Interview with Screenwriter Shruti Tewari (Flares)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Shruti Tewari: FLARES is a screenplay about friendship underscoring the thought that “When women come together, magic happens.”

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

DRAMA

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

FLARES should be a movie because it holds a mirror to several unexplored issues pertaining to women’s rights and serves as a metaphor for the lives of my characters that seek humor in darkness, serenity in turmoil and the freedom to shine, even if fleetingly, quite like a flare.

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

Survivor’s Choices

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

Forrest Gump

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

One year

7. How many stories have you written?

Stories for film – 4

Stories overall – Lost Count

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

Top of the World – Carpenters

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

The story and characters were in my head for a while but some of the plot points, inspired by actual events, took a while to fit in with the rest of the narrative.

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

I feel passionately about supporting and educating at-risk youth and have worked as a mentor in juvenile halls for nearly a decade with a local non-profit organization.

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

Great. I love the ease of the interface and enjoy discovering new festivals that match my subject interests.

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

I initially submitted just my logline and that submission was free. It was a great way to test if I was able to elicit interest in my project based on a couple of sentences.

I was then able to submit more information based on the response and the feedback helped me make revisions that benefited the pacing of the screenplay.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

CAST LIST:

NARRATION – Rebecca MacDonald
Starry (f 30s) – Krista Barzso
Sunny (f 30s) – Tracy Rowland

Interview with Screenwriters Sean J.S. Jourdan, Danielle Prall (JESS)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Sean J.S. Jourdan, Danielle Prall: Our screenplay is about an ex-con who, like many of us, struggles with medical bills, minimum wage employment, and companionship. Due to her circumstances she pulled back into the world she escaped from, to her detriment, but is able to provide for family. It’s a story about folks we see everyday but don’t see. People who live on the margins of our booming cities.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama, Suspense, Crime, Thriller

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

This screenplay should be made into a movie because it shines a lot on good people who are, unfortunately, not the beneficiaries of entitlement, yet they do what they can to survive. They’re not superheroes or royalty or super spies. They’re people we know. Relatives. Maybe even ourselves. Their struggle and world deserves to be shown on the big or small screen too.

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

Human. Struggle.

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

When I was a kid I think I saw ET more times than I want to admit… and Poltergeist. – Sean

16 Candles, A Bug’s Life and Enter the Dragon. I only had a handful of VHS tapes (no cable/TV) for several years. – Danielle

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

Off and on for a couple of years.

7. How many stories have you written?

Hard to say… and I’ve told more than that 🙂

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

It changes… currently The Queen is Dead by The Smiths – Sean

Ditto…lately I’ve been repeating When I Get my Hands on You by The New Basement Tapes – Danielle

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

Finding time within our schedules.

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

Exercise (swimming, yoga), skiing, reading (particularly music/band biographies for fun). – Sean

Movement of many kinds – yoga, martial arts, snowboarding, also gardening and growing just about everything – Danielle

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

It’s great. A lot better than the old withoutabox.

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

The feedback was great and our story contains people who are LGBTQ/POC. With friends and family members who are LGBTQ/POC we feel that their representation and inclusion is important. That’s what attracted us to this festival.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

On the hard edge of the urban west, Jess, an ex-con and single mother, strives to provide for herself and her own in the face of desperate poverty.

CAST LIST:

Various: Nikolai Afanasev
Carlos: Peter Mark Raphael
Narrator: Carina Cojeen
Jess: Kristen MacCulloch
JJ: Kyana Teresa
Various: Kaleb Alexander

Interview with Screenwriter Lee Lawson (DOG #9)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Lee Lawson: The story of Chuck is about overcoming adversity and the challenges that life throws at you. Chuck himself, has to overcome the fear and doubts brought on by his loss of his sense of smell, and learn that he has other skills and values to bring to the world, along with the skills of his friends.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Family animation / Comedy.

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

It has a strong message about acceptance of diversity and disability that children will respond to positively, a message that you are more than your weaknesses.

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

Heartfelt and funny.

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

Cars. But my son is 3-years-old and is as much a fan of Pixar as I am.

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

One year.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have completed several feature screenplays, two TV pilots and several short scripts.

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

I’m not sure I have a favorite song, as music is created all of the time and joins our world.

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

Ensuring that the story works as a means of transporting my emotional reaction to the themes to the audience. And making it funny.

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

My family. Filmmaking.

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

It’s great. Easy to use and tracks your submissions for you. Would be good if they had their own accumulated scoring system like Coverfly so you know how you stack up against other screenplays.

