BlueCat Alumni Highlights: Aaron Guzikowski, Ana Lily Amirpour, and Ashleigh Powell

Many of the BlueCat Alumni have made a name for themselves and we couldn’t be more proud of their success. Below are updates on three members of our extensive alumni: Aaron Guzikowski, Ana Lily Amirpour, and Ashleigh Powell.

Aaron Guzikowski – 2005 BlueCat Finalist 

2005 BlueCat Finalist Aaron Guzikowski

2005 BlueCat Finalist Aaron Guzikowski

Aaron Guzikowski has made a name for himself as one of Hollywood’s premier writers. Starting as a visual effects artist, Aaron discovered that he enjoyed the writing process. The first script he completed, Panacea, placed Aaron as a finalist in the 2005 BlueCat Screenplay Competition.  His second script, a self-contained horror story, would nab him a manager. His third script would turn into the 2013 film Prisoners, directed by Denis Villeneuve. Prisoners opened to critical acclaim, with critics praising Aaron’s script, the ominous direction, and the performances from stars Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Aaron’s most recent project was a remake of the 1973 classic Papillion. His updated story stars Charlie Hunnam as the title character and Rami Malek as Louis Dega. Papillion releases in theaters August 24, 2018. See the trailer and synopsis below:

Based on the international best-selling autobiographic books “Papillon” and “Banco”, PAPILLON follows the epic story of Henri “Papillon” Charrière (Charlie Hunnam), a safecracker from the Parisian underworld who is framed for murder and condemned to live in the notorious penal colony on Devil’s Island. Determined to regain his freedom, Papillon forms an unlikely alliance with quirky convicted counterfeiter Louis Dega (Rami Malek), who in exchange for protection, agrees to finance Papillon’s escape.

For more on Aaron Guzikowski, make sure to read his full interview with BlueCat!

Ana Lily Amipour – 2007 BlueCat Grand Prize Winner

2007 BlueCat Grand Prize Winner Ana Lily Amirpour

2007 BlueCat Grand Prize Winner Ana Lily Amirpour

Ana Lily Amirpour has proven herself to be one of today’s visionary directors. Success was quick to follow her after she won BlueCat’s Grand Prize in 2007. Ana Lilly participated in the 2009 Tribeca All-Access Program, earned the 2009 Adrienne Shelly Fellowship, and was selected for the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival’s Fast Track.

Ana Lily achieved major success with the 2014 film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Premiering at the Sundance film festival, the film garnered critical acclaim, particularly aimed at Ana Lily’s atmospheric direction. Her 2016 follow-up, The Bad Batch, was similarly praised for its unique style. She described that film as “a desert set, post-apocalyptic cannibal love story.

Recently, Ana Lily Amirpour directed an episode of the FX television series Legion. Created by Noah Hawley, the series follows the mentally troubled David Haller, who finds himself in possession of extraordinary abilities. Although initially dubious of directing for television, Ana Lily’s trepidations were assuaged by Hawley himself, who insisted she “just do whatever you want to do, make it your own.

Ana Lily is currently writing Blood Moon, a film following a young girl with special abilities being chased through New Orleans. She also directed the eighth episode of Hulu’s Castle Rock, which will be released in late August 2018. For more on Ana Lily Amirpour, make sure to watch her full interview with BlueCat!

Ashleigh Powell – 2012 BlueCat Finalist

2012 BlueCat Finalist Ashleigh Powell

2012 BlueCat Finalist Ashleigh Powell

Placing as a finalist in the 2012 BlueCat Screenplay Competition was one of Ashleigh Powell’s steps to becoming an accomplished screenwriter. Discovering screenwriting as a Creative Writing major in college, Ashleigh quickly took to the medium. Ashleigh’s dedication drove her to write daily, even when working over 80 hours a week as an Executive Assistant.

In 2012, Ashleigh sold her spec script Somacell to Warner Brothers, propelling her career forward. In 2016, it was announced that Disney had hired Ashley to adapt a new take on the Tchaikovsky’s classic Nutcracker story, titled The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston, the film also takes inspiration from the Nutcracker Suite featured in Disney’s FantasiaThe Nutcracker and the Four Realms opens November 2, 2018. See the trailer and synopsis below:

All Clara (Mackenzie Foy) wants is a key – a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift from her late mother. A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman) annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key—which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. It’s there that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets. Clara and Phillip must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), to retrieve Clara’s key and hopefully return harmony to the unstable world.

Two more of Ashleigh’s scripts have been bought. The Hazel Wood, an adaptation of Melissa Albert’s young adult novel, will be produced by Columbia Pictures. Ashleigh will also collaborate with Disney again for The Paper Magician, which is currently in pre-production. For more on Ashleigh Powell, make sure to check out her full interview with BlueCat!

If you enjoyed these BlueCat Alumni Highlights, make sure to check out more of the BlueCat Alumni!


Founded by Gordy Hoffman, the BlueCat Screenplay Competition has been discovering and developing writers for over twenty years. Each writer who enters BlueCat is guaranteed a written analysis by one of our talented readers, in the hopes of providing constructive feedback that will help entrants grow as writers. For more on the BlueCat alumni, click here. For information about submissions to the 2019 BlueCat Screenplay Competition, click here.

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