Interview with Filmmaker David Bradburn (BEFORE YOU WOKE)

BEFORE YOU WOKE played to rave reviews at the May 2019 FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

David Bradburn: I had been wanting to get some experience writing and directing an action film and also, I had wanted to work with Christian Litke. From there I started to draft a script with the resources I had in mind.

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

Because our budget was so small our post production took a bit longer than we hoped, but from idea to release was about 8 months. We shot the entire film in one day.

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

Female Blacktion


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

Money, it’s always money. We did also have a massive snow storm the night before and filmed on one of the coldest days that winter. We stole the exterior location and between the extreme cold and the cops showing up that made that part of the shoot difficult.

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

The reaction has been positive, and we are often asked if there is a feature version. There is not. I wrote this as a stand-alone piece. But would happily make the feature if the resources are there. Overall the audiences are impressed we were able to tell an action story in the within the confines of short film.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I cast the film before I wrote and knew both my budget and resources, so I was able to tailor the idea to resources. Once I had the first draft done, I realized that the themes of taking control of one’s life and the oppression of black women by white men were both present. I did my re-writes around those ideas and took much of the dialogue from Dr. King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.

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

I think Cry Freedom, but Brickis up there too.

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

I like it better than Withoutabox

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

I checked my stats on iTunes and I think it lied. I don’t really know different times I listen to different things. Over the years Rush, Counting Crows, Dolly Varden, Jason Harrod, and Johnnyswim have been the most listened to music.

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

I have several scripts. I will make the next one I can afford to make. Some are shorts some are features. Currently, I have a short film, “Family”, the is just beginning its festival run.

before_you_woke_1

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Interview with Screenwriter Nicole De Sapio (The Magnificent Mid-Century Met)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Nicole De Sapio: The Magnificent Mid-Century Met is about the intersecting, professional and personal lives of six famous singers at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, during the post-WWII period. It is almost as much about the cultural changes of the post-WWII period in America as it is about those singers.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Biopic, musical, and comedy

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

I did some research and was frankly astonished how few movies about opera (as opposed to movies of operas) have ever been made. And, while the real-life stories of the singers in my screenplay are highly humorous and dramatic, they have never yet been the subject of a movie or play. This, in my opinion, is a shame and a serious oversight. I believe my screenplay could really fill a void if produced.

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

Witty, urban

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

Either the original, 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street or the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol starring Alastair Sim as Scrooge. I’ve seen 12 Angry Men (1957) countless times as well.

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

It was a long and convoluted process, as I had originally intended the screenplay to be a biopic of the Metropolitan Opera baritone Robert Merrill (who is one of six main characters in The Magnificent Mid-Century Met). That version (titled Merrill of the Met) I began on February 9, 2018. I began the current version, The Magnificent Mid-Century Met, on December 29, 2018 and finished the first draft on February 14, 2019. Revisions took two more months; the final draft was finished by mid-April 2019.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’m mainly an essayist, and I didn’t become interested in fiction or in screenwriting until late in 2016. I’ve written some fanfiction short stories and two biopic-type screenplays.

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

That’s really hard…Broadway is my first love, and I’d have to say that my favorite Broadway ballad is “A Quiet Thing” from a little-known, 1965 Kander and Ebb musical called Flora, the Red Menace. Liza Minnelli sang this song originally.

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

Without a doubt the biggest challenge was deciding what story I actually wanted to tell and then finding the right form for that story. The screenplay didn’t really “take off” for me until I realized that it needed to have more than one protagonist and more than one storyline.

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

Opera, musicals, detective stories, and 19th-century English paintings.

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

Film Freeway is so usable and convenient that I couldn’t imagine my screenwriting life without it.

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

My brother, who is also a writer, suggested I enter the festival. Had I not done so, I would still have no idea how to format a screenplay or how to write proper slug-lines. In those two areas (and in others), the reader gave me indispensable advice.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

LOGLINE: Singers at the post-WWII Metropolitan Opera House face artistic and personal challenges amid cultural and social changes.

