Interview with Winning Screenwriter JoAnn Hess (FRAMER)

1. What is your screenplay about?

Simon Webber, intelligent with a high moral compass, exists on society’s edge, mostly forgotten and ignored. When his wife and child are killed by a distracted driver, the court shows an unecpected leniency in the case. Enraged by a justice system that fails to act, Simon retaliates, using his highly technical skills to not only kill the guilty but frame another for the act. While his vengence is sated, its only temporary as he hunts among the dregs of society, where murder is the only outlet for his rage. Simon is pursued by Jack Donovan, an ex-FBI agent turned detective, dealing with his own moral crisis after failing to save a child from a serial killer. Where Simon sees a kindship in Jack who fights his own battle within a corrupt police department, Jack retains a stead-fast belief in the law. As their worlds collide, the line between morality and justice fade, causing a reckoning that neither can survive.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Thriller, Suspense, Crime

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

FRAMER’s themes of vengeance, moral justice and self-sacrifice will have strong appeal across multiple age groups and genders.

It will also garner appeal across social classes and race, especially with those that believe our political and judicial systems have failed. These are all very current and provocative social issues seen all over the news.

Women will be attracted to the struggle of both lead characters as they deal with family issues to protect or avenge children. In addition, FRAMER’s female cast covers a broad spectrum from motherly to strong policewoman exhibiting the characteristics of compassion, power and inner fortitude that audiences of today expect.

Men and older viewers are attracted to FRAMER’s action, suspense, tension and danger. The complex and intense plotline with unique twists will keep male viewers engaged.

Younger audiences will appreciate the cleverness in which Simon facilitates his crimes: the use of technology to commit, trap and frame his victims.

In addition, there is an exuberance of twenty-something characters engaging in activities that 18-30 year old audiences can relate to.

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

Vigilente justice

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

The Lion in Winter, the subtextual dialogue exchange between the characters is the best I’ve ever seen.

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

Three years, this month

7. How many stories have you written?

12 scripts (8 for hire), 1-webseries (optioned), 2-TV series

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

In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel

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

The key was to make an anti-hero character like Simon empathetic enough so an audience would relate to him. It was important to create a character such that, while on the surface his actions are horrific, how would anyone react in a similar situation? I wanted that conversation after the movie was over. Additionally, Simon’s adversary needed to be equally strong and wounded. To do these characters justice, I had to draw from darker places than I’m used to.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
I do Voice over work which is very rewarding and fun. My work can be found on several websites and I’ve voiced several audiobooks. I scuba, play golf when the weather is nice and can be found to play a videogame now and then – I especially like RPGs. Anything with a good story.

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?
It’s really great overall. Easy to submit and find film festivals. There is a great amount of information given and I like all the submission in one place to track. It’s not very flexible though. I’d like to add festivals I entered (not realizing they were available through film freeway).

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
I liked that it was genre specific. That I was competing with like scripts and the judges were experts in the genre. When you enter, a win needs to mean something and being chosen for a read through the Thriller Festival brings credibility to the script as it moves into market.

***

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Drama

A highly-intelligent, socially-disenfranchised man seeks moral justice and eludes a former FBI agent as he manipulates others to disguise his own criminal acts.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR: Rachel Rain Packota

Jack: Isaiah Kolundzic
Walter: Julian Ford
Simon: Jason Gray
Christine: Vanessa Burns
Paula: Olivia Jon

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Interview with Winning Screenwriter Robert Cox (DRAGONSONG)

  1. What is your screenplay about?

It’s the story of Tal, a young man with a magical heritage, the son of the Magician Merlin, who finds that after hiding his magic for most of his life, realizes that he must do battle with the sorceress that trapped his father and has tried throughout history to conquer England by allying herself with those who sought to invade her. Now, she has allied herself with the Nazi’s and only Tal, his friend Arthur and his RAF wing, four dragons, and his father Merlin stand in the way of an invasion.

  1. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

War/ Historical, Fantasy

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

The film blends together World War II and the knights of the round table. There are scenes of war and scenes of magic, and the friendship that develops between two very different young men. It is a movie where good overcomes evil. But most of all, it is the story of a young man finding his personal strengths and the magical warrior within himself.

