Interview with Winning Screenwriter Katy Erin (STUCK)

1. What is your screenplay about?

STUCK is a sci-fi western short about a mysterious woman who crash-lands on a moon whose sole inhabitant is her only chance of survival.  Each of these women end up needing something from the other, but being strangers, neither is sure the other can be trusted.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Sci-fi, western, dark comedy, LGBTQ+

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

As with all sci-fi, the action and the visual scope of the foreign world will only ever be done justice if brought to the screen.  But beyond that, I believe my strength in this script is the dialogue between the two characters, and the tension of their relationship.  This piece is really about two strangers looking into each other’s eyes and admitting vulnerability in a way all humans struggle with.  And so the joy of bringing this script to the screen would be to see these two characters come to life, and to feel their tension, their need, and their choices really become visceral for the audience.

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

Epic. Gay.

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

I think the movie I’ve seen the most is also my all-time favorite movie, which is In Bruges.  Martin McDonagh’s mastery of dark comedy is, in my opinion, unmatched, and I often find myself re-watching the movie as I show it to new friends and loved ones.

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

I wrote the first draft 3 years ago after my semi-annual re-watch of Firefly.  I thought to myself, as an actor, I’d love to play a character like Nathan Fillion’s Mal, but as a woman, those roles are slim to none.  So I created one for myself.  It took a few years and rewrites to develop a story that did the characters justice.

7. How many stories have you written?

This is probably one of a dozen short films I’ve written, including my award-winning short Out of It, which also has queer themes.  A few years ago, I made my playwrighting debut at the Hollywood Fringe Festival with The Cure To Mortality, which was a queer, sci-fi, comedy musical.  I have a handful of spec features and pilots as well, all with a bend towards queer themes, sci fi worlds, and comedy (or dark comedy) tones.

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

What an insane question!  Of course I can’t say I have a favorite song!  I suppose I will answer this by naming one song that had a very important impact on my life, which is “Nothing and Nowhere,” by Emily Haines and the Soft Skeletons.  And I’ll leave it at that. 🙂

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

The first draft of this script got horrible feedback from almost everyone who read it, from friends to festivals.  The biggest obstacle I had to overcome was my ego, brushing off everyone’s criticism with a tearful “ugh, they just don’t get my vision!!”

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

I’m an actor and a musician as well, so I’d say I have a passion for creation and storytelling in general, and I’m kept pretty busy trying to satisfy that passion in whatever way I can.

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

FilmFreeway is so easy, clean, and user-friendly, in my experience.  It’s very organized and makes it easy to find the best festivals for your projects, keep track of your submissions, and promote your work.  I have nothing but positive things to say about FilmFreeway and suspect it’ll be the standard for festival submission for a long time.

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

I was looking screenwriting festivals and competitions that focused on genre and sci fi work, so this festival fit the bill perfectly – and I was really drawn to the perk of having a staged reading be the reward.  The feedback I recieved was actually very helpful and really thought-out, and I genuinely thought the suggestions I was given made the story stronger.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

CAST LIST:

NARRATION – Brian Carleton
Angelica (20s black) – 100 – Bree Ali
Grant (f 30s) – 92 – Stephanie Herrera

****

Advertisements

Interview with Screenwriter Jessie Garcia (THE PROFESSOR)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Jesse Garcia: My story centers on a lonely, middle-aged professor at a small college in Iowa. The professor falls for one of his students, but when the chair of the psychology department appears to be murdered, the professor’s world begins to unravel.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Thriller/suspense

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

I love movies with unexpected twists that leave the audience thinking back on various clues and scenes. I feel that “The Professor” offers just that. There’s nothing more fun than a movie that gets your heart beating and your brain churning at the same time, then leaves you with a show-stopping end so that you can’t wait to dissect it with a friend.

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

Unexpected turns

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

This is a funny one because the answer is probably “Grease.” As a young teenager, I think I saw that movie 15 or 20 times. It was playing at our local theater and I would save all of my babysitting money and allowance and beg my parents to drop me and and friend off day after day. Of course, having a crush on John Travolta probably helped motivate me! As an adult, I loved “Cinema Paradiso” and I can still watch it again and again— and cry every time.

