Interview with Screenwriter McCaleb Burnett (A VACATION)

1. What is your screenplay about?

A relationship in flux, and the strange circumstances in which they find themselves

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Horror, I suppose?

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

I hope it’s very visual. The mis en scene tells much of the story of the voice we’re hearing.

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

Haunted relationship.

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

The Parralax View or when Harry Met Sally.

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

Three months?

7. How many stories have you written?

6 or 7.

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

That’s an impossible question. I suppose Strange Weather by Waits or Blue in Green from Miles Davis.

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

COVID! And my own ineptitude.

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

My work. I’ve been working as an actor for 20 years. My partner, who I’ve been with for most of this last decade. She is the best thing that’s happened to me. My dog, rooster. She loves us a lot.

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

They have been great.

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

I am in a writers group with many folks more accomplished than me. They encouraged me. I think I’ve been a finalist in 7 or eight and won two. The feedback was incredibly useful.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

A weekend away. What could be better?

CAST LIST:
Narration: Steve Rizzo
VO: Julie Sheppard
HE: Shawn Devlin
SHE: Kyana Teresa

Interview with Filmmaker Tom Tanquary (HAND DRAWN LIFE)

HAND DRAWN LIFE was the 2020 feature film DOCUMENTARY Festival winner.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

At an very early age I became aware of the comics, or funny pages in the paper. They were this wonderful world that came to the house every day. As I got older, I fell in love with Pogo. But I noticed the way Walter Kelly drew his characters they seemed familiar to me from TV news shows, which I also loved to watch. That connection made both the news and cartoons more interesting. I ended up in a career as a journalist and film maker. I just always wanted to give back to an art form that gave me so much joy, inspired my career, and still inspires my work to this day.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

I started off just shooting “test” footage to get a work sample. From there I thought I could raise the cash to make it a real production. No one would give me money. But I met historian RC Harvey in the process. He was such a character I just had to keep going. That was 11 years ago. The film was shot on 6 different cameras and 5 different formats over the years. The post for it took 2 years alone.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Sequential art

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

It is easy to say money because that is what so many things come down to. But really it was access. Worming my way into such a private and insular society, and gaining their trust, took most of the time and effort. With few exceptions, these artists are very closed off from any semblance of celebrity. They work at home and live very ordinary lives. They are the ultimate observers and rarely the participants. And I was the ultimate outsider.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Of course, I was blown away by their comments. And I have to say, a bit surprised at how young they were. I wasn’t sure talking about such a seemingly old art form would have any meaning in this age of light speed communication. But they all showed a deep understanding of what I was trying to say/show. They could see how this form isn’t stagnant. That it changes and evolves with the times. That we are all truly hard wired to think and see in sequential art regardless of the medium. And that it takes a real talent to do it in 4 simple boxes and a few words. They got it.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Once I came to understand the relationship among the artist, the newspaper, and reader, I knew I had to just connect the dots. It made for a longer film but to truly appreciate the art form you needed to see it from a higher altitude, a bigger picture. The story had a natural beginning, middle and end with everything connected. It might be old fashioned to be that linear, but sometimes that’s the best way to explain something.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

It’s cliché but Citizen Kane. There are 100s of great movies out there but it always helps to review what so many consider the best… because perhaps it is.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

It’s great there’s place like FilmFreeway to take so much of the work and frustration out of the submission process. Not to mention making us aware of all the festivals and outlets there are for our work. What a wonderful service.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

More than likely The Rolling Stones “Give Me Shelter.” It came out at a very transformative time in my life and sort of set the scene for the rest of it.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

There’s always another film in the works. I also have several production partners and we’re pitching shows and docs in Hollywood all the time. It’s what you do here. More importantly though, I’m now a professor at Chapman University’s Dodge film school. What I hope I’m doing there is inspiring young talent to reach for the impossible and create the next generation of master works.

Interview with Filmmaker Monique Lola Berkley (I HATE THIS FKN JOB)

I HATE THIS FKN JOB played to rave reviews at the November 2020 FEEDBACK Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I was motivated to make this film as a challenge to myself. As the film somewhat depicts pieces of my life I began to really take note that I wasn’t alone. I’d witness the disrespect of women of color throughout various business environments. It’s never cool and it was happening to me and I just decided to write about it and go the extra step and try filming it. I have a background in performing arts and so I am knowledgeable about producing a project. The challenge for me was getting actors/crew involved then securing locations and of course having the funds to pull it off.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

The idea was born during the fall of 2017. I began to write the short and we began production in March of 2018. Post production was probably the biggest challenge but we got through during late fall of 2019.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Social comedy

