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Students, Alumni Score in National Film/TV Writing Competitions

Emerson student Elizabeth Capot ’17 won one of the largest cash prizes ever offered by a national writing competition for a short film script. Capot was given $10,000 after finishing first out of 2,086 submissions to the BlueCat screenplay competition.

Other Emerson students and alumni also scored in script-writing contests over the past six months. Nathaniel Charles ’17 won the Ivy Film Festival’s competition for Best TV Pilot, and Caitlynn Comm ’18 won at Ivy for Best Undergraduate Short Screenplay.

An Emersonian was sure to win in this latter category, since all three finalists for Ivy’s top award for undergraduate short screenplays were students. The two other finalists were Will Duncan ’17 and Dina Klein ’18.

The Ivy winners and finalists were honored at the festival’s award ceremony on April 10 at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Earlier this year, three alumni also earned honorable mentions in Acclaim Film and TV contests for TV pilots and spec scripts: Nicole C. Simeone ’16, Timothy Taylor ’14, and Marc Hecht ’13.

On March 28, Capot said she got an email newsletter from BlueCat about her $10,000 first-place prize, and a congratulatory call the following day from Gordy Hoffman, the founder of the competition and one of the judges. She said she was nervous all day.

“I started hyperventilating, then choking, then sobbing,” Capot recalled. “It was very emotional, very ‘last scene of Forrest Gump,’ or Shelley Duvall in The Shining after Jack Nicholson goes crazy.”

Capot’s script, Apart, is about a woman whose body falls apart. Her teeth fall out, her ankle breaks, her arms fall off; and a guy who finds one of her arms becomes obsessed with it, eventually taking it home with him.

“I thought it would be interesting to explore the idea of someone who was emotionally falling apart to begin literally falling apart,” Capot said. “I did my best in the script to try to understand who each of these characters were and what they were willing to do to fix their respective situations.”

Capot said she adapted the script from a short story she wrote last year in a fiction class taught by Senior-Writing-in-Residence Jon Papernick. She credits her classmate and friend, Dan Dragicevich ’17, with helping her rewrite and edit the story into a film script.

Comm called the Ivy Film Festival “a phenomenal experience.

“I was delighted to win, obviously, but I also just had a great time seeing the incredible talent of the other filmmakers.”

Comm’s script, The Sand Cigarette, involves a young girl who escapes from her family during their vacation and meets a fellow dreamer on the beach – a 23-year-old heroin addict who helps her build a sand castle.

In Duncan’s script, Game Boys, a young boy inadvertently destroys his older brother’s Gameboy and chooses to run away from home rather than face his brother’s wrath.

In Scoot, Klein’s script, a young woman drops her fork during a dinner party. She scoots her chair over to retrieve it, but the fork seems determined to avoid her.

Comm wrote The Sand Cigarette in affiliated faculty member Nancy Salzer’s course on Writing the Short Subject. Klein and Duncan’s scripts were written in Associated Professor Jim Macak’s course on Writing the Short Subject.

Charles wasn’t able to make the festival due to a scheduling conflict.

His pilot, Sky Haven, concerns teenage twins who serve as the current incarnations of the Moo and the Sun, who battle forces set on stealing their spirits and igniting chaos throughout the world. The script was not written as part of any class assignment.

“I am extraordinarily proud of the pilot because it is the first attempt I ever made at writing a pilot,” he said. “I love the characters, I love the story, and I’m glad that it can be meaningful to others as well.”

The Ivy Film Festival was organized in 2001 to celebrate the work of students at the Ivy League universities. It has since expanded to include students at other colleges and universities.

For the Acclaim Film and TV competitions, recent graduate Simeone won honorable mention for her spec episode of the TNT police procedural Major Crimes. She was one of four writers selected for honorable mention. Simeone now works as a production assistant for the Major League Baseball Network in Secaucus, New Jersey.

Taylor’s pilot, Killin’ It, was one of eight that earned honorable mentions in the TV Pilot category. Taylor works at Fox 21 Studios in Los Angeles, and takes improv comedy classes at Upright Citizens Brigade.

Hecht had two scripts earn honorable mention in two separate TV writing categories: his spec episode of the animated comedy, Bob’s Burgers, and his TV pilot, Platonics.

Hecht works in development at a reality TV production company in New York. This year, he helped create a new series for the Discovery Channel  — How to Lose the Presidency. He is listed as a development producer; he also is associate producing the series.

He helped develop Evil Lives Here for the Investigation Discovery Channel.

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