Interview with Screenwriter Christine O’Keefe (WRITE OR DIE)

1. What is your screenplay about?

Overcoming writers block the hard way.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy, high concept comedy

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

It’s unique and highly entertaining.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

writers block

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I wrote it in 8 weeks

7. How many stories have you written?

This is my first finished screenplay. I have a novel in progress and am starting another screenplay.

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

Start me up by Rolling Stones

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Harsh inner critic, Covid lockdown

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

cooking, travel, reading

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

Truly wonderful, so easy, organized, motivating

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

I wrote a comedy feature so looked specifically for good festivals to enter for comedy. The feedback I received was thorough and spot on. The best I’ve received so far!

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

A depressed author goes on a writer’s retreat to secretly craft his suicide note, only to fight for his life in a wilderness boot camp run by a madman. Partnered with his beautiful rival, he must struggle for survival while trying to overcome his writer’s block and find his voice before a murderous mentor hunts him down and silences him forever.

CAST LIST:
Narrator: Julie Sheppard
Female Student: Allison Kampf
King James: Geoff Mays
Michael: Bill Poulin
Harvey; Steve Rizzo

Interview with Screenwriters Philip Walton & Logan Halley-Winsett (THE ICE)

1. What is your screenplay about?

A team of scientists are stationed in Antarctica to simulate life on Mars, as well as do some research in the area. Dave, a chaplain, arrives at the facility just as the team discovers a mysterious chest buried deep under the ice. Soon after bringing the chest back to their station, things take a decided turn for the worse.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It is sci-fi horror, with some thriller, suspense, and paranormal thrown in the mix.

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a TV series?

Navigating a cast of interesting characters while taking place in a consistent setting makes this a perfect television vehicle, providing ample time to explore and get to know our characters while also building upon the atmosphere of dread and isolation with each passing episode.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Isolated suspense.

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

Phil – I’d like to say Halloween or A Clockwork Orange – and they’re up there – but I think the honest answer would actually be The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Logan – That’s a tough one, but it’s probably a bizarre tie between Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Shining.

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

According to our notes, we had the first meeting with our producer, Brianna Gardner, who brought us the original short story, on August 9th, 2019. Since then it’s gone through multiple drafts in varying forms from a film script to a podcast, and finally a TV pilot which is what was submitted to Fantasy/Sci-Fi.

7. How many stories have you written?

As a writing team, we’ve written six screenplays together. If you were to include what we’ve written individually, that number goes up by four for Phil and six for Logan for a grand total of sixteen between us.

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

Phil – This is tough and I don’t really know if I have a song I’d consider my absolute favorite, so I cheated. According to my Spotify analytics, my most-listened to song of all time is “The Decline” by NOFX, so I’ll go with that.

Logan – “Could’ve Moved Mountains” by Silver Mt Zion is the one that has the most meaning for me, so much so that I got a tattoo on my body to represent it.

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

The hardest part about writing this script specifically was finding the best way to tell the story. The Ice is adapted from a short story by Jordan Lewis and we wanted to stay as true to the source material as possible while finding a way to translate it to screen in a clear and concise manner. It went through a number of different drafts as a film screenplay before our producer Brianna had the idea of turning it into an episodic series. This allowed us to really give the story time to breathe and to be able to flesh out the large cast of characters properly over multiple episodes.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

We’re both passionate about making music and were in a number of garage bands together during high school – Logan on guitar and Phil on drums. Apart from that, we both love to travel, love camping and the outdoors, and Logan owns and operates an electronic music label – Special Species Records.

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

The Ice was submitted by Brianna, though we personally have used FilmFreeway in the past for another feature. The process was smooth, straightforward, and easy.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

Right now we’re just trying to submit our work to as many legitimate festivals as we can in order to get feedback and hopefully win some awards and get our names out there. The initial feedback from Fantasy/Sci-Fi was amazing! It was thorough, constructive, thoughtful, and made us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

A research team in Antarctica is plagued by mysterious occurrences after they discover an ancient box hidden in the ice.

CAST LIST:
Narrator: Steve Rizzo
Casey: Shawn Devlin
Hill: Julie Sheppard
Demonic Voice/Pilot: Bill Poulin

Interview with Filmmaker Juel D. Lane (TOUCH & AGREE)

TOUCH & AGREE was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the November 2020 LGBT Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

It was important because I needed to add to the global conversation of representation of BLACK LGBTQIA films. My first visible black gay male figure was Leroy ( gene Anthony ray) from Fame in the 80s. I could relate to him. Then in the 90s, shifting to Marlon Riggs tongues untied film. From the opening sonically spell, “brother to brother to brother” I knew he was making a call to action with this representation of defining and showcasing black men loving each other. Next, in the early 2000’s Patrick Ian Polk, “Noah Arc” was a self reflection of more visible gay men navigating and it was so what me and my friends were dealing with. And then you have moonlight by Barry Jenkins that came busting in with more visibility to be seen worldwide. Every film, web series, have a lot of representation ( whether it’s seen or not ) but folks are staying consistent with it .