GENRE: True Story/Biography

CAST LIST:

Lillian (40s + – 8 – Carrie Schiffler
Narration – Barbara Bergeron
Abe (40s +) – David Occhipinti
Merrill (20s) – 10 – Steve Saet

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Interview with Screenwriter Ronald V. Micci (MARLISE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Ronald V. Micci: A fragile lesbian and her sister who are in financial straits. Marilise, one of the sisters, is very vulnerable and finds herself the object of more than one set of affections, tearing her between her jealous sister, Leigh Ann, and a number of women. When well-to-do older lesbian seduces Marilise at a garden party, this causes friction with her sister. On a picnic with the older woman, Marilise must break the fact to her that their relationship can’t go on. She pursues Marilise on bike, and is killed in a road accident. Her twin sister seeks revenge. At first Marilise believes she is being haunted by Alisa, the dead woman. She consults a psychiatrist. But in fact, she is being haunted by the dead woman’s twin sister, who is intent on getting revenge and killing her.

Another woman who has taken Marilise under her wing betrays her, and has set her up as a target in a cottage on Montauk Point. But the police have gotten wind of the twin sister, and they are in a race against time to save Marilise from being murdered. The story culminates in gunshots and death on the beach at Montauk. Ergo, this is a love story and murder mystery combined.

2. What genre does your screenplay fall under?

It’s both love story and crime drama (murder mystery).

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

Mostly because it has a genuine emotional core. Most films today are lacking any true emotional basis.

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

Emotionally engaging.

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

The Best Years of Our Lives

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

The screenplay was finished several years ago. It began as a screen short, then I expanded it.

I usually write and rewrite and polish until every beat of the script is as
perfect as it can be (this is the equivalent to probably half a dozen times).

How long this takes can vary. As far as I’m concerned, I’m pleased with the script and it is finished. (It got Honorable Mention, or at least a shorter version of it did, in a screenplay competition in New York several years ago. I subsequently fleshed out a couple of scenes when it appeared that a film student was actually going to shoot the thing.)

7. How many stories have you written?

Three novels, about 60 one-act plays, four screenplays, four screen shorts, two sitcom scripts, a one-hour pilot script.

8. What is your favorite song?

Too many to pick a favorite. Any of the great show standards.

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

Nothing more than the usual grind of writing a script. But a critical turning point is when Marilise is betrayed by another woman who has taken her under her wing. That car scene surprised even me, and added a great twist and suspense to the denouement. It just kind of came out of nowhere.

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

Jazz and classical music, and playing the flute

11. What has been your experience working with Film Freeway?

Actually, I submitted several scripts via the specific contest websites rather than using the generic Film Freeway format, which seems to have locked one script in and which I couldn’t defeat.

12. What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

I thought the feedback was benign and it was clear that they had actually read the scripts. A couple of things eluded the reader, and I never did get feedback on the Marilise screen short submission, probably an oversight. This batch of readers seemed pretty on the ball, didn’t seem to “get it” in only a few

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A gentle lesbian love story between two financially strapped sisters in their 20s in the Hamptons turns deadly when they seek the assistance of an older woman, who comes between them romantically, and whose sudden accidental death leads to a revenge killing and murderous shootout on Montauk Point.

Crime

CAST LIST:

Jeffrey – 1 – David Occhipinti
Leigh Ann – 13 – Ella A
Narration – Michael Ruhs
Marilise – 52 – Barbara Bergeron
Alisa – 57 – Carrie Schiffler

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Interview with Screenwriter Samuel Zehr (MY FAVORITE PERVERT)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Samuel Zehr: It is about a guy struggling to sexually satisfy his wife/ keep his marriage alive.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy. Rom-com. Dark comedy

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

This screenplay would make a great movie because it shows the honest/ugly, funny and dirty side of a realistic relationship.

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

Absurd. Crass.

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

The Sandlot

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

I wrote this screenplay in 48 hrs.

7. How many stories have you written?

Hundreds.

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

My current favorite song is “brain” by the Action

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

Staying awake.

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

Acting, comedy , playing music – and just being in a constant state of creation

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

Fine.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Logline: When the spark has faded in a 20 year marriage; an intuitively sexual husband tries to convince his not-so-carnal minded wife to go to a sex-con.

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Romantic-Comedy, Dark-Comedy, Offbeat-Comedy.

CAST LIST:

Narration – Steve Saet
Jim (40s) – 21 – Michael Ruhs
Janet (40s) – 21 – Barbara Bergeron

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Interview with Screenwriter Raymond A. Porter (Himal Gold: Murder and Intrigue in the High Mountains)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Raymond A. Porter: A WWII German plane is discovered crashed in Nepal in 1953.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Action, adventure.

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

It’s a great historical action adventure that is based on fact.

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

Epic adventure.

