Interview with Screenwriter A.S. Templeton (Thingamajigs — An American Fairy Tale)

As an act of proxy revenge, a little girl is given a book filled with unexpectedly vivid illustrations.

Get to know the writer:

1. What is your screenplay about?

As suggested by its high-concept title, Thingamajigs — An American Fairy Tale is a latter-day fairy tale grounded in North American culture.

Based on the short story The Girl Who Owned a Bear by L. Frank Baum, part of his 1901 American Fairy Tales collection, Thingamajigs tells of a fantastical adventure of eight-year-old Jane Gladys Brown, who wears ribbons in her hair, is talented at embroidery, and loves to sing. Till now, she has led a serene, contented life… but she may be due for a shake-up. And when an intruding stranger hands her an oddly named picture book, Jane Gladys soon finds her sitting-room crowded with funny characters who might just have something other than merriment in mind.

In Thingamajigs, Baum’s story has been expanded and up-dramatized, retaining its “modern” fairy tale flavor while slipping in a light-handed meditation on the evolving outlooks, attitudes, and opportunities among turn-of-the-twentieth century North American girls and women. Like all fairy tales, Thingamajigs is meant to be timeless, not timely, but it is nevertheless grounded in historical fact and informed by family lore.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Family, fantasy, period drama, magical realism.

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

• To help fill the growing demand for wholesome short-form entertainment craved by younger audiences.
• It is a five-time (and counting) award winner in recent film festivals and screenwriting competitions.
• Baum is still a popular name in fantasy literature, so adaptations of his works ought to garner instant viewer interest.
• It is available as both a (mostly) non-musical 15-page drama and as a 20-page musical. In the latter, all musical numbers are in the public domain, though most feature new lyrics that complement the narrative.
• “Thingamajigs” is a funny word that piques the interest of everyone, young and old alike.

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

Fairy tale.

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

No single title comes to mind, but my always-good list includes pre-2016 fantasy works such as Mirrormask (2005), Coraline (2009), The Princess Bride (1987), and Labyrinth (1986).

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

Development of Thingamajigs kicked off in October of 2021. It is also under development as a musical stage play, and the graphic novella version is in submission to publishers.

7. How many stories have you written?

Besides Thingamajigs, three other stories, with a fourth in development, each of which includes both screenplay and novel versions.

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

My playlist is eclectic. Fav composers and artists include Franz Schubert, The Beatles, The Osborne Brothers, Rammstein, Johannes Brahms, The B-52s Lydia Kavina…

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

Not obstacles per se, but challenges: mastering early 1900s American English dialogue; honoring yet expanding on Baum’s vision; and meeting market expectations for short screenplays, notably a page count of 20 or less. But as every writer knows, a screenplay or manuscript is never really finished, but rather “done enough.”

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

Mitigating my carbon footprint by growing trees from seed and planting them out; this year I am doing Pacific madrone.

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

Excellent service and hosting.

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

With their DIVERSITY Film Festival and Table Read Screenplays operations, WILDsound afford opportunities and exposure to aspiring screenwriters who historically have been underrepresented in the motion picture industry. Their selection of my screenplays for table reads have been great honors, and the actors’ performances have provided invaluable insights that beneficially informed the next drafts.

Watch the Short Screenplay Reading:


Narrator: Val Cole
Nora/Donkey/Mrs. Brown: Hannah Ehman
Jane/Monkey: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Book Agent: Steve Rizzo
Clown/Grizzly: Sean Ballantyne


By matthewtoffolo

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

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