On April 9 Sun Valley Film Festival announced that Shia LaBeouf’s ‘Minor Modifications’ was the winner of the High Scribe Award. It’s a contest that provides aspiring writers with a chance to have, “one-on-one meetings with some of the industry’s finest to discuss their work” as well as “mentoring from an experienced professional.”
LaBeouf had made it to the quarterfinals of the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards in 2019 for his script for 2019’s “Honey Boy”.
The award being given to an established member of the film industry has garnered a largely negative reaction from other aspiring screenwriters, with questions being raised as to how someone who has starred in several films was awarded first prize and why he entered the competition at all.
I lost a screenwriting competition to Shia LaBeouf. I hope he puts that $1000 and 1-on-1 consultation with a producer to good use.
— Just Screenwriting (@JustScreenplay) April 26, 2020
Despite the backlash one of LaBeouf’s reps defended him.
“Shia entered the competition as an emerging writer,” the representative said. “He is thrilled to be a part of the community and thrives off of any opportunity to gain insight, constructive criticism and knowledge from those with more experience…and that’s in regards to any art form.”
The High Scribe Award is based on blind submissions and is part of the festival’s screenwriters lab. Organisers of the festival were only informed that LaBeouf was the writer of the script when he reached the final stages. Lab organiser Emily Granville stated that initially she thought it was a joke, “I thought, that’s tacky,” she said. Continuing though she said, “but the script was just so good.”
“The mission behind the festival is about trying to give people a leg up who need help trying to get into the business… and we we’re proud to work with a lot of producers,” Granville said. “That’s something that Shia doesn’t need help with, I’m sure, but we decided long ago that we would judge a script on its merits, regardless of who writes it.”