Interview with Screenwriter Pilar Gibson (OFF THE RACK)

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

Desperate to break into the New York fashion scene of the 1970s, a struggling designer funds her clothing line by teaming up with an ex-model to counterfeit luxury clothes.


Narrator: Sean Ballantyne
Dreenie: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Alice: Kyana Teresa
Toni: Hannah Ehman

Get to know the writer:

1. What is your screenplay about?

The fashion industry is treacherous in its style — blood, sweat, and tears. Work hard to be the best, and prove you know what it takes to be a great designer. Know the trends, colors, and fabric; hopefully, with talent and hard work, it will get you where you want to be. Even the “American Dream” is sewn into the foundational fabric of couture. Unless you’re Black and broke, scratch that. Black, broke and living in 1970s Harlem, New York. Through the lens of our goal-driven designer, DREENIE DAVIS, we see a designer’s experience trying to make it in the fashion scene. With Exciting runway shows, elaborate outfits, and drama, the story paints a picture of how hard Black designers had to work just to be considered for their talent and how much they were willing to do to overcome adversity.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy and Drama.

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

This screenplay should be made into a movie because there have been shows and movies about the world of fashion, but most have been following the same narrative A white girl getting the internship of dreams and working with the best of the best in fashion. Off the Rack shows a different view of breaking in the fashion world that we have not seen. How designers of color, in this case Black designers, had to find ways to make their mark in the industry even if that means breaking the rules. This show will not give the typical glitz and glamor of the fashion world.

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

Colorful and gritty.

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

The movie I’ve seen the most times in my life is Mean Girls.

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

I finished the first draft in 3 weeks and for the rest of the year I did rewrites.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have written six stories and am planning to write more.

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

My favorite song has been Fantastic Voyage by Lakeside. My family introduced me to a lot of old school hits and Fantastic Voyage has always been a song that I would have me cut up on the dance floor.

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

The obstacles I faced while finishing the script were fleshing out the dialogue. I wanted to explain enough, especially the characters’ circumstances, without explaining too much. I feel like every writer has some trouble with finding that balance.

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

I’m passionate about healthcare. Right now, I’m a grad student studying Health Informatics which is the studying of information technology in the healthcare setting. I want to use this degree to promote health equity in low-income hospitals that do not have access to the most up-to-date systems which can affect patient experience and procedures.

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

My experiences have been great.

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

What influenced me to enter the festival was that it was female focused, so I knew my story was going to be valued differently than other competitions. As a Black writer, I’m always hesitant about screenplay competitions and festivals because I feel like my stories aren’t being considered. When I look at the winners or semifinalists, it’s mostly white men or white writers in general, so that has discouraged me from sharing my work. I loved the feedback I got. It’s the first time I felt like my script was read thoroughly and the story was understood.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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