Coverfly Inside Look: The LAUNCH Million Dollar Collegiate Screenplay Competition

By April 29, 2019 June 12th, 2019 Contests, Inside Look, Interview

The LAUNCH is a Million Dollar Screenplay Competition for college students with the mission to inspire the next generation of great screenwriters. The LAUNCH will enable one talented screenwriter to realize their dream by having their screenplay made by Hollywood producers as a feature film, with a budget of at least $1,000,000 USD. Plus, the top eight finalists will be awarded a total of $100,000 USD in education grants and other prizes.

Zachary Green is an entrepreneur, film producer and most importantly, one of the judges and brains behind The LAUNCH. He began his career at the prestigious William Morris Talent Agency in their infamous mailroom and has since had a successful career in brand storytelling, ranging from social media/marketing companies like House Party, to traditional promotional marketing firms like Equity/Pitch (Burger King) and Simon Marketing (McDonald’s, Toys R Us, Warner Bros. Paramount, Artisan Entertainment), to game-changing startups like internet incubator Idealab and others.

We recently had the opportunity to ask Zachary a few questions about The LAUNCH. See his answers below.

Coverfly: What does THE LAUNCH Million Dollar Screenplay Competition offer student screenwriters?

Zachary Green: The mission of The LAUNCH: Million Dollar Screenplay Competition is to find the next generation of amazing collegiate screenwriters from around the world. Through the screenplay competition, The LAUNCH awards $100,000 in education grants to the top eight screenplays, with the top three receiving an offer of representation with APA and Valor Entertainment, and the grand prize winner will have their screenplay produced as a feature film with a budget of approximately $1 million. The competition offers college students an amazing chance to break into the entertainment business.

CF: How did this screenwriting competition come about and who’s involved? 

ZG: Philanthropists Chuck and Marni Bond approached producers Jason Shuman and myself about starting a program to benefit college students in the arts. They wanted to help college students find a way to break into the entertainment business, while helping to offset some of the rising costs of attending school.  After a few different iterations, The LAUNCH: Million Dollar Screenplay Competition was born.

CF: Tell us a little bit about your first year’s winner Stanley Kalu and his screenplay, THE OBITUARY OF TUNDE JOHNSON.

ZG: Stanley Kalu is now 22 years of age, a senior at USC and a screenwriting major.  He is originally from Nigeria, now calls Kenya home and his winning screenplay The Obituary of Tunde Johnson was written his sophomore year and was the first screenplay he ever wrote.

The Obituary of Tunde Johnson is a gripping and emotional drama about a queer, wealthy black teenager stuck in an endless time loop of police brutality until he can come to terms with his sexuality and confront his current toxic relationship.  After reading it, Zachary and Jason knew they had found the perfect screenplay to select for the Grand Prize in the inaugural year of The LAUNCH Million Dollar Screenplay Competition.

CF: What’s one unique piece of advice you’d give to writers who enter your screenplay competition?

ZG: The biggest piece of advice I can give writers entering the competition, is to write about what you know and write from the heart.  The top three screenplays in last year’s competition were all deeply personal screenplays and from just about page one, you could feel each of the writers emotional journey on the page.  If you write about something you’re passionate about, something you’ve lived, something that has deeply affected you, it will come across on the page in ways that will engage the reader on a different level.

CF: What can writers do to be best prepared to capitalize on winning this contest?

ZG: I think the best thing writers can do to prepare themselves in the advent they win and/or place in the competitions is to prepare for a lot of work, collaboration, to have patience, be open to learn and enjoy the ride.  If your screenplay is chosen as the grand prize winning screenplay, you will have to strap in on the rocket ship.  Stanley was about to be a senior at USC when his screenplay was chosen as the winner and in less the three months, his film was in production and his life was changed.  His career was jumpstarted in the most amazing way, going to multiple meetings a week with production companies, other writers, studios, etc., all the while remaining humble and appreciative along the way.

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