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

The Sound of Music

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

12 months

7. How many stories have you written?

6 books, 8 screenplays

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

Too many to list

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

Finding time, working and family always take up most of my day.

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

Martial arts, i gave up teaching at the end of 2017. And making movies.

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

All good, is straight forward and easy.

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

To get my script promoted. Initial feedback was good.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

In 1953, a British Journalist in Nepal to cover the attempt on Mt Everest, writes an article about an old Nazi cargo plane that has been found crashed in a sacred valley.

Upon reading the article, the Nazi officer who led an expedition into Tibet in 1938, seizes on the opportunity to reclaim the gold that was lost on that fateful flight.

CAST LIST:

Vincent – 3 – Michael Ruhs
Gunther – 1 – Steve Saet
Narration – Carrie Schiffler
Hauptman Weiss – 8 – David Occhipinti
Sebastian – 1 – Steve Saet

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Interview with Screenwriter Justin Lifflander (THE PLOWSHARE PARADOX)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Justin Lifflander: My screenplay is about how the end of the Cold War changed the lives of players on both sides.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Romance, Drama

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

It tells an important and little known true story about how Americans and Russians worked together to reduce the risk of nuclear war, and got to know each other in the process.

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

Touching and insightful.

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

Monty Python and The Holy Grail

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

About seven years.

7. How many stories have you written?

One memoir (in English and Russian) and a half dozen short stories.

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

Talking Heads: Naïve Melody

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

Finding blocks of undisturbed time to focus.

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

Humanitarian clowning.

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

I think it’s a great platform for budding screen writers to seek out feedback and professional attention.

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

I liked the title of the festival, since my story is also a romance. The feedback I received was slightly useful. There were one or two bits of specific advice, but the rest seemed general and fawning, not terribly useful for helping me to improve my work.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

When the arms race suddenly ended…

The Plowshare Paradox is the true story of two men whose lives are turned upside down at the end of the Cold War. Decorated hero Vladimir Sadovnikov spent his life proudly building nuclear weapons to defend his beloved country, his Party, his workers and his family. He disintegrates, both physically and emotionally, as the world he thought he knew and the system he believed in dissolve around him.

CAST LIST:

Narration: Carina Cojeen
Vladimir: Caleb Jaques
Defense Minister: Sean Ballantyne

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Interview with Screenwriter Horton Emory (TRANSPARENT Spec Screenplay)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Horton Emory: My spec script ‘Transparent: Who’s Getting Ali?’ is about using the rare moments of anonymity we have to explore gender.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy Spec

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

Self exploration

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

Best in Show

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

I worked on this screenplay for about five months.

6. How many stories have you written?

In my day job I’m a journalist, so combined with narrative work it has to be at least hundreds!

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

I’m going to hold “A Father’s First Spring” by The Avett Brothers close to me even though I can’t bring myself to listen to it, because my mother sent it to me just before she died.


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

There were two big challenges in this screenplay: first of all, I had to figure out what to do with Maura, since Jeffrey Tambor is no longer with the show and the episode is set after the fourth season ends but before the fifth begins. I let Maura move away and have her own life, but after I wrote the spec Transparent revealed Maura will be dead in the newest season and I wish I had thought of that! I think I was afraid to kill off one of the most prominent transgender characters in television. But now that the show has done it, I think its a brilliant way to wrap up the series. Maura needs to leave the show in a strong, final way and there will be a lot of emotional material to work with in the rest of the characters to end on a strong emotional note, as this show is known to do. (I know that was a rant, but I want to put my respect for the direction the show took out there!)

As far as a more technical obstacle, that had to do with the timeline between writing scenes in both Los Angeles and Israel, and how those would meet up. It was very confusing and it took a while to create a sequence of events that made sense logistically.

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

Media literacy! I used to manage a newsroom and the company was taken over by a man with no media literacy, and boy is that dangerous. I’ve seen first hand that some people who control media aren’t media literate, and that’s how ignorance spreads.

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

I started using FilmFreeway as a festival I was working with was switching from Withoutabox. I had used both platforms and FilmFreeway was so much more user-friendly!

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

I entered this festival because at this stage in my career, I want all the feedback I can get.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

CAST LIST:

TSA Officer: Allan Brunet
Husband: Diego O’Brien
Len: Justin Martins
Narrator: Elizabeth Morriss
Sarah: Michele Urbano
Ali: Jessica Bowmer
Davina: Victoria Urquhart

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