Interview with Screenwriter Steven Prowse (THE NIGHT WITCHES)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Steven Prowse: It’s a straight-forward action movie about a group of fearless pilots who would do anything to defend their country. There is no overlay of a love or family subplot, just an old-fashioned set-up-the-group-and-deliver war movie similar to The Dirty Dozen.

They just happened to be women.

Did anyone ever ask Lee Marvin if he was married or missed his kids? No, because it had nothing to do with the story and this aspect of his life.

WHO WERE THE NIGHT WITCHES?

They were a Soviet all-women night-bomber unit set up in WW2 by Marina Raskova, one of a group of three women to be the first women awarded Hero Of The Soviet Union. It took some time as initially only men were allowed at the front, but she leveraged her star status in the country (think Amelia Earhart x Greta Garbo) to make it happen.

Most of the women were aged between 17 and 25 who were desperate for revenge for lost ones. Some qualified women pilots had even stolen fighter planes earlier and flown them to the front in frustration.

With wood and canvas biplanes, no radio, no lights, no defenses and no parachutes, just bombs, these pilots terrorized the German front line night after night, up to eighteen sorties in one night.

The Germans called them the ‘night witches’ because when the pilot cut their engines to glide to the target, all that could be heard was an eerie whistling noise from the biplanes’ bracing wires.

The Night Witches became so successful that any German shooting one down was awarded an Iron Cross. In the end they made over 20,000 sorties, produced over 20 Heroes Of The Soviet Union (the average for a regiment was 2), and reached the outskirts of Berlin itself.

Marina Raskova, who had been training a group of heavy bombers, finally flew to the front line in Jan 1943. Her plane crashed in heavy snow with no survivors. She was given the first State Funeral of the war and her ashes were buried in the wall of the Kremlin.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

WW2, Action, Women, True story.

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

If one were to Google the top ten true stories that should be made into a movie, The Night Witches is regularly in them.

Frozen, The Hunger Games and Wonder Woman have shown that women action leads can dominate the box office, but one is a fairy tale and the other two are Sci-Fi. The Night Witches actually happened.

The fact that it has now won over 25 screenplay competitions that freckle the internet, more than any other out there, is another indicator.

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

Effing awesome. But that’s not my doing, it’s what these women did.


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

Either Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves or The Little Mermaid. I had young twins at the time and every Sunday morning for a LONG time I would give their mother a breather and take them to the cinema. They were obsessed with both films. Even though they are in their 30s now I have no doubt they could still recite both word perfect.

Sans twins, Diamonds Are Forever. It was the first Bond movie I’d ever seen and the first I went to the cinema alone. I had so much adrenaline at the end I ran the three miles home.

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

Two months research and planning, one month writing the first draft, and four years on and (mostly off) redrafting.

7. How many stories have you written?

Four others. A Sci Fi parody in the style of Mel Brooks (basically a love letter to Hollywood), an FBI procedural / political thriller, a Medieval horror story, and a micro-budget family movie with child leads. Each has won at least one screenwriting competition, and between them have been officially selected on over 75 occasions.

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

Instant Replay (12″ version) by Dan Hartman. I always have been, and always will be, a disco boy.

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

Finishing the first draft was easy. To be honest there was so much great material in real life I felt more like an editor than a screenwriter. The next two versions were harder as I tried to give each member of the ensemble cast distinct voices and personalities.

But after that it’s just been frustration. Yes, I’m one of the very lucky ones who’s had their screenplay optioned, funded and now looking for cast and crew, but I still haven’t found an agent or manager.

It’s got to the point I haven’t written anything in over three years (apart from rewrites for this screenplay). I’ve no energy anymore. Not writer’s block, just no energy, no passion, no engagement. Hopefully that will change if and when the movie is made.

It’s also been frustrating for the 1,500 people following and wonderfully supporting the project (www.thenightwitchesmovie.com), which is why I came to you to give them something in return in the meantime.

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

My wife, mathematics, and Sunday roast. The other ones? There’s no way you’d print them.

