Interview with Screenwriter Kelly Byrnes (33 Weeks A Prude)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Kelly Byrnes: “33 Weeks A Prude” depicts the age-old conflict between sinners and saints or in today’s high school terms, Prudes and Sluts. Our protagonist, Nora, who belongs to the latter clique, is uprooted from her native Southern California town and plunked down in the Bible Belt, in the midst of a Purity Movement led by her nemesis, Raquel. Nora quickly becomes a social pariah due to her racy apparel and liberal perspectives. After a derogatory homophobic comment pointed at Nora’s younger brother, Zeek, a series of escalating retaliations between Raquel and Nora are set into action. The battle culminates when Nora and her only friend, Tamara, a closet Wiccan, conspire to pose as prudes and infiltrate the Sisterhood of Celibacy, the occult chastity group led by Raquel. Their goal: to force the prudes to face their biggest fear — the male penis — and “enjoy every sinful second, which will send any self-respecting Bible Humper into a lifelong masochistic psychosis.”

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy. Think “Heathers” and “Mean Girls.”

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

The show employs a sharply satirical portrayal of sex and religion while broaching parallel themes with honesty and sincerity — something we don’t see in most high school comedies. On the surface, there’s an antipathy between the righteous and the unscrupulous, but the script also travels to the dark underbelly of character psyches to understand the delicate puzzle pieces that narrowly hold them together, where we find Prudes and Sluts are not just incredibly varied, but also inextricably linked. Similar to Emma Stone’s character in EASY A, I think it’s rare to see a show centered entirely around “that girl” from high school. And allowing Nora to break the fourth wall adds a tongue-in cheek-quality that seems to be absent from most high school comedies.

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

Shrewd campiness.

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

The Sound of Music!

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

I started it about a year ago and continue to revise while I work on another project.

7. How many stories have you written?

Two features and two pilots, including this one.

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

“The Waiting” by Tom Petty.

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

I struggled at times to make sure the script didn’t feel too one-sided so I tried to play up the shortcomings of both the Prudes and Nora and applaud and criticize all aspects of being a prude and a slut.

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

Mountain biking.

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

It’s been relatively easy to find great festivals and track the status of my script entries.

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

The chance to get my script read by professional actors really appealed to me. It’s amazing to see the characters come to life! I tried my best to implement the feedback with the time I had and have since been inspired to revise the script several times.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A liberated Californian teen and new girl at her high school, finds herself at odds with the girls of the Christian chastity club.

CAST LIST:

Tyler: David Rowan
Zeek: Thomas Fournier
Tamara: Pascale Behrman
Narration: Kat Smiley
Nora: Aimee Poulin
Raquel: Jillian Robinson
Bill: Bill Poulin
Jerry Turner: Allan Brunet