CONGRATUATIONS TO OUR 2023 TV CONTEST SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS!

CineStory is pleased to award five new scholarships for the 2023 TV Retreat & Fellowship Contest. These scholarships are made possible by generous donations from CineStory Board members, Bellem Entertainment, and other members of the CineStory community.

Many thanks to our donors, and congratulations to our scholarship winners!

(Pictured above, from left to right: Stephanie Bast, Jimmy Miller, Ray Gettman Bush, Kate Chrisman, and Sophie Smyth)

Stephanie Bast / 2023 CineStory Original Comedy TV Scholarship

The 2023 CineStory Original Comedy TV Scholarship is awarded to an outstanding TV pilot that reached the semifinalist level or higher in the Original Comedy Division of this year’s TV Retreat & Fellowship Contest. The winner is awarded a $500 tuition reduction for this year’s TV Retreat.

The winner of the 2023 CineStory Original Comedy TV Scholarship is Stephanie Bast for her original comedy pilot WASH YOUR BIRDIE: 101 THINGS THAT CAN CRAWL UP YOUR VAGINA AND KILL YOU. In it, a Catholic school virgin promises to please her mother and God, but when she leaves home for college, her vagina (portrayed by an animated cartoon bird) is determined to please herself. Will she spread her wings?

Stephanie Bast is a Broadway actress turn writer and Korean adoptee raised to be fiercely Italian in a world that insists she be Asian. So she’s really f’ing pissed about the stereotypes placed on her face, but also polite about it all.

Her warped POV lends to off-kilter comedies about messy women in pain, but the foundation in both her writing and life is heart.

Her pilots have won multiple awards: FRANKENFAMILY (The Writers Lab 2022 – funded by Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman) and WASH YOUR BIRDIE: 101 THINGS THAT CAN CRAWL UP YOUR VAGINA AND KILL YOU (Best Comedy of The Catalyst Festival, Final Draft’s Big Break Top 10, and now CineStory’s second place winner for Original Comedy).

She is thrilled and grateful to be part of the CineStory family.

Jimmy Miller – CineStory Original Drama TV Scholarship Winner

The 2023 CineStory Original Drama TV Scholarship is awarded to an outstanding TV pilot that reached the semifinalist level or higher in the Original Drama Division of this year’s TV Retreat & Fellowship Contest. The winner is awarded a $500 tuition reduction for this year’s TV Retreat.

The winner of the 2023 CineStory Original Drama TV Scholarship is Jimmy Miller for his original drama pilot PERFECT. In it, a female FBI agent and a fugitive 9-year-old girl use perfect recall and stolen memories to reclaim their true identities and battle the global conspiracy against them.

Jimmy Miller is an award-winning screenwriter and editor from a small town in Ohio. Raised by his mother and older sisters, Jimmy is driven to tell stories that center female protagonists in empowering stories with male supporting characters who break the Hollywood mold. His personal struggles with addiction and autism layer his characters with honesty, fear, and perseverance – making them both terrifying and inspiring. He writes to create community, connection, and joy.

His screenplay SLUGGER won the Austin Film Festival and the PAGE Screenwriting Awards and was a Semi-Finalist in the Nicholl Fellowships. It is currently on the Coverfly Red List (Top 1%), and has a Slated score of 80 (Top 1%). His new supernatural drama series pilot PERFECT was a Semi-Finalist in the Cinestory TV Retreat & Fellowship Contest.

He currently resides in Burbank, California.

Ray Gettman Bush – CineStory Original Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Scholarship Winner

The 2023 CineStory Original Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Scholarship is awarded to an outstanding TV pilot that reached the semifinalist level or higher in the Original Sci-Fi/Fantasy Division of this year’s TV Retreat & Fellowship Contest. The winner is awarded a $500 tuition reduction for this year’s TV Retreat.

The winner of the 2023 CineStory Original Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Scholarship is Ray Gettman Bush for his original sci-fi/fantasy pilot FORTUNES. In it, a restaurant patron’s normal life descends into darkness when the fortune from her fortune cookie seemingly comes true.

Ray Gettman Bush grew up on the east coast of Florida watching rocket launches from the comfort of his front lawn. When he wasn’t watching mankind reach for the stars, he was dreaming about it. Inspired by shows like STAR TREK and THE TWILIGHT ZONE, Ray spent much of his childhood writing his own far out stories and trying them out on his neighborhood friends.

Screenwriting has always been a passion of Ray’s. But, when he informed his parents of his desire to “write for the movies,” it wasn’t something they could exactly wrap their minds around, considering the family lived on the opposite coast from Hollywood, USA. Instead, Ray became a “newspaper man,” starting off in sports writing, then gravitating to news and feature writing and later working his way into business and digital development.

