Interview with Screenwriter Drew Robinson (BEAUTIFUL SURFACES)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Drew Robinson: What if you could live forever? Beautiful Surfaces is a science fiction, coming of age television drama. Set in a dystopian future where aging has been eradicated, the series explores how immortality affects societal norms, relationships and the human psyche. Echoing many of the issues that today’s millennials face, the series offers audiences, of all ages, the opportunity to reflect on contemporary issues through the lens of a science fiction setting.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Science fiction/drama/speculative fiction

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

I think that this script would be a great pilot for a tv series. The search for meaning and purpose that Mia, Alejandro and many of the characters grapple with in this series reflect my own struggles as a millennial. The millennial relationships with privacy, with debt, and with job security are fundamentally different than those of previous generations and figuring out how to navigate this new frontier inspired many of the questions raised in Beautiful Surfaces.

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

Intellectual rollercoaster

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

Jurassic Park or Die Hard

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

I’ve been working on this script for over a year.

7. How many stories have you written?

Too many to count. I’ve written several other original pilots since I made the decision to pursue screenwriting as a career several years ago.

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

‘Shake It Off’ by Taylor Swift (don’t judge me!)

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

Science fiction is a very specific genre and if a reader isn’t into sci-fi, they can struggle to suspend their disbelief. So as I received notes, it was a challenge to swift through the feedback to see what would improve the story versus what was just dislike of an entire genre. Fortunately I was able to locate some really great sci-fi readers to give notes and their feedback was immensely valuable.

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

I love to draw, read and discuss the ramifications of a hostile robot takeover.

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

So far it’s been great!

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

I’m always looking for feedback on my stories so I try enter festivals where I think I could benefit from the readers’ perspectives. I thought the feedback was useful and I appreciate the time the readers took.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

In a world where aging has been eradicated, the heir apparent to the immortality industry discovers problems with the anti-aging drugs and finds herself caught in a conspiracy that threatens not only those she loves but also the very fabric of this new, everlasting society.

CAST LIST:

Man: Bill Poulin
Narrator: Sean Ballantyne
Yona: Hannah Ehman
Mia: Nkasi Ogbonnah

Interview with Screenwriter Christian Jilka (CAPTURE THE FLAG)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Christian Jilka: It is about a history professor, who meets a petty thief. Together they hatch a plan to score easy money. Things go awry when the score becomes a priceless vintage diamond and one of the professor’s students wants in to make her dreams of becoming a pop star true.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Crime, Drama, Dark Comedy

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

Because it aims to entertain without having to sacrifice its own artistic voice. It is a familiar story (that of people chasing money), but it is told with a fresh new spin and some unique characters at its heart.

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

Wild and Unexpected.

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

That is a very hard question to answer, because the films that I like and remember the most are probably the ones I’ve seen the least amount of times. But one movie that really opened my eyes to the sheer possibilities of film was “Love Exposure” by the Japanese filmmaker Sion Sono. Watching it for the first time stuck out as one of the strangest and most fascinating experiences I’ve had with a film.

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

A bit over two years.

7. How many stories have you written?

I don’t really keep count. But in terms of actually realized projects I have written 4 short films, some short stories and a lot of “works in progress”, which will probably see the light of day some time in the near future.

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

It is a cliché answer but it’s the Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, not only because of its musical brilliance and perfectly structured form, but because it serves as a constant reminder that if we put in the work and time to truly master our craft, we can achieve universal greatness. You can compose the most beloved piece of music even if you are deaf and can’t hear a single note. Beethoven did it, so can you.

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

It took a long time and lots of experimenting to find a satisfying ending. Since the characters are so different from each other, they naturally clash. This is great because it meant that you get a lot of entertaining and thrilling scenes throughout the story, but it made it harder to bring them together at the end and give their collective story a definite conclusion. Even though I always had a layout the ending never seemed to work when brought to paper. In the end though I did come up with something that I really liked and that links the characters throughout their adventure together, while also driving home the themes of the film quite strongly.

