1st Place Winner H. R. Yablon, 2nd Place Winner Adi Blotman, and 3rd Place Winner Kurt Hohenstein

After receiving two months of 1-on-1 mentoring by a Writers’ Program screenwriting instructor as part of their prize, our feature film competition finalists have been named! The Writers’ Program officially congratulates 1st Place Winner, H. R. Yablon, for The Good Cancer, 2nd Place Winner, Adi Blotman, for Reality Check, and 3rd Place Winner, Kurt Hohenstein, for Triangle.

This week, an ad featuring all three winners will appear in the October 24th issue of The Hollywood Reporter, and soon thereafter, their contact and project information will be mailed to over a thousand entertainment industry executives via newsletter. In addition, they’ll each receive a cash prize of $1000, $500, $250 (respectively). Read on to learn more about our finalists and their winning stories!

Writers’ Program: What is your script about and what was your inspiration behind writing it?

H. R. Yablon: My script is about a young man who, in a moment of desperation, lies about having cancer. There are quite a few factors that inspired this script. On a general level, I have always been fascinated by stories that explore a situation in which a person does something despicable but who is not a despicable person.

Adi Blotman: My script is about a woman who hates her life. She hasn’t really achieved anything at 32 and lives in constant regret. She signs up for a secret study, where she gets to travel into parallel universes, allowing her to experience what her life would have been like if she made different choices. I’ve made a lot of big leaps in my life, and while I am not consumed with regret, I think a lot about how different my life could have been if I didn’t make the choices I made. I think it’s something every person thinks about from time to time.

Kurt Hohenstein: The struggle by young immigrants against the sweatshop system in 1911 New York inspired me to write Triangle. The story of their fight for economic justice is not unlike what many people face today. I wanted to dramatize their emotional stories of tragedy and triumph to connect a broader audience possible on the big screen.

Wp’: What (or who) was your most influential course or instructor in the Writers’ Program?

HY: Every class with Michael Weiss was terrific. I developed this project in “Writing the First Screenplay I” which is a course for people who have never written a screenplay. We focused on outlining, story and structure. Michael is a truly gifted and just wonderful teacher. On the first day of class, he told us bluntly that this was not film theory. We would not be talking about The Bicycle Thief or Chinatown. We would be talking about Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, and The Hangover. What he meant was that if we were serious about wanting to become professional screenwriters (i.e. get paid to write), then we would need to focus on contemporary movies and learn how to write in current times.

AB: Andy Guerdat is one of the best teachers I’ve had in my life. I still quote him constantly. When he talks about screenwriting, you can feel his passion and love for the craft, and it infects everyone around him in the best way. He helped me become a much better writer and I still keep in touch with him. Also my mentor [for the competition], Cindy Davis, was absolutely brilliant. Her notes were so insightful and intelligent, and helped transform my screenplay into a much richer and better story.

KH: The best aspect of the program is how interactive the faculty is with each student, and the great critique and advice students learning the craft of screenwriting get from both faculty and other students. My [competition] mentor, Barney Lichtenstein, spent hours with me, improving the drama among my characters in Triangle.

Wp’: What do you aim to do next after winning the competition?

HY: Finish writing my next feature and develop my television show.

AB: I’m currently writing my second feature film (also a comedy) and my second original 30 minute comedy pilot. I’m also working with a director on a short comedy film I wrote, which I will also be acting in and producing. I love comedy more than anything, and I just want to keep making it.

KH: I am currently writing a historical drama about a 20th century progressive movement to remove “defectives” from the human gene pool that resulted in the forced sterilization of tens of thousands of unsuspecting Americans.

Wp’: Glad to hear everyone’s still writing! Thank you and good luck in the coming weeks as we help promote you and the rest of our competition winners!

For more information on our annual screenwriting competitions, or to see a list of semifinalists and past winners, please click here.

Jeff Bonnett is the Program Assistant for Screenwriting (Onsite & Online). Contact him at jbonnett@uclaextension.edu or (310) 206-1542

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