Interview with Screenwriter David Sabbath (Dancing in the White Room)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

David Sabbath: The endless possibilities, positive & negative, of AI.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Thriller. SciFi.

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

It’s fresh & a fun ride.

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

Thought provoking.

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

Many

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

I wrote this during a month of rain in Portland.

7. How many stories have you written?

A dozen.

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

Many.

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

None.

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

I’m a commercial director. I also directed the feature God Don’t make the Laws.

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

Easy

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

It’s a very nice festival

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

First you use machines; then you wear machines; then you… A message splattered on the subway walls fifty years ago and now, today, the battle cry of the anti-techno revolution.

CAST LIST:

Michael – Malcolm Allcorn
Male #2 – Brogan Caulfield
Narration – Bree Ali
Bromm – Ted Power
Female – Katelyn Varadi
Announcer – Danielle Nicole

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Interview with Screenwriter Ian White (AMARIS)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Ian White: AMARIS is an allegory about the “rapture”. The theme revolves around how the torch of stewardship over the Earth (in the play represented by a baseball passed down though three generations – ancestors, contemporary humans, decedents) is passed down at the beginning of a new era of humanity. Nate (who represents contemporary humanity, “man”) is cynical, but has a strong urge to protect the planet. He’s battered and bruised when James (Jesus) visits him and gives him a second chance to save Earth. They travel to the space station to continue the work started by Nate’s father (our ancestors). Innocence (Sarah) is lost on the mission to greed (Simon Skariota II – Biblically Simon is the son of Yehuda Skariota AKA in the bible as Judas Iscariot) and James sacrifices himself to save Nate. When a possibility of a new world (Amaris, “A gift from God”) arises, Earth is consumed in selfish greed, paranoia and war. The angelic and peaceful residents of this new world “rapure” some of the remaining rural (meek) inhabitants, who avoided the initial nuclear war, and deliver them to an Edenic new world to start over.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Science-Fiction, Science-Faction, Cli-Fi (Climate change), dystopic/apocalyptic

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

Audiences are still interested in Sci-Fi and this is a major market generator. A big audience response has come from Sci-Fact movies like “Interstellar”, “Gravity” and “The Martian”. “Amaris” tells a story of how an alien first contact might actually happen and what the consequences of that could be. The story includes a lot of scientifically accurate facts that would drive post-release on-line chat. The theme would be a major fan discussion point also. There is also an interesting variation on the “alien invasion” trope as this play suggests a possible human invasion of the alien world.

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

Scientifically allegorical.

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

Star Wars (either ep 4 or 5)

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

Took a year to learn how to write screenplays, research and write (and rewrite) this.

7. How many stories have you written?

Now? About 10.

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

I listen to film scores. Likely Oblivion by M38 from the movie “Oblivion”.

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

Leaning to stop tweaking and let it go. The main obstacle to starting was having to learn how to write as a screenwriter and not as a scientist, although in essence both are story tellers. Read as many books as possible, joined all the pod-casts and on-line peer groups. Took writing lessons at the Uni in the evenings and weekends. Wrote on the toilet a lot to get some alone time (two young kids, etc).

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

Flyfishing (I’m the inventor of the “monoMASTER” an environmentally friendly fishing tool), watching movies and biomedical research. I own a stem cell biotech company in Miami.

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

There could be improvements, but I was pretty impressed by the scope and access to festivals.

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

To be honest I was just looking for festivals that might appreciate a good sci-fi story with a bunch of theme. I knew a lot of readers would miss the complexity of the play, but I was confident others would just enjoy the story at face value and perhaps even work out the theme.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Earth has been decimated by climate change. When a cynical environmental scientist and his crew aboard the International Space Station make contact with a lush and resourceful alien planet, Earth’s warring nations fight to stake a claim.

CAST LIST:

Sarah – KAT SMILEY
NARRATION – JESSICA BOWMER
James – STEVE SWITZMAN
Nate – STEPHEN SANDQUIST

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Interview with Screenwriter Kristina Rezek (YOUR ROARING TWENTIES)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Kristina Rezek:Your Roaring Twenties offers a fun and original take on a classic story of someone finding themselves after suffering a devastating breakup.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Romantic Comedy (Yay Rom-coms!)

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

I believe Your Roaring Twenties should be made into a film because of its universal message of allowing yourself to be okay with falling in love. Whether it’s your first time falling in love, or your twentieth, it’s always a beautiful thing.

Also, as noted above, yay for romantic comedies :)! It is my (unofficial) mission to get more rom-coms onto the big screen.

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

Lighthearted & Relatable

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

She’s the Man starring Amanda Bynes & Channing Tatum

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

Approximately 8 months

7. How many stories have you written?

Your Roaring Twenties is my first full-length spec script 🙂

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

Currently, you can find me jamming out to “That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars

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

Initially, I had trouble omitting scenes that were irrelevant to the story’s plot. They were fun to write, but ultimately, those omitted scenes were interfering with the pacing of the story, so I had to “kill my darlings”.