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

Historical Fantasy

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

August Rush

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

6 months

  1. How many stories have you written?

25 – 30

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

“Here I Am”

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

Combining actual events with Urban /Rural legends that got their start in WW II, along with the Welsh Language, and combing the German war archives for battle plans.

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

Grower and breeder of Orchids, Roses, and Plumeria. Avid reader.

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

On the whole, I have been very pleased, with their timeliness and professionalism. It also is good for keeping track of those festivals that you’ve entered.

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

Have always been a fan of Sci-Fi/ Fantasy since I was a kid. After writing the script for ‘Dragonsong,’ was looking for a film festival that could appreciate it. Have found the feedback that I  received to be very informative and gave me many ideas that I have set to practice, not only in this script, but in others that I’ve written since.

***

Genre: Fantasy

A MIDWIFE carries a newborn to a forest cave. It’s 527AD. NIMUEH, the sorceress, waits there to cast a spell, encasing the child in a crystal tomb, as she did to his father, Merlin. Nimueh kills the midwife to hide her secret.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR: Rachel Rain Packota

Carolyn: Vanessa Burns
Edward: Jason Gray
Midwife: Stephanie Haines
Nimueh: Olivia Jon

Interview with Winning TV PILOT Writer Katie Grotzinger (MINNIE NOIR)

What is your TV Pilot screenplay about?

Minnie Hughes is a hardboiled noir detective that also just so happens to also be the shortest girl in the fourth grade. When a candidate for class president’s show and tell South African ostrich egg goes missing, Minnie jumps on the case. Meanwhile, she also deals with her best friend Lincoln Park feeling under appreciated after she calls him her secretary and struggles with asking her crush, Vijay Sampat, a kind of male femme fatale, to be her dance partner for gym class.

Why should this screenplay be made into a TV show?

There are so many wonderful cartoons right now inspired by Japanese anime. They take joy in taking the viewer to strange lands and entertaining them with awesome action sequences. I think that’s great, but I also think there’s much to be mined from American genres like noir. Additionally, I think there’s room for quieter shows that embrace more what it’s like to be a kid. I think Hey Arnold and Recess both did that beautifully and I’d like to write something like that for kids growing up.

Most of all, Minnie is for every weirdo kid that finds solace into escaping into another world for one reason or another. For Minnie, it’s noir and her love of mystery comes from the fact that she never got to know her parents, so they’re the biggest mystery of all. If this show could make some kid feel less alone, that would the greatest honor.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Kid Noir

What TV show do you keep watching over and over again?

South Park!

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Good question! This was actually my thesis project for my Screenwriting MFA at DePaul University in Chicago. I worked on this for a few semesters and now continue to tinker with it off and on.

How many stories have you written?

Quite a few! I try to write every day and have accumulated hundreds of false starts over the years. I have a handful of scripts I’m truly proud of.

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

I’d say right now it’s “Something Beautiful” by Pansy Division.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

I had a clear idea of the A story in mind from the get go, but my MFA thesis professor and classmates really challenged me to flesh out the B and C stories and I think the pilot is much stronger for it.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I’m a total true crime geek. I regularly follow two true crime podcasts – The Last Podcast on the Left and My Favorite Murder. Both are absolutely fantastic. If I can’t think of anything to watch, I’ll turn on a cheesy serial killer documentary. Also, my favorite true crime book right now is The Yoga Store Murder: The Shocking True Account of the Lululemon Athletica Killing by Dan Morse.

Believe or not, my fascination with The Zodiac Killer actually made its way into an episode of Minnie Noir I’ve been writing – the Christmas special to boot! Nothing violent though, of course. Minnie just struggles to crack a mysterious, intensely complicated code from letters she’s received. (The code, naturally, is composed from stickers.)

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

Despite working and reworking on this pilot as much as I have, I still recognize that it could always be better. I have a big place in my heart for this story and I want to do anything I can to make it the best it can be, so feedback is a must.

And it’s funny! See, originally, I had two characters named Connor. This was for a couple of reasons. For one, when I was growing up, there was a year where we had three Connors to one class, all spelled the same way, only to be identified by the first initial of their last name. I also have a common name and there’s usually another Katie, so I empathized. It seems like such a staple of childhood. It was also a shoutout to shows I loved growing up like Ed, Edd n’ Eddy and the Ashleys from Recess where the same names are part of the camaraderie and comedy.

