Interview with Novelist Bogdan Dzakovic (FORTRESS OF DECEIT)

1. What is your novel about?

This is an autobiographical account of my 32 year adventure in the federal government. Beginning my career with enthusiasm and idealism and ending with the belief that our own government is more a threat to this country than anything that can be dreamed up from outside. Between the two, the events I witnessed or participated in which infused in me these hard lessons of reality. This includes our efforts to prevent the 9/11 terrorist attacks (yes, we knew it was going to happen) followed by the retribution of a vengeful federal government that demonstrated its more interested in maintaining its lucrative and unaccountable status quo than in serving the country – no matter how many people it kills.

On the positive side, the book also demonstrates what moral, highly motivated individuals and groups can accomplish once they learn to ignore the limitations that society and the system imposes on them.

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

Nonfiction, horror, comedy, all rolled into one.

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

Ecce signum!

Latin for: behold the proof.

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

The Yakuza!

The ZEN master in the movie is inspirational.

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

The music of ENYA is my favorite. She has the voice of an angel.

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

The original Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Deductive reasoning is a unique way of thinking.

7. What motivated you to write this story?

I spent the first half of my career developing the expertise to identify the threat, the vulnerabilities, and attempted to prevent the calamity of the 9/11 terror attacks. Just one of a few in the entire federal government to do so. I spent the latter half of my career entombed in an entry level staff job engaged in a daily struggle just to survive. After 9/11 when I realized that Congress was engaging in a big cover up, including the 9/11 Commission, I became an official federal government whistleblower. Through experience I learned that even the whistleblower laws were designed to maintain the unaccountable status quo of the government. Once I was able to retire, I knew this story of how our government really operates had to be told.

Frederic Whitehurst (one of the first of contemporary whistleblowers engaged in trying to stop major FBI abuses in the 1980s and 90s, and a hero of mine) recently sent me an email succinctly describing the problem in government. It was written specifically addressing the FBI, but it applies directly to the entire federal government: “The problem we have with them is that they are law enforcement officers and though fools can cut and slash under the color of law for as long as they wish without accountability. Because we are a civilized society we do not cut and slash in return. We do what we do with the law, so far without violence, so far in a civilized manner. With our hands tied behind our back, blinded in both eyes and without hearing. They know it, violate the law and human rights and hide behind the badge while beating the hell out us.”

This is the reality of the deep state. If you got rid of waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government then literally at least have of our tax dollars would be eliminated. This doesn’t even count the more nefarious things our government does.

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

My mom. Didn’t get much of a chance. She died when I was eight.

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

Life, developing the mind, body, spirit.

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

Someone suggested I contribute my book, seemed like a great opportunity, particularly with a minimal budget for marketing. Really a great service you provide.

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

Don’t quit your day job. Write for yourself. Never say die.
 

Buy on Amazon

Performed by Elizabeth Rose Morriss

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Interview with Winning Screenwriter Mirka Kettunen (MAJOR TOM AND THE ALIEN GIRL)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Mirka Kettunen: “Major Tom and the Alien girl” is a story about two space geeks with extraordinary talents. In different parts of town both of them have been waiting “for the Mothership” to come pick them up.

But when they finally meet and realize that the other one is on the same wavelength, then suddenly their mundane lives downtrodden by the gravity becomes exciting and weightless.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Rom-com / Sci-fi.

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

It addresses loneliness and feeling excluded because you are different. It gives hope to those that feel they are left out by life and love. Theis movie shows that you can find friendship, understanding and even love in the most unbelievable places. You could say, we are not alone in space, because the eternity of space starts here on Earth. Maybe the real Mothership that’ll take you home lives next doors?

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

Galactically hopeful.

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

At home: “Trading places” with Eddie Murphy. I lost count between 40-45 times. Now it’s probably around 50 times.

At the cinemas: “Gladiator” 10+ times.

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

I’ve thought about this idea for the last 5 years, but as a written script it’s been approximately a year in the making and planning.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve probably written some 15 short film stories. Lots of short stories and poems. And now I’m working on a history / mystery novel series that will include 3-4 books.

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

Probably the collected works of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. It’s calming and mostly in Latin, so the meaning of the lyrics don’t distract me. I’ve used Arvo Pärt as my “writing music” for over ten tears.

