Recently, GT launched its first screenwriting contest, Take One. We asked locals to write scripts no more than two pages and submit them for a chance to have their short film produced and directed by a local production company, and later have it debut at the 2012 Santa Cruz Film Festival. We received a fine selection of entries, even more than we hoped for, and an arduous judging process ensued. Writers touched on topics including love, loss, murder, proselytizing, racism in America, gay bullying, and much more. Seven professionals went through several rounds of voting on the screenplays—judges from GT, Impact Media Group and the Santa Cruz Film Festival. Amongst the judging team were an actress, a film critic, a producer, a director/cinematographer, a film festival programmer and several professional writers. Winners were judged on writing ability, creativity/originality, story, and production value—did people follow the rules to make scripts that could be made on a low-budget and easily produced in Santa Cruz?
Eventually, three winners came forth: Jesus Freak by Timothy Rinker, Smarty Pants by Emily Catalano, and Tip of My Tongue by Zach Dunn. These three particularly stood out to our judges for several reasons: Jesus Freak takes an interesting and smart look at the idea of proselytizing (and it made a lot of people chuckle); Smarty Pants is just that—smart, to the point, and clever—a great short screenplay; Tip of My Tongue meets the production value requirements, tells a comical story and has an amusing twist.
Rinker is a 45-year-old videographer. Dunn is a 17-year-old aspiring screenwriter who is a senior at Harbor High School, and Catalano is a 26-year-old film and media studies student at UC Santa Barbara who credits a Cabrillo College screenwriting class with introducing her to the medium.
The next step: the winners will have their screenplays produced, directed and edited by Impact, a leading local media production company in Santa Cruz. The screenplays will then be shown on Thursday, May 10 at the opening night of the 11th Annual Santa Cruz Film Festival. Take note of the winning screenplays and learn more about the team helping these films come alive.
First Annual Screenwriting Contest Winners
Jeasus Freak by Timothy Rinker
EXT. HOUSE – DAY
JESUS FREAK, an overly enthusiastic, completely desperate and thoroughly clueless geek wears a suit that was briefly in style for 15 minutes during the ’70s.
He KNOCKS on the front door of a suburban house with a neatly trimmed yard. A bookish, modestly dressed YOUNG WOMAN with mousy brown hair and large glasses answers the door.
Would you like to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?
He extends a Bible towards her.
Well, actually I-
How about accepting Jesus as your personal bodyguard? Nobody can beat a karate chop from Jesus. Hiiiyah!
He swishes his hand through the air like a karate chop.
What about accepting Jesus as your personal massage guy? Jesus knows all the right spots.
Jesus Freak wiggles his fingers on both hands. The young
woman raises an eyebrow.
I don’t think-
What about Jesus as your personal finance advisor? Jesus saves!
Jesus Freak raises his right index finger for emphasis.
I don’t need-
How about Jesus as your own personal chef? Nobody cooks lamb like the Lamb of God.
Look, really, I-
Okay wait! I also have the Buddha and Krishna models available for a
He whips out color brochures with prominent pictures of Buddha and Krishna.
Please note that the Buddha personal chef is vegetarian.
She slams the door. Jesus Freak sighs heavily, turns and leaves down the path to the sidewalk.
EXT. SIDEWALK – DAY
As Jesus Freak walks by, JESUS, in a tan robe and sandals steps out from behind a tree and walks with him.
Well, How’d it go?
I don’t know, Jesus. This doesn’t seem to be working.
Maybe it’s your delivery.
My delivery? Jesus!
No, I mean Jesus Christ!
No, I mean … oh never mind.
And another thing, I don’t want you pushing Buddha and Krishna anymore. I know we get a cut, but it’s not enough. We gotta look out for ourselves.
All right. All right.
Smarty Pants by Emily Catalano
INT. MALCOLM’S APARTMENT – MORNING
MALCOLM (30) is a wanna-be professor and looks the part with his beard, glasses, and tweed jacket.
He reads a LARGE BOOK at a small table in his breakfast nook. He reads the last page then closes it.
He walks over to a huge bookshelf. Places the book in the only open space. It is the first book in the Encyclopedia Britannica.
He immediately grabs the next volume. Sits back at his table and opens to the first page.
INT. BATHROOM – DAY
He reads it while taking a bath.
INT. BUS – DAY
He reads it in the bus.
INT. MALCOLM’S APARTMENT – NIGHT
He reads it in bed. His girlfriend, LEXI, gets in. She kisses him on the cheek. Malcolm doesn’t look up from his book. She turns out the lights.
A moment later Malcolm turns on a headlamp. He reads.
