screenwriter to watch
Wenonah has been screenwriting since 2001 and has written over twenty feature-length screenplays. She’s had six short films produced.
She has won competitions and placed highly in many others as well as participating in screenwriting workshops, programs and panels.
- Nicholl Fellow (2018)
- Austin Film Festival Script Competition Winner – Drama Screenplay (2018)
- 2018 Young & Hungry List
- McKnight Media Artist Fellow (2018)
- Minnesota Screenwriting Residency (Finalist, 2016 & 2018)
- Sundance Episodic Lab (Finalist 2017)
- Nicholl Fellowship Competition (Semi-finalist, 2015 & 2017)
- Sundance Screenwriters Lab (Finalist 2011)
- PAGE Script Competition First Place, Comedy category (2011)
- Atlanta Film Festival Screenplay Competition winner (2008)
- IFP Film Market (2008)
- McKnight Media Artist Fellow (2007)
- Tribeca All Access Program (2006)
Her film “Sunshine” played at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian during the summer of 2006. http://filmcatalog.nmai.si.edu/person/3027/
Her film “Waabooz” starring acclaimed native actor Saginaw Grant just finished a 2017-2018 Festival Circuit run where it won many awards and accolades including:
Kumeyaay Award for best Native American Film at the San Diego Film Festival
Best Native American Film at the 2018 Copa Shorts Film Festival
Audience Choice awards at many other festivals including the Twin Cities Film Festival where it premiered.
Wenonah is the showrunner and head writer for FEM 101, a web series that will be available Fall of 2018. She was also the Resident
Screenwriter at the Augsburg University Summer MFA program in July 2018.
Wenonah is a member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
How did you break in or get your start in screenwriting?
I am self-taught and worked hard at learning and getting better at my craft over the course of 18 years. While I’ve had moderate local success with short films and placements in various competitions, my biggest break was in 2018 winning the Nicholl Fellowship and the Austin Film Festival screenwriting competition (feature drama category) which lead to representation by UTA.
Writer “Fem 101”
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
My biggest lesson was to believe in myself while always be willing to listen and learn and strive to be better. I’ve learned to take constructive criticism and apply it to my work and to be a person someone would want to work with. I’ve learned its okay to step back and take a break but get back out there and keep trying – perseverance is the key.
What’s the hardest scene or project you’ve ever had to write? How did you navigate the challenge?
Writing things that you’re not passionate about for any amount of pay can be hard. It’s a job, yes but you need to find passion in the act of writing and discovering and creating characters. When I’m working on a project that isn’t my own, I try to channel the reason this script/story needs to be told and how I can best serve the people that want to tell it. I need to be their voice on the page so they can put their story on the screen – screenwriters are a necessary part of the process and I want to do my job well. It makes my own projects that much more enjoyable when I get to write them. I’m also not afraid to say “No” if it’s something I feel I can’t do at my best level.
What was a major turning point in your career?
Seeing a screenplay turn into a film was a major turning point, everything clicked and it changed the way I wrote after that. Listening to my words come out of the mouth of an actor was incredibly scary and motivating and of course cringey too. It’s humbling the amount of cast and crew it takes to turn your pages into a film and I respect that hard work so much. The second major turning point would be winning the competitions I’d been entering for so long. It’s so validating.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m writing a prequel, reading a lot of books and working on several pitches for possible assignments.
What are some of your favorite movies?
Brazil, Pretty in Pink, Heathers, Mean Girls, Hard Candy, District 9, Rabbit Proof Fence and honestly I love Zoolander.
Who are some of your favorite screenwriters?
Coen Brothers, Tina Fey, Wes Anderson, Terry Gilliam.
I like them all for different reasons but I’m a big fan of unique characters and the worlds they inhabit. I also think comedy is so hard and when done well it’s beautiful.
Share a memorable experience at Austin Film Festival.
The first time I went to Austin I was so proud to wear my 2nd rounder badge. It was amazing to be among writers both new (like myself)) and seasoned and have access to so many resources and information. It was truly a “Chocolate Factory” experience for me. Of course going back and being a finalist was a dream come true and when my name was announced as a winner I barely remember walking up to the stage and the tears were flowing. I pretty much ugly cried through my speech and completely forgot that I was standing between two famous screenwriters but it was one of the most wonderful moments of my life.