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

I love painting. It really forces you to think visually and challenges you to tell entire stories through one still image.

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

I’ve had quite positive experiences with FilmFreeway in the past. It makes submitting easy and is a great tool for finding festivals.

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

I have looked at the website and found that it may fit my screenplay really well. I liked the idea of a genre-based screenplay competition, so I gave it a shot and I am very glad I did. The feedback was great and insightful. It didn’t shy away from pointing out things that were holding the screenplay back from unlocking its full potential, while also complementing those aspects that already worked and made it special.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A depressed history teacher, a narcoleptic small-time crook and a teenage girl dreaming of becoming a pop star. Three very different people yet they could all use a bit more money in their lives. Luckily, they cross paths when finding a historic yellow diamond which an anonymous collector is offering a bag full of cash for. As none of the three is willing to split the money, however, they quickly become competitors in a game of deception. A thrilling race begins in which only one of them can capture the flag…

CAST LIST:

Pharmacist: Katelyn Varadi
Melanie: Miriam Capper
Narration: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Graffiti: Gabriel Darku
Oliver: Ted Powers

Interview with Screenwriter David Hearne (Starfarers & Tharnians In Space)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

David Hearne: Old hat good guys versus bad guys in space. Twist is Earth are really the bad guys. Mirrors the U.S war in IRAQ via subtext. It’s an older screenplay brought back to life recently.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Space Opera

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

I’m not sure it should, it’s a bit dated now. I wrote it a long time ago. Some bits work but others not so much. I do think it’s still entertaining though.

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

Galactic candy.

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

Aliens followed by Casablanca

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

It took me a year with many revisits.

7. How many stories have you written?

A dozen shorts and four features.

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

Eye of the Tigers, Survivor. I’m a big Dave Bickler fan. His recent album Darklight shows he’s still got it. He’s got me through some rough patches.

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

Many! I wrote it during studying the advanced diploma of screen and my whole class and instructor critiqued it.

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

Animal rights.

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

Pretty good. This is one of my favourite festivals because you bring the screenplays to life! Some you never hear back from.

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

Sounded good and lived up to expectations. I’ve attended quite a few of the festivals in person and none of them have done readings thus far. Screenplays are often just an add-on.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

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.

CAST LIST:

Wright: Sean Ballantyne
Masterdon: Matt Schichter
Ganna: Katelyn Varadi
Narration: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Jarre: Ted Powers
Ky: Gabriel Darku
Vegas: Miriam Capper

Interview with Screenwriter Alex Gold (CLAW CON)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Alex Gold: Two online friends meet for the first time at a Furry Con. But when their pasts resurface, will their relationship survive?

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s a comedy/drama. It will make you laugh, but it explores serious themes.

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

The characters, scenario and depiction of furries 100% authentic.

The furry fandom is often misunderstood and misrepresented. Nothing else out there captures it as accurately as this screenplay. It’s like looking into another world, but it’s all real.

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

Hilariously Authentic

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

Real-talk: I love Home Alone. I used to watch it all the time as a kid, and it still makes me laugh as an adult.

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

The idea’s been floating around in my head for several years. It felt good to finally get it all out.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve been writing all of my life. I write professionally for video games, and I’ve written numerous other screenplays.

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

I’ve been listening to 666 ʇ by Bon Iver at least once a week for several years. It’s detailed, enigmatic, and I love how it escalates. Each time I hear it, I catch something new.

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

Because of my closeness to the subject matter, it was painful to write. Almost every experience within has been taken directly from my life, or inspired by the lives of close friends. This is as real as it gets.

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

Video games. Music. And it probably goes without saying, but the furry fandom is a significant part of my life.

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

Coverfly has been fantastic! Easy to use, and wonderful for connecting to great festivals like this one!

