Scriptwriting Fellowship Competition

Missouri Stories Scriptwriting Fellowship

The Missouri Stories Scriptwriting Fellowship is an international competition for screenplays and television pilot scripts with storylines set in Missouri.

Three writers’ scripts will be chosen. Winners receive an all-expense-paid trip to the concentrated fellowship experience, held in Missouri.

Previous industry mentors include: Bob Gale (Back to the Future), Angelo Pizzo (Hoosiers, Rudy), Kathleen McGhee-Anderson (Lincoln Heights), Philip LaZebnik (The Prince of Egypt)


Submissions closed until October of 2024

2023 Fellows

Scott Huebscher | The Perfect Miss

Logline: A small town miniature golf hustler must overcome his fears to play in the National Mini-Golf Putting Championship.

Bio: An award-winning advertising writer with over 25 years’ experience in the advertising industry, Scott has held senior roles in Australia, New Zealand and the US. He’s written iconic television ads in both Australia and New Zealand, winning the highest level advertising awards for his work. During his time living in Los Angeles, Scott wrote and sold two screenplays to the Hallmark Channel. His screenplays have also won several international screenwriting contests. When Scott’s not writing, he continues to work in the ad industry.


Linda Niccol & Vincent Thibault | The Vodnik

Logline: A small-town mechanic dumps toxic waste in a lake, setting off a frightening chain of events—his wife disappears leaving him to care for their autistic daughter, his failing business burns to the ground, and he must vanquish the terrifying monster he has awakened.

Linda’s Bio: Linda Niccol is a New Zealand writer/director who has published short fiction and written short and feature scripts over more than 15 years. ‘Poppy’, 2021 Linda’s first feature took more than a decade to attract investment, after all who wants to see a movie about a girl with Down syndrome who wants a full life? Lots of people! US, Irish, Finnish and Australian festivals snapped it up. It’s now distributed in North America by IndiePix and available on Showtime/Paramount +. Feisty females continue to feature in Linda’s work as she embraces horror. Working with Vincent Thibault on supernatural horror THE VODNIK helped open Linda’s eyes to the exciting possibilities of setting stories outside New Zealand and she has a number of well-developed scripts looking for homes

Vincent’s Bio: Vincent Thibault is a Canadian writer who has published 15 books in French. From novels to travel memoirs and philosophical essays, his work is surprisingly varied, but keeps exploring key themes, such as the meaning of kindness, courage in the face of uncertainty, and the reconciliation of tradition and modernity. His new book, “Overflow: A Buddhist Guide to Recovering Sanity in the Age of Information Overload,” will be released in March 2024 by Platform Publications (Australia). He has also been involved in the film industry in several capacities, especially as a screenwriter, and he’s currently developing scripts for both features and TV pilots.


Sarah Peele | Pure Intentions

Logline: In the days leading up to her church’s purity ball, a conservative teenager has a sexual awakening and goes on a quest with her best friend and the class bad girl to buy vibrators.

Bio: Sarah Peele is a New York-based actor and writer. Originally from Arkansas, she’s performed improv and sketch comedy at theaters and festivals all over the country, and written a couple solo shows that she’s performed in bars and basements in Brooklyn. It’s possible you’ve seen her in a commercial. “Pure Intentions” is her first screenplay.


Rick Wheeler | The Congressional Wives Caucus

Logline: In the late 1950s, amidst societal expectations, three wives of incoming freshmen congressmen unite to form The Congressional Wives Caucus. Secretly influencing their husbands’ votes, they strive to right wrongs, overturn injustices, and make America a better place for their families and beyond.

Bio: Rick Wheeler lives in rural Northern California. He is a retired probation officer, or as he likes to say, he showed up to work for so long that they finally told him to stay home, and they’d still pay him. When not writing, Rick enjoys the great indoors, snuggling with his dog, and helping his grandkids get into mischief.

2022 Fellows

Todd Bronson | Poachers

Logline: A Mark Twain adventure with a William Castle monster. On the Mississippi River, teenagers Fiddler Mayfield and Darren Jamison confront monstrous Cheroots who only hunt humans and struggle to save Fiddler’s father even as a government agency searches for the monsters for their own mysterious reasons.

Bio: Todd is a retired lead family caseworker who loves to write sexy film noir and entertaining creature features with an underbelly of humor. He has written over ten features which have won and placed in numerous contests, including a film noir featured on The Black List and a horror/comedy pilot pitched to a major cable company. He has also collaborated with two produced directors on separate horror features.


Shawn Mahan | St. Louis

Logline: The true story of Felix Carvajal, a quiet and diminutive postman from Havana with no official athletic experience who made his way to the third Olympic Games in Saint Louis, Missouri and ended up shocking the field in the 1904 Olympic Marathon.

Bio: Like most film school students, Shawn planned to be the next Great American Director. Unfortunately, he soon discovered that he didn’t know f-stops from sprocket holes. However, he did find out that he could write. After college, he experienced some writing success and then turned to focus on career and family. After 20 very successful years running Art House Cinemas, Shawn pulled the old laptop out and happily discovered that he still has a passion for screenwriting.


