Interview with Filmmaker Alessandro Schuster (THE BOY WITH THE TEDDY)

THE BOY WITH THE TEDDY was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the January 2019 European Short Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Alessandro Schuster: Get lots of inspiration from great movies. And I wanted a child to be the key figure. I also think that the theme of the film is receiving far too little attention in our world today.

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

The first idea for the story was in November 2016. The shooting was in February 2017 and the team screening of the film was in May 2018.

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

I can’t answer this queston 🙂 sorry.

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

To cut the flashbacks into the movie so that they are well placed and not overdone.

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

I was glad that there were so many different perceptions of the film. One has noticed the narrative method, the other has understood the process of color grading. That’s nice, that such things stay in the minds of the audience.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

That answers the first question a bit. But I was at a festival at the time and suddenly had the characters in my head at night after the aftershow party and wrote down the first frame story.

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

I can not say that. I only know that it will always be more!

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

In my opinion, Filmfreeway is the best platform for filmmakers to submit their own films quickly and well at countless national and international film festivals.

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

Also not countable. They’re getting more and more. But on top of my ‘Most Played Songs’ list on my phone is, among others, Manu Chao’s ‘Siberie Fleuve Amour’ and Tocotronic’s ‘Electric Guitar’. Otherwise I hear a lot of house / electro, reggae, rap and pop.

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

As an actor, I currently shoot many television and movie productions. Otherwise, I’m currently producing the music video for the title song of our movie “Teddy’s Lullaby” by Mike Shoe, which will be released soon.

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Interview with Winning Screenwriter Gracious Vallarious (VIN AND JILL)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Gracious Vallarious: “Vin and Jill” is about finding acceptance in your true self, even if it means leaving behind an old life.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama-comedy.

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

To bring non-transgender people into a world that has had a limited voice. Our aim as creators is to have two emotionally empathetic characters that happen to be transgender, and to bring non-transgender viewers in to empathize as well. Everyone can relate to family, especially dysfunction.

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

Chosen family.

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

“Do the Right Thing”

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

3 years.

7. How many stories have you written?

Together as writing partners, Christopher Vallario and Grace Foster has at least one dozen executed stories.

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

Dream Lover by Bobby Darren.

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

Characterization and empathy.

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

Mental and physical geographies and cooking.

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

FilmFreeway has been a wonderful tool to gain exposure for our film projects and for our voices.

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

Some feedback we thought was dead on, as far as the working on the characterization of our protagonist, specifically his complexities. We did not agree with the lack of motive, which is Vinny’s desire to stay with his parents and the inner desire to be accepted as his true self. However we agree that this simply just needs to be clearer on the page.

 Watch the Screenplay Reading:

After drunkenly assaulting his intolerant father, a young transgender man, Vinny Talarosa, meets a fastidious lawyer and trans woman, Jillian Hunter, who helps him out of his family predicament. Relating to his experience, she invites him to stay with her, but on two conditions: he can’t drink and must keep a job. His father’s old school Italian ways push Vin out of Staten Island, while Jill gives him the key to his new family in Brooklyn.
When Vin drops the booze he meets a number of challenges in his journey to self-discovery: adjusting to a community of hipster queers, his family’s intolerance, and his own personal insecurities.

CAST LIST:

Taylor – 4 – KATELYN VARADI
Silver – 4 – PETER NELSON
Narration – NICK DOLAN
Vinny – 23 – KYANA TERESA
Jillian – 17 – ADRIAN CARLOS CARTER

Submit exclusively via FilmFreeway:

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Farook Qais (THE PORTAL)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Farook Qais: ‘The Portal’ is about a girl becoming a woman, her relationships with people in her life and the small matter of defending earth from whatever emerges out of a mysterious portal.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s a sci-fi drama.

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

Into a television show; well there’s nothing like it out there. I believe the depth of the main characters as well as the action and adventure that comes with the portal itself lend to an exciting show full of emotions and possibilities.

