Interview with Screenwriter Stuart Calloway (ONE YEAR IN AMHERST)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Stuart Calloway: The year 1969, and 15 year old Clark Calloway, because his father Calvin thinks he lacks a “work ethic,” goes to work at a gas station in Amherst. There he meets an older boy, Dan Mallow aka Tyro, who introduces him to marijuana. When Calvin discovers Clark’s drug use, they fall out. Later at the station Tyro extorts money from a customer, a 16 year old girl that Clark falls for; and in the resulting fallout from this theft/extortion both Clark and Tyro are forced to flee to a mountain hideout where Clark learns the truth about Tyro.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Family. Drama. Coming-of-Age. Teen romance.

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

Because PG-rated family movies can be big money makers. And because movies like “One Year In Amherst” can serve as an antidote to the obscenity, vulgarity and violence which currently dominates both film and television.

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

Authentic. Original.

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

“I, Claudius”, the BBC television adaptation of the Robert Graves’ novel.

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

I wrote the novella “One Year In Amherst” in 1981. I adapted it for film in 2017.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have written several stories and plays, in addition to one full-length novel, “Son of My Hope” (from which “One Year In Amherst” is excerpted). Almost all of my writing was done previous to 1985. After 1985, I had to go to work to support my wife and children. I retired from business in 2015.

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

I like Classical music. I also like to listen Broadway show tunes and other classic melodies sung by Linda Eder.

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

Getting back into the frame of mind I possessed when I first wrote the novella, in 1981.

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

I am a practicing Latter Day Saint (i.e. Mormon).

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

Film Freeway is a very nice interface. I only hope it is good for something other than winning awards (i.e., I would like to see my scripts produced).

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

After sitting in a drawer (literally) for over 30 years, I’m just trying to get my work out there.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

“One Year In Amherst” is a coming-of-age story with a dash of teen romance and sentimentality. The year is 1969 and 15 year old Clark is working at a gas station in Amherst. There he makes friends with an older boy, Dan Mallow aka Tyro, who introduces him to marijuana. When Clark’s father discovers this, they fall out. Later at the station, Tyro involves Clark in a theft, forcing them to flee to a mountain hideout where Clark learns the truth about Tyro.

CAST LIST:
Narrator: Carina Cojeen
Clark: Aaron WIlliams
Liz: Barb Scheffler
Calvin: Andrew Ball

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Interview with Screenwriter Reily Pilcher (Righteous Fury)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Reily Pilcher: It is about a young adult named Jeremy and his two friends, Lucy and Kayla. Jeremy gets dumped and ghosted by his ex boyfriend, who steals some of his possessions and his pet cat. His two friends decide to help him by breaking in to the ex’s apartment to take his stuff back.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

I would define it as a romantic comedy; the romance isn’t the focus of the screenplay, but love and relationships are major themes.


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

There is so little LGBT representation in film, and most of them are tragedies. I think this film is a much needed, light-hearted story that everyone could enjoy and LGBT people could see themselves in.

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

Friendly Heist

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

Definitely one of the Star Wars films, I’m not sure which one exactly but if I had to guess it’d be A New Hope. I would watch them all over and over as a kid, and I credit the series for helping me realize my passion for film.

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

I started writing it back in March of this year, intending to use it in a production or direction class in college. I finished it within the month, then went back and edited it in August once I decided to submit it.

7. How many stories have you written?

It depends on what you count as a story; I have pages and pages of ideas and concepts that I never fully fleshed out. I have written about 5 short scripts and I am currently working on my first feature script.

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

Right now, my favorite song is From Eden by Hozier. My favorite song changes day to day, but I usually listen to indie stuff, and have a particular passion for musicals.

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

Motivation was the biggest obstacle. I absolutely love writing, but my ADHD makes it difficult to stay focused on something long enough to complete it. Time was another; I am usually busy with classes and work, so I had to use bits and pieces of my free time to complete it.

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

My favorite activity is playing video games; I particularly love calming simulation games. I am passionate about other films and tv shows as well; I love seeing well-crafted stories and visuals. I try to be passionate about all the little things to enjoy in life, and it has made things a lot more fun.

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

It’s straightforward and easy to use; they advertise well since I was able to find it just by looking up film festivals with short script categories.

