Interview with Winning Screenwriters Nicholas Downs, Susan Mac Nicol (SIGHT UNSEEN)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Nicholas Downs, Susan Mac Nico: It’s about one man whose changes in circumstances force him to reconsider what his future looks like. And who he wants to be in it. It’s about coming to grips with a major adversity and making something good out of it.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Sight Unseen is primarily a love story, but it’s also one about relationships that are forced to be re-evaluated when life turns darker. It’s a drama too.

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

We believe that the market is ripe in films about LGBT characters living in normal worlds and doing normal things and then being challenged to change things. We believe the time is right for people to see that LGBT films can have happen endings 😊 This one does that and more. It’s ultimately a feel happy movie with a message and those are sometimes the best ones.

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


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

Susan – this would be Oliver. My dad was a huge Dickens fan and he took me to see every film and stage version he could. My kids grew up on this film too. It has the right mix of angst, drama and the final happy ending.

Nicholas – It’s shifted at different times in my life. I grew up on The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and The NeverEnding Story. But once I saw Jaws, that rocked my world. I love the film. It’s filled with so many genres, one would question how it could ever work, but it does. Thank goodness the mechanical shark kept breaking down. I think that actually helped make the movie what it is. Then later in life, In America came out. I love that film!

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

The collaboration started early 2016 when we decided to work together to adapt a screenplay already written by Nicholas into a novel. Once the novel was written, we then took that and worked it back into a screenplay again. So it’s been three years in the making with everything in between.

7. How many stories have you written?

Together, only this one.

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

Susan – I’m a real fan of classical music and the piece I listen to most often is Shostakovich’s Jazz Suites. It’s my pacifier when I’m stressed.

Nicholas – Don’t really have one, my taste shifts based off what I’m doing. But to satisfy the question I will pick, Ravel’s Boléro, which I know is not a song, it’s a movement.

(Susan- oh, look at us being all cultural 😊)

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

The fact we are both on opposite sides of the world could have been a hindrance but wasn’t. We worked very well together over Skype and got the chance to catch up in LA face to face in 2017.

Obstacles for both of us were devoting our time to the screenplay, with Nicholas working on other film and script projects, and auditioning, and me writing books and running a magazine, as well as holding down a day job. Negotiation on time was key as we were eight hours apart.

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

Susan – I’m an advocate for anything regarding the freedom to be yourself and am a board trustee with a London Charity called Being Me. I’m pretty outspoken about people being given the right to be whoever they want to be. I also love to garden at my home in the English countryside if that counts?

Nicholas – Being with family and friends. Fishing. And I too like to garden like Susan.

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

We’ve found it incredibly easy, very supportive and a wonderful platform to get our script out to various festivals and competitions.

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

The festival is well recognized and while fairly new, from past submissions it appeared what we had to submit would be well received. The feedback we had was very welcomed and in fact, we had a Skype call and tackled each one of the points raised. The script was then adapted as per those points and we feel now we have an even better version than before.

Tragedy brings together a reserved but brilliant sculptor and an outgoing gallery owner, friends whose love was sidetracked—but was always meant to be deeper.


Jon:  Russell Batcher
Narrator: Kat Smiley
Cody: Bryan Kling
Nathan: Jolly Amoako



By matthewtoffolo

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

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