Shining a Spotlight on Emerging Talent

2018
2019
2020
2021
Melody is a genre writer focused on social issues, BIPOC characters, and women protagonists. She was raised by parents who were activists and teachers in a Blerd family that loved science and literature and proved that Black people do go camping. She is currently story editor on the 22nd season of NBCUniversal’s Law & Order: SVU, and has been selected for the 2020 Sundance Episodic Lab’s new Idea Lab to develop a grounded sci-fi pilot. She started out in TV in 2019 as staff writer on the second season of the CW Network series Two Sentence Horror Stories for which she wrote two episodes. In 2020 she co-wrote a comedy sci-fi episode starring Wayne Brady for The Insiders, a new series headed by Greg Grunberg. A 2019 HBO Access Writing Fellow, Melody was winner of the 2018 Grand Jury Prize for...
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MEG SWERTLOW is a dance floor queen, native Angeleno (yes, they exist) and Gryfinndor (even though she could totally be a Slytherin... she just chooses not to be). She's also a badass screenwriter and director determined to use her energetic personality to be a strong female force in Hollywood. The daughter of two entertainment journalists, Meg has been obsessed with movies and television since the womb. Her favorite pastime in high school was walking through the aisles of Blockbuster memorizing movie covers. Meg uses her humor and passion to create female-forward, genre scripts that are filled with funny women who challenge the norms imposed upon them.  Most recently, Meg optioned an Untitled Wedding Feature with Four Leaf Productions and is developing a romcom with actress Jessy Schram. She was named one of...
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Marshall "gripp" Gillson is a writer and educator based primarily on the internet. Though their work is multimedia and interdisciplinary, they have been lauded as a screenwriter. Their original dramedy pilot, Offbeat, was the Grand Prize winner of the 2020 Table Read My Screenplay competition. In 2018, their short script Shyla won the Bolt by Barnstorm festival. The resulting film was selected by the 2019 Roxbury International Film Festival where Marshall was awarded the Kay Bourne Emerging Filmmaker Award. Their debut collection of closet screenplays, The Fainting Game (and Other Stories), was released in April 2021 by Game Over Books. Its title script was awarded Best Screenplay at the 10th SUNYWide Film Festival. In 2019, they co-wrote and co-produced the afrofuturistic stageplay...
Michael Graf, Writer/Director: Emmy Award winning commercial director, turned screenwriter, Michael Graf, was known in Advertising for his “actor first, artful storytelling” style of directing. Likewise, his character-centric, story-driven style of writing has been making waves around the world with recent screenplays, THE LAST INDIAN WAR and THROWING HAMMERS, winning awards and top honors at festivals in Paris, Park City, Los Angeles, New York, Nassau and Toronto. His first screenplay, WINTER OF FROZEN DREAMS, was produced for Lifetime network and stars Thora Birch and Dean Winters. His most screenplay, VENICE OF AMERICA, was juried into the Venice Film Festival in Italy, named to Capital Film Fund’s Hot 100 list, and is a Screencraft Top 10 Crime/Mystery screenplay. Graf's also just completed an...
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Kevin Bachar is an EMMY award-winning producer, director, cinematographer and WGA writer. He was a Senior Producer at National Geographic Television for ten years before forming his own production company, Pangolin Pictures. Yes, he’s the idiot in the water filming sharks for SharkWeek. In 2017 Kevin made the transition into fiction. His screenplays have won numerous prestigious competitions. Kevin won the 2018 Page Awards Grand Prize, as well the top prize for Screencraft’s Action Thriller contest, which had creative execs from Bad Robot, The Donner’s Company, and the writer of DIEHARD, Steven de Souza, as judges.   His screenplay “Blood Relative” was featured on The Blacklist website and is now in production as “The Inhabitant” starring Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friends...
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Jordan Trippeer is a produced writer whose eclectic mind, adventurous childhood and preference for The X-Files over Sesame Street while growing up set the course for her creative future. She has developed a daring writing style that contrasts and complements her demure persona and her work has been lauded for its “fascinating, flawed characters, immersive world building, and mischievous originality.” While genre agnostic, her film and tv writing primarily focuses on underdogs, outsiders, and everymen encountering the extraordinary and fantastical in their grounded lives.  Raised by a nomadic family, Jordan’s life has been one endless adventure. She’s luged into volcano calderas in New Zealand, pulled dinosaur vertebrae and gold nuggets from the earth of the American southwest, and...
