Interview with Screenwriter Andrew Akler (SCARRED HEARTS)

1. What is your screenplay about?

Scarred Hearts is about the often unspoken about life of domestic abuse victims and how their passions play an important role in helping them break free of their abusers.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?


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

The script was written with the belief that something personal can be universal. The story is based on my and my mother’s life. We lived this story. Many viewers may see themselves in one, if not several, of the characters and realize that they are not alone in their struggle. Scarred Hearts is a universal story of resilience and growth, that I’m certain many people will feel connected to. It is our hope to inspire those who are, and who have been in abusive relationships to speak up. It will empower people of all ages to see themselves as valuable.

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

Emotional and powerful

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

Probably The Dark Knight. I’m a huge Batman fan and absolutely love that film.

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

I started drafting the initial concept in 2017 and got my first draft out in early 2018. Since then, it has undergone a ton of rewrites but is now finished so I’d say a good four years.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written six short films and this feature as my own projects, but have also written countless other short films and short stories.

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

I honestly can’t pick one. There are so many songs that I connect with deeply and for different reasons. I love all kinds of music, mostly classic rock and metal, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, The Ramones, and of course, Joan Jett/The Runaways being some of my favorite artists.

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

Facing some rather personal demons. I sat with my mother and recounted both her and my experiences with my father in order to be able to write these characters as real as possible. My father had very little redeeming qualities and was violent, pretty much for the sake of being violent. That aspect of the character did not play well with initial readers, and I was told that I need to add some redeeming qualities to the character of Cliff to make him understandable. I did not want to paint the character as a tragic villain, so finding the right balance between his violence and the window to his past was challenging, but I think it has paid off in a strong way.

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

Music. Like Johanna in the script, I grew up listening to classic rock and dove headfirst into those artists and songs. I taught myself guitar, bass, and drums and have been composing music since I was 13 years old. I’ve played in bands and written music for films, having studied theory and composition throughout high school and college. Music and film are my life.

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

Very easy and breezy! I’ve submitted my other shorts to festivals through FilmFreeway since 2013.

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

DIVERSITY caught my attention because they aim to foster the talent of people from all backgrounds, including my own. Their support of topics like family structure made me feel comfortable submitting my script, and I felt that the feedback I’d get would be beyond valuable. The feedback I got on the script was strong and highlighted both things that the reader enjoyed, as well as things they felt needed improvement, which pointed out elements I had initially missed. Perfectly valuable in every way.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

A shy young girl yearns to follow her dream of being a rock singer, but with an abusive father killing her dream, as well as her mothers, Johanna has to learn to stand up against her father and find her voice. Scarred Hearts is a timely story of resistance and female empowerment.

Narrator: Kyana Teresa
Dylan: Sean Ballantyne
Johanna: Hannah Ehman


By matthewtoffolo

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

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