Where Are They Now: Big Break Winner Greta Heinemann Has Since Worked For NBC, Apple and Netflix
March 27, 2023
Screenwriter Greta Heinemann was one of the Grand Prize Winners of the 2017 Big Break Screenwriting Contest for her thriller/horror feature script, "City Under Fire.”
Heinemann's winning entry, inspired by true events, follows a female LAPD training officer who finds herself on the kill manifesto of her disgraced former trainee, a young African-American man, in 2013.
Heinemann tells Final Draft that while she was already working in TV as a writer at the time on “NCIS: New Orleans,” she found herself spending nights and weekends working on a feature. Once she felt she had a solid enough screenplay, she entered the contest to help break into the features side of the business.
“The first step, I thought, would be to find out if my writing was actually any good and could pass the ‘industry sniff test,’” she recalls. “With Final Draft Big Break being one of the big five screenwriting competitions in terms of quality vetting and real industry access, I thought submitting would be a great way to test the actual industry relevance and viability of my work.”
Heinemann says Final Draft’s Big Break contest was a “game changer” in terms of starting her career in features and in setting her up with the right representation for the rest of her career.
“Final Draft took extremely great care (and pride) in introducing me to industry insiders and reps all over town,” she shares. “It’s how I met my manager and we’ve been working in lockstep ever since. I should also say that the Final Draft community doesn’t end there. I’ve been circling back to connect with new winners and the team ever since.”
Shortly after winning, she sold and developed a movie with Amblin Studios, David Leitch’s 87 North and Devonshire Media producing. On the TV side, she kept busy staffing multiple shows for NBC, APPLE and NETFLIX and sold her own show to HBOMax. Currently she’s developing her own TV projects with NETFLIX and FX in addition to working on a movie for Amazon Studios that has Barry Levinson attached to direct and Priyanka Chopra starring, and David Permut producing.
Her advice for future entrants is “to make sure that your script is in the best possible shape when you submit it as the competition is stiff. Also, if you don’t place, I would advise to take this as a gentle nudge to give the script another pass and see if you can’t make it any better. Writing is rewriting and competitions like Big Break are a great way to test if you’re ‘there’ yet without pressure or ramifications.”
Aside from the “fancy” night out on the Paramount lot, including a limo ride, Heinemann says it’s the community that she liked most about her experience with Final Draft’s Big Break contest.
“I think the piece that I will always appreciate the most is that I have found true partners in business for the rest of my career as a result of this…Most careers in this industry are built upon many small-but-mighty steps into one direction. After winning the Final Draft Big Break contest, I signed with a new manager and added two incredibly savvy feature agents to my existing team. It’s the team that has set me up for success ever since so it was a huge breakthrough at the time.”
Written by: Brianne HoganBrianne Hogan is a freelance writer currently based in Prince Edward Island. A film studies graduate from NYU, her byline's been featured in Creative Screenwriting, ScreenCraft, The Huffington Post, among others. "Jurassic Park" is unashamedly her favorite movie (at this moment). You can follow Brianne on Twitter via @briannehogan