Interview with Winning Screenwriter Richard M. Kjeldgaard (NOWHERE VILLE)

October 2017 Winning Feature Screenplay Winner

1. What is your screenplay about?

An isolated, deserted trailer park in the middle of the desert falls under control of escaped convicts. Two guys on a camping trip accidentally become prisoners in the park and their trip turns into a fight for survival.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Suspense/Thriller

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

Plays on everyone’s fears of being isolated, controlled by another human and put in an inescapable situation.

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

Page turner   

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

John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN

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

4 months

7. How many stories have you written?

10 specs

8. What motivated you to write this screenplay?

Driving across the desert between Arizona and California (Had a summer home in CA) Seeing abandoned buildings especially in the abandoned town of Desert Center, CA and the soon to be ghost towns around the Salton Sea, CA. A lot of visuals went into this script from these two locales.

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

Building some of the motivation for a few of the characters while keeping the readers on their toes and curious.

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

Reading about writers (Bios) and photography.

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

Read some reviews on your festival which were positive. Feedback was to say the least, educational.  I learned a lot about character development and pacing. The feedback was very encouraging regarding my writing.  Appreciated it very much!

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

Good porthole for entering contests.  Always updating info on upcoming festivals. Just one miscommunication on the acceptance of a spec I did in one festival.  A mass Email was sent to clarify the issue in a few weeks.

WATCH the Screenplay Reading: 

Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime, Thriller, Horror

Two men fly a Cessna from California to New Mexico for an out of state camping trip. They encounter bad weather and are forced down in the desert with no means of communication. Their situation becomes worse when they run across escaped convicts hiding out and are taken prisoner in an abandoned trailer park. They soon find out there’s more horrors waiting for them.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Jory: Sean Ballantyne
Robert: Connor Lyon
Mike: Shaun Mazoka
Travis: Dan Cristofori
Fulton: Brennan Clost
Char: Rachel Rain Packota
Leona: Julie C. Sheppard

 

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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

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Gunel Asgarova (THE FLUTE OF PEACE)

THE FLUTE OF PEACE was the September 2017 winning Sci-Fi screenplay.

Get to know the winning writer:

What is your screenplay about?

My screenplay is about a bullied village girl with the supernatural power, Lanaia, who accepts her destiny of the World Savior.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Fantasy

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

Because this original screenplay has the most important ingredients of the successful fantasy movie: universal issues, good vs. evil, mythology, human psychology which are fully presented through the breathtaking adventures, unexpected twists and catchy characters. Likewise, the significant reason of its competitiveness is a key hero, a young woman, tender, yet strong enough to take the lead in life-changing events winning the battle in the end. This movie will be an inspiration for millions of girls and women all over the world.

How would you describe this script in two words?

The future blockbuster, which will hold its brand for the next five to ten years.

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

I like to watch fantasy/adventure genre movies, but according to calculation, the movie that I’ve seen the most times in my life is Harry Potter film series (first watched as a teenager, then together with my kids).

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

11 months

How many stories have you written?

I have written 6 stories (epic-fantasy, animation, fairy tale and short screenplays) and constantly working on new projects.

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

“Canto della Terra” by Andrea Bocelli

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

The most obstacles were connected to the proper formatting issues.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I am also passionate about storytelling, psychology, mythology, and anthropology. Thus, besides of my own imagination, this story is also based on the years’ long research analysis of world mythology and anthropology (including the Paracelsian concept of four elements of nature).

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

Despite the positive feedback from more than four hundred potential viewers, I was eager to get the professional opinion.

I am very grateful for the detailed and sincere feedback, which helped me to properly polish my script. I am very satisfied with the feedback, special THANKS to my reader!

Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure

After the break of the balance between the Light and Dark Powers, enforced by Dark Lord Erk, Mother Universe sends a child of Light – Lanaia to embark on a dangerous journey chasing the magic flute, as only its melody could save the world from disaster.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Sean Ballantyne
Nabi: Rais Moui
Teli: Connie Wang
Guli: Daniella Zappala

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Alison McGrath (TWITS)

TWITS is the September 2017 Winning COMEDY Screenplay.

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

TWITS is a satirical look at humanity’s addiction to technology, and what happens to people when their (de)vices are taken away from them.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy, Satire

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

I think in this “game of life” we need to laugh at ourselves a little bit, and take a look in the mirror to see the real person–the one without the snapchat or iPhone filter–staring back at us. Films help us do this. TWITS in particular sheds light on our addiction to technology and how it’s shaping everything from our sex lives and our relationships with our kids, to how we navigate–literally–through life. To me, TWITS lends itself to some personal exploration: Do I see a little bit of myself in these characters? How do I feel about that? Am I OK with the real-life role I’m playing and where we’re headed as a society? There is no wrong answer, as long as you think about it and be honest with yourself. That’s what’s so magical about film, and comedy in particular. There is no pressure, and you’re supposed to laugh. Humor is a great way to half-ass explore your emotions without feeling too much! I think many people will be able to identify with TWITS and I really hope it gets made into a movie.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Scary. Outrageous.

