Interview with Screenwriter Cynthia M. Uhrich (The Eye Of Doris)

THE EYE OF DORIS is the winner of BEST SHORT SCREENPLAY at the 2021 Comedy Festival.

1. What is your screenplay about?

Gillian is a skeptical client with a difficult disposition who meets her match when Doris–an occult shop psychic– foresees a series of unsavory events for Gillian’s future.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Dark Comedy

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

It is confined to just two locations: a psychic shop and a “reading room” (within the store) and an exterior street, outside of the shop. That, and the fact that only three actors are in the story makes it budget-friendly. There are two characters 50+ and that’s not something you see enough of! It also has more than one twist–which always makes for a fun story!

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

Darkly Slapstick

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

“It’s a Wonderful Life” every doggone Christmas. And I still cry at the end…every. single. time. I rarely re-watch a film… exceptions are Blade Runner, Versailles (Series,) Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, The Women, Titanic.

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

I wrote it last Spring and it has undergone five revisions…in fact, the one that your festival recorded isn’t the latest draft. I should have resent it, but got busy with some other projects.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have now penned four that have been produced “M4W”, (romantic comedy) “Robert in the Bedroom”, (drama) Code Green”, (docu-drama) and “Misplaced Trust” (thriller).

During the late Spring and Summer of 2020, there was an ongoing screenwriting competition, called the Under_Score Screenplay Competition and I wrote and entered 11 (!) new short screenplays, ranging from six to 26 pages.

I had no work (due to Covid, I couldn’t teach my acting classes or make films.) Many of those are undergoing rewrites but a few have been selected and even won screenwriting competitions. (I placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd with every screenplay I entered!) There were specific challenges each week, too. One included writing a script with only one line of dialogue.

It’s now one of my favorite scripts! It also pushed me to write outside of my comfort zone. I wrote a (historical) western, two sci-fi comedies, and two fantasy romances and a horror/thriller script. All genres that I would never have imagined writing. It was incredibly challenging and fun.

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

I just love the song “Nights in White Satin” by the Moody Blues. I am always listening to cinematic soundtracks on Spotify while I’m writing (“Cinematic Chillout.”) I’m still fond of Portishead. Prince.

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

It was part of a timed competition (seven days) with the SCRIPT MADNESS contest in the Twin Cities. I’d made it through two elimination rounds (of four) and the pressure was on.

It took Second place and put me in the last round of competition…and that last screenplay took First place.

Ultimately, I won the competition! This was in May of 2020…Covid fears made it hard to focus, but the writing was also a wonderful distraction.

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

I read quite a lot and of course, I watch movies and series. I produce and direct film through my small non-profit production company IN THE MOMENT FILMS and I was a long-time acting teacher. I like to find cool things at thrift stores and I collect interesting bracelets. I still do some acting on stage, in films and in commercials. I love to cook Thai and Indian food.

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

Working with Film Freeway has been quite positive. I have spent a lot of money on both short film and screenplay submissions over the past few years–it’s really worth it to invest in the Gold Membership if writers/filmmakers are going to hit a bunch at once. It ends up being a terrific cost-saver if working with a limited budget. They’re extremely responsive, also, those few times I’ve had an issue or question.

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

I loved that the selected screenplays would be recorded. I’ve done recorded readings in the past and it’s really THE BEST tool for a writer to refine a screenplay. For comedy, it really points up how the dialogue needs to be snappy and to-the-point…and where it just falls flat. It also helps a writer to realize that maybe more information needs to be provided about the characters…or maybe less about the setting. It makes clear the beats, too.

I also LOVED (remember, I’m a former acting teacher) that this is an opportunity for actors to play and to have their voices/work heard. I’m all about sharpening skills and providing a platform for talented people to show off their stuff. Who knows, it may even land some of them jobs!

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

In this dark comedy, Gillian, a skeptical client with a difficult disposition meets her match when Doris–an occult shop psychic—predicts a series of unsavory events for Gillian’s future.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Val Cole
Doris: Hannah Ehman
Gillian: Kyana Teresa
Mortie: Allan Michael Brunet
——-

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