Interview with Jason Shuman and Zachary Green of The LAUNCH: Million Dollar Screenplay Competition

Meet Jason Shuman and Zachary Green, two of the judges and brains behind The LAUNCH: Million Dollar Screenplay Competition, the first screenplay competition enabling one talented college screenwriter to realize their dream by having their screenplay produced as a feature film, with a budget of at least $1,000,000. The top three finalists will receive an offer of literary representation at a Hollywood talent agency and management firm. The top eight finalists will be awarded a total of $100,000 USD in education grants and other prizes. ScreenCraft is proud to partner with The LAUNCH to bring this incredible opportunity to collegiate screenwriters.

Jason Shuman is a writer and producer with an impressive slate including over 20 motion pictures grossing more than $500 million worldwide, and over 100 episodes of television produced.

Shuman has produced four films that reached number one at the box office with Darkness Falls, The Messengers, Bangkok Dangerous, and the critically acclaimed Lone Survivor. Other well-known films include the 2017 docudrama Rebel In The Rye, Little Black Book, Daddy Day Camp, Middle Men and the beloved comedy Role Models.

On the television side, Shuman has also produced shows including TBS comedy Are We There Yet? with Ice Cube, and served as Executive Producer on the FX show Anger Management and the Emmy® nominated TV movie Dawn Anna.

Shuman is currently under a multi-picture writing deal with Sony International. He is also developing Upgrade for 20th Century Fox as well as writing scripts for Focus Features and Lionsgate.

A native of Detroit, Michigan, Jason attended USC Film School’s Production program before starting his career with Academy Award-winning producer Arnold Kopelson.

Zachary Green is an entrepreneur and film producer. He began his career at the prestigious William Morris Talent Agency in their infamous mailroom and has since had a successful career in brand storytelling, ranging from social media/marketing companies like House Party, to traditional promotional marketing firms like Equity/Pitch (Burger King) and Simon Marketing (McDonald’s, Toys R Us, Warner Bros. Paramount, Artisan Entertainment), to game-changing startups like internet incubator Idealab and others.

Green is collaborating with writer/producer Jason Shuman to produce mid-budget feature films and half-hour and hour television content. Together they have a slate of feature film projects and a handful of television shows in various stages of development and production. Currently, Green and Shuman are producing the heist/thriller Panthers and action/thriller Spartan, both scheduled to begin principal photography in 2018.

Learn more about The LAUNCH: Million Dollar Screenplay Competition below.

How did this all come about? What was the inspiration behind The LAUNCH: Million Dollar Screenplay Competition?

The conversations initially started when our philanthropists approached us about wanting to create a competition for the arts and specifically in the film business, as we are producers. After speaking about what they wanted to accomplish, we sat down and brainstormed on the best way to put their money to use, while trying to impact as many aspiring collegiate screenplay writers.

What motivated you to focus on college students for this opportunity?

It was very important to all of us to organize and run The LAUNCH, just for college students. The philanthropists’ main goal was to help young men and women, who are attending school get a leg up in their field of study in the arts. These students, from all different backgrounds, are all working incredibly hard to finish school and start their careers and if we can be any help in achieving that, then we’ve done our job.

Are you looking for anything in particular in the entries?

We are looking for screenplays with strong distinct voices, empowered characters and original storytelling.  They don’t have to be perfect by any means. We are just looking for ideas that move us and tell a great story.

Do you wish something like this would have existed when you were a student?

Of course! This would have been an amazing opportunity not only for us when we were students, but all of our writer friends who have toiled away in the business. The LAUNCH is definitely not a shortcut to success, but those with talent will be able to garner a lift up to be able to participate.

How does it feel to be doing something so groundbreaking? Nothing like this has ever been done before, right?

There have been a lot of wonderful filmmaking and screenplay competitions over the years, but we believe there hasn’t been one like The LAUNCH.  Not only are we helping 8 students out with their college tuition, but also making one of their films this year, with a budget of at least $1 million. For both of us, it just feels good to be able to pay it forward. There have been so many people in both of our lives that have gone above and beyond to help us out, start our careers, give amazing advice, etc. We feel it is our duty to be able to give back and help the next generation of screenwriters break into the business.

What does a successful competition look like to you?

Very simple: we want to motivate and excite as many students as possible to write! If even a small handful of budding screenwriters see our competition and it gets them to either start something from scratch or finish something they may have began but then let it linger – that’s a massive success for us. The road to becoming a great screenwriter is first sitting down and writing and sometimes it’s lighting a fire under someone to truly see that potential. Come the end of May, we can’t wait to go through the hundreds and hundreds of scripts to find that special one to produce and make some dreams come true. Who knows, maybe it will be s script that never would have existed if not for this contest.

What advice do you have for the students entering?

I guess the best advice would be to send us your best material! We want to read it, we want to make an amazing film and we want to break new talent. If the students have more than one script, we encourage them to enter as many scripts as they like as well. Each script will get a page of constructive notes from one of our professional readers, which will be insightful for everyone.

What kind of film are you hoping to make from this competition?

It really doesn’t matter to us what genre; we just want to produce a film with a compelling story with amazing characters and something to say. We are excited about the possibilities and can’t wait to start reading.


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