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

I was intrigued by the live readings, and it was highly reviewed! I agree with a lot of the feedback – I will be taking all of it to heart for future projects! 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Love, hope and heartbreak at a Furry convention.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
Berry (M): Geoff Mays
David (M): Steve Rizzo
Silver Blade (F): Cassandra Guthrie
Curl Power (M): Fabio Abreu
Berry (M): Allan Michael Brunet

Interview with Screenwriter Lyndal Simpson (THE FARRELL GIRL)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Lyndal Simpson: Two abused young girls survive the brutal massacre of their family only to be separated in the state care system. Shaun “Fish” Whiting, the main suspect in the killings, remains at large and the exact circumstances of the Farrell family slaughter are shrouded in mystery. Twenty years on the estranged sisters exist as psychologically damaged adults. Their fragile existence is shattered when Fish returns to hunt them down once more. They must find one another before he finds them, and when they do, demons from the past must be finally confronted.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama. Thriller. Crime.

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

“The Farrell Girl” packs a strong emotional punch while tackling some very heavy social issues – namely child sexual abuse, and violence against women and girls in the home.

I have crafted “The Farrell Girl” to be a story that makes you FEEL – outrage, sympathy, horror, fear and joy. It is also a story designed to make the audience think. Questions such as: How do we as a society judge people and determine who deserves our compassion and who does not? Does the community bear some level of culpability for not acting strongly enough to act on and eliminate domestic violence and child abuse?

The movie would appeal to women across the age spectrum due to the strong female characters, especially the ever-defiant Caitlin Farrell. The thriller element would provide the basis for an even broader appeal, as would the engaging central mystery which draws the viewer in and carries them through to the end – who brutally slaughtered the Farrell men, and why did they do it?

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

Gritty realism.

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

‘Rocky’. I hate boxing, yet I absolutely love this movie. It’s the gritty, yet endearing tale of an underdog with an indomitable, yet naive spirit who rises against the odds, finds himself on centre stage for his chance at glory…and then loses. And yet, somehow, he doesn’t seem to lose at all. The fact that he got that far and gave it his all comes across as being as good as a victory. The film achieves all this without it ever feeling sappy.

The unlikely romantic pairing between the outgoing and simple Rocky, and the introverted and intelligent Adrian is brilliant. Those final scenes where a battered Rocky calls out for Adrian after losing his fight to Apollo give me goose bumps.

Rocky is the perfect hero for an audience to champion. The story is gripping and uplifting, with one of the most convincing romance plots going. ‘Rocky 2’ is just as good!

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

I started working on ‘The Farrell Girl’ in late-2018. I knew I wanted the story to be about child sexual abuse. I knew that the location would be a small Australian town. I also knew who the central characters would be. The seed of the idea came from my own experience growing up in a small town where a particular family were openly shunned by everyone.

7. How many stories have you written?

At this point I have written (1) short – “Possum”, (2) pilots – “The Whistler” and “Four Crows”, and (2) feature scripts – “The Farrell Girl” and “Sun Woman, Moon Man”. I’m currently working on a novel “Afterlife” and a pilot script “Gloomtown” which is adapted from the novel.

I have previously written numerable short stories and won two National Literary Awards in Australia for my stories “The Trolley Boy” and “Spring Frost”.

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

“Bright Eyes” by Art Garfunkel. I know that this is very unusual choice, but this song really gives me the feels in a big way. Death and bunny rabbits – emotional stuff!

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

As a mother of two young boys, the biggest obstacle to my writing is always juggling parenting with personal time set aside for writing. For me the key is consistency. I try to write every single day, even if it’s only for a short period.

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

History. In particular European/Indigenous relations within Australia; the Third Reich in Germany; and Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century.

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

Coverfly functions really well as a central platform from which screenwriters can submit their work to competitions, festivals and for feedback. I love having all of my submissions in the one place. It keeps everything so neatly organised. I’ve also had numerous industry downloads requests due to my short screenplay “Possum” being the #1 Thriller Short for 2019 on Coverfly’s Red List.

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

I generally trust the reputation of competitions that are on Coverfly. I also looked at the Wildsound Festival Review page and could see that the festival was run with a lot of passion.

