Interview with Screenwriter Sina Sultani (BEACON)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Sina Sultani: Beacon follows two women who must fight to retain their memories against a kidnapper desperate to harvest them.

It’s a psychological thriller about gender identity and mental illness framed in a unique setting using a non-linear narrative. Co-created and inspired by Maxi Garcia, a prominent member of the Trans community in Vancouver, our hope is to challenge and inform our audience while showing that a minority, female-led story can be heart-pounding, poetic and deeply personal.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Beacon is a psychological thriller with a non-linear structure both narratively and physically. Our goal was to introduce allegorical imagery and hyper-realistic settings to discuss our characters’ personal challenges. Drawing in tone from films such as The Lighthouse and The Witch, we wanted to paint a world that was stark yet heartbreakingly beautiful.

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

Films involving gender-diverse, female-minority characters are few and far between, let alone projects merging multiple genres. Even though we’re marketing Beacon as a psychological thriller, it’s a deeply personal metaphor discussing a character’s journey through sexual identification and an immigrant upbringing. We believe in the importance of this project because we believe in the expansion of the conversation. Our goal is to show that conventional genres can be elevated based on diverse casting and subject matter.

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

Starkly enigmatic.

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

That’s a difficult question to answer but I’m leaning towards David Fincher’s Se7en. The complexities of the narrative, characters, and mix of drama with sardonic doses of humour demonstrates a depth of realism that I hope to achieve within my own projects. For example, the throwaway line from Kevin Spacey to Morgan Freeman’s character, “I know you,” opens a slew of questions that never get resolved. Moments like those are beautiful and surprising given how much emphasis is placed on informing/catering to the audience. Also, that ending… what more can you say?

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

Concept to first version took 1 month with additional refinements ongoing. However, if I were to quantify everything together, I would say 1½ months have been spent developing and editing the script to-date. At the time, Beacon was the quickest feature I’d written but I successfully challenged myself to complete another project within a week. That expediency is not restricted to the mechanics of turning out pages but includes the creativity involved in navigating narrative roadblocks.

7. How many stories have you written?

That’s difficult to quantify and depends on your definition of a story. If we stick to screenplays, inclusive of shorts, features and pilots, I would say approximately 15 over 7 years. However, in the past year alone I’ve been focusing exclusively on features/pilots and since September 2019 I’ve pushed out 6 scripts, with a 7th on the horizon. In saying that, I was working/re-working on one project for an entire year (2018-2019), which I was never happy with. It was a hard to pill to swallow, especially given how much time I’d invested, but going through the motions was critical in helping me develop my concepting and writing process. It showed me, like any other craft, just how important it is to continue to write and hone your skills.

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

There’s no one song, but I’d say Dr. Dre’s 2001 is an album that I constantly return to. You can feel the upswing of those songs and how it captured a time and an energy that’s been difficult to replicate. However, while writing, I lean towards film or video game soundtracks that are contextualize to the narrative I’m assembling. I find it helps to mentally place me in the required environment and facilitates the creative process.

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

The biggest challenge was finding the character’s voices, which still needs improvement. Post-Beacon I began to incorporate a new way of writing dialogue which makes the process easier and gives the characters more… character. That’s one aspect of the script that keeps me up at night.

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

As with every indie filmmaker who’s short on time and money, I’ve written, directed, produced, edited, shot and composited nearly all of my past short films. The entire process has been eye-opening and the exposure to so many different disciplines really helped to inform my understanding of the overall process while introducing me to different aspects that I never knew I’d enjoy. For example, I’ve discovered a great love of sound design. The act of layering multiple sources to create new and dynamic audio is just as exciting as developing a new concept. I also enjoy videogames and experiencing the marriage of narrative with gameplay and camera selection, which has been deeply informative and highly influential.

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

This is the first year I’ve ever used Coverfly and its experience/interface reminds me of Filmfreeway. That’s a huge compliment given that both platforms are crucial in connecting filmmakers to festivals/competitions. However, I’ve experienced a few issues with respect to multiple submissions and discount codes. It’s a combination of Coverfly’s checkout interface and most festivals offering single-use codes. That might be a separate conversation, however, the costs add up after submitting 3+ scripts across 5+ festivals. In saying that, it’d be ideal if those codes were either mutli-use or if the competitions themselves offered bulk-submissions discounts.

