Interview with Winning Screenwriter Joel Stern (WORD GAMES)

WORD GAMES is the September 2017 Winning Feature Screenplay.

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

“Word Games” is about two strangers in a nursing home who are isolated because of the “Blizzard of the Millennium” . One man – Sal Genesinni – is the janitor. The other is Dave Phillips, an old man, wheelchair bound, who was found abandoned in the storm. While Phillips’ true identity remains a mystery, he and Genesinni play “Scrabble” to kill time. As they spell certain words it takes us back in time to real life events. As they recall these events they actually change what happened. This affects the destiny of the promising young people they speak of. As the story unfolds, we realize their “game” is a battle of wits between good and evil – one they engage in as different people throughout time.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Suspense/Horror

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

“Word Games” would provide moviegoers with a suspenseful, alternative view of destiny and attempt to explain why bad things happen to good people.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Story in two words: Inescapable destiny.

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

The movie I’ve seen the most: “Pineapple Express”

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I wrote the short story two years ago (now on Amazon). I began writing the screenplay in January, 2016.

How many stories have you written?

I’m currently writing my third screenplay. I began my first, “Trickle Down”, a dramatic comedy based on the 2007 mortgage meltdown, in 2012.

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

Favorite song – Rod Stewart’s “Have I Told You Lately…”

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Obstacles to writing screenplay: Trying to think as God

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Other passions: Sports, politics, travel, history

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

Film Freeway: Easy to work with

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

I entered the festival to gage interest in my work and to get it produced. “Word Games” also won a Finalist Award at the Cannes Film Festival Screenwriting contest in April of this year.

I was thrilled with the feedback I received. I made a few clarifications when asked to.

Genre: Thriller, Horror, Drama

A commercial airliner flying to Paris explodes off the U.S. East Coast killing sixteen members of a high school French Club and a young pianist destined for greatness; a pair of deranged teens go on a terrifying high school shooting spree ending the life of a young girl devoted to serving God and mankind. If there is a master plan, how could these horrific events be allowed to happen?

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Val Cole
Sal: Kris Hagen
Dave: Peter Nelson
Monica: Shania Belton
Julie: Katelyn Varadi
Tanya/Shannon: Carina Cojeen
Lassen: Mike Ruderman
Bill: Nick Wicht

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Interview with Winning Screenwriter Holt Boggs (BROTHERS MCSHANE)

BROTHERS MCSHANE was the September 2017 Winning 1st Scene Screenplay.

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

Donny and Dickey McShane are two dumber-than-dirt lawmen who find out that their long lost twin brothers are actually the notorious Shifty Silver City Gang. They enlist the help of a “weird Indian fells” as they embark on a journey to find their siblings and save them from the hands of the deadly Molcajete Brothers before it’s too late.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy/ Western

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

Brothers McShane is a hybrid throw back to many of the great physical comedies (comedians) like, Blazing Saddles, Don Knotts, Buster Keaton and the like, not seen in modern cinema. Those elements mixed with a more modern action-packed feel, use of meta humor and modern references, while narrowly bordering a family friendly tone, I feel offers an interesting, heart-felt story to a much wider audience than your typical action/comedy. Basically, it’s an action-packed comedy that adults will want to see, but with enough potty humor and content safe enough to take their kids to. You can’t lose with fart jokes.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Fu**ing hilarious.

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

The Big Lebowski

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Two years.

How many stories have you written?

Eight

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

Probably the score to Leon – The Professional or anything from Eminem.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Really, it was finding the tone I wanted. Originally, I was dealing with a production company that was pressuring me to write a family film. Hungry to get a film made, I caved and it had a totally different feel. Paco was originally a twelve year-old boy with a dog and much of the humor was dumbed down, but I just didn’t feel it, so I went back and wrote the film I wanted to see. No dog and now Paco is a little person with an attitude.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I’m an actor by trade, but I love motorcycles and my kids. Not in that order necessarily, but it depends on the day.

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

Great and it’s super easy.

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

I had heard a lot of great things about the fest from other writers, and while I didn’t agree with all of the feedback, I felt that most of it was spot on. I could tell that time was taken by the reader and not just submission money. That equates to money well spent.

Two dumber-than-dirt lawmen enlist the help of a ‘weird Indian fella’, to help them track down their outlaw twin brothers and save them from hands of the deadly Molcajete Brothers.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Adventure

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Laura Kyswaty
Sam Elliot: Brandon Knox
Ma: Julie McCarthy

Interview with Winning Screenwriter J. Logan Alexander (BREAKDOWN)

BREAKDOWN was the September 2017 winning short screenplay.

