Interview with Screenwriter Thomas Clary (The Switch)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Thomas Clary: Well, the official logline is: “After an unexplained global event, where everyone on Earth has switched bodies, an FBI agent must recapture every serial killer he’s ever put in jail after they’ve “escaped” into other people. They look nothing like they did before; they have different DNA and fingerprints… But one thing hasn’t changed — their desire to kill.”

That’s the story, but at its heart it’s “about” the question of “Who are we really?” You think you know who you are… But are you 100% sure? And, would you stay that way if everything you thought you knew about yourself just “switched” one day? Our hero FBI agent, Cooper Langford, suddenly finds himself in the body of literally the richest man in the world after going to sleep living a life of a miserable failure. When he starts to discover that he could very well be at the center of why the world has been turned upside-down, he must decide whether he’s going to help get to the bottom of it all — or compromise everything he thought he believed in to keep from changing back.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s a Sci-Fi Suspense/Horror series inspired by those suspenseful, cinematic serial killer movies like “Silence Of The Lambs”, “Manhunter”, and “Seven” — and the larger “mythology” science fiction T.V. shows like “The X-Files” and “Westworld”.

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a TV SHOW?

Well, because I think it’s pretty awesome!!!

Seriously, though… I think there is a real fun and watchable “monster of the week” aspect to it as Cooper and his crew attempt to re-find all of these dangerous serial killers and hunt them down all over again. But on top of that, there is a deeper story about why everyone has suddenly changed bodies — and is there a way that they can ever change back? I think that’s going to be the story that really hooks everyone and keeps them coming back week after week to see what happens.

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

Fun read.

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

I think for everyone my age, our answer is going to be a very boring one. When I was seven years-old, the original Star Wars was my babysitter. My mom used to drop me off at the Sherman Oaks General Cinema (here in the San Fernando Valley) with enough money for a ticket and a couple of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups from the concession stand. While she would run errands in the morning — I would go to Tatooine and the Death Star. It was a different time and it wasn’t an issue for a 7 year old to be alone in a movie theater (hard to believe, I know), so I ended up seeing it about 50-70 times. Little did I realize, it was one of my first masterclasses in filmmaking and is still a deep influence on my storytelling even now, forty years later.

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

I started writing it about seven or eight years ago, got to about page twenty and then put it on the shelf for a while. Then, about a year ago, I decided to blow off the dust and cobwebs from it and had it done in about two months. It all flowed pretty quick at that point.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written quite a few stories. I’ve written about four or five full length screenplays. I wrote a spec script for the “X-Files” as a writing sample. But, nothing has been produced or published.

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

The Power Of The Heart sung by Peter Gabriel. It was originally a Lou Reed song that he wrote to propose to Laurie Anderson. Gabriel’s version of it is achingly gorgeous and just puts me in the mood every time I sit down to write my next full-length screenplay. Someday, my dream is to create something so beautiful.

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

I’m the father of 6 year-old twins with a full-time day job as a Visual Effects Producer for film and TV. Finding the time to write with all the plates I was spinning was quite the adventure. But now I’ve been able to set up more of a routine that makes that less of an issue.

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

I love photography. There is something about telling a story with a single visual image that excites me and (I hope) helps me to be economical and efficient in my writing. I’m also trying to teach myself the guitar — but that’s more of a sadistic passion rather than a “passion” passion.

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

I think it’s a wonderful site. Anything that makes it easier to enter festivals — and toot your own horn, as well — I certainly endorse.

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

I actually owe quite a bit to a colleague at work for urging me to enter, if not specifically this festival, science-fiction based festivals in general. I had mentioned to him that I was doing well in other festivals, but I couldn’t seem to break the top 20 or 10. He suggested that maybe I should enter festivals that were specifically for the genre(s) my screenplay was in. His thinking was that other festivals may be making the mistake of not taking this type off work as seriously as they should — instead rewarding more traditionally “important” pieces. It was excellent advice. And now, here we are!

The feedback was very good and helped me to put the last bit of detail work into the script I needed to really “dot my i’s and cross my t’s.” I was confident in the work prior to getting the notes, but it really helped to hear things that would take it over the top.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

After an unexplained global event, where everyone on Earth has switched bodies, FBI Agent Cooper Langford must recapture every serial killer he’s ever put in jail after they’ve “escaped” into other people. They look nothing like they did before; they have different DNA and fingerprints… But one thing hasn’t changed — their desire to kill.

Mille: Regan Brown
Bertie: Peter Nelson
Wentworth: Kevin Gabel
Narration: Laura Kyswaty
Cooper: Kevin Robinson
Waters: Patrice Henry
Trillium: Emily Weir



By matthewtoffolo

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


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