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

I wrote it in a couple of months. I work in a university setting so I would think about when I was at work and then write at night.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have three published books: “My Life with the Green and Gold” (Wisconsin Historical Society Press; a memoir about my years as a female sportscaster, sideline reporter for the Green Bay Packers and host of NFL coach’s shows), “No Stone Unturned” (LuLu Press; a look at Olympic gold medalist Casey FitzRandolph’s rise to fame and his sister’s subsequent battle with cancer) and “Going for Wisconsin Gold” (Wisconsin Historical Society Press; a history of the Olympics and Olympians from the state of Wisconsin). I just completed my first three novels and am turning one into an audio book. “The Professor” is my first screenplay. I also write short stories on the side.

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

This is tough. I would have to say something by the Beatles or Bob Dylan. I really appreciate songs that not only have a catchy beat but also tell a story and use words in such clever and memorable ways.

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

After the first draft I had multiple readers take a look at it. Everyone had different opinions so I had to really think about the story I wanted to tell.

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

My kids would say nothing!! I can’t cook, sew, sing, do art or dance but I love writing and find true delight in it. When I’m not writing, I’m listening to podcasts about writing 🙂 But to further answer your question, I’m passionate about storytelling in general. As a former journalist and now journalism instructor, I feel the world is filled with endless stories and I wish I could tell them all. I also love reading, staying up at night talking with my two teenage sons, taking strolls with my husband and dog and dreaming about my next travel destination.

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

It was great. Easy to use and I’m very glad I decided to take a leap of faith and enter my screenplay.

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

I went looking for screenplay agents and it appeared that they were hard to come by, but there seemed to be a number of contests for screenplays so I decided to go that route. The feedback I received was excellent and spot-on. I made some changes immediately based on the professional feedback and I’m grateful– thank you.
 

A middle-aged professor is down on his life until a beautiful young co-ed takes an interest in him, but she is not at all who she seems to be.

CAST LIST:

Narration – Sean Ballantyne
Female Detective – Norma Dawn Dunphy
The Professor – Shawn Devlin

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Filmmaker Jia Li (THE CALL)

THE CALL played to rave reviews at the July 2018 FEMALE Feedback Film Festival in July 2018 in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jia Li: I was planning to do a collection of horror films that only happened in one location and one night.

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

I came up with the story in a cafe at a nice warm afternoon in San Francisco. And I finished the rough draft of the script the next day. The whole preproduction took 3 weeks, 17 hours on set production. And one month for post production.

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

Colorful, intense.

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

We only had 17 hours for production including preset the studio. It was very tight schedule. It was a big challenge for everybody in the crew, so we need to act fast on set. But we had so much fun during the production.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I was excited to hear all different opinions from the crowd. It gave me confidence for my next project.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

We only have one living room studio we can use, and 17 hours for production, so I needed to come up with a story under these circumstance.

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

The shinning

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

I think film freeway makes the process convince for filmmaker to manage their submissions.

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

Recently I am listening film soundtrack for a goodnight sleep, but during daytime I am listening to the Chinese hip hop songs recently.

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

My next film is a zombie post apocalyptic short film, around 30 mins. Hopefully finish the whole production by the end of this year, then catch the film festivals for 2019.

the_call.jpg

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Screenwriter Max Federman (ABANDON ALL HOPE)

ABANDON ALL HOPE was the winner of BEST SHORT SCREENPLAY at the July 2018 Screenplay Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Max Federman: A sinister government organization investigates a mysterious, seemingly infinite stairwell after a group of college students unwittingly stumble upon it hidden on campus. Unimaginable evil lurks in the oily dark.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Horror, thriller, suspense, cosmic terror, conspiracy

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

This is just a taste of a much larger world I have crafted over years and years. The mysterious organization introduced here play a major role in locating, securing, and destroying supernatural objects, creatures, and events. A film will ideally lead to a franchise where we can explore a world that outwardly looks much like our own only with the extraordinary waiting around every corner while a shadowy psuedo-government organization goes to any limit to protect the world. – Genre is in and this is the kind of shared-world sandbox that allows for a studio to produce several films simultaneously each with unique and talented filmmakers.