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The post period was the most difficult unit to this short film. There were constant actor requests, hard drive issues, editing problems, personal and financial matters. I have a running joke that I’d like to share…”If you want to know who is really 100% in your corner…just make a film. I guarantee everyone you thought would support you (not financially) but in the ways human beings need support in life, they will fail to show up.” It’s eye-opening.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I felt a sense of gratitude. Having the audience understand the author’s plea to see Naima as a human being seeking a warranted place within the real world and not that we were shaming folks. However, sadly the real world isn’t quite ready for Naima’s contributions or her individuality and what makes her the dynamic, articulate, professional being that she is. The piece isn’t to humiliate a culture but hopefully open up those long overdue discussions.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

The idea came from my personal work experiences but also the experiences of so many other hard working women of color that are out there in the workforce. Also, with a growing number of women directors emerging, I wanted to try my hand at directing a short film.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

So many of my faves such as: The Shining, Scarface, Carrie, The Color Purple and Purple Rain. No matter how many times I’ve seen them I always watch them every chance I get.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

With this being my first go-round, I find FilmFreeway to be a pretty easy portal. It houses your work, provides up to date details as well as helps to keep you informed of upcoming openings/deadlines, etc all important details for filmmakers. It keeps you on track. So FilmFreeway from my perspective is pretty amazing.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Any music by Michael Jackson or Marvin Gaye.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I’m working on Jamilah Speaks. This is a short to encourage teen entrepreneurship. It is important to start building the minds of our youth and provide vision for their life’s trajectory.

Interview with Filmmaker Rayan Cedric Haddad (THE SOURCE)

THE SOURCE was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the November 2020 STUDENT Feedback Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

The intention is to tell a Human Story, not Manichean, full of twists and turns in the dramaturgy, in which the main character evolves in a fairly short duration. While being faithful to the principle of treating with Coherence, Facts and Likelihood the subject of Hypnosis / Hypnotherapy.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

Research, writing, filming, post-production, conclusion. 6 months.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words?

Simple and Complex.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The Music. Major Element Emotionally expressing Tommy’s Transformation.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I am very Grateful, Honored, Touched, full of Confidence and Motivation in the Future for more Ambitious Projects to come. I am more and more Confident in the Future. Glad to receive you constructive Feedback from you with Benevolence and Professionalism.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

When I practiced Hypnosis with my mother and discovered these caring and transformative abilities. How the acceleration of the Transformation process can prove to be accomplished and observable in a very short period of time.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Too many Films. I can make an incomplete List.🎬🎥🎞
-The Shawshank Redemption (1994) from Frank Darabont. Symbol of Hope.
-The Green Mile (1999) from Frank Darabont.
-Forrest Gump (1994) from Robert Zemeckis.
-Fly Over a Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) from Milos Forman. Wonderful.
-The Silence of the Lambs (1991) from Jonathan Demme.
-Princess Mononoke (1997) from Hayao Miyazaki.
-Spider-Man (2002) / Spider-Man 2 (2004) from Sam Raimi. Movies Who Awakes the Superhero Inside Souls.
-Taxi Driver (1976) from Martin Scorsese.
Like I say. An incomplete list…😅

8. You submitted to the Festival via FilmFreeway, what are your feelings about the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

The Best way to start the submission with Benevolence, Conviction, Humility and Wisdom.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

There are too many songs that I have listened to and inspired my Life. Specially Movie Score Composer Soundtracks. And the List will be Incomplete again.🙂
O-Zone – Dragostea Din Tei
Bastille – Icarus
Linkin Park Songs – What I’ve Done / Numb / In the End / Breaking my Habits / Powerless
Coldplay – Talk / Hymn for the Weekend feat. Beyoncé
Indina Menzel – “A Hero Comes Home” from the Movie Beowulf (2007)
Etc…🎼🎵🎶

10. What is next for you? A new film?

Sure. I’m enthusiastic to make an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Othello in the Modern era. Cinematography Adaptation into Movie Big Screen.

Interview with Filmmaker JP Snell (FREE)

FREE played to rave reviews at the November 2020 Feedback Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I wanted to make something fun and funny that could be accepted on an International platform. Plus, I wanted to show a strong female lead as a role model for my daughter and honoring my mother, wife, and the other strong women in my life.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

Three years.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Quaintly Entertaining.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Language. Our crew and talent had representation from 5 countries.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I cried.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I started with an ethos of ‘Shorter is Better’, and in 2016 (we were living in Amman, Jordan), I felt like it was the Year of The Woman… then there was an election, and I put that idea away. Two years later (we were living in Finland), a foreign diplomate with a history of misogynistic statements and actions came to visit, and that spark of an idea became a flame.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

The Princess Bride

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I love it. I’m old enough to remember a different boxless festival submission platform that was not nearly as responsive to filmmakers.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Redemption Song – Bob Marley

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I’m writing, producing, and directing commercials for small businesses, and I have 3 short projects in mind, a comedy, a drama, and a documentary. Not sure which one will break thru and make it to the page, set, and screen.