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

It took about 3 months

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Melanin intimacy

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

My goal was to film in the summer, but my gut said do it early. Glad I did, because it was right before the pandemic.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

My heart was filled with a million smiles. Love that they got some of the conceptual aspects of the film.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

It actually started form a body of work I created for the concert dance world. It was later performed by the second company of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

The five Heartbeats. My favorite!!!!

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

It’s a great platform for every type of film and its at the palm of your hand.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Like this and Like that by Monica!

10. What is next for you? A new film?

2020 has been a curse & blessing at the same time. It allowed us to dive deeper into or creativity but also gives permission to breathe and stay patient. So my answer is something creative!!!

Interview with Filmmaker Michael Guillod (PASTEL)

PASTEL was awarded BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the November 2020 LGBT Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Hunger and passion for what I do, is my only motivation when it comes to film making.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

It took a bit more than expected – It took about 4 years from the very first line to the first screening. Writing and editing were the longest parts in the process. Mostly writing because I couldn’t find enough time within my daily life, to be efficient and of course the editing process since I had to rely on an editor doing all this without any financial compensation. This can change the game. The process wasn’t a day to day priority. We were working on it whenever were had time.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

“Least expected”

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Never giving up might have been the hardest challenge I faced. The process was long and sometimes I had to be completely isolated – almost lonely, I dare to say. I had to find the stamina and perseverance to continue and achieve what I believed, regardless the challenges I was constantly facing. No matter how many times I felt like giving up, there was always something there to remind me that this is why we want to make movies – and I kept working on the project.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

It’s overwhelming to have such a direct and honest feedback. Being able to get an actual opinion from the viewers is really an exciting moment. I love having all kinds of response to my work from different people, ages, cultures and backgrounds.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

It all started when I first read an article related to conversion therapy! I was shocked to discover that such practice was still taking place in countries such as Switzerland or the USA.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Titanic – I know corny but true.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

It’s a great and easy way to submit a film as an indie filmmaker. It takes work and a clear strategy in order to plan submissions.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

River Deep, Mountain high – Céline Dion – Gotta love Celine.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

Making Pastel made me want to do only one thing – More films! Stay tuned.

Interview with Filmmaker Robin Wang (GRADUATION)

GRADUATION played to rave reviews at the November 2020 LGBT Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

For a long time, I felt that the mainstream of queer narratives in literature and film has been lacking POC representations, where, in fact, intersectionality with different world cultures often present more obstacles than what we usually see. I felt this story was important and necessary to tell — and it’s also kind of personal for me because it was inspired by my own graduation experience (disclaimer: nobody slept with anybody). But the pain of emotional and sexual repression — of not being able to articulate your love and feelings — is something I have always felt growing up in the culture that I came from. And it is not just me — but generations and generations before me — that are bound to the pretensions of society. But when stripped off that fanciful clothing in the dinner scene, we are left with our naked, human desires, perhaps only thinly covered by our pajamas, like in that embarrassing breakfast scene in the end. I wish one day, we can all be freed from the straightjacket of society’s expectations on us, and be all truthful to our feelings and ourselves.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

I got this idea shortly after my graduation from Duke University in May 2019, and finished the product in my second semester at USC in May 2020. So it took me about exactly a year.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Love, bittersweet.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

We encountered a lot of obstacles, but the one that got me the most is that I am a “rain god” when it comes to filming exterior night scenes. It happened twice during our production: one during the pool side scene, and the other during the rooftop scene one week later — even when the weather said it was going to be clear. I was extraordinarily lucky to have the film finished nonetheless, because one week after we wrapped, the entire LA shut down because of COVID and we haven’t been able to get back to work ever since.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Wow! They really understood and appreciated everything I did in this film. They are such smart and appreciative audiences — and their feedback really made me look at the film again in such refreshing ways. And for sure, to echo the last audience’s feedback, I’m planning to turn this film into a feature.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

It was inspired by my own graduation experience last year — but also because I always wanted to make an Asian Call Me By Your Name, and explored queerness in fun and insightful ways like Ang Lee’s The Wedding Banquet. So all those influences soon led to Graduation.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Oh Gosh… there are so many. Most recently, I’ve been re-watching Billy Wilder’s The Apartment. Such a screenwriting God.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I thought it was definitely easy, fast, and accessible as I’ve been using it since the beginning of my career. My only hope is for it to include more film festivals, like SXSW and Clermont Ferrand.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Shape of You.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I’m producing two USC Thesis films and one Sloan project. In the meantime, I’m writing my own advanced projects at USC as well as turning Graduation into a feature.

