Interview with Screenwriter Jenna Cornell (HUNK OF BURNING LOVE)

1. What is your screenplay about?

Susan Miller is a blue collar woman from the Midwest who plans a perfect day off with her husband, Frank, only to have it derailed by his selfish obsession. Fed up, the day eventually ends in murder.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Depending on how the director envisions the film, this can fall in either a dark comedy or a drama genre.

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

It illustrates the breakdown of a romantic relationship. At its core, there is a level of dysfunction – particularly with Frank – that can be brought to life. But Hunk is mainly about Susan and what she has endured over the years. It is a tragic tale of a woman who has finally had enough. Perhaps murder seems to be extreme, but in this excerpt, this day in the life, we catch a glimpse of what she has endured over the years from him.

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

Shear madness…well, on a more serious note…Fed Up.

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

It’s a Wonderful Life by Frank Capra. I fell in love with that movie back in middle school. I was about 13 years old and stumbled on it during the holiday season. The story captivated me and still does because it centers on the importance all of us have in this world. Even when we think we are at the bottom, our lives still matter to someone, somewhere. We are 1 in 7 billion as I like to say. We matter to the world around us and make an impact even if we don’t always see that impact.

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

I first wrote Hunk back in 2013. Even at that time, Hunk was making some waves festival wise. Hunk made it into the Top 50 scripts of the Canadian Short Screenplay Competition. My goal has always been to see Hunk made into a film and on the big screen. So in 2018, my good friend and fellow filmmaker Craig Knitt read through it as we considered turning it into a film at the time. He suggested some key edits to where certain scenes were placed and possible other changes. The current version of Hunk was born.

7. How many stories have you written?

I started writing fiction when I was nine years old and have continued writing stories, poetry, journalism, theatrical plays, and screenplays throughout my life. Fiction wise, I have well over ten short stories and am currently working on a crime novel. Screenplay wise, I have four short screenplays written, one full-length in development, and another full-length in the brainstorm stage. Poetry wise, I am currently editing through my second collection that is set to be published in 2021.

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

It’s funny you should ask this question because I’m a musician as well and music has been a huge part on my life. We all have those songs that are life songs (as I like to call them). It’s those songs that define who we are – maybe the better word is our soundtrack. I have a few of them on my Life Soundtrack. The main song that represents me best is “It’s My Life” by Bon Jovi. I’m not going to live forever, so the time is now. I’m going to do what I set out to do. This also fits into my life motto, “I don’t want to live a shoulda, woulda, coulda life.” I want to make sure when I’m in my 80s, I can look back on my life and see that I have contributed to the world around me and, most importantly, contributed to it in positive ways.

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

I think the editing part is the hardest. It’s the most labor intensive part in my opinion. Writing the script was easy. The story poured on the page, but the story isn’t necessarily the work part of it. It’s the revising, editing, and proofreading that truly are the work. I think secondary to the editing/revising is the song choice. There was a moment or two of possibly changing it out for another one during the editing process, but the song is a main character in the film, too, and I just couldn’t part with it.

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

When I’m not writing, I am teaching others about writing. I was a college writing and communications professor for many years and am now taking my mentoring on the road so-to-speak by designing online courses for professionals. I love mentoring other writers and believe it is important to pass along what I’ve learned. Aside from writing and teaching, I am passionate about music, painting, photography, nature, and gardening. My family also ranks up there on the passionate list, too. When I’m not buried in creative projects, I spend a lot of time with my fam.

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

I love FilmFreeway. I really do. It’s an easy platform to use and submit to festivals. FilmFreeway also categorizes festivals for ease of finding the right one for a project.

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

First and foremost, it was the focus on crime & mystery that drew me to the festival. Hunk is a very genre-specific type of film. Even though it can be placed in either a dark comedy or drama category, the murder that happens in it is not always something people look for in a short film. The second thing that drew me to the festival was the feedback. While Hunk has received some feedback, it was inspiring to see a festival willing to read through my script. I knew I had to submit. Once I received the feedback, I loved it. The feedback was detailed and encouraging. It identified a few more copy edits I need to do while also illustrated the strengths of the script. As I read it, I was thinking, “Oh my gosh, someone gets that this isn’t Susan’s first rodeo with Frank’s messed up behavior. They get it.”

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

A wife plans a perfect summer day with her husband only to have it end in violence by her own hand.


Narration: Bill Poulin
Susan: Kyana Teresa
News Anchor/Officer 1: Allan Michael Brunet
911 Operator/Officer 2: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Frank: Shawn Devlin

By matthewtoffolo

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

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