Interview with Winning Screenwriter Joel Stern (WORD GAMES)

WORD GAMES is the September 2017 Winning Feature Screenplay.

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

“Word Games” is about two strangers in a nursing home who are isolated because of the “Blizzard of the Millennium” . One man – Sal Genesinni – is the janitor. The other is Dave Phillips, an old man, wheelchair bound, who was found abandoned in the storm. While Phillips’ true identity remains a mystery, he and Genesinni play “Scrabble” to kill time. As they spell certain words it takes us back in time to real life events. As they recall these events they actually change what happened. This affects the destiny of the promising young people they speak of. As the story unfolds, we realize their “game” is a battle of wits between good and evil – one they engage in as different people throughout time.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Suspense/Horror

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

“Word Games” would provide moviegoers with a suspenseful, alternative view of destiny and attempt to explain why bad things happen to good people.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Story in two words: Inescapable destiny.

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

The movie I’ve seen the most: “Pineapple Express”

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I wrote the short story two years ago (now on Amazon). I began writing the screenplay in January, 2016.

How many stories have you written?

I’m currently writing my third screenplay. I began my first, “Trickle Down”, a dramatic comedy based on the 2007 mortgage meltdown, in 2012.

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

Favorite song – Rod Stewart’s “Have I Told You Lately…”

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Obstacles to writing screenplay: Trying to think as God

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Other passions: Sports, politics, travel, history

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

Film Freeway: Easy to work with

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

I entered the festival to gage interest in my work and to get it produced. “Word Games” also won a Finalist Award at the Cannes Film Festival Screenwriting contest in April of this year.

I was thrilled with the feedback I received. I made a few clarifications when asked to.

Genre: Thriller, Horror, Drama

A commercial airliner flying to Paris explodes off the U.S. East Coast killing sixteen members of a high school French Club and a young pianist destined for greatness; a pair of deranged teens go on a terrifying high school shooting spree ending the life of a young girl devoted to serving God and mankind. If there is a master plan, how could these horrific events be allowed to happen?

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Val Cole
Sal: Kris Hagen
Dave: Peter Nelson
Monica: Shania Belton
Julie: Katelyn Varadi
Tanya/Shannon: Carina Cojeen
Lassen: Mike Ruderman
Bill: Nick Wicht

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Interview with Winning Screenwriter Holt Boggs (BROTHERS MCSHANE)

BROTHERS MCSHANE was the September 2017 Winning 1st Scene Screenplay.

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

Donny and Dickey McShane are two dumber-than-dirt lawmen who find out that their long lost twin brothers are actually the notorious Shifty Silver City Gang. They enlist the help of a “weird Indian fells” as they embark on a journey to find their siblings and save them from the hands of the deadly Molcajete Brothers before it’s too late.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy/ Western

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

Brothers McShane is a hybrid throw back to many of the great physical comedies (comedians) like, Blazing Saddles, Don Knotts, Buster Keaton and the like, not seen in modern cinema. Those elements mixed with a more modern action-packed feel, use of meta humor and modern references, while narrowly bordering a family friendly tone, I feel offers an interesting, heart-felt story to a much wider audience than your typical action/comedy. Basically, it’s an action-packed comedy that adults will want to see, but with enough potty humor and content safe enough to take their kids to. You can’t lose with fart jokes.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Fu**ing hilarious.

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

The Big Lebowski

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Two years.

How many stories have you written?

Eight

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

Probably the score to Leon – The Professional or anything from Eminem.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Really, it was finding the tone I wanted. Originally, I was dealing with a production company that was pressuring me to write a family film. Hungry to get a film made, I caved and it had a totally different feel. Paco was originally a twelve year-old boy with a dog and much of the humor was dumbed down, but I just didn’t feel it, so I went back and wrote the film I wanted to see. No dog and now Paco is a little person with an attitude.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I’m an actor by trade, but I love motorcycles and my kids. Not in that order necessarily, but it depends on the day.

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

Great and it’s super easy.

