Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?
Marco Amato: “Displaced” is about how your individuality can oftentimes feel stolen from you when society and even those closest to you in life refuse to accept you for who you are. In a way, it also acts as a cautionary tale that those who feel this kind of oppression also need to speak out when they see it being done to others or risk the consequences of their indifference in the long run.
2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?
I’d classify it in the Horror/Thriller genre.
3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?
I believe the subject matter is vitally relevant to today’s society and our treatment of those who fail to conform to our antiquated standards of existence. Now more than ever in the world, we must not only be tolerant of each other, but protective. Today someone’s rights and sheer existence are being questioned or invalidated. Tomorrow, it could be your own. Do you want to wait that long to find out? Can you even afford to?
4. How would you describe this script in two words?
5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?
My favorite film is “The Poseidon Adventure” (1972), so I would have to say that film. I love the disaster film genre because at its core it is about people coming together despite their differences in order to survive and overcome serious conflict. I believe this is a timeless message that cinema should be reinforcing as often as possible in creatively accessible ways.
6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?
I completed my first draft of “Displaced” in November 2018. I returned to work on it several months later before taking another long break. During the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic in April 2020, I created another draft of it before submitting it to the Wildsound Festival.
7. How many stories have you written?
I have written four feature film scripts and over a dozen short film scripts. I have also written sketches for the theatrical stage and co-wrote a full-length play titled “Egoismo” which was performed in the summer of 2018 at a local town hall in Hicksville, Long Island.
8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the
most times in your life?)
I am an avid ABBA fan, and I can’t even give my parent’s credit for that. That happened all on my own. So, I’ve probably listened to the song Mamma Mia in several different covers and iterations over the years more than any other song in my life thus far.
9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
Well, when I completed the first draft of the script and showed it to a group of collaborators of mine that I did theatrical work with, it was around the same time that the trailer debuted for Jordan Peele’s “Us” (2019). I was considering having us shoot it as my first produced short film. However, my associates agreed that the use of doppelgangers in both mine and Peele’s film might draw too many comparisons by audiences. I greatly admire Jordan Peele, and I didn’t want people to think I was derivative of his work even though we both utilized the doppelganger narrative device in distinctly different ways and even though I had corroborators who could speak on my behalf and assure others that I was not plagiarizing his work in any way. It was challenging to create and refine the right style and substance within the piece to ensure it was respectful and authentic in its depiction of non-binary and trans-people and that was another challenge I faced as I worked in the revision process. I consulted with a friend of mine that identifies as non-binary to help advise me on the character work. The script wasn’t originally about the LGBTQ Community at all, that was an idea I came up with later as I realized that it would carry much greater thematic significance if it were acknowledging the displacement of a specific group of people. Still, we should all remember that we could all be Devin; that’s why we must speak up when we see people being disregarded and devalued by the community and culture around us.
10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
I love to read. My favorite genre to read is murder mysteries. I am a sucker for Agatha Christie, and I am so happy they have begun readapting her work for the big screen again as I’ve enjoyed previous adaptions on film and television. I have been trying to expand my literary horizons to begin reading more queer/POC centered books as well.
11. You entered your screenplay via Film Freeway. What has been your
experiences working with the submission platform site?
I found it to be a very convenient software and an overall comprehensive submission process. There are so many nerves that come with submitting a script to a competition, so it is always nice and relieving when the process itself is uncomplicated.
12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings
on the initial feedback you received?
I was immediately attracted to the fact that the competition was looking for LGBTQ-centered content. There are unfortunately not many other prominent LGBTQ Screenwriting Competitions out there. Since I had already been considering creating a new draft that would show LGBTQ influences in the storyline, it was really a match made in heaven. The feedback I received was fantastic and very helpful. They were sure to balance the critiques between strengths and weaknesses, and gave not only notes about the narrative but also concerning structure, formatting and grammar, which are all additional essential components to any successful screenplay. I was invigorated to go right into the revision process and make the necessary revisions to the script because the feedback itself was so concise and encouraging. I was extremely grateful, needless to say, to both the competition and the script reader as well.
Watch the Screenplay Reading:
A gender-bending teenager begins to heed warnings of his impending doom.
Narrator: Allison Kampf
Devin: Bill Poulin
Pharmacist/Catherine: Kyana Teresa
Jade: Hannah Ehman
Middle Aged Woman/Mom: Elizabeth Rose Morriss