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

The draft entered into this festival was an early draft, maybe revision two or three. I needed to know if it was emotionally resonating with the readers, so entered it to see how it would do before I improved it in later drafts. The feedback I received was valuable to the continuing evolution of the story.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Logline: A scent-blind search and rescue recruit puppy learns that his disability doesn’t define him when he must lead the effort to find survivors trapped under an avalanche.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Val Cole
Jagger: Shawn Devlin
Chuck: Chris O’Bray

Interview with Screenwriter Tim Gale (PARTY OVER COUNTRY)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Tim Gale: A Republican candidate is sworn in as president of the united states, but he’s way more into partying than he is into doing his job or serving his globalist master. It’s pretty much White House meets Animal House.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy. But it does have some intrigue to it. How about a political comedy thriller? I’m good with that.

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

I’d actually like to have this green lit to be its own tv series because I have so much story to tell with these characters that a movie wouldn’t be able to encapsulate it properly. There’s plenty of character and plot development that I have written down and I truly believe that it would be a series that would not only make people laugh, but also get them to think a bit.

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

Irresponsible behavior.

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

I can’t even begin to fathom how many times I’ve watched Naked Gun.

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

I probably came up with the idea around May 2018. When I have a new plan for a script or a project, I always take a lot of notes detailing story lines, characters, jokes and ideas. This process does tend to take a while since I reflect on it for a while before I start the actual writing of the script. Any screenwriter will tell you that sometimes the hardest thing about writing is just starting it. Overall it probably took me around 3-4 months to write it since I would do rewrites. The second episode however didn’t take as long as I had a better understanding of my characters and environment.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written one feature script, one short film script, two episodes of this series, and am almost finished work on a spec script I’ve been working on for the past few weeks. I have a bunch of other projects waiting in the wings that I’m excited to get started on.

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

Bring Da Ruckus by Wu-Tang Clan is definitely my most played song ever. But what’s my favorite song? Tough call. There’s too many to name a definitive favorite, but I will say that Echoes by Pink Floyd is undeniably an incredible song.

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

Prior commitments and self doubt were probably the biggest challenges that I faced. I try not to have my friends or family read my work, so I feel super vulnerable during the process when it comes time to actually share it with professionals. It’s easy to doubt yourself while you’re working on a script, but you just gotta have faith in yourself and keep it pushing.

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

I’m really into music. Like really into it. I can’t play an instrument at all, but I can appreciate it all the same. I can literally talk about it non stop all day.

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

So far FilmFreeway has been a good resource for me to discover festivals and competitions that geared towards my specialty. It’s been very valuable for me and I’m going to continue to use it going forward for sure.

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

Since it was a festival that was specific to comedy, I felt that it was appropriate for myself to enter since I always felt like my strengths were in the comedy territory. I felt that if I got the approval from this festival, that I was truly on the right path. I’m constantly trying to be funny with my friends and make them laugh, so if I can do that for strangers, that’s even better.

Watch the Winning Screenplay Reading: 

An intolerable Republican candidate is voted in as President of the United States, but he seems more interested in partying than running the country, or taking orders from his ominous overlord.

CAST LIST:

NARRATION – SARAH DESOUZA-COELHO
Buzz – 5 – SEAN BALLANTYNE
Hope – 6 – JULIE C. SHEPPARD
Carson – 5 – GENE ABELA
Bryan – 3 – THOMAS FOURMIER
Val – 3 – DIANA FRANZ

Interview with Screenwriter Eliza Frakes (REMEMBRANCE DAY)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Eliza Frakes: REMEMBRANCE DAY takes place in a near-future, radicalized America wherein Roe V. Wade has been overturned. It follows two female friends, Maggie and Bix, on their escape to seek out an illegal abortion from a doomsday prepper in Joshua Tree.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

I would classify REMEMBRANCE DAY as a dramedy or dark comedy, with elements of sci-fi.

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

I believe in this work because it is timely and poignant. I have tried to engage in a conversation about women’s rights and the direction we’re headed currently in this country through the lens of two very human characters, in the hope that their nuanced relationship provides a viewpoint into the deeper issues our nation faces.

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

War cry.

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

Silence of the Lambs

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

I have been working on this pilot for a year.

7. How many stories have you written?

Far too many, and never enough.

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

Oof, really hard to say. I will say I’m teaching myself how to play the banjo at the moment, so I’ve been on a big Kingston Trio kick.

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

As a writer, I find it much easier to start than to finish. The beginning of a story is captivating, full of opportunity and exploration. The end of the story takes craft, confidence, and commitment- elements I find harder to pin down. I struggled with finding an ending that was also a launch pad into the rest of the season. I also struggled with world building and specification of place. The pilot’s been through rounds of edits, and I’m sure there are many more it will see. It’s exciting to learn something in the process each time. I’m not sure it is finished yet, really, or if I’ll ever feel like it is.

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

In addition to writing, I love acting and theatre making, in particular, devising or collaborating in the performing arts. I also try to romp around outside as much as possible, hiking, swimming, getting lost.

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

FilmFreeway has been a great way for me to hear about competitions and fellowships to apply to. I’m grateful I found it so early in my career.

