Interview with Screenwriter Daniel Cook (HELL ON EARTH)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Daniel Cook: Unseen/unknown forces cause land-based technology to fail (batteries in handheld items, cars, etc are ok). But just like how people take advantage of natural disasters to commit crimes (Hurricane Katrina and so forth), but with a dash of the extreme, like the movie “The Purge”. The main character, ‘Derrick’, is loosely based on me. I’m a Marine Corps veteran, and have dealt with many things in recent years, including losing everything, joblessness and homelessness.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Thriller, Drama, Action

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

This story is relevant to recent events, and is ultimately about survival. It deals with primal aspects of humans now and what would happen if we were sent into pre-technological chaos…and survival of the fittest becomes way too real.

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

Emotional creation

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

Evil Dead / Guardians of the Galaxy / The Thing (and a few others)…all pushing 100 times, most likely.

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

I initially wrote it for a class project in college in 2013. I have been editing it off and on since. So…technically five years, I suppose.

7. How many stories have you written?

This is the only film I’ve finished. I have written many short stories, and have extensive notes for three to four other films, including one where a detective who hates everyone is teamed up throughout the film with various oxymoronic, monstrous characters (a vampire who is a devout Catholic, a werewolf with the mange, who is a dog catcher by occupation and a Frankenstein monster who is a seamstress).

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

Much like films and television, it’s hard to narrow it down. I love music. I don’t think I have one favorite. I love ‘Wayward Son’ (Kansas and Anthrax versions), I love ‘All of Me’ by John Legend (with Lindsay Stirling). Even ‘URALYA’ by Tech N9ne, some classical, etc.

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

In school, timelines, plus working two jobs also, while a full-time student. Since then, I’ve been through a lot. I’ve even been homeless in 2017. I had to sell my car, laptop, external hard drive, etc…just so we could sleep in a hotel for a month, instead of the streets, or on a hill in the woods I picked out. I’ve head health issues as well. I haven’t been able to work over the last two years, so submitting to various festivals has been limited how much I could afford.

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

I got my degree in Mass Communication (Broadcasting and Journalism). I love doing play-by-play announcing for sports, podcast type work, and even writing commercials. My love for music and sports has pushed me to pursue radio work…to no avail so far. I’m also an artist and have drawn everything from comic characters, to portraits, etc.

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

My screenplay has finished semi-finalist three times, finalist once and was accepted to three others. I have yet to see my work move forward, but after seeing some of the films produced in recent years (some on the big screen, some straight to DVD or even Netflix or cable), I am CERTAIN that in comparison to some of these that my films is worthy of awards. I just need someone to give me that chance.

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

When I turned in my project for class, my professor (who had been there for 30 years and retired the following year) told me that it was the best he ever read at the school, despite telling me initially that an “end of the world” type film had been done many times. He told me that if I didn’t submit it somewhere, he would hunt me down. hahaha…

And yes. I would love for my screenplay (or a portion) to be used / adapted into a promotional movie. Feel free to send me information. However, if there is a fee…I will need to give it more thought. I’m still without work. I’m praying this screenplay will get my second career moving.

A FilmFreeway preferred festival:

Logline: “When all technology fails, humans fall back on their animalistic instincts and the world around us is set into pure chaos. Survival is paramount, but holding onto humanity is the toughest struggle.”

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller


Torri: Anjelica Alejandro

Jeff: Adrian Currie

Narrator: Mandy May Cheetham

Andrew: John Leung

Derrick: Liam Kinahan


By matthewtoffolo

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

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