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Shining a Spotlight on Emerging Talent

The TOP 25 and ISA Development Slate were designed to promote and congratulate ISAConnect members who have proven themselves to be noticeably hardworking and dedicated to carving a career with a strong foundation. These chosen writers have gone above and beyond to grow, improve, and get noticed, smashing their goals and achieving incredible success in the past year. Highlights include having a short fiIm selected and presented at the Cannes International FiIm FestivaI, receiving an Oscar nomination, placing as a Grand Prize winner in a contest, and chosen as a Fellowship writer. Many have also landed multiple paid writing assignments or procured representation at major agencies and management companies.

The Top 25 have shown what can be achieved with dedication to their craft and career, and this, alongside their recent success stories, is why they were chosen. These writers continue to take the initiative to attend meetings around town, submit to and win contests, set up projects with producers and production companies, and produce their own content, supported by the ISA Development Team.

Only ISAConnect Members are included here. If you're an industry pro and interested in viewing the work
of these emerging screenwriters, please request Industry Pro status.

Born in London, England, raised in Dublin, Ireland and Luxembourg and came of age and still living in Sydney, Australia with my wife and young son. I grew up in a house of books and immersed in cinema. In cinematic story, my first love was science fiction with a voice. Seeing Tarkovsky's Solaris as a six-year-old flicked something inside. Since then, although experimenting in different genres, I returned to my first love of science fiction. I'm drawn to write compelling stories delivered through rich, realistic characters and dialog -- stories relevant to contemporary society and the timeless human condition. As reference, beyond Tarkovsky's Solaris, I'm inspired in tone by MOON, EX MACHINA, GATTACA and CHILDREN OF MEN.In 2016, my low-key sci-fi, DISCONN won Fast Track Fellowship III (2016). I made the most of...
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I'm a writer, director, teacher, and journalist based in New York and Los Angeles. My recent work has been on the one-hour series drama pilots, SECRET AND CONFIDENTIAL, WEIMAR, and IVAN'S HAMMER. Each of these pilots has placed in an array of high profile competitions including The Launch Pad Pilots Competition, the PAGE Awards, Cinequest, Emerging Screenwriters, ISA Fast Track, and ScreenCraft's Pilot Launch and Screenwriting Fellowships. In 2015 WEIMAR was named the Pilot Grand Prize winner in the Table Read My Screenplay Austin contest. This award put me in touch with the team at ISA who have helped me generously ever since to promote my work and realize my goals. I was born and raised in Massachusetts, where my dad taught cinema history classes and my older brother shot and edited Super 8 films on equipment he...
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A Los Angeles native, Chelsea Watkins received her MFA in screenwriting from USC's School of Cinematic Arts. She has been published in the Los Angeles Times and her plays have been produced by The Open Fist Theatre Company and Enrichment Works. As an actor and dancer, she has performed in television, film, Off-Broadway, and 99-seat theatre. She also has business industry experience, having worked in acquisitions, for a literary agent and as Managing Director/Producer of The Open Fist Theatre Company. She holds a B.A. in International Relations and French, also from USC, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa. She spent her junior in Paris studying International Relations at L'Institut des Etudes Politiques. She currently resides near the beach with her husband, Andy, her son, Christopher, and her cat,...
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Christopher DeWan has had TV projects with the Chernin Group and Electric Entertainment and has collaborated on properties for Bad Robot, Paramount, Universal, and the Walt Disney Company. His screenwriting has been recognized by CineStory, Final Draft, the PAGE Awards, and Slamdance, and he is recipient of fellowships from the International Screenwriters' Association (ISA) and the Middlebury Script Lab. Christopher is author of HOOPTY TIME MACHINES: fairy tales for grown ups, a collection of domestic fabulism from Atticus Books, and is featured in Best Small Fictions 2017, edited by Amy Hempel. He has an MFA in creative writing from CalArts and a degree in philosophy and theater from Cornell University. Learn more at http://christopherdewan.com.
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David Baugnon is an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter. His feature screenplay “Trip” finished in the Top 50 of the 2017 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting and the International Screenwriters' Association’s announced David as one of the Top 25 Writers to Watch in 2018. His hour-long pilot, “The Messiah Project”, won the International Screenwriters' Association Fast Track Fellowship in 2015 and numerous awards, including Silver at the Page International Screenwriting Awards and Showtime's Tony Cox Television Pilot Competition at the Nantucket Film Festival. His directing credits include the award-winning feature documentary “Art in the Face of War” (available on Amazon and iTunes) and the short documentary “Matisyahu”, which screened in...
