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The John Milius Screenwriting Award

John Milius is one among the few iconic screenwriters of the last 50 years.

From Robert Duval on the shores of Vietnam “I love the smell of napalm in the morning. Smells like, victory.” in Apocalypse Now, and Clint Eastwood’s “Do I feel lucky? Well do ya… punk?” as Dirty Harry, to that touching moment at the graveside in Saving Private Ryan when former Pvt. Ryan asks, “Did I live a good life?”, Milius is responsible for some of cinema’s most iconic moments as one of Hollywood’s legendary screenwriters,

Milius was the force behind the film that made Arnold Schwarzenegger a star, Conan the Barbarian. He wrote and directed The Wind and the Lion, Big Wednesday, and the cult classic Red Dawn

Milius’ career was also filled with being hired to punch up scripts for such blockbuster hit films as The Hunt for Red October, Clear and Present Danger, and Jaws, where he was asked by Steven Spielberg to write the “Indianapolis speech” delivered masterfully by Robert Shaw.  He was even the inspiration of the character Walter in the Cohen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski.

We look forward to and hope that we can continue to identify writers and screenplays worthy of the award named after one of the most acclaimed screenwriters of the past 50 years.


Feature Film Script – Finalists

The Dead Ends
by Lachlan Marks

by James Stewart

The Monkey King
by Galen Tong

Vessel of Light
by Mike Fitzgerald

Series Pilot Script – Finalists

The Countdown
by Amadou Diallo

by Brian James Crewe

by Craig Page

by Christine Burright McGuigan

Weekend Warriors
by Brian McDevitt Jr.

Short Film Script – Finalists

The Conscription
by Jennifer Milne

Day Labor
by Constantino Ciminiello

Hlf pSt nInE
by Douglas Stark

by Jonathan Marballi

by Patricia Jay

Feature Film Script – Semi-Finalists

by Jeff Woodard

Late Fees
by Darren Coyle

by Seamus Leger

The Last Cossack
by Ronald McQueen

The Puzzle People
by Maria Lennon

Series Pilot Script – Semi-Finalists

Brother’s Keeper
by Jacqueline Wright

Death Inc
by Kierston Drier

Star Quest
by Natasha Markou

Short Film Script – Semi-Finalists

by Lachlan Marks

Other People’s Lives
by Montgomery Burt

Feature Film Script – Official Selection

10th Street
by Morris Jackson

A Massacre of Innocence
by Douglas Raine

by Stephen Hoover

For Better or For Worse
by Clara Bijl

by Ray O’Conor

Heidegger’s Experiment
by Kirk Barbera

Little Things Mean a Lot
by Michael Monteith

Made in America
by BK

Moving Paintings
by Ponyboy Curtis

Natalie Rising
by Donna Wheeler

by Daniel Corey

Rogue’s Coward
by Robert J. Rogers

The Science of Chemistry
by Gillian Twining

The Slingshot Brigade
by Leo Sopicki

The Venusian Chronicles
by Lynn Vincentnathan

True Destiny
by Joseph Leone

Series Pilot Script – Official Selection

by Meredith Genesoni

Emergency Psychiatric Service
by Holly Scarabosio

by Emily Ann Scott

Near Death
by Erin Carere & Carlo Carere

Spy High: The Pilot
by Jeff Woodard

The Lost Opera
by Rachel Thomas-Medwid

Short Film Script – Official Selection

A Beautiful Day
by Logan Alexander

Cardboard Box
by Bernhard Riedhammer

Earth Freaks
by Jennifer Miguel

Love, Post-Mortem
by Nathan Ludwig & Chad Farmer

by Samantha Kolesnik

The Last Burial
by Patrik Bergh


The John Milius Screenwriting Award Winner
Roy M. Griffis – Cold Day in Hell
Runner Up

Michael Toay – Red Hats

3rd Place
Greg Joyce – Two for the Road

4th Place
Christian Lybrook – City of Trees

5th Place
Michael Curylo – Kill Shot

Lynelle White – Battle Buddies
Runner Up – (tie)
Meghan Weinstein – The Influencers
Kasey Halpin – The Useless