Interview with Screenwriter Ery De Jong (DREAM NO MORE)

1. What is your screenplay about?

Here’s the logline for “Dream No More”: After a meteor impact, a lesbian couple and their daughter move onto a sailboat to escape civilization’s end, only to realize that an alien force is hunting them through their nightmares. It’s a really unique hook. I think a reader (or viewer) knows instantly whether they’re going to be game for something that wild.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Horror. Science Fiction. Some epic weirdness thrown in. “Dream No More” takes place inside nightmares; we can have some fun! Oh, I don’t know if these are genres, but it’s “diverse”. It has an all-female cast. All BIPOC. Fully-realized LGBTQ family. It features characters with disabilities. It passes *all* the new Bechdel-style tests. I’m very proud of that.

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

First answer: why not? Second answer: because we need more movies with brains, heart, (lots of guts), and diversity on the screen.

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

Mind f***. Or is that one word?

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

Possibly “12 Monkeys”. One of the best films ever made.

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

Going back to the root ideas for “Dream No More”… it’s been decades. I’m proud to see the story evolve the way it has.

7. How many stories have you written?

Altogether, in all forms, more than 1,000. (Insane, I know.)

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

I have a song that I tell people represents the peak of musicianship, of art, of mentalism, and it’s Tool’s “Schism”. The song I’ve listened to the most in my life might be Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome To The Jungle”. Blame radio overplay. That last sentence shows my age.

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

Well, I’m disabled – I suffer from Crohn’s Disease. For those who don’t know about IBD/Crohn’s/Ulcerative Colitis – to simplify it – your digestive system is always inflamed. You can’t eat. You’re in constant pain (think stomachache / food poisoning). And then you have no energy because you’ve stopped eating. Crohn’s Disease took my filmmaking career and most of my adult life. It took me years to learn to adjust. It took me years to learn to walk again, live again, eat (selectively) again. And once you get done rescheduling your entire world around that black hole, only then did I find the ability to write again. All during the quiet minutes. So the obstacle here is my own condition.

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

Politics. Activism. The world needs tangible changes, and soon. I wouldn’t mind being a part of that.

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

It’s a fantastic resource for writers. I’ve had no bad experiences.

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

Pure intuition… I was scrolling through FilmFreeway and, hey, I’ve got an LGBTQ story here… I’ll give it a whirl! And I won! And… winning feels great!

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

After a meteor impact, a lesbian couple and their daughter move onto a sailboat to escape civilization’s end, only to realize that an alien force is hunting them through their nightmares.

CAST LIST:
Aya: Val Cole
Emmy: Julie Sheppard

Interview with Screenwriter Geraint Horwood (THE SIMPSONS ‘Live and Let D’oh!’)

1. What is your screenplay about?

It’s a spec episode of The Simpsons entitled ‘Live And Let D’oh!’, in which James Bond infiltrates Mr Burns’ power plant, to thwart one of Burn’s evil schemes, and ends up as Homer Simpsons’ assistant.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

TV spec (Comedy, Animation)

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a TV episode?

Because I love The Simpsons! And because, although Homer has interacted briefly with James Bond in the past, they never got the chance to share a martini and a donut.

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

Very, very funny… d’oh!

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

The Simpsons Movie of course!

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

For about 6 months whilst working on various original scripts and projects.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written about two dozen feature scripts and about half a dozen TV pilots.

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

Other than The Simpsons theme?! – probably Queen’s ‘It’s A Kind Of Magic’, which featured in one of my favourite movies – Highlander.

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

I was working on a number of original projects at the same time, so finding the time to work on a spec that I was mostly writing for my own enjoyment was a challenge.

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

Watching films and TV, writing, travelling and ‘expanding my consciousness’.

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

I found it a bit complicated in comparison to sites like Film Freeway.

