Screenwriting Awards

Did you know I also write screenplays?

My friend and colleague Daniel Maidman and I have been collaborating on screenplays since 2007. I am proud to say that both of the screenplays we’ve written have garnered awards at screenwriting festivals across the country.

Our first project was The Feeding Cycle. It is an existential zombie movie which recently won first place in the Horror/Thriller category at the 2012 United Film Festival in LA. This was a tremendous honor for both of us. Here is the shiny trophy from that festival.

TFC was also a finalist in the Terror Film Festival in Philadelphia in 2009.

Our second project was a Christmas comedy screenplay called Confessions of a Naughty Kid. This one has won 12 honors in screenplay competitions including:

Cinequest Film Festival 22 2012 – Top 10 Finalist
2011 Smashcut Screenplay Contest – First place, Family category
2011 Hollywood Screenplay Contest – Silver Award Winner, Family category
2012 Buffalo Niagara Film Festival – Finalist
2011 American Screenwriting Competition – Semifinalist
2011 StoryPros International Screenplay Contest – Semifinalist
2012 Scriptapalooza – Quarterfinalist
2011 Fresh Voices Screenwriting Competition – Quarterfinalist
2011 Script Showcase Screenwriting Competition – Quarterfinalist
2011 Ticket to Hollywood Screenplay Competition – Best Family Christmas script
Happy Writers 2011 Screenplay Contest – Honorable Mention
Emerging Screenwriters 2011 Screenplay Competition – Top 100

Daniel is an artist living in Brooklyn, NY. Check out his work here. He’s also an art and culture blogger for the Huffington Post.

Soon we will get around to writing a third screenplay. The hard part is narrowing down all the ideas we have. That, and finding time to write it. I’ll keep everyone posted once we do.

Did you know I also write screenplays?

My friend and colleague Daniel Maidman and I have been collaborating on screenplays since 2007. I am proud to say that both of the screenplays we’ve written have garnered awards at screenwriting festivals across the country.

Our first project was The Feeding Cycle. It is an existential zombie movie which recently won first place in the Horror/Thriller category at the 2012 United Film Festival in LA. This was a tremendous honor for both of us. Here is the shiny trophy from that festival.

TFC was also a finalist in the Terror Film Festival in Philadelphia in 2009.

Our second project was a Christmas comedy screenplay called Confessions of a Naughty Kid. This one has won 12 honors in screenplay competitions including:

Cinequest Film Festival 22 2012 – Top 10 Finalist
2011 Smashcut Screenplay Contest – First place, Family category
2011 Hollywood Screenplay Contest – Silver Award Winner, Family category
2012 Buffalo Niagara Film Festival – Finalist
– Semifinalist
2011 StoryPros International Screenplay Contest – Semifinalist
2012 Scriptapalooza – Quarterfinalist
– Quarterfinalist
– Quarterfinalist
2011 Ticket to Hollywood Screenplay Competition – Best Family Christmas script
– Honorable Mention
– Top 100

Daniel is an artist living in Brooklyn, NY. Check out his work here. He’s also an art and culture blogger for the Huffington Post.

Soon we will get around to writing a third screenplay. The hard part is narrowing down all the ideas we have. That, and finding time to write it. I’ll keep everyone posted once we do.

Stocks and Bonds

Being a parent of young children, I am always on the lookout for games that instill mental discipline as well as a better understanding of the real world. Set is a great game, but it is much better for the former than for the latter. The point of Set is to recognize shape and color patterns faster than your opponent. It can be thrilling, but it is about as far removed from life as you can get. Other games, such as Monopoly, are good at imparting an understanding the real world (basic economics, in this case), but are too simplistic to be very challenging. Following the dictum of ‘always buy, never sell,’ has never steered me wrong in Monopoly.

The game of Stocks and Bonds however has the unique distinction of doing both. It requires rapid mathematical thinking while providing a solid understanding of a crucial part of the modern world: the financial services industry. It also allows players to choose between low and high stakes risks, just like in real life.

Stocks and Bonds is the great lost game of my childhood. Developed in 1964 by a company called 3M, my dad had the game lying around in a closet when I stumbled across it one day. The dated journalistic artwork on the cover, the elegant bookshelf packaging, and the game’s overall sophistication was instantly intriguing. I must have been ten or eleven. I was bored, so without knowing the first thing about stocks and bonds, I decided to figure the game out. It wasn’t easy. The rules are complex, and it took a while for me to wrap my mind around them as well as the concepts they involve.

But once I learned it, I loved it.

