Dallas Screenplay Competition Announces Award-Winning Judges Lineup | Enter Your Screenplay
Clockwise: Jonathan Hurwitz, Jana Memel, Johnathan Brownlee, Bill Kelley, Aaron Thomas
The Dallas Screenplay Competition, presented by Torfoot Films and Event Horizon Films, revealed today the award-winning filmmakers who will select the top writers to be recognized during the Dallas International Film Festival.
Three time Oscar-winner Jana Memel, Aaron Rahsaan Thomas, who most recently worked as showrunner for S.W.A.T. on CBS, Billy Kelly, screenwriter of Disney’s Enchanted, Disney Channel-writer Jonathan Hurwitz and award-winning director Johnathan Brownlee with Torfoot Films, will judge each submitted screenplay, teleplay and short script that advances to the finals to determine which writers are among this year’s hottest emerging talent.
Johnathan Brownlee is an award-winning director, producer, writer and actor, best known for Three Days In August, The Standoff at Sparrow Creek, Decoding Annie Parker, and Johnathan Brownlee’s AtHome. He is a highly respected producer who has worked in more than 20 countries with Academy Award-winning, Golden Globe-winning and Emmy-winning talent. Brownlee’s feature films, documentaries, television programs and digital content collectively have been viewed in more than 100 countries in 14 languages and honored with 14 Telly Awards. After more than two decades overseeing directors and writers, along with every other aspect of film and television production, Brownlee founded Torfoot Films to personally direct and write films. He is signed on to direct/write several upcoming feature-length films, including Montserrat, Eyes of Jefferson, Brew Master, Good Enough, and Hallmark’s An Island Light. Brownlee recently served as chief executive officer and president of the nonprofit Dallas Film, where he produced the internationally recognized Dallas International Film Festival and was responsible for creating the Veterans Institute for Film & Media (VIFM), a training program for military veterans. Brownlee earned a Master of Fine Arts at Brandeis University. He received his bachelor’s from Hofstra University and studied film at New York University.
Jonathan Hurwitz is an Emmy and WGA Award-nominated writer based in Los Angeles. He most recently wrote Disney Channel’s first short-form series, Shook, which was nominated for a 2020 Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Young Adult Program. Previously, he was a staff writer on Lizzie McGuire for Disney+ and for Marvel on Spidey & His Amazing Friends. Before that, Hurwitz was a writer’s assistant/freelance writer on all three seasons of Andi Mack on the Disney Channel. His Season 2 episode was nominated for a 2019 WGA Award, and his Season 3 episode featured a main character coming out as gay, a first in Disney Channel history.
Bill Kelly is a veteran screenwriter with more than two decades experience from Chicago. His Disney film, Enchanted, starring Amy Adams, was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form in 2008. Prior to that, he wrote Premonition starring Sandra Bullock, and Blast From The Past, starring Brendan Fraser. He started his career working as an assistant for various studios where he read tons of film scripts and began writing his first feature.
Jana Memel is a multiple Oscar winning producer, writer and director, best known for the shorts, Ray’s Male Heterosexual Dance Hall and Lieberman in Love, as well as the feature, So I married an Axe Murder. She has 30 years of experience shepherding more than 90 features, cable movies, shorts, documentaries and other videos. Films she produced have won the Writers Guild and Director Guild Awards, several Emmys, three Oscars and 8 other Academy Award nominations. She has written or co-written features for numerous studios, production companies and cable networks. Currently, Memel is Executive Director of the Schools of Entertainment at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, and the founder of The HollywoodWay in Los Angeles. Earlier in her career, she was a literary agent working at the Gersh Agency, and at ICM. Memel graduated from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law in Los Angeles. She earned a bachelor’s of sociology and history from Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif.
Aaron Rahsaan Thomas is a producer, director and award-winning television and film screenwriter from Kansas City, Kan. Most recently, he was the co-creator and executive producer on the CBS procedural series reboot of S.W.A.T. Before that, he served as a co-executive producer on TNT’s SouthLand, FOX’s Sleepy Hollow and Netflix’s The Get Down. Thomas has also written two produced screenplays: Cover, directed by Bill Duke, and Assassination Games, starring Jean Claude Van Damme. He made his professional debut as a director in 2015 on an ESPN 30 for 30 film, Trojan War, about a university football team. Additional staff writer credits include, Numb3rs and CSI:NY on CBS, as well as NBC’s Friday Night Lights, for which he received a Peabody Award and several WGA-Award nominations. Thomas began his professional career as a writer’s assistant on Soul Food: The Series after he was selected for the prestigious CBS Writers Mentoring Program. He received his master’s from University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and his bachelor’s from University of Kansas.
The annual screenplay competition, managed by Event Horizon Films, is dedicated to helping emerging writers break into the industry. Like its other competitions, each script is judged by readers from the industry’s top talent agencies and management companies, giving screenwriters the added value of high-profile industry experts reviewing and critiquing their work.
The Dallas Screenplay Competition is accepting screenplay entries HERE, now through midnight on Aug. 27, 2021. Winning screenwriters receive a writer’s enrichment cruise, professional feedback, access to industry networking platforms and festival passes; while the winner of the “Script to Screen” category will see their fully-funded short film script come to life on the big screen at Dallas International Film Festival.
About Torfoot Films
Torfoot Films is an award-winning film, television and digital content production company founded in 2010 with offices in Toronto, Canada and Dallas, Texas. Veteran filmmaker Johnathan Brownlee serves as President and CEO. Brownlee is Canadian/American director, producer, writer and actor, known for THREE DAYS IN AUGUST, THE STANDOFF AT SPARROW CREEK, DECODING ANNIE PARKER and JOHNATHAN BROWNLEE’S ATHOME. A highly respected producer who has worked with Academy Award, Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning talent. Torfoot’s work has been viewed in more than 100 countries in multiple languages and was honored in 2021 with 14 Telly Awards. Torfoot has a variety of content in development, including the feature films; MONTSERRAT, EYES OF JEFFERSON, BREW MASTER, GOOD ENOUGH and Hallmark Channel’s AN ISLAND LIGHT. For information, visit torfoot.com.
About Event Horizon Films
Event Horizon Films is an online network of experienced film professionals established to help screenwriters improve stories, increase exposure and understand the business of Hollywood. From screenplay competitions to analysis services to professional consultations, Event Horizon Films is committed to encouraging writers to keep writing. For more information, visit eventhorizonfilms.com.