Interview with Screenwriter & Executive Producer Mark Renshaw (THE SURVIVOR)

THE SURVIVOR was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the February 2018 Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Mark Renshaw: The landscape of the near future (based on humanity’s current actions) does not bode well for us, or this planet. That’s why I came up with the concept of the Nearscape to reflect this. The Survivor film was something the team wanted to make to demonstrate what life could be like unless we take drastic action.

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

It took about 8 months in total. I wrote the first draft in December 2016. We shot the film in March 2017, post-production took a few months and it was then released in August.

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

Dystopian sci-fi.

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

Time. As I was financing production, we really were working on a shoestring budget. Everyone involved was passionate about the project, with folks working for minimum wage or even offering services for free. We just had to fit the production into everyone’s busy schedule and juggle around certain elements, which is why post-production took such a long time.

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

It was wonderful. As a writer, I like to add subtle elements which I hope the audience will pick up on but worry that I’ve been too subtle. It’s obvious from the reactions I saw that they did indeed pick up on these and also spotted that certain elements where hinting at a much bigger story.

Watch Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The Survivor started life as a different script called The Outcast. It was about a boy in his early teens who ran away from home to escape an abusive stepfather. He uses his imagination to help him cope with life on the streets and envisions himself as one of the few survivors living in a dystopian city.

I showed the script to the director, Christopher Carson Emmons, and he was fascinated by these dystopian visions. He asked me if we could focus more on the sci-fi elements, and thus The Survivor was born.

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

Star Wars: A New Hope. I remember as a teen watching this every day during the summer holidays.

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

I like how FilmFreeway makes it easy and convenient for me to submit my projects to festivals and competitions all over the world. There are issues of course. One of the cons is it can make the whole process feel impersonal sometimes. Some festivals (I’m pleased to say yours is not one of them) use FilmFreeway simply as a mechanism to reject/accept submissions with a generic email and don’t connect with the creators at all.

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

The Bare Necessities from the animated version of the Jungle Book. That’s my go to song for when I need cheering up.

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

I’m developing Survivor into a TV show called The Nearscape. I’ve written a one-hour pilot called ‘The Survivors’ which expands on the short film and introduces new characters. I’ve entered the pilot into all the big screenplay festivals in the hope that it gains some traction so I can plug it to production companies and TV networks. It is doing quite well so far, it made it to the semi-finals of Cinequest and the quarter-finals of the Fresh-Voices Competition.


By matthewtoffolo

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


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