Interview with Winning Screenwriters Jennifer Woldman & David Maddox (A STUDY IN SCARLETT)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

A Study in Scarlett is a re-imagining of the classic Sherlock Holmes, with inspiration also taken from American history circa late 1860s-70s. The enigmatic genius Scarlett Holmes is a bi-racial woman. She meets her loyal friend and partner Joanna Holmes, a struggling doctor, to solve a murder and save an innocent man from hanging. Throughout the series historical situations and events are explored through adaptations of Doyle’s classic tales. To solve each episode’s puzzle, and the interlocking season-long mystery, the legendary sleuths must navigate issues of race and inequality, and the complicated nature of justice.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Mystery, Historical fiction

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

It is the right moment in America for a television series like A Study in Scarlett. Through the eyes of these diverse characters we explore a time in American history whose echos we feel today in our laws and culture. As past readers have pointed out, A Study in Scarlett gives us an opportunity to explore modern themes of race, gender, equality, and justice through the lens of classic Holmes tales. These are conversations that we need to be having in modern day America as we confront our own history, and our future together, and this series can be an access point.

This series can reach a broad audience — classic Sherlock fans will find the stories and characters familiar, and we stay true to the spirit and rollicking fun that has made the original work a classic, and it’s more recent reincarnations huge successes on the big and small screens. The diversity of the characters and the compelling issues we tackle will appeal to a younger, more modern audience, who might not have seen much for them in recent Holmes remakes. History fans will love this exploration of an under-represented, yet critically important, era of American history. There is truly something in this series for everyone.

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

Scarlett Holmes

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

Jen – Probably Empire Strikes Back. Or maybe Harry Potter, because it is always on television, and sometimes we put it on like background music in my house.

David – The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. The film changed my life as a child, that’s why I do what I do now.

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

About 9 months. The idea for A Study in Scarlett came to me last summer in the middle of moving. I was finally able to get the basic story down by October, and then David and I worked on it daily for about a month. We continue to make revisions based upon feedback.

7. How many stories have you written?

A Study in Scarlett is our first screenplay working as a team, but we each have been writing on our own for a long time. I have a completed novel named Redemption, and a work in progress novel named Earth Tour. David has a SciFi screenplay named Greetings from the Vortex, and an animated pilot called The Adventures of Darryl Springbornne.

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

Jen – Listened to most in my LIFE? Probably something by New Kids on the Block, lol, as I played those tapes on my boom box until they ran out in the early 90s. Hello from Generation X.

David – Jesus Jones. Their slight hit in the 90’s International Bright Young Thing. All the remixes of it!

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

We were very eager to obtain feedback from people of color, particularly Black women. We center diverse characters, and we want to make sure we are true to that lived experience. As a mixed race woman who as often felt “other” like Scarlett, this is a very important to me personally, and frankly it can be difficult to find professional readers with that background. If A Study in Scarlett were to move forward as a project, we would want to make sure the team we work with is appropriately diverse.

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

Jen – I have two teenage boys with special needs, so they are my main passion! Politics, and my career in technology, and theatre.

David – I’m a performer and filmmaker so that takes up a good deal of my time, and I have a casual interest in astronomy.

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

Coverfly has been a great experience for us!

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

We entered an early draft, in the hopes that we would get some valuable feedback to help make the script better. The feedback we got was helpful, and we’ve incorporated some of the notes in recent revisions. Hearing our words performed by actors is a thrill, and also a learning experience. Our goal at the end of the day is to see A Study in Scarlett on the TV screen, and we’re hoping exposure through Wildsound will help us connect with people who can help make that happen.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A re-imagining of the legendary sleuths, multi-racial Scarlet Holmes and aspiring-doctor Joanna Watson solve mysteries during the cultural upheaval of post Civil War America.


Officer: Isaiah Kolundzic
Narrator: Hannah Ehman
Male Doctor: Bill Poulin
Watson: Nkasi Ogbonnah



By matthewtoffolo

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

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