Interview with Winning Screenwriter Stephanie Annis (SANCTUARY CITY)

 1. What is your screenplay about?

Sanctuary City, an animation story, is set inside a butterfly sanctuary. A young overseer, his sanctuary charges, and the painter/janitor come together to raise money for sanctuary repairs. When the administrator chastises, challenges, and sabotages the overseer the true higher power assists.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Metaphysical Philosophical Animation

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

The hope of this spec script is to create enough interest in order to develop a complete screenplay filled with both metaphysical and philosophical life lessons for the next generation of children watching animation theatre.

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

Civic Pride

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

The Secret

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

This script was developed during my MFA program. The complete spec script final draft was my 2017 thesis.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written more than I can count. I’ve published two novels, an auto-biography, and a short book of poetry. My column in the Review-Journal & Las Vegas Business Press from 2014-2016 included the stories of varied executives and their paths to success. And, I’ve completed several scripts including the, single page, award winning comedy ‘Dab A Duck Tape’. I’m proud to say that I was also graced with the title “Best New Writer” in August 2017 at the Action on Film Festival after submitting ‘Sanctuary City’ as my submission.

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

Eminem, “Lose Yourself”

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

I was hospitalized due to exhaustion and a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis. Living with Crohn’s Disease since I was 18 I believe I have more lives than a cat. Surviving nearly 20 surgeries inspires me to pursue this project until it’s completion.

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

I love my family, studying, and practicing yoga.

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

It’s been a good experience as an introduction to the industry.

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

I loved my first experience with wildSOUND. They performed my one page script ‘Dab A Duck Tape’ in August 2017 when I won the Festival for Comedy through a FilmFreeway submission.

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Genre: Animation, Adventure

Zen Ben is a shy tour guide. After witnessing the injuries of Lily Ladybug and Becky Butterfly, Zen Ben demands repairs. Repairs seem impossible after Queen Lee tricks Zen Ben with an opportunity to win the Philanthropy Awards.

CAST LIST:

Slick Rick: Tim Paul McCarthy
Lily Ladybug: Jane Smythe
Narrator: Hugh Ritchie
Queen Lee: Georgia Grant
Zen Ben: Scott McCulloch
Vicky: Lara Amersey

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Interview with Winning Screenwriter Kelly Lamphaer Dash (BURSTING FOR A BREAK)

1. What is your screenplay about?

A really frustrated employee.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy.

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

It’s a very visual story.

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

Spontaneous combustion.

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

The Wizard of Oz. After that, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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

Not long.

7. How many stories have you written?

Finished 3 features. Several unfinished features. About 10 shorts completed.

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

This is a really difficult question to answer. It always depends on time and mood what I will listen to repeatedly.

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

None. It was just a challenge to myself to see if I could actually write a genuine 1 page script.

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

Travel. And my kids, but not necessarily together.

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

Pretty positive.

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

I found it by chance through the “browse festivals” option. Very positive. Thank you!!!

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Genre: Comedy

A worker in a cubicle is about to explode if she doesn’t get a break.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Hugh Ritchie
Steffi: Jane Smythe
Co-Worker: Rais Moui

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Carla Miles (WAVERLY RIDING)

 1. What is your screenplay about?

‘Waverly Riding’ is about a woman who has tried hard to always do the right thing but she reaches her breaking point when she gets an eviction notice and her ex-husband says he’s going to try to get custody of their three kids. Waverly needs money now and devises a plan to rob the supermarket she works in. It’s a story about right and wrong, and how far a person will go for the people they love.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

This is a comedy script with many dramatic undertones. Or vice-versa.

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

I think a lot of people will be able to relate to this story – the financial hardships, single parenting, and a lousy job. And It’s ultimately a feel-good story.

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

Life’s hard.

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

Norma Rae.

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

I first thought of the story 20 years ago when I worked in a supermarket while raising six kids. So…

7. How many stories have you written?

At least 15 screenplays and 20 short stories.

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

Changes by David Bowie.

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

Working overtime as a police dispatcher, putting kids through college, babysitting grandkids, laundry, cooking, housecleaning…

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

Music and law enforcement.

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

I only recently discovered Film Freeway and my first submission was selected so I’m pretty psyched about it. I have had a couple of passes on other stories since but it helps me see which of my stories have potential, and the site is super easy to use and search for festivals.

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

I was drawn to this festival because of the word FEMALE. We really are underappreciated and underproduced in the film industry. There needs to be more great roles for women in film and more opportunities for female writers.
The feedback I received was phenomenal, very detailed and well thought out. I know my screenplay was read and carefully considered and this was all I wanted. I applied all of the suggestions to my script!