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

I was inspired to enter the festival because I saw that it was targeted towards students, which was perfect for where I am in my experience. The feedback I received was helpful and very thoughtful in content.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

It’s the day before Remembrance Day, the day when – in a radicalized America that has overturned Roe v. Wade – society commemorates the millions of unborn children lost to abortion. It’s also the day that Maggie (23) finds out she’s pregnant. Not sure what to do, she impulse-buys a gerbil, and calls her best friend.

CAST LIST:

Chris: Matthew Payne
Holace: Yaw Attuah
Trevor: Hadi Kubba
Maggie: Rosalie Vagalatis
Bix: Diana Franz
AT&T Employee: Ron Boyd

Interview with Screenwriter Ron Micci (ALL THE WOLVES YOU WERE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Ron Micci: It’s a tongue-in-cheek, droll, humorous take on werewolves involving the British aristocracy during the Victorian era, think 1880s. A satire and a parody of those old Universal Wolfman films.

The Prescotts, whose aristocratic fortunes are in decline, are hoping that the marriage of their son, Lawrence, to a mysterious young Romanian princess whose family has established a summer residence nearby, will save them from financial ruin.

On the eve of the nuptials, the princess (Elizabeth) confesses that she is a werewolf and begs Lawrence to call off the wedding.

When he poo-poos this, she runs off to the moors. What ensues with the help of a subplot involving a romance between a village boy and an uppercrust girl, a mad doctor, and a shrewd gypsy who seeks to lift the princess’s curse, culminates in a very hairy and hilarious set of church vows.

2. What genre does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy. Satire. Horror.

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

It’s consistently funny, and werewolf films are generally popular based on the special effects involved in the wolf transformations.

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

Very cute.

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

Last time I said The Best Years of Our Lives, but there are any number of films, particularly in the film noir genre, that I have seen many times.

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

Actually, I began work sometime in the 1980s, then switched to writing for the stage and created a three-act stage adaptation, then returned to the script in the late 90s and did intensive rewrites of it.

7. How many stories have you written?

About 60 one-act plays and sketches, three longer plays, three novels, four screenplays, one episodic TV pilot, three screen shorts and two original sitcom pilot scripts.

8. What is your favorite song?

“When I Fall Love”

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

The most difficult challenge was to sustain the same droll, tongue-in-cheek tone throughout.

If it’s a spoof, you want to maintain that feeling beginning to end. Certain scenes were more difficult than others, but I managed to persevere and feel I succeeded in doing that.

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

Playing the flute, for one thing. And making humorous videos. I’ve been told quite adamantly that I should have been an actor, and I believe there is more than an modicum of truth to that. (I suppose writers are actors.) But I didn’t realize this until much too late in the game. (Hey, choose your favorite form of starvation, right?)

11. Experiences with the FilmFreeway site?

Tough to say. In trying to use the site to submit to screenplay competitions, I hit a dead end. I believe technical glitches.

12. What influenced you to enter the Festival? Reactions to feedback you
received?

By and large I was surprised at how fair-minded the feedback was, a rarity. The fact that they even bothered to read the scripts, and it was obvious they had, was a pleasant surprise. I think in most of these contests they simply throw the scripts against a wall and whatever sticks they give awards to.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

Logline: “Do you take this werewolf — I mean woman — to be your lawful wedded wife?” “I — I — I — ulp! — do.” In Victorian England, a wedding between a British aristocrat’s son and a mysterious Romanian princess is thrown in jeopardy when the princess reveals she’s a werewolf. A droll, witty farce.

Comedy-Horror

Feature screenplay

CAST LIST:

Hastings: Daniel Jones
Narrator: Sean Ballantyne
Col. Wellington: Peter Nelson
Lady Wellington: Judy Thrush

Interview with Filmmaker Jasper Bronkhorst (BLOODBURN)

BLOODBURN was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the May 2019 Thriller/Suspense FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jasper Bronkhorst: It is my first short that I have written and directed, so I chose to work in the ‘safety’ of a genre (thriller/suspense) to learn technique and built a network of talented creative people. But my overall motivation was the answer to a simple question: am I capable of directing a movie?

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

Around one year, but not full time of course but working on different drafts and looking for a good cast, crew etc.

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

Suspenseful fresh

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

Staying true to my original intention, because everybody in post production had their own idea of the intention of this film. I sometimes really had to fight to keep it ‘mine’. This was the most difficult part of the process.

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

You know, that big stone you feel in your stomach ;-). I feel very lucky that it was well received and that the audience ‘got it’.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I had a very small budget, so my original idea was very simple: big story, small table.

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

This changes constantly, but for now I would say Blue Velvet by David Lynch (’86).

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

It’s all quite new to me, but the first thing that comes to mind is the sheer amount of film festivals all over the world: it’s just mind boggling. Other than that, everything works really well.

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

The Rainbow, Talk Talk (’97)

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

A new film indeed. I can’t really tell a lot about it (don’t want to spoil, sorry!), other than that it is in pre-production and will take place in the near future.

bloodburn