Interview with Screenwriter Dylan Stagno (Good Movie In The Luck Business)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Dylan Stagno: This screenplay mainly depicts two issues of Hollywood’s golden era. Firstly, Hollywood’s concern of Communist propaganda being infiltrated through the industry. Secondly, the leaps and bounds of which small time production companies had to go through in order to make their films on shoestring budgets.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Dark Comedy/Thriller.

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

It’s a screenplay about selling and producing a screenplay. It’s a unique never seen before tale that any filmmaker/writer/film enthusiast can relate too.

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

Unintentionally hilarious.

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

‘’Bottle Rocket’’ by Wes Anderson.

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

A few months.

7. How many stories have you written? You ever heard of a bag of tricks?

Well I have a bag of scripts.

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

Right now, ‘’This Must Be The Place’’ by The Talking Heads.

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

Being respectful and as realistic as possible to the juncture of which the screenplay is set in.

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

Food!

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

I think Film Freeway is a great platform for aspiring filmmakers and screenwriters alike. It provides access to thousands of festivals & competitions which in part makes it easier for talent to become recognized.

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

I entered the festival because I want it to get made. Feedback was insightful, encouraging and helpful.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

After a communist screenwriter is killed, his latest script comes incidentally in two B movie producers’ possession. Despite the fears of defying state politics, their desperation convinces them to actually try and make this project happen.

CAST LIST:
Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Curt: Hartley O. Gyamfi
Eli: Joseph Ferrari
Leland: Shawn Devlin
Dickie: Sheldon Graham

 

Interview with Screenwriter Anna Bielkheden (WALK OF SHAME)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Anna Bielkheden: It’s a raw drama series centered around three female roommates in LA going through a quarter life crisis in the age of social media. My main characters are 29-year old makeup artist SKY from Sherman Oaks, 26-year old personal trainer ASH from Oklahoma and 25-year old aspiring student actress CLARA.

I decided to call the show “Walk of Shame” because it’s set in Hollywood in the modern era of online fame, where the line between shame and fame is always slim and wobbly.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama

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

I think that that as a web or TV drama series, it really fits in with the times we’re living in.

It’s real, gritty, diverse and shows the modern reality of what it’s like being a young person, especially a woman, trying to make it in a city like LA. Most drama shows set in Los Angeles are incredibly unrealistic, and I wanted to show a different side without all the bells and whistles.

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

Endearing rawness.

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

I’m pretty sure it’s Goodfellas.

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

On and off for about two years.

7. How many stories have you written?

Going back all the way to when I started writing, I don’t really know. I’ve written one and a half novel (got stuck midway on the second one) and completed a total of three screenplays.I also have four additional treatments in progress, including a new pilot and three features.

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

I’m not really into favorites, to be completely honest. I like diversity, whether it’s people, buildings, colors or music. I listen to anything from Cypress Hill to Garbage and Abba. It’s all about the mood. If it doesn’t make me feel what I want to feel, I turn it off.

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

Getting my ass in gear and finishing it. Walk of Shame was also my first pilot script, so I kind of had to learn the ropes as I went along in terms of structure and formatting. Other than that, most of the script came naturally. My outline consisted of rough scenes on post-it notes, which I placed on a big white board so I could move them around as needed. But in terms of really nailing the details, the story unfolded on its own. My characters talk, I just listen and write it down.

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

Human connection is what drives me. Understanding how we are similar in our differences and uniting polar opposites really fascinates me. I’m more into deep conversation than adrenaline boosting experiences. To me, the beauty of life really is in the little things.

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

I’ve had a great experience so far. It’s simple to use and gets the job done!

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

I was drawn to the motivation behind the festival; to showcase female writers and filmmakers.That is definitely needed! I was over the moon with my submission feedback. It was super detailed and very helpful. Most importantly, I got the impression the person reading my script truly understood what I was trying to say and saw what I envisioned with the show.

 
Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Walk of Shame is a raw drama series about three female roommates in LA struggling to navigate the road to success and personal identity, smack in the middle of a booming social media era and a pending quarter life crisis. Over the course of ten episodes, we follow the complicated lives and relationships of a 26-year old personal trainer from Oklahoma with a raging Tomboy vs. Barbie complex (ASH), a 29-year old second generation immigrant MUA from Sherman Oaks with the goal of becoming a star beauty influencer (SKY), and a 25-year old aspiring actress from Denmark with an expiring student visa, desperate to make it at any cost (CLARA).

CAST LIST:

Avery: Aaron Maxwell Williams
Alexis: Katelyn Varadi
Sky: Camila Aguirre
Narrator: Carina Cojeen
Clara: Melinda Jordan
Ash: Kristen MacCulloch
Miguel: Michael Ruhs

Interview with Screenwriter Níkẹ Uche Kadri (PINK & BLUE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Níkẹ Uche Kadri: After a surprise pregnancy, a Black strait-laced lesbian and her multiracial trans partner wrestle with how the new baby will affect their relationship and how to raise a child in a binary world.