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What happens when a Gym Teacher has a great idea for a movie? This is how Richard Giarraffa became inspired and found a new passion for writing character-driven screenplays. After earning several quarter-finalist honors and nominations for his work, Richard enrolled in several writing classes, and from 2019-2020 he had the privilege of attending Jessica Hinds, Meditative Screenwriting Master Class. Recently, Richard's spec script MAGI received high praise from ISA's marketing evaluation, which earned him a deal memo and a place on ISA's Development Slate.
  Rachel S. Thomas-Medwid is an award-winning screenwriter, director, and independent filmmaker who as a storyteller likes to explore the darker instincts of human nature to shed light on important subjects. Some of her recent awards include the 2020 Grand Prize in the ISA’s Shoot Your Short, the Female Filmmaker Award at the Lonely Seal International Film Festival, New England Film Star Awards Finalist, Best First Time Director at the New York Movie Awards, and Best Narrative Short Film Director at the Mystic Film Festival. Her film, The Squirrels in the Attic, based on her award-winning screenplay, received the Audience Award for Outstanding Short at the Film Invasion Los Angeles Festival (https://vimeo.com/434491893) and was a semi-finalist in the Academy Award Qualifying Flickers Rhode Island...
Rowan loves to find the sweet spot where heart meets humor. His favorite characters to write are deeply flawed, yet deeply likable. He enjoys building stories that are socially relevant yet sexually irreverent (say that five times fast). He wants you to cry through his comedies and laugh through his dramas. He's also an ambitious little so-and-so. He dreams of staffing for a beloved tv show and moving up the ranks to showrunning his own series. His first pilot "Patient" was released in July, 2020. He wrote, produced, starred in, and catered it. Because why not, right?  For extra income, Rowan assembles IKEA furniture. This actually lends itself very well to the craft of writing. Putting together the pieces of a screenplay is much like putting together the pieces of a Kolbjorn cabinet in that hahahaha, I'm...
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Paige VanTassell likes to say that her scripts contain equal parts "heart and fart", and so far no one has stopped her. She writes absurdist, female-driven pilots, loves animation, and has been called a huge nerd more than once. She'd respond to these allegations, but is currently busy spending quarantine watching all of Star Trek in chronological order. Paige grew up in North Carolina but never adopted the term “y’all” because she wanted to be unique. In college, Paige thought her love for the show Scrubs meant she should pursue medicine. After seeing several patients die while shadowing an ER doctor, Paige decided she just liked sitcoms. Since then, Paige’s scripts have placed in many notable competitions: Top Three in Final Draft Big Break, Winner of Seriesfest Storytellers Initaitive, and...
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Jeremy writes about big ideas, and about how those big ideas impact individuals when they come crashing down to earth. That usually means creature features or sci-fi pieces that allow Jeremy to indulge his sense of drama or childlike wonder, while still keeping the stories grounded in something familiar. As The Black List said, “Like all good speculative fiction, [Jeremy’s writing] uses its heightened framework to present relatable, human themes. There is a smart, often biting sense of humor.”  Prior to his career in film, Jeremy studied Chinese and worked as a journalist in Asia, before eventually returning to the US to earn an MFA in film production at The University of Texas at Austin. He is an award-winning writer, director, & editor, a New York Times published writer, a former...
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Lisa is a feature writer focusing on horrors and thrillers with supernatural and psychological themes. A lifelong interest in the supernatural began after growing up in a haunted house in the Midwest. With a great grandmother that owned a palm reading shop and psychics on both sides of the family, it's a trait that has been passed down and the reason ghosts and spirits seem to be attracted to her. Raised in a poor family, she was the only one to attend college. She received a BFA in painting which, of course, helped her become an extremely interesting cocktail waitress for many years. Richly developed characters are a trademark of her scripts, as well as deeply researched folklore and period accuracy. Coverfly writes in their endorsement, "Lisa has a tremendous command of tone and setting with stellar...
