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Tufts Grad Honored At Sarasota Film Festival

Tufts Grad Honored At Sarasota Film FestivalTufts graduate and Hollywood writer/ producer Brian Koppelman recently received the Sarasota Film Festival’s “Excellence in Screenwriting” Award.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [04.23.07] To Tufts graduate Brian Koppelman, winning the Sarasota Film Festival’s “Excellence in Screenwriting” award means a lot. The 10-day event that honored the 1988 Tufts graduate drew a crowd of nearly 50,000 in mid-April. “It’s great that they recognize your work,” the Hollywood talent, whose films include “Rounders” and “Knockaround Guys,” told the Sarasota Herald Tribune. But Koppelman is quick to point out that accolades aren’t the driving force behind his work.

“That’s not why you start writing,” he explained to the newspaper. “It’s all about getting compelling stories up on the screen.”

In addition to writing the screenplays for “Rounders” and “Knockaround Guys,” he produced last year’s “The Illusionist,” starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti and Jessica Biel. In June, his latest screenwriting project, “Ocean’s Thirteen,” the second sequel to 2001’s successful remake of “Ocean’s Eleven,” will hit theaters.

With his career on the rise, it’s no surprise that Koppelman is earning praise within the film industry. But he hasn’t always been focused on the big screen. According to the Herald Tribune, Koppelman began his professional career in the music business.

During college, Koppelman befriended classmate and aspiring musician Tracy Chapman and helped produce her first album, according to the Herald Tribune. Shortly after, he landed a job as a talent scout with Elektra Records.

Koppelman eventually grew restless, however.

“When you sign and work with these artists, you believe in them, but working in a corporate (environment), sometimes those obligations toward the artist and the company come in conflict," he told the Herald Tribune. "It was a balancing act."

According to the newspaper, Koppelman left the music industry after nearly a decade with plans to pursue a more creative career. The Herald Tribune reported that Koppelman’s future began to take shape after playing a game of cards with his friend, David Levien, in an underground poker club in New York.

"We started taking notes and meeting all the players," Koppelman told the newspaper.

With their research in hand, Koppelman and Levien developed the screenplay for “Rounders,” a 1998 movie about poker. According to the Herald Tribune, the film—which was a box office success and has grown into a cult classic—“opened doors”for the rookie screenwriter.

“Since then, I've been lucky enough to be really engaged in telling these stories," Koppelman told the newspaper. “I like every part of it.”

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