Pink & Blue is a love story about two people confronting parenthood for the first time. Even when the road gets rough, with love, nothing is insurmountable. All of us are either parents/guardians or have been children in a binary world. This story matters because it offers a radical approach to parenthood and gender. Our film asks audiences to dig deeper into the definitions of sex (biology) and gender (a social construct). Why do we place so much pressure on gender when it comes to children?

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama, LGBTQ+

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

The concept of Pink & Blue is just as queer as the characters, crew, key creatives, and the story. Authentic casting reinforces how necessary and empowering it is to create stories for us and by us. We are exemplifying being the change we seek by ensuring that marginalized folx are the center of the story and lead the way behind-the-scenes.

Pink & Blue also passes the Bechdel and Ava DuVernay tests which demand that women and people of color have autonomy from cis male or white characters. Using these tests as a rubric will humanize and normalize the experience of creating life/parenthood for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Pink & Blue acknowledges that imbuing toxic masculinity (“…a set of behaviors and beliefs that include the following: Suppressing emotions or masking distress, maintaining an appearance of hardness, [and] violence as an indicator of power…”) in children can occur even before a child is born and that restricting children’s understanding and fluidity of their sexuality and gender can potentially exacerbate toxic masculinity.

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

Unapologetic realness

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

Gladiator and Pocahontas

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

Almost 1 year

7. How many stories have you written?

I have been writing and performing stories since I was about 7 years old. I’ve lost count.

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

My favorite songs right now are Zulu Screams by GoldLink and Great One by Jessie Reyes.

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

The main obstacle I faced was receiving feedback about the screenplay. I have had readers say that only LGBTQ+ people will relate to this story and that my screenplay has no conflict because it is about gender. I look forward to proving them wrong.

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

Social justice. LGBTQ justice. Criminal justice reform. Art for social change.

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

Easy and helpful to be able to submit to most festivals from one platform and find new ones easily.

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

I wanted to reach an international audience. I was ecstatic to receive warm feedback from this festival. It was so encouraging for me and my team. I know it will help us as we continue the grant application process.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

After a surprise pregnancy, a Black strait-laced lesbian and her multiracial trans partner wrestle with how the new baby will affect their relationship and how to raise a child in a binary world.

CAST LIST:

Diane: Mercedez De Castro
Lin: Veronika Gribanova
Narrator: Val Cole
Crea: Olivia Barrett
Armani: Wilfred Lee

Interview with Screenwriter Amber Nardolillo (Secondhand Heart)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Amber Nardolillo: Family, friendship and a second chance at a first love (in short)

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Romantic Comedy/Drama

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

Because it is unlike a lot of LGBTQ films past and present. The story isn’t about “forbidden love”, the characters angst doesn’t come from being LGBTQ and it has a happy ending! I wanted to write an LGBTQ film that was more comedy with the drama secondhand, a film that would be just as good if the characters were writing heterosexual. I believe I accomplished that.

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

Queer representation

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

Dogma

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

It took me about two years to finish and I still make changes here and there based on feedback.

7. How many stories have you written?

I started writing when I was 11 so too many to count.

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

Go your own way – Fleetwood Mac

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

I found writing for what I believed to be what “others” would want to see was a huge obstacle. Once I started writing this screenplay for the way I wanted to see it, it became a lot easier!

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

Anything creative. Drawing, painting. Also very passionate about a youtube series (and feature film) called Carmilla.

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

I love it! It’s very easy to enter multiple contests after initially setting up an account. I have also gotten valuable feedback through most submissions as well!

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

I thought it was a neat idea and would be amazing to see what just a little scene of my screenplay could be like when acted out! The feedback was great! I am still making a few changes based on the feedback I received before the reading was completed!

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Reese is a commitment-phobic lesbian who can’t be in the same room with her homemaker sister Rachel without them verbally eviscerating each other, but, when Rachel’s marriage falls apart, Reese is forced to take her sister in, along with her two kids and their dog until they can get back on their feet. Along the way Reese rediscovers her passion for music, the importance of family and that her first may be the only love that ever mattered.

CAST LIST:

JIm: Trevor Howes
Narrator: Val Cole
Reese: Veronika Gribanova
Office Girl: Olivia Barrett

Interview with Screenwriter Alan Harrington (THE EVENING)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Alan Harrington: It’s about a crime boss, Frank Costello, who has changed nothing since his father passed away some years ago. He still drives his dad’s old Buick, lives in the family home, and lets things “run themselves.” When his dog is killed by a passing motorist who comes back to try to get money from him, he realizes that he is not taken seriously anymore and he has to do something to regain some credibility.