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Denise Meyers began her professional career at the William Morris Agency as an assistant to literary agent, Judy Scott-Fox after graduating from Oregon State University in 1982 with a degree in broadcast communications. After working as a freelance story analyst for independent film and distribution companies, Meyers became a screenwriter herself, but after twelve years in the film business with nothing but a handful of free options to show for her efforts, she moved to Utah to pursue a successful career as a full-time artist. When the economy bottomed out in 2009, Meyers returned to what she calls “the dream that wouldn’t die”. Her short film, THE DARK OF NIGHT (a Table Read my Screenplay Grand Prize Winner, Austin Film Festival 2015) was directed by Robin Wright, and stars Leslie Bibb and Sam...
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Derek, a Bostonian of Middle Eastern and Native American (Sioux) descent, graduated from Harvard University majoring in Creative Writing & Literature in 2011. He then spent a year teaching Beginner’s Screenwriting at Grub Street before receiving his Masters Degree in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute in 2014. After AFI, Derek quickly found success at their Screenwriter’s Showcase, optioning his award-winning (Grand Prize Creative World Awards, Grand Prize Table Read My Screenplay London) action/comedy script THE WHEELMAN to Original Film (Fast & Furious franchise) and Sony. Original Film hired Derek to rewrite his script, now for a female lead, which lead to Derek becoming a member of the Writer’s Guild of America West. THE WHEELMAN is now in the hands of Datura Studios and...
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Hennah graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts focusing in Dramatic Writing.  She was the recipient of the 2014 Michael Collyer Memorial Fellowship in Screenwriting from the WGA-East. A year later, she won the American Zoetrope Screenwriting Contest. Most recently, she was awarded the 2016 ISA Fastrack Screenwriting Fellowship. Her works include a feature-length drama following the most turbulent hours of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, a feature-length sci-fi about false memory implantation, and a one-hour pilot centering on the death penalty. She is currently developing an untitled project with Votiv Films. 
Jamie Anderson is a comedy writer, actress, producer, and director, living in Los Angeles since she was nineteen. Having grown up in Gulfport, Mississippi, and then Orlando, Florida, her work is inspired by the Redneck Riviera, as well as her life in Hollywood, both of which are a wealth of material that guarantees she'll never run out of something to write about. At times with crass humor, she turns the painful into the absurd, always with depth and heart.Jamie was mentored as a writer by some of the best comedic voices working today. The first sitcom pilot she wrote led to her first feature option to Radar Pictures. Her next pilot, "Pushing 40", now titled "Pumas", was a top five finalist in the prestigious TrackingB script competition. She followed it up with the feature "You Be You", a dramedy set in the Deep...
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Jeff York was named one of the International Screenwriters Association's Top 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2018. He has written 11 movie screenplays, two TV show treatments/pilots and two plays. His works have figured in the finals of 66 screenwriting contests and counting. He's been a Screencraft Fellowship finalist twice. And Jeff currently has two scripts, INCURABLE and PLAY DIRTY, that are being considered for purchase by an independent film company. Jeff is also working with an independent producer to develop a script based on the life of silent film comedian Harold Lloyd. After 20 years in advertising, running a couple of creative departments, and winning almost every industry award, Jeff took his lifelong love of going to the movies and decided to take a crack at writing a screenplay. It was a...
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Attorney by day, screenwriter by night (and on weekends).  One produced screenplay, and several others that have placed in prominent competitions.  Period dramas, action, and suspense are my fortes.  Hard-working and very self-motivated.  Easy to work with.  Hit me up if you need info on a "legal" story, scene, procedure, etc. I have litigated in dozens (maybe even hundreds) of state and federal courts around the country (my law practice is national). So, I am also used to traveling.
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Although 2017 was a troubling year for the world, it was a stellar year for Lily Mercer.  Winning the 2016 ISA Fast Track Fellowship with her pilot NO MORE HEROES literally launched her writing career.  She went on to win Best Screenplay in the 2017 Vancouver Women in Film Festival with MY OLD MAN, which also became a Quarter-Finalist in the Nicholl Fellowship. In addition, her biographical pilot NELLIE BLY: Reporter-at-Large, advanced to the second round in the Austin Film Festival, and on January 8, 2018, Cinestory TV Fellowship announced that her latest project, THE BIG BLIND, made it to the Quarter-Finals.Lily's herstory is full of high points as well: she attended the prestigious Playwrights Horizons Professional Theatre School in New York (for acting, directing, and playwriting) and began working...