Being a parent of young children, I am always on the lookout for games that instill mental discipline as well as a better understanding of the real world. Set is a great game, but it is much better for the former than for the latter. The point of Set is to recognize shape and color patterns faster than your opponent. It can be thrilling, but it is about as far removed from life as you can get. Other games, such as Monopoly, are good at imparting an understanding the real world (basic economics, in this case), but are too simplistic to be very challenging. Following the dictum of ‘always buy, never sell,’ has never steered me wrong in Monopoly. The game of Stocks and Bonds however has the unique distinction of doing both. It requires rapid mathematical thinking while providing a solid understanding of a crucial part of the modern world: the financial services industry. It also allows players to choose between low and high stakes risks, just like in real life. Stocks and Bonds is the great lost game of my childhood. Developed in 1964 by a company called 3M, my dad had the game lying around in a closet when I stumbled across it one day. The dated journalistic artwork on the cover, the elegant bookshelf packaging, and the game’s overall sophistication was instantly intriguing. I must have been ten or eleven. I was bored, so without knowing the first thing about stocks and bonds, I decided to figure the game out. It wasn’t easy. The rules are complex, and it took a while for me to wrap my mind around them as well as the concepts they involve. But once I learned it, I loved it. What is a stock? What is a bond? How about margins and dividends? How do you calculate interest? What is the difference between bull and bear markets? How is a mutual fund different than other investment schemes? Getting a ten year-old fluent with these and similar ideas would represent a great step forward in his understanding of a crucial part of the adult world. But doing so would be a challenge to the say the least. The material is so dry, so far removed from the life of an average kid that the old-fashioned didactic approach would probably fail. Stocks and Bonds however imparts this theoretical understanding through ingeniously designed practice. Basically, you set up your own private Wall Street in your home, invest according to the provided securities review sheet as well as your gut, and then stand or fall against the winds of change. Plus, you never once touch cash. It’s fun and it moves at a pretty rapid clip—once you learn the fundamental concepts and become accustomed to crunching numbers in the hundreds and thousands, that is. And the investor with the highest net worth over a set number of years is the winner. Let me count the ways that this is a good thing for young minds. First, there is the math. This is not math for math’s sake. This is math in order to beat the other guy, so players are pushed to be able to rapidly add, subtract, multiply, and divide.

So you have $1050 at the beginning of year 4, with dividends of $50 plus 6% of $1,260 and 4% of $960 coming in. Can you afford to purchase 20 shares of the recently split and highly reliable Metro Properties, Inc. at $73 per share? If not, how many shares of Valley Power and Light (dirt cheap at $31 per share) should you sell in order to do this? If you end up buying the stock on margin what will the 5% margin charges amount to? I love how the game simply assumes that all players have a certain math literacy. “To figure Margin Charges,” reads the game’s instructions, “simply drop the last digit and divide by two.” If you wish to stamp out a kid’s fear or math, Stocks and Bonds may be a good place to start. Second, the game forces players to keep meticulous records. And meticulous records are always the sign of an orderly mind. In the game’s Record of Transactions sheet, which every player must maintain, players enter the name of the security, the number of shares purchased or sold, the price per share, the sum paid or received, the margin charges, their cash balance, and the margin total. It’s like a very complicated check book. Here is an example. If kids can maintain these kinds of records for fun, then managing real investments as an adult, let alone a basic checking account, should be a breeze. Players must also keep track of annual stock prices on the Stock Board for all to see. Finally, the game gives young minds practice in weighing risk and reward. Similar to poker, players assess what they can and cannot afford and act accordingly. Also like poker, players must face the consequences, good or bad, of their decisions. But Stocks and Bonds introduces a new dimension: Time, or the fluctuating market. Two players may own the same number of shares of Tri-City Transport, currently at $114 per share. But one got in when each share cost $98 and the other when each share was $132. So who is doing better? It’s not just what you invest in and how much, but when you invest that matters in this game. Timing is more than just the soul of wit, it seems. A kid who can weigh all these variables in his mind while making a decision is not being childlike at all. A kid who can do it well, thanks to the practice he gets playing Stocks and Bonds, can turn out to be one heck of an adult. The only drawback to the game that I can see is the price calculator. Really low tech, even for 1964, it is simply a card the player slides through a cardboard sleeve to ‘calculate’ stock price fluctuations according to whether the market is bulling up or bearing down. The game designers could have done better. One glance at the card out of the sleeve can give a particularly shrewd player a real good idea of which stocks are a good bet and which ones aren’t. This is nothing that additional rules and a few multi-sided dice couldn’t cure (alas, Stocks and Bonds predates Dungeons and Dragons by 10 years). These days a clever computer program would do the trick too. Fortunately, the basic concepts behind stocks and bonds have not changed that much since 1964. Stocks and Bonds the game is not only a wonderful introduction to the world of finance, but it is great way to elevate a youngster’s thinking to that of an adult. Like anything, that requires practice. And what better way to acquire practice than through a fun and absorbing game?