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

Go Shay.

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

‘The Crow’ by Alex Proyas, written by James O’Barr

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

It took me about six weeks from thought process to pilot script completion.

7. How many stories have you written?

Far too many to recall. In my life it’s definitely in the late hundreds.

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

‘The Stone’ by Phillip Phillips.

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

There were a few work commitments and family situations that came up, but it wasn’t going to be unfinished.

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

Sports. I watch a lot of it. I enjoy video games and I’m passionate about the people that are important to me too.

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

It’s been OK, although I haven’t quite been “discovered” as yet. Wildsound Fest has been a great start.

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

I was taken aback, but happy. Every new set of eyes that reads my work can only be a positive thing. To hear my characters come to life is an extra bonus for which I’m grateful.

 Watch the Screenplay Reading:

CAST LIST:

Shay – 8 – Brittany Clough
NARRATION – Jen Daniels
Laura – 12 – Anne McMaster
Terry – 13 – Ron Boyd

A FilmFreeway preferred festival:

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Interview with Winning Screenwriter Robert Tartell (Hard-Hearted Hannah & Funny Boneyard)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Robert Tartell: Hard-Hearted Hannah: A rookie detective, sent on a routine hotel skip case, find himself instead up against a diabolical serial killer with a grudge against the Eight Air Force, holding their 25th reunion there. Can he stop him before he kills again…and again?

Funny Boneyard: A young entrepreneur, fresh out of a job but full of ideas, turns an overgrown hill property he has inherited into a Cemetery of the Absurd. To everyone’s surprise, he makes a killing- but then things go horribly wrong.
2. Genres: Hard-Hearted Hannah: Drama, War, Historical.
Funny Boneyard: Comedy

3.Why should these be made into movies?

a. Each is uniquely original, thought-provoking, well-written, and of appeal to a broad audience.

4. How would you describe your scripts in two words?

Hard-Hearted Hannah: War’s cost.
Funny Boneyard: Funereally Funny

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

The Third Man

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

Hannah 6 months, Boneyard 3 months.

7. How many stories have you written?

Four feature-length screenplays, Five short screenplays, several short stories.

8. What is your favorite song?

Desafinado (and Bossa Nova in general)

9. What obstacles did you face in finishing this screenplay?

For Hard-hearted Hannah, researching WWII and Eighth Air Force military/historical details . For Funny Boneyard, none- once the original idea hit, the screenplay naturally flowed.

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

I enjoy photography, especially abstract subjects, and a variety of crafts, lately jewelry making. I have always loved aviation, flew ultralights, and have an aircraft design I’d like to make (if my wife wouldn’t leave me.)

11. Re Film Freeway what has been your experience working with the submission platform site?

It seems user-friendly- no complaints so far.

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

I am interested in anything that will help bring my work to the screen. Feedback, positive or negative is always welcome.
 

 Watch the Screenplay Reading:

A rookie detective, assigned to a routine hotel skip case, instead finds himself pitted against a diabolical serial killer with a grudge against the Eighth Air Force. Can he stop him before he kills again…and again?

Genre: Thriller, Crime

CAST LIST:

Smith (f) – 7 – Jen Daniels
Lewis – 9 – Ron Boyd
NARRATION – Brittany Clough
Brown – 22 – Hugh Ritchie
Jill – 10 – Anne McMaster
Cole – 2 – Rhys Harrison

A FilmFreeway preferred festival:

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Interview with Winning Screenwriter Maurizio Caduto (LIKE A BLOODY MONKEY)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Maurizio Caduto: To me, Like A Bloody Monkey is about the price of survival. Zehra’s traumatic transformation into a stronger character, who’s finally fit to fight for survival and revenge, begs the question: At which point the price becomes so high it defeats survival’s very purpose?

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama. There are some elements of thriller and soft horror. But LABM is a grim, dark drama.

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

The struggle of transgender women in Malaysia is a story that needs to be told and I hope Zehra will help bringing much needed attention and empathy to it.

