Interview with Screenwriter Steven Prowse (THE NIGHT WITCHES)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Steven Prowse: It’s a straight-forward action movie about a group of fearless pilots who would do anything to defend their country. There is no overlay of a love or family subplot, just an old-fashioned set-up-the-group-and-deliver war movie similar to The Dirty Dozen.

They just happened to be women.

Did anyone ever ask Lee Marvin if he was married or missed his kids? No, because it had nothing to do with the story and this aspect of his life.

WHO WERE THE NIGHT WITCHES?

They were a Soviet all-women night-bomber unit set up in WW2 by Marina Raskova, one of a group of three women to be the first women awarded Hero Of The Soviet Union. It took some time as initially only men were allowed at the front, but she leveraged her star status in the country (think Amelia Earhart x Greta Garbo) to make it happen.

Most of the women were aged between 17 and 25 who were desperate for revenge for lost ones. Some qualified women pilots had even stolen fighter planes earlier and flown them to the front in frustration.

With wood and canvas biplanes, no radio, no lights, no defenses and no parachutes, just bombs, these pilots terrorized the German front line night after night, up to eighteen sorties in one night.

The Germans called them the ‘night witches’ because when the pilot cut their engines to glide to the target, all that could be heard was an eerie whistling noise from the biplanes’ bracing wires.

The Night Witches became so successful that any German shooting one down was awarded an Iron Cross. In the end they made over 20,000 sorties, produced over 20 Heroes Of The Soviet Union (the average for a regiment was 2), and reached the outskirts of Berlin itself.

Marina Raskova, who had been training a group of heavy bombers, finally flew to the front line in Jan 1943. Her plane crashed in heavy snow with no survivors. She was given the first State Funeral of the war and her ashes were buried in the wall of the Kremlin.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

WW2, Action, Women, True story.

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

If one were to Google the top ten true stories that should be made into a movie, The Night Witches is regularly in them.

Frozen, The Hunger Games and Wonder Woman have shown that women action leads can dominate the box office, but one is a fairy tale and the other two are Sci-Fi. The Night Witches actually happened.

The fact that it has now won over 25 screenplay competitions that freckle the internet, more than any other out there, is another indicator.

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

Effing awesome. But that’s not my doing, it’s what these women did.


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

Either Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves or The Little Mermaid. I had young twins at the time and every Sunday morning for a LONG time I would give their mother a breather and take them to the cinema. They were obsessed with both films. Even though they are in their 30s now I have no doubt they could still recite both word perfect.

Sans twins, Diamonds Are Forever. It was the first Bond movie I’d ever seen and the first I went to the cinema alone. I had so much adrenaline at the end I ran the three miles home.

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

Two months research and planning, one month writing the first draft, and four years on and (mostly off) redrafting.

7. How many stories have you written?

Four others. A Sci Fi parody in the style of Mel Brooks (basically a love letter to Hollywood), an FBI procedural / political thriller, a Medieval horror story, and a micro-budget family movie with child leads. Each has won at least one screenwriting competition, and between them have been officially selected on over 75 occasions.

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

Instant Replay (12″ version) by Dan Hartman. I always have been, and always will be, a disco boy.

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

Finishing the first draft was easy. To be honest there was so much great material in real life I felt more like an editor than a screenwriter. The next two versions were harder as I tried to give each member of the ensemble cast distinct voices and personalities.

But after that it’s just been frustration. Yes, I’m one of the very lucky ones who’s had their screenplay optioned, funded and now looking for cast and crew, but I still haven’t found an agent or manager.

It’s got to the point I haven’t written anything in over three years (apart from rewrites for this screenplay). I’ve no energy anymore. Not writer’s block, just no energy, no passion, no engagement. Hopefully that will change if and when the movie is made.

It’s also been frustrating for the 1,500 people following and wonderfully supporting the project (www.thenightwitchesmovie.com), which is why I came to you to give them something in return in the meantime.

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

My wife, mathematics, and Sunday roast. The other ones? There’s no way you’d print them.

 

 

 

 

Watch the Best Scene Reading: 

With wood and canvas biplanes, no radio, no lights, no defenses and no parachutes, just bombs, these WW2 Soviet pilots terrorized the German front line night after night. They just happened to be women. A true story.

