Columbia University School of the Arts Film Program Announces 2016 Blue List Winners

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27-Jun-16
The Columbia University School of the Arts graduate Film Program proudly announces the 2016 Columbia Blue List. Now in its third year of connecting talented alumni with the professional film world, this list represents the finest unproduced screenplays and television pilots written by recent graduates of the Program, as selected by a dynamic panel of esteemed film industry professionals. This year, the Blue List is proud to announce that it is partnering with its inspiration, The Black List, Hollywood's prestigious annual list of the best un-produced screenplays.

“The proliferation of colored lists in support of up-and-coming writers is probably the greatest honor the Black List has yet received. It's only natural that we make the scripts available to industry professionals for free for a limited time via the Black List website to provide an even higher profile stage for them. Columbia was one of the first, and if their alumni's track record is any indication, industry professionals would be wise to download and read them on the site immediately."
—Black List founder, Franklin Leonard
 
This year's selections are Pretty Near Perfect, by Jennifer Gerber and Samuel Brett Williams; Strangers, by Sonya Goddy; Jezebel Angels, by Jamie Sisley; The Border, by Tesia Walker; Promise Land, by Josh Carlebach; Ithaca, by Mike De Caro; Ace of Spades, by Jesse Gustafson; and Demimonde, by Matthew Nolte Evans.

These diverse winners were selected by a panel of over twenty industry judges composed of screenwriters Scott Rothman and Michelle Ashford; director Chris McCoy; producers Jenette Kahn, Adam Kolbrenner, Jonathan Sanger, Ross Dinerstein and Dylan Golden; managers Dan Halsted, Nicole Romano, Tom Lassally, Brad Petrigala; agents Nish Panchal and Jenny Maryasis; Ben Coren. Development Executive at Film4; Ruth Underwood, Development Executive at BBC Drama; Rosie Alison, Head of Development at Heyday Films; Jesse Ehrman, SVP, Production at Warner Bros.; Robert Kessel, SVP, Production at Participant Media; Ravi D. Mehta, SVP, Production at Warner Bros.; Tom Wellington, Partner at WME; Mark Holder, Partner at Zero Gravity.

"I have been consistently surprised at the high level of writing that I have judged the past two years.  I have been on the Nicholl Fellowship committee of the Motion Picture Academy to judge scripts and I can say that the Blue List entries I have read are in a class with the best Academy scripts."
Jonathan Sanger, film producer and returning Blue List industry judge
 
Last year's Blue List winners and recent Columbia alumni are already on their way to industry success. First Match, a 2015 Blue List-winning script by Olivia Newman ’12 that went on to the 2015 Sundance Screenwriting and Directing Labs, is currently in production as Newman's directorial debut. Veronica Nickel ’10, Chanelle Elaine ’12 and Kristie Lutz ’11 are attached as producers.
 
White Girl by Elizabeth Wood ’13 premiered at Sundance and sold to Netflix.  Lisa Rubin ’13 is adapting Food Whore for DreamWorks into a feature length film, and Netflix has also ordered Gypsy, a 10-episode psychological thriller series written by Rubin and starring Naomi Watts.
 
Rebecca Thomas ’13 is set to direct two films: Looking for Alaska, the adaptation of the bestselling young adult novel by John Green and The Little Mermaid. Meet The Blacks, written by Nicole DeMasi ’13, opened in theaters nationwide this spring.

"The Blue List completely changed my career trajectory. As a result of being named to the Blue List, I got a manager and sold my feature script. I currently have three feature scripts in development and hope to make another sale in the near future."
Casey Schroen '12, Screenwriter and Blue List 2014 winner
These success stories speak volumes about the caliber of Columbia’s Film Program and to the diversity of the storytellers that come out of it. To showcase this breadth, alumnae Tesia Walker and Emily Shesh, both screenwriters, started the Columbia Blue List three years ago. With this ongoing initiative, the Blue List intends to bring talented writers from Columbia, famous for its focus on sharp storytelling, to the attention of Hollywood and other diverse and emerging film and TV markets around the world.

More about the 2016 Winners:
 
Pretty Near Perfect by Jennifer Gerber and Samuel Brett Williams
 
While struggling to keep her family together in the face of her mother’s bipolar illness, a young pageant contender enlists the help of a hardened former beauty queen in the hopes of becoming the next Miss Teen Arkansas.
 
Strangers by Sonya Goddy
 
A promiscuous neuroscientist investigates a man whom she suspects took advantage of her as a child, only to fall in love with him.

Jezebel Angel by Jamie Sisley
 
Charlotte Rhodes and her brother, Tyler, have been playing Country and Bluegrass music in Austin’s dive bars for years with no success. When one of their songs is found playing at the scene of a murder, Charlotte suddenly finds herself at the center of a media frenzy.
 
The Border a TV pilot by Tesia Walker

A sheriff living in a sleepy Texas border town, struggles to keep the fact that she is cartel royalty a secret from her town, all while protecting them from the most dangerous criminals of all—her own family.
 
Promised Land a TV pilot by Josh Carlebach
 
Swept up by the ideals of the civil rights movement of the early 1960’s, DIANE Nelson, a headstrong student organizer from Chicago, journeys to the deep south to register black voters where she collides with reality and JOHN MACY, a powerfully entrenched juke joint owner who aims to keep business as usual in his corner of Mississippi.  PROMISED LAND portrays the civil rights story we’ve never seen— the complicated life and death struggle between unity and self-preservation — Where junk joints thump and echo blues into the night and foreboding violence looms in the shadows.
 
Ithaca a TV pilot by Mike De Caro
 
Lost for two decades, Trojan War veteran Odysseus returns home to Ithaca only to discover that his kingdom has been stolen and his name now a crime to utter. He must rely on his survival instincts and combat skills to get back all that was once his despite violent opposition from the abusive new rulers.    
 
Ace of Spades by Jesse Gustafson
 
Baghdad, 2003: A burnt out war reporter tricks an Iraqi school teacher into helping him investigate a mysterious bombing in order to land a big payday and ends up uncovering the story of a lifetime.
 
Demimonde a TV pilot by Matthew Nolte Evans
 
DEMIMONDE is a one-hour drama about the creation of America’s first legalized red-light district—“Storyville”—in 1897. Set against the historical backdrop of New Orleans, petty gambler Tom Anderson navigates political corruption, the Sicilian Mafia, Jim Crow violence, and the beginnings of jazz as he builds an empire of brothels that would last until World War I.

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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.