Interview with Writer Connie (Corcoran) Wilson (CONFESSIONS OF AN APOTEMNOPHILE: I THINK I AM)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Connie (Corcoran) Wilson: “Confessions of an Apotemnophile,” the source material for the film, discusses the world of apotemnophiles: people who want to have perfectly healthy limbs amputated. I did considerable research on the subject. [An interesting (true) story about that concerns the phone call I received at my house in the Illinois Quad Cities from a stranger who wanted to know if I WAS an “apotemnophile.” (A: NO!) Apparently my research was a bit too convincing and “real.” (Weird.)]

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Horror and Suspense Thriller.

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

The genre is “hot” right now!

I have a proven track record as an award-winning author of over 40 books, many of them in the horror genre.

I was an active voting member of HWA before moving over to International Thriller Writers (ITW), and among my 40 books, are 3 books of short stories that are most often compared to Philip K. Dick, Stephen King, or Dean Koontz and at least 11 that deal with ghosts along Route 66. The collection “Hellfire & Damnation” (Vols. I, II and III) I included short stories that focused on the sins or crimes punished at each of the 9 Circles of Hell in Dante’s “Inferno.” [There are some truly Great Film Ideas within the pages of H&D I, II and III, and I’m working on IV.]

I’ve also written a feature length screenplay based on the 3 novel series THE COLOR OF EVIL, which would make a great streaming series for Netflix or Amazon or a feature film series like “Divergent’ or “The Hunger Games.” I’m a graduate of the University of Iowa with a Master’s + 30 hours and have taught writing at 6 IA/IL colleges. I have been writing (for pay) since age 11 and reviewing film since 1970. (I currently review for The Movie Blog (www.TheMovieBlog.com) and on my own blog and for http://www.QuadCities.com).I grew up across the street from the local theater. Even my college boyfriend was a film major, cast me in his student film, and went on to become the individual responsible for selecting the annual Christopher Award(s). I have seen and forgotten more films than any 21-year-old film school graduate, and I know a good film plot when I see it…or write it.

When I cover Chicago (CIFF) they often call me to come interview film greats like Liv Ullman or Vanessa Redgrave or Taylor Hackford or William Friedkin, as I remember these luminaries and their films, while young film school grads may not. I taught a film course at Black Hawk Junior College at one point, but my career was spent teaching (7th and 8th grade, high school, 6 colleges) and founding and serving as CEO of 3 successful businesses. I was once named one of the Ten Most Creative Teachers in America by TAB Scholastic Books in a unit-writing competition.(My unit: “It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s SUPER LEMON!, Sub-title, “Ad Campaigns in the Classroom,” consisted of using film and groups of students working to “win” the contract for a product they created, like a mini “Mad Men” episode.)

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

Creepy. Riveting.

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

I can’t answer this question with just ONE film title. I’ll answer, instead, with the Best Movies of This Year (so far): “BlackKKlansman,” “The Green Book,” “What They Knew,” “Beautiful Boy,” “Boy Erased,” “A Private War,” “The Hate U Give,” “Ben Is Back,” “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”, “The Front Runner,” “First Man.” Those are a few of the films I reviewed after seeing them at the 54th Chicago International Film Festival (Oct. 10-21) or the AFF, and, prior to that, I attended (as a Finalist in the screenplay competition), the San Antonio Film Festival, the Windy City Film Festival and the Austin Revolution Film Festival. I am the author of “It Came from the 70s: From The Godfather to Apocalypse Now” and I am a huge fan of the original “Manchurian Candidate,” if that helps as an answer. (Dan has yet to weigh in on this, but I know he’s a big fan of “Casablanca.”).

