Asheville School humanities teacher chosen as one of five winners in screenwriting competition

Press release

From the Asheville School:
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (June 3, 2013) Asheville School Humanities teacher Tim Plaehn already had a busy summer planned, but now that his screenplay has the potential to become a Chinese hit film, his summer plans have gotten even crazier.

Plaehn is one of five screenwriters out of more than 1,000 entries to have his screenplay selected this week by the Beijing International Screenwriting Competition. As a winner, Plaehn receives an all-expenses paid trip to Beijing, $1,000 in prize money, and an opportunity to have his script produced in China — the world’s second-largest market for American motion pictures.

“I have so much to think about in a short amount of time,” Plaehn said. “The five of us who are in the feature film category are being flown over and will meet with different producers in Beijing. We’ll have the opportunity to get to know our setting more intimately and will have until August 20 to finish our screenplay.”

Plaehn, who wrote a 10-page film treatment titled “The Panjiayuan Diary” as part of the contest, said he based the main character on his 10-year-old daughter, Martha, who in the story discovers a diary in the Panjiayuan antique market in Beijing.

“I did a great deal of research, and really enjoyed creating this character based off of my daughter, Martha, as an independent child left to her own devices in the big city of Beijing who meets a boy of Chinese descent,” Plaehn said.

Because of Asheville School’s diverse international student population, Plaehn said he talked to several of his students from China as he researched Beijing.

“I enjoyed naming my Chinese characters in the script after Chinese students at Asheville School,” Plaehn said. “The name of the hero in the story is Richard Guo (a senior at Asheville School).”

As a Harvard alumnus, Plaehn said he decided to enter the contest after receiving an email from Harvardwood, a nonprofit group that represents Harvard University alumni, faculty and others working in the arts and entertainment industries. Plaehn will travel to China on June 3 for a seven day, six night trip where he says he looks forward to meeting the other screenwriters who he’ll be competing against for a $15,000 prize and the chance to see his screenplay made into a major motion picture in China.

“This groundbreaking initiative will help foster artistic collaboration and an ongoing creative dialogue between China and the U.S., and will provide an unprecedented opportunity for aspiring and established U.S. writers to obtain international recognition,” said Huiguang Zhang, director of the cultural assets office of the Beijing municipal government as quoted in the Los Angeles Times.

The contest is sponsored by the state-owned Beijing International Creative Industry Corp, according to the LA Times article. Other partners include LeTV, China’s biggest online distributor for TV and movies, and Harvardwood.

To read more about the competition, click here.
A nationally acclaimed co-ed college preparatory boarding and day school, Asheville School enrolls approximately 275 students from across the country and overseas. Recent graduates are attending Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, Caltech, UCLA, UNC-Chapel Hill, Davidson, NC State, University of Virginia, Emory, Duke, and Wake Forest, among others.


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