INT. MALCOLM’S APARTMENT – DAY
He takes the next volume from the shelf.
EXT. MALCOLM’S APARTMENT – DAY
He reads on his stoop while smoking a pipe.
EXT. BAR – NIGHT
Malcolm and Lexi enter. A sign outside reads “TRIVIA NIGHT”.
Malcolm and Lexi leave the bar. Malcolm has a huge trophy.
INT. MALCOLM’S APARTMENT – DAY
He takes another volume off the shelf.
INT. MALCOLM’S APARTMENT – NIGHT
He reads in bed. From off screen something flies at Malcolm and lands on his book.
He picks it up. It’s a lacy black thong.
He looks up and stares at Lexi off screen. He uses the thong as a book mark and puts the book on the night stand.
INT. KITCHEN – MORNING
On the fridge he sees a note from Lexi on the white board. It reads: YOUR GREAT!
He takes the marker and corrects her grammar so it reads: YOU’RE GREAT!
INT. MALCOLM’S APARTMENT – DAY
He takes the last volume.
INT. COFFEE SHOP – DAY
Malcolm and Lexi play Scrabble together. Lexi lays down the word “EGG” and is happy about it.
Malcolm lays down all his tiles to make the word “QUETZAL.”
INT. MALCOLM’S APARTMENT – DAY
He finishes the last page of the last book. He closes it and gives Lexi a high five.
EXT. RESTAURANT – NIGHT
Malcolm and Lexi, dressed formally, make their way to the front entrance of a nice restaurant.
Malcolm goes to open the door for Lexi. He pulls but it doesn’t open. He pulls harder but it still doesn’t budge. He peeks inside. He pulls again and again and again. He’s flustered.
Lexi walks up to the door and pushes. It opens. She walks in and holds the door for Malcolm.
Tip of My Tongue by Zach Dunn
EXT. PARK – DUSK
A couple walks in a park, holding hands. They are in love! But the man, ROGER, 29, is nervous. In his jacket pocket, he is fumbling around with an engagement ring box. MAGGIE, 28, is clueless about what’s to come. They approach a bench.
Do you remember this bench, sweetie?
How could I forget! Our first kiss. And look! That same homeless man that was there that night.
A hundred feet away is BUDDY, 60s, a homeless man, who gives a cheery wave.
Has he lost weight?
All right, focus.
Maggie, we’ve been together for 5 years. And they’ve been the best 5 years of my life.
Really more like 4 and a half.
I was rounding up. Anyway, these last 4.562 years…
…have been amazing. And you are my world. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.
Maggie sees what is happening. She’s very excited but restrained. Roger gets down on one knee and grabs the ring from his pocket.
Margaret Ann Tompkins, will you…
Maggie is thrilled, beaming.
Roger is struggling, he is confused.
Will you…something me? Gosh darnit you know how it happens sometimes where I just cannot think of a word at all.
Roger I know what you’re trying to say…and the answer’s y–
Sweetie I will think of it, just let me think of it. This happened last week; I couldn’t remember what to call that weird thing you put over your head when its raining. You know a…a…gah!!
Maggie starts to get upset. Roger remains kneeling in front of her with the ring in his hand.
It has like a cane on the bottom and a circle of fabric on top…
What’s taking so long?
(starting to cry)
You can do it baby. I know you can.
Roger strains, until…eureka!
Will you umbrella me?
Yes, Roger, I would love to.
They kiss and embrace. Buddy cheers. It starts drizzling.
Looks like I should’ve brought my … marry!
Attention: Working, professional, up-and-coming and aspiring actors, Impact is hosting a casting call for the films that you see published in GT this week. Please bring a headshot and resume (if you have them) as well as a demo reel or any other professional video footage on a DVD (if you have it). If you don’t have professional acting materials, no worries, just come prepared. Scripts will be present at the auditions, or you can cut them out of the paper, or or download above. Here’s the information:
Date: Sunday, Oct. 30
Time: 1 to 5 p.m. (Must have a scheduled audition time.)
Place: Impact, 1414 Soquel Ave., Suite 102, Santa Cruz, 824-9660.
Bring: Headshot, resume, demo reel (if you have them).
Be: Prepared. Have your lines loosely memorized.
Wear: Clothing that fits the character.
Do: Call or email Deva Blaisdell-Anderson at Impact to secure an audition appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org or 831-824-9671.
Breakdowns: In the biz, “breakdowns” are the lists of characters needed for a script. Read these descriptions and see if there’s a character here that fits your type. If so, keep that in mind and when you arrive at the auditions, tell the casting people which role(s) you are auditioning for.
