Camille Bond ’17 Wins Wellesley in Entertainment Screenwriting Competition with “The Sleeping Gods”

May 10, 2017
Camille Bond ’17 Wins Wellesley in Entertainment Screenwriting Competition with “The Sleeping Gods”

The entertainment industry may be notoriously difficult to break into, but, as in any other field, Wellesley’s strong alumnae network is helping students make crucial inroads. Alumnae in Los Angeles have joined forces to create a screenwriting competition for Wellesley students and introduce the winner to the lights—and contacts—of Hollywood.

When Kate Erickson ’05 moved to L.A. in 2015 to write for USA Network’s Mr. Robot, she reached out to the Wellesley network and found what became the professional and social network of her new city. She was encouraged to discover many Wellesley alumnae working in film and TV, yet surprised that there was no formal group of them associated with the Wellesley College Club of Los Angeles (WCLA). With the blessing of the club, she enlisted a few alumnae friends—Katie Barsotti ’15 (writer’s PA for TBS’s Wrecked), Erin Judge ’02 (comedian and author of Vow of Celibacy), Michelle Lirtzman ’09 (writer for ABC’s Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy), Kathleen Scott ’10 (senior administrator for sales planning at Warner Bros. Entertainment), and Lynn Sternberger ’07 (writer for Freeform’s The Bold Type)—as an ad hoc steering committee, and Wellesley in Entertainment (WIE) became an official subgroup of the WCLA.

Now in its second year, WIE has grown substantially and plans to elect leaders this summer to represent its diverse members, among them writers, actors, producers, directors, agents, comedians, novelists, visual artists, Writers Guild staff, assistants, voice-over artists, journalists, editors, and every variety of industry executive, over a wide range of graduation years.

Bringing Wellesley students into the fold was one of the group’s early initiatives, and the idea of sponsoring a competition for students came up during a brainstorming session at its first steering committee meeting. After Erickson drafted the screenwriting completion guidelines, rubric, and timeline, the committee planned the award package: a trip to L.A. including airfare, housing for four nights with a Wellesley alumna, $100 per diem to cover meals and city transportation, and three days of meetings with both alumnae and nonalumnae professionals in the entertainment industry.

To raise money for the prize, the group enlisted comedian Wendy Liebman ’83 and Deadline founder Nikki Finke ’75 for “Nikki Finke in Conversation with Wendy Liebman,” an event hosted in Culver City, Calif., in January. When Finke generously matched ticket sales with her own contribution, the award was funded in only one evening. With the support of Wellesley’s English Department faculty and Career Education, WIE had already spread the word on campus, and the competition was on.

The group expected to receive scripts for TV pilots and feature films, but was surprised to see a range of entries that included a sketch, an animated feature, and a short film. From the impressive work submitted, Camille Bond ’17 emerged as the winner for her full-length feature The Sleeping Gods, and the group named Maya Marlette ’16 an honorable mention for her TV comedy pilot Camp Covenant.

“Camille wrote an incredibly grounded story in an imagined world,” Erickson said of Bond’s screenplay. “Her characters felt real, and I thought about them after I put the script down. I cared about their adventure. I was impressed by the poetry in some of her dialogue—and her self-restraint…She let the characters be both terrible and good to each other. The piece felt like the beginning of a trilogy, and honestly, I wanted to read the next installment.”

Bond’s The Sleeping Gods began as a personal project last summer. “It’s a feature-length script of about 100 pages, an adventure story, sort of in the vein of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean,” she said. “The conflicts in the story revolve around issues of power and autonomy—primarily questions about who (if anyone) should have access to dangerous technological power.” She is currently using the screenplay as an outline to create a story in prose.

Bond took her prize trip to California during Wellesley’s spring break week. “WIE set up two or three general meetings per day, some of them with Wellesley alumnae, so I had the opportunity to seek career advice from very inspiring alumnae—like Jenna Block [’06, production executive] at Miramax,” Bond said. “Kate Erickson also organized a more social event with some of the alumnae who are active in WIE. It was great to meet and connect with them, and to hear about all the amazing things that Wellesley alumnae are doing in L.A.!”

Details on how to enter next year’s competition are now available in the “Opportunities” section of the Creative Writing Program’s web pages. Erickson says she hopes that the contest continues “forever, until film/TV is all holograms and choose-your-own-adventure hybrid video games.”

In seriousness, she continued: “I hope that it motivates students to finish scripts and leave Wellesley with a writing sample to submit to competitions, fellowships, and agents and managers. I hope that it encourages creative students to learn and celebrate the business side of the creative industries, so that they can earn livings writing and making art. Writing can be your day job, as long as you learn how to navigate its industries. I also hope it makes students aware that there is a vibrant, active, supportive community of alum writers, filmmakers, producers, directors, and artists—and we are eager to welcome you into the wider world.”