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Film Studies Student Finalist in Gotham Screenwriting Contest

Keith Strausbaugh, a 2009 graduate of the Master of Arts in English professional writing program at Old Dominion University, is one of three finalists for the Circleframe Award of the Gotham Screenwriting Contest for his comedic script, "Sink or Swim: The Saga of Shore Break Rentals."

The third annual Gotham Screen film festival showcases cutting-edge feature, documentary and short films from independent, first- or second-time directors as well as international releases making their East Coast or U.S. debut. This event takes place Oct. 20-25 in New York City.

Strausbaugh's story centers on a slacker who tries to save his job at a water sports company by winning a national Jet Ski competition, but when a hotel developer assembles a dream team, he's suddenly in way over his head.

"For seven summers I worked at my uncle's Jet Ski rental business in Virginia Beach," Strausbaugh said. "After hearing 'Someone should make a movie about this place' a thousand times, I decided to write the screenplay. With eclectic co-workers, crazy renters and a lovable but always angry boss, I had plenty of people and experiences to draw from for the writing process. The other part of the inspiration is from my dad, who introduced me to old Bill Murray and Chevy Chase movies like 'Fletch,' 'Stripes' and 'Caddy Shack.' A great one-liner is an unparalleled thing of beauty."

His screenwriting class was an elective course for his concentration, and Strausbaugh credits Robert Arnett, associate professor and director of the film studies program at ODU, as being instrumental to completing the script.

"He provided me with advice, encouragement and motivation during the whole process. His teaching in and out of the classroom was invaluable," Strausbaugh said.

"Keith's writing is an example of comedy being hard work. He worked hard on honing this script by doing many drafts and really getting the script to be funny. I'm especially proud of Keith for his follow through - that he kept working on the script and getting it out to contests well after the semester ended," Arnett said.

"I was blown away when I received the call," Strausbaugh said. This is the fourth contest to which he has submitted a script.

An excerpt from Strausbaugh's screenplay will be read at the Tribeca Cinemas in New York City at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20.

The 2009 Gotham Screenwriting Contest comes with a $2,500 cash prize for the winning screenplay. In addition, excerpts from a finalist screenplay contest entry will be performed live by professional actors at a staged reading during the festival. The winners of the contest will receive valuable production software, and other production-related gifts and prizes.

This article was posted on: October 16, 2009

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