Ross natives' winning scripts draw on school memories
The Steeltown Film Factory held its third annual script-writing contest and announced the winners Saturday at Carnegie Mellon University. Third-place finalists were, left to right, Anthony Poremski and Scott Peters for "Escape from St. Quentin's"; second-place went to Chris Preksta for his "Echo Torch."
Share with others:
Scott Peters and Anthony Poremski, who both grew up in Ross, tapped into their memories of attending Catholic elementary school at St. Teresa of Avila in Perrysville to produce a winning entry in the Steeltown Film Factory screenwriting contest.
The young men won $5,000 to help make their short film "Escape from St. Quentin's," a light-hearted story about a 10-year-old boy attempting to escape Sunday Mass so he can play football with his friends against a group of kids from the local public school.
The Steeltown Film Factory awarded a total of $30,000 to the top three finishers in the contest at an event held May 12 at Carnegie Mellon University. CMU drama students read or mimed the scripts before a sold-out audience at the Purnell Center for the Arts.
Chris Preksta won $10,000 for his script, "Echo Torch." CMU senior Yulin Kuang won the $15,000 first prize for her script, "The Perils of Growing Up Flat-Chested." The prize is known as the Ellen Weiss Kander Award, in honor of Steeltown's co-founder.
Steeltown's other co-founder, Carl Kurlander, who teaches screenwriting at the University of Pittsburgh, said he hopes three movies will be made from this year's competition.
Mr. Peters said last year that he and Mr. Poremski went to Steeltown public events where would-be screenwriters would pitch story ideas to a panel of Hollywood professionals in front of an audience and receive criticism and comments from experts, including directors, producers and screenwriters.
"We wrote a TV pilot called 'K though 8' based on our experiences in Catholic elementary school. We thought we could just walk in and give the script to Carl, but he suggested we enter the contest," Mr. Peters said.
So he and Mr. Poremski came up with the idea of the boy trying to escape from church. They worked on the script at the Borders Book Store on McKnight Road, and when the Borders store closed, they moved to Panera Bread and Eat'n Park.
"We had our own little space. When we acted out scenes, we would get some strange looks at Borders," Mr. Peters said.
He and Mr. Poremski have been friends since they were in second grade at St. Teresa. They sat near each other in alphabetical seating order. Both went to North Hills High School but parted ways after high school.
Mr. Poremski attended Ohio University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in marketing.Mr. Peters received a film degree from Syracuse University. After a short stint in Hollywood working on music videos, he returned to Pittsburgh in December 2010 to take a job with American Eagle Outfitters. At the South Side-based company, he directs and edits in-house videos.
After college, Mr. Poremski landed a job with durable medical supplies company Zoll Lifecor in O'Hara as an account coordinator.
Back in Pittsburgh, the childhood friends reconnected and the creative juices started to flow when they talked about their experiences at St. Teresa.
"Even in college, I would tell my friends stories from Catholic elementary school, and they always thought they were funny and interesting," Mr. Peters said.
Mr. Poremski said being one of the finalists helped validate the time and hard work they spent on the project, and they credited Steeltown for helping them sharpen the script through the rewriting process.
"We had a great time. It was a valuable learning experience," Mr. Peters said.
They now intend to take thepolished script and make a short movie, about 20 to 30 minutes long. To raise the rest of the cost, Mr. Peters and Mr. Poremiski said they will be working on some fundraising ideas, including listing their project on Kickstarter, a website where artists can explain their project and request funding from people who can donate online.
Mr. Kurlander said the quality of the scripts submitted to Steeltown has continued to improve since the contest was launched three years ago. This year, Steeltown attracted 180 entries. They could be in any genre, but had to be set in southwestern Pennsylvania.
First Published June 21, 2012 5:23 am