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

Soul-searching.

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

It’s got to be The Godfather. That movie just won’t age.

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

About eight years ago, I stumbled upon the actual events of a trans gender woman arrested in Malaysia and her ordeal. As I researched the topic, I found similar stories. Even though I knew I wanted to write a screenplay about this, it took me a while before I felt I was up to the challenge. Writing only started two and a half years ago. The first attempt took about 8 months and it was unsuccessful. I had not found a compelling angle, I did not fully understand my characters, the theme was unclear. I dedicated a few months to just think about all that. Eventually, a year ago, I started anew and, five months and a few rewrites later, I felt I finally had the right script. Then it took me more than a dozen revisions to get it to where it is now.

7. How many stories have you written?

Like A Bloody Monkey is my second feature length screenplay. I’m currently writing a new story, and I know I should rewrite my first one. But I have other stories lining up, so I’m not sure when that will come to pass.

I love stories. I grew up with stories my father would make up for us kids everyday. I’ve always written in one form or another. As an advertising creative I have written tons of stories in the 30″ to 60″ format – even though I was an art director. Writing a screenplay though, turned out to be a completely different challenge and a wonderful shock to the system.

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

You By My Side, by the late Chris Squire.

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

Quite a few, actually.

As a westerner living in Asia, I knew all too well that, I could become my story’s weakest element. I was afraid of becoming judgmental, patronising. This is the main reason it took me so many years to start writing. I needed to learn the local culture and sensibility well enough to strike the right tone. In other words, I had to earn the right to write this story. It took me a lot of honesty to admit that, sometimes I was sometimes forcing myself onto the story – and as much humility to step back. It wasn’t easy.

The other big challenge was deciding what kind of story I wanted to write. I knew from the start that, I did not want to just tell the true story of one transgender woman. Instead, I wanted for all those true stories to converge into one – hence, the ‘Inspired By True Stories’ title at the start. I wanted Zehra to become, in her dramatic rise and fall, the living proof that, discriminating and abusing those who are weak, poisons the very soul of our society. And LABM to be the story of Zehra’s unreciprocated, tragic, betrayed love for her own country.

Lastly, Malaysian slang is quite unique. Chinese dialects, Tamil and Malay expressions are routinely mixed with, and word-for-word translated into English. So you have basically at the least three different English-based dialects. Again, it took me a lot of time to get a sense of what sounded right. If overdone, it can sound quite cartoonish.

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

I am passionate about a-lot of things. My days are too short and my neurons too few to cope. In no particular order: Listening to and writing music. I was trained in classical music and have almost always been in a band, playing gigs. I also love woodwork and I build high-end custom guitars for a selected, like-minded clientele. Photography, movies, cinematography, editing, the whole cinema thing – I love it! I’ve been an advertising film director until three years ago, when I decided to focus on writing. Traveling is another life long passion of mine, and I’m often on the road. I make it a point to travel in the simplest possible way. I’m not particularly interested in sigh-seeings and touristic attractions though. Instead, I prefer getting close to people’s everyday life, which is were great stories hide.

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

Very good indeed. FilmFreeway keeps track of my favorite festivals and updates the status of those I entered, which is really cool.

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

I felt Diversity was the right festival for my story and I was intrigued by the possibility of a reading with professional actors. Amazingly enough, it actually happened – and it’s a great experience! I can’t even begin to explain how beneficial that is to further fine tune a script. Priceless.

The feedback I received was excellent. All points made were valid and clearly explained. Because of that, I could suddenly see areas that needed improvement and opportunities I had missed along the way – they were hiding in plain sight! Even notes I did not fully agree on, ultimately were hinting at something missing, something I had to look for. It certainly helped propelling the story to a higher level of both dramatization and clarity, for which I am grateful to the reader and the festival.

 
Watch the Screenplay Reading:

Logline: A Malay trans woman is forced into prostitution in jail and fights to survive and regain power over herself.

