American Gem 2007 Short Screenplay Competition Winners - THE BLACK UMBRELLA
  American Gem Short Screenplay Competition
2007 WINNERS  

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Daniel Maree

Third Place Winner

Daniel Maree
of Washington, DC
Political Thriller

Daniel Maree is a senior at American University majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies: History, Philosophy, and Film. Maree was born in Brynmawr, Pennsylvania and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, which he considers home. After graduating, Maree plans to pursue a career in screenwriting and entertainment management/production. 


I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter.......  

After reading a copy of ICG (International Cinematographer’s Guild) Magazine featuring Denzel Washington and Spike Lee who were shooting Inside Man at the time. Don’t ask me why, but right after reading it I called my academic advisor and told her I was changing my major to film. I still have that magazine...stole it from work.

I know I've succeeded.......  

Because I’m doing what I love…and I’m starting to get paid for it.

My inspiration to write THE BLACK UMBRELLA.......

Came from a desire to raise awareness about Extraordinary Rendition, in general, and the case of Khalid El-Masri, in particular. While writing I was also extremely inspired by a remix of a song called “Tomorrow”, which was produced by my friends Osama and Amin Hussein of NA2O ( It’s such a powerful track…it helped me envision the darkness of Tarif’s world.




FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Daniel Maree: Life.

FilmMakers Magazine: How did you prepare yourself to write your first script? 

Daniel Maree: I studied Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Good Will Hunting script and watched a lot of Charlie Rose. Don’t ask me why Charlie Rose.

FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to write THE BLACK UMBRELLA?

Daniel Maree: It’s not my first screenplay, although it is my first short script. I wrote the first draft over the course of two weeks or so. And it took about a month to get from first draft to final draft.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?

Daniel Maree: The only time I can write is late at night, in the dark. But scenes and dialogue will come to me at anytime and anyplace. Music is my biggest inspiration, so I’ll play a song over and over again until a particular scene or sequence is just right.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?

Daniel Maree: Yes! And we need more of them in order to provide more opportunities for the unrepresented talent out there. Denzel Washington once said, “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.” Many young screenwriters are prepared to succeed, but they simply don’t have the opportunity to do so.

FilmMakers Magazine:
What influenced you to enter the American Gem Short Script Competition?

Daniel Maree: Matthew McNevin, a screenwriting professor and good friend of mine at American University. Professor McNevin was instrumental in The Black Umbrella’s success in that he was nice enough to read several drafts of the screenplay and offered excellent feedback with every rewrite.

FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?

Daniel Maree: As far as features are concerned, read Charlie Kauffman’s Adaptation. It’s the most authentic script I’ve ever read. When you read it, you can see the film exactly how it appears on screen…it has this amazing aura.

FilmMakers Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?

Daniel Maree: History, philosophy, politics, and music; I believe they’re all part of the same puzzle that is life.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Daniel Maree: I have several favorites: Aaron Sorkin for is political genius; Oliver Stone for is historical genius; Charlie Kauffman for his philosophical genius; and Woody Allen for his comedic genius.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with and why?

Daniel Maree: Name the director you would love to work with and why?

Oliver Stone and Raul Peck. Because of their prowess in dealing with complicated historical and political material.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and why?

Daniel Maree:
Don Cheadle. Because he’s an excellent character actor…and I have the perfect character for him.

FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?

Daniel Maree: Everything is political. If it’s not political in some way, it’s not worth reading.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Daniel Maree:
A script based on the life of my father, Olympic middle-distance runner and anti-Apartheid activist, Sydney Maree.

FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from now?

Daniel Maree:
There’s really no telling. I’m still trying to find my niche in the entertainment industry. It could be film, it could TV, or it could be music. All I know is where I’d like to be: on location with Don Cheadle and one of my favorite directors.


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