Mike Ackerman Wins Slamdance Screenplay Comp

Slamdance today announced the winners of its 2023 screenplay competition, awarding the Grand Prize to writer Mike Ackerman for his feature screenplay “This End Up.”

Slamdance recognized writers in its feature film, horror/thriller, TV pilot, short film, and mentorship categories and awarded more than $18,000 in prizes and industry services across all categories.

The awards were announced during a live ceremony in Los Angeles hosted at the Westwood Landmark Theater and co-presented by the Landmark Theatres.

The ceremony was followed by a special screening of “Fuzzy Head” by Wendy McColm, a thriller about a woman who searches through her childhood memories and trauma to unlock the truth about her mother’s death, which screened at the Slamdance Film Festival earlier this year and was released October 24th via Gravitas Ventures.

“Mike’s script is a unique story of overcoming obstacles and in a remarkably creative way disability,” says Film Festival and Screenplay Competition Manager, Anna Lee Lawson. “We received over 4,000 screenplay submissions this year. We were all above-and-beyond impressed by this year’s submissions and the vast amount of creativity demonstrated. The 2023 winners and their scripts truly embody the Slamdance spirit in that they take risks and refuse to compromise. We are deeply honored to welcome these writers to the Slamdance family.” 

“This End Up” follows a sheltered man who is literally and physically upside-down. When he finally meets a woman who accepts him as he is, her closed-minded family plants doubt as to whether his condition will stand in the way of her dream of an adventurous lifestyle.

Top three 2023 screenplays in each prize category:


1st Place: This End Up – Mike Ackerman

2nd Place: Popcorn Prophets – Reynaldo Leal

3rd Place: Scraps – Matthew Francis, Ryan Nordin


1st Place: Sundown – Nick Hurwitch

2nd Place: Purgatory – Brian Schwab

3rd Place: 07 Honda Civic – John Schlirf


1st Place: Do I Belong Here? – Teri Rusike

2nd Place: Prey For Us – Zoe Kerr

3rd Place: Ether Run – Westin Lee


1st Place:  Free Martin – Scott Thompson, Hayes Hart-Thompson

2nd Place: An Ideal Life – Keegan Stull

3rd Place: 3rd Place – Meat Baby – Katherine Gauthier

The recipient of the Slamdance Screenplay Mentorship Award is Vanessa Magic for her series pilot script “I Want To Be Evil,” which follows a hapless young woman who lands a data entry job at EVL, the corporation for villains, as she discovers clues that might lead to the truth about the disappearance of her father — the greatest supervillain of all time.

The 2024 Slamdance Film Festival will take place in person from January 19-25 in Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah and virtually from January 22-28. Festival passes are now on sale and priced with accessibility in mind. In person passes for the Festival range from $125 to $250 and are available for purchase at

Virtual Festival passes are now available on the Slamdance Channel for $50 and include an annual program subscription. In collaboration with the University of Utah, the Festival is providing free screenings in Salt Lake City.

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