Producer Cassian Elwes and Black List founder Franklin Leonard have launched the second year of the Cassian Elwes Independent Screenwriting Fellowship, which is awarded to one unrepresented writer whose lifetime writing earnings have not exceeded $5,000.
The writer’s screenplay must feature an indie sensibility in order for them to win an all-expense paid trip to the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and mentorship from Elwes himself.
Inaugural fellow Matthew Hickman was a retail employee at the UPS store in Santa Monica when he was selected on the basis of his script “An Elegy for Evelyn Francis.” He’s now represented by Circle of Confusion.
“Winning the fellowship last year changed my life and attending Sundance was only the top of the iceberg. I now have representation and a writing deal, not to mention a script that Cassian himself is producing. I also know of several other finalists whose scripts he has optioned. The opportunity accomplishes very concretely what the Black List originally set out to do: level the playing field so that anyone with a good script has got a chance,” said Hickman.
“I am so grateful to the Black List for their incredible work in finding last year’s fellow and the quality of all of the scripts I read. I was so happy with my experience with Matthew at Sundance last year. He now has a manager and a deal to write a new script. We have become friends, and I’m going to make the movie of ‘Elegy for Evelyn Francis.’ I couldn’t be more excited to continue this Fellowship and look forward to meeting its next recipient,” said Elwes.
“Suffice it to say that Matthew was an ideal first recipient of this extraordinary opportunity from Cassian and the prospect of someone else finding similar success in this way has us even more excited for the Sundance Film Festival than we already are, which is remarkable,” added Leonard.
For this year’s fellowship, writers with scripts on the Black List or who have had scripts on the site since its launch will be able to opt into consideration for the opportunity until Nov. 7, 2014, at which time a short list of writers will be shared with Elwes, who will decide on one writer to make the trip.
Elwes previously headed William Morris Independent for 15 years, during which time he arranged financing for 283 films including Oscar nominees “Sling Blade,” “The Apostle” and “Monster’s Ball.” Since leaving
William Morris Independent four years ago, Elwes has been involved in arranging financing and distribution for 30 films including “Lawless,” “The Paperboy” and “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.” Elwes also produced “Lee Daniels‘ The Butler” and executive produced “Dallas Buyers Club” and “All Is Lost.”
Described as “Google for screenplays,” The Black List is an online community where moviemakers find scripts to make and writers to write them and screenwriters find moviemakers to make their scripts and employ them.
Launched in 2005 as an annual survey of several dozen executives favorite unproduced screenplays, the Black List has grown to survey over 500 executives each year. Over 250 Black List scripts have been produced into films grossing over $16 billion in worldwide box office. Black List scripts have won 30 Academy Awards — including three of the last five Best Picture winners and seven of the last 12 screenwriting award winners.
In October 2012, the Black List launched an online database of every screenplay circulating Hollywood and all those submitted by English language screenwriters from around the world. Since its launch, it has hosted more than 7,500 screenplays and completed more than 10,000 script evaluations. More than 40 writers have found representation at major agencies and management companies and more than 20 writers have sold their screenplays as a direct result of introductions made via the site.
At any given moment, more than 1600 screenplays are actively hosted for perusal by over 2000 film industry professionals ranging from agency assistants to studio chairs.