cassianEXCLUSIVE: Indie producer Cassian Elwes and The Black List chief Franklin Leonard have chosen screenwriter Matthew Hickman to attend the 2014 Sundance Film Festival as the recipient of the inaugural Cassian Elwes Screenwriting Fellow. Elwes, whose producing credits just this year include Dallas Buyers Club, All Is Lost, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints sundance-2014__131210193644__131217201040and Lee Daniels’ The Butler, hatched this plan in October for aspiring scribes who are agent-less and haven’t made more than $5000 writing. The scripts were chosen from among those displayed on the Black List service. The winner gets their trip paid for, and will be mentored by Elwes as he makes his way around the slopes for the films he will undoubtedly be talking up at Sundance. Hickman was chosen from among 10 finalists for his script An Elegy For Evelyn Francis. That work was described by the Black List’s evaluation as “a script that never lets up; it constantly plows through the consequences of every action, raising the dramatic tension and emotional stakes at every level.”

Elwes wants to make this an annual event. Who knows where Hickman ends up, but aspiring writers need a leg up and this seems a worthy gesture, as did the one I wrote about yesterday, in which neophyte scribe Tasha Huo got a blind script deal through a program initiated by Warner Bros’ movie chief Greg Silverman and The Black List. Hey, you never know.

Said Hickman: “I work at a regular job in retail. I don’t have contacts in the movie business. Despite this, I have always hoped that if I wrote stories which were good enough, eventually I would find people who wanted to help me bring them to life. For aspiring writers in my shoes, the Black List is our broadest, most credible link to the people who can do just that. They provide access to the kind of professionals who can help jump start a writer’s career, as I have been incredibly fortunate to discover in Cassian Elwes. This fellowship is the greatest opportunity that a writer like me could ask for, and I cannot thank Franklin and Cassian enough for creating it.”