Interview with Screenwriter Jeff Sommer-Zervos (IN SILENCE)

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

The story follows Jamie Rommen, a man suffering in silence with grief, loneliness, and depression. The loss of his family weighs on him heavily a year later; still reliving the events of their death, alone in the new world of COVID quarantine. He’s out of work. Bills are piling up. His life falling apart.


Narrator: Val Cole
Jamie: Steve Rizzo
Laura: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Dr. Aegis/The Entity: Hannah Ehman
Elis: Geoff Mays

Get to know the writer:

1. What is your screenplay about?

In Silence is about a guy who struggles internally with depression and PTSD, stemming from a lifetime of mental and emotional abuse, exacerbated by the loss of his family over a short period of time. The purpose of the story is to show how the devastating effects of depressing and PTSD, both forms of brain trauma, can spiral out of control if not addressed. A lesser theme of the film shows the pitfall of the male mindset that says “I’m a man, I don’t need help”, “I can do it on my own”, which is a bunch of archaic non-sense that needs to go away. It’s OK to cry, guys. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. This story is inspired by my own experiences, so take my word for it. I am Jamie Rommen.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

I would put this screenplay under Drama, with a secondary genre of paranormal.

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

The conversation of depression, PTSD, and mental trauma needs to continue, and it needs to happen more often. If the story of In Silence, my story, can help in that endeavor, then let’s get it out there. If it helps even one person to speak out about what they’re feeling, if it helps to save even one person from getting to the point of suicide as Jamie did, then let’s get this film made. We need every voice, every story, every song, every poem, every painting. It can all make a huge difference.

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

I don’t think two words can properly sum up this script. It’s a very serious subject that deserves more attention than it gets. So, two words doesn’t do it justice.

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

Star Wars, the original 1977 version. Which is the only version that exists in my world. Han shot first. Always has. Always will.

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

I started writing In Silence a few years ago during my time at The Los Angeles Film School, where I got my Bachelor of Science degree in filmmaking. The version that I entered into the Los Angeles FEEDBACK & Screenplay Festival is the third draft. I have since written a fourth, which gives a little more insight into the relationship between Jamie and Laura.

7. How many stories have you written?

In Silence is my first completed story. I am currently working on a feature film about a girl who is haunted by past life experiences, and I’m developing an epic fantasy story that will follow a woman’s journey in search of her mother.

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

I have many favorite songs, over many different genres. I’m mainly an 80’s metal guy, so my first choice will be Powerslave by Iron Maiden.

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

While writing In Silence, which as I’ve said is inspired by my own experiences, I was dealing with my all too real struggles with depression, ptsd, emotional trauma. Like Jamie, I also lost my family over a very shot period. So, you can probably imagine how difficult it was to focus on the task of writing under such circumstances. There was also the new world of COVID seclusion to deal with, and on top of that trying to work on my degree in film. This story is only 20 pages, and it was probably the hardest thing I have ever done.

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

I love movies, music, and PC/Xbox gaming. All three provide a great deal of stress relief for me, which is something we all need. I also love my Jeep 😊

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

FilmFreeway has been a great experience. It’s super easy to find the festivals that best suit my work.

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

The initial feedback was really helpful. It’s what inspired me to write the fourth draft, which I completed recently.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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