 

 

 

 

Watch the Best Scene Reading: 

With wood and canvas biplanes, no radio, no lights, no defenses and no parachutes, just bombs, these WW2 Soviet pilots terrorized the German front line night after night. They just happened to be women. A true story.

CAST LIST:

Nadya: Rachel Salsberg

Alexander: Rhys Harrison

Narrator: Sean Ballantyne

Zhukov: Jarrod Terrill

Marina: Nancy Kenny

 

Writer Biography – Steven John Prowse

Steve

Steven Prowse, British, has lived in England, Netherlands, Curaçao, USA and Gibraltar. Educated at Cambridge (scholarship), he is a CFO by trade and so one might think he has a lot of experience of writing fiction. He has also been an international bridge player.

His screenplays have received over 120 Officially Selections with 25 wins. One screenplay is optioned by a Hollywood studio in a mid six-figure deal.

Writer Statement

 

The screenplay has already won over 20 screenplay competitions.

 

 

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Interview with Screenwriter Tara C. Hall (WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Tara C. Hall: Women & Children First is about a true crime writer who lives in constant fear after a random, brutal attack. Her worst fears are realized when three men break into her house intent on killing her and her children, then her thirteen year old daughter and ten year old son have to decide whether to use their survival instincts to escape or stay and save their mother.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Thriller, Horror, and Drama.

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

There are plenty of home invasion thrillers out there. What I want to do with this film is draw attention to the reality that victims of violent crime are disporportionately women and children.

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

Fierce motherhood.

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

Harold and Maude.

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

About 9 or 10 months.

7. How many stories have you written?

Upward of 30.

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

This Will Be Our Year by The Zombies.

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

Work, kids, a lack of money. The usual life stuff.

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

Filmmaking and sketch comedy.

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

I love FilmFreeway. It’s user friendly and I’ve found some great film festivals and screenplay competitions.

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

I’ve entered the Female Film Festival before and appreciate the detailed and thoughtful feedback.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

After surviving a brutal, attack, a single mother raises her two children to be hyper-vigilant at the cost of their childhood and her sanity. But when three armed men break into their home with violent intentions, the children use their training to save their mother.

CAST LIST:

Rand: Kirk Gordon

Charlie: Jarrod Terrill

Desmond: Rhys Harrison

Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss

Aubrey: Rachel Salsberg

Nora: Nancy Kenny

Alana: Gauri Prasad

A Film Freeway Preferred Festival:

Interview with Screenwriter Michael Aliotti (JIMMY)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Michael Aliotti: This screenplay is about the bad karma that gangster Al Capone carried with him through his later years in prison.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

– Gangster/ Psychological-Horror

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

– Because of how many times we have seen Al Capone on screen, I feel that this is an original approach for the sake of genre, yet this script, itself, follows the ideology of our youth mirroring false idols.

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

– Traditionally Trippy

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

– Young Frankenstein

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

– For about several weeks.

7. How many stories have you written?

– About 10 feature screenplays, and dozens of short scripts.

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

– House of the Rising Sun, by Eric Burden and The Animals

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

– Let’s just say I had several exes from the hood.

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

– Photographing Big Sur, along with Monterey, County, in general.
I also enjoy canvassing for local politics in Monterey, CA. If I am not
working on anything, I am at the movies, or Del Monte Beach.

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

– For about a year and a half, I have experienced nothing but solid concise feedback from professionals, all over! This has implemented a hustle on my part, as it also coincides within my progression of growth, by becoming an established screenwriter.

From obtaining notable accolades from many festivals in, and out of The States, I am truly grateful, due to the learning lessons of what it takes to become a writer, is just like what Bryan Adams said in his song, Summer of ’69:
“played until my fingers bled”.

And this line is what I follow as a huge rule of mine towards being a writer. To keep writing.

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

– I was excited to potentially have the unique perspective to see my words come alive off of the tongues of actual actors, and a Narrator.

