2014 SCREENWRITING LAB FELLOWS
Sheila Sawhny & Dee Johnson
“The Third Sex” Based on a true story, an American transsexual woman, who yearns for a sense of belonging, travels to India where she is enchanted by the age-old society of Hijras – a colorful and provocative third sex. Neither man nor woman, they embrace her as one of their own but the journey takes an unexpected turn when she gets caught in the swift tide of a fierce turf war.
Sheila and Dee spent several years researching and writing “The Third Sex”, a Slamdance award-winning screenplay. An official selection of the Plume et Pellicule International Screenwriting Lab, the project is also in development.
Sheila Sawhny (writer/producer) Raised in Mumbai, by way of Northern Ireland, Sheila emigrated to New York City at age thirteen. With over twenty years experience as an actor, she has worked in NY, LA and Europe. She wrote and starred in All Right Man at The Hudson Avenue Theatre LA. She is the writer/director of No Tell Motel which premiered at Studio Stage LA. The film adaptation is in pre-production.
Dee Johnson (writer/producer) has written and produced for such acclaimed television series as “Nashville,” “Boss,” “E.R.,” ”Commander in Chief” and “The Good Wife.” She has been nominated for an Emmy Award, a WGA Award and the Humanitas Prize.
“Stay” When same-sex couple Fiona and Quinn attempt to get a divorce from the state that married them, they discover that they must legally become residents of that state for a year, forcing them back under one roof and facing the fact that love is just as complicated as the laws governing it.
A graduate of the Journalism program at Emerson College, Andrea completed her MFA in Directing at The American Film Institute.
Andrea’s projects have garnered acclaim from festivals and notable mentors such as Rodrigo Garcia, Gill Dennis and Graeme Clifford. A recipient of an AFI scholarship, she was awarded a Fuji Filmmaker Award for her script, “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves.” The film premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and stars Amanda Seyfried and Annie Quinn. Gypsies received the Jury Prize at the Palm Springs International Shorts Festival, got a wink in Creative Screenwriting Magazine, and IndieWire named the film one of the Top Ten Outstanding Shorts at Outfest.
Andrea’s writing career began when she was a fellow in the Film Independent Screenwriters Lab for the project, “Beds & Graves.” That year she was also commissioned to write a sci-fi script for the American Visions Initiative with ITVS, and was a semi-finalist for the WB Writing Workshop with her FRINGE spec.
In 2010, Andrea’s feature script “Faded Giant,” co-written with Justine Cogan, was chosen to participate in the Tribeca Film Festival’s All Access program, and in 2012, their romantic comedy, Holly’s Holiday, aired on Lifetime.
In 2013, Andrea was a finalist for the AMC Award at the Austin Film Festival for her one-hour pilot, “At the Foot of the Mountain.”
“Followers” When Lynn’s husband of 30 years disappears on a mysterious vacation, her devout faith begins to dwindle, until she experiences an unlikely apparition of God on Rudi, her granddaughter’s attractive young swimming coach. As Rudi’s own life unravels, the victim of a life motivation cult and a cruel breakup by his boyfriend, he and Lynn embark on a bizarre quest to understand what God is trying to tell them, in hopes for an easy answer to their messy lives.
Tim was born with an asymmetrical brain. He’s spent his whole life curious about how we search endlessly for symmetry we’ll never quite find.
Originating from Brisbane Australia, Tim made his first short film Lamb Island through the Raw Nerve program awarding funding to emerging filmmakers. Following this, Tim obtained a Masters in Film from the Victorian College of the Arts. It was here he conceived his next short ‘Battlefield’, a brave and personal film that resonated with audiences around the globe and has recently garnered a strong following online.
For Tim’s next short, he delved into life’s unanswerable questions – the answer he came up with: Gorilla. Tim’s most daring short film, Gorilla had its premiere at Palm Springs International Short Film Festival and went on to win the prestigious Iris Prize in the UK, awarding him £25,000 for his next short film.
