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‘THE LAUNCH’ Announces Winner of 2018 Million Dollar Screenplay Competition

by ScreenCraft on August 7, 2018

ScreenCraft is thrilled to support this incredible opportunity for student screenwriters. The winning screenplay, written by a student at the University of Southern California, will be produced with a budget of at least $1 million and the winner is receiving a $50,000 education grant as well!

Press release below:

USC’s Stanley Kalu takes top prize for ‘The Obituary of Tunde Johnson

Hollywood, CA – The LAUNCH is proud to announce the winners of its first worldwide screenplay competition for college students. Taking home the grand prize is The Obituary of Tunde Johnson by USC’s Stanley Kalu (21). The gripping and emotional drama tells the surreal tale of a wealthy, black, high school senior who falls victim to an endless time loop of police brutality.

Kalu’s screenplay will be produced as a feature film with a budget of at least $1 million and he will also receive a $50,000 education grant, representation by APA and Valor Entertainment, and various other prizes. Production on the film is slated to begin Q4 2018. The remaining seven finalists will also receive educational grants, with the second and third place winners landing representation by APA and Valor Entertainment as well. Funding for the entire competition was provided by philanthropists Chuck and Marni Bond, who are dedicated to supporting students in the arts.

Co-founded by Producers Jason Shuman (Rebel in the Rye, Lone Survivor) and Zachary Green (Spartan), The LAUNCH is a first of its kind screenplay competition for college students, whose mission is to find the next generation of great screenwriters from around the world. The international competition was open to students enrolled in an accredited two-year, four-year college/university or graduate programs. A record number of screenplays were received from 208 colleges and universities from 37 countries around the world including Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Stanley Kalu is an incredibly talented young writer, with a unique voice that deserves to be heard, and a story we are thrilled to help bring to life,” said Green. “We could not be more excited to have Stanley as our first grand prize winner and applaud all of the winning entries,” added Shuman.

Winner Stanley Kalu is a student at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

The LAUNCH Board of Advisors, in partnership with ScreenCraft and the industry-leading technology platform Coverfly, evaluated and judged the screenplays by scoring on the following attributes: story, creativity, character development, voice originality, and honest emotion. In addition to Shuman and Green, this years’ judges panel consisted of an array of respected industry professionals including: Barbara Fiorentino, Casting Director; Eduardo Cisneros, Writer/Producer; Ali LeRoi, Writer/Director/Producer; Caitlin Mehner, Actor/Producer; Dr. Madeline Sherak, Producer/Author/Educator; Christopher Ridenhour, Agent (APA); and Carlos Bobadilla, Co-Founding Partner & Principal at Valor Entertainment. Full list of winners and finalists below:

Grand Prize Winner

The Obituary of Tunde Johnson by Stanley Kalu, USC


Finalists (In Ranked Order)

Golden State by Brittany Worthington, The University of Texas - Austin

Goat Boy by Jacob Stock, AFI

Holler by Lee Whitten, Oklahoma State University

Greenwood by Nathan Patton, The University of Texas – Austin

Ringo by William David Glen IV, Asbury University

Felix’s Bar Mitzvah by Samuel Sultan, USC

Wait List by Carly Hallman, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

About grand prize winner Stanley Kalu

Born in Nigeria, Stanley Kalu moved to various countries in Sub-Saharan Africa throughout his childhood. His family’s nomadic lifestyle, though challenging at times, allowed Stanley the privilege of experiencing an array of cultures and landscapes, while opening his eyes to the inexhaustible magnitude of human expression. He is currently entering his senior year at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.

About The LAUNCH

The LAUNCH is a first of its kind Million Dollar Screenplay Fellowship co-created by Jason Shuman and Zachary Green to find the next generation of great screenwriters from around the world. The LAUNCH is awarding $100,000 in education grants with the grand prize winner having his or her screenplay produced as a feature film with a budget of at least $1 million.  For more information please visit

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 with an interview with the founders here.


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