Jesus Freak: 20-40. Male. Can pull off geeky. Wears an outdated suit.
Young Woman: 20-35. Female. Modestly dressed. Mousy looking.
Jesus: 25-40. Male. Open to all looks and ethnicities.
Malcolm: 25-35. Male. A wanna-be professor type.
Lexi: 25-35, his girlfriend.
Tip of My Tongue
Roger: 25-35. Male.
Maggie: 25-35. Female.
Buddy: A homeless man in his sixties.
Going to the Movies
When the Santa Cruz Film Festival (SCFF) debuted 11 years ago, who would have known that it would make such a splash in town? So much so that audiences wait expectantly every year for the annual fest to open up in local cinemas and unleash a host of riveting narratives and documentaries. Not only that, but also since 2002, the festival estimates that it has brought $1 to $2 million into town each year.
One element of what makes the SCFF so compelling is its dedication to local filmmakers. Year after year, staff members, such as Director of Programming Julian Soler, make a point to highlight and feature the work of Santa Cruz County people whose films have made it in the festival.
So, when GT approached Soler and the President of the Board of Directors, Elizabeth Gummere, about having the three winning films debut at the 2012 SCFF, their team was on board. The three scripts, which will be made into short films by Impact, will be screened on Thursday, May 10, 2012, the opening night of the SCFF. For these writers’ work to be seen on the big screen, is quite an accomplishment. Local movie houses have seen the likes of Ray Manzarek, Neil Young, David Arquette and many others throughout the years that the fest has been around.
Every year, the festival brings in about 5,000 movie-goers, attendees and visiting filmmakers into Downtown Santa Cruz. Some of these are even distributors, Soler says, who often remain on the down low, but have been known to check out the films in rotation.
“Since the SCFF tends to focus on films and issues that are outside the mainstream, the success enjoyed by many of our filmmakers is that they get to continue making their work,” Soler says. “Being featured in festivals like the SCFF gives filmmakers leverage when seeking funding and support for future projects. It also provides a venue for challenging issues and stories to be told and appreciated.”
Making An Impact
The Impact Media Group was founded locally in 1976 by filmmaker Eric Thiermann. Since then, the company has grown from being a one-man show to a full 12-person staff of editors, directors and producers. These days, Impact has two offices—one in its long-held location in Santa Cruz on Soquel Avenue and another in the heart of San Francisco. The double residency solidifies the company as being a leader in media production in the Bay Area. It has created corporate videos for companies like Seagate Technology, Plantronics and Stride Gum, has provided support work for narrative feature films and continue to make documentaries. Thiermann was nominated for an Academy Award for his film In the Nuclear Shadow, in 1983, and in 1987, the documentary Women—for America, for the World, for which he was the principal cinematographer, won an Oscar that year.
Thiermann has long been known as an advocate for supporting the endeavors of locals and he was quick to agree to be a part of the Take One Screenwriting Contest. “They are going to look like a million dollars,” he says about the three winning scripts. “I’m really excited about doing these.”
His own roots hearken back to film school and an interest in making movies. And Impact has served as a training ground for some fine talent—Santa Cruz resident/filmmaker Cam Archer worked for quite some time at Thiermann’s production house, as did current USC graduate filmmaking student Jeremy Royce. Thiermann’s own son, Tobi Thiermann, is currently involved in shooting behind-the- scenes footage on Steven Spielberg’s film Lincoln.
“We are poised to do very high level production work,” Thiermann says of Impact. And some of that work will be seen on the big screen in Santa Cruz when the Santa Cruz Film Festival launches its 11th annual program and the opening night hosts the top three winners of this screenplay competition, with all movies created, produced, directed and edited by Thiermann and his team at Impact.
Call for Help
Impact will film the winning three scripts this fall and winter. Below is a list of items and volunteers needed to shoot the films. If you are interested in donating time, locations, your house, props, etc., please call or email Deva Blaisdell-Anderson at Impact at email@example.com or (831) 824-9671.
• 1970s suit
• Suburban house with a manicured yard
• Interior of an apartment with a breakfast nook and a bathtub
• Tweed jacket
• Encyclopedia Britannica series
• A bar—preferably someplace like 99 Bottles which has trivia night
• A large trophy
• White marker board
• Scrabble game
• Formal clothes for a couple out on the town
• A local park or a park-like setting on private property
• Outfit for a homeless man
• Makeup Artists
• Hair Stylists
• Wardrobe Stylists
• Restaurant/Grocery store food donations
Learn more at theimpactmediagroup.com.