FMS Students Serve as First Readers for the 2021 Baltimore Screenwriters Competition

As they have since the competition launched in 2006, FMS students provided script coverage for the Baltimore Screenwriters Competition, sponsored by the Baltimore Office for Promotion and the Arts. Winners will be announced during the Maryland Film Festival.  Under the supervision of FMS Senior Lecturer Lucy Bucknell, students were first readers for both features and shorts. Here’s what they had to say about the experience: 

Cristina Fernandez, Class of 2021: I’m so grateful I was given the opportunity to read for the Baltimore Screenwriters Competition again this year. As always I was impressed by the incredible quality of work and the range in genres and themes in the scripts submitted. Reading both longer and shorter form works highlighted the amazing talent of the writers involved both in telling effective and contained stories as well as expanded ones. The competition is a truly exceptional way to encounter unique stories, and to be able to see Baltimore not just through the locations mentioned in scripts but through the diversity of voices and perspectives that the competition encourages. 

Kanak Gupta, Class of 2020: Being a first reader for the Baltimore Screenwriters Competition gave me special insight into what it takes to write a compelling screenplay. Studying scripts in detail really made me consider the different aspects of good screenwriting, which not only led to (hopefully) helpful critique of the competitors’ works but will undoubtedly better my own writing skills as well. I really appreciated the “Baltimore quality” criterion for judging the submitted scripts. It pushed the screenwriters to explore the city as a character and utilize their setting thoughtfully. It was wonderful seeing Baltimore from the perspective of emerging local writers and getting a sneak peek into the early works of some very promising talent.

Andres White, Class of 2020: Serving as a reader for the Baltimore Screenwriters Competition was undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences presented to me during my time at Hopkins.  The competition fulfills a vital role in fostering the local film scene through the support of local artists and by placing an emphasis on Baltimore and its surrounding area, advocating for stories which take advantage of the city and its rich history.  Further, screenwriters are subjected to the rigors and scrutiny with which they can expect to be evaluated professionally.  Through reading, I not only gained a greater understanding of the facets and mechanics which can either make a screenplay engaging or flat, but also an appreciation for the imaginative, original concepts and quality scripts produced by aspiring local writers; I am grateful to have had the opportunity to read their work.

Mary Yan, Class of 2023: It was very exciting to be a first reader for the Baltimore Screenwriters Competition this year. The three scripts I was assigned to were all innovative and engaging, showcasing vastly different perspectives and experiences. The process itself was also such a fantastic learning opportunity–I was able to see what it’s like on the other side of the table and gain a better understanding of what readers look for when evaluating material. Very grateful to have been a part of something so special!