After already submitting a script, prior to this current story, Jimmy, I missed the mark for developing a solid short script. So, I decided to find a new script to focus on each, and every detailed critique from my last script, and applied those notes to Jimmy. Voila! 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Log Line: The story of Al Capone being haunted by a victim from the Saint Valentines Day Massacre, Jimmy, the ghost who torments the infamous gangster into insanity.

Writer: Michael Aliotti

Genres: BIOGRAPHICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL-THRILLER

Type: Short Screenplay

CAST LIST:

Prisoner #3: Rhys Harrison
Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Alphonse: Jarrod Terrill
Jimmy: Kirk Gordon

A FilmFreeway preferred festival:

Interview with Screenwriter Steve Feld (AND THEN, THIS HAPPENED)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Steve Feld: Finding love in the most unexpected places, with the most unexpected person and the most unexpected gender.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy, Romance, RomCom

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

It’s a love story and a comedy. Who doesn’t love those kinds of movies.

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

Labor (of) love

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

Cast Away

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

1 year

7. How many stories have you written?

Started when I was 4. Too many to count.

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

Clair de Lune

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

My fingers couldn’t keep up with my brain.

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

My family and my dogs.

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

Nothing but positive.

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

Wanted to get feedback from professionals. Very happy with the feedback.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Hard-ass tabloid reporter Lacey Stevens has the scoop of the year when she finds a reclusive superstar diva who’s been in hiding for years. But before she can expose her, Lacey and the star fall in love, creating an even more sensational story. It’s a modern take on It Happened One Night for a new generation.

CAST LIST:

Anna: Rachel Salsberg
Kelly: Nancy Kenny
Harvey: Jarrod Terrill
Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Security Guard: Kirk Gordon
Drunk Woman: Gauri Prasad
Max: Rhys Harrison

FilmFreeway exclusive Festival:

Interview with Screenwriter Helen Marsh (Alice Through the Microscope)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Helen Marsh: Alice Through the Microscope follows an insect obsessed girl trying to win the science fair amidst an absentee mother and a fungal monstrosity of a foster mother.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Dark Fantasy/ Sci-fi

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

Alice Through the Microscope should be made into a movie because although it’s set in a dark, uncanny universe (like The series of Unfortunate Events) it tackles real issues in mother-daughter relationships and follows a girl who is looking for parental love.

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

Eerie yet heartfelt

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

Juno

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

six months

7. How many stories have you written?

3 screenplays but an uncountable amount of stories.

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

Other People by LP

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

Countless Friday and Saturday nights at home with Final Draft instead of out with friends.

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

Painting, animals, watching movies, hiking

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

As a girl, it is not always easy to find representation in the film industry. Female Film Festival was the first festival to promote my work to the public. The feedback was extremely helpful and encouraged me to write consecutive drafts.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy

An insect-obsessed preteen girl struggles to create a great science fair project amidst an absentee mother, a relentless bully, and a fungal monstrosity of a foster mother.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Jarrod Terrill
Mikey: Rhys Harrison
Frankie: Gauri Prasad
Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Alice: Rachel Salsberg
Claudia: Nancy Kenny

A Film Freeway Preferred Festival:

Interview with Screenwriter Louric Rankine (SQUAD)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Louric Rankine: My screenplay traces the lives of young students of color in New York City as they navigate through their under-funded school. This scene, in particular, focuses on one of the protagonists, Louis, who realizes his embarrassing bus altercation has been publicized on social media, causing pariah between him and his peers. It’s comical, but helps reflect on the negative effects of social media.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s a teen comedy/drama. However, I like to liken it to shows like Insecure or Atlanta.

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

I mean no matter what medium it is in, I think the representation matters. I feel New York City students of color don’t see proper representation of themselves, only limited through the lens of a typical white protagonist.

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

New York.

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

Spirited Away and Mulholland Drive- I know I’m weird for a 19-year-old.