The feedback that I received was incredibly detailed and constructive. Divided into sections such as PLOT, and even TYPOS. I found that I was able to immediately improve my script as a result. I really appreciated how specific the feedback was in the way that it referred to identifiable paragraphs, dialogue or plot points.

 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Two young sisters, sole survivors of a family massacre, must find one another after almost twenty years of separation, when the chief suspect in the killings seeks to hunt them down once more.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
Caitlin (F): Mandy May Cheetham
Rosie (F): Julie Sheppard
Brodie (M): Fabio Abreu
Alice (F): Cassandra Guthrie

Interview with Screenwriter Mark McKee (POSTHUMAN)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Mark McKee: After eight years on the run from a deranged doctor intent on studying him due to his startling visions of the afterlife, a teen boy finds himself in danger of being experimented on when his father is killed and he’s returned to the custody of his estranged mother.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Science Fiction/Horror and a dash of Thriller.

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

There was a great catharsis in developing Posthuman because it allowed for me to creatively confront the very same demons I encountered as an adolescent that didn’t quite “fit in” while growing up in a southern town where the highest of aspirations involved an athletic pursuit. Films that confront these demons (especially in the horror genre) typically skew them in a way that leaves the viewer with either an ambiguous OR negative ending. I wanted to erase that notion and create a protagonist that (while flawed) is able to overcome his personal and family demons and utilize them for the betterment of others. Make no mistake, Bruce is angry and while that manifests in his relationship with his mother, the evolution of their relationship creates a compelling narrative that highlights the brokenness of both individuals and allows them to acknowledge and accept each other for both who they are AND what they’ve done.

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

Imaginative/Visceral

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

Batman (89)

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

The draft submitted for the contest took three months to complete. Following the advice of reviewers after the contest win, I began work on the “final draft.” Once completed (so close), the story will have taken about nine months.

7. How many stories have you written?

Four screenplays and too many short stories to count.

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

God’s Away on Business-Tom Waits

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

My wife and I had our son in March 2019, so the navigation of insomnia, anxiety and career proved to be quite difficult. Thankfully, screenwriting was a healthy outlet that allowed me to communicate my anxieties through some particularly horrific scenes.

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

I have a smattering of things that I’m passionate about, so let’s just list a few.

1.) Comic Books: If quarantines took place in comic book shops, I would be enjoying this lockdown much more.

2.) Action Figures: Really…any high-end collectible with a Batman logo attached to it.

3.) Running: Two marathons and countless hours of story building in my head.

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

I love how intuitive the system is, and having the ability to register for multiple contests under one platform makes Coverfly my go-to choice for contest registration.

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

The feedback being included in the cost of the package was quite enticing. While I did not know if I would win at the time, the prospect of seeing a performance of a piece of my screenplay from professional actors definitely finalized the decision for me.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

 Follow his death and resurrection, a boy is hunted by a mysterious government organization hell-bent on learning the secrets of the afterlife.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
Darren (M): Allan Michael Brunet
Bruce (M): Geoff Mays
Elderly Woman (F): Mandy May Cheetham
Nurse (F): Cassandra Guthrie
Clerk (M): Steve Rizzo

Interview with Screenwriter Zack R. Smith (In Too Deep: The Brian Futz Story)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Zack R. Smith: A modern-day murder-mystery-comedy wrapped around a 1980’s absurdist underdog comedy.

30 years after the murders of the most prolific screenwriting duo of the 1980’s, their final screenplay has finally been brought to life — ‘In Too Deep’ is the story of a disgraced college swimmer returning to the pool at age 40 looking for a shot at redemption.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy

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

‘In Too Deep’ is not only funny for an audience of any age, but it also taps into the nostalgia felt so many people who came up in the absurd 1980’s.

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

Joyful lunacy

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

‘Deconstructing Harry’

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

9 Months

7. How many stories have you written?

30

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

Peter Cetara – Glory of Love

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

The hardest part was cutting. Initially, this script was close to 150 pages of joke after joke after joke. While obviously too long, the goal for my writing partner and myself, at the time, was to make each other laugh. So, we just kept going. Eventually, we had to do away with some great stuff.

