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FINALISTS 2021 Screenplay Competition

30 Jun 2021 5:08 PM | Anonymous

These three members created Screenplays that not only showed a deep sense of professionalism in the writing community, but created a ten page screenplay that followed along the lines of survival in today’s society.  The Winner of this competition was Erin M. Underwood with her script called The Funeral, along with First Runner Up, Sally Thitu Muiruri with 15 Years Later and Second Runner Up, Alessandra Bautze with The Impediment. 


Erin is an editor, writing and reviewer who specializes in science fiction and fantasy.  She is the editor of Greek Theater: 15 Plays by Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers, The Grimm Future, Futuredaze: An Anthology of YA Science Fiction and Futuredaze 2: Reprise. Erin is also a two-time nominee for the Fanzine Hugo Award for her editing work on Journey Planet. In addition, she is also an event content producer for emerging technology conferences and events. 

To learn more about her future aspirations and the ideas behind writing the winning script, read below: 

What are your current aspirations for the future with screenwriting?

Movies, film, and cinema have always been a creative draw for me. I think very visually in my storytelling and have found that screenwriting is particularly well suited to how I think about and tell stories. I am currently working on the final draft of a feature length film and will then turn to developing a new idea. Writing screenplays is deeply satisfying from a creative perspective, and I plan to continue writing with the intention of selling my work to production companies that would like to bring my stories to life.

How did you relate to the theme of survival?

The theme of survival has been on my mind a lot recently. The number of people who have lost their loved ones in the pandemic and who have had to find ways to continue living in the wake of their pain and trauma has become a constant reminder of the pain I still feel at having lost my mother to cancer several years ago. Survival is a constant. It’s the continuing need to figure out how to navigate pain, death, love, and living while also searching for our own path forward. In many ways, The Funeral was an expression of the pain and joy that I struggle with even now as I remember my mother and feel her loss. Survival is also about letting ourselves experience moments of unexpected joy.

How did the theme of survival manifest in your screenplay?

Survival isn’t just about living, it’s also about being left behind and how to manage the devastating loss of a loved one, especially a parent. The Funeral tells the story of Máiréad’s path to survival after having lost her mother and how she confronts her grief. Her survival comes in steps and stages, some of which she must take alone while others require those who love her to join her on the path. 


Sally Thitu Muiruri has written and directed her first solo film, BLACK RED N GREEN - a feature-length documentary analyzing togetherness among Kenyans living in Massachusetts. Sally is an enthusiastic filmmaker and continues to tell African stories that seek to contribute or initiate conversations about various social, and socio economic issues in the black community.

In the past, Sally has directed and produced three short student films: First Day in College, Pitching and Kare in America. 


Our second runner up is a native Arlington, Massachusetts citizen.  Alessandra Bautze is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Screenwriting at The University of Iowa.  She holds an M.F.A. in Screenwriting from the University of Texas Austin and a B.A. in The Writing Seminars & Film Media Studies from Johns Hopkins University.

Alessandra’s feature screenplays, short scripts, and television pilots have garnered numerous awards. Her work often tackles diverse issues of social import and features characters that reflect the diversity of the American experience.

Her screenplay SAVING SHENANDOAH, a drama about a teenage girl in foster care who goes to great lengths to protect her late foster mother’s young biological daughter, was among the top three winning screenplays in the New Hampshire Film Festival Screenplay Competition. A live reading of the script took place in Seattle in April 2017 in conjunction with the Seattle International Film Festival. 

She has also taught screenwriting at The University of Texas at Austin, at The University of New Hampshire at Manchester, and through Baltimore Youth Film Arts. She believes in the power of language to connect communities.

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