CAST LIST:

Nadya: Rachel Salsberg

Alexander: Rhys Harrison

Narrator: Sean Ballantyne

Zhukov: Jarrod Terrill

Marina: Nancy Kenny

 

Writer Biography – Steven John Prowse

Steve

Steven Prowse, British, has lived in England, Netherlands, Curaçao, USA and Gibraltar. Educated at Cambridge (scholarship), he is a CFO by trade and so one might think he has a lot of experience of writing fiction. He has also been an international bridge player.

His screenplays have received over 120 Officially Selections with 25 wins. One screenplay is optioned by a Hollywood studio in a mid six-figure deal.

Writer Statement

 

The screenplay has already won over 20 screenplay competitions.

 

 

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Interview with Carlo Danese (WINTER AFTERNOON)

Matthew Toffolo: What is the theme of your poem?

Carlo Danese: How one experience can in a split second flip over into an ‘opposite’ experience

2) What motivated you to write this poem?

Sounds funny, but a remark I overheard from somebody about her brother. Plus a photograph I took of a snowy field in the finger lakes during the winter.

poetryphoto

3) How long have you been writing poetry?

30 years approximately

4) If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would that be?

God, but if he/she is not available, the devil … don’t mean to be sarcastic but my real fantasy would be to have sort of a ‘last supper’ with a few dozen or more writers, artists, labor leaders, inventors ….nannies, cooks, carpenters, unemployed and/or unemployable types …

5) What influenced you to submit to have your poetry performed by a professional actor?

I saw your ad. To be honest, I do not send my work out very much — this poem is one of my first ‘narrative poems’

6) Do you write other works? scripts? Short Stories? Etc..?

Yes – poetry, short stories, and I have had a few short plays produced. I have recently completed a screenplay named THE SAVIORS and ‘relocated’ to Los Angeles in order to try to get the script in the hands & brains of people who will see / understand the story and get it produced … It is partially sci fi but also ‘new age’ (for want of better term) as well as just a crazy tale … It is relatively low budget, and any ‘special effects’ simple to produce … The right director will understand that REAL sci fi entails getting the audience to see all that is NOT on the screen … It is called ‘imagination’ which is limitless tho I fear the 24/7 immersion of people into ‘media’ from birth does not give people, especially young people, the space and time to just dream – imagine – see & hear what nobody else sees & hears … connect to that universal consciousness with or without ‘religion’ …

7) What is your passion in life?

Keep going, help people ‘see’ – right now get THE SAVIORS produced. On another level, I am pretty political and along with keeping the present administration from endangering our society I hope our population becomes more aware of how politics works …

Some basic elements need to be radically changed … Real education is the first, most important aspect.

Watch the Poetry Reading: 

Performed by Elizabeth Rose Morriss

Interview with Poet Mustofa Munir (FREEDOM)

1. What is the theme of poem?

Answer:

Freedom—the source of energy, rejoice, bliss and exuberance for every creature that exists in this world. It is an inherent privilege granted to all humankind too. It prevails but not all living souls enjoy the true freedom though it is so inseparable from the life.

2. What motivated you to write this poem?

Answer:

The true freedom we never achieve in our life time. This way or that way we are slave to our own desire. The weaker entity concedes defeat to the passion, greed and power of the stronger one. That has an impact on the society as well as on the world at large. Out of these there evolves a strong urge that motivated me to write a few lines as poem.

3. How long have you been writing poetry?

Answer:

Since my boyhood in middle school.

4. If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would that be?

Answer:

The one I can depend, trust and love.

5. What influenced you to submit to have your poetry performed by a professional actor?

Answer:

I saw and heard brilliant poems are published and read by someone whose voice injected an appeal and emotion that made the poem more vibrant.

6. Do you write other works? scripts? Short Stories? Etc..?

Answer: Yes I do.


7. What is your passion in life?

Answer:

What I loved during my childhood I want to preserve them in my thoughts and actions till my death by being true to myself.

Watch the Poetry Reading: 

Performed by Elizabeth Rose Morriss

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Interview with Poet Arloa L. Means (THE PROMISE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is the theme of your poem?

Arloa L. Means: The theme of my poem “The Promise”, is the fulfillment of God’s promise & prophecy, to re-establish the Nation of Israel

2) What motivated you to write this poem?

My motivation in writing this poem was to express lyrically & with music as one of many songs sung within my musical play ” The Promises”

3) How long have you been writing poetry?

I’ve written poetry Since my youth, over 50 years.

4) If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would that be?

If I could have dinner with anyone….Jesus Christ.

5) What influenced you to submit to have your poetry performed by a professional actor?