3rd Place 
Tracy Lawson – Counteract


Feature Film Script – Finalists

Two for the Road | Greg Joyce
Cold Day in Hell | Roy Griffis
Red Hats| Michael Toay
City of Trees | Christian Lybrook
Kill Shot | Michael Curylo

Shorts/TV Pilots – Finalists

The Useless| Kasey Halpin
Counteract | Tracy Lawson
Battle Buddies | Lynelle White
The Influencers| Meghan Weinstein



Feature Films – Official Selections
Handel’s Messiah | Scott Fales
Stateside | Brett Scieszka
Edgewater | Matthew Sorvillo
Hotwire | Brian Erickson
United: Revolutionary Souls | Ryan Ons
Ice on the Rocks | Christine Rapsys
Northern Sins | Mike Fitzgerald
A Generous Man | John Gillen
Running Home  | Kirby Voss
A Doggone Christmas | Michael Toay
Stand On It | Michael Toay
Nuclear One | Michael Toay
Citizen Jane | Greg Joyce
Two Christian Women Get Horny | Sandra Hodge-Hampton
A Fox in Zion | Michael Aakre
Daughters of The Dude | David Swindle
Luminal | Lisandro Boccacci
White Crow | David Barbeschi
Where do the Clouds go? | Serge Ioan Celebidachi

Shorts / TV Pilots – Official Selections
Grease Monkeys  | George F Gutierrez
Dougie Dog | Montgomery Burt
Fugitives From Memory | Lisa Gray Fisher
The Hitler Paradox | James Hughes
The Ghost Collector | Leann Barna
Necessary Evil | Anne Butcher
Hello Stranger | Christopher Nwagbara
Haircut Days | Davis Hunt
Abandon All Hope | Max Federman
Branded | Christian Lybrook
Our Last Game Night | Jen Gutierrez
The Cronus Program  | David Oster
Motivational Killer| Ryan Smith
RE•Artists | Anthony Cheuk On Chan


No questions, where do I submit!

Film Freeway is the exclusive host for the SmashCut Screenplay Competition.


What type of scripts are you accepting?

We are currently accepting scripts (PDF format only) in three separate categories: Feature Film, Short Film and Series Pilot.

Feature Films
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Must be an original screenplay or an adapted screenplay. It must be at least 65 pages in length and no longer than 130 pages. You must be the author of the screenplay. You may submit a screenplay written by more than one person provided that you are one of the authors. Screenplays longer than 130 may be rejected and not considered for any prize or analysis.

TV Series Pilot
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Series pilots scripts must be at least 20 pages and no more than 65 pages in length. Series pilots must be original – NO spec scripts. You must be the author of the script. You may submit a script written by more than one person provided that you are one of the authors.

Short Film
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Short film screenplays must not be any longer than 30 pages but can be as short as one page. You must be the author of the script. You may submit a script written by more than one person provided that you are one of the authors.

What can I win?

• Feature Film winning screenwriter receives a $2500 12-week paid TalNexus Writing Fellowship.
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The winning feature film writer will be awarded the TalNexus Writing Fellowship and be paired up with an industry veteran screenwriter for 12 weeks to write a new full length treatment, outline or screenplay. The fellow will be paid a $2500 stipend for the 12 week fellowship. Once a screenplay has been written, it will be sent to various literary managers in our network for consideration. The winning screenplay will also receive an in-depth analysis from an industry veteran screenwriter and filmmaker.

• Feature Film winner will receive a complete script analysis in person (or by video chat) from screenwriter and script consultant Paul Guay.
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Paul Guay’s movies have grossed over half a billion dollars. He conceived and co-wrote the Jim Carrey starrer LIAR, LIAR, at the time of its release the sixth highest-grossing comedy in history. The screenplay received an Honorable Mention in the Scr(i)pt magazine’s list of the Best Scripts of the Past 10 years. Paul also co-wrote the beloved children’s film THE LITTLE RASCALS and the romantic comedy/con-women caper HEARTBREAKERS, starring Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Gene Hackman and Jason Lee. Paul is an associate professor of screenwriting and a sought-after script consultant:

• Series Pilot winning screenwriter receives a $2500 12-week paid TalNexus Writing Fellowship.
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
The winning feature film writer will be awarded the TalNexus Writing Fellowship and be paired up with an industry veteran screenwriter for 12 weeks to write full series pitch and pilot script. The fellow will be paid a $2500 stipend for the 12 week fellowship. Once a project has been written, it will be sent to various literary managers in our network for consideration.

