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Screenwriting

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

—Joan Didion, The White Album

I never imagined myself writing for the screen. While I relished creating fantastical worlds as a child, in high school, I dove into journalistic reporting. Once I declared my journalism major, it seemed as if I had surrendered my right to fiction. One only needs to look at figures like Nora Ephron and Joan Didion to realize my belief was unfounded. As I respond whenever someone asks how I am a journalist and a screenwriter, good writing is good writing. A propensity for crafting narratives need not and should not be confined to a genre or two. 

I have always seen reporting as a sort of public service, a way to hold real-life individuals and systems accountable. I see no reason why screenwriting can't accomplish the same task, albeit in a more long-form, narrative way. Therefore, I approached my foray into screenwriting with tentative optimism. As I share the subsequent pieces, I do the same.

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Umbra

A reserved high school photographer unknowingly documents a homophobic hate crime, discovering his best friend, the school’s golden boy, was one of the perpetrators.

Umbra's creation presented an interesting challenge for me as a then first-time screenwriter. Initially, a 100-page stage play performed on Nebraska Wesleyan University's mainstage in the fall of 2021, Umbra connected with audience members statewide, going on to tour high schools in the Omaha and Lincoln metropolitan areas. Writer, producer and actress Katie Evans was and remains the idea machine behind Umbra. 

I met Katie on the set of one of her play-to-film adaptations Dancing With Georgia. While starring beside her in the film, I expressed my interest in her previous work, particularly Umbra after seeing clips of the play and reading the script. As Katie and other members of the Georgia production team had just started an independent production company, Four Lights Films, I offered to take a crack at converting Umbra from a stage play to a screenplay. 

After a solid two months of writing, researching and consulting, I presented the first draft of Umbra the screenplay to Katie. We haven't looked back.

Awards for Umbra

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Katie Evans

Isa Luzarraga

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