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Austin Film Festival’s 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2017, Presented by MovieMaker

Austin Film Festival’s 25 Screenwriters to Watch in 2017, Presented by MovieMaker


Kyle Bugg

Who: 24 year-old who left his job at CAA to write full-time after winning the AMC One-Hour Pilot Award at AFF for The Devil and the Deep.

How did you break in or get your start in screenwriting?

I was constantly trying to come up with ideas that utilized the things around me, and I eventually hit a wall with these shoestring-budget projects. I decided to tell the best stories I could think of, not just ones I could realistically shoot. Screenwriting gave me the freedom to do that.

What was a major turning point in your career?

Winning the AMC One-Hour Pilot Award at the Austin Film Festival. The Devil and the Deep was the first script I had written, and I submitted it to AFF largely because of the free notes that came with entering. I was just hoping to make it past the first round and gauge my level of writing, but the script was like the little engine that could, and I was fortunate enough to win. The experience led to meetings with executives from AMC and talent reps, and gave me the confidence to pursue writing full-time.

What are you working on right now?

At the moment I’m working on a pilot called Land of the Midnight Sun. It’s a dark comedy crime series set in Fairbanks, Alaska during the summertime, when there’s 22 hours of sun a day. The concept of that world intrigued me, as there’s no cover of darkness; the sun shines on every foul deed. It also takes a certain kind of person to live in Alaska, so it’s made for interesting characters.


1. Jono Matt and Glen Powell 2. Ryan Piers Williams 3. Etta Devine and Gabriel Diani 4. Lena Khan 5. Trey Selman 6. Tracy Oliver 7. Justin Lader and Charlie McDowell 8. Clint Bentley and Greg Kwedar 9. Damir Konjicija and Dario Konjicija 10. Juanjo Moscardó Rius 11. Ben Snyder and Ari Issler 12. Kyle Bugg 13. Jimmy Mosqueda 14. Michael Noonan 15. Geeta Malik 16. Josh Barkey 17. Nicholas Verso 18. Minhal Baig 19. Henry Jones 20. Kevin Arbouet 21. Megan Park 22. Wes Brown 23. Louisiana Kreutz 24. Kate Nowlin 25. Elizabeth Guest

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  1. Conspicuous by their absence are such stellar screenplay writers as Buck Henry (“The Graduate”), Robert Downey, Sr. (“Putney Swope”), Penny Lane (Nuts”)and Ben and Dan Barnz.

  2. Congratulations to all these writers! Knowing Ben Synder, who has worked with me on a scripts, I want to particularly congratulate him and Ari Lssler for achieving this endeavor in the ‘Storyworld’ of Cinema!

    Spiderwood Productions / Tommy G Warren, Writer, Producer.

  3. James Mayfield says:

    Very inspiring stuff. Loved to learn how these guys and gals got their big breaks, especially those who had little to no contact in LA. Sort of inspiring, and it kind of makes you forget, if only for a moment, that many screenwriters work less than minimum wage. There’s hope!

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