Interview with Screenwriter Montgomery Burt (THE GIRL ON THE SKYTRAIN)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Montgomery Burt: During an early morning trip on the commuter train, a good samaritan tries to help a naive young woman seemingly headed for trouble but she doesn’t want his help.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama.

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

The interaction between the two main characters reflects what’s going on in life—young people not questioning what may be an “opportunity” they found on the internet.

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

Two perspectives.

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

North by Northwest.

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

A few months. About five drafts.

7. How many stories have you written?

Many. I’ve been writing since I was fourteen.


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

I have hundreds of CDs with thousands of songs but my favorite is Los Super Seven’s debut album.

https://www.allmusic.com/album/los-super-seven-mw0000040720

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

Having it workshopped at my screenwriters group, Upwords. It’s a true story so I tried to work within the confines of what actually happened and still make it dramatic and interesting. Three of my colleagues, when they were younger, got into creepy situations with photographers and they explained why they overlooked any danger for the prospect of fame.

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

Music, movies, travel, volunteering at our local animal shelter. I team up with directors to make shorts. Here is our most recent, a short comedy directed by Tabatha Golat called “The United Guys Network.”

https://www.storyhive.com/project/show/id/783?fbt=share

This is the proposal for our next project:

http://www.thefilmcollaborative.org/fiscalsponsorship/projects/dougiedog

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

Excellent. It’s easy use and quite dependable with notifications. Service is good, too. When I informed them of a possible scam festival, for example, they looked into the matter right away.

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

I wanted the challenge of writing a short script with few characters and limited locations.

The written feedback I received was excellent.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

During an early morning trip on the commuter train, a good samaritan tries to help a naive young woman seemingly headed for trouble but she doesn’t want his help.

CAST LIST:
Automated voice – 2 – OLIVIA BARRETT
NARRATION – JUSTIN DESOUZA
Sean – 24 – DANIEL JONES
Carly – 21 – CASSANDRA GUTHRIE

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Interview with Screenwriter Andrew Fisk (GEEKS: A LOVE STORY)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Andrew Fisk: “Geeks” is a David versus Goliath story that takes place in the Silicon Valley. When a corporate buyout takes place, the employees of the company that was taken over are all laid off and their products are stolen.

A group of five laid-off employees band together to start their own company and create a fantastic virtual reality chamber. The president of the mega-corporation that nearly ruined their lives sees them as a threat and results to a number of underhanded, humiliating and illegal tactics to stop them.

Their ability to fight back and triumph over the larger corporation is the core of this story. The title is “Geeks: A Love Story” because the conflict brings people together to form relationships who might not have met without it. They succeed by teamwork, friendship and sacrifice.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy, romantic comedy and even science fiction. The final battle between the five entrepreneurs and the mega-corporation takes place in a virtual reality environment similar to the battles in “The Matrix.” I see this story as a metaphor for corporate warfare and the survival of the individual.

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

The characters are interesting and varied. The original five rebels against the mega-corporation include Shannon Blake, a punk rocker/programmer, and India Moonpeace, a counterculture/new age personality in her seventies. Todd Bergstrom, the inventor of the virtual reality chamber, is forced to come out of his emotional bubble and become a leader.

The CEO of the mega-corporation, Geoffrey Sterling, is a composite of the stereotypical narcissistic, scheming Silicon Valley executives.
The special effects possibilities for this movie are huge. The virtual reality chamber can create entire 3D worlds that people can journey into. Do you want to explore the Amazon jungle? No problem. Go surfing on hundred foot waves? Got you covered.

I think this movie offers a realistic view of corporate life as well. Despite the glossy overhyped picture that some large companies like to present, a lot of them really are horrible places to work. The five rebels are told again and again by their CEOs that everything about their company is wonderful. They walk in the next morning and find out they do not have jobs and the company is closing down. This has happened to me and I want to portray this experience on the big screen.

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

Wild fun.

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

Probably Blade Runner (the original). Followed by Forrest Gump, Dr. Strangelove, Aliens and To Live and Die in L.A.

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

It only seems like forever. I wrote the first draft a few years ago. The version that exists today is very different from the original. The characters are the same but the way the story is presented has changed.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have written five feature length screenplays, a thirteen-episode science fiction limited series and nine short scripts ranging from five minutes to thirty minutes.

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

“Rainy Night in Georgia” sung by Brook Benton, written by Tony Joe White.

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

Mainly, it was my fear of rewriting and rewriting until the story was just the way it should be. Someone said that art is never really finished…at some point it is abandoned. Even after a number of rewrites it just didn’t have the right vibe. I worried that it never would and at some point I would have to abandon it. But now I am completely happy with the latest version.

