin (“Welcome to the TLH”). Feature honorable mentions include: Jane Miller (“Beta Tester”), Daniel Sanchez (“Drone”), Kristin Vogelsong (“The Frozen Zone “), Bo Yeon Kim (“Magic Hour”) and Emily Bensinger (“Wood”).
The undergraduate winner is Johanna Mort for her feature “Heartless”. The undergraduate honorable mention goes to Sophie McLachlan-O’Hara for her feature “Chess+Nuts”.
During this event, which is open to the public, actors will perform staged readings of excerpts from the winning scripts, and UCLA faculty and prominent
alumni will serve as award presenters