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

The story “Confessions of an Apotemnophile” was published (within “Hellfire & Damnation” Volume I) in 2011, according to what I googled in regard to my publication of it on my own blog (WeeklyWilson.com) after it won an ALMA (American Literary Merit Award.).. Dan did a short treatment of it years ago, but only recently have I resumed writing screenplays, following a win early on for a screenplay submitted to Writers’ Digest Screenplay competition. The screenplay for THE COLOR OF EVIL has been accepted to 31 screenplay competitions, based on my novel trilogy/series, and has won (1st, Finalist or Semi-Finalist) 29 of 31. Dan is the AFI graduate; I’m just the one with the bezillion story ideas, many of them already published as short stories or novels. I think Dan did a short treatment of this when he was organizing a Shakespeare troupe in Las Vegas and doing Shakespeare in the Schools there which was supposed to be suitable to watch on your phone or something weird.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have written literally hundreds of stories. I write and maintain 4 different series, which you can see by visiting their dedicated websites. (www.TheColorOfEvil.com; http://www.HellfireAndDamnationTheBook.com; http://www.GhostlyTalesofRoute66.com; http://www.TheXmasCats.com) and at ConnieCWilson.com. The illustrated Christmas series I write for my twins. There are 6 in that series. I have written 5 novels, and I have nonfiction books that reflect my work elsewhere. For example, I was Yahoo’s Content Producer of the Year for Politics in 2008 and have a 2-book series about the presidential run that year (“Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House,” Vols. I & II) I also assembled a collection of humor columns (“Laughing through LIfe”) in book form and another collection of newspaper columns, poetry and photos entitled “Both Sides Now.” I have had 5 small publishers; my literary agent is Nancy Rosenfeld of AAA Agency in Chicago. My writing has also included stints for 5 newspapers and at least 20 blogs. I was the Quad City Times film and book critic for 15 years.

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

Not a clue, but I play 4 musical instruments (2 of them well) including 22 years of piano lessons. I was a member of the University of Iowa Old Gold Singers for 3 and 1/2 years, a recruiting swing choir for the university, when in school. (Also was in Oratorio Chorus and University Choir there.) I once played “Rhapsody in Blue” with the Waterloo Symphony Orchestra. My daughter graduated from Belmont in Nashville (where she still lives) with a degree in Music Business and worked for Taylor Swift, as well as assisting (internship) Rick Clark, who put the music in “Up in the Air.”

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

While I had both Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and Nelson Algren in classes (audited under the 19 Journalism number) when in college and have been writing since 6th grade, it is Dan Decker who is the AFI Film School pro. I characterize my writing as “short” or “long” and film screenplays definitely fall under the category of writing “short.” I was inspired to write the screenplay for THE COLOR OF EVIL after I interviewed Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, the screenwriters responsible for “A Quiet Place,” who are from Bettendorf, Iowa, where I had a business for 16 years. I was covering SXSW when that film premiered there on March 9, 2018. I met with Scott and Bryan at a local Starbucks and learned that my background at our mutual university was perhaps more intense in the writing area than theirs.(IMDB recommended reading for March 11th from my blog, WeeklyWilson.com). I went back to our winter home in Austin and shut myself up in the third bedroom, telling my husband, “I am apparently an underachiever.” Beck & Woods had told me that they were NOT film school majors at Iowa and got the idea for “A Quiet Place” while taking a sign language class at Iowa (!) I posted a sign that said “Do Not Enter” and, through Voyage Media, teamed up with Producer John Crye (reader who greenlighted “Memento,” “Donnie Darko” and “The Passion of the Christ”) for 3 weeks to work on a screenplay based on the first novel in THE COLOR OF EVIL three-book series. Mr. Crye had only 3 weeks before going off to direct his current film “Chance.” I had only 3 weeks before leaving for Cancun with my family. Therefore, I wrote from midnight until 7 a.m., slept until noon, and then went off to view and review other people’s films for The Movie Blog. It was an intense 3-week experience, and my formatting is definitely not as error-free as Dan Decker’s. (Dan proofed the first 57 pages, but then left for Italy, so the final 40 pages are more likely to contain errors than the beginning.) I hired Paper True to “proof” the final 40 pages, but they sent me back someone else’s script by deadline, so I had to send in what I had. (Sigh). I’m the creative one who thinks up strange story ideas and writes them in “long” form, but I am not the one with the AFI Film School education, as I was an English/Journalism and Education major at Iowa, Western Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Chicago. (M.S. + 30).