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

New York City, yoga, animals

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

Mostly positive. Easy to use. The downside, of course, is that there are SO MANY competitions on FilmFreeway – many with little to no payoff for entering or even winning them.

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

The real motivation for entering ‘WildSound’ was the possibility of having our work performed by professionals. I’m not sure either of us have designs on directing. We simply love writing comedy. But also want to see our work put out there. And low and behold, we were fortunate enough to pick up a win and have the opening scene from ‘In Too Deep’ performed, which was great. But even before that, our initial feedback from ‘WildSound’ – the feedback we received in writing – was both informative and full of positive praise. So, that was pretty great, too.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

30 years after the murders of the most prolific screenwriting duo of the 1980’s, their final screenplay has finally been brought to life — ‘In Too Deep’ is the story of a disgraced college swimmer returning to the pool at age 40 looking for a shot at redemption.

CAST LIST:

Narration: Esther Tribault
Meriwether: Pierre Simpson

Interview with Screenwriter Oliver Warren (THREE DATES WITH BEN)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Oliver Warren: Three Dates with Ben is a dark gay romance about a young man’s obsession with his ex, and the devastation it causes over the course of a decade.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s most definitely an Indie Drama, a Dark Romance and in many ways, a Coming of Age story, too.

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

I believe the script speaks a lot to first, and unrequited, loves – many people’s firsts, especially in the LGBT world, are rarely the sweet, clean-cut romances, and they leave wounds that take years to heal. Whilst there’s so much of my own experience in this script, I feel it speaks to the universal desire for love.

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

Dark Romance.

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

So I Married An Axe Murderer.

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

The idea formed in January 2019, and I started writing it in October 2019, completing the first draft by December, and the current draft in January 2020.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written four features, six tv pilots, three radio plays and a handful of short films too.

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

I Love You, by Woodkiid

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

Making time in amongst my career as a fashion film director – particularly as last fall I was chasing Jennifer Lopez around the world for a fashion brand!

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

Writing is most definitely my over-riding passion, but I feel incredibly passionate for directing, as well as collaborating creatively with my partner, Cameron McNee, a fashion photographer, when we create fashion and documentary content with the LGBT community.

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

I think it’s a well organized, easy to use site, with excellent functionality – I do find it frustrating though, that it is so structured around their Red List / Rating system, and that many competition entries (including Wildsound) don’t include the all-important scores to affect placement on the Red List, thus defeating one of the key advantages to the site.

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

Having seen the festival on Coverfly, it felt like a supportive and inclusive festival, which drew my attention to it, initially. The feedback I received was fantastic, both from a positive affirmation perspective, but also with useful critical insight too.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A brutal dumping, and a vow to win back his first love, sends a gay eighteen year old romantic into a spiral of discovery and destruction, but over the next decade, each time the damaged ex resurfaces, his heart is crushed anew, however when the romantic’s latest partner is dragged into this savage love affair, he must finally learn to lay his first love to rest.

CAST LIST:

Narration: Allison Kampf
Radio DJ (M): Steve Rizzo
Ben (M): Manny Pacheco
Fatima (F): Val Cole
GRAZYNA (F): Miram Capper

Interview with Filmmaker Lee Manansala (KHADIAH AND PAULINE)

KHADIAH AND PAULINE played to rave reviews at the February 2020 ROMANCE Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Lee Manansala: It’s weird – I love being in Paris. It’s my favorite city, and I’m content to just wander the city and meet with friends, etc. But I’m also big on being productive, not being idle. So in the November of 2018, with airfare to CDG being so low, I wrote something for my actor friend Hadia to act to in, something I could produce with former students of mine based in Paris, and once everyone was on board, we all just went for it.

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

I booked airfare to Paris and asked Hadia if she wanted to work on something before I ever started writing, and I think that was in June or July of 2018. We shot in November, and I finished post in January of 2019.

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

Parisian lovers?

