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TCF department announces scriptwriting contest winners

Austin Frederick

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The telecommunication and film department recently held its annual scriptwriting contest, with the winner earning the opportunity to work with award-winning Hollywood director Tom Cherones and $5,000.

Cherones, a University of Alabama graduate known for directing the comedy TV show “Seinfield,” has been teaching a film class at the University for the past 12 years. During his class, Cherones helps produce one student’s script.

The contest, held annually in the fall, is open ended. The only rules are that the film must be 20 to 30 minutes in length and a comedy or a drama.

This year, an alumnus donated cash prizes for the top three scripts.

“He not only wanted to encourage student writing,” TCF Chairwoman Glenda Cantrell-Williams said, “but he also wanted to encourage student creativity.”

(See also “Director of ‘Seinfeld’ episodes to teach spring TCF production class“)

The cash prize generated twice as many submissions as last year and is planned to continue in the coming years.

Cherones, who has done the contest for nine years, challenges his students in the four weeks he is here.

“The students who take the class say it is one of the most challenging and one of the most rewarding classes, mostly because he doesn’t treat them like students,” Cantrell-Williams said. “In the four weeks he teaches the class, the class is like an actual production team. It’s very challenging, but the students learn so much from being thrown into this pressure-cooker atmosphere. It’s been a very successful class for us.”

The winner of the contest this year was Brittany Walton, a senior majoring in telecommunication and film, for her script “The Unthinkable,” a movie about a black girl named Brenda who comes to The University of Alabama a year after its integration. Walton will be one of the students in Cherones’ class.

(See also “TCF class gives students the opportunity to network, see behind the scenes“)

“I think that I am most excited to just observe him and to learn from him [and] to actually be taught by someone who has had first-hand experience at the top level,” Walton said. “I want to learn everything he knows about directing and every aspect of the industry.”

The runner-up was Rachel Giles, who received the second-place prize of $2,500 for her script “Wishful Thinking.” The third place winner, who received $1,000, was Thomas Kennemer, for “A Day in the Life of Willie.”

“It’s about a humble University of Alabama janitor who goes about his day unknowingly affecting the lives others while dealing with his own struggles,” Kennemer said. “My intent was to write a thought-provoking movie of how we all live our lives.”

Kennemer’s script will be the one Cherones’ class will produce and will be shown in April.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to work with someone of [Cherones’] status. I’m excited and anxious to see what I have written come to life,” Kennemer said.

 (See also “TCF students create TV show pilot“)

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TCF department announces scriptwriting contest winners