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

As noted, I review movies, have since 1970, am the author of “It Came from the 70s: From The Godfather to Apocalypse Now” and just finished seeing 4 films a day at the 54th Chicago International Film Festival (up at http://www.TheMovieBlog.com). I am also musical, sing, and play 4 instruments. I have seen The Rolling Stones at least 12 times. I have the dubious distinction of having cut class at Berkeley to journey to the San Francisco Cow Palace on the back of my then-boyfriend’s motorcycle, to see the Beatles ( 7th row , $7). However, I also saw “Cold Play” on my last birthday. I like to travel. In addition to a cruise of Australia and New Zealand,we are planning a trip (Nov. 19 – Nov. 26) to Cabo San Lucas over Thanksgiving. Easter we have spent 2 weeks in Cancun for 20 years at 2 time shares. I like to travel, am passionate about music, writing, reading and movies, and, of course, am looking forward to this trip to Cabo San Lucas with my son and daughter and my son’s family. As noted, I also followed presidential politics beginning with the Iowa Caucuses and covered the campaigns of 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and, briefly, 2016. [Since it is unsafe to cover a Trump rally as Press, I stopped early in the 2016 campaign and moved back to movies, with the idea of writing more screenplays, which I have done.] I play a lot of trivia (HQ, Cash Show, Jeopardy) and was once referred to as T.Q. (Trivia Queen). And I’ve been married since the world’s crust was warm and have 2 children born 20 years apart, which, in itself, is strange.

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

It’s a bit addictive. It’s like being at the gambling table. I like the site and my experiences have been as you see below (some are still out):

THE COLOR OF EVIL
31 Selected
6 Semi-Finalist
13 Finalist
10 Award Winner
29 wins of 31 = 93.54%.

This is just from those who “accepted” the screenplay into their competition. (I have, so far, at least 7 cool trophies and some plaques, so there’s that.)

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

Film Freeway makes it so easy to enter (unlike the first screenplay that I had to mail to a competition in 2007) that I may have “over-entered.” (Ahem). I’ve received much feedback and paid for coverage from the Austin Film Festival (for THE COLOR OF EVIL). One problem with my feature length screenplay is the result of my feeling that it should be a series, like those designed for Netflix or Amazon. Mr. Crye disagreed; he was the expert. He advised me to write a feature film screenplay. I straddled that line. First, I scavenged plot points from all 3 books, but, that week, Mr. Crye said to confine myself to Book #1. (There went 40 pages down the tubes!) The second week, I wrote a second 40-page ending that utilized the plot device of a Facebook-like service, but my plot takes place in 2003-2005 and I later learned that Facebook didn’t really become popular until 2006. So, I wrote a THIRD 40-page “end” and that is what I submitted to Film Freeway. I left some plot points unfinished (like “Sicario: Day of the Soldado”) because they are picked up more fully in Books #2 or #3. For instance, the protagonist’s best friend (Stevie Scranton) goes missing in Book #1. I did not resolve that plot point, because it is the primary thrust of Book #2. This caused criticism to be leveled at my screenplay, which I understand, but I hope you understand my explanation. (*I still think the 3 books should be a streaming series, like Julia Roberts’ “Homecoming” or “Sneaky Pete.” With 3 novels to pull from, there is plenty of material and I have a 4th novel well underway. The 3 books in THE COLOR OF EVIL series, released as an e-book set in September of 2018 were named “Best Indie Book of the Year 2018” in the May/June issue of “Shelf Unbound” digital magazine.

Watch the TV Pilot Reading: 

Two men are plunged into the weird world of apotemnophiles: those individuals who want to have perfectly healthy legs amputated, and drama ensues.

CAST LIST:

Dr. Corcoran: Isaiah Kolundzic
Cindy: Monica Knox
Narrator: Esther Thibault
George: Peter Mark Raphael
Paul: Dan Cristofori
Receptionist: Norma Dunphy

Submit your Film & Screenplay via FilmFreeway:

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