By Corey Campbell

With the deadline for the UCLA Extension Screenplay Competition creeping up (March 27, folks!), you may wonder: how does your life change when you win?

If your name is Jas Lonnquist, first-place winner of the 2006 Screenplay Competition, you’re drawing attention from numerous companies.  “When I won the competition, I was deluged with calls and emails requesting Low Road,” Jas says.  “I made some great contacts as a result and I still have high hopes for this screenplay which I wrote from the bottom of my heart. I used the winnings from the competition to renew my option on the best-selling autobiography of David and Jeanne Conover, Once Upon an Island.”

If you’re Fracaswell (“Cas”) Hyman, the 2007 winner with his script Focus, winning the contest becomes a great motivating force. Cas says, “The announcement of the winners went out just before the writers strike, and things were in a quite an upheaval. Still, winning the contests has been a big boost of encouragement for me, and I know that everything will work out for the best.”

The Writers’ Program is now soliciting entries for the third annual screenplay competition.  The competition is open to students who have completed three or more full-length feature film courses within the Writers’ Program between March 2006 and March 2008, and entries must have been developed in one of these courses.

If you’re considering applying this year, listen to the experts:

Jas gives a step by step approach (print this out and put it on your fridge, folks): “First of all, push yourself to finish your screenplay and enter by the deadline.   If you’re serious about succeeding as a writer, you’ll have a lot of deadlines in your future so you may as well start now.

“Second, be sure you submit your best work because the competition is fierce and gets fiercer!  As you polish, carefully consider the feedback you received from your UCLA Extension instructors and fellow students.  Whether you agree with it or not, it provides important clues as to where you’re succeeding or failing to connect with your audience and this knowledge is golden.

“Third, block out time in your schedule to rewrite in case you’re a finalist.  If you don’t advance, you can always use the time to write a new, improved draft or start a new project.  Finally, and most important, don’t obsess about winning or losing.  A writer’s life includes a lot of rejection and disappointment alongside some incredibly sweet moments.  Be sure to have sources of joy and success outside of writing so the inevitable disappointments don’t crush the sensitive spirit that made you a writer in the first place.”

Cas says, “Don’t procrastinate. If you think you’ve taken your screenplay as far as you can, then go for it. What have you got to lose? A couple of studio executives I met with after they read my script said they read the finalist scripts and were extremely impressed with the caliber of the writing. That’s good company to be in.”

Deadline for entry is March 27, 2008.  For more information, call 310-825-9415 or send an email to

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