Interview with Screenwriter C.S. Talbott (MADNESS JACKSON)

Cut from his 1938 Oregon college team, pint-sized, teary-eyed basketball player takes the coach’s advice and sets a goal of proving him wrong. He returns to his parents’ California home and works exhaustively on getting stronger. He then painstakingly tries to secure the coach’s blessing by attempting a 600-mile bicycle journey and a 2,000-mile hitchhiking adventure encountering wildlife, thieves and a Miss America Pageant contestant.

Get to know the writer:

1. What is your screenplay about?

Cut from his 1938 college team, small basketball player is determined to improve his skills toward making next year’s squad while demonstrating coachability and love of the game while bicycling 600 miles and hitchhiking cross country amid experiencing the Birth of NCAA March Madness.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Historical Biography (based on true events), Sports Drama, Coming of Age Historical Drama.

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

MADNESS JACKSON, based on true events, tells the perseverance story of the compelling protagonist Paul “Madness” Jackson amid the backdrop and Birth of March Madness, the NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship.

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

Don’t quit!

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

The Best of Times starring Robin Williams and Kurt Russell which was written by Ron Shelton. Field of Dreams, Big Fish, The Postman and Shawshank are close behind, all tied for second.

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

The story has been in my head since the mid-’80s after I stumbled onto Paul Jackson while researching during undergrad studies at the University of Oregon. I finally wrote the screenplay’s first draft during the 2020 pandemic and have been revising ever since.

7. How many stories have you written?

As a former sportswriter for multiple Oregon publications, I’d say, “countless.” Currently I have six screenplays with completed drafts which I’m doing constant rewrites. There are at least another dozen stories in my head which I plan (hope) to eventually get to working on. Please check out where all of the projects are listed.

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

The ALL-AMERICAN Anthem by Journey, DON’T STOP BELIEVIN’ from the E5C5P3 album which was released on July 31, 1981. What a Fool Believes by Michael McDonald, Present Tense by Pearl Jam, Love Walks In by Van Halen and The Idea of You by the Dave Matthews Band are ALL TIED for SECOND.

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

Finally making time and committing to finish a draft. Life (Family, “real” jobs, etc.) always seems to get in the way so it was just a constant decision to commit to GET IT DONE!

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

FAMILY (spouse, kids, grandkids, parents, siblings) and FRIENDS. Also, love anything sports-related as a participant (running, basketball, corn hole) and a spectator (ATLANTA Braves-Hawks-Falcons) and of course YOUR UNIVERSITY OF OREGON/NIKE DUCKS!

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

I love FilmFreeway. As many already know there are more than 12,000 “film festivals” worldwide. I appreciate FilmFreeway for helping me sort out which screenplay competitions I should/will/can submit to in order to reach my goals of story/film production.

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

The Black and White aspect of the festival intrigued me. Since I envision ninety-five percent of Madness Jackson in black and white (then having a similar Wizard-of-Oz effect) adding full color at the ending, I felt your festival was perfect for the vision.

The initial feedback was superb and your edits helped clean up some little remaining issues. The opening comment: “We feel your script is one draft away and is already one of the best specs out there” was incredibly inspiring and motivating. Props to the Toronto Black & White Film Festival for being a part of helping the Madness Jackson story come to life.

Watch the Best Scene Reading:


Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Ma: Kyana Teresa
Pop: Steve Rizzo
Jackson: Sean Ballantyne


By matthewtoffolo

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

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