Author Archive: brianleeweakland

Campus Profile: University of Richmond

(Second in a series of articles profiling colleges and universities that are invited to participate in the 2018 College Film Awards)

Steve With Dr. Peter Lurie, film studies professor.

Here’s a good sign that the University of Richmond’s film production program is on the rise: As we visited the school yesterday to tour its facilities, a student movie crew passed us with a tripod camera and equipment bags in tow.

University of Richmond students are producing films even during finals. Gotta love them.

A relatively small private school tucked in a wooded ravine inside city limits, Richmond attracts creative students from the Northeast and around the country. It has the vibe of a New England Ivy — tradition, beautiful surroundings, inspiring architecture, and some of the brightest visionary students with a cool worldview. What a formula for awesome film production!

The university offers a small film studies major, headed by our friend and Poe expert, Dr. Peter Lurie. As is the current trend among colleges, Richmond is transitioning from a largely film studies curriculum to a broader offering that includes film production. This takes time and money, of course, but we sensed a true commitment by the university to promote the creative side of its film students. And what film major doesn’t want to make a movie?

So in the coming years, look for extensive film production improvements in equipment and facilities, as well as staff and faculty redirection to screenwriting, music production, and technical education in filmmaking. All of this is exciting and likely will make Richmond more competitive in attracting the best and brightest film students.

Dr. Lurie gave us a tour of the Ukrop’s Theater in the Robbins Business School. Two hundred twenty-five plush seats, full film projection facilities and, importantly for our future College Film events, a beautiful reception area that could serve as a networking place and as a catered dinner location. Hmmm. Let’s think about that one.

The University of Richmond’s Jeanette Lam placed as an Official Selection filmmaker in our 2017 College Film Awards event this year. We look forward to more Spiders submitting in 2018. Go U of R!

Campus Profile: Shenandoah University

First of a series of articles from our visits to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s twenty-five university film schools.

Brian with music production professor, Paul DiFranco.

We have a little secret for you. In the northwest corner of Virginia, in the bucolic Shenandoah Valley, there’s a growing buzz. Not traffic, mind you. It’s the sound of excited Shenandoah University students about to enroll in next year’s first Film Studies Major program.

SU, a relatively small liberal arts college, is digging movie-making in a big way. When music and film professors Paul DiFranco and Glenn Anderson sent out word for student help on their feature film, “Santa Girl,” eighty-four students (including some football players) signed up for the production. With a generous grant from Capital Arts Entertainment and a whole lot of donations from Winchester merchants, DiFranco and Anderson produced a feature-length film – shot in only 17 days in Virginia.

Santa Girl is the story of a slimmed-down and all-business Santa who hasn’t recovered from the loss of his wife, Mrs. Claus. The story will focus on his daughter’s desire to attend college despite her father’s misgivings. After Santa eventually relents, Cassie must navigate a strange new world while keeping the identity of her iconic father — and her own magic — a secret. Santa is played by Tony-winning actor Barry Bostwick and the daughter, by Jennifer Stone of Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place.” The film is in editing now.

DiFranco says the University has a growing number of student filmmakers who have produced some amazing short films. The Poe Film Festival can’t wait to tap into the talents of Shenandoah University at the 2018 College Film Awards next November.

Go Hornets!

Chicago Writer Wins Halloween Script Contest

Spellbound we were.
Chicago screenwriter Robert Herzog and his captivating tale of a fearless eight-year-old boy in “Windows Wicked” captured first place in The Poe Contest’s one-day Halloween script competition.
Rob’s script earned the highest first round score in a very competitive field of stories about alternative worlds, ghosts, zombies, people who should be dead but aren’t, and even a biopic of E.A. Poe.
In his dramatic “Windows Wicked,” Rob introduces us to Eddie Quinn, a boy who’s up way too late. He’s training a flashlight on his toy soldiers when something starts clawing at his window screen. Now we’re hooked.
For his highest-scoring submission among the 24-hour submissions on Halloween, Rob earns a $100 cash prize, and a pass to the semi-final round of judging early next year.
All of the Halloween scripts continue in the competition. And we have good news for the runners-up. All of the Halloween stories automatically advance to the second round of judging! Congratulations to our spooky writers (meaning writers of spooky stories).
Remember, the early deadline in The Poe Contest is November 21. Enter through Withoutabox and Film Freeway.
Wait, what’s that scratching on the screen? MAMA!

Regent University Is Top Film School in College Awards!

Congratulations to Regent University of Virginia Beach for its championship showing at Poe Film Festival’s College Film Awards in Richmond on Saturday.
Twenty-three colleges and universities throughout the Commonwealth were invited to submit their finest college films to the event. After three rounds of judging by respected industry directors, actors, producers and production professionals, two Regent University films scored the top two prizes.
Grand Prize winner was Regent graduate student Jarrod Anderson, director of “Changing Jane,” the story of a woman who chooses to encounter a regrettable life decision through an experimental procedure. Best screenplay award-winners W. Adam Burdeshaw and director Nathanael Dunn, both of Regent, topped other contenders with an elaborate short film, “Until Death Do Us Part.”
In recognition of Regent’s masterful wins, the university will receive a cash prize of $500. The award is sponsored by the Virginia Film Office.
Poe Film Festival also honored Talula Mays of Mary Baldwin University for Artistic Merit for her Poe-like suspenseful short, “Delicacy.” The Technical Merit Award was given to Justin Coupe and Patrick Ogden of Art Institute of Washington for their haunting drama, “Autumn’s Room.”

