(In Alphabetical Order):

Greg Benevent, 2012 Semifinalist for Body Swap Blues (One-Hour Pilot)

“I had a great experience with the competition. The best thing I learned at UCLA Extension was Greg Elliot‘s maxim: ‘The entrance fee is perfection.’ With that advice, and what I’ve learned, I’ve had success: I was a semifinalist for 2012 NBC’s Writers on the Verge, and just a few weeks ago my Justified spec became a finalist at the 2014 Scriptapalooza TV contest. [Greg’s advice also] helped my stand-up comedy tremendously.”

Nancy Bevins, 2011 Semifinalist for Burning Ice (Feature Film, Action/Comedy)

“In one online course, after attempting to write a beat sheet, I thought I needed a new story. I felt I didn’t have the right beats nor [were they] in the right places. Wisely, the instructor (Chrysanthy Balis) shouted back “No! Don’t change scripts.” She explained that I would simply find myself in the same place on a different story. She was right. I stuck with the script [and as a result] I placed in the top ten.”

Markham Cook, 2012 1st Place Winner for Restoration (Feature Film, Thriller)

Restoration finished in the top 30 [in the 2012] Nicholl Fellowship competition. I was contacted by several agents and managers, and ultimately signed at Original Artists. In October of 2013, Restoration was optioned by a Los Angeles producer who is currently attaching talent to the script and securing financing. The discipline and focus on craft that I learned at UCLA Extension has been invaluable as I make the transition to full-time writing.”

Denise Harkavy, 2012 1st Place Winner for Awkward: Motherhood (Half-Hour Spec):

“The UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and television writing competition was the first brick for the foundation of my writing career. Winning the competition was what made my manager want to read my samples. A year after graduating, I had an agent and my first staff job on a TV show. The program teaches you by emulating a writer’s room. As a new staff writer, I believe those lessons were as valuable as the ones on story structure and character.”

Grete Heinemann, 2013 1st Place Winner for Sons of Anarchy: Delivered (One-Hour Spec); 2013 2nd Place Winner for Valleywood (One-Hour Pilot)

“After the winners were announced, several producers, managers and agents reached out with interest in my scripts and I was invited to meetings. While I did not yet get signed, a manager/producer (who I am personally a fan of) saw the potential of my script. He and I went through a set of rewrites to get my pilot ‘market-ready’. Besides the incredible exposure, an even bigger take-away from the competition was the mentoring. I learned so much from my two mentors [Richard Manning and Phil Kellard]. Their insight and guidance taught me the very important craft of rewriting and editing my own work. My writing has matured quite a bit through this experience.”

Jas Lonnquist, 2006 1st Place Winner for Low Road (Feature Film, Family Drama)

“Since the competition, I’ve remained steadily booked. Projects include 13 episodes of the PBS television program Revolutionaries, and more than 40 short films and videos for museum and high tech clients including the award-winning short film Colossus. I just finished My Savior, My Son: The Story of Mary, scheduled for production in 2015. From researching low-riders at car shows, to scripting tech icons in Silicon Valley, there is never a dull moment and I’m loving it!”

Harmony Lucas, our 2013 Semifinalist for Rising Son (One-Hour Pilot):

“Being a semifinalist in last year’s competition has brought quite a bit of attention to my crime drama, Rising Son. I had two meetings with big agents who had heard about my pilot, and a successful feature director wants to shoot a live-action pitch reel at the end of April [2014]. He is also endorsing my script at a big management/production company.”

Kristin Belka Maier, 2013 Semifinalist for Encore (One-Hour Pilot)

“[Being a semifinalist] has helped me have longer conversations with people I hope to work with or have represent me. It’s also helped my confidence as a writer. In turn, I now have a manager, take meetings with producers and writers, and have my sights set on staffing season!”

Elissa Matsueda, 2010 1st Place Winner for Happy for You (Feature Film, Comedy)

“My first [produced] feature, La Vida Robot – starring George Lopez, Marisa Tomei and Jamie Lee Curtis – [was filmed] in October/November [2013] and should be released around Labor Day. I’m [currently repped by] Gersh and Circle of Confusion.”