But I had gotten the note before that having two Connors was confusing. I finally made the change when I got the note from you guys! Thank you for finally getting me to change it.

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

It’s been stellar! I’ve submitted a bunch of stuff through FilmFreeway and appreciate how easy it is to find specific contests for certain projects.

Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

I have difficulty finishing scripts unless I have someone to bounce ideas off of. Having a community of writers, or even just one friend, to get feedback from makes scripts come together so much easier and better than they would be in just the isolated writer bubble we all sometimes fall into. Also, watch episodes or read scripts similar to what you’re going for. It’s not only fun, but it’ll give you some inspiration.

****

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR: Becky Shrimpton
Minnie: Kate Varadi
Nick: Scott Beaudin
Dash: Merlin Simard
Ms. Kirkpatrick: Mahtab Sabet
Connor: Allan Brunet
Lincoln: Anthony Tran

Interview with Winning TV Pilot Writer Ed Vela (PSI-COM)

What is your TV Pilot screenplay about?

At a secret government facility, young psychics are being trained and their psychic gifts developed but when one group: Psi-Com 5, finds out about an enhancement program that is killing and maiming some of the younger less powerful psychics, while at the same time discovering a powerful young psychic on the outside being used as a pawn, they decide to try to escape the confines of the Clinic.

Why should this screenplay be made into a TV show?

Psi-Com 5 has at its core a few elements that make it very appealing for episodic television or platform viewing: it has well drawn characters relatable for who they are and who they aren’t, it has a basic “chase” plot element as PC5 works to stay hidden from society at large while staying one step ahead of the Clinic as they relentlessly pursue them, and it combines both a sci-fi and thriller element as it deals with both psychic powers and the danger of the pursuit.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Super Psychics.

What TV show do you keep watching over and over again?

Game of Thrones.

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

A few years.

How many stories have you written?

About 60, if you count stage plays, screenplays and teleplays.

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

The Longest Time by Billy Joel.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Firstly, the framing device, it seemed natural once I realized that Lynx is such a acerbic character that if you didn’t know what he was thinking he wouldn’t be near as likeable as he ended up being, so I told it thru his eyes. Secondly, the age old dilemma in a pilot: making sure ask more questions than you answer.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I love producing, directing and acting in my own short films, and web series. It offers me a creative smorgasbord.

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

As a TV pilot there aren’t that many festivals to enter a script like: Psi-Com 5, and this is the 1st contest I have entered it. I found the feedback thorough and helpful.

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

I find FilmFreeway a fantastic way to search, find and enter festivals all over the country and the world.

Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

If its not a story that you feel you have to write… Don’t write it. If you think it’s interesting… The audience will too.

****

 

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR: Becky Shrimpton
Lynx: Merlin Simard
Lucien: Allan Brunet
Joselyn: Mahtab Sabet
Liticia: Kate Varadi
Titansor: Anthony Tran
Hadley: Scott Beaudin
Cho: Salma Dharsee

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Sheri Davenport (EYES OF DAWN)

1. What is your screenplay about?

Eyes of Dawn is new look at the life of Mata Hari. It tells the story of a woman far ahead of her time, a woman in touch with the strength, beauty and power of her femininity and her sexuality. A woman who loved with passion, danced with abandon, never gave up on finding the child who was taken from her. And in the end, she was a woman betrayed by men who were threatened by her free spirit — men in power who forced her into the world of espionage and ultimately took her life.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Historical Fiction

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

Because it’s time for more films about strong women overcoming obstacles to become their whole, complete, best selves. And the subject of men who feel threatened or insecure using their power to diminish, harass and limit women has never been more relevant than it is today.

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

Powerful. Relevant

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

All About Eve

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

Two years

7. How many stories have you written?

Dozens.

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

Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

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

Still facing some obstacles as I rework it into a three part series: To make each character arc interesting and believable and to reveal what truly drives Mata Hari, what’s in her heart.

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

Theater

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

I’ve had no problems. It’s efficient.

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

I loved that the festival focuses on women’s work. Also the chance for a reading was motivating and that feedback was included. I thought my feedback was terrific. I’m impressed by the effort the reader took and how truly helpful it was. I couldn’t be happier to be a winner and have a very professional read of my script. Thank you!

