It's a Screenplay!

Movie midwifing gives life to unproduced Scripts

In the laundry list of terrors afflicting a writer, running a close second to the fear of a blank page would be the fear of a blank page filling up, then languishing -- going nowhere but the bottom of some agent's trash can. Put crudely, an unproduced screenplay is like a baby that never gets born. But Movie Midwifing can help.

The brainchild of Lorie Marsh's Austin production company Alchemy Works, Movie Midwifing is a statewide screenplay contest now in its third year. Marsh, along with contributors Cory Barnett and Melody Taylor, waded through 60 submissions from around the state to settle on four standout scripts. The winners earn an unstaged reading of their scripts, with professional actors and a live audience that offers post-performance criticism and encouragement -- a scary but ultimately rewarding experience for writers.

"That's something I tell the writers who win: This is whatever you want to make it," Marsh explains. "It's inherently a workshopping experience, because not only are [the contest directors] looking at [the script], actors are going to respond to it, and an audience is going to respond to it. And we cultivate feedback after the reading and say, 'Okay, what worked? What didn't work?'"

In addition to the public reading, winning scripters receive a subscription to Scr(i)pt Magazine, Final Draft screenwriting software, a professional video of the reading, and a shot at being performed in New York. The Audience Award-winner will have a reading at the Manhattan Theatre Source in November -- a long way, baby, from blank page to off-Broadway.

"Movie Midwifing: A Series of New Screenplay Readings" takes place Thursdays, Sept. 19-Oct. 10, 7:30pm, at the Hideout Theatre (617 Congress). Admission is $6. For more info, visit

Readings schedule and author descriptions of their screenplays:

Sept. 19: The Hole Thing by Michele Stanush:

"An oddball dramedy about a young man with a passion for holes (all kinds: sinkholes, gravel pits, mole holes, doodlebug holes, ear holes, rigatoni, etc.) who is trying to make a living -- and find his soulmate -- by following his bliss. In this case, 'actualizing' his passion turns out to mean 'actualizing' holes."

Sept. 26: What the Doctor Ordered by John L. Shea III:

"A quirky romantic comedy about a man who sues his HMO for denial of benefits when his doctor prescribes true love. The HMO denies the claim, but when the man's company backs him up, the HMO sends a lady lawyer to investigate and explore alternative therapies to resolve the legal dilemma."

Oct. 3: Letty's Prayer by Bernadette Nason:

"When a poor teenage Haitian girl living in New Orleans needs a new dress for the prom, she steals one from a dead body -- with dire consequences."

Oct. 10: Visions of Oz by Scott Miles:

"A post-modern look at The Wizard of Oz. Gordon Stewart tries to ignore the voices in his head to stay near his estranged daughter. But Lana, deranged sister of Glenda the Good Witch, has other plans: Gordon must collect hostages that resemble the various characters of Oz in order to save the mythical land from certain doom."

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Visions of Oz, Scott Miles, Alchemy Works, Letty's Prayer, Bernadette Nason, The Hole Thing, Michele Stanush, What the Doctor Ordered, John L. Shea III, Lorie Marsh, Melody Taylor, Cory Barnett, Movie Midwifing

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