Black List Announces First Cassian Elwes Screenwriting Fellow

Cassian Elwes

The unrepresented writer, discovered through the survey's website, will attend the Sundance Film Festival with the prolific producer.

The Black List and Cassian Elwes have announced the winner of their first Independent Screenwriting Fellowship.

Unrepresented screenwriter Matthew Hickman will attend the upcoming Sundance Film Festival with the producer behind 2013 awards contenders Lee Daniels' The Butler, All Is Lost, Dallas Buyers Club and many other films. 

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Hickman was chosen based on his script An Elegy for Evelyn Francis, which was hosted on the Black List website. He beat nine other scripts with indie sensibilities from unrepresented writers with lifetime earnings of less than $5,000.

"I work at a regular job in retail. I don’t have contacts in the movie business," Hickman said in a statement. "Despite this, I have always hoped that if I wrote stories which were good enough, eventually I would find people who wanted to help me bring them to life. For aspiring writers in my shoes, the Black List is our broadest, most credible link to the people who can do just that. They provide access to the kind of professionals who can help jumpstart a writer's career, as I have been incredibly fortunate to discover in Cassian Elwes. This fellowship is the greatest opportunity that a writer like me could ask for, and I cannot thank [Black List co-founder] Franklin Leonard and Cassian enough for creating it."

Elwes, who also spent 15 years arranging financing for nearly 300 films as the head of William Morris Independent, said of Hickman's script, "I could not get it out of my mind. He wrote something that was both human and real and created a character that actresses will want to play. Matthew is exactly the type of writer I was hoping we would find through the Black List -- a new original voice that could benefit from this experience that he will receive in Sundance. I could not be more grateful to the Black List for helping me create this fellowship, and I hope Matthew gets from the experience as much as I know I will."

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The fellowship, announced in October, includes an all-expenses-paid trip to Sundance and mentorship from Elwes. The Black List and Elwes plan to award the fellowship annually.

Earlier this week, the Black List announced its 2013 picks for Hollywood executives' favorite unproduced screenplays. Created in 2005 by Leonard and Dino Sijamic, the Black List has become one of the most reliable indicators of Hollywood's hot properties. The Black List also runs an online screenplay database and has partnerships with the WGA, Sundance, Warner Bros. and Elwes.