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

Bridesmaids

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

A few months

How many stories have you written?

Ten. Eleven if you count the one I wrote when I was 9 years old about a rotten banana named Eachanonie who was finally happy once he was made into banana bread. Even bruised bananas can find their place in this world.

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

Jump in the Line, Harry Belafonte. Every time hear it, I become Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

I didn’t face obstacles with this one, which is a crazy thing for me to say. I’m usually stumbling, breathless, army crawling to the finish line. TWITS had been swirling in my head for quite some time. I’d been taking notes for a couple months and then when I sat down, it just flowed. It was really fun to write.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I love being a mom. I love to boogie board, ski, and travel. I am especially passionate about jalapeño margaritas. No salt. I feel like this should be on Tinder. Please swipe right.

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

It’s been amazing. I love how organized and easy it is.

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

I feel so passionate about TWITS coming to life on screen, and the thought of having it read at your festival seemed like an awesome next step. I can’t wait to hear it!

The feedback I received was encouraging, very helpful and respectful. Being kind goes a long way, and I thank you so much for that!

Genre: Comedy

How one community deals with life when technology goes dark for a brief moment in time.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Val Cole
Paul: Nick Wicht
Demi: Carina Cojeen
Emergency Alert: Peter Nelson
Barista: Shania Belton
Cheryl: Katelyn Varadi

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Taryn Procsal (PALACES)

The September 2017 Winning STUDENT Screenplay writer for their short script PALACES.

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

Logline: An upper-class wife and mother seems to have the perfect life, but when her husband discourages her from pursuing a career in art she is challenged with a new understanding of how a woman’s value is measured.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

This screenplay deals with subtle issues of social inequality that are often overlooked in film. I believe it is a strong dramatic narrative with a valuable message.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Feminist drama

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

Mallrats

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

About four months

How many stories have you written?

Seven screenplays, but countless stories

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

Violet by Hole

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

I had to work on several other school projects while writing this screenplay. I also struggled with keeping the potential budget of production low, while also depicting a lavish lifestyle.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Political activism, especially concerning issues of civil rights and social equality

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

I love FilmFreeway! It’s so much easier to use than Withoutabox.

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

I really wanted to get feedback on this screenplay to get a better idea of its value. I’m considering using it as my writing sample for my graduate school applications. I thought the feedback was honest, helpful, and polite, which is pretty rare; there are a lot scathing, embittered script readers out there.

Chava, an upper-class wife and mother, seems to have a perfect life, but when her husband discourages her from pursuing a career in art, Chava is tormented by her new understanding of how a woman’s value is measured.

Genre: Drama

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Laura Kyswaty
Chava: Regan Brown
Paul: Jim Canale
Knox: Cory Bertrand
Deb: Rachel Rain Packota

Interview with Winning Screenwriter John Cruz Alarid (KODAK MOMENT)

Winning September 2017 TV PILOT 1st Scene Screenplay Winner.

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

Kodak Moment is a chilling thriller TV pilot spec script about the ILLUMINATI, a secret Dark Organization that conspires to control world affairs by masterminding events, governments and corporations.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

When a vintage camera is accidentally found at a garage sale and the film developed, long buried secrets about the JFK assassination stand to be reborn, setting off a spiraling turn of events and discoveries that threaten our heroes lives and their countries’ national security. A British journalist and her American conspiracy-minded boyfriend race the clock, the NSA and the ILLUMINATI to bring the ultimate truth to light. JFK meets EMEMY OF THE STATE and THE X-FILES.

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

Conspiracy theories rule the media. The timing is perfect for a Showtime/HBO style series that exposes the truth of the Illuminati and its intentions regarding Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s), the Iraq War, the ’08 recession, Global Warming and the Roswell 1947 UFO crash.

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

My favorite all time movie is Robert Wise’s The Day the Earth Stood Still. favorite movies are sci-fi thrillers as well as romantic comedies.

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I have been working on KODAK MOMENT since 1999. I first wrote it as a feature script. It won Best Feature Screenplay in the 2006 Moondance International Film Festival and some other minor accolades. I was challenged to adapt it as TV series. My first draft finished 4th in the Over One Hour category in the recent Larry Brody’s People’s Pilot writing competition.

How many stories have you written?

So far I’ve written five screenplays and one TV Pilot script.

1). PSYCHIC WARRIORS is an Action Thriller written along the lines of the X-MEN and BOURNE IDENTITY franchises that follows the journey of a Marine helicopter pilot and family man who receives psychic powers from an unmanned alien spaceship and is recruited by the CIA. But when he learns of the Agency’s plans, he must escape back home and protect his family.

2.) LUCIFER’S REVENGE is a Horror Thriller that follows the journey of LUCIFER who was cast down unto Hell for his disagreement over the fate of mankind. However, God agreed to give him seven years of unchecked reign over Earth before the Armageddon. In 2021, he returns to possess the President of the United States. His goal: save mankind before the coming of Christ wreaks absolute destruction.