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Beth is a novelist and screenwriter who's consistently drawn to thriller, horror, and crime. Her stories almost always center on complex female characters who are trying to exorcise that unshakable demon called the past. As a result, certain themes arise in her writing again and again -- issues surrounding control, power, trauma, and the need to be heard. She's also intrigued by the tension of shared space (hello, pandemic), and our innate need as humans to be constantly watching one another. Spying, snooping, voyeurism, you name it. Beth's writing is marked by sharp dialogue, elegant but simple narrative prose, and pages that turn swiftly. She tries to write the kind of films she wants to watch -- a slow but steady burn, filled with dread. Think MIDSOMMAR, THE INVISIBLE MAN, GONE GIRL or ZODIAC (actually...
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Desa Larkin-Boutté is a television and feature screenplay writer based in Los Angeles, California.  Her body of work is varied, though united through highlighting under-serviced themes or communities.  Whether it be race and identity (Zora & Zizi), the love and heartache of a senior living facility (The Old & the Restless), or depression in the black community (How to Be), Desa’s mission is to start a conversation through the stories she tells. In addition, Desa also specializes in adaptation.  From a feminist twist on 1001 Nights (Arabian Days), a little known gothic thriller from Louisa May Alcott (A Long Fatal Love Chase), to a Creole twist on a favored fairy tale (The Red Shoes), the stories she chooses to adapt all feature women fighting against insurmountable odds. Born in...
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Aiko Hilkinger is an award-winning, queer, German-Japanese screenwriter from Colombia. She has been writing for over five years, primarily in fantasy and animation, and was recently named one of Network ISA's 'Top 25 Screenwriters to Watch'. Hilkinger creates magical worlds filled with diverse characters that children and teenagers can relate to and see themselves represented in. Hilkinger wants to be a commercial successful animation writer, who pushes for diversity and inclusion in her stories. But most importantly, she believes that through her animation work she can connect with kids and help teach healthy communication and to own up to their mistakes. ​ Through her love of mythology and folklore, Hilkinger grounds her stories on tales of the past as she works for a more inclusive and diverse future.
Danielle Nicki was born in Italy to military parents. She and her family moved to the States when she was four after living in Naples, Rome, and Scotland. She was raised in San Diego, CA and went to college in Los Angeles.  Danielle has focused on the craft of screenwriting for nearly a decade. She enjoys creating extremely flawed Black woman protagonists with interesting and diverse life experiences not often seen on screen. Her first completed screenplay, Mo’ Black, a coming-of-age dramedy about a 15-year old girl in 1995, was a Nicholl Fellowship quarterfinalist and a finalist in the Cannes screenplay competition. She has since placed as a Finalist in the Austin Film Festival (Enderby Category) for her feature, Imperfect Perfection, a tragic, raw, and honest account of one couple's 25-year...
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As a writer, I like to use my stories to explore strong themes in unique, layered worlds. I love to create the texture of an environment, and center my stories around a single character who is the embodiment of a fundamental human desire or flaw. I tend to write with a dark wit and strong sense of irony, and I truly enjoy writing for an ensemble of diverse characters. Some series that match my style of writing (and which I would be absolutely honored to work on) are: Fargo, Barry, Claws, Succession, Mindhunter, What We Do in the Shadows, and You, among others.  Here is a short bio about me:  Sonali Mehta holds an MA with honors in Screenwriting from MetFilm School in London, UK. While there, she wrote three festival-placing short films, and developed a TV pilot that...
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I'm a writer whose characters confront difficult situations with heart and humor--although sometimes you just gotta throw a punch. I paint my characters into corners, forcing them to fight their way out or die trying--sometimes it's an emotional death, sometimes the loss is physical--either way, it's visual. A member of the WGA/W, one of my scripts won Best Feature and Grand Prize at SLAMDANCE in 2019. I specialize in developing producers’ original ideas into commercially viable screenplays and pilots/series. My recent assignment work has been in the elevated action feature and dramedy television space. I have also completed a page-one rewrite of an action-thriller feature for a production company. I have multiple feature and television projects in various stages of development, one of which is a...