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

Since junior year of my high school. One of my friends felt young queer students of color do not get the right treatment, or rather their story arc is limited to a special episode.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have this thing, where I write a different story each month and store it in my private notebook. It’s like a narrative registry for me so I can develop and evolve the narrative later.

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

“Old Age”- Masego ft. SiR & “A Long Walk” by Jill Scott.

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

I think fleshing out issues concerning youth of color without being too obvious or preachy.

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

Filmmaking, Anything artistic really

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

It was a long one. I was skeptical at first because this is my first submission and I didn’t know the logistics and mechanics around this. However, I am so glad to have this platform because it allows me to be unapologetic about my art.

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

I was in this program in high school for alternative school youths over the summer and my film teacher told me that in order for your art to be successful, you have to show it first. I am really hesitant and insecure about showing my work, but since publicizing, the reception has been well-received. I hope to grow and mature as a filmmaker, auteur, and writer and being able to tell narratives with cultural competency and narrative consideration.

Screenplay Writing: 

Teens of color deal with their disorganized high school and personal problems by talking in a group chat- which happens to concretize in a virtual white room.

CAST LIST:

Louis: John Marcucci

Jamal: Sam Fazli

Narrator: Kat Smiley

Libretta: Cassandra Guthrie

Amatou: Zena Driver

Submit exclusively via Film Freeway:

Interview with Screenwriter Nicholas Julius (MYTHATANIA)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Nicholas Julius: MYTHATANIA – The Adventures of Erin, Owen and the Mythfitz:

Feature script/Books:Scottish siblings, Erin and Owen Macdonald, are swallowed by The Loch Ness Monster and brought to the magical land of Mythatania where all creatures heard of in Myth and Folklore have gone to escape the outside world. There they meet THE MYTHFITZ, a group of mythical youngsters, Unee the Unicorn, Pegora the Pegasus, Frost the Yeti, and Salandra the Sasquatch, and embark on a wonderful adventure.

(Animation/live action script with merchandising potential, 6 children’s books, and a full length novel. Best Animated feature script – The International family Film Festival, BEST SCRIPT – The Beverly Hills Film Festival. WINNER – KIDSFIRST ! Film Festival 99/100 rating. Quarterfinalist in Nicholls 2014, Best Family script – American Screenwriting Awards – Winner, The Nashville FF – Best animated script – Winner – Best Animation script, the Oaxaca FF)

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Animation, family. 4 quadrant entertainment.

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

Because different kids will identify with different characters. They will also learn friendship, trust, embracing individuality and teamwork to solve a problem.

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

Sheer entertainment.

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

Casablanca.

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

1st draft was 3 years ago, novel completed this year, 1st children’s book published 2 months ago, 1st short film completed last December.

7. How many stories have you written?

8 feature scripts, 2 TV pilots, one sitcom pilot, 12 short scripts, 2 novels, 12 children’s books, 5 short films. My latest live action film starring Michael Kenneth Williams THE DEVIL GOES DOWN has made 92 FF’s, won 29 awards (you can check imdb) my latest animated film ERIN, OWEN AND THE LOCH NESS MONSTER, 14 FF’s, 8 awards.

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

THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA, for obvious reasons.

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

Trimming it down.

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

Acting, working on film sets.

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

They are amazing, I have become mostly exclusive to them for submitting my films and scripts.

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

The feedback was great, and the staged reading hit a lot of fine notes. INFERNO THE PHOENIX particularly.

Screenplay Reading: 

Scottish siblings, Erin and Owen Macdonald, are swallowed by The Loch Ness Monster and brought to the magical land of Mythatania where all creatures heard of in Myth and Folklore have gone to escape the outside world. There they meet THE MYTHFITZ, a group of mythical youngsters and embark on a wonderful adventure.

CAST LIST:

Owen: John Marcucci
Erin: Zena Driver
Inferno: Shawn Devlin
Narrator: Kat Smiley
Cassandra: Corinne Sutton-Smith
Salandra: Cassandra Guthrie
Unee: Sam Fazli

Submit exclusively via Film Freeway: