Student writes her own ticket to Hollywood

Scene one: The location is a living room, where a student is entertaining a guest. The student, a senior at Wilton High School, is Nora Dominick. The identity of the visitor is not important because this scene, and this story, are all about Nora.

The Wilton Bulletin recently sat down with Nora at her home on West End Lane to discuss her original screenplay, Thanks for the Memories, which has been named one of 12 official finalists in the 2013 Hollywood Screenplay Contest.

Drawing inspiration from shows like Friends and How I Met Your Mother, the story is based on the concept of a single man flashing back on a relationship after he runs into his ex-girlfriend.

“I wrote it for a creative writing class at school,” Nora said. “I’ve always had an interest in television and film. The eight weeks dedicated to the project seemed like a perfect match.”

The finished script, written when Nora was just 16, was a hit with Sandra Soson, the creative writing teacher at Wilton High School.

“From the beginning she had a clear concept for the show and for what she wanted the pilot to establish,” Ms. Soson said. “I was impressed with her ability to visualize the characters and to write some terrific dialogue. As her teacher, I was also pleased by her openness to critique and her ability to take that critique and effectively revise.”

It was so good, in fact, that Nora elected to enter it in the Hollywood Screenplay Contest, one of the few without an age limit.

“I went to California for the contest,” she said. “I was the youngest there. I was the only one who had to go back to school the next day.”

The contest offers prizes in more than a dozen categories, including comedy, drama, stage play, science fiction, biography/historical, family film, and horror. Nora was a finalist in the television sitcom category.

She came back to Connecticut with a certificate and glass trophy, as well as a plan.

“This led to me thinking that maybe I have a natural talent for this,” she said. “I applied to Emerson College in Boston for screenwriting, and that’s where I’ll be next year.”

She has taken the pilot episode of Thanks for the Memories and has started developing it further, including a second script that is in process.

Nora allows herself to dream as to who would play the characters she created.

“Having an actor in mind is important for the character,” she said.

Neil Patrick Harris of How I Met Your Mother is one actor Nora could see playing the lead role of Kevin.

She stays active as a stage manager in high school, which serves as her hobby and her passion. These are the kinds of things that take up what little free time she has.

Considering her future, Nora said she would like to become a professional screenwriter after college. The program at Emerson is a good start.

“My family is very supportive,” she added. “They all live here in Wilton. I’m constantly pushing drafts on friends and family. I’m always reading them to my brother.”

Nora’s father, Sal, said he and his wife, Paula, enjoy encouraging her to pursue her dream.

“Nora has been interested in this as far back as we can remember,” Mr. Dominick said. “She’s achieving her goal of going to Emerson.”

“I really hope that someday, if she writes a sitcom, she changes the names to protect the innocent,” he added with a laugh.

So as the sun sets on this scene, the lesson learned is that it is only the beginning. This story is to be continued.

“There are a lot more stories to tell,” she said.

The Hollywood Screenplay Contest is sponsored by a number of businesses, including Sony Creative Software, Vegas Pro 11, Greenhouse Studios, InkTip, the International Screenwriters Association, and Script Pipeline. Information: hollywoodscreenplaycontest.com.