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

As the story is dependant on VFX I debated with myself if the script should be doable on a low budget or if it should look good. I went for the Writer’s Privilege – writing the scenes I want to see, not the scenes that can be produced on a shoestring budget. But I also have ideas how to solve the visual difficulties of showing weightlessness on Earth with old school and not expensive film techniques.

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

I love directing and learning about dramaturgy and good ways to solve visual problems when shooting. Otherwise I like salsa, take long hikes and bike riding.

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

Filmfreeway has been such a good and easy platform to work with. I had thought it would be more tech heavy, complicated and so on, but I highly recommend it.

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

I looked for fantasy and sci-fi festivals and found yours. I didn’t make it into the competition with my script “Major Tom and the Alien girl”, but I got brilliant written feedback on how to improve it-

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

This is a short romcom sci-fi about Tom Major. He keeps waiting ‘the Mothership’ to come pick him up. In order to survive life on Earth he sees his life through the eyes of the his alias – the astronaut Major Tom. Apparently he’s not the only one who believes he’s stranded here. One day he meets Sigourney, aka Scotty, who’s also waiting to get beamed up.

Narration – Justin Hay
Tom – 14 – Hartley O. Gyamfi
Scotty – 18 – Esther Rogers

Interview with Writer Dossie H. Terrell (Good Things Come To Those Who Wait)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your story about?

Dossie H. Terrell: Clare could never reconcile the habitually dirty, disorderly lifestyle of Glenn, her morbidly obese spouse, with her puritanical sensibilities. To that end, she finally reached her coping limits. She wants out but, in the meantime, takes pleasure in tormenting him and waiting for what she presumes will be his imminent demise. Her personal ambitions, as she imagined them to be, can be achieved.

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

Prose fiction

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

Life’s reclamation

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

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

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

Amazing Grace

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

Pride and Prejudice

7. What motivated you to write this story?

It’s an amalgamation of relationship types I witnessed in my career in social service, among my family and my friends. I discovered t lack of constructive communication, a failure to see each other’s points of view and a disregard for warning signs, denoting trouble ahead, were leading causes of breakups.

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

Maya Angelou

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

Getting to know Jesus more intimately and taking His message of Grace to whomever and wherever it leads.

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

I needed a confidence booster. Winning the right to have my work read by a Novel Writing Festival professional not only gave me a delightful boost, it also provided a renewed inspiration to keep writing.

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

Keep writing even on those days you can’t dream up a single original idea. When that happens, picture yourself, beyond your moments of mental inertia, in an idyllic place where you are both creative and prolific. Imagine writing your best-seller. If you find this mind shift, or change in focus, successful go there often, even when your muse returns.

Performed by Val Cole

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Interview with Writer Ed Kulzer (Twitter Short Story)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your story about?

Ed Kulzer: The story is about a standard, carbon copy, cardigan-wearing office worker, a woman becoming aware of how suffocating the lack of fulfillment in her monotonous life has become. “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”, opined Thoreau, presciently foretelling the gargantuan army of spiritual malaise masquerading as a society marching on the belly of numbed clockwatchers cruising on autopilot. But for this office worker, this woman, today is a line crossed in the sand, a demarcation of radical departure. The exact nature of that change is left vague. Quitting? Vacation? A whirlwind of workplace violence? Even I don’t know.

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

urban contemporary fiction

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

Life Actualization

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

Frozen. And no, I’m not happy about that.

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

“Let it Go”, may God save my aching soul. I’m a dad of an 8 year old.

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

Dune

7. What motivated you to write this story?

The news reports of the latest office-place mass shooting which aired while I was listening to Radiohead’s “Spinning Plates”.

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

My daughter. I all too often am kept late editing at Sesame Street & rarely get the chance.

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

Art, reading, politics, crafting the machinery of motivation to try to lighten the load of a burdened blighted world.

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

Just the opportunity presented.

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

Be mindful of advice or tips you receive and heed from other writers.

 

performed by Kate Fenton

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Screenwriter Max Federman (ABANDON ALL HOPE)

ABANDON ALL HOPE was the winner of BEST SHORT SCREENPLAY at the July 2018 Screenplay Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Max Federman: A sinister government organization investigates a mysterious, seemingly infinite stairwell after a group of college students unwittingly stumble upon it hidden on campus. Unimaginable evil lurks in the oily dark.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Horror, thriller, suspense, cosmic terror, conspiracy

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

This is just a taste of a much larger world I have crafted over years and years. The mysterious organization introduced here play a major role in locating, securing, and destroying supernatural objects, creatures, and events. A film will ideally lead to a franchise where we can explore a world that outwardly looks much like our own only with the extraordinary waiting around every corner while a shadowy psuedo-government organization goes to any limit to protect the world. – Genre is in and this is the kind of shared-world sandbox that allows for a studio to produce several films simultaneously each with unique and talented filmmakers.

