The New York Mayor's Office has named two winners for its female scriptwriting competition.
Patty Carey-Perazzo's Half-Life and Robin Rose Singer's Adult Behavior have won a first-of-its-kind citywide screenwriting contest focused on stories by, for or about women. The Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) and Brooklyn College's Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema announced the selections Wednesday.
The first project centers on a mother trying to restart her stalled career, and the other is about a young woman who moves to New York to work at a Bronx nursing home. The winning scripts were chosen from a pool of over 300 scripts by a panel of industry leaders to be developed into pilots that will air on NYC Media, the City's official broadcast network with a reach of 18 million households. One of the two winning pilots will be selected for four additional episodes, to air on NYC Media in the summer of 2018.
"Congratulations to Patty and Robin, whose work stood out in a competitive field," said MOME commissioner Julie Menin. "The contest they have won, as well as four other women's initiatives our office is rolling out, reflect our commitment to addressing the well-documented underrepresentation of women in the film and television industry - both on and off the screen."
"This opportunity is unparalleled," said Carey-Perazzo, who took time out from her day job as a location manager to write about a woman's attempt to lean back into her career after leaning out to raise her children. "I've been working in film and television production right here in NYC for over 20 years, but I've always worked on someone else's show. To have this opportunity to break through to another level and see my own project come to fruition means everything to me."
Singer, who makes her living as an actress and filmmaker in the city, says the contest marked the first time she has written something for broadcast TV. "It was crazy ... I was so shocked," she said about hearing she had won the contest for her pilot inspired by a visit with her grandmother. "I like art that is both commercial and has the potential to change people. First you make them laugh, then you hit them with some truth. As a writer, I'm the ground zero for bringing diverse stories to the screen and showing people worlds they might not normally see."
The two winning scripts will be produced as pilots this summer by teams of Feirstein graduate students under the mentorship of Jonathan Wacks, founding director of the school, and Jamie Zelermyer, former vp physical production at Focus Features/Rogue Pictures.
"Thanks to the vision of Julie Menin and her team, students at Feirstein have been granted an extraordinary opportunity to produce original shows for broadcast," said Wacks. "This project resonates powerfully with our commitment to advancing the careers of women in the industry and to diversity and inclusion in all its facets."
This scriptwriting competition is just one element of a groundbreaking series of initiatives announced by MOME earlier this year that targets the underrepresentation of women in film, TV and theater. The initiatives, which also include a $5 million women filmmakers fund, mark the first time a municipal entity has taken on gender inequity in these fields.