School of Music professor, screenwriter, filmmaker and all around busy guy John Celona just returned from having a “terrific experience” at the 2012 California Film Awards, where his screenplay for an unproduced sci-fi black-comedy thriller called Lady Smoke earned a Diamond Award in the screenwriting category.
The awards were held on January 26 at the swish Bahia Hotel in Mission Beach, San Diego. “They really do it up right,” says Celona. “First-class, ballroom, formal dress, podium speeches, representation, studio execs like Harvey Weinstein. I was floored the first time and now this.”
Celona picked up honorable mention at the same awards two years ago for his neo-noir thriller Nightfreight—check out his OpenFilm channel for a peek at on that.
But if you’re wondering what exactly a sci-fi black-comedy thriller is, here’s how Celona describes Lady Smoke: “The abduction of a media star by an extraterrestrial beauty creates international trouble.”
Want more? (Of course you do!) Here’s the screenplay synopsis: “It’s midnight in San Francisco at the martini bar up on the 19th floor. Vikki lures Max, the social media billionaire, and plans a daring departure. A sequence of flashbacks and episodes shows Vikki and her two extraterrestrial companions muffing their shuttlecraft landing in the financial district and their adventures in North Beach. An emergency transmission to the rendezvous starship causes a blackout. The US thinks it’s a foreign cyberattack and enlists Max’s company AURA to retaliate. Max codes the virus ‘Lady Smoke,’ a sexy gaming avatar that looks like Vikki. The extraterrestrials try to undo the damage yet events keep unfolding: UFO encounters, telepathic interference and a covert operative all intersect.”
According to their site, the California Film Awards supports the craft of screenwriting by “discovering and recognizing important new talent” from around the globe through their annual screenplay competition; winning screenplays “are awarded based on the quality and originality of the work.” Sounds like Celona’s Lady Smoke was an ideal match!
And nice that daddy Celona is back in the news, given all the hubbub over daughter Marjorie Celona’s Giller-nominated debut novel, Y, which recently made the prestigious UK Waterstone’s Eleven list (alongside fellow Writing grad D.W. Wilson).
Speaking of Celona’s Nightfreight, fans will also be glad to hear that it’s almost complete as a 600-page graphic novel, soon to be published in both hard copy and as an e-book. Artist Alexis Celona has kindly provided the following sneak peeks of the art—enjoy!