Interview with Filmmaker Justin Zachary (NOW)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Justin Zachary: Necessity. These days as an actor if you’re not creating your own work then it feels like you’re behind in the game. I also love making movies.

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

About 20 years ago I was doing theatre in Bakersfield, CA. A playwright by the name of Roger Mathey wrote a one act play called NOW. It was just two people in a room talking about memories of their relationship and the crazy twist in the end when you find out that she’s a robot. I loved the story but unfortunately the play was never produced. Cut to, 2011 when I was looking for a project to direct and remembered this story. I called my friend Roger and asked if he still had the script. He didn’t. So, I asked him with his permission could I re-tell the story with my own vision? He agreed and that’s when the initial screenplay began.

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

Daddy issues.

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

I’d have to say the VFX. It was definitely the most costly and time consuming. We went through 3 different artists until I finally landed on one I loved. Lincoln Smith. A God sent.

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

Nervous. It’s always nerve-wracking hearing what people think of your work. Especially something that’s so personal to you. But, after I heard the positive feedback it was a relief that people actually got it!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I took my friend Roger’s original idea of two people sitting in a room talking about memories and the twist in the end then added some personal elements to give it a sense of myself. For example; The Father character is based on my ex Father-in Law. I always felt that I needed to impress him. Maybe it was my own insecurities but, I never felt that I was good enough. My character’s obsession with fixing things is another good example. I always feel that most problems (especially in relationships) can be fixed with a conversation. If you put the right words in a specific order anything can be solved. It’s an idealistic way of thinking that always gets proved wrong.

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

Probably, Caddyshack.

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

It’s great! Simple and easy to submit.

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

“Every Breath You Take” by The Police


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

I’m in the process of writing a few different things. An epic sci-fi post alien invasion film, and a supernatural western.

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Interview with Reginald Johnson (BATMAN: Beyond the Cowl)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Reginald Johnson: Beyond the Cowl is about the role of class in crime and society’s inability to see the humanity in our poorest citizens.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Action/Fantasy/Drama

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

It presents a timely sociological view on law enforcement, the nature of crime, politics with, in my mind, a style and caliber of action closer to an East Asian Martial Arts film (The Raid 2, Ip Man, etc.). If only, WB…if only.

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

Don’t blink.

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

Probably “The Last Dragon” starring Taimak. It was one of three VHS tapes I had as very young kid.

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

Tough to quantify. Probably 4 months.

7. How many stories have you written?

Five.

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

Easy. Funkadelic’s “(Not Just) Knee Deep.”

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

Two young children, a full-time job. Learning story structure on the fly.

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

Family, music and people.

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

Awesome.

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

I wrote a story on what was in my head, which happened to be on a piece of studio IP. I liked it and wanted to see what someone else thought. As one might surmise, this was extremely affirming!

 

 

 

 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Batman works to uncover a new sinister crime wave and realizes Bruce Wayne must rise to be the hero that Gotham needs.

CAST LIST:

Various: Val Cole
Sebastian Hady: Ron Boyd
Alfred: Wyatt Lamoreaux
Narrator: Sean Ballantyne
Bruce Wayne/Batman: John Fray
Candace Collins: Weronika Sokalska
Lonnie Machin: Caleb Jacques

Interview with Screenwriter Scott Sawitz (FOR LOVE OR MUSIC)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Scott Sawitz: It’s about a woman trying to find herself while she’s under professional and personal stress.

To me that’s the core of “For Love or Music.” Ashley is an interesting woman on the cusp of musical stardom; she’s always been a singer but she could never find the artist side in her to come out.

When she finally finds it … it comes with a cost. How much of the cost will she bear … and how will it affect her?

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s a romantic comedy. More comedy than romantic, I think.

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

I’ve always thought of the romantic comedy as the greatest test of any story-teller out there. We know the beats, we know everything about what a romantic comedy could (and should) be, and we get annoyed when we can spot it.

A great romantic comedy does all these things and you don’t think about it along the way because you care about the characters, etc.

Call it personal bias but I like to this that this could be a great romantic comedy.

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

Funny and charming.

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

That’s a hard one… the one that made me love movies, really love movies, is “About Last Night.” The 80s version, not the remake with Kevin Hart (which is also a fantastic film).

It’s a great romantic drama, the sort of adult drama they don’t make anymore. As an artist that’s the sort of film I want to make; I love action films but small films like “Bandwagon” are the types that really get me into film. The artistry of character development, acting, et al, are what inspire me.

It’s also the most Chicago film made, too, but I’m a little biased being from the area.

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

It’s about a couple years now…. it started with a concept (a musician who can’t write a song without making someone’s heart break) and I developed the story around that.

Who was Ashley Powell and what made her click? Why would someone who’s a star fall in love with a failed actor? How would the people in her life react to her particular problem?

Those drove me to develop the film around it.

7. How many stories have you written?

A lot. I’ve had a script optioned in November 2017 and keep everything that’s worth a view up on my Script Revolution account.

https://www.scriptrevolution.com/profiles/scott-sawitz

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

I like to think of this as the sort of song that if you were in a professional fight, like a boxer or a cage fighter, would be the one you came to the ring or cage in. That one best summarized everything in your heart, your soul and in your brain walking into it.

“Lunatic Fringe” by Red Rider … I first listened to it in high school because it was on the “Vision Quest” soundtrack and it’s been the one that’s in my head when I write, when I work out and when I need to find some level of personal peace.

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

Like any screenwriter it’s always about time … working full-time and having a life, etc, make finding writing time difficult.

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

I’ve been a diehard combat sports fan since I was a kid and I love working out.

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

It’s been nothing but easy and elegant. The access to film festivals and contests throughout the world, and able to narrow it down is fantastic. It takes a lot of the grunt work that the fest circuit used to be in terms of research, et al, and turns it into something that makes it so much easier.

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

I’m always looking for the right place to submit, not just anyone that’ll take me … and a festival for comedy sounded amazing. I got great feedback and used it to better develop myself as a writer.
 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Ashley Powell is an ordinary bar singer when she rockets to fame overnight from a viral video. The song she was playing becomes a hit and she winds up on the fast track to musical stardom. She’s carrying a big secret though: she can only write music when she’s miserable after a break up.
With an album on the way she’s forced to write it the only way she knows how: breaking hearts.
When the great love of her life falls into her life, she’s forced to choose between happiness or success.

CAST LIST:

Skylar: David Rowan
Sara: Victoria Murdoch
Narration: Esther Thibault
Matt: Sebastian Biasucci
Ashley: Mojeane Sadr

Interview with Screenwriter Anna Patterson (FAMILY CRISIS LIVE-IN)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Anna Patterson: This screenplay is about something I have seen with my own eyes lately. People are trying to take the huge house they raised their family in, and trade down. I just took it from there and thought what if the family caused a problem with this. So that is what I wrote about.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

This is definitely a comedy, but it is family fun also. I also like that it focuses on an older married couple.

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

I think this is such a timely piece. People want realism, and yet they like to laugh at things. I think it strikes a note people will like to see and hear.

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

Endearingly funny.

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

Arthur

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

A couple of months.

7. How many stories have you written?

I currently have over sixty books published on Amazon and Smashwords. But I have never written a screenplay. (You saw that for yourselves.) I am over seventy years old, I kind of thought it is now or never.

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

Your So Vain.

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

Everything! I could not believe how hard it was to put together. I had written books, but a screenplay. I had to overcome a lot of doubts.

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

My husband and I paint pictures, but haven’t done this for some time. I also like newspapers. I love to read the news.

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

This has just been great.

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

I can’t remember who suggested I try this, but I worried about it being comedy. I write romance and I write horror, but comedy? Nonetheless, I decided to try.

 
Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Grandma gets thrown out of the nursing home, reclaims her home from son and family and seeks to regain control of her extended family although she hates them.

CAST LIST:

Granny – Norma Dunphy
Real Estate Lady – Laura Afelskie
NARRATION – Sean Ballantyne
Mike – Trevor Howes
Ginny – Andrea Irwin
Policeman – Adrian Carter

Interview with Screenwriter Billy Smith (The Stafford Multiplex Theater)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Billy Smith: My screenplay, The Stafford Multiplex Theater, is about an outdated eight-screen movie theater in a small town. A new Megaplex has opened up about twenty minutes from them and a lot of people have forgotten about the Stafford. They’ve gained an unfortunate reputation as “that other theater”. On top of that, because of an industry mandate, they now must convert to digital projection by the end of the year or they will no longer receive movies. Between the new Megaplex and the digital mandate, the Stafford is trying to fend off death, just trying to survive.