Synopsis: Malaysia, 1998: KARIM collects his brother Amir from the beach while Amir’s friends make fun of him. Flash forward to 2015 and we met ZEHRA as she leaves boyfriend DAVE in bed and goes to work. At work she talks to her friend Farah, a trans woman who is showing off her surgery. On being asked if Zehra wants breast work done, she says she is happy being as God made her. On the way to a club that night, Dave coerces Zehra into oral sex in his car despite watching police cameras. At the club we see a man (SHAVED HEAD MAN) leave before they enter. Zehra and Dave dance until the club is raided by police. Dave abandons Zehra and the police check her ID – we discover that she was Karim from the first scene. A police officer offers to let her go in exchange for sex and she assaults him. She is arrested for the assault and for “cross-dressing”, sentenced to 1 year in prison.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Val Cole
Zehra: Zena Driver
Warden: Nick Baillie
Menni/Jensen: Peter Mark Raphael
Dave/Peter: Russell Batcher
Farah: Valerie Courville
Hafiz: Ryan Singh

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Interview with Winning Screenwriter Anoop Judge (THE RUMMY CLUB)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Anoop Judge: The Rummy Club is Joy Luck Club with an Indian cultural twist and tells the story of four Indian women bound by decades of friendship: Alka, a child of privilege and power; Mini, a beauty and a flirt; Priya, a nurturing earth mother; and Divya, who is insecure and envious of her friends. Now in their 40s and living in California, they find comfort and support in their weekly card game of rummy—even as their private lives begin to unravel.

In her younger years, Alka, the self-appointed leader of the group, was pressured into marrying a wealthy man whom she loathes in order to save her family’s failing business. As a result, she turned all of her attention to her son, Krishna, becoming an obsessive and overbearing mother in the process. As usual, her three friends adjust to her version of reality. But each has her own difficulties as well: Mini’s beloved husband dies unexpectedly; Priya catches her husband cheating; and Divya feels increasingly envious of her companions’ financial stability.

When Alka’s son lapses into a coma after a suicide attempt, her fabricated world shatters like glass. Mini, Priya, and Divya band together to support her, but a misunderstanding threatens to dissolve the foursome when they need each other most. It will take more than a game of rummy to repair the most important friendships of their lives.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama/Multicultural

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

How common is the knowledge that every sixth human being in the world today is Indian? Here in the United States, the East Indian population is one of the fastest growing ethnic groups and increasing at a rate of 69%. This trend compels me to give voice through my stories to the East Indian diaspora in the context of twenty-first century America much of whose population is unaware of the rich culture of their new neighbors.

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

Women’s Friendships

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

Too many to count

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

Two years

7. How many stories have you written?

I’m currently working on my third novel. An excerpt from my second novel “The Awakening of Meena Rawat” has just been selected for publication in a literary journal.

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

This is my fight song.

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

The obstacle I’m facing now is to turn this screenplay into a movie or T.V. show or a theater production.

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

Reading. Working out.
Being an advocate for, and providing pro bono representation to indigent women and disadvantaged children. Visit my website (http://www.anoopjudge.com) for more information about my pro bono efforts.

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

Absolutely wonderful!

 Watch the Screenplay Reading:

CAST LIST:

Mini: Cassandra Guthrie
Karen: Erica Levene
Narrator: Sean Ballantyne
Tom: Christopher Bautista
Rain: Luke Robinson

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Interview with Winning Screenwriter David Hearne (STARFARERS)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

David Hearne: It mirrors real-world events, in particular the U.S. invasion of countries that have resources. It’s also about love, sacrifice, honour, conflict, lust and loss. It’s also character driven. I’ve included a synopsis for you below:

In the far-flung future, a conflicted space pilot will fulfil an ancient family prophecy and discover a plot to start an intergalactic war. Rather than stop the war, his enemy realises that with the right motivation, he can actually be the catalyst for it.

