Neil Ferron’s horror script for “Fishmonger” took the Slamdance 2021 screenplay grand prize. “Fishmonger” is described as a supernatural dark comedy in which the titular vendor has to survive a sex pact with an ancient sea creature to save his mother’s soul from hell.

Other winners in the feature film, horror/thriller, TV pilot and shorts film categories were saluted during a livestreamed ceremony today co-presented by Writers Guild of America, West, and hosted by Slamdance alums Daniel Casey and Jessica Sinyard. In all, more than $16,000 was presented to winners across all categories.

“With over 5,000 submissions this year, it was a truly challenging task for our readers to whittle the competition down to these finalists, and our Grand Prize winner. We are not only inspired by our top 12 but also humbled by the many strong entries we received,” said Slamdance festival manager Adele Han Li.

The screenplay Mentorship Award went to David Jones for his “Firebird,” about a young Black girl in Jim Crow South who dreams of being a ballerina in New York City. He will receive support and mentorship from Slamdance president Peter Baxter and various alumni.

“At Slamdance, we’ve long held the belief that our superpower is not only in recognizing, awarding and providing a platform for emerging talent, but also in nurturing that talent. As an artist-led nonprofit organization, we are constantly looking for ways to support the artists who trust us with their creative work, whether through our film festivals or our screenplay competition,” Baxter said. “That’s why we’re so incredibly proud of our Mentorship Award, now in its second year, as well as this year’s recipient, David Jones. The scope of the work we promote through this competition continues to prove that when it comes to discovering talent and launching careers, independent and grassroots communities can do it themselves.”


1st place: “IRL.” by Reese Taylor Givens

2nd place: “Darkroom” by Robert Phillips

3rd place: “Welcome Home” by Sara Strange


1st place: “Fishmonger” by Neil Ferron

2nd place: “They Hunt” by Mason Weigel

3rd place: “Worst Night Ever” by Joe Bartone

TV Pilot

1st place: “No Road to Nome” by Maddy Schwartz

2nd place: “Entitled” by Jenny Ulmer and Hannah Stoddard

3rd place: “Ex-Life” by Kevin Walsh and Brian Biancardi


1st place: “I am a Gentleman” by Nicky Calloway

2nd place: “Reign” by Diane Russo Cheng and Banban Cheng

3rd place: “The Man in the Cabin” by Robbie Lemieux