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

Being outdoors. Hiking, ocean kayaking, exploring new territory and college football.

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

I find that Film Freeway is complicated and exasperating to work with. Several times I have decided not to enter a screenplay contest because I know I will have to go through the Film Freeway maze again.

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

WILDsound did a reading of another feature length screenplay of mine, as well as some other creative works. So this was certainly an incentive. The feedback I received for “Geeks” was incredibly helpful. It let me see the screenplay in a way I had not seen before and got my brain moving in a new direction. I got rid of all the scenes that were slowing the story down and streamlined it. This screenplay is so much better now than it was a few months ago.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

CAST LIST:

SHANNON – 3 – ETHEL ABRAY
NARRATION – TED POWERS
TODD – 11 – DANIEL JONES
CD NARRATOR – 8 – OLIVIA BARRETT

Interview with Screenwriter Michael D’Ambrosio (Princess Pain)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Michael D’Ambrosio: Princess Pain is about a black market courier who renegs on a special delivery, drawing the ire of the black market entities, law enforcement and mercenaries who want the package at any cost. When her real identity is discovered, the stakes are raised as some want her dead; others want her alive.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

(Futuristic) action, sci-fi

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

I believe Marina is a character that viewers would want to see. Her story is a scarred one beginning with her hatred toward her missing parents believing that they abandoned her at an early age. She lives for pain as a means of dealing with her loneliness, possibly wanting to die as well, based on her extreme actions. The action scenes are dramatic and in the final showdown between her and the man who hunts her, she learns that it was he who murdered her parents, driving her to exact her revenge and accept that her whole life was a lie.

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

Intense and Angry

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

5th Element with Bruce Willis. A little sci-fi, fantasy, humor and lots of action

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

2 years

7. How many stories have you written?

11 novels and 7 screenplays. Always close with the screenplays but no cigar.

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

Bloody Reunion – Molly Hatchet

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

How to find the best resolution to the story. There was a lot going on and I wanted to capture all of it.

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

Anything exciting or futuristic. I love technology especially in regards to space.

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

It’s well-organized and easy to use.

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

  Originally I wasn’t a fan of contests as winning doesn’t guarantee a movie deal. I have realized, however, that by winning or placing in a contest, buyers can see that the script is quality.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Marina is a cold-hearted courier of contraband who likes to play rough. Her life as a loner is just fine until the delivery of a flash drive with stolen weapons technology ends her alias and makes her the target of a power-hungry militia leader who wants her alive, and his sultry assassin lover who wants her dead. The action-filled chase across the sector with two unlikely allies melts the ice off her heart and leads her to a secret that changes everything she ever stood for. Nothing is easy with Marina as she drives everyone crazy with her anger-driven arrogance and stubbornness, including Britt, the militia captain, who falls in love with her.

CAST LIST:

Balthus – 3 – TED POWERS
Sonia – 2 – ETHEL ABRAY
NARRATION – OLIVIA BARRETT
Jerrold – 2 – DANIEL JONES
Marina – 7 – CASSANDRA GUTHRIE

Interview with Screenwriter Sean Sullivan (THE UPSIDE DOWNINGS)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Sean Sullivan: The Upside Downings are about the ups and downs of family parenting. In this show the family is flopped so the kids are the adults and the parents are the kids. Nobody realizes the difference.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Sitcom.

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

I’ve written many screenplays for a solid 5 years now. I have landed on a solid concept and feel this format is incredibly funny. Someone described it a lightning bolt of creativity.

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

Family Flipped

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

I’ve seenThe Godfather probably the most in my life. It’s usually on in the spring around wedding season. I actually bought the DVD on my wedding day in 2002. I got a divorce 4 years later. Little did I know.

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

I’ve been working on this screenplay for about a year.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written about seven screenplays.

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

I’ve listened to the song Hotel California the most in my life.

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

This script didn’t have many obstacles. I think the conceptual part was the biggest maybe because at first I just wanted adults as kids but the parents to still be adults. Then when I made the parents kids it really came to life.

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

I am passionate about art and design. I love a great piece of art.

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

Film Freeway has been great to get quick submissions and exposure.

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

I liked the festival name and the easy online form for sitcoms. I did like the readings too and the price was manageable. The feedback was on point.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

An untraditional family where the kids are adults and the parents are kids navigate through their work, school and home lives while never losing their sense of humor.

