• Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019
Leah Curney wins CinemaStreet’s Short Screenplay Competition for women
Leah Curney
  • --

On the strength of her short film script titled 6:18 to Omaha, Brooklyn-based actress, writer and filmmaker Leah Curney has won the first CinemaStreet Pictures Women’s Short Screenplay Competition.

Curney wins a $1,000 option on her script, which will be produced by CinemaStreet Pictures, a certified woman-owned production company owned by Dana Offenbach, who will direct the short.

The writer offered up the following synopsis of the short: Set in the late 50’s, this is the story of Ed Merriweather, a down-on-his-luck traveling salesman who stops at a sleepy, small town diner on his way to catch the last train out of town. Hoping to grab coffee and a second wind, he gets a whole lot more than he bargained for when he encounters a local housewife with a penchant for profanity and skeletons in her closet. Their conversation is overseen by Grace, a young waitress with big dreams and a battered copy of Popular Science. All three have secrets to hide and tales to tell. By the time Ed leaves to catch the 6:18, he’s not the same man who arrived, suddenly seeing the world (and the people in it) through new eyes.

The Women’s Short Screenplay Competition was announced earlier this year, and attracted 125 entries, according to its manager, Terry Lawler, the former executive director of New York Women in Film & Television. Screenplays had to be written or co-written by a woman, submitted in English, printed in standard screenplay format and be 20 pages or less. While the screenplays could be of any genre of fiction (drama, comedy, horror, action, thriller, sci-fi, animation, musical, etc.), and about any topic, all needed to feature a significant female character.

The initial pool of entries were culled down to a shortlist of 15 finalists, which were then reviewed by Offenbach, Lawler and two accomplished women filmmakers, writers and producers, Nicole Franklin and Alexis Alexanian, before the winner was selected.

What made 6:18 to Omaha stand out? “What we were looking for was story,” said Offenbach. “A big impact in a few pages. And it’s a strong, character-driven piece that works in an economical format, meaning we can shoot it quickly and with a lean crew. From a budgetary standpoint, this makes it a property we can easily finance on our own, ensuring it gets made in a way that does Leah’s screenplay justice.”

As a filmmaker, Offenbach has written, produced and directed a number of short films on her own that have won awards and secured distribution. The company she leads, CinemaStreet Pictures, also works for major ad agencies and brands, producing commercials and branded content. She was motivated to launch the competition to provide a platform for women in the film industry: “While there is a lot of ‘talk’ about creating more opportunities for women in film, the numbers are still dismal,” she pointed out.

Lawler agreed. “It can be difficult for writers to get their work in front of agents, filmmakers or producers if they’ve not had anything produced yet,” she said. “This competition really fills a need in the industry, and because it’s geared towards short films, as opposed to feature-length films, we can actually get these produced. It gives the writer an opportunity to get their work seen in front of audiences.”

MySHOOT Company Profiles