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

I had heard a lot of great things about the fest from other writers, and while I didn’t agree with all of the feedback, I felt that most of it was spot on. I could tell that time was taken by the reader and not just submission money. That equates to money well spent.

Two dumber-than-dirt lawmen enlist the help of a ‘weird Indian fella’, to help them track down their outlaw twin brothers and save them from hands of the deadly Molcajete Brothers.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Adventure

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Laura Kyswaty
Sam Elliot: Brandon Knox
Ma: Julie McCarthy

Interview with Winning Screenwriter J. Logan Alexander (BREAKDOWN)

BREAKDOWN was the September 2017 winning short screenplay.

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

Liz and Alec are en route to a wedding for Alec’s boss and arguing about their own relationship woes when they collide with the runaway Bride. Battle lines are drawn when Liz and Alec oppose each other about what to do: Liz is determined to help her, but Alec insists on leaving immediately for fear of losing his job. Things get complicated after the Bride disappears into the woods and an inquisitive Cop arrives on the scene—further dividing Liz and Alec—and forcing them in a predicament: tell the truth and face the consequences, or lie to escape scot-free.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Dark Comedy

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

Well, it is a movie now. Breakdown is my MFA thesis film. We are currently in post-production.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Anti-romantic Comedy.

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

Boogie Nights or Fight Club.

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Roughly 10 months.

How many stories have you written?

Too many to count. My previous film, Wrung, follows a bull-rider and his dead beat dad. It’s available on my website, http://www.jloganalexander.com.

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

This Must Be The Place by Talking Heads.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Film school bureaucracy, minimal budget, record breaking low temperatures in Massachusetts (48 degrees in June), gale force winds, and a steady three days of rain.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Directing. There is nothing I love more than seeing a crew of artists working together to achieve something. I love working with actors. My job is to just get actors in front of a camera.

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

The platform is fantastic. Very intuitive.

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

I like to get unbiased feedback from festivals after I write a few drafts of whatever I’m working on. Getting rejections from other film fests galvanizes you–makes you want to try harder, be better.

Liz and Alec are en route to a wedding when they turn the corner and hit the runaway bride with their car.

Genre: Comedy, Romance

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Laura Kyswaty
Liz: Lindsay Rolland Mills
Alec: Brandon Knox
Cop: Luke Robinson
Bride: Premika Leo

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Gunel Asgarova (THE FLUTE OF PEACE)

THE FLUTE OF PEACE was the September 2017 winning Sci-Fi screenplay.

Get to know the winning writer:

What is your screenplay about?

My screenplay is about a bullied village girl with the supernatural power, Lanaia, who accepts her destiny of the World Savior.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Fantasy

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

Because this original screenplay has the most important ingredients of the successful fantasy movie: universal issues, good vs. evil, mythology, human psychology which are fully presented through the breathtaking adventures, unexpected twists and catchy characters. Likewise, the significant reason of its competitiveness is a key hero, a young woman, tender, yet strong enough to take the lead in life-changing events winning the battle in the end. This movie will be an inspiration for millions of girls and women all over the world.

How would you describe this script in two words?

The future blockbuster, which will hold its brand for the next five to ten years.

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

I like to watch fantasy/adventure genre movies, but according to calculation, the movie that I’ve seen the most times in my life is Harry Potter film series (first watched as a teenager, then together with my kids).

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

11 months

How many stories have you written?

I have written 6 stories (epic-fantasy, animation, fairy tale and short screenplays) and constantly working on new projects.

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

“Canto della Terra” by Andrea Bocelli

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

The most obstacles were connected to the proper formatting issues.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I am also passionate about storytelling, psychology, mythology, and anthropology. Thus, besides of my own imagination, this story is also based on the years’ long research analysis of world mythology and anthropology (including the Paracelsian concept of four elements of nature).

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

Despite the positive feedback from more than four hundred potential viewers, I was eager to get the professional opinion.

I am very grateful for the detailed and sincere feedback, which helped me to properly polish my script. I am very satisfied with the feedback, special THANKS to my reader!

Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure

After the break of the balance between the Light and Dark Powers, enforced by Dark Lord Erk, Mother Universe sends a child of Light – Lanaia to embark on a dangerous journey chasing the magic flute, as only its melody could save the world from disaster.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Sean Ballantyne
Nabi: Rais Moui
Teli: Connie Wang
Guli: Daniella Zappala

Interview with Winning Screenwriters Janine Cobain & Gary McElkerney (VOLUNTEER)

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

Volunteer is based on the novel of the same name written by me (Gary McElkerney).

What starts as a humanitarian mission, for a university student from Belfast, descends into a fight for survival after his search for adventure takes him off the beaten track to the frontline of the Ethiopian conflict. Chris Johnston faces his fears, and battles with his own darkness, on this emotive journey, which will leave you with a question; if faced with such horrors, what are you capable of doing in order to survive?

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It falls into Action/Adventure most comfortably, but also has elements of drama, and even thriller.

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

There has never been a film about humanitarians in conflict zones: we have the soldiers’ stories, and the victims’ stories, but never the volunteers. In times of war and tragedy, I always say to people ‘look out for the helpers’; the people lifting others to safety, and giving hope that people care. It is an insight into a closed community – we don’t often talk about it and in turn are left to deal with our own emotional trauma – but what are the humanitarian’s stories, their backgrounds, in a time when the world seems to be falling apart, who are the people holding it together?

I hope Volunteer show even in the worst times there is always a hand to pick you up, and people who risk their lives – and often lose them – to save others.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Beautifully horrifying

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

For me it’s Forrest Gump, for Janine it’s a tough call between The Holiday and Cocktail.

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

2 years to complete the novel and further 2 on the script, so far.

How many stories have you written?

For me it’s a novel, a couple of short stories, this feature script and around 5 short films, for Janine also a novel (How Will You Remember Me?) and the screenplay adaptation of it, Volunteer’s script, and numerous scripts for short films, TV drama, and comedy; she won the Northern Ireland Comedy Writers programme last year.

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

For me, Foo Fighters – Best of You (U2 – With or Without You would be up there too), Janine struggled to pick one but Iris – Goo Goo Dolls would be up there or anything by Walking on Cars.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Initially, learning how to write a screenplay! After completing the novel, and looking in to getting the script written for us, Janine decided to take it upon herself, and has spent hours and hours learning all she could about the craft. After laying down a first draft, we took the time to re-write it based on new learnings and notes, and on feedback received. Learning the importance of reshaping the screenplay to make it flow better, it’s hard to have scenes cut out and stripped back when in real life they were personal moments in history but it is necessary otherwise I’d talk forever.

For me, while writing the novel and the screenplay was therapeutic, you have to relive the experiences and it would often trigger my PTSD.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Well I suppose I have to say Lighting Design since it’s my full time job, in truth anything creative – music, film, art, writing, acting. For Janine it’s film production.

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

So simple, being able to search for competitions and store projects makes the process very easy.

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

Janine chose the festival based on its Action/Adventure specification and because of the opportunity of feedback. The report we received was excellent – it was great to actually be assured that someone had taken the time to read and provide good quality notes that we could work on. After a revision, a local producer commented on the quality of the script, which the notes received undoubtedly influenced.

What starts as a humanitarian mission, for a university student from Belfast, descends into a fight for survival after his search for adventure takes him off the beaten track to the frontline of the Ethiopian conflict. Chris Johnston faces his fears and battles with his own darkness on this emotive journey, which will leave you asking yourself, if faced the horrors of war, what would you do?

Genre: Action, Drama, Biography

 

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Laura Kyswaty
Michael: Cory Bertrand
Chris: Jim Canale
Odette: Regan Brown

Interview with Winning Screenwriter John Cruz Alarid (KODAK MOMENT)

Winning September 2017 TV PILOT 1st Scene Screenplay Winner.

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

Kodak Moment is a chilling thriller TV pilot spec script about the ILLUMINATI, a secret Dark Organization that conspires to control world affairs by masterminding events, governments and corporations.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

When a vintage camera is accidentally found at a garage sale and the film developed, long buried secrets about the JFK assassination stand to be reborn, setting off a spiraling turn of events and discoveries that threaten our heroes lives and their countries’ national security. A British journalist and her American conspiracy-minded boyfriend race the clock, the NSA and the ILLUMINATI to bring the ultimate truth to light. JFK meets EMEMY OF THE STATE and THE X-FILES.

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

Conspiracy theories rule the media. The timing is perfect for a Showtime/HBO style series that exposes the truth of the Illuminati and its intentions regarding Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s), the Iraq War, the ’08 recession, Global Warming and the Roswell 1947 UFO crash.

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

My favorite all time movie is Robert Wise’s The Day the Earth Stood Still. favorite movies are sci-fi thrillers as well as romantic comedies.

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I have been working on KODAK MOMENT since 1999. I first wrote it as a feature script. It won Best Feature Screenplay in the 2006 Moondance International Film Festival and some other minor accolades. I was challenged to adapt it as TV series. My first draft finished 4th in the Over One Hour category in the recent Larry Brody’s People’s Pilot writing competition.

How many stories have you written?

So far I’ve written five screenplays and one TV Pilot script.

1). PSYCHIC WARRIORS is an Action Thriller written along the lines of the X-MEN and BOURNE IDENTITY franchises that follows the journey of a Marine helicopter pilot and family man who receives psychic powers from an unmanned alien spaceship and is recruited by the CIA. But when he learns of the Agency’s plans, he must escape back home and protect his family.

2.) LUCIFER’S REVENGE is a Horror Thriller that follows the journey of LUCIFER who was cast down unto Hell for his disagreement over the fate of mankind. However, God agreed to give him seven years of unchecked reign over Earth before the Armageddon. In 2021, he returns to possess the President of the United States. His goal: save mankind before the coming of Christ wreaks absolute destruction.

3.) NUMBER ONE RULE! is a showbiz comedy about a radio jock who enters therapy to help him come to terms with certain childhood issues so that he can marry a rich daddy’s girl and live the good life.

4.) The Road To Shambala is a high-spirited romantic comedy with a pulse-pounding rock ‘n’ roll flavor, set against the exotic and picturesque land of China. The story centers on a hapless American musician who, through a twist of fate, is not only given an opportunity to live his dream of performing on stage, but is also given a second chance to find love with the one woman he could never forget.

The Road To Shambala is currently under review at Paramount and Universal. They’ve had it since June. Still waiting for a response. No news is good news.

I’m current working on my 6th feature script, BLUE COATS, an action adventure about U.S. Marshals on the hunt for a fugitive on the Indian Reservation. BLUE COATS is U.S. Marshals meets The X-Files on the Indian Reservation.

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

I survived the Sixties. I’m a classic rocker. AC/DC’s top on my long list of favorite tunes. I love music. Even though some critics frown against indicating what music to use in scripts, I often do it. It helps me write.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

My biggest obstacle I’ve had with Kodak Moment is developing it into a TV series. TV is an entirely different animal with a complete a separate set rules to follow.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Besides writing, I’m passionate about Rock N Roll. I recently bought myself a Roland digital drum set and started taking drum lessons. My fantasy is to sit in on for a set with AC/DC.

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

My experience entering my script via FilmFreeway was a breeze. The site is very user friendly. I refer submitting PDF files of my scripts. Printing scripts gets costly.

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

The opportunity of winning a table reading of my script greatly influenced me wanting to enter your festival. A table reading by actors is an excellent tool in determining what works and what doesn’t in ones script. I’ve had two of my scripts table read by actors. I highly recommend it.

The feedback I received from your reader was excellent. I took some of the suggestions was able to tighten down and trim my script by a couple pages. I’m considering re-entering in the next competition.

When a vintage camera is accidentally found at a flea market, long buried secrets about the JFK assassination stand to be reborn. Paranoid camera buff JIM turns to his film developer grandfather GRAMPS and Chinese reporter girlfriend NATALIE race the clock to bring the ultimate truth to light, even as forces of the Illuminati hunt both of them down.

