Laughter had the edge in this year’s UCLA Extension Screenplay Competition with top honors going to three talented comedy writers. They are, in alphabetical order:
Greg Amici for Rhythm of Life, a dark comedy about a Polish country girl who experiences a modified version of the American Dream when she falls in love and marries an orthodox man.
Elissa Matsueda for Happy for You, a comedy featuring three interlocking stories about people who feel like they are being left behind.
Terrence Michael for The Girl with Something Extra, a dark comedy about the search for love by a male who was raised as a female.
Each finalist will now work closely with a Writers’ Program instructor/mentor to hone their script before it goes before three industry professionals in the final round of judging in early September.
Greg Amici–a veteran of the UCLA Extension Screenplay Competition who has made it into the semi-final round multiple times including an impressive second place win in 2007—was paired with Chrysanthy Balis who was a former first place winner of the same competition.
Chrysanthy was drawn to Greg’s script because “it had one of the most engaging protagonists I have come across in a while. From the very start of the story, you’re on her side for the long haul thanks to Greg’s ability to really speak from the main character’s point of view.”
Elissa Matsueda, an advanced Writers’ Program student, is being mentored by Keith Giglio who was so impressed by Elissa’s script that it took him a while to realize that it hadn’t been sent from a studio.
“I had accidentally dropped Elissa’s screenplay into the “best-of” pile from the studio and it wasn’t until I finished reading it–and came away impressed with the writing and characters–that I realized it was a competition script. I have a feeling it won’t be long before Happy for You lands on a lot of BEST OF lists in Hollywood.”
Terrence Michaels, a dedicated Writers’ Program student, was matched up with Steve Mazur who called The Girl with Something Extra “a very clever comedy by a very talented writer.
Steve went on to say, “When I first read the script I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I can really see this getting made!’ I’m delighted that the UCLA Extension Screenplay Competition will help it get the attention it deserves.”
In a few short weeks the three finalists will get attention far beyond the community of writers here at UCLA Extension. That’s when the scripts will be ranked 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place by industry professionals. The Writers’ Program will subsequently contact a thousand production companies, agencies, and studios in recognition of the winners’ talents, thereby giving them the exposure that’s critical to getting noticed in Hollywood today.
Congratulations again to Greg, Elissa, and Terrence, and best of luck to all three in the final round of judging!
Chae Ko is the Program Representative in Screenwriting for the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.