Judging the AU VISIONS Short Screenplay Competition

Recently, I had the opportunity to be a judge for the American University VISIONS Short Screenplay Competition.

As an AU grad myself, I was glad to help out. VISIONS is an annual competition that seeks the best in documentary, fiction, digital/new media production, screenwriting and photography from AU students and recent alumni. The theme for this year was, “Media That Matters.”

Joining me in the judging the short screenplay portion of VISIONS were Jon Gann (DC Shorts) and Sheri Ratick Stroud (Women in Film and Video). We read more than 30 scripts, ranging in length from ten to 40 pages. Every script was reviewed by all three of us. We judged the scripts on the following criteria:

  • Originality of Premise
  • Visual Originality
  • Story
  • Dramatic Structure
  • Characterization
  • Dialogue
  • Style/Format
  • The screenplay fits within the theme “Making Media Matter”

liberty road screenshot

We selected Liberty Road by Jason Fraley as the winner. Set at a crab shack on the Eastern Shore, it’s a timely story about people on the margins of life. With its depiction of the economic struggles of ordinary folks, it fit in well with the “media that matters” theme. I liked the strong characterization in the script – these were real people – as well as the dialogue, which was punchy and original.

I was glad to give back to my alma mater, as well as help out the “AU mafia” of filmmakers, several of whom have been finalists in DC Shorts. It makes this International Relations major happy to see AU students doing something fun and creative.

Author Friend: Allison Silberberg

My friend Allison Silberberg has written an inspiring new book, Visionaries in our Midst: Ordinary People who are Changing our World.

I first met Allison more than ten years ago. She used to run the FilmBiz Happy Hour, a monthly meetup of aspiring filmmakers in Washington, DC. Held at the former Biddy Mulligans, these fun events attracted a diverse crowd of writers, actors, directors, voice artists and others. What made them different was that every month, Allison selected a charity to benefit from the happy hour. The charity collected the admission fees and also got to speak about the work that they were performing in the community. Allison brought a real passion to finding deserving organizations. She researched them, talked to their leaders and vetted them – they had her stamp of approval and meant a lot to her on a personal level.

So, it wasn’t surprising to me that she wrote Visionaries in our Midst: Ordinary People who are Changing our World. The book profiles amazing people working in the shadow of our nation’s capitol finding innovating and expansive ways to serve the citizenry and, in particular, the most vulnerable among us. And she got a quote from Studs Turkel!

“This is a book of wonders–and hope. It tells us of extraordinary things `ordinary’ people can do.”

What’s impressed me over the years is Allison’s compassion. I remember discussing with her the hopeless case of DC’s public schools. Hopeless from my perspective. She believed that positive change was possible.

Allison is speaking at her (and my) alma mater, American University. Here’s the info:

Book Talk and Signing with Allison Silberberg
Visionaries in our Midst: Ordinary People who are Changing our World
Wednesday, April 6
7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
School of International Service – Room 300

Admission is complimentary, but please RSVP online.

Contact Judy Donner, 202-885-1616 for more information.

Parking is free after 5p.m. in the SIS garage – entrance on Nebraska Ave. at intersection with New Mexico Ave.