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

Just the uncertainty of it all. We didn’t rehearse until the day we shot the film. I didn’t even meet Colombine, who played Pauline, until we shot the scene.

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

I loved it. I was in the audience near the front row, so I wasn’t able to see who said what. One comment was unfavorable, and it really put my “I don’t want to make movies that everyone likes” motto to the test, and honestly, I really don’t. I know that it’s a very narrow space in which I like to create things, and that means it’s not going to reach everyone. But when it does reach someone, it tends to resonate and it becomes memorable and hopefully important to the viewer. I love that idea.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I’ve always been interested in the idea of why people wear certain things, and I think the stories behind our style of dress can be rich with subtext and meaning. The conversation in Khadijah and Pauline was adapted from a feature I am working on – it was always meant to be about vulnerability and loss, but the fact that it’s a woman telling the story adds to the story the idea of coming out.

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

Probably Seven Samurai. At this point I just put that movie on as a sort of comforting white noise, even though it’s a sort of filmmaking I may never attempt.

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

I am conflicted about this, so I may have a different response tomorrow. But today I feel the proposition of a centralized site for every conceivable film festival is very fair, but it helps to look at it from this perspective – film festival programmers aren’t necessarily looking for the highest quality work, but work that will add value to their festivals. It’s not that your work isn’t good, it’s just not a fit for that particular festival. In that sense, my feelings aren’t hurt by how transactional the process feels.

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

Ma Mère l’Oye – a suite composed by Ravel based on several fables.

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

I expanded the Khadijah and Pauline into a three-part short film called “One Year of Khadijah and Pauline”. I’m mulling over the idea of premiering the film on a curated online site, but I still have romantic feelings about premiering it in a theater. I’m currently working on the script for a feature length film partially based on this story. Honestly and embarrassingly, I fell in love with these characters and I don’t want to say goodbye just yet.

Interview with Poet Paula Shaffer (BENCH SOLILOQUY)

Matthew Toffolo: What is the theme of your poem?

Paula Shaffer: The magnificent view from a bench on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Dana Point, CA.

2) What motivated you to write this poem?

I often visit the “bench” just to marvel at the sea, hear the roaring crash on the rocks, taste the sea’s saltiness, experience the power of the ocean in its majestic splendor. A place to reflect and feel small, surrounded my nature’s majesty. It’s a humbling experience.

3) How long have you been writing poetry?

I have been a closet poet for 30+ years, but rarely shared it with others. However, after retirement, I enrolled in a continuous Journaling/Poetry class in January 2019. That’s when I endeavored to really work at the art of composing poems. 2019 became a breakout year for me with writing poetry on a regular basis and for the first time, actually sharing my poetry in open microphone classes before an audience. It has been exhilarating. I discovered a group of highly skilled poets and writers who have motivated and inspired me to keep producing poetry and enhancing my skills.

4) If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would that be?

My writing coach, author MaryAnn Easley, who has provided tremendous support, constructive criticism, inspiration, and valuable guidance. Her brilliant and creative mind is worth picking for hours on end. And she’s a great conversationalist.

5) What influenced you to submit to have your poetry performed by a professional actor?

I wanted to hear my poem spoken in a voice outside my own, to see if the cadence and spirit of the poem matched what I heard in my head while composing the poem. I was not disappointed.

6) Do you write other works? scripts? Short Stories? Etc..?

I wrote a published memoir in 2019 called “The Absent Mother, Memoir of a Foster Child” (by Paula Shaffer). It’s on Amazon. Tells the story of spending my entire childhood in an abusive foster care family. There are poems throughout the memoir that express a certain moment or scene as it occurred in my life in foster care. I am currently working on a collection of poetry with the theme of. “Mental Illness”. Also writing a children’s book about a little girl in foster care who finally gets a forever family through adoption.

7) What is your passion in life?

Writing poetry is my main passion. Also painting (acrylics) portraits, animated, and abstract painting. Staring at the ocean has also become a passion regardless of the weather.

Watch the Poetry Reading: