From Sneakerhead to Labyrinth of Destiny, Dallas International Film Festival Celebrates Creativity With Screenwriting Winners

A suspense-horror short script takes the grand prize, with feature, TV pilot and short scripts also honored. Sneakerhead is set to be directed by award-winning filmmaker Johnathan Brownlee.

The winners of the 2023 Dallas International Film Festival Screenwriting Competition have been announced by the festival, Torfoot Studios, and Event Horizon Films.

The feature script for “Billie” by James Froeschle, pilot script “FIX” by Jeff Bower, and short script “Sneakerhead” by Jamie Campbell earned top honors in their categories.

The grand-prize winner, “Sneakerhead,” is a suspense-horror script that will be produced by Event Horizon Films and Torfoot Studios and directed by award-winning filmmaker Johnathan Brownlee.

The produced short film will screen at the Dallas International Film Festival and across the film festival circuit.

“I read a lot of scripts and I’m always looking for one that doesn’t lean on clichés or telegraph the ending,” Brownlee said in a statement. “Short films can be particularly challenging in this regard. Jamie Campbell’s ‘Sneakerhead’ really surprised me. The plot, characters, and twist are all so well-crafted that I started to visualize how I would shoot it. I really look forward to making this film.”

Horizon Films said that each script was reviewed by readers from the industry’s top talent agencies and management companies based on strength of characterization, dialogue, theme, concept, and marketability.

The winning scripts were selected by Oscar winner Brenda Chapman; Jessica Sharzer, a three-time Primetime Emmy nominee; Kelsey Scott, a two-time Emmy-nominated actress; award-winning television writer Aaron Rahsaan Thomas; veteran screenwriter Thomas Dean Donnelly; Brownlee, and James Faust, DIFF artistic director.

The following scripts were finalists for the screenwriting competition:

Feature Scripts

  • “Labyrinth of Destiny” by Ernestina Juarez
  • “Crabs in a Mother F*cking Bucket” by Kari Mote
  • “Maeta’s Story” by Charles DeRykus
  • “Take My Life” by Larry Collins

TV Pilot Scripts

  • “Broken” by Dathan Paterno
  • “Murder-in-Marsh” by Elisabeth Hayward
  • “English Only Policy” by HyoJeong Choi
  • “The Row” by Gregory Caruso

Short Scripts

  • “The Paranormal Prankster” by Sean Whitley
  • “The New Moon in the Old Moon’s Arms” by David Sanders
  • “Behind the Curtain” by Tadiwa Barwa
  • “A Homecoming” by Ari Mostow

Horizon Films said that semifinalists and quarterfinalists can be viewed here.

“It was another great season with some top-quality scripts,” Faust said in a statement. “It’s been fun reading them. We’re looking forward to introducing these writers to our city’s strong film community, and we’re certainly excited to see Sneakerhead screen at the Dallas International Film Festival.”

The winning screenwriters will receive festival passes along with an invitation to a luxury Hollywood screening event, professional feedback, and access to industry networking platforms.

This is the second season in which that Event Horizon Films and Torfoot Studios have joined together to produce a short film for the festival.

The previous winner, “(*)hit Squad,” written by Harry Hunsicker and directed by Brownlee, garnered a bronze Telly Award and was an official selection at Texas Short Film Festival, ATX Short Film Showcase, Waco Independent Film Festival, Texas Hill Country Film Festival, Twin Falls Film Festival, Chandler Film Festival, and others.

The 2024 Dallas International Film Festival will be held April 26 through May 2.

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