On the planet Callon, a group of peace-keepers led by Jarre encounter the Tharnian Empire. Jarre escapes after clashing with a tharnian named Rugor.

Back on Earth, Jarre is recalled to Callon. His ‘love’ Ganna is going too.

As they leave Earth, Jarre tells Ky, his friend obsessed with 80’s music, that his great grandfather took to the stars and never returned. Jarre also shares that he never had his father’s approval.

The return to Callon goes horribly wrong and the battle is lost. Jarre and company flee to a distant world. Rugor follows.

Jarre discovers the true motive of the United Planets, the power he serves. It seems they are working towards a new galactic order. Think Trump but worse!

A dominatrix named Vegas captures Ganna to set a trap for Jarre.

Jarre battles Rugor and buries friends. They are rescued by eccentric pirates who explain they’re “a bit like the old earth legend, Robin Hood. Except for the ‘giving to the poor’ part.”

Jarre meets Masterdon, both an ally and a mentor. He reveals that he knew Jarre’s great grandfather, Moroz, who left a prophecy the Tharnians fear to this day.

Vegas captures Jarre and as she can’t tempt him with her feminine charms, she delivers him an ultimatum. He must lead an attack on the Tharnian Empire or never see Ganna again.

Masterdon reappears and gives Jarre a puzzle that was left by his great grandfather. Jarre must solve the riddle should he fulfil his destiny.

Jarre agrees to lead the fleet to attack the Tharnian Empire. Rugor and Jarre clash. The fleet attacks and destroys the Empire’s homeworld. Jarre wrestles with internal darkness and contemplates what he’s done.

Jarre and Ky solve the puzzle and find a hidden moon, the secret base of the Cerulean Legion! Jarre orders the fleet to destroy Cerulus. Now the prophecy has been completely fulfilled!

Ky blackmails Vegas who cuts Jarre and Ganna loose. They’re free but for how long? Ky blows up Vegas’ ship and himself, yet she escapes.

Vegas finds Jarre and when all seems lost, her ship is blasted by Rugor, who knows the United Planets were behind the attack and Jarre was just an unwitting cog in their relentless machine.

Rugor and Jarre join forces to stand against the United Planets. They fly side-by-side, different species united by a common cause. Jarre has found the approval he never received from his father and assures them it’s not finished. ‘Not by a long shot.’

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Science Fiction / Space Opera.

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

It will entertain people and make them feel better about their lives. It’s got some classic moments of character-driven Sci-Fi in it and it’s funny in places too. It’s quirky and the protagonist has a story to tell. Like Starship Troopers, it has the potential to become a well-loved flick of a well-worn genre. It has all the elements of a great screenplay and follows them to a tee.

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

Likeable Space-junk.

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

Casablanca.

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

On and off for a decade after studying Screenwriting with QPIX

7. How many stories have you written?

A dozen shorts (two were made) and four features now.

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

Eye of the Tiger (Survivor). We’ve all got that fight in us when we want our story to be told.

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

So many – more than the protagonist. Your blessings (work, family) are obstacles too (even if you love them) never mind the other ones – such as the body politic (sleep – begone!).

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

Animal Rights, Human Rights, Equality, Fairness and Equity.

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

Excellent. Great comms and the ‘Gold’ concept is a solid one.

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

I liked that you do readings of the screenplays. It’s such a cool touch that lets you connect to the festival as a writer. So many festivals have screenwriters feeling like an afterthought with nothing to show. Your concept brings the screenplay to life!

 Watch the Screenplay Reading:

In the far-flung future, a conflicted space pilot will fulfill an ancient family prophecy and discover a plot to start an intergalactic war. Rather than stop the war, his enemy realizes that with the right motivation, he can actually be the catalyst for it.

CAST LIST:

Ky – Malcolm Allcorn
Jarre – Brogan Caulfield
Narration – Bree Ali
Ganna – Katelyn Varadi
Forbes – Ted Power

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