Terrence Michael, 2010 2nd Place Winner for The Girl with Something Extra (Feature Film, Dark Comedy)

“After placing second in the UCLA Extension contest, [my] comedy feature The Girl With Something Extra landed on the Black List in 2012, and [I am] currently repped by Gersh and Media Talent Group.”

Annabel Oakes, 2007 3rd Place Winner for My Invisible Savior (Feature Film, Comedy); 2008 1st Place Winner for Lovestruck (Feature Film, Comedy)

Lovestruck eventually got on the Black List in 2009. [Since then, I have acquired representation by UTA and Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment]; sold two half-hour comedy TV pilots, one called Us Against the World to ABC and one called My Substitute Life to USA; and I’ve also [worked as a staff writer] on two shows: ABC Family’s State of Georgia and MTV’s Awkward. On the feature side, I just did a rewrite on a sequel for Disney.”

Alberto Portillo, 2010 Semifinalist for Rajini (Feature Film, Drama)

“Not long after placing in the competition, I also placed as a finalist in the Act One Screenwriting Competition and wrote three short films, which were produced. Determined to see more of my films come to fruition, I took out a loan, bought a camera and started filming local friends’ music videos. I then quickly graduated to semi-popular artists such as Brian Welch and rapper Ahmad. This momentum led to a job shooting and directing a documentary for Redfoo of the music duo LMFAO, chronicling his world tour in 2012. Redfoo, upon learning of my writing background at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, contracted me to write a sports comedy screenplay. In the summer of 2013 [I was hired as] the Content Development Director for his newly formed production company. All of these opportunities and more, I feel, are the direct result of completing your screenwriting program.”

Cinthea Stahl, 2008 2nd Place Winner for Identifying Marks (Feature Film, Drama)

“After the UCLA Extension Screenwriting Competition, [one of my other] scripts finished in the top 30 in the 2009 Nicholl Fellowship competition. [In 2010] I received a Nicholl Fellowship for Identifying Marks. I am represented by Paradigm and Zero Gravity [and] I am preparing to direct my first short film called PSYCH.”

Barbara Stepansky, 2013 1st Place Winner for Sugar in My Veins (Feature Film, Drama)

“I received a 2013 Nicholl Fellowship for Sugar in My Veins, and the same script also placed on the 2013 Black List. After that, I signed with ICM Partners and HertzbergMedia. I plan to direct Sugar in My Veins in the near future, and yes, I’m always working on new material!”

Greg Sullivan, 2011 1st Place Winner for Erin’s Voice (Feature Film, Drama)

“I’ve got a manager [Silent R Management] and a script in development as we speak. I’m very excited, but I can’t really get into too many specifics or mention any names just now because we’re so early in the process. I feel like the guy talking about his ‘totally real’ girlfriend who lives in Canada! Ask me again in a month or two!”

Jared Stone, 2012 Semifinalist for St. Patricks’ Day (Feature Film, Modern Fantasy)

“I took a couple of screenwriting courses with Billy Mernit and Steve Mazur. Both of those guys are absolute rock-stars. Using some of the tools I honed in their classes, I sold a book to Macmillan, titledYear of the Cow, which will be published in January 2015.

Michael Werwie, 2007 Semifinalist for The Lottery (Feature Film, Thriller)

“I’ve [placed as a top ten finalist in] the 2012 Nicholl Fellowship, made the 2012 Black List, signed with UTA and Evolution, and [have a script] currently being produced by Michael Costigan. I was also named one of the Top 100 Writers on the Verge on the Tracking Board’s 2013 Young and Hungry List [and] I am currently adapting a New York Times best seller for Warner Bros. There are some other very cool projects and attachments in the works but I’m unfortunately unable to reveal them as of now.”

Julie Wong, 2013 3rd Place Winner for Ana In Between (One-Hour Pilot)

“Being mentored through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program competition was an invaluable learning experience. I was extremely fortunate to work with Richard Manning, who not only helped me take my script to another level, but also provided me with new ways to think about story, structure, and more.”

Note: if you’ve placed in a UCLA Extension screenplay competition, please share your success story with us at writers@uclaextension.edu.

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