Young Palatine screenwriter has debut comedy

  • Neal Heatherly

    Neal Heatherly

Published8/13/2008 12:04 AM

If you have attended shows around Palatine in the past few years, chances are pretty good that you've seen Neal Heatherly perform on stage.

Heatherly, 19, of Palatine, has been involved with theater since the age of 5. Now, he is taking his talents to the screen as a writer. Heatherly was one of the nine winners in the 2008 Samsung Mobile Fresh Films Screenwriting Competition. His comedy, "Out With the Trash," was chosen from a nationwide field of teen screenwriters to be produced by teen filmmakers. Each short film runs 7-10 minutes.


"I wanted to enter this contest mainly because of the chance that my work could be seen by a large audience, and the hope that someone in that audience might be able to help me make a feature," Heatherly said. "That's the real reason any writer submits anything, I think. Telling stories is a basic human instinct, so wanting your story to be shared with others is something I think everyone can relate to. Some of us just want them to be shared with the world at large, and I think that's true of all writers. I know it's true of me."

The idea for the screenplay story line came from Heatherly's life.

"The basic idea is that this very introverted high school boy one night decides he needs a change of pace and goes to an open house party he heard about to try and start developing a social life. Instead, he ends up locked in a compost bin," Heatherly said. "The concept actually came from something that happened to me - I was never locked in a compost bin - but in high school I was on the outside of every group, so while I never had any enemies, I never really had any close friends, and when I went to my first cast party after a school play at age 17, I felt really out of place."

Heatherly wasn't involved in the actual production of the film. Once he handed off his final draft, it was up to other teens to bring the words to life.

The next step in the contest is that all the short films are posted on a Web site, visit People visit the site, view the films and vote for their favorites. The film with the most votes wins prizes and those who vote also have a chance to win prizes.

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The drama and action categories have already had their voting. Voting for the comedy division in which Heatherly is entered, is from 3 p.m. Aug. 14 to 3 p.m. Aug. 20. The winning film from each division will then move on to the Viewer's Choice week of 3 p.m. Aug. 21 to 3 p.m. Aug. 27. The film that wins the Viewer's Choice Award will premiere at the Samsung Fresh Films Youth Fest 2008, an event within the American Film Institute's AFI Fest.

So, Heatherly is hoping local suburbanites will support his efforts, and vote for their favorite film.

"My main ambition is to independently produce my own screenplays, usually playing a lead role and using my position to raise all the talented friends I've met in all my years in theater and speech to the levels of fame I honestly believe they deserve," Heatherly said. "That's why it's so important to me to win this competition."

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