Genre: Drama, Political, Crime, Thriller

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Laura Kyswaty
Jim: James Boutcher
Ester: Julie McCarthy
Natalie: Lindsay Rolland Mills
Pilot: Luke Robinson
Gramps: Brandon Knox

Interview with Director Steve Hally (TWISTED SOBRIETY)

Steve Hally’s short film was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the September 2017 THRILLER FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Steve Hally: We wanted to make something thought provoking something that stirred. Something that pushed people into an uncomfortable environment and asked them, if the world continues in the way it’s going what will happen? People get poorer and poorer without concern and people get richer and richer to the point of futility. When will this break the human condition and the human spirit, will it? Capitalism is a great system it’s done beautiful, amazing things but it’s being devastatingly and needlessly abused.

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

We took around a year to get the final product. We went through several processes and as an indie short you need to be patient to get the quality you desire. We first cast talent and then searched for crew for around two months to get the right pros for the job. We then shot over a hectic eight days, over various locations in London. Because of the complexities of our future scape and VFX post-production was the most patient part of our film. Waiting for rotoscoping, matte designs and computer designs was totally rewarding but very time consuming however to get quality of this standard takes patience. Our editor is Rebecca Lloyd who was the first editor ever to win the Break Through Brit award at the 2016 BAFTA awards. To ensure we had this power talent of editing a great amount of respect and understanding needed to be placed. Editing is the most important part of post-production, for the emotion and the direction. This can never be, taken for granted or ignored for speed or lesser abilities. You must have an editor that understands film emotion and not just the technical learning. Editing is a post production pillar that should always be the strongest. We then went on to colour grading which was done at the world renowned and respected colour studio Molinare. Again favours and patience played its massive part in this success. Film making is tough but if it was easy no one or everyone would do it. Only the mad few continue on.

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

Bold provocateur

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

Time, you always want things to move as fast as possible but as indie film makers patience and waiting can be a difficult game, you must learn this game. You’re on your own and things are never handed to you. You have to work hard and fight for it and be willing to wait.

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

I loved that people had something to say. Positive or negative, critical or complimentary an opinion was being made. That is a truly beautiful thing. Everyone has the right to an opinion and it should be embraced at all times. The worst thing would be no opinion at all, from anyone. As that means nothing has effected, nothing has played a part, nothing can grow or progress. I love positive and negative opinions as it means it has made an impact. I love at the end of an auditorium performance having the whole theatre chatting, that buzz of communication that used to fill the end of every film performance, that’s missing in places. People that chat about film in great praise or bad criticism is what drives film and makes film last and improves it. No one has the answers to film but everyone has an opinion, they are all most welcomed, everyone.

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video: 

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

There is a cumbrous unbalance of wealth in this world. It’s becoming very hollow.

I wanted to show that in general we treat the homeless, the poor, the down trodden, the less wealthy, the less financially fortunate with such nothingness, with such an obtuse view that I started to think, what if they fought back. What if enough was enough and they were no longer sitting back taking the disregarded, blind-eye, blinkered abuse.

What if the very people the world dismisses and forgets turned and stole the very thing the world doesn’t allow them to have.

We wouldn’t see it coming.

 What film have you seen the most in your life?

That’s a big question, what genre? Lol

I watch a lot of films. I don’t repeat watch that much anymore as there are too many titles that I have not seen to fit into my life time.

12 Angry men is the best film I have ever seen. I could watch it on repeat.

 You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the new(ish) submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

It’s actually the best one. I have never missed a notification or been left hanging. I promote it highly.

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

Another big question. I go through phases of genres then jump around music. The last song on my iPod was Victor Ganna – Mibanga but I’m heavily pulling on my classic Aphex Twin and Richie Hawtin tapes. But usually I push shuffle and see what pops up.

  What is next for you? A new film?

We are in discussion about either another short or perhaps a feature. But I’m still waiting for that gut reaction to kick in, so I can follow it.
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