Over the years, Ray’s rekindled his love for screenwriting. Currently, Ray writes in what he calls the “quadrants of geekdom” – sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and classic horror. Last year, he completed two TV pilots and two feature scripts and hopes to add to that portfolio this year. In 2021, Ray’s pilot script APOLLO 19 won the TV Original Sci-fi/Fantasy Division of the CineStory TV Retreat & Fellowship Contest.

Kate Chrisman – Bellem Entertainment TV Scholarship Winner

The 2023 Bellem Entertainment TV Scholarship is awarded to an outstanding woman writer with an engaging story to tell who is 40 years of age or older and whose TV Pilot reached the quarterfinalist level or higher in the Original Drama or Original Comedy Division of this year’s TV Retreat & Fellowship Contest. The winner is awarded a $500 tuition reduction for this year’s TV retreat.

Bellem Entertainment seeks to empower women and support their stories.

The winner of the 2023 Bellem Entertainment TV Scholarship is Kate Chrisman for her original comedy pilot OUTSOURCED. In OUTSOURCED, in the high-pressure world of Silicon Valley where women lean in and mistakes are costly, a driven but overwhelmed mother outsources her sex life to save her marriage and family.

Kate Chrisman is an American writer in Berlin. She’s lived in Beijing, Shanghai, London, Taipei, Singapore, Oakland, Washington DC, and her hometown of Minneapolis. As a mother of three, she writes high concept shows with complex characters who make “bad” decisions. Her work often combines satire and dark humor with issues of parenting, morality, and climate change. Her half-hour dramedy pilot OUTSOURCED was a semifinalist in both the Austin Film Festival and the Stowe Story Labs Maven Fellowship.

Kate also writes short humor and essays. Before screenwriting, Kate reported from Mongolian coal mines, got big tech companies to invest more money in wind and solar, and advised the Chinese government on how to transition to renewable energy. She is an environmentalist, policy-nerd, and an Oxford-comma fan who speaks English, Chinese, and embarrassingly bad German. Kate’s goal is to work in a writer’s room on a female-driven drama or comedy.

Sophie Smyth – Sartor Underrepresented Voices TV Scholarship Winner

The 2023 Sartor Underrepresented Voices TV Scholarship is awarded to an outstanding writer who belongs to a community that has been historically underrepresented in Hollywood – particularly BIPOC writers, AAPI writers, LGBTQIA+ writers, women writers who are 45 or older, and writers with disabilities – and whose TV pilot reaches the quarterfinalist level or higher in this year’s TV Retreat & Fellowship Contest. The winner receives a $1,000 tuition reduction to attend this year’s TV retreat.

The winner of the 2023 Sartor Underrepresented Voices TV Scholarship is Sophie Smyth for her original comedy pilot UNLOVEABLE. In it, a 20-something almost-not-a-virgin is dumped because of her autism (well, according to her) and flung headfirst into the throes of modern dating — and she’ll do ANYTHING (except anal) (probs) to prove that she! is! loveable!! damnit!!!

Sophie Smyth (she/her) is a neurodivergent (autism, ADHD) singer, actor, writer, and sometimes dancer currently based in Melbourne, Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Music Theatre) from Federation University’s Arts Academy and a 100% Wordle win rate.

Her cabaret show, THE ASPIE HOUR (theaspiehour.com), a poignant and hilarious look at autistic life, co-written and performed with Ryan Smedley, directed by Fiona Scott-Norman, and musical direction by Rainer Pollard, played to sold-out audiences and standing ovations across Australia, garnering multiple awards including a Green Room Award for Best Writing in a Cabaret (2019).

Theatre highlights include Juniper in the Helpmann Award Winning musical ROBOT SONG with Arena Theatre Company (2019, 2022 national tours) and Blasko Tupper in MOTOR-MOUTH LOVES SUCK-FACE: AN APOCALYPTIC MUSICAL at La Mama Theatre.

As a writer, Sophie is a recipient of Australians in Film’s inaugural UNTAPPED development lab program. Handpicked from over 800 applications, the program included tutelage from top LA industry leaders and personal mentorship from LuckyChap Entertainment. Her current screenwriting work is UNLOVEABLE, a comedy drama for television inspired by a breakup and her experiences of modern dating as an autistic. The project recently received development funding from Screen Australia, was named runner-up at the Australian Writer’s Guild’s Monte Miller Awards, and placed in the finals for CineStory’s TV Retreat & Fellowship Contest. She is also a proud finalist for the Rebel Wilson Comedy Commission. Her current musical project is an untitled musical examining the cost of systemic ableist oppression at the hands of an art form that pledges inclusivity, and what musicals could be if accessibility was embedded.

Sophie is a passionate disability advocate for authentic neurodivergent representation across film, television, and stage. She is represented as an artist and creative with Mollison Keightley Management.

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