Interview with Screenwriter Daniel Powell (EMPTY NEST)

1. What is your screenplay about?

Empty Nest is about the fear I have of growing old and becoming a bit irrelevant. The main character Harry is essentially a proxy of where I don’t want to be in 10-15 years. He’s hit that stage in his life where he is just “existing”. His kids have moved out and he’s just bouncing around his house **SPOILER** talking to his dead wife. It’s also about grief and how there’s always a reason that the person you think is crazy is acting that way.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s a comedy really, albeit ones with underlying themes that are a bit more maudlin.

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

Because it is a simple, relatable story about a man struggling to come to terms with where his life has taken him. Everyone knows how that feels. Aside from that, it has a lot of visual comedy and slapstick that I think needs to be done justice in a visual medium.

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

Bad Day

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

Die Hard- the quintessential “bad day” movie

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

I worked on this screenplay for a total of 12 weeks. I’d had the character of Harry in my head for as long, long time, so I felt like I knew him inside out. But the real work was in building a satisfying plot with some surprises and an emotional core. I’d say of the 12 weeks I probably spent 5-6 weeks plotting, playing with index cards and such, with the first (really very terrible) draft being completed around week 7. The rest of the time was spent redrafting, coming up with alternate lines and jokes, which was the joyous part of the process.

7. How many stories have you written?

A lot. I’ve been writing stories for 20 years, but never did anything with them until the pandemic hit, so I started entering a few contests and here we are!

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

It’s hard to pick one but it will probably be something by either The Beatles or Green Day as they are the two bands I love most of all.

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

Time. I wrote this story as part of my Masters Degree in Comedy Writing (so had a deadline to hit), and between working a full time job and having a family, finding time is a constant issue. Luckily I have the best wife ever who puts up with me locking myself in my office for hours at a time and zoning out of conversations because I’m thinking about a story I’m writing.

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

Comedy in general. I am a stand-up comedian as well as a writer, so I love comedy in all it’s forms.

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

I’ve found it to be very easy. I’ve entered a lot of festivals and contests, and used other submission platforms, but now I wont enter a contest unless its through Film Freeway because it’s the easiest.

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

The uniqueness of the festival grabbed me immediately. I didn’t see any other festivals that would not only provide feedback but actually “make” the thing that you sent them. It piqued my interest straight away.

Feedback wise I was really happy with how “to the point” it was. I’ve had some where it was clear the writer of the feedback was writing for themselves, but with this I felt I received only what was helpful and relevant, which is a nice change!

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Hannah Ehman
Harry: Steve Rizzo
Morris/Security Guard: Geoff Mays
Susan: Kyana Teresa

By matthewtoffolo

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

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