Garden State Film Festival – This Weekend April 4-6, 2014

Do you have plans this weekend??  The Garden State Film Festival rolls into Atlantic City, NJ, and Kevin Caruso, the Big Kahuna of the NJ Screenwriters Association will be participating in two events.
On Saturday, April 5, at 1:30 PM, at the Chelsea Hotel, legendary actor Ed Asner will be headlining the stage reading of YOU CAN’T PLAY THE GAME IF YOU DON’T KNOW THER RULES, the winner of the 2014 The Donna Rothstein Excellence in Screenwriting Award.  The screenplay, written by noted Australian screenwriter/director/actor Burleigh Smith, will be directed by three-time Academy Award nominated actress Dianne Ladd.  The screenplay is a romantic comedy about missed opportunities and troubled relationships.  This event is free to the public.
The screenwriting award was named after our dear friend Donna, who passed away earlier this year.
On Sunday, April 6, at 1:00 PM, Kevin will be moderating the “From AC to LA: Climbing the Hollywood Ladder,” at the Trump Taj Mahal with Margate, NJ native, Scott Neustadter, writer and Producer of (500) Days of Summer, The Spectacular Now, and The Fault in Our Stars. An award-winning and highly-sought-after screenwriter, Scott will talk candidly about his journey from east coast to west coast.  This event has an admission.  If you’re interested in any of these events, go to for information on how to attend.

Scott Ruane

ScottRuaneScott Ruane started writing screenplays when he was 16 years old, and hasn’t stopped since.

In 2012, he earned his M.F.A. in Screenwriting and a M.A. in Journalism from the University of Miami. Whenever he isn’t writing he works as a copywriter in the medical advertising field and reads screenplays for the BlueCat Screenplay Competition.

Scott’s screenplay, The Melting Pot, won the 2014 Best Screenplay award at the Hoboken Film Festival.

Jack Walker Bellingham

johnwalkerbellinghamJohn Walker Bellingham has been writing and studying screenplay writing for nearly 20 years. He has a bachelors degree from the University of Oklahoma, studied screenwriting with the University of California, Berkeley; attended Robert Mckee screenwriting seminars 3 times;  studied screenwriting under Lew Hunter (former head of screenwriting dept. UCLA) and James Dalessandro.

His script “The Italian Girl From Missoula” was a finalist at the Moondance Film Festival and later optioned to the Italian producer Pete Maggio while John was at the Cannes Film Festival.

His script “Deborah Samson,” – the true story of the first American female combat soldier who enlisted during the Revolutionary War disguised as a man won Best Screenplay Women In Film, was a Semi-Finalist at the Moondance Film Festival, was optioned by producer Bonnie Bruckheimer (Beaches, Divine Secret of the Ya Ya Sisterhood), was read last year by Meryl Streep.

His “Eliza Bean” – the fictional story of the first female Major League Baseball player  was a semi-finalist at the Moondance Film Festival last year.

John is Founder and current Moderator of the Presidio Roundtable – a group of critiquing screenwriters in San Francisco who have been meeting weekly for six years.

Keith Armonaitis

Keith- JacketKeith Armonaitis started off as an actor. He attended the Acting program at Mason Gross School of the Arts under Bill Esper’s supervision, and performed in regional theater as well as radio plays, including the role of “The Wolf” in Red and the Wolf which played on NPR.

Concluding that a career in acting was a tough go, he decided that stand up comedy would be easier and performed at various clubs around NYC and Northern New Jersey. He was a member of the comedy improv troupe at CBGBs in New York and more recently has  performed with The Groundlings in LA and with Brian Henson during the NYC tour of Stuffed and Unstrung.

He has spent the majority of his career in IT and has created several startup companies in the hi-tech space. A computer geek at heart, he has never forgotten his love for the arts and has written many screenplays, including Jukebox Zero and Newbie, both of which were optioned.

Jersey Born and Bred, he enjoys living where people tell it like it is and “How’s your balls?” is an acceptable form of greeting.

Kevin Caruso

KevinCarusoKevin Caruso was born and raised in Jersey.  He has worked as a van driver for a classic rock radio station in New York City, a public relations representative for High Times Magazine, and a salesman for a German beer importer.  If he had to give this page a title, “Beer, Drugs, and Rock-N-Roll,” would appropriate.

In 2007, Kevin received a grant from the State of New Jersey for writing.  The screenplay he had submitted was awarded the perfect score, the first time in the program’s history that such a score was achieved.  His screenplay THE RUT won the 2007 Cinestory Screenwriting Competition.

He co-wrote the hip-hop film I TRIED, featuring rap icons Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.  A successful-selling DVD, the film was shown on Black Entertainment Television in 2008.

In 2010, he won the best One-Hour Category for the Scriptapalooza Television Writing Competition for his spec script for the series SOUTHLAND.  In 2013, he was hired to write an action thriller set in China.

In 2000, he started the North Jersey Screenwriting Network, a critique and peer group for talented and dedicated screenwriters.  In 2007, he created the Garden State Screenwriting Competition, which he oversees for the Garden State Film Festival.

Kevin is repped by Scooty Woop Entertainment and lawyer Marios Rush.