With the Electric City Script Contest, Schenectady is shining not only for its lights but for its movie and television scripts.
The Schenectady Film Commision, which is dedicated to bolstering the film industry in the city, organized the contest and recently announced the winners in a ceremony at Renaissance Hall.
Although the competition began in Schenectady, people from across the country submitted entries. Some from industry insiders themselves and others from writers trying to break into the industry.
"I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of entries and national interest in our first-ever script competition, especially considering we were only open for submissions for an eight-week period. I'm excited to see what next year brings. We had the pleasure of reading some amazing stories, ones we could easily see appearing on the big screen, or being the next hit TV show. There were definitely some tough decisions to be made," said Donna Pennell, of the Schenectady Film Commission.
Contestants submitted TV pilot scripts or feature film screenplays, which were then reviewed by a panel of a dozen industry professionals in the Capital Region, New York City and Los Angeles. A total of 192 scripts were submitted from across the country (73 TV pilot scripts and 119 feature films). After several rounds of judging, the panel gave the $2,000 award for Best Feature Film to Mirella Nappi of Manhattan for “The Judith Kiss.” Karolyn Carnie of Los Angeles won the $1,000 award for Best TV Pilot for her drama “Sleeman.” Carnie works as a showrunner assistant on the hit TV series "Suits," which runs on USA Network.
Pennell said that Carnie's entry, among others, really demonstrated the level of talent that submitted to the contest.
Which makes Bobby Chase's third-place win even sweeter. Chase, a Mechanicville resident and the only local winner, wrote a feature film called “Knit Wits.” He's been writing scripts for the past 11 years and wrote "Welcome Home," a show featured on Amazon Prime and is currently working on an independent film called "Jacob."
Chase was surprised by the recognition, mostly because of the comedic nature of "Knit Wits."
"I was surprised because comedies usually don't do as well," Chase said. But the premise -- three estranged brothers are forced to take over a knitting business after a death in the family -- must have struck a chord with the panel of judges.
Other winners in the feature film category include Hope McPherson of Port Orchard Washington who won second place for her script “Dirty Politics.” Winners of the TV pilot category include: Tina Field Howe of Waverly, New York won second place for “Axis Prime,” and Laurie Ziel of New York City won third place for “Avenue B.”
Being second in the Electric City Contest isn't all that bad. For the feature film category, the second place winner was given a consultation with Professor Marilyn Horowitz, a professional author and feature film screenwriter. The second-place winner in the TV pilot category won a consultation session with Steve Douglas-Craig of The New Screenwriter of Los Angeles.
As a third-place winner, Chase will be given script analysis by the panel of judges, which he said can be helpful. Although "Knit Wits" is on the backburner because of his other film projects, the contest was a reminder of its potential and Chase said when other things wrap up he'll start to send the script out to a few production companies in the hopes that they might also see its potential.
Feature film category
- "Safe Surrender" by Eyal Alony, Los Angeles
- "This Perfect Union" by Jon & Tracy Cring, Troy
- "Black Velvet Nothing" by Amy Monaghan, Los Angeles
- "Odd Jobs" by James Lemke & Sal Fusco, Schenectady
- "Growing Forward" by Amanda Scott & Veronica Slattery, Warsaw, NY
TV pilot category
- "Mac" by Hudson Cooper, New York City
- "Bizzy & The Aime's by Benjamin Bode, Kalamazoo, Michigan
- "Leading Man" by Jermaine Wells, Schenectady
- "The Adventures of Plain Jane," by Jaye McBride, Brooklyn