It’s during this time, when all seems hopeless, that everything gets even worse. There is an outbreak of a zombie virus in their town. The Stafford’s moviegoers start to drop dead and come back as zombies. The employees of the Stafford love it and would defend it with everything they have, so that’s what they do. They set out to defend their theater and make sure that it’s still standing for something even during their town’s most horrific time. Their theater isn’t dead yet.


2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

The Stafford Multiplex Theater definitely falls under the horror/comedy genre. I would liken it to films like Burying the Ex, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse and The Final Girls. The zombie threat is very real in the story and the characters take what’s at stake very seriously, but I felt like there had to be a healthy dose of comedy involved, too, and that really came from the characters. Once I started writing and experimenting with them, the comedy felt right to me.

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

The Stafford Multiplex Theater should be made into a movie for a few reasons. The first and most simple reason is that it’s just a lot of fun. Audiences would have a lot of fun watching it and I imagine that it would be a lot of fun to make, too. The horror blends well with the comedy, the characters are a blast and there are interesting twists. It would be an entertaining experience. Also, it touches a bit on the change that’s happening in movie theaters and what’s happening to theaters that used to have character. It’s a unique horror story because, yes, there are zombies and there’s blood and gore, but that’s all in the background, in a way. Ultimately, this story is about the theater and the characters. It’s not just a zombie movie just for the sake of being a zombie movie. The zombies are there for a good reason. They’re a manifestation of a real problem and that’s a very interesting horror story to explore because, for the characters, the real horror would be the end of their theater. They’ll deal with the zombies.

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

Fun. Clever.

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

I’ve been asked this question before and I always give the same answer: John Carpenter’s Halloween. I am forever in awe of its simplicity and impressed by every technical aspect of it, as well. The way the dread and the suspense builds and the way the music enhances it – it’s all so well done. It’s the kind of horror film that, if I could ever be a director myself, I would like to make. Something simple that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats and doesn’t go overboard. That film has always been a huge influence on me.

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

I have been working on this screenplay for roughly a few years. I’ve written and rewritten it many times at this point. I am constantly working to improve it because I believe in this story and I believe that it has a lot of potential as a movie. I have other things that I have worked on, but this is my passion project. This is the one that I have to see through. I have to see it succeed. I like being able to always go back to it and improve on it, especially because I am always improving as a writer. Every time I take another pass at it, it gets better. I’m very proud of it and the work I have put into it.

7. How many stories have you written?

Including The Stafford Multiplex Theater, I have written three. The other two started out as short stories, but I always had intended to develop them as screenplays, which is what I’m doing right now. I love coming up with a simple idea and then expanding on it. I find that to be such a thrill. Taking something and trying to make it the best it can possibly be. I have a lot of ideas in my head and I look forward to writing them in the very near future. My first script is just the beginning.

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

“Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley. Just kidding. It’s hard to pick a favorite song, but if I had to pick just one, it would be “New Low” by Middle Class Rut. Aside from just being a cool and fun song, it has really spoken to me ever since the first time I heard it eight years ago. I can identify with the words and see myself in the situation the song describes. It’s probably my favorite because it’s always a reminder to me that I’m still not where I want to be and, while this may be hard to believe, it motivates me to get to where I want to be.

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

The Stafford Multiplex Theater screenplay was very challenging for me to finish for multiple reasons. Firstly, it was my first screenplay. So, aside from the normal challenges of writing a story and getting over all of the hurdles that come with that, I had to learn how to actually write a screenplay. Learning the formatting, learning the structure, the things you shouldn’t do and the things you should do. Then, reading screenwriting articles and being told that you shouldn’t do the things that you thought you should do and that you should do the things that you thought you shouldn’t do. Apart from that, I think horror and comedy are very hard to write. It’s challenging to scare or surprise an audience and it’s a challenge to also make them laugh. It was a challenge that I truly enjoyed, though, and I think I succeeded, at least in the pages of a script. I think the real challenge would be to see if it works as an actual movie.

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

Besides being passionate about writing movies, I’m passionate about movies in general. I’ve been like that since I was very young. I love watching them, I love talking about them and I would love making them, too, if that ever became a reality. I love being able to get lost in another world for a little while and getting away from all of the stresses of my life. My love of movies is what led me to work at three different movie theaters and it is what has led me to pursue what would hopefully be a career being involved with movies in some way. I definitely eat, sleep and breathe movies.