3.) NUMBER ONE RULE! is a showbiz comedy about a radio jock who enters therapy to help him come to terms with certain childhood issues so that he can marry a rich daddy’s girl and live the good life.

4.) The Road To Shambala is a high-spirited romantic comedy with a pulse-pounding rock ‘n’ roll flavor, set against the exotic and picturesque land of China. The story centers on a hapless American musician who, through a twist of fate, is not only given an opportunity to live his dream of performing on stage, but is also given a second chance to find love with the one woman he could never forget.

The Road To Shambala is currently under review at Paramount and Universal. They’ve had it since June. Still waiting for a response. No news is good news.

I’m current working on my 6th feature script, BLUE COATS, an action adventure about U.S. Marshals on the hunt for a fugitive on the Indian Reservation. BLUE COATS is U.S. Marshals meets The X-Files on the Indian Reservation.

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

I survived the Sixties. I’m a classic rocker. AC/DC’s top on my long list of favorite tunes. I love music. Even though some critics frown against indicating what music to use in scripts, I often do it. It helps me write.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

My biggest obstacle I’ve had with Kodak Moment is developing it into a TV series. TV is an entirely different animal with a complete a separate set rules to follow.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Besides writing, I’m passionate about Rock N Roll. I recently bought myself a Roland digital drum set and started taking drum lessons. My fantasy is to sit in on for a set with AC/DC.

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

My experience entering my script via FilmFreeway was a breeze. The site is very user friendly. I refer submitting PDF files of my scripts. Printing scripts gets costly.

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

The opportunity of winning a table reading of my script greatly influenced me wanting to enter your festival. A table reading by actors is an excellent tool in determining what works and what doesn’t in ones script. I’ve had two of my scripts table read by actors. I highly recommend it.

The feedback I received from your reader was excellent. I took some of the suggestions was able to tighten down and trim my script by a couple pages. I’m considering re-entering in the next competition.

When a vintage camera is accidentally found at a flea market, long buried secrets about the JFK assassination stand to be reborn. Paranoid camera buff JIM turns to his film developer grandfather GRAMPS and Chinese reporter girlfriend NATALIE race the clock to bring the ultimate truth to light, even as forces of the Illuminati hunt both of them down.

Genre: Drama, Political, Crime, Thriller

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Laura Kyswaty
Jim: James Boutcher
Ester: Julie McCarthy
Natalie: Lindsay Rolland Mills
Pilot: Luke Robinson
Gramps: Brandon Knox

Interview with Director James Bowsher (WITHHELD)

The short film WITHHELD (directed by James Bowsher) was the overwhelming winner of BEST FILM at the THRILLER FEEDBACK Film Festival in September 2017. It arguably could be the best short film of 2017! It’s that great of a film.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Matthew Steggles: The primary motivation was that I felt like the idea was interesting and that no one would make it if I didn’t. What kept me motivated was the fact that I had an overwhelming amount of support from friends, family and the crew.

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

The idea to the shoot only took a few months, but the edit took us about a year, as there were various complicating factors. It can be summarised by us wanted to ensure we got it right and whilst there were frequent instances of it almost being ready I never felt happy putting it out into the world.

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

Cruel communication.

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

The biggest obstacle was probably staying faithful to the original concept. The film is meant to be claustrophobic, but when watching the edits you can often think that you have gone too far. In the end it was about reminding myself what my objectives were with the film and making it the most distilled version of that.

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

It’s encouraging to hear the reactions from the audience particularly in regards to how we used Stephanie’s character. Part of what I wanted to do in the film was look at the danger of male gaze and the difficult treatment of female characters in film. However, keeping his attacks on her and his treatment of her separate to the film and its perspective was tricky – especially in the limited time that we had. I think this will probably engender different reactions from different viewers, but this is why the ‘turn’ was so important to me.

 WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video: 

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

An exhibit about phone sex workers by Philip Toledo demonstrated the unexpected breadth of characters in this industry. From there it meshed with ideas I had about performance as the phone was a clear locus for suspending disbelief. I wrote a first draft and from there my friends’ positive reactions to the concept drove me to shoot it.

 What film have you seen the most in your life?

That’s an almost impossible question as I have gone through many love affairs with many films. On balance Magnolia by Paul Thomas Anderson is one that I keep coming back to.

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

My producer Matthew Steggles did most of the real legwork in regards to festival submissions. He says “The menu navigation and friendly user face is leagues beyond other online submission platforms that I have previously used. With thousands of festivals at your disposal, they’ve made it incredibly easy to organise and keep track of each submission – something that could have taken many countless hours in the past is now a pleasure to undertake. I’ve also found it to be cheaper than most of the other submission platforms.”

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

Feeling Good by Nina Simone is a song that I love and was playing in my house all the time because of my mother.

What is next for you? A new film?

I am starting an MA in producing at the National Film and Television School in the UK this January. In regards to new projects, my collaborator Matthew and I have numerous projects we want to do next and are deciding which one would be best.