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American Gem Short Screenplay & Literary Festival
2011 Screenplay Contest

Enter your Short Screenplay, Short Story, Treatment in American Gem Short Screenplay Contest / Literary Festival. 

Winning Screenplay in the American Gem Short Screenplay Contest will be Produced.

Grand Prize Winner / Short Screenplay Gets to Pitch Screenplay to Producers, Studio Executives and Agents. Certificate of achievement awards to the Top 25 scripts and top 3 in each of the other categories.

from script to screen


FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards
Screenplay Contest Interview

| Winners | Bio | Synopsis | Script Excerpt |




M Ann Elias for Ellis Island

Ellis Island

M Ann Elias
of Nashua,


Logline: A Greek family flees from discrimination in Turkey and must make new lives in the tough reality of early 20th century Athens. While the parents toil to make a good life for the family, the daughters foster aspirations of leaving for the opportunities in America.



M Ann Elias

Ann Elias lives in New Hampshire and works at BAE SYSTEMS. She has a Master’s in Business Administration / Master of Science in Finance with a Certificate in International Business. When she is not at work, she loves to travel and spend time at the beach with family and friends.


Part 1.


I knew I wanted to be screenwriter .....

if someone told me 5 years ago that I would be entering a screenplay contest and finishing in the top 20, I would have told them that they were nuts and that I do not have that kind of talent or discipline.

I know I've succeeded when ...... 

I win an Oscar.

My inspiration to write Ellis Island.....

was my grandmother. Her courage and perseverance is a lesson for everyone. I cannot imagine moving half way around the world to a country where I barely speak the language and setting up house. This is the sacrifice that all of our ancestors made so their legacies would endure. It was not a lack of love for their homeland, they are all unwaveringly proud of their heritage and culture; rather, it is the provincial mentality, lack of opportunity, education and jobs that drove them out. Not unlike what many Mexican, Iraqi, Afghani and Iranian immigrants are seeking today.

Part 2.


FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

M Ann Elias
A few years ago I was tracing my genealogy and as I followed my grandmother’s journey, I realized that she may have been a bit of a trouble maker, but that her journey was the journey of many immigrants.

FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to complete?

M Ann Elias:
Yes, this is my first script and it took 5 years to get it to where it is today. It went through 12 rounds of revisions - some of them sweeping and some of them minor.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?

M Ann Elias:
I work full time as a financial analyst, so my daytime hours are occupied. I use nights and weekends for my writing and a little corner of our condo is dedicated to my writing corner.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?

M Ann Elias:
Absolutely! The competitive arena provides an opportunity to test the merits of any work against its peers. Writers must understand, and this is extremely important, that in order for a script to be considered for production, it must demonstrate the level of competency required by that production company, a.k.a., the investors. Essentially, the top 20 finishers of any contest represent a fraction of a larger pool of several hundred other contests. Collectively, that group enters a competition of the cream of the crop. Since Hollywood produces about 144 films per year there has to be a way for them to thin the herd and the screenwriting competition is the perfect arena. I also recommend requesting the reviewer’s notes/feedback. This information should be incorporated into any future drafts.

FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards / Screenplay Contest?

M Ann Elias:
I entered several competitions. I was immediately bounced out of some, made it into the quarter and semi-finals of others and became a finalist in FilmMakers. Of all the competitions I entered, I found this one to be extremely professional and well organized. I would recommend it to others as well – two thumbs up! Money well spent.

FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?

M Ann Elias:
I think that depends on the writer’s goals, style and genre. But generally speaking, I would say start with script of the stories you enjoy watching, then those that have won Oscars. Then go to the down the line and compare them. It will be easy to see the differences in structure and why some stories rise to the top. My go-to resources for structure and convention are The King’s Speech, Saving Mr. Banks, Braveheart, Avatar and most recently, The Book Thief.

FilmMakers Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?

M Ann Elias:
I am absolutely fanatical about supporting our men and women in the military. Aside from friends and family who are serving, my work at BAE SYSTEMS has provided me with the opportunity to meet and work with these heroes as military personnel and civilians. They are hard-working and dedicated to any assignment placed before them. They bring inspiration and motivation to every project I have had the honor to be assigned to with them.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

M Ann Elias:
I hate picking favorites, but Steven Spielberg comes to mind. I picked Spielberg because he can do everything – write a wicked script, direct an Oscar winner and after all that, he still knows how to laugh.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with and why?

M Ann Elias:
Ron Howard. Howard has a great work hard / play hard ethic and is another guy who knows how to laugh.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and why?

M Ann Elias:
I would like to work with any actor who:
(1) Deeply understands the importance of what they do and how their actions impact those around them
(2) Respects themselves and the team members they are working with
(3) Accepts challenges with optimism and enthusiasm
(4) Are secure enough to take risks, accept failure and come back to stare those demons down!

FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?

M Ann Elias:
Yes: keep your mouth shut, then read, listen and follow directions, and finally be patient and stay open to learning. More than anything else, these will be the qualities that a producer is seeking for members of his or her project team. These are also the qualities that will inspire others to want to work with you.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

M Ann Elias: Right now I have 3 projects in the pipeline and another 7 in draft form, so I’ll be pretty busy writing over the next few years.

FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from now?

M Ann Elias: I am hoping to be an integral part of the production team for Ellis Island. But, I have to be realistic and remember there are gaggles of talented people out there and I am one in a pool of thousands.



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