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

I first entered the log line submission category since it didn’t cost anything, and I received positive feedback. Because of this, I decided to pay for the submission for the reading and for the short script category, and I am very happy that my script has been doing so well!

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Jeremy has the best friends in the world, Kayla and Lucy, so it’s no surprise that when his ex steals his stuff and his cat, the two stick up for him…by planning a heist?

CAST LIST:

NARRATION – JULIE C. SHEPPARD
Jeremy – 12 – THOMAS FOURMIER

Interview with Screenwriter James Abney (PLAYING WITH CHOPSTICKS)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

James Abney: “Playing with Chopsticks” is a fish out of water story about Jimmy, an average white man, and Jenny, his beautiful Chinese girlfriend, and the cultural differences they experience as they date outside their normal bounds.

Problems arise after the meeting between him and her strict parents goes terribly wrong, forcing him to win back their respect, while trying to defeat her handsome suitor, all during her sister’s traditional Chinese wedding.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Romance, comedy

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

This movie should be made into a movie because it tells the true story of two people who, despite their cultural differences and family’s ethnocentrism, fell in love and nurtured a healthy and supportive relationship. Given the current cultural climate, I think a lot of people will be able to relate to this story.

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

Culture clash.

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

Batman (1989)

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

I’ve been working on this screenplay for about 7 years, starting it the year before I moved to Los Angeles.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written 16 screenplays.

8. What is your favorite song?

B.B.K. by Korn

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

The biggest obstacle I faced when finishing the screenplay was writing the “happy” ending after my real-life relationship, and inspiration for the screenplay, had just ended. Although me and her remain friends, it was difficult writing an ending that I knew was no longer true.

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

Although writing is my biggest passion, a close second is watching and cheering for the Green Bay Packers.

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

FilmFreeway is the only platform I use for festival submissions. I love their user-friendly dashboard and all of the features they offer for free.

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

I entered the festival because I wanted to see how my story would fare against other stories in my given genre. Being a pessimist, I was surprised, yet honored, to learn I had been selected to have a reading of my script. The feedback I received was very helpful and I used many of the notes on my next draft, which I also submitted for feedback.

 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

After the meeting between him and his Chinese girlfriend’s strict parents goes terribly wrong, one average white man is forced to win her parents respect, while trying to defeat her handsome suitor and former flame, all during her sister’s traditional Chinese wedding.

CAST LIST:

NARRATION – DIANA FRANZ
Evy (29) – 7 – SARAH DESOUZA-COELHO
Jimmy (20s) – 10 – THOMAS FOURMIER
Mary – 3 – JULIE C. SHEPPARD

 

Interview with Screenwriter Marshall Ferrin (Death Of A Revolutionary)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Marshall Ferrin: It is about a brilliant and driven French revolutionary who the ability to write a new chapter in his country’s rich history. But what begins as a battle for liberty, equality, and fraternity, becomes a vindictive quest for supremacy, power and money.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Historical Drama

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

It is actually an Episode, in a VOD mini-series. It should be made into a video film, as a “calling card” to attract the production of the other four episodes.

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

Radicals riot

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

Cold Mountain

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

This Episode, five months.

7. How many stories have you written?

Five, working on six.

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

Turn, Turn, Turn

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

A general bias towards the HIstorical Drama genre, compared to other genres e.g. Horror and Science Fictioin

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

Sailing on my yacht in the Caribbean

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

Very good, no complaints,

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

I believed it had an international focus or outreach.

The feed back on my script was a variance on the dozen or so sets of script notes I have received from other readers. Your festival notes were the most critical.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

This is the story of Georges Danton leading up to his execution.

CAST LIST:

NARRATION – DIANA FRANZ
Marat – 1 – GENE ABELA
St Just – 1 – THOMAS FOURMIER
Robespierre – 11 – SEAN BALLANTYNE

Interview with Screenwriter Marcus Russell (PERMUTATION)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Marcus Russell: This script is about the plight of marginalized people, specifically African Americans. English has been taken advantage of by processes he can barely comprehend. He cannot get good health care (to be taken seriously by his health care provider), he has a contentious relationship with the police and the possibility for him to truly be happy (and free) are determined by things out of his control.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s a drama. It communicates as noir, but it’s straight down the pipe drama.

