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MONTEREY, CA – The winners in the 8th annual Monterey County Film Commission’s “Hollywood Connection 2003 Screenwriting Contest”  were announced at the “Hollywood Connections Day” in Monterey on May 31, which was held at the Monterey Conference Center. The 2003 contest attracted 231 screenplay entries.


The top winner was Todd Stein of Watsonville, CA, for his screenplay, “Unbound.”   He received a $2,003 prize sponsored by Dean and Joanne Storkan.  


First Place:


Todd Stein – “Unbound”


Contact: 2013 Eureka Canyon Rd., Watsonville, CA 95076

Logline: A successful businessman’s life is turned inside out after meeting a mysterious stranger who predicts that he will kill someone…by the end of the



Bio:  Todd was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA.  After attending Boston University, he spent three years in the television industry, first as the assistant to television producer Norman Lear, and then as writer’s assistant during the inaugural season of  “The Simpsons.”  Dissatisfied with the direction his life was taking, Todd left the “industry” to pursue an M.A. in Contemplative Psychotherapy from the Naropa Institute in Boulder, CO, which he received in 1996.  For the past six years, Todd and his wife Lisa have been living and working at Pema Osel Ling, a Tibetan Buddhist Retreat Center in the Santa Cruz mountains, devoting their time and energy in helping to preserve the spiritual and cultural heritage of Tibetan Buddhism.  But the writing bug never fully left…in 2001 he wrote his first screenplay since film school, entitled, “Bloom.”  This was followed by “Unbound” in the fall of 2002. 


Second Place:


Justin Swingle --“White Shadows, Black Dreams”


Contact: P.O. Box 10663, Beverly Hills, CA 90213


Logline: This is the epic story of Madam C.J. Walker, the daughter of slaves who reinvents herself and ultimately becomes America’s first female self-made millionaire.  “White Shadows” is the classic story of triumphing over insurmountable odds to wealth, prosperity, leadership and independence.”


            Bio:  Justin’s first screenplay, “White Shadows, Black Dreams,” was recognized in first rough draft in the Nicholl Competition at the semifinalist level.  “White Shadows” was also winner of the American Cinema Foundation screenplay competition 2002, the judges of which are Academy members.  The screenplay has been recognized in more than 30 screenplay competitions around the country.  Justin’s work is broad in scope and genre and covers period drama, drama, comedy and supernatural thriller.  Justin divides his time between the Bay Area and Los Angeles.  His website:


Third Place:


            Rich Figel – “Inugami”

Contact::  801 Kainui Drive, Kailua, HI 96734-2025


Logline: A dead fortune teller.  A skeptical private eye.  An ancient Japanese curse.  The fear is real but the terror is all in your mind.  Think “Chinatown” with Shinto witchcraft and an “Angel Heart” type twist.


Bio:  Born in Japan, Rich grew up in New Jersey and lived in New York City before moving to Hawaii.  He’s been a newspaper reporter, advertising copywriter, marketing exec, commodities broker and real estate agent.  Drawing on his real life experiences and wide range of interests, Rich has written comedies, thrillers and horror scripts that have earned recognition in highly-regarded competitions such as the Nicholl Fellowships and Austin Film Festival.  He also won the Richard Levinson Scholarship given by the American Film Institute, to attend the AFI Television Writers Workshop program.  He is currently seeking an agent to help market his work.





($1,000 bonus prize to a top screenplay with 50% or more Monterey County locations sponsored by J.R. Rouse, realtor with Alain Pinel Realty)


Christine DeMaio -- “Blue Valley” (also Honorable Mention winner)

Contact: 5222 Lexington Ave. #8, Los Angeles, CA 90029

Logline:  In 1943 the War Commission and the USDA sends Will, an agricultural scientist, to Salinas to investigate a plant disease that could be Japanese eco-terrorism.  What he finds is Sara, a woman who can speak to the earth.  When the soil starts turning blue and killing crops, Will has to decide between science and his soul.





Terri Bradway – “Shoes” – Salinas, CA

Royce Buckingham – “Goblins” – Bellingham, WA

Kevin Delin – “Double Vision”—Arcadia, CA

Christine DeMaio – “Blue Valley” – Los Angeles, CA

Cecilia Gautschi – “Child, The Goat Lady” -- Placerville, CA

Adam Gittlin – “Storyteller” – New York, NY

Ryan Harris – “The Plantation”—Studio City, CA

Michael Kemp – “The Fire”—Santa Barbara, CA

Lawrence Vincent – “Bar Mitzvah Blues”—Issaquah, WA


All top three screenplay writers received judges’ critiques, Final Draft screenwriting software, and free tuition to the Monterey County Film Commission Hollywood Connections Day in Monterey, where they were able to make contact with several Hollywood film industry professionals. 


Key award sponsors of Screenwriting Day were Dean and Joanne Storkan; J.R. Rouse, realtor with Alain Pinel Realtors; “Final Draft” screenwriting software.  Other sponsors included the Monterey County Herald, Embassy Suites, The Inns of Monterey, the Monterey Conference Center, the City of Monterey, Rosine’s Restaurant, and the Monterey County Herald.


Judges for the Monterey County Film Commission’s screenwriting contest were Ron Mardigian (agent), Pamela Wallace (producer and Oscar-winning screenwriter of “Witness”), Madeline DiMaggio (screenwriting consultant), and Cari Esta Albert (producer, “The Truth About Cats and Dogs”).


For further information, contact the Monterey County Film Commission, 831-646-0910 (

This organization and event is supported in part by a grant from the Cultural Council for Monterey County through funding from the Monterey County Board of Supervisors.

Monterey County Film Commission Screenwriting Competition
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