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Xavier Burgin is an Emmy-nominated writer/director hailing from USC's School of Cinematic Arts. He’s the director of AMC Network’s Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror and Adult Swim's Juneteenth With Open Mike Eagle. He’s a Sundance Fellow, HBO Alumni, Berlinale Talent, and Ryan Murphy Directing Fellow. He's written for The Discovery Channel and Amazon Studios. Xavier grew up in the deep south where chain-link fences guarded you from the dog snapping at your feet. He’d disappear into the evergreen forests of Mississippi until sunset. He’d emerge for Cowboy Bebop, Final Fantasy 7, and Eve’s Bayou—wondering if these tales could co-exist. Now, he creates adventure, legend, and myth--the type of worlds his younger self dreamed about in the rural heat.
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I'm a born and raised Floridian turned writer-comedian, of course. I get a kick out of telling oddball, hard-to-believe, and sometimes hard-to-hear stories. At the core of all of my scripts are nuanced, imperfect female-identifying protagonists.  A little bit about me: I grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida thinking it was the best place on Earth only to realize later in life, Earth is pretty big. My childhood was shaped by my literally fresh-off-the-boat Vietnamese mother who arrived as a war refugee, and my shopaholic Canadian step(but-as-real-as-they-get)father who hated the cold so much that he up and left Montreal one day and drove south until it was hot. He met my mother at their mutual place of employment, Burger King. Yes, this is all true. ​ More true stories: From ages 16-19, I worked as a bank...
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Larry E. Coleman is a screenwriter from Indianapolis, Indiana. He loves writing sci-fi and character-driven dramas that shine a spotlight on the human condition and many of the social ills that plague our society. He was a Roadmap Writers Diversity Initiative Recipient in 2018 and was accepted into the International Screenwriters Association Development Slate in 2020. The ISA recently selected him as one of the Top 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2021. He has placed in many screenplay competitions to date, including placements in The Austin Film Festival, The Final Draft Big Break Contest, The Scriptapalooza Screenplay Contest, and The PAGE. His drama, Little Boys, a story dealing with male sexual abuse, placed in the top 15% of the 2019 Nicholl Fellowship.
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I’m a gay British writer who splits his time between New York, London and LA.  I have a rich heritage in story-telling and an obsession with humankind and her follies.  My passion is for relationship and family comedy-drama, particularly those with an ensemble. I love creating well rounded diverse / LGBTQ characters and strong female leads.  I’ve spent the past four years living in NYC, but am now currently based back in London, with my partner of 13 years.  Covid-era aside, I freely and regularly travel across to the States and throughout Europe, through my other work as a fashion film director (a fantastic gig that shows me the world and heavily influences my writing).  I trained as a documentary maker in the 00's, but I’ve been writing screenplays since 2012 and now have...
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Rachel is a Filipina-American, award-winning filmmaker/writer/actor, passionate about telling stories that truly matter. She is additionally an enthusiastic, queer, outspoken advocate for mental health education and destigmatization. Notably, she won a student Emmy at the 2013 College Television Awards, for her web series, The Sub Club. Her short films, Maple’s Tree and Bicultural, were official selections in quite a few film festivals around the world, including Outfest, BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+, and others. Recently, her TV scripts have advanced as finalists in the 2018 NBC Writers on the Verge program, a semi-finalist in the 2019 Sundance Episodic Lab and a finalist in the 2020 Sundance Makers Lab. Her feature film script for Violet, Violet won the Runner-Up award in...
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An Irish born Silicon Valley coder turned TV dirty cop turned Sci-Fi screenwriter. A 2020 Big Break Top 5, 2020 Page SF, 2021 CineStory 2nd Place, ISA Top 25 in 2021 and 2020 Creative Screenwriting Unique Voices Winner. Armed with a tech background, his Irish heritage and criminal acting tendencies, Johnny wants to create a Sci-Fi crime show with leprechauns. Wait. Strike that. No leprechauns.
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Growing up in Brooklyn, NY, I've always had a witty mouth. I'm not quite sure if growing up in the Big Apple has anything to do with it, but my mother constantly told me my mouth was too smart for my own good. As a child of six--and the youngest girl, I always had to make my siblings laugh to get out of trouble. My sisters used to play "Casper" games with me, pretending I wasn't in the room, when I was right next to them. I would say jokes, and they would have no choice but to laugh, acknowledging I was actually in the room. Unknowingly, comedy has been engrained in me. My witty mouth has attributed to my punch lines in dialogue. But I'm always constantly reminded that my comedy is not just designed to make people laugh, but make people realize that there is POWER in words and how we speak to each other.  My...
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