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

This was one of the few contests where I could enter a Simpsons spec, and I was really excited by the idea of seeing my episode performed. The feedback was extremely helpful and really helped me improve the script.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

CAST LIST:
Narrator: Allison Kampf
M (F): Julie Sheppard
BOND/Bart (M): Geoff Mays
Homer (M): Allan Michael Brunet
Marge/Lisa (F): Alicia Payne

Interview with Screenwriter Anthony Catino (Neighbor Versus Neighbor)

1. What is your screenplay about?

The story is about the insidious nature of government oppression and how blind we are to the methods government and political parties use to retain power.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

For this proof of concept, drama. However, the concept as a feature would be developed into a thriller incorporating much more of the dystopian world they live including the culpability of the media who miserably fail the country’s citizens it professes to protect.

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

The story is an allegory having its roots in current events paralleling acts of the East German Communist government. Namely, the East German Stasi that pitted its citizens against one another ultimately developing a network of 250,000+ rats… sorry, informants. That’s in a population of 16.4 million. All of those rats vying for a few crumbles of privilege dispensed by corrupt government officials.

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

Question authority.

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

The Matrix

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

This short came out fully formed and written over a weekend.

7. How many stories have you written?

Many shorts and features. You can visit anthonycatino.com to see some.

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

Every little thing she does is magic by the Police.

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

It was written during the first virus lockdown.

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

My sons. They have been a source of concepts, advice, blunt criticism and hilarity.

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

I only use FilmFreeway. Stupid fast and easy. The way I like it.

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

This is an interesting and timely question. These days you can’t help but feel writers are being told what to write and who can/can’t write what due to extreme political correctness. It’s censorship in its most insidious form. It’s happened to me recently with Neighbor Versus Neighbor feedback I received from a big brand name contest. It made me furious when I was told to change my characters and how they spoke and acted! Fuck that.

Two days later when I received feedback from your contest and compared it against the brand name contest, it was black and white. While their reader’s feedback was obsessive, focusing solely on the 2 black characters to who played supporting roles, your group’s feedback honed in on what the story was communicating. I’d go further and say the brand name contest’s reader provided feedback based solely on their personal sociopolitical views. Repulsive. The thoughtful questions I received from your reader’s feedback were exceptional. I took them to heart and rewrote the script which resulted in more depth to the story.

The quality of the feedback from your readers tells me they are pros and I appreciate the independent mindedness without the influence of political correctness. I highly recommend your contest for this reason as this is the foundation of film as an art. Without it, we’re all East German writers.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

Wracked with guilt, a former East German Stasi officer who enforced tyranny and destroyed lives – including his own family – uses current events as a chance for redemption to fight government oppression.

CAST LIST:
Anneliese: Julie Sheppard
Frank: Geoff Mays
Martin: Shawn Devlin
Brianna: Hannah Ehman
Esf Agent/Desmond: Bill Poulin

Interview with Filmmaker Dana Mor Katz (A BROKEN WING)

A BROKEN WING played to rave reviews at the November 2020 Drama Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

The desire to tell a story and touch people’s hearts.

I’m a master’s-degree graduate student in film. It had been my freshman year and this film is the first one I produced.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

The entire process took me about 3 months.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

A Broken Wing (or in one word – a discord)

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The work on the sound editing of the film was something that I didn’t have enough experience in.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

My heart was beating a bit faster and I couldn’t stop smiling 🙂

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I wanted to write a story for a film that I’d like to watch, a film that would touch my heart, and I naturally started writing about the dynamics of a mother and daughter relationship…

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Back to the Future

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

In my mind It’s perfect and makes my life easier, especially when dealing with two small children, intense studies and a full-time job.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Possibly “Lost on you” – LP

10. What is next for you? A new film?

Yes.

I’m working on a film that will narrate the story of a woman and a mother at the height of her career who receives the news that she’s seriously ill and the whole film will be engaged with her having to process it.

Interview with Filmmaker Ivory Leonard IV (THE BLACK EXPERIENCE IN AMERICA: PAST)

THE BLACK EXPERIENCE IN AMERICA: PAST was the winner of BEST SOUND & MUSIC at the November 2020 Feedback Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Social change.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

Four years.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Well needed.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Overcoming anger from the research.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Gratitude. The film was intended to create discomfort through factual information. I’m grateful that the vision maintained its integrity.

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

In response to Trayvon Martin, I wanted to bring awareness to the structures that are in place. Change happens through awareness, which births a new perspective.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Hercules.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

It’s a well resourceful platform for upcoming and established filmmakers. I’ve had successes through it.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Chris Brown- Run it.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I just established my own business, Sankofa1619, LLC., http://www.sankofa1619.com,

(IG: @sankofa1619). I’m currently working on Sankofa1619: Children’s Book series. My first Children’s book, “Who can I be?”, is currently up for pre-order, with a release date January 11th, 2021 on Amazon. At the moment, a few other developments are underway, but my primary focus are my books.