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Born on January 10th, 1990, Morelia, México, Lucy Luna has been experimenting art since a kid; she started doing ballet at age five, and loved drawing even before she learned to walk. At age eight she started acting. At ten she began to write, especially short horror stories, and at fifteen she realized filmmaking was all she wanted to do in her life. At eighteen she started studying screenwriting.   Despite her young age, Lucy has been lucky enough to learn directly from the big ones such as Aaron Sorkin, Guillermo Arriaga, Paula Markovitch, Syd Field, Linda Seger, Michael Hauge and John Truby.    Lucy graduated from the New York Film Academy’s Screenwriting Conservatory, and is currently working on a few projects while her script Sophie & Valentina is getting noticed as...
Maddy Curley is a writer, actress and producer, who has been in numerous films and television shows, including: Stick It with Jeff Bridges, CSI:NY, Party Down, The Office, Cold Case and Casual. She most recently co-wrote and co-produced the feature film Chalk It Up with her writing partner, Brooke Buffington. Chalk It Up became a financial success when Netflix licensed it for both domestic and international release. As writers, Maddy and Brooke have won, been finalists or semi-finalists in all of the major competitions: Nicholl, Script Pipeline, Scriptapalooza, Page Awards, Fresh Voices and the CWA Awards. They were selected to be 2017 ISA Fellows, and their 1-hour pilot Division One (D1) was featured by The Black List hosting site after receiving high ratings and reviews. This year they’ve met with a Senior...
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Though not his day job, Mark Grisar is a professional screenwriting contestant, having won, placed, or showed in the most prestigious contests in the country. In one year, his comedy BAD RAP placed in 10 out of 12 major competitions including Austin FF (top 10), Script PIMP (top 10), Open Door (top 3), Slamdance (semi-finalist), Page (top 2%),  Nicholl (top 10%). He boasts that he is one of the few who has won more than he has spent on contest entry fees. Grisar is especially proud of the 3 copies of Final Draft Software he won in one year. Grisar has written five viable scripts (all contest favorites), has had several options -- US and abroad (some even paying!) and has 3 unexecuted sales contracts residing on his hard drive. He has come as close to a produced credit as a screenwriter can, without having...
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MARK ROBERTSON is an established and prolific writer on many UK TV series, including SHAUN THE SHEEP and CHOP-SOCKY CHOOKS (Aardman Animation); DENNIS AND GNASHER (BBC/Red Kite); and MY SPY FAMILY (Cartoon Network/Kindle). More recently, Mark branched out into writing screenplays, and was subsequently awarded a place on the UK’s Guiding Lights mentoring scheme. During the scheme he was mentored by Sir Kenneth Branagh on THE WOODCUTTER, a dark, fairytale-themed horror screenplay. The script has since been shortlisted in several screenwriting competitions and was awarded a runner-up place in the horror/thriller category of the Screenplay Festival Competition. Soon after, Mark secured a further place on the Edinburgh Film Festival’s Talent Lab training scheme, during which a superhero comedy pitch of his...
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Pat Holden is an award-winning writer director with work shown at festivals around the world including Cannes and Berlin. He has several projects in development including feature animation GALAPAGOS and SCI-FI TV pilot HELIOS RISING for which he won the ISA FAST TRACK FELLOWSHIP 2017. His feature screenplay THE BEEKEEPER'S DAUGHTER was selected for the HAROLD GREENBERG FUND in 2017. Pat is a member of the WGC, WGGB, Directors UK and BAFTA.
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Phil Parker is one of ISA's Top 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2018. Currently, the Aussie sci-fi that Red Centre Films hired Phil to rewrite is being considered by Netflix Australia for production. BAFTA-winning producer Sias Wilson is packaging Phil's multi-award winning feature spec THE THIRD BOMB. In late 2017, Phil was hired again by Tent Pictures Productions to write the pilot episode for the animated series KHALFAN AND FAHMAN. Tent Pictures is also currently producing a fully animated trailer for CATSAWAY, the animated feature Phil was hired to develop. Phil's screenwriting success so far is due in no small part to his winning the Nashville Film Festival screenwriting competition and placing as a Finalist at Script Pipeline and Screencraft.Before becoming a screenwriter, Phil worked as a promo writer/ editor/...