An apparently psychotic, but driven and intelligent, newly-graduated image consultant is suggested by one of Frank’s disgruntled employees—in hopes of ruining Frank. Susan is motivated to prove herself, however, and takes her challenge of reinventing the Costello brand very seriously, resulting in several casual murders. Her intelligence and composure under pressure allow them to avoid getting caught while letting the community know that the Costello name is to be feared once more.

The emphasis is upon the working relationship of the innocent-looking “image consultant” and the aged crime boss.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Crime, dark comedy, dramedy.

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

It’s a twist on the usual scary crime boss flick, portraying an amusing intergenerational and starkly professional working relationship.

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

Discomfiting comedy.

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

Kids movies aside, Moon Over Parador. (I know, not the best movie ever made—but so funny in places and great “acting within a role” moments.)

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

Three years.

7. How many stories have you written?

Three full-length screenplays, a TV pilot, and a short (26 pager).

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

“Yellow” by Coldplay

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

For some reason some readers thought there was a romantic connection between Susan and Frank, which seems absurd given the scenes and their actions, so it was a challenge to try to ensure there is no confusion about what is a peculiar but completely professional relationship.

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

Basketball

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

It’s a great platform—nothing but good experiences.

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

I really like the idea of the readings and that attracted me to your festival; it’s very helpful to hear the dialogue spoken.

I thought the feedback was fair and on target and it will help me with my next draft.

 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Frank hire’s a connected and motivated image consultant to revive his crime family’s fear factor.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Cameron: Joseph Ferrari
Johnny: Shawn Devlin
Frank: Sheldon Graham

Interview with Filmmaker Christopher Mack (HOPE IS FRENCH)

HOPE IS FRENCH played to rave reviews at the Comedy Feedback Film Festival in September 2019.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Christopher Mack: Cat poop! 🙂 My cat had pooped in the hallway, and it gave me an idea.

And I wanted to have fun and make a film that explored both hope and despair in a kind of silly way.

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

I wrote it in September 2018. I got the production together and filmed it in May 2019. The edit was finished at the end of September 2019

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

Always hope

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

Time and money. And working with a cat! 🙂

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

Fascinated. It is rare and exciting to get a chance to hear what total strangers took from my film. I think it is very valuable to understand how my film is scene.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Same as answer to one: Cat poop! 🙂 My cat had pooped in the hallway, and it gave me an idea. And I think everyone has had bad days. How we react to the highs and lows is the stuff of high tragedy or great comedy.

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

That’s a hard one. The Sweet Hereafter by Atom Egoyan? Blue Velvet? Not sure. There are too many!

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

It is an expensive platform, and sometimes there is inconstancy between Filmfreeway and the various festivals, but it is great that it exists!

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

I would think it would be a Johnny Cash song

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

Working on several short films! Have a couple of feature film scripts I wrote and I’d love to explore, but I am no good at getting financing!
I am trying to film on a smartphone with an anamorphic lens. Fingers crossed it works.

hope_is_french

Interview with Screenwriter Sam Tracton (OPERATIVE D)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Operative D is a story about the correlation between nature and choice, as James’ earnest desire to be a good person clashes with his dark past and brutal nature.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

The script falls under the thriller and crime genres

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

This screenplay should be made into a television series because its theme of choosing to be a good person and the rigors of actually doing such a thing are always engaging and entertaining to watch play out.

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

Precisely ruthless.

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

Star Wars, Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi

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

This screenplay has been a work in progress for over a year now, with the idea itself having be ruminating in my head for over three.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have written one feature-length fantasy screenplay called Dragonsteel, which will be appearing in the Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film & Screenplay Festival, as well as the first four episodes of a series I hope to make called Brianna the Devourer.

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

‘Race You to the Top of the Morning’ from The Secret Garden. My dad used to sing it to me as a lullaby.

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

The biggest obstacle in writing this script was finding a way to segway into James’ introduction without losing the tension of the Teaser.

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

Stories, in general, are my greatest joys, with superheroes and fantasy being my favorite, along with Shonen Manga like One Piece, Fairy Tail, and My Hero Academia.

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

I submitted to quite a few festivals through FilmFreeway at the being of the summer and I must say it made the process far simpler than I had feared it would be.

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

I decided to enter the festival because I am currently a junior in college and I am afraid whether my stories and my writing will be strong enough to survive and thrive in the market of the real world. When I received the initial feedback from the festival, it was honestly a moment of triumph, validation that I was capable of succeeding in this, my dream career. I know I must not look to others for the sake of judging my success but, hey, if no one likes my writing, I can’t get paid for it.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

After a bloody and seemingly impossible assassination, NYPD Detective James MacIntyre starts to see clues tying the murders to his past.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss

Hadden: Ron Boyd
Blake: Peter Nelson
Benny: Bill Poulin
Delia/Sara: Lyndsay Clarkson
James: David Jackson