CAST LIST:

Kate: Victoria Murdoch
Narration: Carina Cojeen
Howard: Ross Cummings
Carol: Leanne Hoffman
Billy: Sean Ballantyne

Interview with Screenwriter Neal Doran (CHANGES)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Neil Doran: It’s about Toby, a 12-year-old boy, just on the verge of awkwardness, who falls for a girl on his Tube journey home from school and must overcome shyness, cockier rivals, and an over-protective parent to go on his first date.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Almost-coming-of-age drama.

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

I think it deals with a time of life we all go through that usually doesn’t get that much attention. Battling through adolescence to adulthood, sure. But that point where we go from kid to teenager, when we first start seeing the potential for our own identity? I think that could use more films.

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

Awkward. Hopeful.

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

Manhattan.

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

The idea first popped up around seven years ago and Toby’s father, who isn’t even in the final script, was the main character. While it knocked around in my head for a few years, I’d say I spent 6-9 months in 2018 putting it together as it is now.

7. How many stories have you written?

Two novels, half a failed narrative series, one short script, and two features, with another in the works.

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

Rosalita by Bruce Springsteen when feeling particularly cheerful, and Goodbye to Love by Carpenters when feeling particularly melancholic. It varies for all points in between.

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

The thought: who cares? It’s such a small story; Toby’s just a kid. He’s not a boy-wizard, or terminally ill, or especially gifted in any way. And although it had an emotional punch for me, it was difficult to imagine anyone else connecting with it.

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

The triumvirate of passions would be writing, running, and family. There’s only one of those that I don’t also actively attempt to avoid.

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

All good. Easy to use, clear, and showing up opportunities I would otherwise have missed.

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

The idea of the table-read was really appealing – to hear how the script might (or might not) flow was a great opportunity. And the cast did a great job!

When the initial feedback came in I was obviously delighted and relieved that a story about a young boy’s London Underground journey home had connected in some way with someone (presumably) a little older and in a different country.
 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Toby is a typical gamer kid approaching the woes of puberty. The after school routine with his bookish friend Nic is spent navigating the London tube line trying to figure the most efficient route to make the infamous 1609 train. However, when one of the popular kids start riding the tube with them they become increasingly involved with a group of girls from another school travelling the same way.

CAST LIST:

Various: Sean Ballantyne
Clare: Leanne Hoffman
Nik: Caleb Jaques
Chris: Ross Cummings
Narration: Carina Cojeen
Toby: Aaron Williams
Jen: Victoria Murdoch
Mandy/Smiley: Natalie Morgan

Interview with Screenwriter James Greasley (THE EMERGENCE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

James Greasley: How would the human race react if five uninhabited planets mysteriously appeared around Earth? This question is what our trio ( an ex-military officer, a researcher and a techie) are tasked to discover when hired by a private firm owned by a menacing corporate titan. After years of searching for answers, our team is finally given one, only for it to be stolen by a futuristic thief. This coupled with the mysterious planet Kal. A planet that no one has been to and survived to tell the tale, with exception of our protagonist. After our teams information is stolen, they struggle to re-coup. In the end they meet one last obstacle, one of the planets completely disappears, leaving one last question. What do we do now?

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Sci-Fi/Adventure

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

This screenplay was more designed to be a TV-pilot. I believe this script is a phenomenal candidate to make an extremely captivating series. The opportunity to explore many different planets leads to lots of moments for pure discovery, adventure and fun. These are also very real, relate-able characters. Following them through space and time would be nothing but an amazing journey.

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

Adventurous, fun.

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

That’s a tough one. It would have to come down to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Oceans eleven and an assortment of the Avengers might be making a close contender.

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

This particular piece took me approximately six months to complete fully.

7. How many stories have you written?

Six total at this moment, currently outlining my seventh.

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

Not sure if I can answer that, I will just give you my most frequent genres: Country, old school hip-hop, and some down tempo D & B

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

What obstacles did I not face haha? Honestly I would say it would come down to a couple of things. The first one was creating characters people would actually care about. Characters people could identify with in one way or another. The second major one was world building. Creating multiple new planets to the solar system in the future, adding that all to a pilot episode without making it overwhelming or flat.

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

Golfing, snowboarding, movies, live music, health and wellness.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A disgraced and unstable former soldier becomes the leader of an unlikely trio digging for answers, when five new planets mysteriously appear around Earth.

Genre: Sci-fi, Adventure, Action.

TV Pilot.