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

Liz and Alec are en route to a wedding for Alec’s boss and arguing about their own relationship woes when they collide with the runaway Bride. Battle lines are drawn when Liz and Alec oppose each other about what to do: Liz is determined to help her, but Alec insists on leaving immediately for fear of losing his job. Things get complicated after the Bride disappears into the woods and an inquisitive Cop arrives on the scene—further dividing Liz and Alec—and forcing them in a predicament: tell the truth and face the consequences, or lie to escape scot-free.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Dark Comedy

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

Well, it is a movie now. Breakdown is my MFA thesis film. We are currently in post-production.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Anti-romantic Comedy.

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

Boogie Nights or Fight Club.

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Roughly 10 months.

How many stories have you written?

Too many to count. My previous film, Wrung, follows a bull-rider and his dead beat dad. It’s available on my website, http://www.jloganalexander.com.

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

This Must Be The Place by Talking Heads.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Film school bureaucracy, minimal budget, record breaking low temperatures in Massachusetts (48 degrees in June), gale force winds, and a steady three days of rain.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Directing. There is nothing I love more than seeing a crew of artists working together to achieve something. I love working with actors. My job is to just get actors in front of a camera.

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

The platform is fantastic. Very intuitive.

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

I like to get unbiased feedback from festivals after I write a few drafts of whatever I’m working on. Getting rejections from other film fests galvanizes you–makes you want to try harder, be better.

Liz and Alec are en route to a wedding when they turn the corner and hit the runaway bride with their car.

Genre: Comedy, Romance

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Laura Kyswaty
Liz: Lindsay Rolland Mills
Alec: Brandon Knox
Cop: Luke Robinson
Bride: Premika Leo

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Gunel Asgarova (THE FLUTE OF PEACE)

THE FLUTE OF PEACE was the September 2017 winning Sci-Fi screenplay.

Get to know the winning writer:

What is your screenplay about?

My screenplay is about a bullied village girl with the supernatural power, Lanaia, who accepts her destiny of the World Savior.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Fantasy

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

Because this original screenplay has the most important ingredients of the successful fantasy movie: universal issues, good vs. evil, mythology, human psychology which are fully presented through the breathtaking adventures, unexpected twists and catchy characters. Likewise, the significant reason of its competitiveness is a key hero, a young woman, tender, yet strong enough to take the lead in life-changing events winning the battle in the end. This movie will be an inspiration for millions of girls and women all over the world.

How would you describe this script in two words?

The future blockbuster, which will hold its brand for the next five to ten years.

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

I like to watch fantasy/adventure genre movies, but according to calculation, the movie that I’ve seen the most times in my life is Harry Potter film series (first watched as a teenager, then together with my kids).

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

11 months

How many stories have you written?

I have written 6 stories (epic-fantasy, animation, fairy tale and short screenplays) and constantly working on new projects.

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

“Canto della Terra” by Andrea Bocelli

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

The most obstacles were connected to the proper formatting issues.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I am also passionate about storytelling, psychology, mythology, and anthropology. Thus, besides of my own imagination, this story is also based on the years’ long research analysis of world mythology and anthropology (including the Paracelsian concept of four elements of nature).

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

Despite the positive feedback from more than four hundred potential viewers, I was eager to get the professional opinion.

I am very grateful for the detailed and sincere feedback, which helped me to properly polish my script. I am very satisfied with the feedback, special THANKS to my reader!

Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure

After the break of the balance between the Light and Dark Powers, enforced by Dark Lord Erk, Mother Universe sends a child of Light – Lanaia to embark on a dangerous journey chasing the magic flute, as only its melody could save the world from disaster.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Sean Ballantyne
Nabi: Rais Moui
Teli: Connie Wang
Guli: Daniella Zappala

Interview with Winning Screenwriter John Cruz Alarid (KODAK MOMENT)

Winning September 2017 TV PILOT 1st Scene Screenplay Winner.

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

Kodak Moment is a chilling thriller TV pilot spec script about the ILLUMINATI, a secret Dark Organization that conspires to control world affairs by masterminding events, governments and corporations.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

When a vintage camera is accidentally found at a garage sale and the film developed, long buried secrets about the JFK assassination stand to be reborn, setting off a spiraling turn of events and discoveries that threaten our heroes lives and their countries’ national security. A British journalist and her American conspiracy-minded boyfriend race the clock, the NSA and the ILLUMINATI to bring the ultimate truth to light. JFK meets EMEMY OF THE STATE and THE X-FILES.

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

Conspiracy theories rule the media. The timing is perfect for a Showtime/HBO style series that exposes the truth of the Illuminati and its intentions regarding Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s), the Iraq War, the ’08 recession, Global Warming and the Roswell 1947 UFO crash.

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

My favorite all time movie is Robert Wise’s The Day the Earth Stood Still. favorite movies are sci-fi thrillers as well as romantic comedies.

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I have been working on KODAK MOMENT since 1999. I first wrote it as a feature script. It won Best Feature Screenplay in the 2006 Moondance International Film Festival and some other minor accolades. I was challenged to adapt it as TV series. My first draft finished 4th in the Over One Hour category in the recent Larry Brody’s People’s Pilot writing competition.

How many stories have you written?

So far I’ve written five screenplays and one TV Pilot script.

1). PSYCHIC WARRIORS is an Action Thriller written along the lines of the X-MEN and BOURNE IDENTITY franchises that follows the journey of a Marine helicopter pilot and family man who receives psychic powers from an unmanned alien spaceship and is recruited by the CIA. But when he learns of the Agency’s plans, he must escape back home and protect his family.

2.) LUCIFER’S REVENGE is a Horror Thriller that follows the journey of LUCIFER who was cast down unto Hell for his disagreement over the fate of mankind. However, God agreed to give him seven years of unchecked reign over Earth before the Armageddon. In 2021, he returns to possess the President of the United States. His goal: save mankind before the coming of Christ wreaks absolute destruction.

3.) NUMBER ONE RULE! is a showbiz comedy about a radio jock who enters therapy to help him come to terms with certain childhood issues so that he can marry a rich daddy’s girl and live the good life.

4.) The Road To Shambala is a high-spirited romantic comedy with a pulse-pounding rock ‘n’ roll flavor, set against the exotic and picturesque land of China. The story centers on a hapless American musician who, through a twist of fate, is not only given an opportunity to live his dream of performing on stage, but is also given a second chance to find love with the one woman he could never forget.

The Road To Shambala is currently under review at Paramount and Universal. They’ve had it since June. Still waiting for a response. No news is good news.

I’m current working on my 6th feature script, BLUE COATS, an action adventure about U.S. Marshals on the hunt for a fugitive on the Indian Reservation. BLUE COATS is U.S. Marshals meets The X-Files on the Indian Reservation.

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

I survived the Sixties. I’m a classic rocker. AC/DC’s top on my long list of favorite tunes. I love music. Even though some critics frown against indicating what music to use in scripts, I often do it. It helps me write.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

My biggest obstacle I’ve had with Kodak Moment is developing it into a TV series. TV is an entirely different animal with a complete a separate set rules to follow.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Besides writing, I’m passionate about Rock N Roll. I recently bought myself a Roland digital drum set and started taking drum lessons. My fantasy is to sit in on for a set with AC/DC.

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

My experience entering my script via FilmFreeway was a breeze. The site is very user friendly. I refer submitting PDF files of my scripts. Printing scripts gets costly.

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

The opportunity of winning a table reading of my script greatly influenced me wanting to enter your festival. A table reading by actors is an excellent tool in determining what works and what doesn’t in ones script. I’ve had two of my scripts table read by actors. I highly recommend it.

The feedback I received from your reader was excellent. I took some of the suggestions was able to tighten down and trim my script by a couple pages. I’m considering re-entering in the next competition.

When a vintage camera is accidentally found at a flea market, long buried secrets about the JFK assassination stand to be reborn. Paranoid camera buff JIM turns to his film developer grandfather GRAMPS and Chinese reporter girlfriend NATALIE race the clock to bring the ultimate truth to light, even as forces of the Illuminati hunt both of them down.

Genre: Drama, Political, Crime, Thriller

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Laura Kyswaty
Jim: James Boutcher
Ester: Julie McCarthy
Natalie: Lindsay Rolland Mills
Pilot: Luke Robinson
Gramps: Brandon Knox

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Mike Meade (FAN FICTION – WELCOME TO CRYSTAL LAKE)

September 2017 Winning FAN FICTION Screenplay Writer:

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

Welcome to Crystal Lake is about a group of corrupt developers that come to town with plans to build a new lakeside resort, but when they take things too far by trying to force Elias Voorhees off of his property, his son Jason violently intervenes.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

I’d say it falls firmly into the slasher sub-genre of horror.