I wanted to hear it read by someone other than myself,to get a clearer view as to how it would come across to others.

6) Do you write other works? scripts? Short Stories? Etc..?

I am a Librettist and composer, I have musical works written as well as poems and stand alone songs.

7) What is your passion in life?

My passion from a writers standpoint is to create songs and scripts for musical theater.

Watch the POETRY Reading: 

Performed by Elizabeth Rose Morriss

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Interview with Novelist Scott Meehan (DESERT ROCK)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your novel about?

Scott Meehan: In 2003, a female soldier approaches Major David Allan and gives him a crystal marble, telling him that he must keep it with him at all times. When he goes on Christmas Leave from Balad, Iraq, the C-5 Air Force jet is shot down in the wasteland of Iraq…and he is the only survivor.

After being in a three-month coma, David wakes up in a hospital bed at Walter Reed, his wife, Sherry, looking much younger than when he left for the war zone, at his side. Along with the television shows, news magazines, and general talk, David comes to realize that he is back in the year 1991.

History is on track just as David remembers it so he makes wiser decisions, but on the side, he takes on a fictitious name and bank account to gain wealth through investments and betting on Super Bowl and World Series winners at Vegas.
Life is flowing smoothly until he remembers that the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing is about to take place in 1995. Faced with the decision to save lives or change the course of history, David tries to warn the FBI without implicating himself of the upcoming disaster.

Later, when on a vacation in Aruba with Sherry, the mysterious girl appears with the crystal marble and gives it back to David…then walks out into the sea. When he tries to follow her, David discovers a new world as the unexpected takes hold of him in a reality beyond what is perceivable to his mind, body, and soul.

2. What genres would you say this story is in?

Science Fiction / Fantasy / Time Travel

3. How would you describe this story in two words?

Perceived reality

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

Star Wars or Back to the Future (first ones).

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

“Time Waits for No One” – Rolling Stones

6. Do you have an all-time favorite novel?

“Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara

7. What motivated you to write this story?

After retiring from my 25 years in the military, I thought back many times, “What if…?” to the many paths I did not take at the crossroads.

8. If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would that be?

Jesus Christ

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

My family, especially my grandchildren.

10. What influenced you to enter your story to get performed?

Broadened exposure.

11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

If you love writing, don’t ever quit. Write because you want to…write because you like to.

Watch the Novel Performance Reading: 

BUY on Amazon

 

Performed by Elizabeth Rose Morriss

In 2003, a female soldier approaches Major David Allan and gives him a crystal marble, telling him that he must keep it with him at all times. When he goes on Christmas Leave from Balad, Iraq, the C-5 Air Force jet is shot down in the wasteland of Iraq…and he is the only survivor.

Interview with Novelist Sharon Bennett Gandy (Catlips Incorporated)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your novel about?

Catlips Incorporated is about Argyle and Pap along with their friends met along the way, who join together to put a stop to the nip drug usage and the violent cat gangs who sell it.

2. What genres would you say this story is in?

The genre is urban fantasy fiction (I think)

3. How would you describe this story in two words?

Entertaining and enthralling

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

There are a few movies: John Carpenters, The Thing, Scarface, Goodfellas, Color Purple

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

Prince music-especially his less radio, public music. It’s the best!!

6. Do you have an all-time favorite novel?

Stephen King’s It

7. What motivated you to write this story?

My cat (Pap in the story) got into a stashed away supply of catnip, I had put in the drawer. He had too much and his normally peaceful friendly attitude, turned much more aggressive under the catnip “high”. From that incident, the story formed in my mind and grew from there.

8. If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would that be?

It’s 2 people actually: Maya Angelou and Stephen King

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

I’m also a real estate agent and passionate about buying and selling real estate.

10. What influenced you to enter your story to get performed?

I hope to get Catlips on audio file so this seemed like a good first step

11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Above all else, keep writing. We all bring something to this table we call life, so don’t deny your gift and share it with the world. 🙂
Check out my new fiction novel Catlips Incorporated
http://www.catlipsbook.com

Watch the Novel Transcript Reading: 

BUY on Amazon

 

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Performed by Elizabeth Rose Morriss

Catlips Incorporated exemplifies the strength of friendship, perseverance and the unwavering sheer determination and courage to stand proud and do the right thing, despite the odds.

Though the feline and canine characters may be a bit unconventional for some, their struggles against the undesirables within their community is a familiar scenario to many.