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Essay Contest Gives High-Schoolers Chance to Spend Two Days on Movie Set


Dream big, John Hancock says, and the opportunity of a lifetime awaits.

That's why the Oscar-nominated director, hoping to inspire the next generation of filmmakers, has created the “Dare to Dream Essay Contest,” where the winner spends two days on the set of his latest movie.

Filming on the untitled project, written by actress/screenwriter Dorothy Tristan and directed by Hancock (“Bang the Drum Slowly,” “Prancer”), is set to begin in late June and continue through mid-August in La Porte County, South Bend and Southwest Michigan. It marks the fourth time Hancock and Tristan have used the area as settings for their movies, the most famous being the 1989 Christmas classic “Prancer.”

Open to all high-schoolers in La Porte County and Three Oaks, Mich., the contest asks students to prepare a 300- to 400-word essay that is typed and double spaced. No handwritten entries will be accepted. Write your name, school, your parents' names, your age/year in school, phone number and email in the top-right corner. Explain why you want to be a filmmaker or director and why you believe it will happen. If you like, write about any particular story you want to tell, or when you realized filmmaking was your dream.

The winner spends two days on the set, which will include a walk-on role, experience with the lighting crew, sound department and cinematographer and the chance to sit with John as he directs the film.

Submit the essay by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or to your designated teacher or school official by Friday, May 24. The contest's judges are FilmAcres Co-Producer and Columbia College Chicago Professor Doreen Bartoni, FilmAcres Production Office Manager and retired educator Margaret Clifford and Tammy Lakes, the vice president of product management and marketing, Accelerated Performance Solutions, Pearson Education Inc.

Winners will be announced no later than Friday, June 7.

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