Interview with Winning Screenwriter JoAnn Hess (FRAMER)

1. What is your screenplay about?

Simon Webber, intelligent with a high moral compass, exists on society’s edge, mostly forgotten and ignored. When his wife and child are killed by a distracted driver, the court shows an unecpected leniency in the case. Enraged by a justice system that fails to act, Simon retaliates, using his highly technical skills to not only kill the guilty but frame another for the act. While his vengence is sated, its only temporary as he hunts among the dregs of society, where murder is the only outlet for his rage. Simon is pursued by Jack Donovan, an ex-FBI agent turned detective, dealing with his own moral crisis after failing to save a child from a serial killer. Where Simon sees a kindship in Jack who fights his own battle within a corrupt police department, Jack retains a stead-fast belief in the law. As their worlds collide, the line between morality and justice fade, causing a reckoning that neither can survive.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Thriller, Suspense, Crime

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

FRAMER’s themes of vengeance, moral justice and self-sacrifice will have strong appeal across multiple age groups and genders.

It will also garner appeal across social classes and race, especially with those that believe our political and judicial systems have failed. These are all very current and provocative social issues seen all over the news.

Women will be attracted to the struggle of both lead characters as they deal with family issues to protect or avenge children. In addition, FRAMER’s female cast covers a broad spectrum from motherly to strong policewoman exhibiting the characteristics of compassion, power and inner fortitude that audiences of today expect.

Men and older viewers are attracted to FRAMER’s action, suspense, tension and danger. The complex and intense plotline with unique twists will keep male viewers engaged.

Younger audiences will appreciate the cleverness in which Simon facilitates his crimes: the use of technology to commit, trap and frame his victims.

In addition, there is an exuberance of twenty-something characters engaging in activities that 18-30 year old audiences can relate to.

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

Vigilente justice

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

The Lion in Winter, the subtextual dialogue exchange between the characters is the best I’ve ever seen.

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

Three years, this month

7. How many stories have you written?

12 scripts (8 for hire), 1-webseries (optioned), 2-TV series

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

In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel

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

The key was to make an anti-hero character like Simon empathetic enough so an audience would relate to him. It was important to create a character such that, while on the surface his actions are horrific, how would anyone react in a similar situation? I wanted that conversation after the movie was over. Additionally, Simon’s adversary needed to be equally strong and wounded. To do these characters justice, I had to draw from darker places than I’m used to.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
I do Voice over work which is very rewarding and fun. My work can be found on several websites and I’ve voiced several audiobooks. I scuba, play golf when the weather is nice and can be found to play a videogame now and then – I especially like RPGs. Anything with a good story.

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?
It’s really great overall. Easy to submit and find film festivals. There is a great amount of information given and I like all the submission in one place to track. It’s not very flexible though. I’d like to add festivals I entered (not realizing they were available through film freeway).

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
I liked that it was genre specific. That I was competing with like scripts and the judges were experts in the genre. When you enter, a win needs to mean something and being chosen for a read through the Thriller Festival brings credibility to the script as it moves into market.


Genre: Crime, Thriller, Drama

A highly-intelligent, socially-disenfranchised man seeks moral justice and eludes a former FBI agent as he manipulates others to disguise his own criminal acts.


NARRATOR: Rachel Rain Packota

Jack: Isaiah Kolundzic
Walter: Julian Ford
Simon: Jason Gray
Christine: Vanessa Burns
Paula: Olivia Jon


By matthewtoffolo

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


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