Scott Huebscher | The Importance of Proper Lawn Maintenance

Logline: When a depressed man’s 61-year-old mother gets pregnant in a small town, he grows to a height of 30 feet tall.

Bio: An award-winning advertising writer with over 25 years’ experience in the advertising industry, Scott has held senior roles in Australia, New Zealand and the US. He’s written iconic television ads in both Australia and New Zealand, winning the highest level advertising awards for his work. During his time living in Los Angeles, Scott wrote and sold two screenplays to the Hallmark Channel. His screenplays have also won several international screenwriting contests. When Scott’s not writing, he continues to work in the ad industry.


Jennifer Ramsey | Peculiar, Missouri

Logline: In search of a story that could jumpstart her career, a big city journalist discovers more than one supernatural mystery hiding in the frontier town of Peculiar.

Bio: When not saving all creatures great and small at her day job as a veterinarian, Jennifer writes contemporary and historical fantasy, grounded science fiction, children’s programming, and family stories…with a fondness for adaptations. Born, raised, and currently still in Kansas, she’s come to appreciate the fantastic within the mundane—a theme which drives her magical realism-esque style.

2021 Fellows

Hasan Oracius | Race Music (Co-Written with Eric Weber)

Logline: When race tensions set off an unfortunate series of events, an RnB crazed white kid from the 1950s is recruited by two inner city musicians when a portal lands him in present day Kansas City.

Bio: A two toned storyteller who thrives on the atypical. Stemming from a rooted focus in being present, his ability to recreate authentic dialogue has been acknowledged by both industry judges and peers alike. Aiming to evoke introspection, a ken awakening for

audiences, he sheds light on dark corners of the human condition. Hasan J. Oracius is a budding award-winning, Haitian-American screenwriter and filmmaker whose work explores social realism and injustices, striving toward giving voice to those who often go unheard.


Ron McCants | An Aviary of African Seabirds

Logline: An angsty, hothead teen (ANTHONY) from the Missouri Bootheel at the end of his senior year doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life until he meets his father for the first time. Anthony must seize the future or be destroyed by the shackles of his hometown. The only way to do that is to get to know who he truly is by getting to know larger-than-life father.

Bio: While studying Engineering at Dartmouth College, Ron unexpectedly learned him how to dream. Ron had severe difficulty with verbal and written communication, but took a writing course every term. He wanted to make his greatest weakness a strength. He moved to California for an M.F.A. in Playwriting from UC, San Diego. He became an award-winning playwright, got married, had two girls and broke free from the talons of poverty. He runs an organization aimed at improving the career outcomes of marginalized writers through data.


Brandon Camp | Let Me Burn

Logline: A pair of paranormal investigating con men are hired to investigate a poltergeist by a billionaire but get more than they bargained for when the haunting becomes real.

Bio: As a kid, I never thought I’d leave New York City’s immense gravitational pull, but somehow my own lack of motivation defied the laws of physics. I ended up where many wayward souls end up… the United States Army. Through my time in the Armed Forces and subsequent years in government service, I found my wife, had two beautiful children, and through the beauty of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, I was able to return to school and reignite the only passion I had as a young child: soccer video games writing. I graduated from Webster University with a degree in Screenwriting and an insatiable urge to tell stories.

2020 Fellows

Sweet Dreams by Dianne Janis

Would you risk your life to find your runaway daughter? A desperate woman rips her close-knit family apart when she chooses to tap her special intuitive gift (or is it a curse?). The gift that helps her “see” could also kill her. Her choice pits mother against daughter, sister against sister, and husband against wife. Will she find her daughter or die trying?

Dianne Janis is an award-winning screenwriter (Missouri Stories, Nicholl, Diverse Voices, StoryPros), published author, and award-winning advertising copywriter. She studied screenwriting at New York University and also at the University of Arizona. In addition, she has taken the renowned Robert McKee 3-day “Story” workshop and studied with Richard Walter and Aaron Sorkin. Additionally she is a founding member of the Old Pueblo Screenwriting Group and served for two years as a scriptwriting competition judge for the “Contest of Contests.”


St. Louis Superman by Jon Alston and Ronald McCants

A face-tattooed  battle-rapper turned Ferguson activist struggles with his own mental health while fighting for social justice and running for statewide office against a powerful incumbent.

JON ALSTON is a five-year NFL veteran turned award-winning filmmaker, retired from sports in 2011 to pursue storytelling. Since retirement, Jon has directed narrative films, commercials and music videos. In 2014, Jon’s first screenplay and directorial debut, RED BUTTERFLY, premiered at the St. Louis International Film Festival. In 2017, Jon enrolled at the School of Cinematic Arts at USC to pursue an MFA in Film and Television Production. From 2018 to 2020, Jon served as Story Editor on the hit CW/ Netflix TV series ALL AMERICAN and co-wrote the highest rated episode of season one. Jon crafted the visual teaser for Grammy nominated artist, Wale’s 6th studio album, and is adapting the Oscar-Nominated short-doc, ST LOUIS SUPERMAN for the big screen. Jon’s latest short, AUGUSTUS, is currently rounding the festival circuit to much acclaim. In 2020, Jon won the Directorial Discovery Grand Prize at the Rhode Island International Film Festival and Best of Fest at the 2020 St. Louis Filmmakers’ Showcase.