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

Monster Cover-up

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

John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)

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

It took me a few weeks to write it about 90% of what it is now but I have been tweaking it and perfecting it for about a year.

7. How many stories have you written?

Dozens if not hundreds.

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

Train Song by Vashti Bunyon

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

Like all shorts I write, I feel the need to keep going. I have a treatment for this project as a feature and as a series – it was tough for me to decide where this story ends exactly and I chose to end it the way I did because it feels more like a beginning of a much larger story.

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

I assume this is obvious, but in addition to writing, I also direct and produce films. I have to count film-making and storytelling more broadly as my greatest passion in life.

I grew up in rural Oklahoma and what most people don’t know about Oklahoma is that it has nearly every biosphere imaginable: the iconic plains, thick forests of trees, sprawling desert, swamps, mountains, lakes and rivers. My grandfather, was a member of the Comanche tribe as well as a Ranger at Roman Nose State Park and he passed on his deep spiritual love of the outdoors along to me. I have visited nearly every national park in the country and plan to get started counting off State parks next. Living in LA I am lucky that I can get a good hike in nearly every day, and with all the amazing places within a few hours drive I get to spend most weekends exploring somewhere new. My deep connection to nature is a defining part of who I am. Coming from a town of only 3,000 people, I appreciate the value of community and go out of my way to foster a sense of community wherever I am. Extending from this is my involvement in local beautification efforts, environmental, and animal rescue initiatives.

I have played soccer my entire life, from the time I could walk through college and even now I play in a recreational league. But what brings me the most joy is getting involved in kids soccer whether its refereeing games or coaching young kids – I love passing on my love of the game to another generation.

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

It is very convenient to have all a shared submission platform because I do not have to reenter the same information over and over again as I submit projects. The browsing feature is also very helpful and has resulted in me discovering dozens of film festivals perfect for my works.

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

I was very interested in feedback and the taped table read and I have been beyond grateful for what I got back from the festival. I will definitely recommend this festival to other writers I know.  

Genre: Thriller, Horror, Sci-Fi

A student disappears down a dark staircase, and something is down there with him. Tension and intrigue build as campus security is edged out by a shadowy organization taking over the scene.

CAST LIST:

Hilary: Kyra Weichert
Police Dispath: Lauren Kristina Maykut
Narrator: Matt Barnes
Dr. Cary: Jarrod Terrell
McNamara: Allan Michael Brunet
Sean: Rob Notman

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Winning Screenwriter (PREY FOR THE DAY)

1. What is your screenplay about?

John and Kathy Pearson are an early 30’s, financially successful couple living an Los Angeles and are flown out Miami to meet a Real Estate Investor, Miguel, with a Real Estate investment plan that seems too good to be true, rehabbing abandoned neighborhoods from the Real Estate bubble for great returns on investment. After showing them a few of the areas the pair becomes suspicious when Miguel invites some of “Contractors” out to meet them. They are subsequently tied up, beaten and forced to transfer all their money to Miguel. After the deal is done Miguel goes back on his word and orders his men to murder them. John breaks free and turns the tables on Miguel and his henchmen. John and Kathy flee into the swampy, derelict neighborhood they were originally lured. Miguel, having survived the escape hires “Human Hunters” and puts a price on their heads. From there it’s a cat and mouse game of survival in an worn down area far from any civilization

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Suspense/Thriller

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

It’s an edge of your seat, action thriller which will have an audience thinking “What’s next?. The backstory of the couple makes them characters the audience will cheer for and the bad guys characters the audience will genuinely hate. The isolation of the locale adds to the atmosphere and feeling of helplessness..

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

Page turner.

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

John Carpenter’s Halloween.

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

Took close to six months. Rewrote the story several times giving the two main characters more of a backstory and introduced more bad characters in the “Abandoned community”. The ending took a few rewrites as well to make it credible. Had to give the story more of that emotional roller coaster feel to it.

7. How many stories have you written? Scripts (Feature) Three horror, Three suspense/thrillers, Five character driven dramas, three short screenplays (20 pages) and A TV sitcom idea (Pilot and three scripts for the idea) a while back.