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

The sense of loss and uneasiness that English experiences is something that millions of Americans will identify with. English. Though he’s been taken advantage of and become a victim of mind control, there are a small group of people that care about his plight and him as an individual. It’s a fable about how we’re not alone, even though it may appear to a very large extent that you are.

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

Unfortunate realization.

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

I’ve seen “Swingers” 40+ times in 35mm… and probably 25 times on DVD. It was a hugely influential movie for me. “La Femme Nikita” is a close second.

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

I’m a TV writer and we have to write quickly. I broke story and wrote this script in about 45 days. I started it in early march. April 30th it was finished.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’m assuming you’re referring to screenplays… I also write erotica and have a length history in that field. I have written 12 TV dramas (4 just this year). I’ve written 10 features (I started in features) and about 5 shorts. I’ve been screenwriting for 25 years.

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

“Don’t you worry ’bout a thing” – Stevie Wonder

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

I had a disastrous response to my last pilot and was ready to quit screenwriting all together. I decided then to write exactly what I wanted and to not give a damn about if it was good for festivals or fellowships (or managers). It was very difficult to get the voice correct for the genre of mind control while also giving it a traditional noir feel while making it hip hop conscious and imbuing the social commentary about African Americans and not make it overt.

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

Datsun Z cars, Racing, Hip Hop, Politics, weight lifting, weed

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

I was suspicious at first but I like film freeway, I especially liked the ability to become a gold member and reduce the cost of submitting. I like it but I don’t’ think you should try to directly compete with coverfly. They have a ratings system (coverfly score)… I think you need to develop a tracking/rating metric that would complement the coverfly score and get screenwriters/filmmakers to use both sites instead of making them decide. I like the way you track the submission and your use of icons to understand what’s happening with your script.

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

As a TV writer I was looking for places to submit for TV specs and pilots. There aren’t that many and I liked what you offered as prizes. I’ve been excited about the feedback I’ve received thus far, but the bulk of the feedback has yet to arrive.

Watch the Winning Screenplay Reading: 

Down-on-his-luck detective takes a dead-end case for the money…then he realizes that the person of interest looks exactly like him.

CAST LIST:

NARRATION – JULIE C. SHEPPARD
Dale (20s) – 8 – THOMAS FOURMIER
Judy – 6 – SARAH DESOUZA-COELHO
English (40s) – 15 – SEAN BALLANTYNE
Dir. Hammond (50s) – 3 – GENE ABELA

Interview with Screenwriter Tim Gale (PARTY OVER COUNTRY)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Tim Gale: A Republican candidate is sworn in as president of the united states, but he’s way more into partying than he is into doing his job or serving his globalist master. It’s pretty much White House meets Animal House.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy. But it does have some intrigue to it. How about a political comedy thriller? I’m good with that.

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

I’d actually like to have this green lit to be its own tv series because I have so much story to tell with these characters that a movie wouldn’t be able to encapsulate it properly. There’s plenty of character and plot development that I have written down and I truly believe that it would be a series that would not only make people laugh, but also get them to think a bit.

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

Irresponsible behavior.

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

I can’t even begin to fathom how many times I’ve watched Naked Gun.

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

I probably came up with the idea around May 2018. When I have a new plan for a script or a project, I always take a lot of notes detailing story lines, characters, jokes and ideas. This process does tend to take a while since I reflect on it for a while before I start the actual writing of the script. Any screenwriter will tell you that sometimes the hardest thing about writing is just starting it. Overall it probably took me around 3-4 months to write it since I would do rewrites. The second episode however didn’t take as long as I had a better understanding of my characters and environment.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written one feature script, one short film script, two episodes of this series, and am almost finished work on a spec script I’ve been working on for the past few weeks. I have a bunch of other projects waiting in the wings that I’m excited to get started on.

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

Bring Da Ruckus by Wu-Tang Clan is definitely my most played song ever. But what’s my favorite song? Tough call. There’s too many to name a definitive favorite, but I will say that Echoes by Pink Floyd is undeniably an incredible song.

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

Prior commitments and self doubt were probably the biggest challenges that I faced. I try not to have my friends or family read my work, so I feel super vulnerable during the process when it comes time to actually share it with professionals. It’s easy to doubt yourself while you’re working on a script, but you just gotta have faith in yourself and keep it pushing.

