Science and Film logo

Four Writers From Carnegie Mellon Win Sloan Awards

Carnegie Mellon University has selected four screenplays to receive awards from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Each screenwriter consulted with a scientist on the scientific accuracy of their script.

First prize, $15,000, was awarded to Anderson Cook for his film JAMES THOMAS THINKS THE EARTH IS FLAT. The logline reads: “When NBA superstar (and notorious Flat Earther) James Thomas ruins eleven-year-old Noah Roberson’s local science fair project, Noah decides to embark on an even bigger project: convincing a four-time all-star that the planet is, in fact, an oblate spheroid.” Cook’s plays have been produced at the Lee Strasburg Institute, Dixon Place, and his musical POP PUNK HIGH SCHOOL will open at 54 Below in New York in October.

Second prize, $7,500, went to Lauren D'Errico for ALL THE SHADES OF YOU. The logline reads: “A newly unemployed, out-of-vogue chemist must survive the superficial, fast-paced world of New York City's makeup industry to return to her modest dream job.” D’Erricco is a playwright who has had her work workshopped by The Nora Salon and Bechdel Group. She also writes operas, and two of her short operas will premier this year at the Pittsburgh Opera.

Tied for second prize is THE MAST YEAR by Gillian Beth Durkee. “In leaving behind a troubled childhood and an alcoholic mother, Laura also set aside her dreams of studying trees in favor of a more practical job in the Canadian lumber industry, but her interest in ecology is once again sparked by the possibility that a network of mycorrhizal fungi might exist beneath the forest she oversees. When the death of a beloved aunt leaves Laura’s mother without a caretaker, and Laura’s boss refuses her request to study his trees, Laura decides it might just be time to return home to her mother, the woods of Washington, and the field of study she once loved so fiercely.” Durkee was an O’Neill National Playwrights Conference semi-finalist, a selected playwright for the Samuel French Off Off Broadway Festival, and a Sanguine Theatre Project Playwright Finalist. She is writing for the forthcoming web series ADULTING WITH JANE.

Honorable mention was awarded to D.T. Burns’ film A GLIMPSE THROUGH THE HAZE, which received a $5,000 rewrite stipend. “In a groundbreaking study, Adele Croninger moves her research from New York City to a mouse lab in upstate Maine, seeking evidence to expose the deadly effects of the 1950s tobacco industry.” Burns is an interdisciplinary performer and writer who has been featured at the Denver Comic Con, the Boulder International Fringe Festival, and more.