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

I think this screenplay should be made into a movie because the Friday the 13th fans (including myself) are dying for the next film to be made, but we want it done right. To me, that means creating a story that is new and fresh, while keeping the same tone and feel of the original films. I think Welcome to Crystal Lake succeeds in doing that and also has the potential to be expanded into an even better feature film.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Classic Jason.

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

That’s a hard one, but if I had to say which Friday the 13th movie I’ve seen the most times it would have to be Part 6, followed closely by Parts 4, 5, and 7.

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I had the original idea almost two years ago, but didn’t actually write it until recently. By that time the story was so clear in my head it didn’t take long to finish once I got started.

How many stories have you written?

I couldn’t say for sure since I’ve been writing since I was a kid. But as far as screenplays go, I’ve written six shorts (including one I co-wrote) and am working on my third feature right now.

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

Fade to Black by Metallica. It never gets old no matter how many times I listen to it.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Just finding the time to actually write it since I was already working on other projects.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I’ve been into martial arts since I was about ten years old, so that’s probably the biggest thing. I also like taking my Jeep up into mountains while my hound dog rides shotgun and going camping.

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

I’ve had a great experience with FilmFreeway. Before I started submitting my stuff through them, I’d have to email each individual contest or festival, attach whatever file I needed, didn’t have my payment info saved, etc… Basically, it was a big hassle. With FilmFreeway it really just takes a few clicks and I’m done, plus it makes it super easy to keep track of all my submissions in one place. +

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

I really wanted to write a Friday the 13th script, but was afraid it might never be seen or read by anybody, especially since I couldn’t sell the finished product. But then when I discovered this festival I thought I’d go ahead and give it a shot and I’m glad I did. When I received the initial feedback I was mainly impressed with how in depth it was. They had obviously taken the time to really read it and understand what I was going for.

Genre: Horror, Crime, Thriller

When corrupt developers come to Crystal Lake with plans to build a new lakeside resort they run into one unexpected problem, Jason Voorhees.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Val Cole

Frank: Kris Hagen
Elias: Peter Nelson
Sean: Nick Wicht
Tom: Mike Ruderman
Marta: Carina Cojeen

 

Interview with Director James Bowsher (WITHHELD)

The short film WITHHELD (directed by James Bowsher) was the overwhelming winner of BEST FILM at the THRILLER FEEDBACK Film Festival in September 2017. It arguably could be the best short film of 2017! It’s that great of a film.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Matthew Steggles: The primary motivation was that I felt like the idea was interesting and that no one would make it if I didn’t. What kept me motivated was the fact that I had an overwhelming amount of support from friends, family and the crew.

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

The idea to the shoot only took a few months, but the edit took us about a year, as there were various complicating factors. It can be summarised by us wanted to ensure we got it right and whilst there were frequent instances of it almost being ready I never felt happy putting it out into the world.

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

Cruel communication.

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

The biggest obstacle was probably staying faithful to the original concept. The film is meant to be claustrophobic, but when watching the edits you can often think that you have gone too far. In the end it was about reminding myself what my objectives were with the film and making it the most distilled version of that.

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

It’s encouraging to hear the reactions from the audience particularly in regards to how we used Stephanie’s character. Part of what I wanted to do in the film was look at the danger of male gaze and the difficult treatment of female characters in film. However, keeping his attacks on her and his treatment of her separate to the film and its perspective was tricky – especially in the limited time that we had. I think this will probably engender different reactions from different viewers, but this is why the ‘turn’ was so important to me.

 WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video: 

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

An exhibit about phone sex workers by Philip Toledo demonstrated the unexpected breadth of characters in this industry. From there it meshed with ideas I had about performance as the phone was a clear locus for suspending disbelief. I wrote a first draft and from there my friends’ positive reactions to the concept drove me to shoot it.

 What film have you seen the most in your life?

That’s an almost impossible question as I have gone through many love affairs with many films. On balance Magnolia by Paul Thomas Anderson is one that I keep coming back to.

 You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the new(ish) submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

My producer Matthew Steggles did most of the real legwork in regards to festival submissions. He says “The menu navigation and friendly user face is leagues beyond other online submission platforms that I have previously used. With thousands of festivals at your disposal, they’ve made it incredibly easy to organise and keep track of each submission – something that could have taken many countless hours in the past is now a pleasure to undertake. I’ve also found it to be cheaper than most of the other submission platforms.”

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

Feeling Good by Nina Simone is a song that I love and was playing in my house all the time because of my mother.

What is next for you? A new film?

I am starting an MA in producing at the National Film and Television School in the UK this January. In regards to new projects, my collaborator Matthew and I have numerous projects we want to do next and are deciding which one would be best.