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

I’m really into music. Like really into it. I can’t play an instrument at all, but I can appreciate it all the same. I can literally talk about it non stop all day.

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

So far FilmFreeway has been a good resource for me to discover festivals and competitions that geared towards my specialty. It’s been very valuable for me and I’m going to continue to use it going forward for sure.

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

Since it was a festival that was specific to comedy, I felt that it was appropriate for myself to enter since I always felt like my strengths were in the comedy territory. I felt that if I got the approval from this festival, that I was truly on the right path. I’m constantly trying to be funny with my friends and make them laugh, so if I can do that for strangers, that’s even better.

Watch the Winning Screenplay Reading: 

An intolerable Republican candidate is voted in as President of the United States, but he seems more interested in partying than running the country, or taking orders from his ominous overlord.

CAST LIST:

NARRATION – SARAH DESOUZA-COELHO
Buzz – 5 – SEAN BALLANTYNE
Hope – 6 – JULIE C. SHEPPARD
Carson – 5 – GENE ABELA
Bryan – 3 – THOMAS FOURMIER
Val – 3 – DIANA FRANZ

Interview with Screenwriter Kayla Kristofco (BOJACK HORSEMAN)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Kayla Kristofco: This is a spec script of Bojack Horseman. The premise of the episode is when Bojack returns home from rehab, he discovers that Princess Carolyn has been meeting with other networks about picking up Philbert, so he enlists the help of Todd to prevent any progress, which puts a strain on the relationship between Bojack and Princess Carolyn.

2. What motivated you to write a BOJACK HORSEMAN script?

I’ve always wanted to try to write a spec script, and I really connect with the themes of Bojack Horseman. I’m drawn to interesting characters with realistic flaws, which makes this show a great fit. So I thought that I would try to write an episode of this show because I wanted to challenge myself to get in the minds of these characters.

3. How does this screenplay fit into the context of the show?

This screenplay is meant to come right after the end of Season 5 of the show. So it would be the hypothetical first episode of Season 6 (which hasn’t come out yet as of writing this). I thought that my script could be a progression of the things that were set up in Season 5. At the end of the most recent season, Bojack decides to take the steps to be a better person, so now the audience should see how and if he is able to stick to that in a world where things keep moving forward and he is expected to get on board.

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

This script in two words: Lively, Emotional

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

I have probably seen Wet Hot American Summer the most times in my life.

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

I worked on this screenplay for about 4 months.

7. How many stories have you written?

Including this spec script, I have written around eleven scripts or treatments. Two are for feature-length films and the rest are shorts. I have also written about four short stories.

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

It’s really hard to pick a favorite song, but I guess that my current favorite song – or at least one that I listen to a lot – is Santa Cruz by The Vaughns.

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

One aspect that’s really cool about Bojack Horseman, and a lot of other newer TV shows, is that it is very plot based. That being said, it was hard to come up with an engaging plot that seems like it was a logical place for the show to go in the future and that still felt like a typical episode of Bojack Horseman. It also took a lot of writing and rewriting to have the characters’ voices in this episode match their voices in the rest of the show, and to find original actions that are authentic to these already established characters.

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

I’m pretty passionate about music. I am a music director and a DJ for WMUH, the radio station at Muhlenberg College.

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

Entering this screenplay was the first time I actually submitted anything through FilmFreeway. It’s been great! It’s very easy to find festivals, submit, and check up on the status of submissions through the site.

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

I was just looking around for festivals that would accept spec scripts, and I was also looking for a festival that would provide feedback. I thought that the feedback I got was very helpful and encouraging. There were concrete examples of areas in which I can improve. I will definitely use the advice for future screenplays.

Watch the Screenplay Reading;

Overview: One of the best things about this script is that you were willing to take chances and they certainly paid off. Bojack, Princess Carolyn, Diane, and Todd are at the core of this episode. Each begins with very different expectations and perspectives than they end with and the overall plotline is something that fans will immediately connect with.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Andrea Irwin Irwin Irwin

Waiter: Thomas Fournier
Mr. Peanutbutter: Jolly Amaoko
Diane: Delphine Roussel
Bojack Annaleigh: Steven Holmberg
Princess Carolyn: Katelyn Varadi
Todd: Logan Forsyth Freeman