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Genre: Drama, Crime

A single mother in a financial crisis engineers a robbery at the supermarket she works in.

CAST LIST:

April: Lara Amersey
Narrator: Hugh Ritchie
Kat: Georgia Grant
Waverly: Jane Smythe

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Stephanie Barnes (THE PAPER PRINCESS)

 1. What is your screenplay about?

The Paper Princess is about a courageous, young princess called Paige who goes on a journey to save her home, after a cruel sorcerer transforms her into paper. Accompanied by her two friends, a grouchy hermit and a brave sprout, Paige learns that her paper doesn’t have to be a curse, it can be a source of power.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Animation, Fantasy and Adventure.

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

It’s a fun, epic adventure which embodies several positive themes: a princess who doesn’t need a prince to break her curse – she breaks it herself; change is always possible, as a person and in society; and, true strength comes from within.

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

Paper wins!

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

Moulin Rouge

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

About one year.

7. How many stories have you written?

At least twenty (three film scripts, a collection of dark fairy tale short stories, other short stories and one book).

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

Daryl Hall & John Oates – You Make My Dreams Come True

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

I faced quite a few obstacles writing The Paper Princess. The main male protagonist Aeren went through many changes during the early drafts. Because of his complex character, some readers found it hard to relate to him. In the end, I decided to completely redraft the character and I’m really happy with the end result. When I finished the script, I fell into a bad habit of redrafting and editing the first ten minutes of the script again and again because I felt it wasn’t right. Eventually I realised I was just being overly pedantic and had to take a step back.

Finding time to write while balancing my home and work life was very difficult too.

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

I love reading, especially fantasy, and visiting new places. I gained a lot of inspiration for The Paper Princess when I went travelling in Japan.

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

It was really easy and had no problems.

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

I entered the festival because I’m eager to get more feedback on my script and improve its chances of being made one day. The feedback I received was really thorough and gave me some really good things to think about. My only concern about my feedback was there were some points that conflicted with other feedback I’d received in the past, leaving me feeling unsure on how to move forward. But, overall, I’d recommend this festival for anyone looking for industry feedback.

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Genre: Animation, Family, Fantasy

When a courageous princess is transformed into paper, she goes on an epic journey to save her home from an evil sorcerer, learning that true strength comes from within.

CAST LIST:

King Jasper: Tim Paul McCarthy
Aeren: Scott McCulloch
Narrator: Hugh Ritchie
Tania: Alicia Payne
Paige: Lara Amersey
Chancellor: Rais Moui

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Robert J. Sawyer (TRIGGERS)

 1. What is your screenplay about?

After an experiment to cure PTSD goes awry, one of fifteen people is now able to read the President’s memories — and the race is on to find out which one it is before national security is blown all to hell.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

A present-day science-fictional thriller.

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

It’s a fast-paced thriller with an African-American lead and some thoughtful social commentary.

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

Exciting; relevant.

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

2001: A Space Odyssey.

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

Three years.

7. How many stories have you written?

44 published stories; 23 published novels, including Hugo Award-winner HOMINIDS.

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

“Yesterday” by the Beatles — a song about memories and regret, very apropos of TRIGGERS.

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

Honestly, the Trump administration: it’s almost impossible to tell a story about a fictional president these days when truth is stranger than any fiction!

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

Paleontology.

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

Very convenient; fast and easy.

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

Glad to see a Toronto-based festival. The initial feedback was excellent and useful.

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Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Action/Adventure

After an experiment to cure PTSD goes awry, one of fifteen people is now able to read the President’s memories — and the race is on to find out which one it is before national security is blown all to hell.

CAST LIST:

Susan: Jane Smythe
Daryll: Rais Moui
Narrator: Hugh Ritchie
Jerrison: Scott McCulloch
Manny Cheung: Tim Paul McCarthy

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Elisa Herrman (THE GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE BENTLEY GIRLS)

 1. What is your screenplay about?

“The Great Adventure of the Bentley Girls” is set in England in the early 1800s, and tells the story of the Bentleys, a family composed of Aunt Lucy, the matriarch, and her three orphan nieces, Eliza, Julia, and Mary. Aunt Lucy’s goal in life is to arrange good marriages to her nieces, fulfilling a promise she made to her sister in her deathbed, sister who had been disowned by their father. Aunt Lucy, however, is unable to get married, because if she does, all the fortune that was left to her by her father would be given to her future husband. Therefore, Aunt Lucy decides to remain unmarried so that she can have control over her inheritance, and provide decent dowries to her nieces. Her task is a difficult one as certain things come into play, such as love, reputation, betrayal, and greed.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

This screenplay is a historical drama.