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

As a Canadian I always want to support fellow creatives/festivals. It’s important to bolstering our artistic community through direct investment/interaction. Additionally, the cost-to-feedback ratio was well-positioned as many festivals providing feedback can be prohibitively expensive, especially when accounting for multiple submissions. The added benefit of earning a scene-specific table read simply added to the overall experience.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

After awakening in an abandoned shelter, two women must fight to retain their memories against a kidnapper desperate to harvest them.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
ZAKARIA (F): Elizabeth Rose Morriss

Interview with Screenwriter J. L. Paxxiel (BTW I’m An Alien)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

J. L. Paxxiel: It’s the parallel life of Trevor Noah within our multiverse and creatively weave things Trevor Noah has said in his podcast, TV show, book, and comedy tours. It touches on diversity and shows the power of a family working together. They are a quirky and dysfunctional family that doesn’t always get along but it takes a village to raise a child -an alien child at that- so they pull together.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Sci-fi. Comedy.

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

The entire series is 462 pages and 14 episodes, so I’m not sure it could be a short movie. The first four episodes could work as a movie.

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

Trevor Noah or Alien and Earthlings

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

Huckleberry Finn with Elijah Wood

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

Since October of 2019.

7. How many stories have you written?

25

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

Don’t listen to music.

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

Structure and giving Travis a proper story arc in season 2.

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

Being of service to the spiritual community.

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

I LOVE Coverfly. It’s easy.

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

I went to your website and watched the actors reading scripts. I thought it would be a fun way to improve. I was and am happy with the feedback.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A famous political commentator discovers his loving wife has a secret that will turn his life upside down.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
Ron Stewie/Male Voice (M): Allan Michael Brunet
Travis Noory (M): Geoff Mays
Don/Someone (M): Shawn Devlin

Interview with Screenwriter Kevin Mongelli (NAILS)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Kevin Mongelli: Jonathan has had a troubled life but has attempted to turn things around. One final decision could change everything.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama

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

Unique story on how a singular decision could make all the difference in one’s life

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

Wrong choice

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

Gattaca

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

Two months

7. How many stories have you written?

About a dozen

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

The Firebird Suite by Stravinsky

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

Struggled over the right content to tell this story

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

I am professional musician and a member of The Recording Academy (Grammys)

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

User friendly

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

It’s a challenge to write an entire story in one page and I like a challenge. Nice feedback

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
MOTHER/EX-WIFE/WOMAN (F): Val Cole – 5
MALE FRIEND/THERAPIST (M): Allan Michael Brunet – 8
JONATHAN (M): Geoff Mays – 8

Interview with Screenwriter Eileen Wilson (WATCHING)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Eileen Wilson: It’s about free speech and using your voice while you have one.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

I wrote it initially, tongue in cheek, so it’s a comedy-drama monologue. It was initially performed that way at a theatre scratch night and it’s interesting to see how different actors perform it. You can get a lot of laughs from being ‘revolting’!

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

It’s more relevant now than when I wrote it, especially with some of the current people in positions of power and their abuse of that power.

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

Current… and relevant!


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

I think it’s a combination of ‘Anchors Away’ and ‘Die Hard’. I appreciate characters with tenacity.

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

I wrote this one in about twenty minutes, it was heartfelt.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have about sixty scripts, a combination of; micro-shorts, shorts, web-episode, sitcom and feature. I’m currently over the moon as my sitcom ‘No.47 Ate my Uber!’ just made QF for Page Awards.

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

This one changes all the time. Maybe ‘Trouble’ by Elvis.

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

This one just wrote itself, I was completely honest and it fell out on the page.

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

I like equality and fairness. I’ve lived in other countries and suffered discrimination and had friends of other nationalities experience it too, so I appreciate how it feels.

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

I’ve used both Coverfly and FilmFreeway and have never had issue with either.

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

I love writing and decided that there’s no point putting something on paper if nobody reads it. It’s super if other people see an emotion in a script you’ve written and it makes them think, or feel because of it.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Timid Hope watches atrocities but has to speak out when her friend disappears.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
HOPE (F): Elizabeth Rose Morriss

Interview with Screenwriter Monika Naidoo (Proof Positive)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Monika Naidoo: PROOF POSITIVE is about friendship, the belief in basic human kindness, and the power of the human connection.