• Short Film winning writer receive an automatic invite into the TalNexus Film Lab as a writer.
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The winner will be invited to participate in the TalNexus Film Lab. Our flagship program that grants a $10,000 budget toward the production of a short film or series pilot. You will be paired with an industry mentor and embark on a 100 day development of a new short film or series idea. (Please note: The winning short film script will not be produced in the film lab, due to the nature of how the program works.)

• All winners will be invited to the SmashCut CineFest Los Angeles premier and introduced as the winners of the SmashCut Screenplay Competition and handed an award.


Who are the judges?


Besides serving as director John Milius’ historical advisor on the highly-rated Teddy Roosevelt mini-series Rough Riders, Dan is longtime close friend of John’s. He is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and screenwriter whose credits as a director, producer or writer include many History Channel and Discovery Channel shows such as Law Enforcement Snipers, The True Story of the Black Sheep, Comanche Warriors, The Battle of New Orleans, The O.K. Corral Gunfight, The Donner Party and The Lincoln Plots. He has also directed or produced episodes of various cable series including Mail Call and Unsolved History. He co-wrote the History Channel two-hour special Boone and Crockett: The Hunter Heroes that won the Western Writers of America Spur Award for Best Documentary Script in 2002. Dan has written three produced action films for legendary producer Roger Corman including ‘Nam Angels, and has had several feature film scripts optioned. His documentary Jeff Cooper: A Man in Full, was recently released on DVD. Dan is co-owner of Velvet Martini Entertainment in Van Nuys, California and is currently partnered with Insight Studios of Vancouver, Canada.

Craig currently jut wrapped the final season as co-executive producer on Marvel’s AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D on ABC television. As a screenwriter, Craig wrote PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTENING THIEF, CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN starring Steve Martin, and wrote for the tv series STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS. His newest feature script, which he also producing, is in pre-production and will begin filming in Cuba in 2020.

Sara Anne Fox is a former development executive and producer with over 40 years in the film industry. Sara played a vital role in the conception and development of over 25 screenplays, three published novels and three produced films: MY FAVORITE YEAR, NOSFERATU and the Oscar winning film QUEST FOR FIRE. For over 20 years, she has used her skills as a writingcoach and story editor with screenwriters and novelists to strengthen character development, clarify motivation and improve story structure and plot.

These three fine individuals will be determining the overall winners from a select group of finalists who were chosen by our official SmashCut Selection Committee.

Ok, so what are the rest of the rules?

•By submitting your work to this competition, all submitters agree to the rules and terms outlined in the rules and release agreement.
• All ages are eligible, however certain prizes may be restricted due to legal age requirement of certain programs.
• All submissions must have been written originally in english. (No translations accepted.)
• Feature films scripts must be between 65-120 pages
• Series pilot scripts must be between 25-65 pages
• Short film scripts must not be any longer than 30 pages.
• All scripts must be submitted in PDF format. (.fdr, .doc, .docx, .cltx, etc. will not be considered.)
• You may submit more than script, but you will need to pay an additional submission fee for each additional script.
• You may not substitute a “newer” draft of your script once it is submitted. Repeat submissions of the same script will not be considered nor will the submissions fee be refunded.
• If a submitted script becomes optioned, produced or purchased between the time of submission and the announcement of the winner, that script will no longer be eligible to win.
• All participants acknowledge that no offer or contract is being made to the author (optioned, produced, purchase etc.) of the submitted work for anything other than consideration of the terms of the competition as outlined above. Taliesin Nexus reserves the right to rescind any of the prizes, offers, invitations, etc., for any reason without warning.
• Staff and board members of Taliesin Nexus are not eligible to enter. Alumni of the SmashCut Film Lab, Liberty Lab for Film, or Odysseus Fellowship programs of Taliesin Nexus who participated in any year between 2009 – 2017 are not eligible to enter.