Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?
Jessi Thind: Up and Away is about identity, friendship, and parenthood. It follows Clark Kent as a runaway teenager on a journey of self-discovery with his parents desperately searching for him.
2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?
Coming of age/ Drama.
3. Why should this screenplay be made into a TV series?
I’d say because it’s a fairly unique and relevant take on Superman. It’s less about Superman’s powers and more about his struggle to find himself as he travels across America with a bunch of friends in a Winnebago. In this way, it takes inspiration from the Green Lantern series “Hard-Traveling Heros” by Denis O’Neal and Neal Adams in which Lantern and Arrow travel across America dealing with real, grounded issues. Up and Away is about a teenage Clark Kent traveling from city to city with a journalist mentor and a war veteran as they confront real menaces–corruption, racism, poverty, drugs– and try to understand the shifting attitude toward immigration and minorities. Essentially, it’s about Clark Kent’s discovery of the American way
4. How would you describe this script in two words?
5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?
Richard Doner’s Superman.
6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?
I wrote the first draft ten years ago. I revisited it last year. An earlier draft of this script actually helped me get into Warner Brothers where I was narrative director and writer on several highly successful projects.
7. How many stories have you written?
I write quite a bit being a scriptwriter and the narrative director on the recently announced Unknown 9 property. But in terms of fanfiction, I write a fan script whenever I feel inspired usually in the DCU. Keeps the creative juices flowing.
8. What book have you read the most times in your life?
Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.
9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
No real obstacles other than finding the time to write with two little kiddos who demand quite a bit of my time. If I had to define an obstacle I would say it’s more of the inner struggle of knowing there is no hope for a fan fiction script to be taken seriously or ever picked up. But at the end of the day, the passion wins out and you finish the script because you love the universe and characters. It’s really a case of the work being its own reward.
10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
Toastmasters. It’s something I’ve recently begun as an on-going effort to mitigate the complications of dyspraxia. Toastmasters forces constant impromptu talks which helps train quick recovery when there’s a struggle with thought or perception while giving a talk. Individuals with dyspraxia often have learning and speaking challenges because of the unique way their brains work which has nothing to do with intelligence. It’s just a different way the brain is wired. In fact, our wiring is ideal for creative and chimeric thinking and less ideal for linear-sequential thinking which makes it more difficult to speak on the fly. Actually, one of the reasons I joined Toastmasters is because I recently had someone in my professional life imitate my condition behind my back because of a slight goof in a talk. It’s not something I dwell on, but I did want to find some potential solutions. I asked around and Toastmasters was at the top of the recommendation list, and I’ve definitely been enjoying my experience so far. It’s a great and supportive atmosphere for anyone who wants to improve their communication skills.
11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?
Quick. Easy. Accessible. No complaints. It’s a great platform for writers and filmmakers.
12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
I wanted other Superman fans to have access to my take on the universe and see what they thought. I’ve been writing Superman scripts every since I learned the craft of screenwriting. It’s actually the first Superman fanfiction script that won best script. It’s thrilling because it gives me the sense that fans would definitely be open to something that is a little less about the powers and the spectacle and more about the characters and the inner struggle of being the most powerful kid on earth. Not to mention, the struggle of the parents who have to raise the most powerful kid on Earth. One of the things my dad used to say, and I only fully understood when I had my first child, was that the real heroes in the Superman universe are his parents. The ones who cared for him, loved him, taught him, instilled within him his sense of right and wrong. Superman is about the responsibility of being a protector and guardian of an entire world. When you become a parent you instantly become a guardian and protector of an entire world. It can definitely be said that you become a hero when you become a parent. This is one of the reasons the original creators actually wanted Superman’s name to embody both mother and father. Martha Clark. Johnathan Kent. Clark Kent.
Watch the Screenplay Reading:
Jonathan Kent desperately searches for his runaway eleven-year-old son throughout the United States before he hurts someone with newfound powers he is just beginning to understand.
Police Officer: Brian Carlton
Jonathan: Brandon Knox
Narrator: Val Cole
Linda: Alex Simpson
Clark: Randy Baumer
Douglas: Harry Judge