Organizers of the Rhode Island Screenplay Competition this week expect to name a winner from four finalists.
The contest was created by the state film office and the Rhode Island International Film Festival to draw Hollywood’s attention so more feature films would be made in the Ocean State.
“We wanted to find talented screenwriters who could use Rhode Island as a location for their screenplays and, hopefully, as an important character in their stories,” said Steven Feinberg, executive director of the R.I. Film & Television Office, explaining the goals of the contest, held for the first time this year but expected to become an annual event.
An integral element of the competition is the focus on Rhode Island as a key part of the script. The unique nature of the smallest state makes it prime fodder for a story that capitalizes on and incorporates those distinctive features found nowhere else, contest organizers have said.
As a result, a movie based on the winning screenplay would not only provide jobs for local residents and generate business for the state’s economy, it would also introduce interesting aspects of the Ocean State to the movie-viewing world and perhaps even draw visitors in the future, Feinberg suggested.
The four screenplays up for the grand prize are: “The Ashes of Albion,” written by Peter D. Spameni of Smithfield; “The Garden Gate,” by Amy Kalif and Jennifer Eaton of Middletown; “Old Hoss” by Kevin Faria of Bristol and Duncan Putney of Providence; and “Ultra Light,” by David Eliet of Pawtucket. Finalist writers all live in Rhode Island, even though the contest was open to others.
Putney, an actor, screenwriter and member of the festival advisory board, came up with the idea of the competition. But in an interview with Providence Business News, he dismissed his role and credited Feinberg and his assistant, Carol Conley, as well as festival Executive Director George T. Marshall and his staff.
“I just came up with the idea,” Putney said, noting there is nothing new about it because other states hold similar competitions.
Regarding his own status as a finalist, Putney seemed embarrassed by the potential conflict. He said the script submitted was mostly the work of Kevin Faria and he did not know that Faria would enter it in the contest. “Old Hoss” is about Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn, a baseball pitcher with the Providence Grays who led the team to victory in the first World Series in 1884.
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