RON MCCANTS is a passionate family man with two princesses who focuses on writing dramas that explore the human experience at the junction of crime and family. In addition, Ron is a multiple award-winning playwright. Ron was raised in Springfield, Missouri, and was drawn to the power of the written word in high school when his father fell victim to a hate crime and joined a class action lawsuit. Ron responded to the ordeal by writing an essay, “My Father’s a Liar and a Thief, but Aren’t All Our Fathers?” The school was up in arms, but Ron felt empowered speaking his truth. Ron is inspired to give voice to the lesser-heard, complex people like his father. Ron was selected as a Disney ABC Program Writer in 2016 and staffed on ABC’s comedy, Speechless. He most recently was a staff writer on Chicago Fire in 2020.


My Best Friend’s Ashes by McKenzie Moser

This coming of age dramedy follows co-dependent best friends Syla and Fern. After Syla dies and returns to haunt Fern, Fern steals her best friend’s ashes so that she can live out her friend’s final dreams.

McKenzie Moser is a current student at the University of Southern California where she is working towards her MFA in Writing for Screen and Television. Prior to USC, McKenzie received her BA in Scriptwriting from Webster University. She would also hold a minor in coffee consumption, if that was an option. Her work has been published, produced, and placed in festivals. Her short scripts have placed in Austin Film Festival, Holly Shorts Film Festival, Atlanta Comedy Film Festival, and Center for Arts Bonita Festival. McKenzie was also awarded the Ken Haller Playwriting Award for LGBTQIA Youth and Allies for her short play, “Trial and Swear.” This play was then produced at St. Louis’ Briefs Festival after first premiering at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre. The writer’s non-fiction piece, “Drama Queen” appeared in the Wild Women Stories March issue in 2019, which was published by Tulip Tree Publishing. McKenzie’s non-fiction has also appeared online at Eat, Darling, Eat. When McKenzie isn’t writing, she’s acting. She’s appeared in several short films, including a leading role in the film “Ride or Die” which successfully premiered at festivals in Toronto and Manhattan, and placed in the Stowe Story Lab.

2019 Fellows

The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread by Peter Barnes

The unknown story of America’s greatest product and the German American who overcomes the anti-immigrant backlash of WWI to invent it. But as he obsesses over his perfect creation, he risks losing the one in front of him all along – his daughter.

Peter Barnes was born and raised in St. Louis, MO, and attended St. Louis University High School. After receiving a B.S. from Northwestern and an M.B.A. from UCLA, Peter embarked on a mildly schizophrenic career. He traded stocks at the Chicago Board of Trade, produced film and television, dabbled as a professional poker player, worked at the world’s largest toy company, and ran a gourmet nacho truck. Writing accolades include the Silver Prize at the 2018 Page Screenwriting Awards, Top 10 Finalist in 2016 Final Draft Big Break, and Semifinalist in the Drama Feature and Enderby categories at the 2019 Austin Film Festival for THE GREATEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD. He has sold spec commercials to Disney, Dave & Busters, Simple Mobile, UCLA, and ASPCA. Most recently, Peter completed the inaugural Sundance Co//ab Directing and Directing Level II programs.


Radical by Dianna Zimmerman

Armed with a hatchet and good intentions, Carry Nation crusades for women’s rights.

Dianna Zimmerman is a published, award-winning poet, novelist, and screenwriter.  She holds a master’s degree in creative writing and has a background in psychology. Her screenplays have placed and won many screenwriting awards, including Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope, Austin Film Festival, Bluecat, PAGE awards, Nashville Film Festival, Final Draft Big Break, Beverly Hills Screenwriting Competition, NY Screenplay Competition, Scriptapalooza, and others. She is based outside of Detroit.


Skips a Generation by Taylor Sade

A dying, local legend of a country/southern rock musician attempts to reconnect his estranged daughter and three sons while letting go of the mistakes he made in his career before his final live performance.

Taylor Sade is a writer/ performer/actor/producer from Springfield, Missouri now based in Los Angeles. He’s written for three of comedy’s most renowned names: CollegeHumor; Above Average (a subsidiary of Lorne Michael’s Broadway Video)- where he wrote jokes exclusively covering the news leading up to the 2016 election; and he covered the initial unfolding of the Trump presidency for the brief reincarnation of National Lampoon. He is also a graduate of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater improv program and has studied television writing and voice acting at Second City, Hollywood.

2018 Fellows

Undelivered by Jeffrey Field 

A letter carrier’s sudden death leads to the discovery of a mountain of stolen, undelivered mail, shaking up the lives of people living in a struggling Missouri small town.


Don’t Go There by Jeffrey Field 

A housebound senior struggles to stay alive when a mass murderer takes refuge in her home on the coldest night in 84 years.

Jeffrey R. Field  scripts have been recognized in such competitions as the Academy Nicholl Fellowship, the Austin Film Festival, the Screencraft Science Fiction Screenplay Competition, the Nashville Film Festival, the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards, and many more.Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Jeffrey is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and spent most of his career producing television and digital news in Kansas City newsrooms. He currently does communications work in the healthcare industry.


