Interview with Screenwriter Paul Nurkowski (CETACEANS)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Paul Nurkowski: In a near-futuristic world, Dr. Amanda Kozky, a bio.robotics scientist and doctor, has developed new technologies that enable her and her team of human scientists to work with bottle nosed dolphins, CETACEANS, who use robotic arms and voice conversion modules to communicate with the human scientists. When it’s revealed that dolphins are descended from a race of aliens, and smarter than people, a powerful army of men deem to destroy her research and pirate the dolphins’ ancient alien technologies to rule the world.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

CETACEANS is a high concept, sci-fi, action film wild with imagination and full of surprises.

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

CETACEANS is a totally original script that probes deep philosophical themes, is beautifully cinematic and provides a passionate, dramatic spin on the popular world of “dolphin movies”. The audience will love CETACEANS, become immersed in it’s intensely convincing futuristic world inhabited by both human and non-human players, who they’ll love, hate, laugh with and cry for.

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

Entertaining, Educational

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

I’ve been around for quite a while, many favorites come to mind (i.e., Terminator(1984), The Fifth Element(1997), The 13 th Warrior(1999), Edge of Tomorrow(2014)), but it seems that the title that keeps popping up on my TV for a watch is definitely, “Galaxy Quest(1999)”.

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

I started scripting CETACEANS in November, 2015. As my writing progressed, I also began creating both 2D and 3D concept art for my story. After copywriting my first draft (150 pages) in 2016, and working with a consultant, who told me that my story had potential but actually began on page 115, I began referencing the first 114 pages as backstory, reduced my page count to 95, and over the next two and a half years, and countless drafts later, now consider CETACEANS, at 99 pages, to be 99.999 percent completed, so approximately four years.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve always been a storyteller, expressed myself through a variety of visual media, including designing video games. CETACEANS is my first attempt at writing a feature screenplay.

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

I listen to all genres of music depending on my mood, but love the classics, a thumbs up for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, 3rd movement.

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

I‘d rather call them challenges. When an artist paints a picture, countless, individual brush strokes are intuitively placed on the canvas, eventually merge to create a singular manifestation of the artist’s inner vision. For me, scripting CETACEANS was like painting my story with words. I’d edit each scene, line of descriptive text and dialogue, until I had a clear vision of what was happening, could hear what each voice was saying. I found that process very time consuming, at times neverending, definitely the most challenging project I’ve ever undertaken.

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

I’m a retired fine arts and technology teacher, have taught a variety of creative and constructive disciplines. For years, that was my passion. Now, with my screenplay completed, I’m planning to pool my 2D, 3D, and creative writing skills, begin working on a CETACEANS graphic novel. That’ll be my passion for quite a while.

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

GREAT! If your screenplay is ready to go, go FilmFreeway! I found that their submission platform offered an ongoing slate of easily accessible festivals, a valuable tool, and they maintain an updateable listing of every writer’s submitted screenplays, along with a record of their festival activity, a great asset.

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

I was notified about your festival through a sci-fi competition that I entered last year. The feedback I received enabled me to tweak my script a little bit more. That’s why I always consider my script to be 99.999 percent completed, leave a little room for minor changes.


By matthewtoffolo

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


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