Shia LaBeouf, who made the quarter-finals of the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards for Up-and-coming Screenwriters two years ago for her screenplay for last year’s ‘Honey Boy’, has now entered a second competition for budding scribes . And won.
Earlier this month, the Sun Valley Film Festival declared “Minor Edits” by LaBeouf, winner of his High Scribe Award – which offers him “one-on-one meetings with some of the best in the industry to discuss their work” as well as “mentorship from an experienced professional”.
The victory for LaBeouf – who has starred in dozens of films, including last year’s “Honey Boy” – has led to frustration and confusion among other up-and-coming screenwriters, wondering both how a festival focused on the undiscovered talent aid could reward a star like LaBeouf, and why would someone with the actor’s name recognition even enter such a program in the first place.
“Any ‘screenwriting contest’ that awards its first prize to an established Hollywood screenwriter doesn’t deserve your $50.” writer Kyle Andrews wrote. “Take nothing at all from the guy, he’s a great artist, but for a company, to take money from hard-working, unknown screenwriters looking to break in and give their top prize to SHIA FREAKING LEBOUF [stet] is a ballsy level that I can’t begin to understand.
“I lost a scriptwriting contest to Shia LaBeouf. I hope he puts this $1,000, 1-on-1 consultation with a producer to good use,” wrote another screenwriter on Twitter.
A rep for LaBeouf defended the star’s actions. “Shia entered the contest as an emerging writer,” the rep said. “He is thrilled to be a part of the community and takes any opportunity to gain insight, constructive criticism and knowledge from those with more experience…and that relates to any form of ‘art.”
The competition, part of the festival’s Scriptwriters Lab, is based on blind submissions, and lab organizer Emily Granville said the only restriction is that the script can’t already have been chosen. . (Some screenwriting contests limit the amount of money participants can win as writers.) Festival organizers didn’t find out LaBeouf was the writer until the judges (led this year by l Oscar-winning actor Stephen Gaghan) have determined that he is a finalist. Granville said at first she thought it was a hoax — “I thought it was corny,” she said — but the script was so good.
“The mission behind the festival is to try and give a boost to people who need help trying to get into the business…and we’re proud to work with many of the producers,” said Grandville. “It’s something Shia doesn’t need help with, I’m sure, but we decided a long time ago that we would judge a script on its merits, regardless of who writes it.”
The screenplay is based on the true story of Brockhampton rapper Kevin Abstract, who got his start as a Texas teenager struggling with his identity, finding meaningful relationships, sexual fluidity, and his direction in life. LaBeouf and Abstract have already spoke openly about their close relationshipwith Abstract calling LaBeouf his mentor.
Earlier this year, LaBeouf also released the script for Blacklist “Minor Changes”the platform launched by Franklin Leonard for screenwriters to make their work available to readers, as well as potential buyers and employers.
In 2018, LaBeouf entered the PAGE International Screenwriting Competition, with the screenplay that would become director Alma Har’el’s “Honey Boy” – a hit at Sundance in 2019 that grossed $3.3 million worldwide. The film, based loosely on LaBeouf’s childhood, starred Noah Jupe (and later Lucas Hedges) as a young actor struggling with a tumultuous childhood with a father (LaBeouf) struggling with mental health issues.
LaBeouf will next appear in David Ayer’s indie crime thriller “The Tax Collector,” and was recently cast alongside Florence Pugh and Chris Pine in Olivia Wilde’s upcoming psychological thriller “Don’t Worry Darling,” which takes place in a remote, utopian community in the 1950s. California desert.