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Grad student film wins first place in screenwriting competition

Jordan Butler in front of Gill Stadium.
June 23, 2014

Graduate student Jordan Butler, a self-proclaimed cinephile, drew from his own experiences as a student-athlete to write his first screenplay, “Charles Street Rivals,” and won a first place in the Baltimore Screenwriters Competition.

Butler says he has always been interested in coming-of-age stories, like “Good Will Hunting,” “A Bronx Tale” and “Diner,” and wanted to capture the experience of a college athlete. 

He believes that “few have done it accurately.” 

His script follows a student-athlete as he struggles to make it through his senior year of college due to circumstances surrounding his younger brother’s suicide. 

“For me, college was a particularly salient stretch and writing this allowed me to reflect on that time,” he says. 

Butler, who is pursuing his M.S. in Counselor Education at McDaniel and volunteers as an assistant coach for the McDaniel men’s lacrosse team, works as an adolescent caseworker and spends his free time on the craft of screenwriting. He even wrote a good portion of the script while working overnight at a Sheppard Pratt subsidiary in Westminster, Md. 

His devotion has paid off. “Charles Street Rivals” was awarded first place in the feature category of the Baltimore Screenwriters Competition at the Maryland Film Festival in May. He won $1,500, plus an all access pass to the festival along with passes to local movie theaters. 

But, it’s not these tangible prizes that have mattered the most.

One of the judges was Emmy award-winner, writer and producer Norman Steinberg, best known for “Blazing Saddles” and “The Cosby Show,” who has been serving as a mentor helping him wade the waters of Hollywood. 

According to Butler, “Winning the competition has opened some doors and I am talking to more people (in the film industry). I just had a production company call me from L.A., which was pretty cool to say the least. They wanted to read the script.” 

He added, “I would love for it to be produced but I know that is completely out of my hands. Writing is only part of the equation, the additional elements being luck and timing. Even if nothing else happens, this whole experience has been something I’ll always remember.”

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