Interview with Screenwriter Thomas Clary (The Switch)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Thomas Clary: Well, the official logline is: “After an unexplained global event, where everyone on Earth has switched bodies, an FBI agent must recapture every serial killer he’s ever put in jail after they’ve “escaped” into other people. They look nothing like they did before; they have different DNA and fingerprints… But one thing hasn’t changed — their desire to kill.”

That’s the story, but at its heart it’s “about” the question of “Who are we really?” You think you know who you are… But are you 100% sure? And, would you stay that way if everything you thought you knew about yourself just “switched” one day? Our hero FBI agent, Cooper Langford, suddenly finds himself in the body of literally the richest man in the world after going to sleep living a life of a miserable failure. When he starts to discover that he could very well be at the center of why the world has been turned upside-down, he must decide whether he’s going to help get to the bottom of it all — or compromise everything he thought he believed in to keep from changing back.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s a Sci-Fi Suspense/Horror series inspired by those suspenseful, cinematic serial killer movies like “Silence Of The Lambs”, “Manhunter”, and “Seven” — and the larger “mythology” science fiction T.V. shows like “The X-Files” and “Westworld”.

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a TV SHOW?

Well, because I think it’s pretty awesome!!!

Seriously, though… I think there is a real fun and watchable “monster of the week” aspect to it as Cooper and his crew attempt to re-find all of these dangerous serial killers and hunt them down all over again. But on top of that, there is a deeper story about why everyone has suddenly changed bodies — and is there a way that they can ever change back? I think that’s going to be the story that really hooks everyone and keeps them coming back week after week to see what happens.

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

Fun read.

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

I think for everyone my age, our answer is going to be a very boring one. When I was seven years-old, the original Star Wars was my babysitter. My mom used to drop me off at the Sherman Oaks General Cinema (here in the San Fernando Valley) with enough money for a ticket and a couple of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups from the concession stand. While she would run errands in the morning — I would go to Tatooine and the Death Star. It was a different time and it wasn’t an issue for a 7 year old to be alone in a movie theater (hard to believe, I know), so I ended up seeing it about 50-70 times. Little did I realize, it was one of my first masterclasses in filmmaking and is still a deep influence on my storytelling even now, forty years later.

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

I started writing it about seven or eight years ago, got to about page twenty and then put it on the shelf for a while. Then, about a year ago, I decided to blow off the dust and cobwebs from it and had it done in about two months. It all flowed pretty quick at that point.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written quite a few stories. I’ve written about four or five full length screenplays. I wrote a spec script for the “X-Files” as a writing sample. But, nothing has been produced or published.

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

The Power Of The Heart sung by Peter Gabriel. It was originally a Lou Reed song that he wrote to propose to Laurie Anderson. Gabriel’s version of it is achingly gorgeous and just puts me in the mood every time I sit down to write my next full-length screenplay. Someday, my dream is to create something so beautiful.

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

I’m the father of 6 year-old twins with a full-time day job as a Visual Effects Producer for film and TV. Finding the time to write with all the plates I was spinning was quite the adventure. But now I’ve been able to set up more of a routine that makes that less of an issue.

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

I love photography. There is something about telling a story with a single visual image that excites me and (I hope) helps me to be economical and efficient in my writing. I’m also trying to teach myself the guitar — but that’s more of a sadistic passion rather than a “passion” passion.

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

I think it’s a wonderful site. Anything that makes it easier to enter festivals — and toot your own horn, as well — I certainly endorse.

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

I actually owe quite a bit to a colleague at work for urging me to enter, if not specifically this festival, science-fiction based festivals in general. I had mentioned to him that I was doing well in other festivals, but I couldn’t seem to break the top 20 or 10. He suggested that maybe I should enter festivals that were specifically for the genre(s) my screenplay was in. His thinking was that other festivals may be making the mistake of not taking this type off work as seriously as they should — instead rewarding more traditionally “important” pieces. It was excellent advice. And now, here we are!

The feedback was very good and helped me to put the last bit of detail work into the script I needed to really “dot my i’s and cross my t’s.” I was confident in the work prior to getting the notes, but it really helped to hear things that would take it over the top.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

After an unexplained global event, where everyone on Earth has switched bodies, FBI Agent Cooper Langford must recapture every serial killer he’s ever put in jail after they’ve “escaped” into other people. They look nothing like they did before; they have different DNA and fingerprints… But one thing hasn’t changed — their desire to kill.

CAST LIST:
Mille: Regan Brown
Bertie: Peter Nelson
Wentworth: Kevin Gabel
Narration: Laura Kyswaty
Cooper: Kevin Robinson
Waters: Patrice Henry
Trillium: Emily Weir

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Interview with Screenwriter Stan Barton (Moon Over the Hill)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Stan Barton: A hard-edged attorney leaves it all and moves into a secluded adobe in the high desert with an acquaintance, but the house holds a secret that brings trouble knocking at the door.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Thriller, Dramedy

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie

? It is emotional, intriguing, inexpensive and has a positive theme of making amends. It has few speaking parts and 90% of scenes can be filmed on property owned by the writer.

