Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?
Ellen Winburn: Ryan, a Hollywood action star, makes an “art film” that turns out to not only be bad, but borderline pornographic. His agent and lawyers sort it out as he hides out in New York, working on a low budget revival of “Streetcar Named Desire”. The show’s designer, Ellie, is practically working for free. Her former mentor, Frank, stole her designs then discredited her, and now she’s got this one chance to overcome the reputation he’s inflicted on her. Ellie’s friend Mary Beth decides Ryan is just what Ellie needs. Ellie has been saving herself for her one true love, which Mary Beth thinks is silly. But really, who could resist a handsome action star? Ellie can, apparently, much to Mary Beth’s frustration. But what does grow is a strong friendship that later starts to bloom into love, until Frank learns of Ryan’s “art film” and tests the love Ellie has for Ryan.
2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?
3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?
People enjoy their blockbuster action movies and high stakes thrillers and drunken comedies, but the simple romance hero story just never gets old. There aren’t enough of those out there.
4. How would you describe this script in two words?
5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?
6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?
It is the very first script I ever wrote, started in 2012. When no one wanted to see romance any more, I put it in a drawer. But then times changed, I broke it back out, and now it’s here!
7. How many stories have you written?
I have no idea as I’ve been telling stories since childhood and some ended as stories, novels, or stage plays mostly written for my own joy. But I have 11 screenplays that are either finished or in development. In 2018, I had 5 scripts place in 7 contests, including this one!
8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)
Take On Me
9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
First, the fact that it was my first. I came up with the idea a long time ago, and I knew that this story needed to be a screenplay, but I’d never written a screenplay, so it took a very long time and many, many iterations. Second, the death of romance films for a while. Once I had it ready to send out, contests weren’t interested in the genre. Thankfully, that is changing!
10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
My children and family. I have a son with cerebral palsy, and we spend a lot of time advocating for change in laws and in medicine. I have one optioned screenplay and it is centers around how a boy with a disability sees the world. We also adopted a child from foster care, a broken system, and work to advocate for children lost in it. And my husband, who in 2012 gave me screenwriting software and said “I don’t want to hear it, I want to read it.”
11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?
Pretty good. I’ve had a couple of placements, and of course the opportunity to work with all of you is great.
12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
I like telling all kinds of stories. While this is my only “romance” film, every script I’ve written has this element because growing up, these were my favorite stories, songs, things to imagine – I was so the warrior princess. Finding a contest that actually embraces this genre is a challenge, so as soon as I found your festival I entered. The feedback is some of the best I’ve ever received, and I’ve entered a lot of contests. It pointed out clearly what worked and what could be better, and gave actual actions that could be taken. And I’m taking every one of them. Bravo!
Watch the Screenplay Reading:
A driven but can’t get a break technician and a lucky and successful actor find love but but as luck would have it, she must choose to finally pursue her chance or sacrifice it all for him.
Ellie: Emily Weir
Mary Beth: Regan Brown
Narration: Laura Kyswaty
Ryan: Kevin Robinson
Charles: Peter Nelson