Interview with Fan Fiction Screenplay Winner – Gil Saint (ROCKETEERS)

Gil Saint is the August 2017 Winning FAN FICTION Screenplay writer for the short script ROCKETEERS. 

What is your screenplay about?

In the spirit of something like TRON: Legacy or Jurassic World, ROCKETEERS is a modern day “legacy-quel” that pays tribute to its source material, but takes the mythos in an exciting new direction. It’s a passing-of-the-torch from the jazzy 30’s world depicted in the original 1991 Rocketeer movie… to what the golden age hero might look like in today’s high-tech universe. My story follows Charlie Secord, a thief with a good heart who will do anything to protect his grandfather’s heroic legacy — that of Cliff Secord, the original Rocketeer. Yes, the jetpack doesn’t fall far from the tree, as we see Charlie forced into taking up the mantle of becoming the Rocketeer when a frightening new global threat emerges with designs on ruling the skies. Charlie may be in over his head, but he won’t have to battle evil alone… hence the title, ROCKETEERS. The ‘s’ -the pluralization of that word- is meaningful in more ways than one.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Hopefully, like its blockbuster predecessor, it’s a Family Action/Adventure.

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

Of all of Disney’s live action fare from the 80’s and 90’s, I firmly believe The Rocketeer is the most deserving of a sequel. Aside from the fact that I believe he’d feel right at home in the superhero movie landscape –especially with the homegrown, All-American Steve Rogers defending the multiplex for the MCU; a square-jawed Cliff Secord type– I think the universe of The Rocketeer is ripe for re-discovery and exploration. The original movie is a classic, no doubt, but it’s really a comedic look at the classic hero’s origin story. We’ve seen him learn to fly and juggle his secret identity with his masked one, with kind of a wink and a smile. But we’ve also seen that now in countless other superhero movies. What excites me is the possibility of seeing this “aw shucks” hero through the lens of a modern day action film; seeing him go up against other high-flying villains that are, perhaps, villains better suited for a Liam Neeson actioner, and not a family film. How does that affect the tone of The Rocketeer when, yes, we believe he could be in real mortal danger? And yes, we’ve seen him in the golden age of zeppelins and biplanes. Now let’s see him survive high-stakes threats in an age of drones and stealth military tech wonders and power-mad dictators. And, what they could achieve with the modest optical FX of the 90s was great, but how cool would it be to see The Rocketeer in an ILM-style action sequence with updated VFX?? I get a big, goofy grin on my face just thinking about how cool it would all look. Look out, Iron Man! This Rocketeer would straight up OWN aerial action sequences.

How would you describe this script in two words?

As you can probably tell, brevity is not my strong suit. Two words…. aw jeez… how about: ROCKETEER. INSANITY.

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

I’m an action and sci-fi nut, but funny enough, the movie I’ve probably watched the most is ED WOOD. I love watching movies about making movies, and I also am something of a Tim Burton apologist. I used to be a Tim Burton defender, now I’m an apologist. It’s not easy these days for us Burton fans. Well, before Alice and all that, he made what might be the best movie about making a movie ever made… ED WOOD. It’s Depp in his prime before he started annoying people. It’s touching, uplifting, humanizing… and it’s honestly the funniest movie I’ve ever seen. I’d put it above Spinal Tap for best comedy movie, no joke. The late, great Martin Landau powers the movie with an all-timer performance as Bela Lugosi. That accent. Every line out of his mouth is a quotable gem. And when I’m feeling down, or creatively empty, the movie inspires me. It reminds me of everything I love about movies and the creative process in general. It teaches me to rise above the odds, to shake off the hate and second thoughts. It makes me want to create. Plus, it’s got gorgeous black-and-white cinematography and an awesomely gothy score. Runner-up is PUMPKINHEAD.

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I’ve honestly been toying with this story for 26 years. Ever since I saw the first Rocketeer in the theaters back in ’91, I was imagining a sequel. I kept holding out hope that Disney would make one, but they never did. I scribbled little notes here and there, I’d put it down, I’d pick it up, and back down again. It was only recently, in the last year, that I sat down and made myself streamline the ideas and turn it into a screenplay. Once I got writing, I cranked it out over a couple of weekends; full days of writing – mornings for new stuff, afternoons for rewrites.

How many stories have you written?

Several. I don’t have an exact number thanks to all the false starts, but it’s I’m sure it’s up there. I have stories I keep going back to, and I have inklings of ideas for things all the time. Let’s guesstimate that it’s between five real stories and about a zillion fragments of others.

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

Man, this is tough. It’s not my favorite, but you know what song I listen to A LOT? “Epic” by Faith No More. When those drums kick in, it gets me so pumped up, I feel like steam shoots out of my ears like a real life Looney Tune, and I bounce around the city all day after I hear it. I feel like I could run through a wall, or take on the world, or at least mosh a bit and not be self-conscious about it.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

I’m my own worst enemy. My biggest obstacle is my stupid mind. My first instinct is to second guess everything I put on the page. “Is it good enough?” “Will people think this is cool?” “Does this make sense?” I have to fight those demons back every page, and remind myself that I’m writing for me. No one else. Yes, it’s good to know your audience and all that, but you have to please yourself first and foremost. If you yourself like it, chances are others like you will enjoy it too. Once I get over that little voice, the scenes geyser out. Movie magic happens.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Animals – especially, my cat. I’ll keep his identity a secret, but his nickname is Boo Man. He’s freakin’ adorable. I also am an avid movie watcher. I am passionate about seeing film and discussing it; I average 1 to 2 trips to the theater a week. I like to see everything on THE BIGGEST SCREEN POSSIBLE. Big releases, indies, classics. Specialty screenings are my favorite. I recently saw a 35mm print of the original Robocop on the big screen and it was a transcendent experience. The audience was cheering and hollering at every classic scene, it was like an interactive Robocop rock concert. “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me!” APPLAUSE. “Your move, creep!” DOUBLE APPLAUSE. I also pretend I’m interested in cooking, but I think I’m more interested in eating.

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

So far, so good. They’ve made submitting easy, and I’m extremely grateful for that.

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

Fan Fiction Festival seemed liked the premier fest for fan-driven stories, so it felt like an organic choice. I wanted the script to find an audience of like-minded creators and fans that not only celebrate the properties they love, but create within those worlds as well. I’m happy your fest exists, honestly; it seems like fan fiction stuff is hard to get out there, so thank you for doing the good work. In terms of feedback, I’m always gobsmacked anytime anyone likes anything I do, so I was flattered by my reader’s kind remarks and warm reaction to the script. I also thought he was gentleman, and phrased his constructive criticism in a very polite manner. If you’re reading this now, Mystery Reader Man, thank you for that.


Narrator: Hugh Ritchie
Charlie: Nick Wicht
Lex: Julia Baldwin
Valentina: Alicia Payne
Tour Guide: Beck Lloyd
Bodyguard: David Occhipinti
Air Traffic Guy: Michael Lake

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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