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R.B. Ripley was thrilled to discover that a shameless childhood television and movie addiction was actually excellent preparation for a writing career. Early on as a writer, he recognized his own folly as a way to reach audiences, and because of this, his work tends to explore universal experiences that connect people, often with the elements of family or an underdog battling an unwinnable dilemma, and set against the backdrop of social injustice.   Currently, he’s working on a dark comedy feature for actor/writer/producer Josh Gad about a junior high school teacher’s tenure battle of wits against a nefarious principal. He's also completed a new corporate thriller feature set in the near future set against the backdrop of water theft, and  a period 1-hour pilot set in 1970's Detroit about...
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Rob Burke got his start in the world of make believe as a drama major at Colorado College. He then went on to law school and became a partner in a law firm where he specialized in defending clients in catastrophic loss cases. Recently, however, he left the legal world behind in order to pursue his true passion - creative writing. As both a playwright and screenwriter, he has created works that have been seen on stages and festivals in the U.S., UK, and Dubai.
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Originally from Boston, Mass, Ted Campbell is a screenwriter and director who specializes in thoughtful, character driven thrillers. Ted's neo-noir, thriller "Blue Motel" won the Grand Prize in ScriptShark's Insider Screenplay contest. After placing in several contests including Final Draft's Big Break Contest, Austin Film Festival's Script Competition and the Page International Screenwriting Awards, his crime thriller “Underground” has been optioned by Film Bridge International.Ted finds inspiration in the works of the great noir writers Dasheill Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Ross MacDonald as well as his screenwriting idols Scott Frank, Shane Black, Tony Gilroy and Richard Wenk. An an eighteen year veteran of the film industry, Ted has worked as a First Assistant Director on over fifty independent...
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2016 La femme et le TGV, writer/director, fiction 30’2016 Le Voyageur, writer/director, video essay, 26’2014 Mosquito, writer/director, fiction, 10’ 2013 Eastern Winds, director/editor/DoP, exp., 10.30’ 2013 Poupée, director/writer/DoP, fiction, 9.40’ 2012 Love of my life, writer/director, fiction, 3’ 2012 Monsieur du Lit, writer/director, fiction, 5’2011 Frei nach Gefühl, director, fiction, 4’2011 Acht Blumen, director, fiction 30’
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Travis is a multiple contest-winning and twice-optioned writer currently working on assignment. In 2011, he landed his first feature option for DAY OF RECKONING with producer Paul J. Alessi (Knuckle Draggers). In 2016, producer David Harris (Security (2017)) picked up the rights to his action-thriller, RANGER CREED. In 2017, producer Richard Harding (Hotel Rwanda, The Translator) offered him a writing assignment with Sixth Sense Productions after reading his African-set action-thriller THE POACHER. Six months later, Travis was awarded a second assignment writing a dramatic-thriller inspired by true events. That same year Travis also wrote an acclaimed TV Pilot, KINGDOM OF GOD, and a several contest-winning short scripts. One of those shorts, ROULETTE (now titled It Follows), sold to CineFocus Productions in August of...
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Valerie spent her first six years of life in Chicago, until her parents uprooted her to a small Oklahoma ranch without her permission. She eventually made her way to Los Angeles to work as a game designer and digital artist, where she made the terrifying realization that she wanted to be a screenwriter when she grew up. She has been writing ever since. She's a UCLA Diane Thomas Award winner, 2017 Page semifinalist, repeat Nicholl quarterfinalist, and Chesterfield semifinalist. Her first produced film, “Legacy,” was completed this year; and she's currently writing a true-life mobster story for the same financier.Her stories explore people’s desires, flaws, and core wounds; and how their situation, however unusual or comedically ridiculous, leads them to self-acceptance and coming to peace with...
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Vin Morreale, Jr. is an award-winning screenwriter, published author and internationally-produced playwright.  He was selected as one of The Blacklist’s Top TV Writers in THE BLACKLIST’S 2015 TV WRITERS STAFFING BOOK over thousands of other writers whose material is reviewed by the organization. Morreale has sold material to national TV shows, and has had a number of screenplays optioned, with two feature films produced to date. He wrote, directed and produced the low-budget romantic comedy BREAKING & ENTERING, which continues to hold the record for the largest screening premiere in the Southeast, with 2,619 ticketholders and an $18,550.00 box office for a single showing at the historic Palace Theater. Vin Morreale, Jr. was awarded the prestigious Al Smith Writing Fellowship, and his numerous...
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