Interview with Screenwriter Helene Taylor (BUREAU 121)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Helene Taylor: Bureau 121 is about the very real elite cyberwarfare hacking team from North Korea. The same group who hacked Sony and several foreign banks in the last few years. The government recruits young men at an early age and trains them to be computer hackers, they disperse them throughout the world to do damage on foreign adversaries. I wanted the story to be narrowed down to one hacker and a slice of time for him in the western world and the obstacles he may face if he found love or curiosity of what the western world may have to offer…

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s drama, crime, adventure but I’d most certainly say romance – as the potential for love is an underlying theme.

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

It’s relevant in today’s political climate but hasn’t been seen in the news as much due to the over saturation of everything else happening in the news these days. The topic is interesting and hasn’t been addressed yet in the mainstream media. It’s intriguing and we western viewers are so curious what happens in North Korea – it’s obvious they put a lot of their money in to this program. I’d love to see this topic on the big screen. Because I hadn’t, I wrote it myself.

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

Relevant, Unique.

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

Voluntarily? True Romance. Quentin Tarantino. It’s a fun story how he got that film made, check it out. The cast is chock full of talent and the two scenes that really resonate for me is the Eggplant scene between Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken, or of course anything Gary Oldman does in the movie is priceless. Involuntarily I’ve seen Pretty Woman and Die Hard (all of them) far too many times. If I channel surf and it’s on, there’s no way I’m switching channels after. It’s my comfort viewing.

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

Forty-eight hours. No lie. I watched an episode of Rachel Maddow on a Friday night, learned of Bureau 121, watched a documentary that evening, wrote it in the middle of the night until early Saturday. By Sunday I had finished.

7. How many stories have you written?

Hundreds. I don’t stop. It’s a blessing and a curse. Just ask my spouse who is making dinner while I write this in the bathroom…..

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

Two different questions if you ask me. My favorite song is Knocking on Heaven’s Door (all versions) but I’ve probably heard the song Shine by Collective Soul the most, recording breaking, times because I worked selling cellular phones at Radio Shack and they looped the refrain of that song over and over ALL GODDAMNED DAY LONG. I still get PTSD to this day when it comes on the oldie’s radio.

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

For some reason this screenplay gave me no obstacles. Usually if it’s an idea I’m really jazzed about I research, research, research, then I sleep on it, gestate the information overnight and it comes out pretty easily. It’s the DRAFTS that are tough – but the difference between a hobby writer and a career writer is just that – drafts. Get ‘er done!

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

I rotate obsessions. Right now I’m in love with furniture design and love to source pieces from obscure places. I get pretty excited when my hair turns out, don’t know if that’s a passion, but it’s a life goal.

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

It’s the best way I’ve found to keep tabs on my submissions and festival placements. I love the ease of the platform, they’ve been great at answering my questions and helping guide me through whatever I need help on.

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

I was excited to write something I knew would require Asian actors to perform. In light of the movements going on in the industry right now it’s absolutely time for more minority actors to headline. Diversity festival was an obvious choice. The feedback was excellent. I was surprised at how detailed and helpful it was (in fact, more so than some professionals sites I’ve used in the past for other screenplays). The feedback elevated my script on so many levels I wouldn’t have seen on my own. Thank you for your support!

Watch the Winning Short Script Reading: 

Genre: Romance, Thriller

A North Korean hacker must decide between defection and love or family and life as a cyber warfare terrorist.


Mother: Julie C. Sheppard
Jin’s Father: Peter Nelson
Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Jin: John Leung
Min-Seo: Pearl Ho
General: Twain Ward


By matthewtoffolo

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

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