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Local screenwriters in the spotlight at CSN awards

September 11, 2012|By Steven Chaitman | For RedEye

Chicago will roll out its red carpet Wednesday night for local and Midwest screenwriters when the Chicago Screenwriters Network hosts its fourth annual CSN Awards on Wednesday night at the Mayne Stage in Rogers Park (1328 W. Morse Avenue).

The event, which is open to the public, will award one lucky area screenwriter a four-day trip to L.A. to meet with Hollywood execs about their screenplay.

In addition to highlighting some of the very best writing for film happening in the Midwest, the evening will feature numerous guests of both local and national prominence including Jeff Award winner Tony Fitzpatrick and Chicago filmmaker Andrew Davis, director of "The Fugitive" and "Holes."

CSN will award Davis its first ever Founders' Award. He will also screen his new documentary short at the event, "The Making of Stony Island, Music Makes Us One," a tribute of sorts to the history of Chicago's South Side music scene.

But CSN's screenwriting contest is the centerpiece of the evening. The five finalists will have scenes from their scripts performed by local actors throughout the night before the grand-prize winner is announced.

"As writers we're trying to get our work produced and shot and this is a steppingstone for writers to be able to get exposure," said Linda Frothingham, CSN's vice president of events.

More than 150 screenplays from Chicago and the Midwest were submitted for the contest. Approximately 20 readers were screened by the CSN and paid to judge the scripts, and the five highest scores were deemed finalists.

This year's finalists are Jason Doty ("Deprivation"), Alejandrina Perez ("A Whimsy Dreary"), Tracy Ryan ("The Alliance"), Robert Everson ("Where Vengeance Waits") and Brian Welch ("The Giants of Elmfield Road"). The final five scripts were read and evaluated by four Hollywood script readers, and the results will be used to determine the winner.

Rick Watkins, the CSN vice president of contest, said the idea to award the trip to meet with the CSN's Hollywood contacts came about with careful consideration for how the organization could best serve Midwest writers.

"We looked at what could we do to help writers in the Chicagoland area move forward professionally, to give a leg up to Midwest writers that the L.A. writers already have," Watkins said. "The majority of us, we want to be professional writers, we want to see our movies made. Eventually, you gotta go through Hollywood."

Watkins said attendees also stand to benefit from attending the event in terms of networking.

"We have some Hollywood people here who are very open, very honest, good people to talk to and get to know," he said. "So it'll not only be a night of entertainment, but a night where any writers or individuals who happen to be here can make some contacts that may help further their career."

The CSN Awards begin at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, with the doors opening at 5:30. Tickets are $20 for members, $25 for non-members, and are available at csnawards.eventbrite.com.

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