Interview with Screenwriter Monty C. Floyd (WHO KNEW?)

1. What is your screenplay about?

* WHO KNEW? is the story about a Hollywood A-lister falling for a spunky political press secretary.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

* Romantic comedy.

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

* WHO KNOW? is timely because of the craziness in the political arena. It showcases politics and DC in a fresh light — DC at Christmastime. Love is in the air. Plus, having Hollywood’s biggest stars fall for a political girl is a world which hasn’t been explored.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

* Politics romanticized.

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

* That’s a tie between Godfather one and two.

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

* I have been working on WHO KNEW? on-off for seven years. It’s been a work in progress that has thankfully come together in a story I believe is ready to be seen.

7. How many stories have you written?

* I have written ten feature scripts, five polished, which have placed in 15 contests this year, and four children’s books currently on Amazon.

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

* I greatly enjoy music. It’s difficult to say ‘favourite’ song, but one I listen to often is, ‘Dreams’ by Fleetwood Mac.

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

* I suppose the obvious obstacles writer’s encounter: Is the story strong? Will audiences respond? Is the character’s arc believable? Why can’t I write anything today?

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

* My children. I am a proud father of three, Tristan (11), Conrad (7) and Gabriella (2).

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

* Good

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

* I was thrilled to discover a ‘Romance’ film contest on ISA, and knew instantly I must submit WHO KNEW? Of course, I’m happy with the script’s feedback — I won!

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

Hope finds unexpected love in Washington D.C..

CAST LIST:
Narrator: Steve Rizzo
Hope: Kyana Teresa
Dan/Howard: Geoff Mays
Audra: Julie Sheppard

Interview with Screenwriter Chuck Alley (I’M SO DONE)

1. What is your screenplay about?

The everyday life of Pastry Chef Rachael Berman as she takes on the responsibility of building a start-up pastry business, as well as being the breadwinner at home.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy
Family

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

The stories are true and exemplify the struggles of a strong female, which resonates with a larger audience. It’s about a woman running a business while also managing her family and home life. Which, even today, is controversial, because the assumption is that it’s not possible.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Funny & Real Life Struggles

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

The Three Amigos

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Two years.

7. How many stories have you written?

Seven

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

“Stand By Me” by the Temptations

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Time, as we tried to deal with a pandemic and the challenges of working day gigs from home.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Gardening, sports, building, cooking

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What’s been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

Excellent, easy to use, understand and follow our submissions. We’ve tried other platforms but always come back to FilmFreeway.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

Reason we entered this festival is because we’ve heard so much about the professional level of feedback they give. And they did not disappoint.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

Follows the real-life experience of a struggling Silicon Valley Pastry Chef and Stand Up Comedian, Rachael Berman, as she uses her natural sharp wit and comedic banter to motivate her kitchen staff, raise her children in a high-tech society, maintain her marriage and juggle a host of lovable off beat characters, extended family and friends.

CAST LIST:
Brad: Steve Rizzo
Rachael: Elizabeth Rose Morriss

Interview with Screenwriter Lance Barnett (CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM)

1. What is your screenplay about?

Larry gets a phone call from his old friend, NFL Network legend, Rich Eisner. He is asked to attend Colin Kaepernick’s press conference revealing his new Athletic Shoe; by Colin’s request. Larry causes an uproar when he inadvertently takes a knee at the event. Anchovies and Humble pie save the day.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy

3. How does this script fit into the context of the show?

It wonderfully fits Larry David’s world view, and the characters are true to form.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Pure Larry

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

The Godfather

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Two weeks

7. How many stories have you written?

Stories is hard to say exactly, perhaps 30. Screenplays, including teleplays and TV episodes, approximate 17.

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

Unfortunately, “Happy Birthday to You”. I would say my favorite would be “Message of Love” by Jimi Hendrix and his Band of Gypsy’s album Live from the Fillmore East, January 1, 1970.

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

I wouldn’t refer to it as an obstacle, but I edited the original draft down to 30 pages from 35.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

God, guitar, seeking to understand various aspects of human nature, making a positive difference in the lives of those I care the most about, and those in need whom I can personally help in whatever form or fashion.

