A-List Competition Reveals 2020's Best Assistant-Written Scripts

Gabrielle Thomas

Stories about excommunication from a Hasidic community, Las Vegas residents in the 1950s and a "deadly" mermaid made this year's list of support staff-penned titles.

As the #PayUpHollywood movement has shown in the last few months, today's entertainment assistants are mobilizing in order to end being overlooked and overworked.

Likewise, The A-List, an annual competition honoring the best work by assistant screenwriters, has highlighted the unique talents of Hollywood's support staff for five years now. The annual competition, judged by assistants and run by volunteer organizers from the assistant community, keeps authors anonymous during the judging process and only considers unrepresented authors. On Friday, after an awards ceremony the night before, competition organizers revealed their 2020 script winners, a list that included stories about excommunication from a Hasidic community, Las Vegas residents in the 1950s and a "deadly" mermaid.

Winning in the feature category was Glisten, a script by Connor Smith, a writer's production assistant for Hightown, about a gay teen's response to an assault in his hometown. The Mermaid, from Castle Rock script coordinator Noelle Liljedhal, and Follow Her, from Rhetroactive creative design manager Kyle Tague, took second and third places, respectively.

In the 30-minute script category, The Locals, penned by Paramount Pictures/Paramount Television Studios executive assistant Riley Helm, nabbed the top prize. The Locals follows a girl's quest to find Bigfoot in Yosemite, where she "finds more than she bargained for," according to the script's logline. Taking second place was The Insides, from Matt Murray's showrunner's assistant Shelby Enlow, and coming in third was Shitty Fucking Advice from Dan Gregor's writer assistant, Elissa Aron.

The top 60-minute category winner was Tucked, a script about a mother excommunicated from her Hasidic community and adapting to secular life, from Felker Toczek Suddleson Abramson LLP legal assistant Robert Axelrod. Bad Penny, co-written by The Nevers writer's assistant Alyssa Thorne and HowlRound TV live-stream producer Thea Rodgers, placed second, while Gearhart, penned by Amazon Studios drama coordinator Adrienne Love, came in third.

The competition includes a fourth category called "Wildcard," honoring the highest-rated scripts that did not place in their respective categories. Two 60-minute scripts were honored in the category this year, including Atomic City, USA from HBO executive assistant Melanie Jayne and Baba from Manifest writer's assistant Sam Freedman.

The competition is organized by members of Awesome Assistants, the nearly 5,000-strong Facebook group composed of current and former assistants. Past winners of the A-List have gained representation, been staffed in writers rooms and gotten projects in development. Moderators of the contest included Black List-winning screenwriter Dreux Moreland, Final Space writer Nick Watson, ImageMovers creative executive Sophie Azran, writers production assistant Gabrielle Thomas, Cohen Gardner LLP assistant Alex Aginian, freelance creative producer and strategist Alex Jay Hova Wirtzer, Netflix script coordinator Nate Levy and Chicago Med medical researcher Gabe Feinberg.

Winning scripts and contact information are available at this link.