StoryMakers was established in 1995. This unique union combines the diverse yet complimentary talents of Fred Stawitz and Dolores Colunga-Stawitz to form a creative writing team whose initial works placed in the finals of numerous national competitions. StoryMakers, based in Houston, now pursues excellence in the literary and visual arts through the creation of books, scripts, videos and other vehicles for sharing tales of the human experience.
Homeboy's Soul: Pride, Terror & Street Justice in America, penned by Don Armijo and Fred Stawitz is available now. This true story takes readers on the turbulent rise to power, downfall, and enlightenment of the shotcaller of one of East Los Angeles County's most violent street gangs. Homeboy's Soul placed second in the Latino Family and Book Festival Books into Movies competition, received honorable mention at the Hollywood Book Festival, and has received positive reviews in the media. “‘Homeboy’s Soul’ deserves to take its place among the best literature available today on the complex and fascinating subject of what draws a promising young life to such self-destruction,” comments Hollywood actor Danny De La Paz who starred in Boulevard Nights, American Me, and Road Dogz.
Two Times A Lady, an action-adventure screenplay penned by the duo, placed in the finals of Telluride IndieFest; America's Best, a screenplay competition sponsored by The Writer's Foundation; Southwest Writers Workshop; the Lone Star Screenplay Competition; and received honorable mention in the The Writer's Network Screenplay and Fiction Competition. Judges of the Lone Star Screenplay Competition commented that "talent, style and excellence distinguishes this script as one of the very outstanding submissions to the competition.
Long Road To Heaven, StoryMaker's feature-length drama, was selected as a semi-finalist in the Writer's Network Screenplay & Fiction Competition against 1700 entries and rose to the top ten percent of the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting out of more than 6000 entries.
The award-winning stage play Soldier Mom, written, produced and directed by StoryMakers, received honorable mention from Writer's Digest Magazine Writing Competition and marked Dolores Colunga-Stawitz' directorial debut when it premiered on a Houston stage. The production garnered the authors recognition from the American Gulf War Veterans Association for their authentic representation of life for American soldiers who served in the Gulf War.
StoryMakers enjoined their writing talents with a tinge of artistic flair to create Where's Oliver? This illustrated children's book has entertained hundreds of children at public and private readings throughout the Houston area. Work is underway to make this offering available to the public by early 2011.
The StoryMakers' team helped judge the Ethnic Minority Screenwriting Competition and served as script analysts for The Writer's Workshop (formerly the AFI Alumni Association Writer's Workshop) based in Los Angeles, and chaired the judging committee for "Set In Texas," the screenplay competition for the Pan Cultural Film Festival, hosted by Ancestral Films of Houston.
In addition to development of original work, StoryMakers assisted Carmona Productions in Los Angeles with development of a feature film project as well as on-camera interviews in the studio and on location in East Los Angeles with international recording artist Tierra. Cinema Texas called upon StoryMakers to write a script for a documentary on ecotourism in the vanishing rain forests of Costa Rica.
In 2009, Storymakers produced it's first video in response to a request by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. What Can She Teach You About The Flu? uses a slightly irreverant approach to highlight how easy it is to spread the flu and details steps everyone can easily take to minimize the possibility of contracting the H1N1 virus.
Storymakers has numerous projects currently in development. Watch for more books and videos to be released soon!
Fred Stawitz, President of StoryMakers and a national award-winning educator and writer, has appeared on CNN Headline News – Local Edition in Southern California and a PBS local affiliate special on gangs in Pennsylvania. He has been the featured guest on several television news/talk shows, has been interviewed on nationally syndicated radio programs, and was quoted in a special Congressional Quarterly report on gangs in the U.S.
He coauthored the amazing book Homeboy's Soul: Pride, Terror & Street Justice in America with the former leader of a violent L.A. County street gang. He has written several screenplays which have placed in national competitions, penned and produced the award-winning stage play Soldier Mom, and judged several screenwriting competitions. He is currently working on his second book and collaborating on a host video projects.
As a high school teacher, Fred originated the “Reach for the Stars” Program, in the wake of the Challenger tragedy, which connected hundreds of thousands of students with aerospace education resources. This highly publicized initiative earned him an A+ for Excellence in Education Award from the National Education Association and a national Honors Teaching Award from NASA and the National Science Teachers Association. In addition, he has served as president of a regional alternative education association and has extensive experience working with at-risk youth.
He worked as a volunteer camera operator and audio engineer for KTWU-TV, a PBS affiliate, on regularly produced live call-in programs. He earned a certificate in video production from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.
In 1990, Fred joined Rockwell Space Operations where he created a technical training program for the Space Shuttle Flight Design Group and developed desktop simulations used to train the astronauts on complex shuttle systems. From there, he moved on to head up the development of computer-based training and production of technical training videos for El Paso Corporation which operates America’s most extensive network of natural gas pipelines.
Fred graduated from Washburn University with dual degrees in mathematics and computer science backed by a minor in foreign languages.
Dolores Colunga-Stawitz, Vice President of StoryMakers, received professional training at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City and is a well-known member of the Houston theater community having appeared on stage at the Tony award-winning Alley Theater. Prized for her bilingual work, Dolores has appeared in the NBC Television series Unsolved Mysteries as well as the feature films The Trust and Don't Look Back, produced by HBO Films. She appeared in a television commercial with world champion boxer George Forman as well as other commercials, industrial films, and various print work.
Dolores co-wrote, co-produced, and made her directorial debut with the award-winning stage play Soldier Mom which captured the attenion of the American Gulf War Veterans Association and garnered StoryMakers recognition for accurately portraying the plight of soldiers during that war.
As President of First Book - Houston, Dolores headed up a team of devoted volunteers who distributed more than half a million books to Houston youngsters. First Book - Houston is a nonprofit organization which provides new books to children in need as a way to have a positive impact on literacy.
Dolores holds a degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Houston-Downtown where she received the Rockwell Foundation Scholarship for dramatic studies and earned a place on the Dean’s Honor Roll during two consecutive semesters.