Interview with Screenwriter Joel Stern (THE WAITING ROOM)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Joel Stern: 64-year-old Bill Egan, a crusty Alcatraz corrections officer, suffers a heart attack following the escape of famed prisoner Frank Morris. Shortly after, Egan finds himself in a waiting room along with a one-armed Medal of Honor award winner-turned hitman, a ditzy bank teller and a Bronx street hood.

From different time periods, together they piece together the events that brought them there.

Little do they know… they are about to face the ultimate judgement.

“The Waiting Room” was inspired by several real-life events.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Suspense, comedy

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

The Waiting Room provides a humorous look into the gray zone between life and death

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

Scary funny

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

“Office Space”

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

App. seven months

7. How many stories have you written?

Four (“Trickle Down”; “Word Games”; “The Seer”; “The Waiting Room”)

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

Rod Stewart’s “Have I Told You Lately”

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

Creating suspense and tension in a setting that — with the exception of flashbacks — is experienced by my characters in just two sterile rooms.

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

Movies; sports; travel; world and American history; science

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

I find it easy to choose which festivals I want to enter and to submit my work

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

“Word Games” was my first entry and I not only received valuable feedback, but it won “Best Screenplay” for September 2017. The entire script was table read by actors and placed on YouTube. It provided me with a valuable tool to see it performed as well as to promote it.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

In this suspense/comedy, Bill Egan, a crusty Alcatraz corrections officer, suddenly finds himself in a waiting room along with a one-armed Medal of Honor award winner-turned hitman, a ditzy bank teller and a Bronx street hoodlum. From different time periods, they try to piece together the events that brought them there.
Little do they know they are about to face the ultimate judgement.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Thriller

CAST LIST:

Linda: Cassandra Guthrie
Chuck: John Marcucci
Narrator: Kat Smiley
Bill: Shawn Devlin
Oscar: Sean Ballantyne
Reggie: Sam Fazli

Submit exclusively via Film Freeway:

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Joel Stern (WORD GAMES)

WORD GAMES is the September 2017 Winning Feature Screenplay.

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

“Word Games” is about two strangers in a nursing home who are isolated because of the “Blizzard of the Millennium” . One man – Sal Genesinni – is the janitor. The other is Dave Phillips, an old man, wheelchair bound, who was found abandoned in the storm. While Phillips’ true identity remains a mystery, he and Genesinni play “Scrabble” to kill time. As they spell certain words it takes us back in time to real life events. As they recall these events they actually change what happened. This affects the destiny of the promising young people they speak of. As the story unfolds, we realize their “game” is a battle of wits between good and evil – one they engage in as different people throughout time.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Suspense/Horror

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

“Word Games” would provide moviegoers with a suspenseful, alternative view of destiny and attempt to explain why bad things happen to good people.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Story in two words: Inescapable destiny.

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

The movie I’ve seen the most: “Pineapple Express”

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I wrote the short story two years ago (now on Amazon). I began writing the screenplay in January, 2016.

How many stories have you written?

I’m currently writing my third screenplay. I began my first, “Trickle Down”, a dramatic comedy based on the 2007 mortgage meltdown, in 2012.

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

Favorite song – Rod Stewart’s “Have I Told You Lately…”

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Obstacles to writing screenplay: Trying to think as God

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Other passions: Sports, politics, travel, history

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

Film Freeway: Easy to work with

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

I entered the festival to gage interest in my work and to get it produced. “Word Games” also won a Finalist Award at the Cannes Film Festival Screenwriting contest in April of this year.

I was thrilled with the feedback I received. I made a few clarifications when asked to.

Genre: Thriller, Horror, Drama

A commercial airliner flying to Paris explodes off the U.S. East Coast killing sixteen members of a high school French Club and a young pianist destined for greatness; a pair of deranged teens go on a terrifying high school shooting spree ending the life of a young girl devoted to serving God and mankind. If there is a master plan, how could these horrific events be allowed to happen?

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Val Cole
Sal: Kris Hagen
Dave: Peter Nelson
Monica: Shania Belton
Julie: Katelyn Varadi
Tanya/Shannon: Carina Cojeen
Lassen: Mike Ruderman
Bill: Nick Wicht