Seekers by Laura Kirk

A lovable pastor struggles to share her truth with her flock as the winds of change shake a small congregation and town.

Laura Kirk is associate teaching professor at the University of Kansas and is an award-winning filmmaker with credits as a producer and actor in many films including Andrea Arnold’s Cannes film American Honey (2017), and Slamdance film The Sublime and Beautiful : (2014). A veteran on the independent film festival circuit, Kirk co-wrote and starred in one of the first digital films: Lisa Picard is Famous: Cannes 2000. Kirk began her career on stage off-Broadway and regionally where she was also a teaching artist in homeless shelters and in schools for the Dreamyard Drama Project. Laura is a co-founder of the mentoring group “Women of Lawrence Film” where she puts into practice her interests in remedying gender inequity in the film industry. Her research is featured in “When Women Wrote Hollywood” (McFarland).


Branson by Michael Doshier

When the patriarch of a successful family variety show in a conservative town commits suicide, his gay son must decide if he wants to carry on his family’s legacy.

Michael Doshier is a New York-based writer, musician, and performer. Growing up in Conway, Arkansas, Michael was inspired by his favorite place in the world, Branson, Missouri, where he dreamed of becoming a star. Michael studied Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Playwright and professor Daniel Goldfarb wrote of him: “He is one of the most exciting writers I’ve taught in the past eleven years. His play Good Conversation has the empathy and the humor and the complexity of Kenneth Lonergan’s best work.” Michael has been on hit web series The Outs, written The Talkhouse and Things Created by People and co-hosted the rising podcast Queers on Queens. Most recently, his multimedia one-man cabaret Johnny Darlin: In the Closet was met with rave reception at both the 2016 New York, and the 2017 Prague, Fringe Festivals. When he’s not writing, Michael continues to perform around New York.

2017 Fellows

Metal & Dust by Justin Calen-Chenn

Street life be a trifling motherfucker. After killing her shot caller’s son in self-defense, a troubled young female street gangster is forced to leave town and ask herself the question: can we change who we are?

Born in Santa Fe Springs, CA, and raised partly in Taipei, Taiwan before permanently returning to the USA, Justin Calen-Chenn was, at various points, involved in criminal activities all over Southern California before discovering film and TV for the first time later on and using it to turn his life around. Notable exploits to date for Justin include collaborations with producer Deborah Del Prete, international icon Michelle Yeoh and Mandy Teefey (EP of 13 Reasons Why.) Justin has previously placed in the quarterfinals of the Nicholls Fellowship. He is currently represented by manager Adam Marshall at Management 360.


81 Days by Andrew Jones

1953. The largest ransom in U.S. history was paid for a wealthy family’s boy who was kidnapped by a drunken, conniving couple whose bad planning and bad decisions lead to their ultimate capture and execution, all within 81 days.

Andrew P. Jones brings thirty years of experience to every production.  Having started in the special effects field, he was able to watch and learn from top directors like Steven Spielberg, Richard Donner, and Harold Ramis.   He spent years working on hit shows such as Married With ChildrenIn Living ColorEverybody Loves Raymond, Mad TV, and films such as Batman, Hook, Groundhog Day.  In 1997 he co-created a syndicated children’s show called, Field Trip for which Andrew co-wrote and produced 26 episodes, starred as one of the lead puppet characters, and directed many episodes.  For the past twenty years he has worked as a producer, director, and/or editor for such hit shows as Naked & Afraid, Nanny 911, Hell’s Kitchen, and for nearly every network from Discovery to ESPN to Playboy.   His debut feature film in 2010, Kings of the Evening, won numerous awards on the festival circuit. His second feature, Haunting of Cellblock 11, won best horror film at the 2014 Boston Terror ‘Thon.  Andrew currently has five completed screenplays in various stages of development and production, as well as sharing story credit and serving as executive producer on Wild Boar – the directorial debut feature by Oscar winner, Barney Burman.


Flyover by Margaret Phillips

When a buttoned-up Manhattanite’s life spins out of control, she retreats to her childhood home in Missouri – only to discover that her family’s world is unraveling faster than her own.

Meg Phillips Crespy is a Missouri-based playwright, composer, and author. Her full-length play “Mostly Sweet” was selected as part of Cherry Lane Theatre’s “Tongues” series in 2013, and her ten-minute play “The Pap” was a semi-finalist in the 2016 Pick of the Vine play festival. In addition to numerous plays and musicals, Meg has authored a humorous memoir, “ZenKinky and the Art of (Not Finding) Love on the Internet.” Based on this work, she wrote the teleplay for “The ZenKinky Chronicles,” a webseries available on YouTube.  Meg holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Truman State University. When she’s not engaged in more creative pursuits, she can be found with the University of Missouri’s communication team, writing stories that make science accessible to the public.

2016 Fellows

The Gashouse Gang by Nicholas Pangilinan

Based on the true story of the Dean brothers who lead a ragtag, never-say-die baseball team that inspires the nation during the Great Depression by winning the 1934 World Series.

