Interview with Screenwriter Marcus Russell (PERMUTATION)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Marcus Russell: This script is about the plight of marginalized people, specifically African Americans. English has been taken advantage of by processes he can barely comprehend. He cannot get good health care (to be taken seriously by his health care provider), he has a contentious relationship with the police and the possibility for him to truly be happy (and free) are determined by things out of his control.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s a drama. It communicates as noir, but it’s straight down the pipe drama.

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

The sense of loss and uneasiness that English experiences is something that millions of Americans will identify with. English. Though he’s been taken advantage of and become a victim of mind control, there are a small group of people that care about his plight and him as an individual. It’s a fable about how we’re not alone, even though it may appear to a very large extent that you are.

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

Unfortunate realization.

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

I’ve seen “Swingers” 40+ times in 35mm… and probably 25 times on DVD. It was a hugely influential movie for me. “La Femme Nikita” is a close second.

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

I’m a TV writer and we have to write quickly. I broke story and wrote this script in about 45 days. I started it in early march. April 30th it was finished.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’m assuming you’re referring to screenplays… I also write erotica and have a length history in that field. I have written 12 TV dramas (4 just this year). I’ve written 10 features (I started in features) and about 5 shorts. I’ve been screenwriting for 25 years.

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

“Don’t you worry ’bout a thing” – Stevie Wonder

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

I had a disastrous response to my last pilot and was ready to quit screenwriting all together. I decided then to write exactly what I wanted and to not give a damn about if it was good for festivals or fellowships (or managers). It was very difficult to get the voice correct for the genre of mind control while also giving it a traditional noir feel while making it hip hop conscious and imbuing the social commentary about African Americans and not make it overt.

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

Datsun Z cars, Racing, Hip Hop, Politics, weight lifting, weed

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

I was suspicious at first but I like film freeway, I especially liked the ability to become a gold member and reduce the cost of submitting. I like it but I don’t’ think you should try to directly compete with coverfly. They have a ratings system (coverfly score)… I think you need to develop a tracking/rating metric that would complement the coverfly score and get screenwriters/filmmakers to use both sites instead of making them decide. I like the way you track the submission and your use of icons to understand what’s happening with your script.

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

As a TV writer I was looking for places to submit for TV specs and pilots. There aren’t that many and I liked what you offered as prizes. I’ve been excited about the feedback I’ve received thus far, but the bulk of the feedback has yet to arrive.

Watch the Winning Screenplay Reading: 

Down-on-his-luck detective takes a dead-end case for the money…then he realizes that the person of interest looks exactly like him.


Dale (20s) – 8 – THOMAS FOURMIER
English (40s) – 15 – SEAN BALLANTYNE
Dir. Hammond (50s) – 3 – GENE ABELA


By matthewtoffolo

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

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