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

So far, this is the only festival I have actually entered on FilmFreeway, but I’ve had a great experience with the site. It was how I found this festival. The website provided all of the information I needed and submitting the screenplay was very easy. I am on the site a lot, searching through all of the festivals, trying to find where I should submit my screenplay next. I have a feeling that I will definitely be using FilmFreeway a lot in the future.

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

After working on my screenplay for so long, I was lost on how to go about doing anything with it. I’ve written this story and I am proud of the work I’ve done, but what do I do with it next? That’s actually when I found the Festival for Horror. It was almost like it was meant to be. Sure, I felt good about my screenplay and thought it had potential, but it would be nice to see if others felt that way, especially if they were others who know what they were talking about. I had to know if what I’d written actually had something to it or if I was just being crazy.

I was thrilled with the initial feedback I received on The Stafford Multiplex Theater. The feedback was very much what I had expected. I knew that whoever read it would find it to be fun and I knew that the script had some strong elements and that was the feedback I received. I knew going in that I still had a lot of work to do on it. I never expected to win or even place or anything like that. That wasn’t my goal. My goal was to see if I’m knocking on the right door and it seems that I am. The tips I received on how to make the script better were very valuable to me and have helped me tremendously. I’m glad that I chose to enter the festival. It was absolutely a great decision. From the feedback on the full script and then the best scene reading now being posted online, I have had a great experience with the festival.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Interview with Filmmaker Colin Gerrard (ELI)

ELI was the winner of BEST FILM at the June LA Feedback Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Colin Gerrard: I believe it has a timeless appeal coming from the moment we all make a decision regarding our own motives, without thinking of the consequences for others.

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

10 months

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

Survival & Equality

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

Having the right cast.

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

Wonderful. Feedback from people who have just seen your work, whether it be constructive or critical, is always helpful in my eyes. Especially when its immediately after they have just viewed the film…then its real and from the heart.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

A friend of mine brought up the original story to my attention. After getting the rights to film it, we went about updating the story to a point we felt that it was more in keeping with current attitudes in society today…although in retrospect, not much ever changes as human beings have the worst track record when it comes to learning from history.

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

Cinema Paradiso

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

Great. They have streamlined the process to a point that its just the click of a button, after the initial setup of your film on their site.

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

10cc’s ‘I’m Not In Love’

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

I have 2 new shorts in the works as well as working on a new script for a series.

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Interview with Screenwriter Ricardo Bravo (HUSH LITTLE BABY)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Ricardo Bravo: Hush Little Baby is the story of an up-and-coming young executive who is tormented by the crying of the baby next door. As we follow the character, we explore the impact the cries of the baby have on his work, his personality and finally his sanity.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Horror

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

Deep inside this story delves into primal fears of parenthood, regret and loss, and how they shape our lives and the decisions we take. Most of all this is a story about the things we hide and how much they can consume us. As such, this movie would resonate with many people.

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

Shocking, Thrilling

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

The Matrix and Aliens would be at the top. However, I enjoy all genres from the biggest blockbuster to indie dramas to international film.

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

This tale started as a short story for the Create50 Twisted50 vol 2 competition three years ago. It made it to the finals, but alas, it was not selected for the final book. However, last year I came up with the idea to make it into a screenplay. I’ve been working on it for ten months, updating it with comments and suggestions from festival based readers.

7. How many stories have you written?

Four short stories, eight short scripts, two pilots for TV (one in Spanish) and three feature screenplays in Spanish, all unproduced (yet).

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

Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones, which also happens to be the song I use to get me into the mood for writing.

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

Converting from a short story to a screenplay was certainly a challenge. Many plot points have a deep root in what my protagonist is thinking and feeling at the time, which does not easily translate into a screenwriting language. I had to make visual the internal struggle of my protagonist

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

Movie trivia and movies in general.

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

It’s been quite a pleasant experience. The selection of film festivals is quite large and I found it very easy to find a festival that best suited my requirements.

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

I was looking for horror festivals to enter my script and yours hit all the right notes. The feedback I received was exceptional. I had previously received good feedback on my script but the recommendations provided by helped me tighten and polish the story.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A man is slowly driven insane by the cries of a baby next door.

CAST LIST:

Police Officer: Anjelica Alejandro
Richard: Azar Hassan
Narration: Hanna Ehman
Patrick: Ikenna Osuji
Ms. Sinclair: Marla Horner
Polish Man: Tyssen Smith

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