Nick was born in St. Charles, Missouri and attended De Smet Jesuit High School.  Besides being a first generation Filipino American, he’s also been exposed to different cultures through the twelve exchange students that have each lived with his family for a year. Nick pursued a Film Studies degree from the University of Tulsa and discovered his love for screenwriting. After taking a year off back in St. Louis, Nick traveled to Los Angeles and was accepted at Loyola Marymount University. He graduated as the Film Student of Year of his class and obtained an MFA in Screenwriting. He currently lives in Los Angeles and recently was offered an option for his first feature.


Schwinn Varsity by Richard Eschenroeder and Andrew Smith

In the summer of 1977, two teenage boys take an epic bicycle road trip across St. Louis in search of a mythical dumpster filled with adult magazines.

Richard has over 25 years of experience in commercial television and film production, He has produced and directed commercial shoots with budgets well over $1 million. He recently has held a position as an executive producer and brand management consultant in the marketing division at a Fortune 500 financial institution overseeing a production team with an annual budget of $2.5 million.

Andy has been living in Los Angeles and working in various capacities of production for over twenty years.  In the 90’s he worked for NBC as an assistant to the producer for the comedies “Man of the People”and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”. Later he worked on the Johnny Carson / Jay Leno transition team for “The Tonight Show” before moving on to a job working for Executive Producer Peter Engel on “Saved By the Bell”.  Since 2009 he’s worked for Evolution Film & Tape as an Art Director on such unscripted shows as “Desperate Spaces”, “Growing Up Twisted” and “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”. In 2011, Andy started The Foto Bureau, a small production group specializing in in-house video production and still photography. Clients include Nature’s Gate and Orly International.

Poetic License by Bob Wiley

A poet/writer struggles to regain his past promise and fame as he searches for the perfect ending to his book – and his life.

Bob’s upbringing in rural southwest Missouri fostered a sense of imagination and a love for passionate stories that expanded his world – and understanding of it. Bob holds a MBA in Finance from University Of Missouri–Kansas City and credits his CEO stints in community banking as invaluable experiences that informs his writing in a profound way. This vision helped forge clarity and a drive to tell stories in which we can all relate. Stories that at their heart are about us, our individuality, our desires, struggles, and secrets. Bob enjoys tennis and is also an avid runner. With his group of friends, he’s run four marathons.

2015 Fellows

Lineage by Marlana Hope

Four generations of women within two families, one black and one white, are brought together through changes in perceptions of race, gender and age over the last fifty years.

Marlana grew up on a horse ranch outside St. Louis, Missouri. Following too many brutal winters and a Degree in theatre at the University of Illinois, she headed west and began her entertainment career as a Page at NBC and a PA on the Oscars. She was a writers assistant and later a script coordinator on DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES and the last two seasons of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. Marlana joined the writing staff of ARMY WIVES for what would be their final two seasons. Currently, she is an executive story editor on Amazon’s new series THE KICKS set to premiere in the summer of 2016.


No Man’s Land by Michelle Davidson and Jeffrey Field

In a future generation where males are rare and mature into monsters, a plucky teenager begins a secret romance with a boy on the verge of his transformation.

Michelle is a regional Emmy award winning writer and director of the comedic short film A SENIOR MOMENT, also recognized with a Celtx Seed Grant and awards at various film festivals. On the small screen, Michelle hosts a daily entertainment show “Kansas City Live” on KSHB (NBC). She co-hosts and produces “CinemaKC,” a weekly program showcasing filmmakers.

Jeffrey has written 14 feature screenplays. His comedies POP HIT and FOR SALE BY OWNER (co-written with Michelle Davidson) have both been optioned. He is a 2013 and 2014 Nicholl Fellowship semifinalist, a Bronze Prize winner for Drama in the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards and a semifinalist in the Austin Film Festival screenplay competition. Field is a writer/producer/web editor at Kansas City’s KMBC (CBS.)


Red State by Dominique Johnson 

An ambitious Republican struggles to win Missouri’s Senate primary and keep her family together when her sister’s same-sex marriage becomes national news, endangering her campaign.

Dominique is a writer and an actor. Dominique attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, earning a B.A in History,– while acting in a play almost every term and taking part in International Model United Nations, traveling to such places as Beijing and Montreal. She spent four months living in Morocco, as well as time in Costa Rica and France. Many moons before that, she attended John Burroughs High School in St. Louis, MO. And before that Meramec Elementary school in Clayton, MO, and even before that, A Growing Place Montessori School. In 2014, she was a 2014 Academy Nicholl Fellowship QuarterFinalist. Dominique now lives in New York, though a Missourian born and raised.

2014 Fellows

Searching for Jesse by Steve Clark

A sailor’s search for a notorious ancestor meets a librarian’s bittersweet life.

Steven Clark was born in 1952 in Bonne Terre, Missouri. He served in the U.S. army and graduated in 1980 with a B.A. in English from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. His play The Love Season won Source Theater’s 1985 Best Play award. His novel The Green Path was published in 2012, and his novel The St. Louisans will be published in 2016 by Walrus Publishing. His stories have appeared in Black Oak Presents, Mozark Press, and UMSL Litmag. His play The Buffalo was part of the Spectrum Theater’s 2011 festival, described by KDHX as ”…the most important play of the evening…” He has performed with St. Louis Shakespeare and St. Louis Early Music. Staged readings of his plays The Countess of the Dial and Hypatia were part of the University of Missouri-St. Louis Woman’s History Month celebrations.