For high school senior Grady Haynes, life doesn’t get much better. A local baseball star with a full scholarship to UCLA, the center of the popular crowd with a gorgeous girlfriend, and plans to head out on a month-long backpacking trip the day after graduation – Grady is living his dream… a dream that is crushed with the push of a send button and killed the second the message was ‘successfully sent’. Now he is stuck in an 18″ x18″ nightmare – the size of his wheelchair cushion. As he is sucked into a self-destructive tailspin, his best friend and only other accident survivor must act fast to prove that there is still a big and beautiful world out there full of places to see and people that care. All while time is running out.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

I call it an Inspirational Family Drama

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

Not too many movies deal with disability. Stories like Grady’s are historically underrepresented and deserve to be shared. Also, more than ever, we need narratives that show what can be achieved when people come together. It is the little, not-so-random acts of kindness that can make the biggest difference.

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

Heartwarmingly inspirational

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

I have seen countless movies multiple times for different reasons, be it the dialogue, visuals, soundtrack, acting, story, or any combination thereof. Impossible to say which one raked up the most views.

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

I finished the first draft in about two months, put it aside for a few weeks, then went back for a rewrite and countless edits over another two months or so.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have been scribbling stories whenever and wherever they’d come into my head ever since I was a kid, never even started counting. I do have two novels in print, five finished screenplays, two in progress, and several ideas floating around.

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

I have been playing the guitar since I was little, and music has always been a big part of my life. As a result, I don’t have just one favorite song. It always depends on the mood of the moment.

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

Time – there’s never enough of it. Like many writers, I have a full-time day job and a family.

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

I love to create, if not with words, then with paint, pencils, wood, leather, and pretty much anything that’s available.

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

Love the platform! Easy to use with great features you won’t find anywhere else.

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

I really wanted to have my screenplay professionally read and a link to the recording that I can use to promote it. It is a great tool to get exposure. The festival did a fantastic job! The initial feedback was very helpful. I’d wholeheartedly recommend entering this festival!

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

When a tragic accident sends his best friend into a wheelchair and a dangerous, self-destructive tailspin, a desperate high school senior must act fast to prove that there is still a big and beautiful world out there full of places to see and people that care. PROOF POSITIVE is an inspirational drama that proves how much healing power not-so-random acts of kindness can have.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
JASON (M): Sean Ballantyne
GRADY (M): Bill Poulin
NICK/ALEX (M): Steve Rizzo

Interview with Screenwriter Brendan O’Connell (PRIVATE INVESTIGATIONS)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Brendan O’Connell: It is about a woman attempting to get her husband’s murder investigated in an Ireland where the criminal justice system has been privatised.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Black comedy, film noir, crime.

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

Because as a satire on the seemingly unstoppable drive towards privatisation and intelligent deconstruction of the police procedural it will likely enjoy commercial and art house interest.

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

Satisfyingly unsatisfying.

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

Chinatown, Goodfellas or The Ladykillers(the original).

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

On and off about 4 or 5 years.

7. How many stories have you written?

Couldn’t tell you. I have 4 short films to my name and an award winning all-ages graphic novel called Death’s New Lease on Life, with a follow-up in the works.

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

What a waste by Ian Dury & the Blockheads.

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

I haven’t it yet but the obstacles so far have been many and varied. It started as a pitch for a web series and I have been playing around with what format it should take ever since. So that’s stalled things a little.

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

Football(soccer).

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

Limited but I’ve had no problems.

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

It was the feedback, from someone with no vested interest or reason to take it easy on me, that initially interested me, especially as I was really just sitting down to have another run at the script at that time. And to that end, I was very happy with the feedback, it even highlighted something I’d missed.

 

 

 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

The opening sequence between Helen and the recorded Emergency Operator creates an unsettling feeling of visual dissonance for the audience, particuarly when the “perky muzak” overtakes the heavy breathing and awkward moments of silence.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
EMERGENCY OPERATOR (F): Hannah Ehman
HELEN (F): Val Cole
Recorded Voice and WOMAN (F): Kyana Teresa
EILEEN (F): Alicia Ryan

Interview with Screenwriter Steve Sterling (THE YOUNGEST DOUGHBOY)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Steve Sterling: A 12-year-old boy schemes to become a soldier and succeeds. Passing as an adult, he is shipped to France to fight in WWI. The film follows Ernest Wrentmore’s real-life journey and is based on his memoir.

