Hollywood's Next Generation Of Screenwriters Receive Cold Cash And Warm Advice At 58th Samuel Goldwyn Writing Awards

The 58th Annual Samuel Goldwyn Writing Awards were handed out Monday night  on the UCLA campus in Westwood. I was honored to be asked to be one of this year’s three judges, along with TriStar Productions Chairman (and former Fox co-Chair) Tom Rothman, and 2007 Goldwyn winner Jennifer O’Kieffe. Open to all University Of California students, the contest offers a cash first prize of $15,000. This year it went to an extremely clever film-noirish animation screenplay revolving around spiders, Inspector Sun And The Curse Of The Black Widow, by UCLA TFT student Rocco Pucillo. It’s so good, it could probably go into production tomorrow. UC Riverside’s Jared Robbins  took second place and $7500 for Farang. There was a three-way tie for the $4000 third place prize among UCLA TFT’s Jeffrey Baker (Dr. Acker’s English Elixir) and Turner Hay (Broken Grey), and UC Irvine’s Sean Harrigan (Dust Red).

Producer Samuel Goldwyn Jr, President of The Samuel Goldwyn Foundation which established the prestigious screenwriting competition in 1955, was in attendance. So was his son, (producer and former Paramount exec) John Goldwyn, who presided over the ceremony with UCLA School of Theatre, Film And Television Dean Teri Schwartz. Incidentally, the father and son Goldwyns have the upcoming remake, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, set for Christmas release from Fox.

Past winners have included Francis Ford Coppola, Allison Anders, Pamela Gray, Colin Higgins, Eric Roth, Carroll Ballard and novelist Jonathan Kellerman while past judges have included such notables as Moss Hart, Billy Wilder, Sidney Poitier, James L Brooks and Denzel Washington. John Goldwyn noted that former winners have written more than 300 films, TV series and made-for-TV movies in productions that have won a total of 27 Oscars, 87 Emmys and 35 Golden Globes. “We are very proud of the extraordinary contributions to the art of cinema produced by our former winners,” Sam Goldwyn Jr stated.

Judges also made remarks and offered advice to the nascent screenwriters. Rothman bluntly told the students, “If you can close your eyes and think of any other profession you would be happy doing, leave the room immediately and go do it. If this is it, this is your passion, this is what you were born to do, then welcome to the club. We need you. We need the stick-tuitiveness it will take. We need the talent. We need the voices. We need the belief. It’s the mile, not the 100-yard dash but welcome to the race,” he said.

  1. Maybe someone among them
    might actually try to write an orginal
    script –or do something really radical
    like bringing back story —and character development.

    1. Hilarious, Kelly. I noticed you haven’t chimed in on any of the dozen plus articles about women and minorities selling material of the last several months. Go stick your head back in the sand and complain to mommy that no one wants to read (much less buy) the dreck you’re writing.

      1. Carl you can’t possibly be working if you have this much anger at women and minorities. Get some therapy.

  2. Stop with the nonsense! You don’t see the writer’s race on the script pages, do you?! If you can write great, it doesn’t matter what gender/race you are! Grow up!

  3. While a tiny percentage of these winners MAY go on to do big things and earn lots of $$, the vast majority will make about $3,000 total in their career and never really get anything of note produced, either commercially or artistically. When they were told “If there’s anything else you think you’d like to do, please leave immediately” most of ‘em should’ve split. These are smart people. But is not a democracy, and you talented folk will mostly lose out to some producer’s nephew or a chick that performed a sex act on an assistant who in turn got her script to the head of CAA. Several of these people in the photo already look to be well into their fifties & will be ignored before they even get started. So dad. Hollywood is such a poor career choice for the intelligent who could succeed in law, medicine, politics, etc. No, I’m not bitter, I’m one of the lucky ones – got someplace thanks to family connections.

  4. The older people in this photo are not the winners. They are the judges and the Samuel Goldwyn people, including Samuel Goldwyn Jr.

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