2009 Winners


GRAND PRIZE WINNER: SKIRT written by Chris Mason Johnson and Kate Stayman-London
LOGLINE: A romantic comedy and a political farce. Beautiful, sexy, smart Allie finds herself caught romantically between an older woman and a rakish young man when she goes to work for a fast-paced political campaign in Seattle.

ABOUT THE WRITERS: Chris Mason Johnson began his career as a dancer: he was a soloist with the Frankfurt Ballet in Germany, a member of the Feld Ballet and Lar Lubovitch Dance Companies, and performed alongside Mikhail Baryshnikov in the White Oak Dance Project. Chris then attended Amherst College where he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Film and Video studies. Chris hopes to direct Skirt, a comedy he co-wrote with delightful new writing partner Kate Stayman-London, sometime in 2010. He would love to direct for TV as well, and to continue writing for both film and TV.

Kate Stayman-London spent basically her whole life working in politics, but don’t hold that against her. She has a BA from Amherst College and is currently pursuing her MFA in screenwriting at USC. She hopes to write for film and television in the future, and still unapologetically believes that Hollywood can change the world.

LOGLINE: Based on the true story of Cynthia Morgan, a trucker from Arkansas who leaves her three children, whom she is unable to support, in order to earn money as a civilian driver in Iraq. She has to exist in a man’s world and helps fight for the rights of the drivers who are totally untrained to be driving through a war zone. Though she is a great driver and becomes a commander, when she reports her rape by an American Soldier, all hell breaks loose.

ABOUT THE WRITER: Growing up in a rural village behind the Iron Curtain, Eva Gardos never saw a motion picture or television. When she arrived in America as a Red Cross refugee to rejoin her family who had escaped to the West eight years earlier without her, she first heard Elvis, saw movies and felt the creative spark spurred by the conflicts of the era. Eva Gardos established a career in America as an award-winning film editor (Barfly, Mask, Bastard Out of Carolina), working with distinguished directors such as Hal Ashby, Francis Coppola, Barbet Schroeder and Anjelica Huston.

THIRD PLACE: BENAZIR by Muhammad Ali Hasan
LOGLINE: Embezzler. Manipulator. Murderer. Hero. The biopic story about Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

ABOUT THE WRITER: Muhammad Ali Hasan graduated with a Master’s in Film Directing from Chapman University in 2007. At this time, Hasan is actively developing BENAZIR, with plans to direct in 2011. Hasan is looking for an agent, as well as interested producing parties. At this time, the screenplay to BENAZIR has won three screenwriting awards, including Grand Prize Honors from Script Savvy and The Writers Place, as well as 2nd Place Honors from Creative Screenwriting Magazine’s AAA Competition. A former regular guest on CNBC’s The Dennis Miller Show and Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, Hasan ran for Colorado’s State House in 2008, gaining 47% of the total vote. An advanced snowboarder, Hasan would refer to his puppy dog, Deelya, as his first love and his snowboard as his second.


GRAND PRIZE WINNER: PAST DUE written by Wallaine Sarao
LOGLINE: Secrets tear three estranged Filipino families apart, but as they reluctantly work together to pick up the pieces, they find in each other something they never expected: family.

ABOUT THE WRITER: Wallaine Sarao graduated from USC with an MFA in Screenwriting in fall of 2006. Past Due is based on her own life and the secrets that tore her family apart. She has written an additional romantic comedy and a 1/2 hour pilot. Her short term goal as far as the film industry is concerned is to obtain representation, so her voice can be heard. Her long term goal consists of being able to do what she loves for a living: write films that make people laugh, films that make people cry, films that matter.

LOGLINE: Las Vegas, Nevada, 1959. A very small desert town, population 10,000, which holds the dishonorable distinction of being the last city in the Western states to desegregate. “Fabulous Las Vegas” is brought into a more realistic light through the eyes of seven-year-old Annie Takahashi.

ABOUT THE WRITER: For fifteen years, Lily Mariye had a regular role as nurse Lily Jarvik on the NBC television series ER, for which she has won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series four times. Born in Las Vegas, Nevada, she graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Theatre Arts. Recently named Filmmaker of the Year from NOW (National Organization for Women), Up and Coming Filmmaker of Color for Colorvision (PBS) and IFP Emerging Filmmaker, she was also a top 15% finalist for the Nicholls Fellowship, the Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, and the Roy W. Dean grant. Her goal as a writer is to continue to write compelling, emotional, moving, scary, funny screenplays and novels; to direct them; to make art and film that reaches a large audience.

