Interview with Screenwriter Matthew Evans (HELLAS)

1. What is your screenplay about?

HELLAS is a one-hour sci-fi drama set in the dystopic near-future in which an undercover agent is sent to the Hellas Basin of Mars to break up a mining union — only to side with the miners and to help lead a revolution for Martian Independence. It’s inspired by true events from the 1800s when the Pinkerton Detective Agency sent an undercover agent into the Pennsylvania coal mines to infiltrate and dismantle the Molly Maguires.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Ultimately, HELLAS is sci-fi because of its setting on Mars. But in terms of its cat-and-mouse premise, I’d place the series in the detective thriller genre — kind of like, “THE DEPARTED in space.” That’s season one, anyway — subsequent seasons would become more expansive in terms of politics and revolution.

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

Science-fiction always reflects our current cultural anxieties, and Mars remains the closest mirror to our own planet. HELLAS blends elements of the detective thriller, social drama, and grounded science-fiction to explore today’s issues of labor, technology, immigration, and climate crisis — all through the allegory of Mars as humanity’s last hope. Putting these conflicts on Mars is like putting them into a crucible: everything is focused and intensified. It begs the question: perhaps instead of colonizing other planets, maybe we should start by fixing our own?

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


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

Probably JAWS. It holds up so well. The two-minute continuous-take scene on the ferry is a clinic on filmmaking; it’s the entire movie in a nutshell.

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

About a year, although it’s an idea I’ve had on the backburner for the past five.

7. How many stories have you written?

About a dozen.

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

According to Spotify, I listened to Radiohead’s “The Numbers” more than any other song in 2021. I love the live version, too, with Jonny, Thom and a CR78 drum machine.

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

Probably the world-building. It’s a balancing act to describe something your reader has never seen before without bogging down the pages. At a certain point, you have to trust the reader and accept that “less is more.”

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

Normally I’d talk about being outside and hiking or running, or stuff like that. But my wife and I just had our first child, so, I’m pretty passionate about enjoying fatherhood these days—especially with the backdrop of COVID.

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

The submission platform is super-easy to use, and I appreciate the festival recommendations that the site makes, too.

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

This is one of the few sci-fi festivals out there, so that was the biggest appeal to me. I was grateful for the feedback provided, too.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

In the dystopic near-future, an undercover agent is sent to the Hellas Basin of Mars to break up a mining union—only to side with the miners and help lead a revolution for Martian Independence.

Narrator: Steve Rizzo


By matthewtoffolo

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

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