Interview with Screenwriter Ian White (AMARIS)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Ian White: AMARIS is an allegory about the “rapture”. The theme revolves around how the torch of stewardship over the Earth (in the play represented by a baseball passed down though three generations – ancestors, contemporary humans, decedents) is passed down at the beginning of a new era of humanity. Nate (who represents contemporary humanity, “man”) is cynical, but has a strong urge to protect the planet. He’s battered and bruised when James (Jesus) visits him and gives him a second chance to save Earth. They travel to the space station to continue the work started by Nate’s father (our ancestors). Innocence (Sarah) is lost on the mission to greed (Simon Skariota II – Biblically Simon is the son of Yehuda Skariota AKA in the bible as Judas Iscariot) and James sacrifices himself to save Nate. When a possibility of a new world (Amaris, “A gift from God”) arises, Earth is consumed in selfish greed, paranoia and war. The angelic and peaceful residents of this new world “rapure” some of the remaining rural (meek) inhabitants, who avoided the initial nuclear war, and deliver them to an Edenic new world to start over.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Science-Fiction, Science-Faction, Cli-Fi (Climate change), dystopic/apocalyptic

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

Audiences are still interested in Sci-Fi and this is a major market generator. A big audience response has come from Sci-Fact movies like “Interstellar”, “Gravity” and “The Martian”. “Amaris” tells a story of how an alien first contact might actually happen and what the consequences of that could be. The story includes a lot of scientifically accurate facts that would drive post-release on-line chat. The theme would be a major fan discussion point also. There is also an interesting variation on the “alien invasion” trope as this play suggests a possible human invasion of the alien world.

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

Scientifically allegorical.

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

Star Wars (either ep 4 or 5)

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

Took a year to learn how to write screenplays, research and write (and rewrite) this.

7. How many stories have you written?

Now? About 10.

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

I listen to film scores. Likely Oblivion by M38 from the movie “Oblivion”.

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

Leaning to stop tweaking and let it go. The main obstacle to starting was having to learn how to write as a screenwriter and not as a scientist, although in essence both are story tellers. Read as many books as possible, joined all the pod-casts and on-line peer groups. Took writing lessons at the Uni in the evenings and weekends. Wrote on the toilet a lot to get some alone time (two young kids, etc).

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

Flyfishing (I’m the inventor of the “monoMASTER” an environmentally friendly fishing tool), watching movies and biomedical research. I own a stem cell biotech company in Miami.

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

There could be improvements, but I was pretty impressed by the scope and access to festivals.

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

To be honest I was just looking for festivals that might appreciate a good sci-fi story with a bunch of theme. I knew a lot of readers would miss the complexity of the play, but I was confident others would just enjoy the story at face value and perhaps even work out the theme.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Earth has been decimated by climate change. When a cynical environmental scientist and his crew aboard the International Space Station make contact with a lush and resourceful alien planet, Earth’s warring nations fight to stake a claim.

CAST LIST:

Sarah – KAT SMILEY
NARRATION – JESSICA BOWMER
James – STEVE SWITZMAN
Nate – STEPHEN SANDQUIST

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