$1 million screenwriting contest The Launch takes off again
In 2018, producers Jason Shuman (Lone Survivor) & Zachary Green (Spartan) teamed up to to initiate The Launch, a screenplay competition for college students unlike any other. Not only were eight finalists awarded $100 USD in grants and other prizes, but the grand prize winner had his film produced on a budget of roughly $1 million.
The first year’s recipient was Stanley Kalu, who scribed a “gripping and emotional drama” entitled The Obituary of Tunde Johnson. The project attracted the acting talents of Steven Silver (13 Reasons Why), Nicola Peltz (Transformers), and Spencer Neville (Ozark) with Primetime Emmy-Award winning director Ali LeRoi behind the camera.
You could very well be the next Stanley Kalu – The Launch is set to take off again in 2019. Powered through Coverfly, the biggest directory for script submissions, this contest is a golden opportunity for any aspiring screenwriter to share his or her voice, ideas, and stories with the world. In a previously published interview, we caught up with Zach & Jason to find out more about this exciting initiative.
“For us, The Launch is really about giving back and trying to help the next generation of screenwriters get some success within the business,” described Zach. “We could’ve opened the competition up to everybody in the world, but for us and for the philanthropists who are helping us with this endeavor, it was important to focus strictly on the college kids.”
The Launch is once again open to college students from around the world enrolled in an accredited two- or four-year college/university graduate program. For any students interested in getting involved, submissions will be accepted from February 1 through April 30 on the official The Launch website.
Speaking on the lengthy screenplay submission period, Jason explained: “We’re trying to spread the word so that no eligible male or female college student doesn’t know about this opportunity. We made the submission period three months so that if any of the scripts are being written right now, the writers have a good few months to submit their work.”
Last year, The Launch partnered up with leading screenwriting consultancy and competition platform ScreenCraft, which used its technology to help process the scripts. “Although the technology will categorize them,” added Zach, “for all the scripts that are coming through in the last month, which is usually the busiest month, all the screening will take place in June and July.
“Throughout that process, there will be a quarterfinal, a semifinal, a finalist, and then we’ll announce the winners. So by the time the scripts come to the judging panel, Jason, and me, each script will be read four times and judged four times to ensure that the cream rises to the top.
“The judging panel along with us will be reading the top 25 scripts and then going through those in meticulous detail to figure out who the winners are” before being announced on or around July 8.
When discussing how their backgrounds in filmmaking helped shape the birth of The Launch, Jason – who has been involved in the production of numerous films including The Messengers and Bangkok Dangerous – described:
“I went to film school at USC, which is how I know how difficult it can be to make that transition from student life into the world of Hollywood. So that’s really the backbone of my motivation and inspiration to start The Launch – to help guide as many people as possible through that transition.”
Meanwhile, Zach started off his career with William Morris Endeavor. “I knew I always loved movies and it was an amazing experience, but it taught me that I wanted to do something else rather than be an agent. It wasn’t until around 2010-11 that I got back in touch with Jason, when we not only rekindled our friendship, but also our business relationship, which is how we got to where we are with The Launch.”
Both Zach and Jason expressed excitement over the level of enthusiasm The Launch has received from student writers so far:
“It’s really exciting to launch this year’s version of the endeavor, and if we get the level of quality scripts that we think are going to and we find the one that we’re super excited about producing, hopefully we can get into film festivals and get someone interested in buying it.
“Looking to the future, we hope to continue The Launch. It would be wonderful to keep helping those budding student screenplay writers get into the business.”