Cloister by Peter Hanrahan

A private detective investigates the murder of a Carmelite nun and uncovers a conspiracy that leads to the Archdiocese.

Peter Hanrahan received his MFA in Playwriting from Rutgers University and graduated with a BA in English from Washington University in St. Louis (Phi Beta Kappa). As a playwright, his plays have been read, work shopped and produced by various theater companies, including the Arena Stage in Washington, DC.His play Prize Inside was published in The Best Ten-Minute Plays of 2007 (S&K). As a screenwriter, he has placed among the top 30 entrants in the Nicholl Fellowship Competition. He has several screenplay projects in development, including The Lowlands, which is in preproduction. He lived in Los Angeles for several years, where he worked as one of two in-house Story Analysts for the United Talent Agency. He continues to serve as a freelance consultant for the United Talent Agency, as well as for Jennifer Lopez Entertainment. He currently lives with his wife and daughters in Saint Louis, Missouri, where he teaches classes in film and theater at Saint Louis University.


City of Blues by Peter Mayer

St. Louis, 1958. A blues club owner finds himself in the middle of a war for control of the Mississippi riverfront.

Mayer is an actor and writer living in St. Louis. He studied in the graduate acting program at Catholic University, under the direction of Academy Award winning actress Mercedes McCambridge, before touring for two years with the National Repertory Company, performing the works of Shakespeare throughout the continental U.S. He was a featured player on the daytime drama Guiding Light, co-starred with Paul Winfield in the ABC drama Crossroads, and was seen as Paul Sumner on the NBC series The Playboy Club. He appears regularly in St. Louis theaters and was named the 2011 Actor of the Year by The Riverfront Times.

2022 Mentors

Ron McCants 

A Missouri Stories Alum from both 2020 and 2021, Ron is an experienced television writer and producer. While studying Engineering at Dartmouth College, Ron unexpectedly learned him how to dream. Ron had severe difficulty with verbal and written communication, but took a writing course every term. He wanted to make his greatest weakness a strength.

He moved to California for an M.F.A. in Playwriting from UC, San Diego. He became an award-winning playwright, got married, had two girls and broke free from the talons of poverty. He runs an organization aimed at improving the career outcomes of marginalized writers through data.

His writing credits include Speechless and Chicago Fire.


Jessica Larson

Jessica Larson grew up in Springfield, Missouri. She studied Media Production and Screenwriting at Missouri State University. After graduating in 2016, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue Writing for TV.

After many years of navigating the industry as an assistant in everything from reality TV to Horror Films, she landed a role in a writers’ room as Script Coordinator on Freeform’s dramedy, “Single Drunk Female.” Soon, she had the opportunity to write an episode for Season Two of the show. Her next goal is to land a staff writing position, but until then, she will spend countless hours trying to write the next “Search Party”.

2021 Mentors

Aaron Rashaan Thomas

Aaron is an acclaimed television and film screenwriter and producer from Kansas City. Most recently, Aaron was the co-creator and executive producer of the series reboot of S.W.A.T. on CBS. He is currently Creator of Content for BET Studios.

Aaron has had two screenplays produced as feature films: Cover, directed by Bill Duke and Assassination Games, starring Jean Claude Van Damme. He has also directed an ESPN 30 for 30 film about the USC football team during the Pete Carroll era, entitled, Trojan War.

Aaron began his professional career as a writer’s assistant on Soul Food: The Series and went on to work on the staff of such TV series as NBC’s Friday Night Lights, for which he received a Peabody Award, as well as CBS procedurals, such as Numb3rs and CSI:NY. Aaron has also served as a Co-Executive Producer on TNT’s SouthLAnd, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow and Netflix’s The Get Down.


Timothy J. Sexton

Tim was born in St. Louis, majored in English at Colorado College then took time to travel. He worked as a copywriter, journalist and translator. After living in Mexico City for four years, he relocated to Los Angeles to work as a screenwriter.

He was nominated for an Oscar in 2006 for his work on Children of Men. Other feature work includes The Liberator and Cesar Chavez.

Work for television includes Chicago PD, The Lottery, Independent Lens, and several HBO Films projects including Walkout, Boycott, Live From Baghdad – for which he received a 2003 Emmy Award nomination, and For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story – which earned Sexton the 2002 WGA Paul Selvin Award, given to a work that “best embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil rights and liberties, which are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere.”

2020 Mentors

Michael Tabb

Michael has developed projects with or for Universal Studios, Disney Feature Animation, Intrepid Pictures, Paradox Entertainment, The Canton Company at Warner Brothers, Imagine Entertainment, comic book icon Stan Lee, and actor/producer Dustin Hoffman to name a few. He is an active WGA member and co-created the WGA’s first ever Mentor Program for the newest members of the entertainment industry scriptwriters’ union. His education includes two years as a USC undergrad, a B.F.A. from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and he’s a graduate from UCLA’s School of Film and Television, professional screenwriting program.