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

simply entertaining

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

SLEEPLESS IN SEATLE

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

6 months

7. How many stories have you written?

six

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

YOU REALLY GOT A HOLD ON ME

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

developing a fairly complex story with few characters and my first effort at the thriller genre – I had to study a lot about what makes a thriller work.

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

Horse racing

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

GOOD


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

I wanted quick feedback on my first draft. Feedback was valid – but maybe the reader wanted a more predictable story

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

When a cutthroat lawyer seeks a new life and redemption in a secluded homestead in the high desert of New Mexico, she discovers the previous owner’s mysterious experiment, which the government is desperate to bury, along with anyone associated with it. She is determined to make the wonder drug available for the public’s good.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Val Cole
Rosie: Michelle Urbano
Black M: Peter-Mark Raphael

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Interview with Screenwriter Giselle DaMier (ASHPODEL)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Giselle DaMier: ASPHODEL explores moral conflict, and the extent to which humans will go to satisfy their theological beliefs. With the classically disarming energy of the Twilight Zone and the theme of two women falling in love, ASPHODEL creates an equally timeless and culturally relevant take on the thriller genre.

Log Line: After stepping off a train into a foggy grassland, Lyla meets a beguiling girl named Marie in an isolated town called Asphodel, where the residents believe they exist in a realm between life and death.

2. -What genres does your screenplay fall under?

ASPHODEL falls under the following genres: Thriller, Romance, LGBT, Mystery, Drama.

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

Although I think the LGBT struggle is a valid theme and something that absolutely needs to be represented in the media, I also think that it is important to tell stories that normalize homosexual romance, where the main characters are comfortable in their sexuality. Firstly, ASPHODEL is a dynamic, ethereal film that will captivate fans of the classic noir genre, and it also happens to star two girls in love.

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

Heaven & Hell.

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

Clue (1985)

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

Two years.

7. -How many stories have you written?

Countless, with about 20 that I actually like.

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

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

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

I was so focused on the relationship between the two leading women, it took time to develop the other characters that populate the town of Asphodel.

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

I am passionate about Greek mythology, French New Wave cinema, and the sea.

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

FilmFreeway has become my favorite submission website because it allows me to add specific details to each project, including a poster, a writer’s statement, and a list of awards.

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

Surprisingly, there aren’t yet many LGBT film festivals, especially for screenwriters. I am grateful that the Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival has provided this platform. I found the feedback to be valuable and applicable.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

After stepping off a train into a foggy grassland, Lyla meets a beguiling girl named Marie in an isolated town called Asphodel, where the residents believe they exist in a realm between life and death.

CAST LIST:

Diane: Regan Brown
Marie: Patrice Henry
Narration: Laura Kyswaty
Lyla: Emily Weir
Engineer: Peter Nelson

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Interview with Screenwriter Justin Lamar Petty (The Immortal King Jesus)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Justin Lamar Petty: My screenplay is about The Lord Jesus Christ and the sacrifice God made for humanity in order for us all to be able to choose eternal life through his son the mediator between God and man Jesus Christ.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

My screenplay falls under the drama category.

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

My screenplay should be made into a movie because it explores the idea of the lord Jesus Christ being portrayed by a Black Man something that has NEVER been done BEFORE.

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

I’d describe my script in 2 words as ” Very OMINIPOTENT”

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

What movie have i seen the most times in my life “The Godfather trilogy by Martin Scorsese.

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

I’ve been working on this screenplay 1 year.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have written hundreds of stories film tv and playwrights.

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

My favorite song is ” I ain’t hard 2 find” by 2pac Shakur

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

The only obstacles i faced during writing my screenplay is just finding the time i own a business too.

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

I am also passionate about recording music for the record/ music publishing company i own Intangible Entertainment LLC / Southside Lima Landlord publishing ( BMI publisher)

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

My experience with film freeway has been great they create a great submission platform for indie screenwriters to make contacts ams network within Hollywood and with indie film makers they’re wonderful i actively use my profile.

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 after i won best tv pilot/ script writer of the month in October 2018 i knew i had something special. My feelings on the feedback i received were positive i feel blessed to be apart of this opportunity.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

CAST LIST :

Eve – 2 – Brittany Clough
Mary – 3 – Anne McMaster
NARRATION – Jen Daniels
Jesus – 4 – Hugh Ritchie
Satan – 7 – Ron Boyd
Adam – 2 – Rhys Harrison

A FilmFreeway preferred festival:

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Interview with Screenwriter Renee Rubio (VIVA!!)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Renee Rubio: Freedom

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Action / Adventure, Drama, Dramedy

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

The vision is a television series to send a message of awareness in an entertaining way.

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

Rollercoaster Ride

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

Braveheart, Gladiator and Everafter

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

Three Years

7. How many stories have you written?

Ten to Fifteen at least

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

Panama by Van Halen, Iris by The GooGoo Dolls, Dark Horse by Katie Perry

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

My husband’s debilitating stroke and my computer’s constant overheating. I’ve learn to type very fast 😉

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

Roses and Skin Care

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

I love it! Sending my work out there is so exciting. And to be able to appreciate the thoughts and artful expressions from others is fun!