8. What is your favorite song?

(Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?) Any song off the original BOSTON album.

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

The pacing of the story was the most difficult part. Keeping the visuals, action scenes and characters all together and at a pace that was believable without taking anything or anyone to a situation that might confuse the reader. Also making the John and Kathy characters that I call “Transitional”

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

Reading biographies (For inspiration) Real Estate investing, Travel and Photography.

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

Great. A combination of guidance and encouragement through the writing process.

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

Feedback has been great. They definitely are thorough in their reading as I can tell from their notes. Again, always encouraging!!

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Genre: Thriller/Suspense

An early 30’s couple is flown from California to Florida by a Real Estate Investor with an opportunity that appears too good to be true. Once they arrive the couple soon realizes they have fallen into the hands of a con man and his “Henchmen”. They are robbed, taken hostage and beaten as their journey to financial security soon becomes a fight for survival and terrifying encounters in an abandoned home development out in the middle of nowhere.

CAST LIST:

Tara: Cassandra Sirois
Billy: James Murray
Kathy: Vanessa Quaglaira
Narrator: Val Cole
John: Dan Fox
Miguel: Nick Wicht
Mendez: Fabio Abreu
 

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Michael Clohesy (BIOS)

Get to know the writer: 

 1. What is your screenplay about?

BIOS surrounds the life, love and destiny of two people, born lifetimes apart but who share the same consciousness, who must come together and harness their shared potential in order to avert a cataclysmic ecological disaster.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

BIOS is a Sci-fi mystery drama. Kinda like LOST with some elements of Dark thrown in, even though it was conceived well before Dark entered the zeitgeist.

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

The reason BIOS should be made in to TV series is because the themes of Indigenous land rights, the cost of ecological preservation, the role of technology in overcoming adversity and the importance of critical thinking in a world full of ‘fake news’ are all crucial in today’s increasingly interconnected yet myopically corporatised global society.

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

Head. Trip.

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

The movie I’ve seen most in my life is probably Back to the Future Part II. Mainly because the TV channel in Australia that had the rights to it, seemed to play it and Part III every couple of months. Not Part I though weirdly, but I assume that was because it was the turn of the millennium, and implied themes of incestuous behaviour didn’t really fly with the ratings board back then. If only there was a way to go back and change things…

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

I worked on the version of BIOS this scene comes from off and on over the course of 5 months.

7. How many stories have you written?

I recently returned to writing after a break of four years, after I studied it during my post graduate diploma. Since this time last year, as well as BIOS, I have also written a short film ‘Min Min’ surrounding the psychedelic disappearance of a woman on her honeymoon at Uluru in Outback Australia.

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

As a voracious consumer of music that is a crazy hard question, but I’d have to say that Hall & Oates – Out Of Touch, Chaka Khan – Ain’t Nobody and Drake – Hold On We’re Going Home are definitely all up there, along with instrumental jams like Hans Zimmer – Time and John Murphy – Sunshine (Adagio in G Minor)

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

The biggest obstacle that I faced was time, which I see now is the recurring motif of this Q&A. Working erratic/ long hours freelancing in the Australian TV Industry, then trying to carve out time to ‘be creative’ as well as living a full active life. These are just a few of my many #firstworldwhitemanproblems

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

I’m passionate about active adventure and challenges, be they physical or mental, for if it challenges and pushes you, then anything that happens along the way is progress. That, and understanding the forces behind how the world works, who we are and how things got to be the way they are, in both the internal and cosmic sense… so basically I read a lot of science, anthropology and devour podcasts and travel the world as much as possible.

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

Film Freeway has been real smooth to use. easy to navigate and control my submissions to various competitions and programs. Two shakas up from me.

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

I was influenced to enter the festival primarily because it gave me a chance to get professional feedback on an original story that had been bursting out of my head over the middle of 2017. I was also very intrigued by the prize of having professional actors bring your story to life, which is something I never expected, especially considering this was the second screenplay I developed as a screenwriter, so I’m very grateful for such a cool opportunity.

Genre: Fantasy, Mystery

Life as we know it is thrown into question when a disparate group of young creatives attempt to unravel the multi-generational mystery surrounding the reemergence of a reclusive artist, one who aspires to save the world by forever changing the face of the planet.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Olivia Jon
Kita: Jennifer Vallance
Miranda: Lesley Ballantyne