Interview with Screenwriter Jacob Leyva (THE SNOW QUEEN)

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1. What is your screenplay about?

In short, it’s about a family that must learn to mend its broken connections.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

I wrote it with animation in mind. However, it being an animated movie isn’t a must for it. Other than that, it also falls under the Fantasy and Adventure genres.

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

The audience craves good stories, and this is a good story. It’s easy to say “well, Hollywood is still producing good stories, you’re just with the nostalgia glasses on,” but if you go and speak with moviegoers, then the answer is a resounding “there is something about the movies of old that today’s films just quite capture or measure up.” The movies that manage to reel audiences in are either dependent on brand recognition (ex. No Way Home and Matt Reeves’s The Batman) or are a rarity (ex. The Northman). The norm used to be films that the audience could just escape into (ex. numerous action movies from the ’80s) with art pieces here and there (ex. eXistenZ, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Once Upon A Time In America). Not only that but the two could coexist and rake in the profits. Nowadays, the escapism has been replaced by the corporate, assembly-line superhero movies (ex. MCU movies), and the art films are not only dwarfed by these movies, but they often rely on buzz from award nominations to either help drive in some revenue, or drive home video sales.

Additionally, a number of movies these days, particularly superhero movies, just have to be topical, relating their themes to the current year political climate. They’re grim and moody, but unlike the movies that defined the 1970s, the writers and directors have no life experiences to draw from, help them shape their films. They instead either luck out from some program (ex. Chloe Zhao) or come from wealth and have relatives who know persons in the industry. There needs to be a push back to when you could just enjoy movies. My script is a push back towards that paradigm.

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

“Unity” and “Family.

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

It’s a tie between both Treasure Planet and Atlantis: The Lost Empire (4 times).

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

I started writing this screenplay in 2012, and have been working on it on-and-off since then. Even now I still try to tinker with the pieces in order to perfect the screenplay.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have written 9 stories and I am still plotting out more in my head before I put them on the page.

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

It’s hard to pin my favorite down to one song. However, among my top favorites are Bobby Darin’s “Beyond The Sea,” Judas Priest’s “Halls of Valhalla,” the Four Tops’s “Standing In The Shadows of Love,” Wassalou’s “Waka Waka,” the Vicente Fernández version of “Cielito Lindo,” the Mariachi Cobre version of “Maria Elena,” Frank Loesser’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” Mildred Bailey’s “Harlem Lullaby,” Redbone’s magnum opus “We Were All Wounded At Wounded Knee,” Betty Hutton’s “It’s A Man,” and “Calling On You” by Stryper.

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

The main obstacle was exactly how to tell the story of “The Snow Queen” in such a radically different setting while being faithful and true to the source material, and to be as authentic as possible to the culture of the Inuit.

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

Apart from writing I also have a passion for films (Star Wars in particular), the Disney and Universal theme parks, Native American cultures, and the mythologies of various cultures (ex. Norse mythology).

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

My experience has been nothing but good. It is easy to locate film festivals in which I may enter my scripts, there usually are some good promo codes I can use for discounts, and I am always punctually notified of the status of my entries.

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

What influenced me was the fact that I received feedback. I can only do so much on my own, so knowing what others think helps me with polishing off the script. I feel the initial feedback was very fair.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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