UCSB screenwriting-hopefuls have the opportunity to enter the spotlight in the upcoming Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award contest.
The annual writing competition offers up to $15,000 to students in the UC system for original scripts. Students may submit an unlimited number of pieces — including three-act stage plays, one-hour teleplays and feature-length screenplays — from March 30 to June 1.
Rorri Feinstein, Samuel Goldwyn Foundation awards coordinator, will visit the campus on March 2 to discuss eligibility requirements and help young writers practice pitching their original work.
“We talk a lot about what makes a winning script,” Feinstein said. “What our judges are looking for is a strong, original voice, creativity and craft.”
Last year, UCSB alumnus Branden Cahn won $7,500 when his screenplay “Burnt Bridges of Cartwright” placed second in the competition.
Cahn said he was skeptical about his chances of winning because the contest also accepts scripts from graduate students.
“[Feinstein] told us how [the contest] has been dominated by UCLA and she really wanted to see some other schools involved,” Cahn said. “I was kind of excited about it, but I didn’t really give it a second thought because here we are competing with UCLA grad students and everything.”
Samuel Goldwyn, Sr. established the contest in 1955 as a competition held solely between UCLA students. However, the foundation’s current president Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. opened the contest up to all UC campuses 25 years ago.
Past award winners include Francis Ford Coppola, Eric Roth, Allison Anders, Pamela Gray and Collin Higgins.
Although UCSB’s screenwriting program consists of only 10-15 students, film & media studies professor Paul Lobo Portugés said students still have the potential to dominate the competition.
“We teach a beginning screenwriting class and the first week I say, this is our goal,” Portugés said. “A lot of them work independent studies with me to finish or take other screenwriting classes. It’s a long process.”
According to Feinstein, last year’s top five contestants received industry representation within a matter of weeks.
“We announce our finalists and at that point we get a lot of interest from agents, producers, managers, studio development departments, etc.,” Feinstein shared. “We have had many, many successful winners just in the last few years … making a living as writers.”
According to Feinstein, past winners have cumulatively written or directed over 300 films, television series and made-for-television movies.