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

I strongly believe that there’s a public for it. Period pieces are always of interest to many people, and I am sure that the legion of Jeanettes (Jane Austen’s fans) would love to see another movie inspired by this amazing author. Furthermore, I think that a film led by a strong female ensamble cast is what we need right now. I hope that my film can inspired women to be the masters of their own lives, even if they are facing the harshest of realities. Though my characters live in a male-centric society, where a good marriage is the highest ambition a woman could have, I show how they find ways to bend that society’s rules and live their lives as they believe they should.

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

It’s hard to describe it with only two words, so I’m going to bend the rules here and go with “Unapologetic Feminist Jane Austen Fan Fiction”.

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

Probably the Harry Potter series. Have I mentioned that I am also a Potterhead?

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

I had the original idea for this screenplay about 15 years ago, when I first feel in love with Jane Austen and the world she created in her novels. However, I did not get to write it until recently; I don’t think I was mature enough to develop this story until now, so I saved it for when the moment was right, which was about two years ago. From there, it took me about one and a half years to do extensive research, which included a trip to the English countryside to see the actual location of my film, and then to finally write a first draft. I have been working on rewrites ever since.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have written several stories, but this is my first feature screenplay.

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

Drops of Jupiter, by Train. I totally identify with the girl he’s describing in the song.

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

Probably time to write and research. I am a film professor with a very busy schedule, so finding the time to do research to make sure I got the time period right was a great challenge. And then, of course, writing demands time, inspiration, and concentration, things that are hard to come by when you have another full time job.

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

Watching and making films, of course. Traveling comes right after, wanderlust runs in my veins.

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

Film Freeway is an excellent platform. I love how easy it is to navigate and find out the best festival for your film/screenplay.

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

When I read the description for this festival, I immediately knew that my screenplay and the fan fiction film festival were a match made in heaven. This is a great festival, with a very original idea of how to award the winners, and the feedback was very appropriate and valuable. I could tell that whoever read my screenplay, did so with much attention to detail and with an open mind. Thank you for this opportunity!

 

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Genre: Historical Drama

Set in England in the early 1800s, and tells the story of the Bentleys, a family composed of Aunt Lucy, the matriarch, and her three orphan nieces, Eliza, Julia, and Mary. Aunt Lucy’s goal in life is to arrange good marriages to her nieces, fulfilling a promise she made to her sister in her deathbed, sister who had been disowned by their father.

CAST LIST:

Mr. Ridley: Nick Wicht
Narrator: Sean Ballantyne
Lucy: Val Cole
Mr. Johnson: John Fray
 

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Bonnie Brookby (THE THINGS WE MISS)

 1. What is your screenplay about?

THE THINGS WE MISS is about two estranged childhood friends who are forced to confront their turbulent history as they unearth and reconstruct the decades-long romance their mothers shared. The story explores themes of forbidden love, motherhood and the loss of identity, the fluidity of female friendships, the inner lives of our mothers, the role of memory and perspective in constructing personal narratives, marriage and commitment, redemption and reconciliation, and the boundaries of true love.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

My screenplay is a contemporary realistic drama, with some comedic elements.

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

THE THINGS WE MISS features four strong female lead roles as well as a romantic relationship between two women of middle to advanced age, which is rare. It delves deep into the complexity of many types of relationships — friendship, marriage, parent-child, romantic love, etc. — and does not shy away from asking difficult questions. The pacing and unfolding of the story are a departure from the more common formulas often seen in contemporary movies. It relies heavily on character, theme, and dialogue rather than heavy action. The screenplay also features striking visual elements, particularly with Jamie’s photography and Juliet’s paintings which lend themselves nicely to the screen. Most of all, it is a story about truth and the courage to live authentically.

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

complex, evocative

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

Probably POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE

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

Approximately nine months

7. How many stories have you written?

THE THINGS WE MISS is my fourth feature screenplay.

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

“Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers.

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

Tying together all of the themes that the story explores, making my characters both flawed and sympathetic, remaining faithful to each character’s journey

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

Children, Education, Social Justice, Nature, Travel, Creativity

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

FilmFreeway is very user-friendly and efficient, and an excellent source of information on festivals and contests.

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

I am eager to share this story because I believe it’s one that needs to be told. I was drawn to this festival in particular because I hope my story resonates with LGBT audiences. The feedback I received was excellent! I was honored to receive such thoughtful, thorough, constructive, and encouraging notes and suggestions. I am honored by this opportunity.
Thank you.

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Genre: Drama, Romance

Two long-estranged childhood friends, suddenly thrust back into one another’s lives, must grapple with their turbulent history as they unearth and reconstruct the decades-long romance their mothers shared.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Hugh Ritchie
Young Mother: Lara Amersey
Jamie: Alicia Payne