CAST LIST:

Tara – 15 – OLIVIA BARRETT
NARRATION – TED POWERS
Garrett – 10 – JUSTIN DESOUZA
Kelsey – 12 – ETHEL ABRAY

Interview with Screenwriter Alice L. Lee (Purgatory: A Love Story)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Alice L. Lee: “Purgatory: A Love Story” is my reworking of the “Princess and the Frog”. There are lots of versions of this story from all around the world, but for many women, the story boils down to having to kiss a lot of frogs (read, unsuitable men) in order to find your prince and true love.

I’ve always thought of love stories as being Purgatory in nature.

There’s a little suffering, a little transformation, followed by a little happiness. So,
what’s more Purgatory than dating and mating?

I divide the whole dating process into three groups: Sugar Daddy/Trophy Wife relationships– or what can I get from this relationship, relationships, the “I-can-onlymarry-the-most-perfect-person” relationships, and then there’s the “We-have-somuch-in-common”, relationships where you fall in love with each other even if one of you is a toad.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy and twisted fairytale. I know that last one’s not a genre, but it should be. LOL!

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

Because I want it to be a movie? LOL!

I wanted to make a film about mating and dating and about how, if we could forgo some of the items on our checklist of “qualifications” that we have to have for our perfect mates, maybe we could all find a little more happiness.

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

Twisted fairytale.

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

Tied: Terminator and Rashomon

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

I made two films that “Purgatory: A Love Story” is a part of. “the good boy” about
underground boxing which represents hell, “Artemis & the Astronaut” about love and Alzheimer’s, which represents heaven. Then I thought, s**t, I need a purgatory story.
As soon as I thought Purgatory, “A Love Story” popped into my head. The basic story
kinda wrote it self in a few hours. (This almost never happens. sigh!) Then I rewrote it a few dozen times tweaking here and there off and on for a couple of years, but the essential story has remained the same.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written five feature screenplays, and three short film screenplays.

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

I come from a classical music background. I’ve heard Glenn Gould’s interpretation of J. S. Bach’s, “Goldberg Variations” (the second recordings) so many times, all I need to hear are the first 5 notes of the Aria or any of the variations to know that it’s a Glenn Gould recording.

But for the past few months, I’ve had “It’s Not Easy Being Green” stuck in my head. Damn you, Kermit!

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

Because I wanted to make this screenplay a live action film, I kept wondering, can I
write this? How would I shoot this? Part of the reason why he’s a toad and not a frog
is because I didn’t want my actor sitting in water for hours and hours each day.
I don’t have the money or the skillset to do a lot of CGI (computer-generated imagery), so I’m still trying to figure out how to make this film with actors and not with clay or from drawings. But I’m leaning towards shrinking the actor and rotoscoping him and the frogs, Charles and Tom.

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

Directing. I see my scripts before I write them. For “Artemis & the Astronaut”, I saw
Artemis staring into her husband’s eyes and only seeing herself reflected back at her– that’s why I have the Astronaut wearing a helmet with a reflective visor.

Filming with a visor that was like a mirror, meant we had to hide all the lights, camera and crew, and my actor and Lynn Cohen (Sex and the City, Hunger Games) had to be in every shot! Shooting that film almost killed my award winning DP, Diego Jiménez!

For “Purgatory: A Love Story”, I saw the two witches, waiting for the third witch. I saw exactly where I wanted to film them. And then I wondered how much it would cost to shoot in Central Park.

No worries, financiers! Lots of parks have trees, shrubs and a small pond that can “body double” for Central Park.

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

It’s pretty straight forward using FilmFreeway. Wish it was cheaper to submit to
festivals, but I also wish NYC apartments were cheaper, too.

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

I had submitted my film “the good boy” to WILDSound Film Festival and had a really
great experience. I loved hearing what people had to say about the film. “the good
boy” swept all the categories! Romance Film and Screenplay Festival was started by
the same people who started WILDSound.

It was very interesting to hear the actors do a table read of my script, but being a
director, I kept on wanting to jump in and direct the actors. Sigh!

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

An arrogant, self satisfied man named, RICHARD (DICK) YORK, has the misfortunate of insulting the wrong witches in New York City’s Central Park. Turned into a toad and unable to lie, Dick must find a true love and loyal heart to break the spell. In this world of Facebook, Snap Chats and Tweets, would a toad be able to get anyone to spare a moment to help him, much less be his true love and loyal heart?

CAST LIST:

Alys/Olivia: Victoria Murdoch
Frog Charles: Caleb Jacques
Narration: Carina Cojeen
Richard: Aaron Williams
Katherine: Leanne Hoffman
Helena/Izzy: Natalie Morgan