Interview with Screenwriters Jodi Teti & Steve Stiefel (BOARD TO DEATH)

1. What is your screenplay about?

Here’s an overview to our sitcom series:

Board President Dead Ed’s mysterious death sets off a series of machinations from those who profit and lose from this event in the low-rent Hollywood condo community where he lived. Who will become the new Homeowners’ Association (HOA) President? What crimes were committed? Who will do what to get what? While Ed is dead, he will continue to comment on and affect the action from a mysterious room in purgatory. Others who live in this sunny, celebrity-desperate dystopia will slowly but surely join him on the Board to Death.

We’ve outlined both a 6-episode season one and an additional 7-episode arc of this sitcom series with strong hooks and breaks to make it more appealing to producers and networks.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

The sitcom script is an ensemble comedy with classic elements of a murder mystery. In this way, it marries two disparate categories, resulting in an interesting mash of genres.

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

Board to Death is, ultimately, extraordinarily relatable: the characters come from all walks of life, occupations, ethnicities, and educational backgrounds. Theirs is a common human condition: navigating living and interacting with people you wouldn’t necessarily choose to spend time with on a daily basis. The consternation and humor that results from such a situation can make for compelling moments of human kindness and relatable moments of frustration.

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

Condo hijinx

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

Jodi has watched Chinatown countless times because of its ability to beautifully portray symbolism in a movie, in this case a commentary on the ultimate futility of it all. Steve favors All About Eve for its portrayal of strong female characters and their drive to achieve and maintain success, even at the expense of others.

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

Approximately a year, but that time frame also includes a second episode as well as story arcs for three seasons and character treatments for the major cast members.

7. How many stories have you written?

Jodi has written several short stories, a novel, and a movie, in addition to Board to Death. Steve has written more short stories, plays, movie scripts, and television pilots than can be counted. He also worked as a magazine writer for more than a decade.

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

Jodi’s favorite song is Learning to Fly by Tom Petty. She first heard it in college and found it applies to every major epoch in her life, from college to graduate school to starting a career, getting married, and having children. Steve favors Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division, finding meaning in the ironic truth that the very emotion that is meant to bring us together is the one that so often cleaves friendships, marriages, and other relationships.

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

For Jodi, the primary obstacle consisted of finding time to finish the screenplay with two young children. Fortunately, the youngest was finally in preschool, allowing more time to write. For Steve, it was finding time to write while working as a paid writer.

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

For Jodi, it includes gardening and producing the perfect lemon bar (the secret is extra zest). For Steve, it would be locating the ideal restaurant that offers free wi-fi, unlimited coffee refills, highly seasoned calamari rings, and doesn’t mind someone taking up the table for 3 hours at a time.

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

We’ve found FilmFreeway to be a great platform because it streamlines the submission process. There is a small issue with the “awards” portion of the software, in that it doesn’t always update the status of a submission correctly (invariably for wins and awards, oddly enough). However, since the festival or contest always emails about the outcomes, this isn’t the worst technical glitch.

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

We both feel it’s important to provide access to writers from all types of cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The feedback was swift and positive and we have thus far had very good experience with the festival. If we had to summarize the festival in one world it would be “professional.”

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

Condominium board President Dead Ed’s mysterious death sets off a series of machinations from those who profit and lose from this event in the low-rent Hollywood condo community where he lived. Who will become the new Board President? What crimes were committed? Who will do what to get what? While Dead Ed is dead, he will continue to comment on the action in this sunny, celebrity-desperate dystopia as others slowly but surely join him on the Board to Death.

CAST LIST:
Narrator: Bill Poulin
Dead Ed: Geoff Mays

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