****

Mata Hari — a spy who betrayed her country or a woman ahead of her time? This is the back story of Mata Hari.

CAST LIST: 

NARRATION: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Mata Hari: Marisa King
Bouchardson: Dan Cristofori
Vadime: Yehuda Fisher
Macleod: Michael Sabet
Clunt: Scott McCulloch
Sister Leonide: Elizabeth Skidmore

Interview with winning screenwriters Edward Ocean & Michael Sgueglia (THE NOWHERE MAN)

1. What is your screenplay about?

It’s the story of a depressed New York talent agent who inexplicability finds himself back in 1980 just in time to save John Lennon and his own marriage.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Fantasy/Dramady

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

Michael – It has all the good stuff; music, comedy and a Beatles reunion.

Ed – It also has everyones favorite ….time travel.

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

What if?

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

Michael – I’ve seen tons of movies many times. So choosing only one would be impossible.

Ed- “Battlefield Earth”

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

We wrote it 9 years ago and have been tweaking it ever since.

7. How many stories have you written?

Two feature length scripts with treatments for 8 more.

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

Both – Anything Beatles!

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

The decision to use the Beatles instead of a fictitious band because of the licensing expense.

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

Ed – Being a former professional musician it would be music.

Michael – I’m also a singer-songwriter/producer.

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

 More user friendly than the other big submission site. Also the Paypal option was a plus.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival?

It had the qualifications we were looking for.

What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

Honest and helpful. 
****

Watch the WINNING Reading: 

Genre: Drama, Fantasy,

Struggling talent agent, Harry Durst unintentionally saves his idol’s life and changes his forever.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR: Rachel Rain Packota
Harry: Julian Ford
Mary: Stephanie Haines
Julia: Vanessa Burns
John Lennon: Jason Gray
Stevens: Isaiah Kolundzic
Yoko: Olivia Jon

Interview with the film team of the short film CHRISTINE (Jessica Adler, Kate Montgomery, Stephanie Serra)

CHRISTINE was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the December 2017 LGBT FEEDBACK Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

We wanted to tell a story that highlighted the idea that you can be yourself, even if you don’t have words to describe it yet. We wanted to paint an image of a child trying different ways to conform to what they believe is the “right way” of being, so that we could reveal the persistence that may be involved throughout this form of exploration.

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

Draft one was finished February 20th, 2013. The project continued to grow and evolve until it was officially completed on Valentines Day 2016.

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

Be yourself.

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

Casting and rehearsing remotely. We found our Luke, Logan Reinhart, very easily. But for the role of Christine our director, Jessica Adler, ended up utilizing Skype to cast outside of Texas (where the film was shot). Through these Skype auditions we found Jordan Jones who played Christine. Throughout the months leading up to filming Jessica rehearsed with both Logan and Jordan remotely, it was not until the day before our shoot day that the director and the two leads met in person.

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

We found the feedback video to be a very nice gift and a wonderful tool.

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

Our Writer/DP, Kate Montgomery, drew on some of her personal experiences growing up. While Christine’s path diverges from the writer’s experience, the underlying themes of identity and strength are present in both the real life of the writer and in the personal narratives of her character.

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

What a wonderful tool! We found it extremely easy and useful to use. It’s a great way to learn about new and unique festivals.

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

One would have to be “Least of All young Caroline” by Frank Turner. Which, after a re-listen, also speaks to some of the messages in CHRISTINE!

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

Our team works in all parts of the film industry. Kate Montgomery is currently working in NYC as a freelance DP, the most recent project she has shot is a LGBT short called Window Shopping that will be making the festival rounds soon!

Jessica Adler is currently working on a feature script and is developing her next short film. She is living in LA and working on the miniseries One Day She’ll Darken, directed by Patty Jenkins.

Stephanie Serra heads Triserratops Productions an independent film company delivering cinema for and about children. Her short film TADPOLES, a subtitled, foreign film for children (shot in Norway), will be released in the 2018-2019 festival circuit.


CHRISTINE, 10min, USA, LGBT/Coming of Age
Directed by Jessica Adler

With the help of her best friend, Christine redefines her perception of strength and what it means to be herself.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

christine_movie_poster