At a cocktail event on March 24th, 2016, we were excited to honor Shawn Snyder, the recipient of the 2016 Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize, a nationwide program supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. It was a lively party with a DJ spinning music and even specialty drinks themed to Snyders winning film, including Shmuels Fizz and The Watermelon Decay.
Snyder, a NYU Tisch School of the Arts film student, co-wrote TO DUST the best-of-the-best screenplay selection from the winning scripts submitted by Sloans six U.S. film school partners. Additionally, Jennifer Edwards of UCLA received an honorable mention for her screenplay, FAMILY BREW. The Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize inspires student filmmakers to create more realistic and compelling scripted films about science and technology.
At the event, Doron Weber, Vice President & Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, spoke with delight about Snyder’s wildly original and touching screenplay and with excitement about how science is increasingly at the forefront of our popular culture. Snyder expressed gratitude about being able to begin production on the film in 2016 thanks to receiving the Sloan Student Grand Jury prize. Snyder’s family was also in attendance, showing their support.
How the Selection Process Works
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation launched this prize as the next step in its pioneering film school program to influence a new generation of filmmakers and to help aspiring screenwriters integrate science and technology into their projects. Each year, six leading film schools, including AFI, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, NYU, UCLA, and USC, submit one Sloan-winning screenplay for consideration for the prize. A jury of experienced filmmakers and scientists then reviews those selections.
TO DUST was selected by a jury made up of Marc Etkind (General Manager, Science Channel), Emily Mortimer (Actor, Writer & Producer), Latif Nasser (Director of Research, WNYC’s Radiolab), Paul Schneider (Actor/Writer/Director), and Dr. Nina Tandon (CEO and co-founder, EpiBone).
About the Winning Film for 2016
Snyder co-wrote TO DUST with Jason Begue. The film follows Shmuel, a Hasidic cantor in Upstate New York, who is distraught by the untimely death of his wife. Shmuel struggles to find religious solace while secretly obsessing over how her body will decay. As a clandestine partnership develops with Albert, a local community college biology professor, the two embark on a darkly-comic and increasingly-literal undertaking into the underworld.
What’s Next for Prize-winning Snyder
Snyder will receive $30,000 in prize money and professional guidance from TFI and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for Best Science-Themed Script. He is also invited to attend “TFI Network,” the Institutes two-day market of one-on-one meetings between filmmakers and members of industry, and an invitation to a “Sloan Works-In-Progress reading at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival®
For more information about the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, please visit: http://www.sloan.org