Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?
Jonah Ocuto: My Screenplay “Rises to Throne” is about a programmer named Bill, who, convinced that the world will end in 5 days, is forced to team up with a nihilist in order to secure an afterlife for every soul on Earth. The screenplay addresses how much of our lives are dictated by the codes we live by, and what happens when we are forced to realize that our way of seeing the world was incorrect the whole time. Often, the most profound truths are the ones that have been hiding right in front of us, the ones that we can’t see until we admit our own failures.
2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?
Is Weird Drama a genre? If not, then just Drama.
3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?
Rises to Throne is a script that you don’t see too often nowadays — it’s a slow burn, but packed with insight. This script turns a keen eye to individuals and circumstances that we may not look at otherwise — I believe that it’s of paramount importance that we give the least among us as much of a voice as the rest of us. Rises to Throne should be made into a movie because it is a story that can only be told through the medium of film.
4. How would you describe this script in two words?
5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?
Oh man, it’s probably a tie between Eraserhead and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?
Rises to Throne has been in development for about a year and a half now, but the finished script was written over the course of 15 weeks for a Screenwriting class at the film school I attend.
7. How many stories have you written?
Outside of this feature and four short films I’ve written, I write creative nonfiction stories weekly on my website, jocuto.wordpress.com.
8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the
most times in your life?)
I’m the most indecisive guy you’ll ever meet — a terrible curse for a hopeful screenwriter — but probably Rock Bottom Riser by Bill Callahan.
9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
As a student, running out of time is always the biggest obstacle — Rises to Throne was developed over the course of only 15 weeks for class, and on top of this, I was taking 4 other classes. The biggest obstacle regarding screenwriting, for me, however, has always been allowing your characters to dictate and direct the plot, rather than force your characters to meet milestones you’ve arbitrarily laid out before them.
10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
While writing is my one true love, I’m also a Tetris fanatic. Top 5% in the nation. Tetris is a bit like writing, actually — It’s not about making the correct decision, it’s just about making a decision as fast as possible, and seeing where it leads you.
11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your
experiences working with the submission platform site?
Film Freeway is an invaluable tool in the independent screenwriters arsenal. I’ve only had great experiences with the website, as it gives me the opportunity to hear about festivals and competitions I never would have learned about otherwise.
12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings
on the initial feedback you received?
I really wanted to enter a festival that would give timely feedback on my first draft, and this one seemed like a perfect fit. The feedback I received, while brief, will be an instrumental part of the rewriting process as I continue to develop the script further.
Watch the Screenplay Reading:
Bill lives in Chicago and is an amazing computer whiz and writes a program called, Categoric. He is convinced the world is going to end in a few days.
Narrator: Carina Cojeen
Emma: Katelyn Varadi
Bill: Michael Ruhs