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

Monster Cover-up

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

John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)

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

It took me a few weeks to write it about 90% of what it is now but I have been tweaking it and perfecting it for about a year.

7. How many stories have you written?

Dozens if not hundreds.

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

Train Song by Vashti Bunyon

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

Like all shorts I write, I feel the need to keep going. I have a treatment for this project as a feature and as a series – it was tough for me to decide where this story ends exactly and I chose to end it the way I did because it feels more like a beginning of a much larger story.

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

I assume this is obvious, but in addition to writing, I also direct and produce films. I have to count film-making and storytelling more broadly as my greatest passion in life.

I grew up in rural Oklahoma and what most people don’t know about Oklahoma is that it has nearly every biosphere imaginable: the iconic plains, thick forests of trees, sprawling desert, swamps, mountains, lakes and rivers. My grandfather, was a member of the Comanche tribe as well as a Ranger at Roman Nose State Park and he passed on his deep spiritual love of the outdoors along to me. I have visited nearly every national park in the country and plan to get started counting off State parks next. Living in LA I am lucky that I can get a good hike in nearly every day, and with all the amazing places within a few hours drive I get to spend most weekends exploring somewhere new. My deep connection to nature is a defining part of who I am. Coming from a town of only 3,000 people, I appreciate the value of community and go out of my way to foster a sense of community wherever I am. Extending from this is my involvement in local beautification efforts, environmental, and animal rescue initiatives.

I have played soccer my entire life, from the time I could walk through college and even now I play in a recreational league. But what brings me the most joy is getting involved in kids soccer whether its refereeing games or coaching young kids – I love passing on my love of the game to another generation.

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

It is very convenient to have all a shared submission platform because I do not have to reenter the same information over and over again as I submit projects. The browsing feature is also very helpful and has resulted in me discovering dozens of film festivals perfect for my works.

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

I was very interested in feedback and the taped table read and I have been beyond grateful for what I got back from the festival. I will definitely recommend this festival to other writers I know.  

Genre: Thriller, Horror, Sci-Fi

A student disappears down a dark staircase, and something is down there with him. Tension and intrigue build as campus security is edged out by a shadowy organization taking over the scene.

CAST LIST:

Hilary: Kyra Weichert
Police Dispath: Lauren Kristina Maykut
Narrator: Matt Barnes
Dr. Cary: Jarrod Terrell
McNamara: Allan Michael Brunet
Sean: Rob Notman

_____

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Martin Reese (THE SNEEZE)

THE SNEEZE was the winner of BEST SHORT SCREENPLAY at the July 2018 Screenplay Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Martin Reese: One guys failure to exercise proper etiquette when his cubicle mate sneezes leads to a case of demonic possession.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Horror/fantasy/comedy

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

Folks can relate to it. Especially those who work in an office and are forced to share a cubicle. And it’s funny.

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

Funny and topical

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

Jason and the Argonauts. I could watch that skeleton fight a million times.

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

It took about a day to write.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve lost count.

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

Strawberry Letter 23 by the Brothers Johnson

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

Really none. I just thought what if not saying bless you caused demonic possession. Then I wrote it.

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

Filmmaking.

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

It’s been great.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival?

What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received? I read that it was a top notch festival. The feedback was great.

Genre: Horror, Fantasy

One man’s failure to exercise proper etiquette when someone sneezes leads to a case of demonic possession.

CAST LIST:

Phil: Michael Lake
Narrator: Kate Fenton
Neal: Danilo Reyes
Office Worker: Scott McCulloch

_____

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Novelist Polly White (WHAT IF I GO?)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your novel about?

Polly White: It’s a crime novel about an overseas student who becomes a victim of sexual exploitation, set in Birmingham.

