1. What is your screenplay about?
Sometimes you find your real family in the group you build rather than the one you’re born into.
In “Celestus” a woman builds a lifelong bond and friendship with an enchanting creature through shared joys and losses, mutual support and caring while surviving together in a harsh but beautiful environment.
2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?
It’s setting is certainly science fiction. The way it uses soft science allows it to be classified as fantasy as well. But the story is one of friendship and lifelong growth. While its events may be heavy for what we typically expect of family content today, it deals with the deeper issues that children’s films like Bambi, Old Yeller, The Lion King, Charlotte’s Web and Watership Down used to.
3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?
I believe it’s a beautiful story that will be meaningful and important to everyone. This isn’t from an attempt to claim the widest audience possible, but simply the result of the basic an universal theme. And if I can share a bit of the feedback from this festival, your reader said, “It could be made tomorrow and would have audiences crying.”
4. How would you describe this script in two words?
5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?
I’m not sure, but it’s probably one of these: Brazil, Blade Runner, Akira, Laputa, Monty Python and the Holy Grail
6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?
I think I wrote the first draft pretty quickly. The concept occured to me and it knitted itself together in my mind before I knew it. It felt like watching the film itself rather than dictating what it would be. But then I’ve revisited it many times for tweaks and rewrites. I’m planning another rewrite now based on the feedback I got form this festival.
7. How many stories have you written?
I’ve written about 45 stories that I’ll admit to. There may be others I’ve hidden away until they can be improved or simply left to be forgotten.
8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)
I really should say “The Immigrant Song,” something fantastical by Monster Magnet or Rob Zombie, or an aetherial Vangelis track to maintain my mystique. But “Fly Me to the Moon” and “Amazing Grace” in their many renditions always enchant me in a unique way.
9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
My biggest obstacle with this one is that I’m never really sure it IS finished. I keep finding ways to improve it. Maybe it’s only just beginning and won’t be complete until I expand it into a feature.
10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
I recently started teaching when asked by a friend. I thought it would just be a fun thing to do once. But I’ve kept coming back. There’s a special reward when you watch someone grow or have a breakthrough in their creative work. I knew that cognitively before teaching, but it’s not the same as feeling it. So now I’m an adjunct with two different universities teaching screenwriting and animation/portfolio development. It feels great to help students, but also sharpens my skills and keeps me honest in my own work.
11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?
Using FilmFreeway has been great not just to organize my submissions, but also to help find festivals I wouldn’t have know of otherwise. I’ve been much more active this year with competitions and this site has been essential.
12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
Initially I wasn’t sure that “Celestus” was the right genre. But when I read the festival’s definition it caused me to reflect on this script and realize that it’s core elements of family, friendship, love, sacrifice, and the growth of an intimate relationship made it absolutely appropriate.
The feedback was wonderfully encouraging, but was also insightful enough to trigger another rewrite. This script will be stronger before it gets made thanks to that feedback.
Watch the Winning Screenplay Reading:
On an alien world, a young woman forges a lifelong bond with a whale‐like creature.
Narrator: Hannah Ehman