Poe Film Festival Announces College Film Award Winners

Poe Film Festival proudly announces the winners and nominees of our first College Film Awards!

Technical Merit Award: Justin Coupe and Patrick Ogden for Autumn’s Room, Art Institute of Washington

Nominees were: Do You Know, Sophia Ogden, Virginia Tech; Ghost Machines, Paige Compton, Art Institute of Washington; Monday, Chenzy Graziano, Regent University, and Until Death Do Us Part, Nathanael Dunn, Regent University.

Artistic Merit Award: Talula Mays for Delicacy, Mary Baldwin University

Nominees were: Changing Jane, Jarrod Anderson, Regent University; Ticking Hearts, Nick Moon, Regent University; vi. Gratitude, Jeanette Lam, University of Richmond, and Monday.

Best Screenplay Award: W. Adam Burdeshaw, Until Death Do Us Part, Regent University

Nominees were: Bar Quixote, Matthew Benedict, Art Institute of Washington; Jiggle the Knob, Steven Burneson, Virginia Tech; Changing Jane, Jarrod Anderson, Regent University, and Harrison Mines, Positive, Roanoke College.

Grand Prize Best Film: Jarrod Anderson for Changing Jane, Regent University

Nominees were: Bar Quixote, Monday, Do You Know, and Until Death Do Us Part.

Congratulations to all of our very talented and passionate college filmmakers. Hope to see you all again next November!

Halloween Contest Scripts Gobbl-In

Yes, that’s the best headline we can do on four hours of sleep.

Thanks to our wonderful screenwriters, whose submitted scripts to our one-day Halloween Contest provided much early hour entertainment on this first day of November.  Ghosts, zombies, characters who should be dead but aren’t and some nifty time-bending stories poured like bloody ooze into our pages at Withoutabox and Film Freeway overnight.

You should all be ashamed of your twisted storytelling skills (but we love them).  Keep those entries coming.

We’ll announce the contest winner in a few days.  And remember, all runners-up scripts remain in the contest and will continue on to second readings by our judges.

College Film Awards Announces Official Selections

Twenty-three Virginia colleges and universities were invited to submit their finest student films; only seven of them remain after the first round of judging.  Here are the Official Selections for the College Film Awards, to be presented on Saturday, November 4.

Autumn’s Room by Justin Coupe

Bar Quixote by Matthew Benedict

Changing Jane by Jarrod Anderson

Delicacy by Talula Mays

Do You Know by Sophia Okorn

Ghost Machine by Paige Compton

vi. Gratitude by Jeanette Lam

Jiggle the Knob by Steven Burneson

Monday by Chenzy Graziano

Positive by Harrison Mines

Ticking Hearts by Nick Moon

Until Death Do Us Part by Nathaniel Dunn

Congratulations to all of our Official Selection filmmakers.  Second round judging commences today, and will determine nominees in four categories: Best Technical Award, Best Artistic Award, Best Screenplay, and Grand Prize Best Film.  The Grand Prize winning school’s film program will receive a cash award of $500 from the Virginia Film Office.

Check out ticket information on, which opens today.  Seating is extremely limited, so buy your tickets as soon as possible.

This will be a high-energy event with great films, great guests and great entertainment.  See you there!


One-Day Halloween Script Contest

For the first time ever in the history of screenplay contests, you could submit and win in one day!

Poe Film Festival offers our writers the opportunity to compete in our one-day Halloween Script Contest.  Submit your best feature or short script during the 24 hours of October 31, 2017, and you will automatically be entered into this unique competition.  The highest scoring feature or short submitted on Halloween will be awarded a cash prize of $100, and still be eligible to win The Poe Contest awards in spring 2018.

Never before (and possibly Nevermore) will you receive such rapid feedback and enjoy the opportunity to achieve mankind’s fastest screenplay win!

Check out our Contests page and submit your finest suspenseful drama, comedy, horror, adventure, thriller, historical script via Film Freeway or Withoutabox between 12 am on October 31, 2017, and 12 am on November 1, 2017.

Poe Film Festival to Host College Short Film Awards!

Film students from major Virginia colleges and universities will compete for top prizes at the College Short Film Awards, hosted by Poe Film Festival at the historic Grace Street Theater on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, 934 West Grace Street, Richmond, on Saturday, November 4, 2017.  Doors open at noon.

Twenty colleges with highly regarded film studies programs throughout the Commonwealth have been invited to compete in the ten-hour event, during which their students’ short movies will be shown, discussed and honored at a red carpet awards ceremony.

Tickets may be purchased online for $15 at after October 16.  Seating is limited to 225 ticket holders.  Look for information updates on