Tim is also the co-curator of a unique filmmaking program, ‘The Weight of Mountains’, which provides filmmakers the chance to immerse themselves in isolated environments to reconnect with their creative process. It was recently held in a fishing village in Northern Iceland over the winter months, with the next program taking place in Morocco at the edge of the Sahara desert.
Tim is also filming an online series, “Torso,” which aims to break down stereotypes within the online gay community. The series is also being developed as an interactive video installation.
More information: www.asymmetryfilm.com
Tom Gustafson & Cory James Krueckeberg
“Harvard Secret Court” Based on 600 long-lost documents in the Harvard Archives: Cyril Wilcox’s suicide sparks a witch-hunt forcing his band of gay undergrad friends to fight for their honor against the puritanical hypocrisy of 1920 Harvard.
As SPEAKproductions, Cory Krueckeberg and Tom Gustafson’s films have won over 45 awards and been screened at over 200 film festivals around the world including the Tribeca Film Festival, Outfest, Nashville, Cinequest, Chicago Int’l, Florida, Taipei Golden Horse, Dublin Int’l, Vail, Jecheon, Montreal World, Provincetown Int’l, Atlantic, Rhode Island Int’l, Woodstock, and Frameline.
Their feature debut, the celebrated musical fantasy, Were the World Mine, played 140 festivals and opened theatrically in 30 cities becoming a cult indie hit. Stephen Holden of the New York Times chose it as “Critics’ Pick” calling it “Movie Musical Magic.” It can be seen on Logo, is available on VOD and DVD worldwide and the soundtrack is on PS Classics.
Their second feature, Mariachi Gringo (with Mexican star Martha Higareda, Shawn Ashmore, Grammy Winner Lila Downs and Oscar Nominee Adriana Barraza), premiered as the Opening Night film at the Miami Int’l Film Festival and won the top prize at Latin America’s premiere film festival in Guadalajara. It was released in 150 theatres across Mexico and the USA, is currently on HBO and the soundtrack is available on Sony. About it, the New York Times proclaimed, “¡Hurra! Mariachi Gringo is right on pitch.”
Their most recent film, the no-budget doc/ narrative hybrid, Getting Go, was screened alongside all of their work at the 37th Cleveland Int’l Film Festival as Cory and Tom were honored as “Someone to Watch.”
SPEAK currently has numerous projects in development including an adaptation of a celebrated Off-Broadway musical and a historical drama based on Harvard’s 1920 Secret Court incident.
Cory has a BFA from the University of Illinois, is a member of Actor’s Equity Association and once upon a time made a living acting on stages all across the country. Tom graduated from Northwestern University and sometimes moonlights as location casting director on blockbusters including Pirates of the Caribbean II & III, The Dark Knight, Man of Steel and Gone Girl.
“Three Months” After being exposed to HIV the weekend of his high school graduation in 2011, a punk gay teenager from Miami must survive the three months it takes to get tested for the disease.
Jared Frieder graduated with honors from Columbia University’s undergraduate writing program. His fiction has been published in The Newer York and the Writer’s Bloq Quarterly No.1. He currently works on Seth Meyers’ animated show, “The Awesomes.” In the fall, Jared will be attending USC’s Writing for Film and Television MFA on the Frank Volpe Endowed Scholarship.
2014 Screenwriting Lab Mentors are:
Brian Dannelly (Saved!, Struck By Lightning)
Don Roos (Boys on the Side, Bounce, Web Therapy)
Rose Troche (Go Fish, The Safety of Objects, Concussion)
Guinevere Turner (Go Fish, American Psycho)
Barry Sandler (Making Love)
The following special guests will visit the fellows:
Michele Mulroney (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Paper Man) David Newman and Keith Merryman ( Think Like a Man, Friends with Benefits)
Sandy Weinberg of Summit Talent Agency
Special support provided by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.