By: Janik Shannon

Placing first in the sitcom category of the Spec Scriptacular competition is only one of the many achievements to come into an Algonquin scriptwriter’s future.

Carla Custance, a 2008 grad, has gone on to place in several competitions such as the Create World Awards, Script Pipeline Screenwriting Competition, Nicholl Fellowship, Page International Screenwriting Competition and Creative World Awards.

Her most recent successes are The Case of the Sicilian Curse, an episode for the HBO comedy Bored to Death and Resurrecting Jane Doe, a screenplay for the 2012 Praxis Screenplay competition.

“The big thing contests do for you is make agents think twice,” said Custance.

It was pointed out by a teacher that Custance wrote in the same humour as Bored to Death that led to her watching the first season in one weekend.

“I thought, ‘this is the show I really want to write a spec for’,” she said.

As winner of the competition, Custance is awarded a mentorship with Larry Brody, a well-known writer and producer. Brody has a list of writers he recommends that is then seen by producers and directors. Even though more than 15,000 want to be on the list, only 80 tend to make it.

Continuing her studies at Spalding University in masters of fine arts in screenwriting residency program, which takes place every six months for 10 days at a time, Custance said she has made a lot of progress since graduating from Algonquin. She has been getting interest from producers and getting a network together.

“I had some writing experience before the program but I was very new to scriptwriting,” said Custance about the Algonquin scriptwriting program. “It gave me all the building blocks I need. I learned two things from it; one was the craft of screen writing. You’re really taught the structure for TV and sound that you use over the years. Second was the industry knowledge.”

She said the program gives a good understanding of the business behind scriptwriting and helps the students continue to improve, market and sell themselves.

“Not meant for the faint hearted,” said Custance. The scriptwriting program teaches them how to prepare themselves and be persistent.

Teaching her during the one-year program, scriptwriting program co-ordinator Lynn Tarzwell saw Custance as a smart, quiet and professional individual.

Tarzwell said she sees Custance furthering her professional training, upgrading in writing for film and television, growing her network and scoring a paying job writing for television in Canada.

Although Custance’s prior interests consisted of psychology and natural health, her mother and husband were not surprised when she decided to take up scriptwriting.

“I knew that she loved to write so I wasn’t shocked when she said she wanted to go back to school to do scriptwriting,” said husband William Custance. “It didn’t come as a surprise and I encouraged her.”

Her mother Pamela Cormier always felt that Custance would be a writer. Even when she was a young girl, Cormier said Custance composed stories with a lot of excitement in her writing.

“She has a gift,” said Cormier. “I always thought there would be some aspect of writing she would pursue.”