2. What genres would you say this story is in?

New Adult/ Thriller

3. How would you describe this story in two words?

Unveiling grooming

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

Love Actually

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

Diana Ross, Reach out and Touch

6. Do you have an all-time favorite novel?

‘The Gift’ by Cecelia Ahern. I recently read this. Her story writing is compelling with a message about our time being the ultimate commodity for expressing love.

7. What motivated you to write this story?

Grooming and sexual exploitation have been hidden from the public for too long. That is in both the UK and the US. After continued news reports of organized gangs making victims of vulnerable girls, I wanted to raise awareness of their techniques in befriending for control. When one young person avoids exploitation, then my message is worth listening to. I’m empowering women to avoid unhealthy relationships.

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

My lost child.

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

My family.

10. What influenced you to enter your story to get performed?

This is a marvellous collaboration between readers/ writers/ students /authors and film producers. Your audience is student-based, which is the book’s intended audience. Having the difficult assault scene read in a capable manner, made it appear authentic and gripping.

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

Keep going and don’t forget to collaborate.
 

BUY on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/What-If-Go-Polly-White/dp/1625265255

Narrator: Kate Fenton

_____

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Screenwriter James Hughes (THE HITLER PARADOX)

Winner of BEST SHORT SCREENPLAY at the July 2018 Screenplay Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

James Hughes: Simply put, Two time travelers, from different origins, find themselves in conflict as they debate how to handle bringing Hitler to justice. The idea of going back to “deal” with Hitler is not a new one, in fact, it is often a question of morality as to when you should if you could. So this common goal brings the two travelers into contact and conflict with one another. Each having very different means to an “end” for him, with one wanting Hitler to stand trial and the other wanting to personally execute him.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy, Sci-fi

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

It’s a longshot, but if it were to be made into a movie, I believe it would be because of the opportunities it holds within it. The opportunity to watch talented actors bring the characters and their far-fetched debate to life, the opportunity to design an authentic look and feel to the world around them, and the opportunity to have fun while doing what you love, making films.

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

Outlandish Squabble

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

I watch a lot of movies, I must say, but if I have to narrow it down to one particular film I’ve happily watched, again and again, it would be “The Jerk” with Steve Martin. Made six years before I was even born, I remember watching it with my parents growing up, so a combination of nostalgia and a comfort in comedy have made it one of my favorite films.

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

I first had the idea in late 2016, but like most of my work, it had to bounce around in my head for awhile. I started writing it in April 2017 and finished the final draft in October 2017, so around 7 months, but most of that time is spent waiting for the next bit of dialog, description, or direction to smack me in the face while I worked on other projects.

7. How many stories have you written?

Quite a few actually, a dozen different short films, some original comic book scripts, a web series script(6 episodes currently), and I have recently started working on my first feature script.

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

My favorite song is always changing, especially since I find so much character and story inspirations from listening to music. Currently, I’d have to say my favorite song is “Content” by Joywave, but if you ask me again in a few months, it will most certainly be different.

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

My biggest obstacle has always been myself, can I stay motivated, focused, can I fight the thought of this project “Just doesn’t work”? Am I wasting my time? Shouldn’t I work on something more feasible? My inner monologue has always been my biggest critic, but as long as I can answer the questions, I move forward.

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

Aside from writing, my passions include raising my son, performing comedy(Stand up and Improv), and drawing(shameless Instagram plug, @Gohztilla).

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

I have used a few different submission platforms and I have to say, FilmFreeway is my absolute favorite, clean and clear UI, with any and all information and links easily available to me.

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

I wanted to enter this festival mainly due to the emphasize on the written word, so much so that you would do a table read for the winner. The feedback was great and thorough, but the best moment for me was watching the reading, to see the actor(s) snicker or hold in a laugh at something I’ve written just makes me feel great. A small(.01%) of the feeling I want when everything about this project is said and done.

 

 

Genre: Sci-Fi, Comedy

Two time travelers find themselves in conflict as they aim to bring Hitler to justice, although in vastly different ways.

CAST LIST:

Eva: Tayna Bevan
Hitler: Scott McCulloch
Narrator: Kate Fenton
Tiom: Danilo Reyes
Jonny: Michael Lake

_____

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.