Interview with Screenwriter Joël Henning Doty (STAGE DAD)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Joël Henning Doty: The movie tells the story of Ray and Lily as they try to cope with the sudden death of wife and mom, Catherine. Ray agrees to take Lily to a writing competition in L.A. to fulfill a promise Catherine made, even though he disdains competition. Meeting other parents and teens at the competition pushes both of them to “keep up with the Joneses” until it comes back to haunt them. They soon learn that being truthful to each other is the only way they can successfully move on in their lives.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Family Dramedy

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

Father-daughter relationships are not shown much in the movies and this one
focuses on how a dad and his teenage daughter accept one another. Also writing
about “writing” is not seen often and it should be fun and interesting to see the stories that the teenagers create come to life in animation throughout the movie.

Teen girls are shown as smart and able to make independent decisions and help each other succeed and grow. Finally, it is an uplifting feel-good flick without any sappiness!

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

Family Love

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

Have to admit it is “It’s A Wonderful Life” – Christmas family tradition.

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

Various versions over several years – stopping and starting after read-throughs and changing the title three times!!!

7. How many stories have you written?

Maybe twenty-five? I write stage plays and many have been produced and my YA
novel, The Good Citizen, came out last year.

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

Anything Motown and Hamilton (the musical) related!

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

Balancing the amount of backstory to be just enough to understand all the
characters’ actions.

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

Make A Wish and NAMI. I volunteer for both organizations.

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

It’s easy to use.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Logline: Stage Dad is a family dramedy in which a dad must overcome his disdain for competition and help his teenage daughter navigate a prestigious writing contest.

Family Feature Film


Max: Steve Rizzo
Oscar: Daniel Jones
Narrator: Caroline Concordia
Ray: Peter Nelson
Lily: Emily Weir
Ellen: Judy Thrush


By matthewtoffolo

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

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