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

Playing (and winning in) Monopoly, or any other board/card game
Environmental Issues/Veganism
Sports (Go Cleveland Browns)
Reading
Music
Sudoku

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

FilmFreeway is extremely user-friendly. I’m not too tech savvy, but FilmFreeway is pretty straight forward with the submission process. I enjoy the platform.

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

I entered the festival because I appreciated the festival’s aim in showcasing LGBTQ+ stories and increasing media representation for diverse communities.
I was extremely pleased with the encouraging and well-thought-out feedback I received. Everyone involved with the feedback process was professional, friendly and highly supportive.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Life, love, and insurmountable student debt. Welcome to your twenties, folks!

CAST LIST:

Tyler – SARAH-HAZEN BASK
NARRATION – STEPHEN SANDQUIST
Jada – JESSICA BOWMER
Bianca – KAT SMILEY

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Interview with Screenwriter Ray Cecire (The Prophecies)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Ray Cecire: A modern day retelling of Macbeth

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Thriller

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

It’s scary, heady and riff’s off a classic.

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

Bold, scary.

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

Too many to pick just one.

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

2 years ( on and off)

7. How many stories have you written?

The Prophecies was my 4th screenplay

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

Too many to pick from.

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

Time, and trying to stay true to the original idea of MacBeth.

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

Music.

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

Excellent.

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

All good. I appreciate the passion and effort on the part of the organizers.

Watch the Screenwriting Readings: 

In this modern day retelling of Macbeth ( in modern English) – Roger Macbey is a ruthless corporate raider who finds his life in a downward spiral when a trio of ancient witches appear to play out a devastating prophecy.

PART 1 Reading

CAST LIST:

Oldest Woman – KAT SMILEY
Townsman – STEPHEN SANDQUIST
NARRATION – SARAH-HAZEN BASK
MacBey – STEVE SWITZMAN
Youngest Woman – JESSICA BOWMER

PART 2 Reading

CAST LIST:

NARRATION – SARAH-HAZEN BASK
Rodger – STEVE SWITZMAN
Lilly – KAT SMILEY

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Interview with Screenwriter ML De La Garza (Indigenous)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

ML De La Garza: A worldwide invasion by indigenous lifeforms from the deep waters of Earth. Based on the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis (AAH), the invaders seek the extinction of man forcing humans to search for a safe route through the city of Corpus Christi, Texas while learning new rules for survival of the fittest.

Structured with five acts & a teaser, the serialized family drama pilot Indigenous is a mixture of action-adventure, romance, and science fiction. The springboards rely on the conflicts between characters instead of outside provocations.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Action/Science Fiction

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

Indigenous is a modern invasion story that combines the search for humanity (as seen in the Walking Dead) with the action/adventure feel of what it means to fight for survival in a hostel world (akin to The Planet of the Apes).

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

Indigenous Invasion

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

Firestarter

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

I wrote the original script as my thesis project, which took two months, and I fine-tuned it over the course of six months, thereafter.

7. How many stories have you written?

To date I’ve written more than twenty novels/novellas under an array of pen names and over five scripts.

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

Favorite instrumental, hands down, is Music of the Night, and my favorite vocal of all time is I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing.

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

When writing the original version of Indigenous, I had sixteen weeks to draft the treatment, write the bible concept, and turn out the pilot and second episode during my MFA Thesis I and Thesis II class. New to scriptwriting, I had to learn the formatting process for series, which required a lot of assigned reading by my MFA Thesis mentor, Michael Zimmer–who provided a wealth of knowledge, information, and guidance along the way.

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

My family. They inspire me to continuously grown my craft.

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

The FilmFreeway platform provides a user-friendly website for the submission process and I’ve had positive encounters, thus far.

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

The Female Film Festival promotes women writers, which I found empowering, and the initial feedback provided positive insight and suggestions to strengthen the submitted piece, which in turn, enhanced my writing craft.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

CAST LIST:

Wounded Officer – 1 – STEPHEN SANDQUIST
Stacey Ward – 4 – JESSICA BOWMER
NARRATION – JULIE SHEPPARD
Leah Santos – 10 – KAT SMILEY
Sam Rush – 7 – SARAH-HAZEN BASK
Balthazar – 1 –STEVE SWITZMAN

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Interview with Screenwriter Gustavo Freitas (Lies, Hamburgers, and Cufflinks)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Gustavo Freitas: It’s a non-linear story about a guy that gets a job in a roadside restaurant and ends up caught in an unsuccessful robbery involving the Russian mafia. To save his life, he must find out who ordered the theft of a 4 million dollar pair of cufflinks which belonged to the mafia boss.

But, of course, nothing in this story really is what it appears to be.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s a short crime-thriller that leans on the Heist subgenre.

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

This script is thrilling, full of suspense and keeps you wondering where it’s going. The non-linear storytelling gives an extra spice. Everybody loves a surprise, and this story is full of them, especially when you figure out that everybody seems to be lying.

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

Surprising and gritty.

