The Black List, Cassian Elwes Pick Their Sundance Companion: Matthew Hickman (Exclusive)

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Hickman will travel to the festival as the first Cassian Elwes Independent Screenwriting Fellow

The Black List and producer Cassian Elwes have selected Matthew Hickman as the first Cassian Elwes Independent Screenwriting Fellow, they said on Wednesday. They will pay Hickman’s way to the Sundance Film Festival, where he will stay with them, go watch movies and meet people who can advance his career.

He will also be mentored by Elwes, an agent turned producer, financier and sales agent.

Hickman earned the fellowship based on his script “An Elegy for Evelyn Francis.”

“It’s a story about a girl who is uncertain about her place in the world,” Hickman told TheWrap. “Her mom just passed away and she sets off on a journey to set some of the things [her father] did 20-30 years ago right.”

Elwes described the script as “human and real” and credited it with creating “a character that actresses will want to play.”

Also read: Black List Unveiled: 72 of Hollywood’s Favorite Screenplays (Complete Rankings)

A Georgia native, Hickman came to Los Angeles to try and make it as a writer.

“I was raised pretty religious, and that fell away as I got older,” Hickman said. “I felt I needed something to believe in if I didn’t believe in God or Christianity.”

Hickman hasn’t made it yet. He still works at a UPS store and after a long day of work on Friday he slept though the first call to inform him he’d earned the fellowship. A second call came, and he noticed it was from an L.A. number. 

This fellowship, one of a few programs the Black List has conceived to aide aspiring writers, is a step in the right direction.

“I work at a regular job in retail,” Hickman said in a statement. “I don’t have contacts in the movie business. Despite this, I have always hoped that if I wrote stories, which were good enough, eventually I would find people who wanted to help me bring them to life.”

“It’s pretty surreal,” he added.