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TV Pilot by Claire Giegerich ’23 Wins NFFTY Screenwriting Competition

Her script, The Winters, won in the category of Best Pilot Script.

Congratulations to Claire Giegerich ’23 (playwriting and screenwriting, psychology minor) for winning the NFFTY (The National Film Festival for Talented Youth) Story Starts Here: Screenplay Competition. It’s the first festival she’s ever entered.

Giegerich is understandably elated. “I’m really grateful to have experienced this giant festival at all, but to be nominated? And to win? It’s mind-blowing.”

“I even had Will Akers tell me he thought I was a terrific writer and that blew my mind in half.” [Akers is the author of Your Screenplay Sucks! 100 Ways to Make it Great.] She also got to pitch her pilot to producer and director Stan Brooks.

However, she accepts the win with a dose of pragmatism. 

“While I love and feel insanely grateful to have won, unfortunately winning does not make you suddenly a different, better version of yourself. But I do have a trophy and a bit more money in the bank, and that’s always fun.”

Read more about her journey below.

March 24, 2022

Claire Giegerich ’23 submitted her television show pilot to NFFTY (The National Film Festival for Talented Youth) solely at the urging of her best friend and fellow playwriting and screenwriting major Jenny Woods. Giegerich thought it was a long shot. It’s also the first festival she ever entered. 

The Winters, a project she crafted in Writing for Television taught by Associate Professor Edward Pomerantz, was selected as a finalist in NFFTY’s screenwriting competition, The Story Starts Here. Three finalists each were selected for the screenplay and television pilot categories from hundreds of submissions. NFFTY is the world’s largest showcase for filmmakers under 24.

“I still can’t believe it. I promise I will not form any kind of ego (yet), but I do feel like I’m floating constantly,” says Giegerich.

Born and raised in the Bronx’s Riverdale neighborhood, Giegerich had the idea for The Winters six years ago, but thought she would write a novel. “I sure did try, but I was 15 so it sure was bad.”

The Winters tells a story of “broken family, grief, mental illness, and the joy of all of that combined with growing up” through the characters Wyatt and Viktor. She figured she’d save it for her senior project. Fast forward to the first day of Writing for Television when Professor Pomerantz put his students on the spot, asking them each to share a great TV show idea. “I couldn’t think of anything on the fly so I spilled the beans about this story.” She’s glad she did.

Giegerich fell in love with the genre for its efficiency in storytelling during the very first screenwriting class she took with Lecturer James Mehiel. But finding it so challenging, she contemplated dropping the major. Entering a one-on-one evaluation with Mehiel, Giegerich heard just what she needed to put aside her prepared resignation speech: she had the highest grade in the class and she was finding her voice as a screenwriter.

“He said exactly what I needed to hear without even knowing. The support of a teacher, especially one you admire so much goes a very, very long way.”

Anxiously awaiting the festival in Seattle taking place April 28–May 1, Giegerich looks forward to the red carpet opening and participating on a panel with other finalists. The judges will read submissions out loud and winners will be announced May 1, on the spot.

After Purchase, Giegerich hopes to pursue graduate school, possibly in Los Angeles. With an eye on both screenwriting and directing, she might try her hand at acting as well. “I consider myself a decent enough actress, so I’d love to pull a Taika Waititi and cast myself in whatever I end up doing.”

Visit NFFTY for virtual viewing options.