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Alum Wins Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award

Graduate’s Script Wins Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award

Kevin Cramer’s screenplay places fourth in annual competition for UC students.

(October 30, 2007)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — UC Riverside graduate Kevin P. Cramer placed fourth in the 52nd Samuel Goldwyn Writing Awards Competition for feature-length screenplays written by University of California students.

The prize includes a $2,000 cash award. Results of the competition, which this year included 123 entries from eight UC campuses, were announced in a ceremony in Los Angeles Oct. 29.

Cramer’s screenplay, “Zen Dog in the Clouds,” was the only one of 123 entries to be named one of the five finalists by all three judges. It is the story of a young soldier on a two-week leave from Iraq who stumbles into a drug deal gone wrong the mountains of Montana.

Cramer completed his master of fine arts degree in theater/creative writing and writing for the performing arts in June 2007.

He is the second UC Riverside graduate to win a Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award. In 2004, Nils Lyew won second place for a script written while an undergraduate in the creative writing program. A lecturer in the Department of Theatre, Weiko Lin, was a finalist in the 2001 competition. Cramer wrote his winning script while enrolled in Lin’s class.

While a graduate student at UCR in 2005 Cramer co-founded the Golden Mean Players, a student-run theater troupe that continues today.

UCR theater faculty said Cramer’s award represents what the MFA program is intended to do: find talented young writers and help them to improve their craft and to create their careers.

“Kevin Cramer is a remarkable screenwriter and playwright,” said Robin Russin, assistant professor of theater. “The Goldwyn competition is a highly regarded, UC-wide writing competition whose finalists typically go on to become among the most successful professionals in writing for the performing arts.”

Charles Evered, assistant professor of theater, applauded Cramer’s talent.

“Kevin's success reflects the extent to which the MFA program here at UCR is clearly on the ascent. Kevin is a hardworking, personable and talented writer who truly deserves all the attention coming his way,” Evered said.

Cramer said being named a finalist in the competition resulted in meetings with agents and lawyers “who otherwise wouldn’t have known I existed.”

He has already optioned “Zen Dog in the Clouds” to FilmDaDa, a Pasadena company that produces high-end independent films. “I’m really excited about it because their last project has been a huge hit at film festivals nationwide and they’re a great up-and-coming company,” he said.

Cramer has a full-length independent movie, “The South Alabama Game,” coming out next summer. It was filmed in Pittsburgh. His play, “Bacciarelli,” just concluded a monthlong run at the Ruskin Group Theatre and Santa Monica and will be presented at UCR Jan. 24-26.

The Samuel Goldwyn Writing Awards were founded in 1955 and are bestowed by the Samuel Goldwyn Foundation in honor of the late producer. The first prize is $15,000.

Previous award winners include Francis Ford Coppola (“Apocalypse Now,” “The Godfather” trilogy), Eric Roth (“Forrest Gump,” “Munich”), and Scott Rosenberg (“Gone in Sixty Seconds”).

Judging this year’s competition were: Peter Bart, editor-in-chief of Variety and a former executive at Lorimar Films and MGM/United Artists; film executive and producer Cathy Schulman, who worked on “My Left Foot” and “Gangs of New York”; and Joel Schumacher, who has directed films such as “St. Elmo’s Fire” and “The Number 23.”

Presenting the awards was Samuel Goldwyn Jr., who has produced or distributed films such as “Man with a Gun,” “La Femme Nikita” and “Master and Commander.”

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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