NEW YORK – One Hanford native was recently recognized for their first screenplay effort.
Freelance journalist Kara Cutruzzula, who currently lives in New York, was picked as a semifinalist in the online BlueCat Screenplay Competition last month for her short-film screenplay called “Strangers in the Night.”
“That’s more than I expected since this is the first screenplay I’ve ever written,” she said. “It’s validating to get this far on something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s inspired me to continue on this track.”
The goal of the annual competition is to help new, unknown screenwriters improve their work.
Cutruzzula's 20-page script centers on a woman who gets help from a cable company worker after her Internet connection stops working. The woman strikes up a conversation with the worker and the two eventually develop a romantic relationship.
“It’s in the romantic comedy genre,” she said. “I wanted to touch on how dependent we are on technology and how talking to a random stranger can change your life.”
Cutruzzula’s script was one of more than 1,730 short-form screenplay submissions. Only two percent advanced to semi-finalist status.
However, Cutruzzula wasn’t chosen to continue as a finalist in the competition. The winning screenplays were announced last week, with the top winners receiving more than $40,000 in prizes. Cutruzzula didn’t receive any money or trophies.
Despite not being a finalist in the competition, she said she’s still glad for the experience, as she received written feedback from the judges, along with the other contestants.
“That was the main reason I wanted to enter the competition,” she said. “I wanted someone who didn’t know me to judge my work. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment, but I was pleasantly surprised. They didn’t have any major critiques.”
Cutruzzula said she’s always had an interest in writing and film since she was young. She was born and raised in Hanford, graduating from Hanford High School in 2004. She left the area to go to the University of California, Los Angeles, where she studied film and got a bachelor’s degree in English in 2008.
Although Cutruzzula originally wanted to get into the film business as a screenwriter, she decided to turn toward journalism to help pay the bills.
She moved to New York in 2009 with the hopes it would provide her with more opportunities.
“I figured that I needed to become a journalist and editor first before I could start pursuing that,” she said. “That helped prepare me for writing the screenplay.”
In November, she decided it was time to write her first screenplay and see if she could submit it in a competition. She found the BlueCat competition, wrote a screenplay in three days and submitted it before the deadline was up.
“It’s really exciting,” said Cutruzzula’s mother, Donna. “We’re very proud of her.”
Donna said she and her husband Bob haven’t had the chance to read the screenplay yet but that they are looking forward to it.
“We’re really happy for her,” she said. “She’s a great writer. It’s nice to see her do something different.”
Overall, Cutruzzula said participating in the screenplay competition has been a great experience for her.
“We all need a pat on the back sometimes,” she said. “It was the inspiration I needed. I want it to be part of my evolving career as a writer.”
Cutruzzula said she’s working on several other screenplay ideas, also in the romantic comedy genre.
“I feel comfortable with that genre,” she said. “However, I do see myself branching out to do other things. I want to do a little bit of everything.”
Cutruzzula said she’s interested in participating in more competitions in the future. She’s also trying to see if she can get “Strangers in the Night” made into a short film.
For more information on the BlueCat Screenplay Competition, go to www.bluecatscreenplay.com.