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

It seemed like a festival that VIVA!! would be well received. The feedback was so spot- on and much needed. Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees.
I thank you all again and again cause you’re awesome!

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A young, ambitious woman takes on the world of human trafficking to find her friend. Fearless and focused she infiltrates a global menagerie of evil. Her crusade against slavery becomes a fight for her own freedom and her life.

CAST LIST:

Dixie – JESSICA BOWMER
NARRATION – STEPHEN SANDQUIST
Jack – SARAH-HAZEN BASK
Gladys – JULIE SHEPPARD

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Interview with Screenwriter Grace Nguyen (MESSS)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Grace Nguyen: Ultimatus is about a powerful, elemental weapon that splits into different weapons; each with one element, after its wielder passed away. One teenage girl goes on a fetch quest of one of those weapons, after it was stolen, with an unlikely partner. Together, the pair overcomes tribulations whether it be the girl’s traumatic past or her partner seeking retribution.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Action, Adventure, Medieval-fantasy.

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

It would mean the world to me to have “Ultimatus” become a movie. Because bringing my screenplay(s) to life has been a huge dream of mine ever since I took screenwriting seriously a couple years ago. At the time I’m writing this, I haven’t come close to that yet. But I’m hoping to achieve that with this screenplay. After all, compared to the other screenplays I’ve written, this one, I feel like I’ve really put all my heart and soul in to.

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

Hakuoki inspired.

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

I don’t usually watch the same movie multiple times. It varies, but most movies are watch are animated. Though, occasionally, there will be a small number of movies I have a “phase” about. Last one being Disney Pixar’s “Coco.”

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

I started on this screenplay about Christmas 2017. So more than 2 years at this point.

7. How many stories have you written?

At the time I’ve taken screenwriting seriously, I’ve written about 3 screenplays at the very least. I’ve written 2 others but those are incomplete.

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

Similar to question 5, my song choices also varies. Though I mostly listen to the Japanese kinds (whether it be JRock or JPop)

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

My mind not being able to focus on writing this for very long. I would work on it for about 30 seconds or so, then do something else. In addition to that, I’ve been going back to change some parts numerous times. There’s also been days when I wasn’t working on this screenplay either.

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

I’m passionate about anime (Japanese animation) since I was a child. It has helped get through the rough patches in my life; from keeping my spirits up to making me temporarily forget I had any friends. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without anime. Speaking of which, back on question 4, I stated “Ultimatus” is Hakuoki inspired. Hakuoki is another anime; and the only one that I’ve been in love with for more than 6 years. Therefore, I want to emphasize that onto “Ultimatus.”

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

Despite me not having been on FilmFreeway for very long at the moment, I found it to be very trustworthy. I also hope to enter more of my screenplays through here.

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

Ever since I took screenwriting seriously, I decided I want to bring my screenplay to life. Problem was, I wasn’t sure the right pathway to achieve that. So I’ve been exploring many options. One such options was one of my connections in Linkedin sent me a link to the storypitches site. I gave that a shot and it’s been going well so far.

My feelings on the feedback I received for “Messs” were well received. Since I believe I garnered more screenwriting experience when working on “Ultimatus,” of course, I’ve put more what I’ve learned into that more than any other.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Logline: “Messs” is a action, supernatural in which Anika Takano gets more than what she bargained for despite being a “Messs,” a rare type of exorcist who can’t see demons during a certain time-range of day.

Genre: Action, Animated, Supernatural

CAST LIST:

Masaki – SARAH-HAZEN BASK
Demon Takeshi – STEPHEN SANDQUIST
NARRATION – KAT SMILEY
Anika – JESSICA BOWMER
Sayuri – JULIE SHEPPARD
Daisuke – STEVE SWITZMAN

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Interview with Screenwriter Nehemiah Russell (ODE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Nehemiah Russell: My screenplay involves a small town ambushed by music loving humanoids. A sleepless curious boy named Vite wanders around his home and ends up wandering to the right place at the wrong time.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Horror/Thriller/Drama

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

Moviegoers demand a new kind of horror. Movies like Get Out inspired me to be more adventurous in the way I execute horror, and with all the reboots and live action movies coming out, people want and need new and authentic stories.

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

Silent dread

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

The Lord of the Rings. Easily.

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

1-2 months

7. How many stories have you written?

23 stories

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

After Dark by Asian Kung-Fu Generation

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

There was a lot I wanted to write, but had to narrow down for such short screenplay.

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

Music and Art. I make my own comics and I perform with various orchestras in the area.

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

It’s been great. The site is easy to use and the directions are straightforward.

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

Writing horror stories has always been fun to me. It’s nice to experiment with different concepts and combine them together. This was my first time submitting a horror screenplay, so I will definitely do even better on the second submission.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

They came from the ground, and they stayed for the music.

CAST LIST:

NARRATION – Anne McMaster
Little Girl – 1 – Brittany Clough

A FilmFreeway preferred festival:

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