CA+S Welcomes Selma Producer Paul Garnes

Paul Garnes (BA ’96), Alumni Relations Executive Director Miriam Smith, and Cinema Arts + Science Associate Chair Joe Steiff (Photo by Amanda Clayton)
Cinema Art + Science welcomes Selma Executive Producer Paul Garnes to connect with students at the 2015 Written Image Award Ceremony.

Executive Producer of Selma and Cinema Art + Science (CA+S) alumnus Paul Garnes (BA ’96) attended the 15th annual Written Image Screenwriting Prize Award Ceremony last Wednesday, Nov. 18. Garnes was the featured speaker for the evening where he screened his film Selma, nominated for four Golden Globes and based on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s three historic marches in Selma, Alabama. 

The award recognizes at least 12 students each year, issuing $3000 in cash prizes, plus a one-on-one Professional Writer Mentorship valued at $1000 for the first place winner in the Student Feature category. Current students submit either their feature-length scripts or shorts while alumni submit their feature-length scripts. All entries that place in the contest receive a copy of Final Draft, a screenwriting program that allows users to format their stories while tracking development and production cues. The competition is open to both graduate and undergraduate students.

Prior to the awards ceremony, Garnes visited with graduate students from Associate Chair Joe Steiff’s Cinema Studies 1 MFA course and discussed the challenges of adapting historical events for film.

“It was an amazing experience for the graduate students,” says Steiff, who is also a principle organizer of the contest. “Paul discussed the challenges of making a film about Dr. Martin Luther King, the behind-the-scenes work, how you take a real person and real set of events that are very complex and make a film about them that is true as possible to them.”

Garnes’ visit was bolstered by a partnership with Alumni Relations, which helped coordinate and organize his visits while on campus. The award, long organized by CA+S, continues to provide an opportunity to support emerging screenwriting students and alumni by providing them with an approachable competition. 

“The whole purpose of the award is to support screenwriting students and alumni and to focus on amateur screenwriters by providing them with an opportunity to get their script out there and get some feedback,” says Justin Haden, Cinema Art + Science facility coordinator and another organizer of the event.

“Paul’s Speech was brilliant. I really wish more people had been there because his words certainly spoke to me,” Haden says.

Steiff, Hayden, Senior Lecturer Susan Mroz, Alumni Relations Executive Director Miriam Smith and Alumni Relations Manager of Special Events Amanda Clayton worked together to coordinate and organize the event. 

This year’s winners include:


Student Feature

1st Place – Kallie Tenney (BA ’15) for Scout

2nd Place – Mathew Grodsky (’16) for False Flag

3rd Place – Warner Nieborg (’18) for Blood, Wine, and Bleach

Honorable Mention – Will Barboza (’16) for Glass Slippers and Legal Fees


Student Short

1st Place – Maxwell Raimi (’17) for My Village Bells

2nd Place – Jerrod Howe (’16) for 973

3rd Place – Hailey McNamara (’16) for The Birthmark

Honorable Mention – Sean Duffy (’16) for USE


Alumni Feature


1st Place – Kevin Pohl (BA ’11) for Boomerang

2nd Place – Maria Abraham (MFA ’12) for Girl with Child

3rd Place – Maria Gigante (MFA ’07) for Finding Sam Brown

Honorable Mention – Tom Radovich (BA ’11) for Mortis