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

FilmFreeway is a great tool to aspiring screenwriters. Easy to use and presents many viable opportunities for exposure and hopefully success.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

I had the idea vaguely floating around in my head, but had no intention of putting pen to paper so to speak until I saw the festival advertised on FilmFreeway. What really cemented the deal for me was getting guaranteed feedback, which was much to my delight, outstanding in pointing out both the positive and negative aspects from the perspective of the reader. He was quite knowledgeable on the subject of Larry David, his critique was outstanding, useful, and caring. Quite a deal, considering the more than reasonable submission fee, irregardless of the final outcome.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

Larry gets a phone call from his old friend, NFL Network legend, Rich Eisner. He is asked to attend Colin Kaepernick’s press conference revealing his new Athletic Shoe; by Colin’s request. Larry causes an uproar when he inadvertently takes a knee at the event. Anchovies and Humble pie save the day.

CAST LIST:
Narrator: Hannah Ehman
Richard Lewis: Shawn Devlin
Larry: Steve Rizzo
Mail Courier: Kyana Teresa

Interview with Poet Shannie Alvarez (IN THE GARDEN)

1) What is the theme of your poem?

The theme is Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. There are two trees: One tree is called the tree of life, this is Adam. The other tree is called the tree of good and evil, who is Eve.

2) What motivated you to write this poem?

I really believe this poem was inspired by God. I wrote it last year and it makes more sense to me this year.

3) How long have you been writing poetry?

Since I was 25 yrs old.

4) If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would that be?

Jesus in the physical.

5) What influenced you to submit to have your poetry performed by a professional actor?

I really like this poem and I hope others will be encouraged by it as it encourages me. I speak further about this poem in everything that I write. I believe that Adam and Eve are now the Jews and the Gentiles. Their relationship is much like the man and the woman. We learn together like all the other opposites: darkness versus light, physical versus spiritual, good versus bad. Then you have the man and the woman. When we learn the Divine love; relationship and it’s balance, that is when we see God and know all His truths.

6) Do you write other works? scripts? Short Stories? Etc..?

If you want to do a movie for me about this vision I have about the above. I would love to expand on it in further detail with you so that we can get it just right.

7) What is your passion in life?

To give the world hope that there is more to life than just the mundane. We are all interconnected and if we understand our deeper, truer selves; we would identify with a passionate love for one another to finally be content about who we really are.

Watch the Poetry Reading:

Performed by Julie Sheppard

Interview with Screenwriter Frank Hays (VINCENT AND PAUL: UNSPOKEN BROTHERHOOD)

1. What is your screenplay about?

Vincent and Paul: Unspoken Brotherhood is a biographical drama about the tumultuous relationship between Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Period drama. Thriller. Biographical.

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

Historians have said that Vincent van Gogh had periods of homosexuality and most likely had a relationship with Paul Gauguin. This screenplay is about the demise of Vincent van Gogh at the hands of Paul Gauguin.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Highly Disturbing.

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

The Wizard of Oz.

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Nine months. I’ve been working on Vincent and Paul: Unspoken Brotherhood continuously through-out the pandemic.

7. How many stories have you written?

Other than Vincent and Paul: Unspoken Brotherhood, I have written La Famiglia (The Family), a gay Italian immigrant who goes on the run after being accused of impersonating a United States citizen by a Homeland Security officer. Circus Animals, a group of animals that band together on a frightening, dangerous journey to find their stolen friends. The Apparition, about a divorced father who must protect his children from an aggressive ghost after moving into a historic mansion, and last, the Browne’s Addition series. Browne’s Addition is an episodic series that explores the lives of a group of gay friends. It’s a cross between Tales of the City and Queer as Folk.

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

With Every Heartbeat. I love Robyn and everything she does.

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

I retired from 36 years of Federal service, so I had no obstacles. Other than my family needs, Vincent and Paul: Unspoken Brotherhood was my number one priority.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

My family.

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

FilmFreeway is a fantastic platform for screenwriters and film directors. It’s a one-stop-shop for submitting to festivals – the process is easy!

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

I’m a proud member of the LGBT community.

The narrative/composition was concise and professional. The reader was attentive and forthcoming. I felt the reader had my best interest at heart.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

Vincent and Paul: Unspoken Brotherhood is a biographical drama about the tumultuous relationship between Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin. Historians and biographers agree that Vincent van Gogh’s adulthood included periods of hypersexuality, hyposexuality, bisexuality, and homosexuality. This screenplay delves into the homosexual relationship between Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin.

CAST LIST:
Narrator: Julie Sheppard
Etienne-Lucien Martin: Bill Poulin
Vincent Van Gogh: Geoff Mays
Diner/Paul Gauguin: Steve Rizzo