THIRD PLACE: JONNIE THE BLACK by Curtis and Scott Burdick
LOGLINE: The exploits of a black gunfighter, captured as a child on the frontier and raised by Comanche, who goes on to a life of extraordinary adventures and accomplishment that culminates with President Kennedy honoring him at the White House on his hundredth birthday.

ABOUT THE WRITERS: Curtis Burdick is a professional writer, advertising creative director, and amateur historian, focusing on little known but significant aspects of black American history. Scott Burdick has published short stories and written and co-written numerous scripts. He’s attended Columbia College film school, as well as the American Academy of Art (on a full scholarship), is an accomplished fine artist and illustrator, and named one of the top ten young artists in the country. Combined credentials include Columbia Film School, DePaul University, American Academy of Art, and AFI screenwriting workshops and advertising industry awards. The writing team is passionate about breaking into the film industry through their writing. Scott’s ambition also includes directing, ideally, someday soon, one of their scripts.


Act Your Age – Lizbett Perez

After Twilight – Gary Watson, Richard Alvarez, Sandra Yates

Age Before Beauty – Doris B. Gill

The Babe – Donald Martin

Beyond Gold – Peter Shimamato

The Butcher of Beverly Hills – Jennifer Colt

Civil Blood – Shirley Kagan

The Confession – Jim Macak

Cougars on Three – Tanisha White

Easy on the Eyes – Sheri Davenport

Finding Velma – Elizabeth Savage Sullivan

Ghost Fish – Raven Sadhaka

GoGo – Phil Berger

Harvest Dance – Doug Van Bebber

Hi-Hat Hattie: The Story of Hattie McDaniel – Larry Parr

Identifying Marks – Cinthea Stahl

Infidelity Mutual – Don’Angelica Silva

Kamikaze Dolls – Nir Paniry

Kent State – Robert Tate Miller

Lady Jazz – Jean Hunter

Love Bait – Koji Steven Sakai

Mirror Called Mexico – Mark Sewards

Offsides- Jennifer DiOrio

One- Nancy Crane

Pippa’s Song – Diana Mitchell

Plastic Minnows – Carla Robinson

The Revolutionist – Shari MacDonald Strong

ShatterDance- Wendy Jane Henson

Simpler- Surita Palmer

Smoky Mountain Rescue – Fran Burst-Terranella

Stacy of Schaumburg – Heather Huntington & Megan Kellie

Standing Here Smiling – Don Santiago

Ten Days in a Madhouse – James Mathers

The Town Without Men – Gabriela Tagliavini

Yes, Paradiso – Norman Toy


Ballad of East LA – Gus Avila

Born to Pitch – Robyn Hatcher

The Bryce Lee Story – Dale Shuen

Buddy 4 Life – Maine Johnson

Corkscrew- Andrew Duncan

The Criminal – Kareem Bland

Continuum- Drew Planton

Crooked Lines – Samina Sami

Ethel Waters: His Eye Is On the Sparrow – Larry Parr

Every Time I Go To Staten Island Something Bad Happens… – Irin Evers

Heart of Honor – John Arends

Journal of a Dinka Boy – Jomo Merritt

Kheng Kheng Crocodile – Donna Lisa Rothstein

La Bandera – Tina Juarez

Love & Longing in LA – Roopinder Bhullar

Mayor’s Dance – Stan Nabors

Meadowlandz- Moon Molson

Minding Therapy – Ros Johnson

Mohave Junction – Marlene Shigekawa

No Running – Elizabeth Savage Sullivan

One Love – Maine Johnson

The Princess Concubine – Quan Lelan

Reign- Christopher Paul Meyer

Retaliation- Yasmin Shiraz

Shanghai Blood – Mark Niu

Stolen Sky – Dan Fabrizio

This Little Light of Mine – Benson McGrath

Time Out of Mind – Wendy Jane Henson

To A Dancing God – Robert Horvath

Wishland- Kevin Lasit

The Writ Writer – Michael Murphy

cynosure screenwriting awards