Former attorney wins top CSN script prize

Julie Koca of Chicago, who gave up an practicing law to write novels and screenplays full-time, is the grand prize winner in the Chicago Screenwriters Network’s first annual script contest open to writers throughout the Midwest.

Koca’s Chicago-set screenplay, “In the Dark,” took top honors, garnering a $1,000 cash prize, and also won in the thriller genre category.

The contest will open doors for the four winners, as their work will be submitted to 20 WGA-recognized agents, managers and production companies.

The three category winners were:

Best comedy: Mike McGeever’s “Smilers,” about an expert in busting financial scams who risks his career when he falls in love with his chief suspect and learns that every smiler is not a liar. McGeever of Lombard a CPA and this is his first screenplay.

Best action: Russ Meyer’s “The Tortoise and the Heir,” about a threadbare, loner private investigator who becomes involved in a case where heirs may inherit half of California and they are murdered one by one. Meyer is from New Prague, Minn., and has written 10 features and several short screenplays;

Best drama: Steve Orylk’s “Of Broken Wings,” about two misguided teenage brothers who deal with the recent suicide of their mother, and discover hope and danger in their search for a sense of belonging. He is a former graphic design now in retail management and lives in Arlington Heights.