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

I’m a big fan of the Star Wars original trilogy and The Godfather, so it would be a close call between these two.

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

I played with this idea for over one year. The basic concept was to start the story with a guy held hostage by a bunch of criminals, and you knew nothing about him or why he’s there. I played with this idea for a while figuring out different possibilities of who is this guy and why he’s there. I wanted that it turned out to be something really shocking and mind-blowing.

From the start, I planned that, as the story unfolds, you would discover that every single information that you’ve assumed from this very first scene would be wrong. When I figured out that part, everything else came together.

Because of the non-linear structure, planning it was much more difficult than the writing part. When I’ve actually started to write it, it was a matter of weeks. But the central concept puzzled me for a while before I’ve typed the first word.

7. How many stories have you written?

I write for a production company in Brazil, so I’ve developed a few TV pilots with them. At this point, it was 6 pilots for live-action series and 4 for animated series.

Recently we were hired by Fox Latin America to help in the development of a new Animated Series for TV, and I’ve written another five short episodes for this project.

Besides that, I’ve written four features and two shorts on a spec. One of these scripts, “Lost Coyote,” was recently selected by the producer and director Earnest Harris (“A Simple Promise”), who is going to be the executive producer of this project. I’m very excited about this partnership, and I hope we can start shooting it soon.

Currently, I’m writing a new script based on the memoirs of the Navy Petty Officer Robert Jackson, one of the first guys that exposed the Iran-Contras scandal in the eighties. He denounced the illegal sale of weapons to Iran using the USS Kitty Hawk and took his case to the Congress. This story will be based on his book, “Running Scared.”

This experience is fascinating, as I’ve got the opportunity to be in touch with Robert Jackson himself. So this is the first time that I have the chance to actually talk with the protagonist as I write his story.

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

I’m a big fan of Nirvana, Aerosmith, and Led Zeppelin. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is one of my favorite songs ever.

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

Writing a non-linear story is a difficult task, especially when you want to have a big reveal in the end. This story demanded an amount of early planning quite higher than any of my other scripts.

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

I love scuba diving and playing the guitar. Both of these hobbies allow me to know interesting people and places.

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

I love FilmFreeway, as it makes all the process of submitting your script to festivals much easier. I use it all the time.

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

I love the table reads. Just love it. It’s useful to hear your lines coming out from the mouth of an actor or actress. It always helps me improve my dialogue.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

To save his life, a guy held hostage by the Russian mafia must find out who ordered the robbery of a 4 million dollar pair of cufflinks.

CAST LIST:

Shapiro: Geoff Mays
Ashley: Kyana Teresa
Narrator: Val Cole
Laura: Teira Watts
Jeff: Christian Vargas
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Interview with Screenwriter Gregory Allen (HE IS GONE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Gregory Allen: He is Gone is about a college professor who deals with the fact that his husband goes missing in the blink of an eye while they are at a high school reunion. He soon realizes that everything is not always as it seems and he sets out on a journey for answers.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Part mystery, part drama.

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

Many gay films are all about boy looking for boy or coming out of the closet. I feel this would be a very different type of gay film as it deals with older gay men (sometimes overlooked). I think the multi-genre aspect would also be fascinating as a film since it’s Gone Girl meets Leaving Las Vegas.

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

beautiful heartache

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

I am a sucker for Somewhere in Time.

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

I wrote it first as a novel in 2012 and a few years after that started on the screenplay when a director had some interest. I shelved it for a while and only recently came back to it the past year while working on the LGBT short film Hiding In Daylight (on the festival circuit now).

7. How many stories have you written?

Four novels, one nonfiction memoir, two shorts, three children’s books, three screenplays

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

These questions are always hard as I can’t ever pick favorites: but the song that was my soundtrack while writing this story was “Going Wrong” by Armin Van Buuren

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

Adapting a novel into a screenplay can be a challenge when you are deciding what parts of the novel need to be cut for the film. I guess in that perspective, I was my largest obstacle.

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

I love theater -both seeing it and occasionally performing in shows. Also this past year I’ve gone on a fitness journey and at almost 50 years old, I’ve become someone who is passionate about going to the gym – especially my spin class!

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

I find FilmFreeway to be a very easy platform to use. I love how it will also suggest other festivals to you.

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

I have never considered submitting a screenplay to a festival. I’m used to waiting until the film is completed. While working on our short LGBT film, I was thinking about my next project and decided to just put out this screenplay to get some feedback. I love that your festival not only gave feedback, but also offered the reading of the Best Of scene. That was a very smart thing as writers need to hear their work come off the page.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

What do you do when the entire world you thought you knew crumbles around you? How do you piece it all back together? While attending a 20th high school reunion in Alabama, New Jersey transplant Blain Harrington has lost the love of his life in the blink of an eye. He soon realizes that everything is not always as it seems as he sets out on a journey for answers dealing with themes of addiction, letting go, and rebuilding one’s life.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Val Cole
Blaine: Peter-Mark Raphael
Grayson: Christian Vargas

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