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Cliff Notes May 2004: Volume 1, Number 2
   

Who's Driving Doug?

   
     

Two buddies, a road trip to Las Vegas and a girl, all sound like a recipe for a wild ride. For Michael Carnick, ’07, it was a recipe for a screenplay that won him $25,000.

Carnick’s screenplay, Who’s Driving Doug, took the first-place prize for the 50th Annual Samuel Goldwyn Writing Awards, which recognizes excellence in screenwriting. There were more than 100 submissions from University of California students. Past award winners include director Francis Ford Coppola and screenwriter Colin Higgins. Carnick is the first UCSD student to take first place.

Who’s Driving Doug tells the story of two college students, one of whom is disabled, on a road trip to Vegas, where they become entangled in a love triangle. According to Carnick, who has non-progressive muscle dystrophy, many of the scenes and characters come from his own experiences. He describes his screenplay as a drama laced with dark comedy.

“The story mirrors my own life,” Carnick says. “Instead of it being about a disabled person, it’s just about another person.” The screenplay started off as a 30-page assignment for a screenwriting class, but Carnick found he had so much to write that he continued the project even after he completed the course.

Screenwriting professor Allan Havis, who worked with Carnick to revise and give feedback on the project, encouraged him to submit the screenplay to the contest.

“I really didn’t think I had much chance because it was my first screenplay,” Carnick says. “But Allan Havis thought I did. I went along with it and he was right.”

A Theater/Drama major, Carnick has written many short plays for class assignments. “[Stories] build up in my head,
I don’t write anything down or take any notes or outlines,” Carnick says. “I just try and make it up as I go along and later improve it.”

Currently, Carnick is speaking with agents and producers who are interested in reading his screenplay. And Carnick says he hopes to continue writing in the future, possibly even completing a full-length play.

“I can see Michael writing his entire life, continuing to hone his craft,” Havis says. “He might go into novels, or back to plays, but he is not limited to being just a screen writer.”

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"The screenplay started off as a 30-page assignment for a screenwriting class, but Carnick found he had so much to write that he continued the project even after he completed the course."