Charleston actor, director and writer receives SC Arts Commission grant
Michael Smallwood, Director, Principal Ensemble Member of PURE Theater and city paper contributing arts editor, received the South Carolina Arts Commission’s 2023 Playwriting/Screenwriting Fellowship.
The $10,000 scholarship is awarded each fiscal year across multiple artistic disciplines to creators of artistic merit who have made a career in their art form and are dedicated to their craft.
“It’s really exciting,” Smallwood said of receiving the scholarship. “I love making movies and writing is one of my favorite things in the world. I love telling stories, so I’m really excited to use it to tell more stories.
Smallwood certainly has a long list of accomplishments, especially in recent years. He was awarded the scholarship on the basis of several recent projects: his play retcon, which performed in Charleston in 2016 and 2017, 2019 in New York and again in Charleston in 2020 as part of a series of PURE Theater virtual play readings; his short film 2019 How many times; and his most recent project, a short film titled what a beautiful wedding.
Smallwood, who wrote, directed and starred in what a beautiful wedding, won Best Director in May at the Crimson Screen Horror Festival. The short was part of San Francisco’s virtual black film festival earlier this month and will premiere at the HorrorHound film festival in Cincinnati this fall. It is currently streaming on Octopunk Media’s patreon.
Smallwood’s other recent short How many times received the People’s Choice Award at the South Carolina Underground Film Festival in 2019 and can be viewed on YouTube.
Besides his work as a writer and director, Smallwood has appeared in several films and television shows over the past couple of years. You might recognize him from his role as the sidekick of Lyle Lissons (played by Eric Andre) in the second season of Danny McBride’s HBO series. Virtuous Gemstones. Or maybe you saw his character opposite fictional killer Michael Myers in the October 2021 release of halloween kills.
It is clear that Smallwood has been involved in many projects over the past few years. Now, with the brotherhood under his belt, he plans his next adventure.
“I hope to use this to do another short film or potentially work on producing my first feature film,” Smallwood said. “I currently have three feature film scripts, any of which I could do. The only thing stopping me is funding. This grant would be a really good head start in getting one.
“I’m going to spend the next few months going through my catalog of stories (both written and currently in progress) trying to decide which one I think is the best fit for this grant – which one speaks to me the most right now. But my plan is to produce a new film project.
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