Interview with Screenwriter Gustavo Freitas (Lies, Hamburgers, and Cufflinks)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Gustavo Freitas: It’s a non-linear story about a guy that gets a job in a roadside restaurant and ends up caught in an unsuccessful robbery involving the Russian mafia. To save his life, he must find out who ordered the theft of a 4 million dollar pair of cufflinks which belonged to the mafia boss.

But, of course, nothing in this story really is what it appears to be.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s a short crime-thriller that leans on the Heist subgenre.

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

This script is thrilling, full of suspense and keeps you wondering where it’s going. The non-linear storytelling gives an extra spice. Everybody loves a surprise, and this story is full of them, especially when you figure out that everybody seems to be lying.

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

Surprising and gritty.

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

I’m a big fan of the Star Wars original trilogy and The Godfather, so it would be a close call between these two.

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

I played with this idea for over one year. The basic concept was to start the story with a guy held hostage by a bunch of criminals, and you knew nothing about him or why he’s there. I played with this idea for a while figuring out different possibilities of who is this guy and why he’s there. I wanted that it turned out to be something really shocking and mind-blowing.

From the start, I planned that, as the story unfolds, you would discover that every single information that you’ve assumed from this very first scene would be wrong. When I figured out that part, everything else came together.

Because of the non-linear structure, planning it was much more difficult than the writing part. When I’ve actually started to write it, it was a matter of weeks. But the central concept puzzled me for a while before I’ve typed the first word.

7. How many stories have you written?

I write for a production company in Brazil, so I’ve developed a few TV pilots with them. At this point, it was 6 pilots for live-action series and 4 for animated series.

Recently we were hired by Fox Latin America to help in the development of a new Animated Series for TV, and I’ve written another five short episodes for this project.

Besides that, I’ve written four features and two shorts on a spec. One of these scripts, “Lost Coyote,” was recently selected by the producer and director Earnest Harris (“A Simple Promise”), who is going to be the executive producer of this project. I’m very excited about this partnership, and I hope we can start shooting it soon.

Currently, I’m writing a new script based on the memoirs of the Navy Petty Officer Robert Jackson, one of the first guys that exposed the Iran-Contras scandal in the eighties. He denounced the illegal sale of weapons to Iran using the USS Kitty Hawk and took his case to the Congress. This story will be based on his book, “Running Scared.”

This experience is fascinating, as I’ve got the opportunity to be in touch with Robert Jackson himself. So this is the first time that I have the chance to actually talk with the protagonist as I write his story.

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

I’m a big fan of Nirvana, Aerosmith, and Led Zeppelin. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is one of my favorite songs ever.

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

Writing a non-linear story is a difficult task, especially when you want to have a big reveal in the end. This story demanded an amount of early planning quite higher than any of my other scripts.

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

I love scuba diving and playing the guitar. Both of these hobbies allow me to know interesting people and places.

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

I love FilmFreeway, as it makes all the process of submitting your script to festivals much easier. I use it all the time.

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

I love the table reads. Just love it. It’s useful to hear your lines coming out from the mouth of an actor or actress. It always helps me improve my dialogue.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

To save his life, a guy held hostage by the Russian mafia must find out who ordered the robbery of a 4 million dollar pair of cufflinks.

CAST LIST:

Shapiro: Geoff Mays
Ashley: Kyana Teresa
Narrator: Val Cole
Laura: Teira Watts
Jeff: Christian Vargas
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Interview with Screenwriter Gustavo Freitas (OPERATION BROTHER SAM)

OPERATION BROTHER SAM was the winner of BEST FEATURE SCREENPLAY at the August 2018 Action/Adventure/Crime/Mystery Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Gustavo Freitas:During the Cold War an Intelligence Officer, haunted by the death of his wife, must stop a US Ambassador who plans to fraud the Brazilian elections. This script is based on true historical events.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

This is an action / spy thriller.

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

Usually Cold War movies focus on the European setting, but there were so many interesting stories happening in Latin America in the same time period. This is a part of the History that must be told.

Few people still remember that during the sixties and the seventies the U.S. Government supported dictatorships all over South America in order to stop the Communist threat. I wanted to tell a story about a group of people trying to fight against that kind of foreign policy. This is a story about idealism, sacrifice, fairness and fighting for what’s right, even against all the odds. This is a timeless discussion and one I believe it’s worth telling.

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

Summarizing almost one hundred pages of a script in two words is probably be the worst nightmare of a screenwriter. That being said, and with a gun in my head, I would have to say: dark and sharp. Is it three words?

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

I believe it was “Star Wars IV: a New Hope,” but it is a close dispute with “The Godfather.”

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

I had researched the material for over a year, trying to find the story I wanted to tell. The execution part of the script took me three months, counting the rewrites.

7. How many stories have you written?

That’s a tricky question. I’m developing an animation series for Fox, so I had to write down 26 short episodes just for the first season. Specifically about features, I’ve written three screenplays so far, one of them optioned. Also, I’ve worked on six pilots for TV series, two of which are being market right now.

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

I love music, so this is probably the hardest question for me. One of my top choices would have to be “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” by Nirvana. But I actually have a long list of favorite songs, coming from The Doors to Arctic Monkeys.

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

Many sleepless nights, I’ll tell you that. Setting up the plot was quite easy, but entering the minds and views of each character was a huge challenge. Looking to the final draft, I’m happy to see that each character stands with his own voice, and they sound quite unique and fresh.

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

I love playing guitar and I’m really dedicated to that. That’s something I try to do almost every day. I also like to sing, which is quite relaxing. Besides that, I’m a certified scuba diver, which is something that I really love to do when I have some extra time in my hands.

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

I’m a big fan of FilmFreeway. It’s very practical for the writer, as you can easily submit to multiple contests and keep track of them.

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

Being able to have professional actors reading your script is a wonderful experience. It’s invaluable. Feedback was good, but it can’t be compared with a table-read. First, it was very satisfying to see all these characters come to life. Second, to be able to hear an actor performing your material is an incredible tool to sharpening the dialogue. I would recommend every single writer to do at least one table-read of their scripts.

 

Genre: Action, Political Thriller

During the Cold War, an intelligence officer, haunted by the death of his wife, must confront a corrupt politician who plans to start a military dictatorship in Brazil.

CAST LIST:

Thomas: Charles Gordon
Camilla: Amber Copeland
Narrator: Carina Cojeen
Mark: Kevin P. Gabel
Colton: Neil Bennett
Garrett: Ryan Singh

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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.