Interview with Screenwriter Thomas Schoch (WINTUCKY HIGH)

1. What is your screenplay about?

Three down-on-their-luck friends discover an old high-school rival, now the corrupt mayor of their town, and his army of violent seniors are running an illicit weed growing business; an operation they had been arrested for years before. Forced undercover, this ragtag crew of friends battle wheelchair bound seniors with crowbars and grenades, become heroes of an underground towel fighting ring, and conquer their fear of unicorns to give an old foe the payback he deserves.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Action comedy.

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

I love comedy, especially ridiculous slapstick buddy movies. Often, comedies today will be rooted in seriousness or have an underlying political message. I didn’t try to do any of that for this script. I just wanted a movie that is simply fun, silly and entertaining.

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

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

Naked Gun 2 1/2. When I was a kid this is one of the first movies we rented when we got a VCR. I would rent this movie at least a few times each summer from the local drug store.

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

This is the first screenplay that I ever tried to write. I brought this to a workshop 10 years ago and have been working on it consistently since then. It has gone through more drafts than I can remember but it is also the script that is responsible for teaching me the art of screenwriting. I made so many mistakes with this script but I kept working at it and learning. I have written several other scripts since then and the process has been much quicker. Writing this script gave me the foundations for the process that I use today.

7. How many stories have you written?

Trick question. I worked for a local newspaper as a reporter for a few years so I’ve written more than my fair share of “stories”. Although writing out municipal council reports isn’t a very interesting story… I have written one feature script and three television pilots. I am currently developing on another movie idea, have written and produced a radio play and written several sketch comedy shows. I also produced my own sketch comedy show on a local TV station 10 years ago. It’s how I found writing.

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

Another trick question. I spent 16 years as an on-air host in radio so I’ve heard most songs too often, especially classic rock. If I never hear AC/DC, Guns N Roses or Pink Floyd again, I would be a happy man.

I do love music and often use it as an inspiration to write. Most of my ideas come to me while listening to different songs.

My favourite these days is by the Last Artful Dodgr “Lightwork”. It helps me focus and allows me to “tap into” my creative side.

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

While writing this screenplay I lost my job in radio. Not ideal financially but it gave me the time I needed to work on this script. That time quickly evaporated when I got married that same year, had our first child, sold our house, completely renovated an old farm house and moved out of the city to start a small organic vegetable farm (which we still run today)

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

Food. I was fortunate to be the host for a local TV show called Ottawa Eats. During that time almost all of the chefs I spoke with talked about the great disconnect we have with our food. I grew up on a farm in a rural town and took my education as a farmer for granted. I now see that our food system is broken and many people don’t have access to fresh, naturally grown food nor do they have any idea how to grow it, harvest it or process it themselves. We are in the process of converting our 21-acre property into a rural education centre focused on food, sustainability and permaculture ideals.

If I’m not writing, I’m outside playing with my plants.

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

It’s an excellent site for finding a contest that fits your script. It lists all the important info easily (cost, deadlines, prizes etc.) and it also keeps track of what you entered, when and where. I’m not the most organized person when it comes to that kind of stuff so it makes it easier for me.

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

My goal when submitting to a contest is to get feedback from as many readers as possible. If there is a feedback option, I almost always opt in. I don’t see much point in entering a contest simply to “win”. I want to improve as a writer and feedback is one of the only ways to do that.

Having friends and other writers read your script is great, but having honest feedback from a complete stranger can be invaluable, no matter how painful it is.

This contest provided an interesting opportunity to have your script read. That was huge for me.

Hearing your words read out loud is one of the most powerful things you can do for your writing, especially for comedy. You can hear if the pacing is right, if a character comes through or not and if a joke lands. Often you can read the joke well enough on the page in your head but when a stranger reads it out loud, it’s completely different. The set-up to the joke may be too long or weak, the wording of the punch line may be off by a word or two. It makes such a huge difference to hear your ideas out loud!

The feeling I had when I received the feedback was absolute joy! When somebody “gets” your work and your comedy, there is no feeling more satisfying in the world. Except for maybe writing a scene in a movie where a horse has a dildo strapped to its head… which I did in this script. Life goal achieved!

When a down and out writer, Len Hoffman, returns home to reset his life, he uncovers a drug fuelled underground gambling ring run by the mayor — his old rival, Shane Foxe — his grandfather and his blood-thirsty gang of wheelchair warrior seniors. Dragged into the centre of the story by an old flame and a grudge, he must bare all to survive and write the tale that could resurrect his career and reputation; proving that revenge is a dish best served old.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Boss: Geoff Mays
Len: Sean Ballatyne
Donna: Allison Kampf

By matthewtoffolo

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

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