Marlana Hope

Marlana grew up on a horse ranch outside St. Louis, Missouri. Following too many brutal winters and a Degree in theatre at the University of Illinois, she headed west and began her entertainment career as a Page at NBC and a PA on the Oscars. She was a writers assistant and later a script coordinator on Desperate Housewives and the last two seasons of Friday Night Lights. Marlana joined the writing staff of Army Wives for what would be their final two seasons. After a season as an executive story editor on Amazon’s The Kicks, she joined Grey’s Anatomy as co-producer.


Additional sessions with…

Bill Dubuque is a screenwriter known for such films as The AccountantA Family ManThe Judge, and the television series Ozark. In 2017 he scripted an upcoming DC Extended Universe Nightwing film and has been connected to an Accountant sequel. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, spending time working on the Lake of the Ozarks as a teen. He still lives in St. Louis, with his wife and three children.

Sue Mroz is a Professor of Instruction in Cinema and Television Arts, focusing on Screenwriting and Directing. Prior to Columbia, she was a Program Director of the Chicago International Film Festival and worked as an actor and filmmaker with Wild Life Theater and Rococo Rodeo. She has an MFA in Film and Video from Columbia College, and completed the Jungian Studies Program at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago in 2020. In 2011, Sue received the Excellence in Teaching Award for full-time faculty.

Liesel Duhon is a St. Louis-based certified business and life coach who specializes in empowering executives and creatives all over the world to identify their vision and purpose and meet their potential. Her coaching helps professionals enhance their leadership and team building skills, giving them the confidence to move forward with their careers. She is an ACE-Certified personal trainer, with a background in international training and development, business, music, filmmaking and art.

2019 Mentors

Nancy Miller

Nancy has written and produced more than 180 episodes for 14 different television shows. She is the creator behind series such as Any Day Now and Saving Grace (Holly Hunter.) In addition, she has served as showrunner and executive producer on shows like CSI: MiamiProfiler, and The Closer.


Bart Baker

Bart has written and produced 18 films, made-for-TV movies, TV series and has one novel to his credit. Projects include the Pierce Brosnan action film Live WireSupercross, with Channing Tatum, CBS TV’s Bride Trilogy, FX Network’s Dirt, and most recently Love and Sunshine for the Hallmark Channel.

2018 Mentors

Michael Tabb

Michael has developed projects with or for Universal Studios, Disney Feature Animation, Intrepid Pictures , Paradox Entertainment, The Canton Company at Warner Brothers, Imagine Entertainment, Producers Paul Schiff, Sean Daniel, Lawrence Bender, Branko Lustig, Directors Thor Freudenthal, Mike Newell, Shintaro Shimosawa, fellow WGA writers Evan Spiliotopoulos, Jonathan Hensleigh, comic book icon Stan Lee, and actor/producer Dustin Hoffman to name a few. He is an active WGA member and co-created the WGA’s first ever Mentor Program for the newest members of the entertainment industry scriptwriters’ union.  He also originated the column in Ingénue Magazine about the business of screenwriting entitled “Script Notes,” which has been picked up by Script Magazine. His education includes two years as a USC undergrad, a B.F.A. from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and graduated from UCLA’s School of Film and Television, professional screenwriting program.


Josef Sawyer

Josef’s TV credits include staff writer on the CBS series SEAL Team, BET series Being Mary Jane and producer for America’s Most Wanted.

Sawyer has also taught courses in Screenwriting and Journalism at Cal State LA. He holds two Masters degrees, one from University of California, Berkley in Broadcast Journalism and one from University of Southern California in Film. He attended Howard University as an undergrad in Journalism.

During the intensive, three-day fellowship retreat, the writers were joined by accomplished industry mentors who participated in “workshop” group conversations and one-on-one mentor sessions.

2017 Mentors

Valerie Woods

During Valerie’s 20+ years as a member of WGAw, she has written on one-hour drama series for CBS, Lifetime, and Showtime. Credits include Co-Executive Producer/Writer on the drama series, Any Day Now on Lifetime Network. Her episode “Family is Family” was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award, and Consulting Producer/Writer for the drama series, Soul Food on Showtime Network. Valerie is one of four Syd Field Screenwriting Method Instructors trained by Mr. Field and was appointed Creative Director for Syd Field – The Art of Visual Storytelling. Valerie wrote the screen adaptation of the novel Tempest Rising by Diane McKinney-Whetstone, with the production company of actor/director Phylicia Rashad and is also a Co-Executive Producer/writer for the in-development mini-series Tulsa for OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network).


Marlana Hope

Marlana grew up on a horse ranch outside St. Louis, Missouri. Following too many brutal winters and a Degree in theatre at the University of Illinois, she headed west and began her entertainment career as a Page at NBC and a PA on the Oscars. She was a writers assistant and later a script coordinator on Desperate Housewives and the last two seasons of Friday Night Lights. Marlana joined the writing staff of Army Wives for what would be their final two seasons. After a season as an executive story editor on Amazon’s The Kicks, she joined Grey’s Anatomy as co-producer.

