Interview with Screenwriter 42 Tribes (Nyobaywa)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

42 Tribes: Slamdance created a logline:

Arcane Africa comes to life in this epic adventure of warring tribes and the shadow of the resurrected scorpion king who threatens them all

I like it. I prefer it to my log line:

Under the malaise of an apocalyptic desertification a cadre of spiritualist ‘resurrect’ a great king to exploit their power among ancient nations. Nations that will one day be known as Egypt and Sumer.

It’s a resurrection story, a monster story within a Multiple-Storyline story. It’s the first of a trilogy so the story doesn’t end. Well, one aspect ends.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Like 300 with the more mundane Game of Thrones style of magic.

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

Egypt was a major beacon of human tech, civilization, and culture yet it gets no play. Its like Moses, Cleopatra, Aliens/sci-fi and the Mummy/horror with all of them whitewashed. Egyptians depicted themselves as people who would be considered black today by the standards of the many nations that define a black race yet black actors are like tokens. You would think they were supposed to be Greeks or Romans with the token blacks and tanned people who would be classified as white in the nations that have a defined white race.

It’s not just cosmetic though. Egyptian culture is compressed into an otherwise pale Brit with Snooki makeup wearing leopard skins and Xhosa collars.

Hollywood’s Egypt is a tired racist caricature that doesn’t seem willing to evolve. The story could be awesome but it’s still within a tired caricature. We have never seen unfiltered, primary source Nile Valley. No one has ever told the story about how this nation came into existence. I’m looking at the best story never told in the coolest setting never used and nobody is saying it or writing it for the big screen. I have a background in writing fiction so I asked “why not me?”. The story came to me from the culture. The core was immediate, but the total arc wasn’t complete until after like 5 rewrites which included a ‘separate take’ rewrite from the editor Prizecraft. I wanted to honor the culture and let is speak without any twist. I did not approach it half-ass. If I read what I wrote and didn’t like something, I changed it.

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

Long Overdue

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

Watership Down. You re-watch a lot of cartoons as a kid but this one aged so well that I still watch it. One of my favorite novels too.

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

Around June 2015 to today. I’m doing another rewrite and I always planned to do another one after my Mdu Ntr teachers read it. Sebauniversity has to tear into it. Someone in the Amen Ra Squad has to read it. I’m stocking to visit the Nile for a rewrite in the presence of Hapi(Egyptian Nile God).

The ultimate goal is to produce the movie in old Egyptian with Middle or Bible English subtitles. There is a move to tighten the pronunciation of Egyptian words with comparative linguistics. I try to stay Facebookish with people in that movement.

7. How many stories have you written?

I wrote more as a kid. As an adult I have probably written like five or six. I’m more of a reader than a writer. I have to be motivated to write and obsessive to write well.

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

Guy – Goodbye Love

I don’t know why. Its such a sad song.

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

I had to really get into character like an actor. I had to become an ancient Nilote. I did a lot of research. I studied ancient Egypt for more than a year before I began outlining. I studied their genetics to the point where I became an activist. I did a video about how Wikipedia censored King Tut and his family’s ancestry results because they were too African. It was blatant but the “black media” is largely of the puppet variety. You can censor ancient Egyptian ancestry test and not only will the Ebony’s and World Star’s not check it they will ignore the ancestry test entirely. I would have said it was one of the last bastions of open racism when I was more naive. Seeing how thorough racism is changed the way I view everything. Its not just the present and future. White Supremacy goes back as far as it chooses to lay whatever foundation it needs. If Nyobaywa is produced it will be in the presence of millions of internet trolls with We wuz Kangz… and shit, comments/memes. I welcome it.

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

Family, fixing the damn near worthless African American religious institutions, reparations the influence of media. I’m also a gamer. My Madden game is cold, I coach youth football, will toss the dice in D&D and I appreciate a good strand of Americana ganja.

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

Scoreboard is scoreboard
7 Selected

18 Not Selected

1 Semi-Finalist

1 Award Winner

I’ll take it. I don’t have a ton of writing experience. To be featured in 7 contest, a semi-finalist in another and to win one shows that Nyobaywa is pretty nice right now. It will get better.

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

I need to sell it. I didn’t write Nyobaywa to read it. I knew that it would be an easier sell if it was featured in festivals.

Before Nyobaywa, I wrote a few scenes in feature script format. I didn’t have much experience with such criticism. I put in a lot of time and research etc. I was invested enough to where it’s difficult to accept criticism or trust praise. It’s like when you get your test results and you don’t want to look at the grade, but you do want to argue with the review. I had to humble myself and soak everything in, review it and make changes even if the change was a clarification of why I doubled down/kept something. What I’m saying, is sometimes you must change things and sometimes you have to just be better at what you aren’t changing.  

A FilmFreeway preferred festival:


Darega – Kevin Gabel
Tefnut – Ariel Brooker
Narration – Regan Brown
Ha-Eko – Allen Michael Brunet
HeruVenGulGah – Hartley O. Gyamfi
Okala – Georgia Grant



By matthewtoffolo

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

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