Interview with Screenwriter David Sorbello (JIMMY 13)

1. What is your screenplay about?

Struggle and Triumph !

An epic hero’s journey in the pursuit of becoming an athlete.

Based on the real life events of “Jimmy 13” who is the seventh child of eight, he struggles to find his own identity in the family and the small town of Camillus, New York.

“Jimmy 13’s” (a dwarf in 1970’s) challenging life, as he navigates his own physical limitations, social stigma’s, bullying, drugs, girls, sports and becoming a teenager in the hallways of a high school in the 1970’s transforms this into an epic inspirational hero’s journey.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Human interest story and/or much like “Rudy” it falls under the sports genre.

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

It’s an inspirational story that everyone can relate to. The struggles and adversity of “Jimmy13’s” life to become accepted and an athlete are what makes great award winning movies.

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

Epically inspirational!


Dynamically motivating!

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

I’ve watched a lot of “Star Wars”. Plus I love Mr. Angelo Pizzo’s work with “Hoosiers” and “Rudy”, which were amazing models for my “Jimmy13” and next project “91”.

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

About 7-8 years. I first conducted in-depth interviews with the players from 1976 to 1985 a total of 75 players and Coaches for my “91” project. However, with the motivation of Mr. Messere I took up the “Jimmy13” story first. Jimmy’s participation and our time together was so profoundly life changing I felt compelled to continue to echo his story in an effort to inspire others.

I then interviewed several of Jimmy’s siblings and crafted a much larger picture for my own research.

Since I filmed my interviews the first step was actually putting together a rough cut documentary before I began writing the screenplay. The act writing of the screenplay has been several years in the making as well. A true labor of love for a man who inspired me beyond words and showed me this process to discover.

7. How many stories have you written?

“Jimmy13” is honestly my very first. I’m currently working on “91” which is a team story of the 91-0 National record that the West Genesee boys lacrosse team holds. I owe so much to Mr. Mike Messere, for guiding me to tell “Jimmy13’s” story first though. I truly owe it all to the legendary Coach who is more of an amazing man than most people will ever know.

In addition, I am so grateful for the honor to be trusted with the historical archive, having conducted very personal interviews and preserved a rare moment in sports history. It is an awesome responsibility that I do not take lightly.

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

Music for me is more of theme songs that represent the myself in time.

I’m a big Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead and Phish fan. So any Dylan song I love his entire catalog. If I had to pick one or two-I’d say “Joker man” & “Tangled up in Blue”.

The Grateful Dead “Eyes of the World ” it will forever remind me of my daughter, but also “So many Roads” speaks to me in a unique way. I miss seeing Jerry Garcia live, but now seeing Trey Anastasio and his creativity is inspirational to me in a multitude of ways.

Phish’s – “Waste” every lyric speaks to me and represents my experiences in life. Plus, “Joy” reminds me of my daughter much like the Dead’s “Eyes”.

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

More than I expected. First was learning the proper screenplay formatting and execution. I never wrote a screenplay before, only a dissertation, so it was extremely liberating to be a creative person versus an academic. These first few obstacle were major ones.

With that came dialogue and other fundamental writing skills. Thankfully the pandemic freed up some time and I have an amazing editor and teacher in Owen Shapiro. His patience and direction is world class and I am so very grateful for his time and more.

Early on I was also given priceless advice and direction from Daniel Stesson and his writing partner. These two gentleman helped me to figure out how to tell “my story of Jimmy13 ” and then empowered me to execute. They set the path before me and their guidance is eternally appreciated.

Of course there was Jimmy’s deteriorating health that always weighing heavily on me and my soul as I wrote. Battling life’s challenges and health issues Jimmy’s tenacity was a constant source of energy to continue to work on this project.

Despite the Earth shaking, life changing adversity, majority of this has been an amazing experience beyond expectations! Joseph Campbell’s work inspired me to be a storyteller, but “Jimmy13’s” story is divinely created and I’m just a conduit fortunate to be able to share it with the world.

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

I live my life passionately. Life is passion if done correctly in my opinion.

Everything I invest my time, energy and self into is fueled by my passion. Be it parenting, gardening, cooking, the outdoors or etc..

At the moment besides “Jimmy13″and now writing “91”, I’m passionate about my ability to be a supportive father, along with enjoying all of my outdoor activities, traveling and refining my new craft.

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

I’m so impressed by this platform. It’s easy and efficient. I’m able to research which festivals are best suited for my work. A great platform.

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

What influenced me? The theme of sports and that an epic story like this fits well into the mission statement of the festival.

The feedback and reading of the opening scene exceeded all my expectations. Of course this blog post, the podcast and other outstanding assistance to promote “Jimmy13” does not hurt either.

Thank you to the blog viewers for your time as well and making it to the end.

Please checkout my content on YouTube channel: 91WGLax. You get an opportunity to see James in the 3 minute clip “Jimmy13” final copy from the Syracuse film festival. Plus hear the opening scene read provided by the Sports, Fitness and Recreational Film festival.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

A human interest story of inclusion, acceptance and tenacity.


Narrator: Val Cole
Sarge: Shawn Devlin
Jimmy 13/Hubert: Steve Rizzo
Alice: Kyana Teresa
John/Bill: Sean Ballantyne


By matthewtoffolo

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

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