Indiana-based Pigasus Pictures is accepting entries for its annual high school screenwriting contest. The winner will have the opportunity to work alongside professional filmmakers to turn his or her screenplay into a short film that will be submitted to film festivals across the country. Submitted photo
Indiana-based Pigasus Pictures is accepting entries for its annual high school screenwriting contest. The winner will have the opportunity to work alongside professional filmmakers to turn his or her screenplay into a short film that will be submitted to film festivals across the country. Submitted photo
ANDERSON — In 2017, as she began submitting college applications during her junior year at Fishers High School, Whitney Roberts began to realize that a season of her life was ending.

Along with her best friend, Cinder Foulke, she decided to write a screenplay to capture the emotional ups and downs of preparing for the next chapter. Based on their experiences, the pair developed “As We Begin,” a short film featuring two best friends navigating a variety of issues relating to the college preparation process.

“It’s about letting go of your childhood and realizing how quick time goes when you’re just 18 and having to go forward with a new chapter in your life,” Roberts said.

Her mother told her about a statewide writing competition sponsored by Pigasus Pictures and encouraged her to enter “As We Begin.”

A few months later, John Armstrong, executive director of the Pigasus Institute, and Pigasus CEO Zachary Spicer showed up at the high school, along with a camera crew from WTHR, to surprise Roberts and Foulke with the news that their screenplay had won the competition.

The announcement began a months-long process that saw their story turned into a short film, shot in Fishers and with Roberts and Foulke serving as co-directors. The experience, Roberts said, turned her life in a different direction.

“I was going to go into veterinarian school, but after that experience I took an entire turn and decided that this is what I want to do with my life,” she said.

Now a junior at Indiana University studying film production, Roberts is preparing to spend a semester in Los Angeles studying with a major film company.

“Seeing how a tiny story like going into adulthood was able to hit the big screen, that means that I can take so many other, even more important stories than just growing up and put them on the big screen if I put myself in the industry and make my voice heard,” Roberts said. “My goal, I guess, right now is to take the film industry by the reins and tell the stories that I think are really important.”

Discovering young talent in script writing and behind the camera is a significant perk of the annual Indiana High School Screenwriting Contest, according to Armstrong, who said the entries each year introduce him to compelling stories across the state. “There are no losers in this process,” Armstrong said. “We get to inspire young people and work with young people who are growing up in Indiana just like we did, thinking about this crazy industry.” Pigasus is accepting entries for this year’s contest through Feb. 5. Armstrong and Spicer said potential entrants need not concern themselves with polishing their ideas into a ready-to-shoot project right away.

“We really want young people to know that if you’ve never written a screenplay before, that’s OK,” Spicer said. “We want to tell real stories about the real experiences of young people growing up in Indiana. Keep it simple, look around you and just write what you know.”

Armstrong said in addition to adhering to the contest guidelines, the winning entry will be heartfelt, a story told in a genuine and sincere style that will resonate with film watchers.

“A winning screenplay really is something that is authentic – an authentic voice,” he said. “It’ll be something that has heart, that tells a real story, a real human story, and specifically stories about what young people deal with in Indiana. In other words, just keep it real.”

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