Press Room

Breaking news, press releases and statements from the Writers Guild of America, East

Thursday February 5, 2009


NEW YORK CITYThe Writers Guild of America, East Foundation will present the first Michael Collyer Memorial Fellowship in Screenwriting to Sara Van Acker of New York University . The award will be presented by Tom Fontana and Marshall Brickman at the 61st Annual Writers Guild Awards on Saturday, February 7, 2009 at New York City’s Hudson Theatre

The Michael Collyer Memorial Fellowship is awarded to a student who plans to pursue a career in screenwriting upon completion of his/her undergraduate course of study. The recipient receives a stipend and will also be mentored by a prominent screenwriter.

Van Acker was selected from a pool of nine nominees submitted by a corresponding number of U.S. universities invited to participate in the Collyer Fellowship’s pilot year. Marshall Brickman chaired the Foundation’s fellowship selection committee and will serve as the mentor to Van Acker during her fellowship.

“It wasn’t easy picking the winner because the submissions represented a refreshingly heterogeneous mixture of subjects, styles, and points of view—all of which had much to recommend them,” said Marshall Brickman. “The committee’s consensus was for Sara, whose two writing samples indicated a unique sensibility, a wide emotional range and a sure instinct for drama. I look forward to working with this talented and dedicated young writer.”

Van Acker is a senior at New York University , Tisch School of the Arts, Department of Dramatic Writing. The oldest of four children, she has spent much of her time telling stories to her brothers and sister and has been incredibly encouraged by her loving parents.  During her four years at NYU, Van Acker has been active in developing collaborations between the Film & TV, Acting, and Writing Departments. Her feature Not So Happily Ever After was a finalist in the NYU Fusion Film Festival. In addition, she helped produce several community-centered programs, as well as NYU’s nationally recognized program of the year Ultra-Violet Live, a campus-wide talent show case. She graduates this spring with a major in screenwriting and a minor in producing.

“The Foundation’s purpose is to discover voices which have previously been unheard. Sara’s voice will be one which we’ll be hearing from for decades to come,” said Tom Fontana, president of the WGAE Foundation.

The Collyer Fellowship, which is funded by the Charles & Lucille King Family Foundation, honors Michael Collyer, a distinguished entertainment attorney in New York City who for four decades practiced primarily at his namesake firm Kay Collyer & Boose and specialized in television financing and production. Collyer was perhaps best known as a pioneer in devising legal structures for television syndication distribution, and for international co-productions taking advantage of favorable tax credits and other incentives.

For more information on the Michael Collyer Memorial Fellowship, contact Marsha Manns, 212-767-7805.

The Writers Guild of America, East Foundation is created to perpetuate the art and craft of storytelling, either by professionals or amateurs, through education and practical experience, on local, national and global levels; to  find the next generation of writers in fiction, non-fiction, television, radio, film, theatre, and new media; to encourage WGAE members and staff to contribute their expertise to Foundation activities, thereby expanding the base and breadth of knowledge, as well as increasing the solidarity and power of the writing community in the larger world; and to work with other like-minded organizations in order to facilitate and expand the needs and goals of writers everywhere. 

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