2016 Mentors

Sibyl Gardner

Currently living in Colorado, Sibyl spent 25 years in Los Angeles, making a living by writing one-hour drama for TV. After several years in production (at fledgling MTV and the New York cable TV scene), She moved to L.A. Her produced TV credits include: Law & OrderJudging Amy, Profiler, Any Day Now, Joan of Arcadia, Saving Grace, Hawthorne, and Nashville. She has also written 10 screenplays, one of which is in development with Denver-based producers.


Paul Guyot

Paul was born in a small desert town.  Prior to finding his passion for the written word, Paul exercised his imagination during his early years converting the side yard of his boyhood home into the great football stadiums and golf courses of the world. While that extracurricular imagination did not serve him well in school—Paul spent 61.7% of his elementary years in the principal’s office—it did form the beginnings of a writer. Most recently, Paul served as co-executive producer for The Librarians, with other TV credits including:  Leverage, Judging Amy, and Felicity.  His feature, Geostorm, starring Gerard Butler will be in theaters in October 2017.

2015 Mentors

Angelo Pizzo

Angelo grew up in Bloomington, Indianna. He is a writer and producer who began his film/television career with Warner Brothers Television. He is best known for writing the screenplays for Rudy and Hoosiers. His feature film, Game of Their Lives, was set in 1950’s St. Louis and told the story of the World Cup soccer team. The film starring Gerald Butler and Wes Bentley filmed in St. Louis and Brazil.


Ken LaZebnik

Ken grew up in Columbia, Mo. Together with Garrison Keillor, LaZebnik co-wrote director Robert Altman’s last film: A Prairie Home Companion, starring Meryl Streep, Lindsay Lohan, and John C. Reilly. LaZebnik also wrote the Lionsgate film Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage. It stars Peter O’Toole as the popular painter Thomas Kinkade’s mentor; Marcia Gay Harden plays Kinkade’s mother. For television, he has written on series as varied as Touched By An Angel, Providence, and Star Trek: Enterprise.  In 2012 LaZebnik wrote an episode of Army Wives, and is currently writing for an upcoming Hallmark Channel show, When Calls the Heart.

2014 Mentors

Bob Gale

Bob was born in University City, Missouri. He received his B.A. in Cinema from the University of Southern California, where he met Robert Zemeckis. As screenwriters, Gale and Zemeckis collaborated on films including 1941, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Used Cars, Trespass, and the Back to the Future trilogy. In 1985, Gale and Zemeckis were nominated for an Academy Award in honor of their screenplay for Back to the Future. Also, Gale has written comic books including: Ant-Man, Batman, and The Amazing Spider-Man. In 2002, Gale debuted as a feature-film director with Interstate 60: Episodes of the Road. Recently announced, Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis are working on a stage musical adaptation of Back to the Future, expected to be released in 2015, which is the 30th anniversary of the film.


Kathleen McGhee-Anderson

Kathleen earned a BA from Spellman College and an MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts in Film. Her television credits include:  Benson, Webster, Charles In Charge, Gimme A Break,  Amen, 227, The Cosby Show, Touched by An Angel, 413 Hope Street, South Central, and Any Day Now.  She was the Executive Producer of the fifth season of Soul Food, for Showtime, and for four seasons was the Executive Producer /Showrunner of the critically acclaimed series, Lincoln Heights  for ABC/Family. McGhee-Anderson has written feature films for Columbia Pictures, Paramount Motion Pictures, Bruckheimer Films and Twentieth Century Fox Films. Jersey Films/Sony produced her film, Sunset Park, and the movie The Color of Courage. She has developed and sold long-form, mini-series and pilots to NBC, Fox, CBS, ABC, USA, Showtime and PBS. McGhee-Anderson’s theater work has been developed and produced in conjunction with The Arena Stage, The Mark Taper Forum, The Crossroads Theater Company, The Vineyard Playhouse, The Harold Prince Music Theater and The Julliard School in repertory. Her plays, Jump at the Sun and Mothers, were produced by LA Theater Works, broadcast on National Public Radio and taught in secondary school throughout the country. She has twice been selected as a Eugene O’Neill Playwright by the prestigious Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut. Kathleen lives in Venice Beach, California and Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts.


Philip LaZebnik

Philip was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and raised in Columbia Missouri. He attended Harvard University, where he studied Ancient Greek language and classics. He was briefly a professional violinist for the Boston Ballet Orchestra, the Boston Pops and the Tanglewood Festival Orchestra. He wrote the book, music and lyrics for more than twenty musicals and plays. Philip LaZebnik is a screenwriter, television writer and producer. LaZebnik’s screenplays include PocahontasMulan, and The Prince of Egypt. LaZebnik’s television credits include:  Almost HomeStar Trek: The Next Generation, and Wings. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America, and the Writers Branch Executive Committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Sample Scripts

Winter’s Bone

Gone Girl (shooting script)

Ozark, pilot script

Resurrection, TV pilot script


Other Resources

The “How to Write a Screenplay” Workbook,

7 Ways Writing a Screenplay is Different than Writing a Novel,

Writers Guild of America

International Screenwriters’ Association, list of screenwriting blogs