Barely trained, hardly equipped, and ineptly led due to lack of experienced officers, the American doughboy nonetheless adapted and became a feared combatant, often fighting in the open and hand to hand. This is the context of The Youngest Doughboy.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

War, history, coming of age

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

The Youngest Doughboy is a unique story that has never been told on film

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

Altruistic courage

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

Lawrence of Arabia and the Best Years of Our Lives

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

15 months

7. How many stories have you written?

I have a published non-fiction book to my credit, an unpublished novel, and short stories. A former journalist, I currently make my living as a business writer.

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

Currently: LA Woman by the Doors.

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

My biggest hurdle was teaching myself the language and mechanics of film writing. Once I got the hang of the style, it was an enjoyable, if long process.

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

My family, our cats and dog, history, and film.

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

Film Freeway is seamless. It is a terrific platform that is easy to use and extremely helpful in terms of keeping track of submissions, both wins and losses. It is easy to create laurels of which The Youngest Doughboy now has nine.

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

Action Feedback was a no brainer to enter as The Youngest Doughboy is an action picture. The script has a better opportunity for being recognized when it is compared to films in the same genre.

The feedback I received, “One of the best screenplay spec scripts in the world today,” was a real morale booster.

 

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

 

Ernest Wrentmore is dressed to kill with twin .45 automatics on his hips, two trench daggers across his chest, and enough ammunition to take out an enemy platoon. At age 12, Ernest is the youngest American solider in World War I France. He’s about to become a hero. Based on a true story.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
PAUL (M): Bill Poulin
ERNEST (M): Steve Rizzo
MRS. WRENTMORE and JOSEPHINE (F): Val Cole

Interview with Screenwriter Faye Upton (OUTRIDER)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Faye Upton: In the fictional world of Panthé, mankind has toppled the gods. Now,
centuries after the Overthrow, magic and science have become
indistinguishable from each other. Technology from artillery to airships
runs on a mysterious toxic substance called floxx. The titular Outriders are
a quasi-military order of diplomats, investigators and peacekeepers, trusted
as neutral parties in conflicts and negotiations, and drawn from successive
generations of a small number of powerful families.

A catastrophic accident abord a floxx-powered train devastates the Steles
dynasty, leaving it unable to meet its obligations to the Outrider Corps. It
falls to Robin Steles – long estranged from her domineering mother, and
haunted by her own history with the Outriders – to save the Steles name from
disgrace. Along the way, she’ll clash with her obstinate ex-husband, fight
for the future of her disabled son, and discover an ancient and terrifying
conspiracy that threatens not only the Steles family and the Outrider Corps,
but all of Panthé…

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Fantasy and drama.

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a TV show?

Panthé, the world of Outrider, occupies a place between traditional
swords-n-sorcery and contemporary urban fantasy. It’s neither modern nor
medieval, but somewhere in between, with steam trains and stagecoaches,
Victoriana-flavoured cities and frontier towns that wouldn’t be out of place
in Deadwood. In genteel company, ‘magic’ is a childish word for science, and
an uncomfortable reminder of pre-Overthrow times, when Panthé’s tyrannical
gods still walked the earth. But at the fringes of civilisation, old magics
left over from the war between gods and men are still a terrifying reality.
The eponymous Outriders live in both worlds – some brokering peace treaties
and advising governments; others investigating ancient ruins and hunting
down the creatures that still prowl the wilderness. But for all their
reputation for non-partisan service, the Outriders are mired in their own
internal politics. The old families whose children have gone into Outrider
service for generations feud and bicker and inter-marry, all the time
guarding their status and privilege jealously.

In the centre of this is Robin, the heroine of Outrider – though she’d
rather not be. Robin’s had the bad end of every deal as a Steles and an
Outrider. She fled a toxic family environment, first into service with the
Outriders that ended in tragedy, and then into a marriage that started out
political and became loving. At least, until she failed to give her husband,
Harrier Marburn, a healthy child. Their only son, Serin, is disabled, and
will never follow his parents into the Corps. Harrier, duty-bound to provide
heirs for his own dynasty, divorced Robin and remarried. Robin’s relegated
to a cottage on the Marburn estate, raising their son and taking care of
Harrier’s elderly father.

So she’s an unlikely saviour when the train crash wipes out half the Steles
Outriders. She’s a middle aged, divorced, single mother of a child with
special needs, estranged from her own family and exiled from her
ex-husband’s. She’s a far cry from the teenage protagonists of most fantasy
stories! But she’s a uniquely identifiable female lead whose strength is in
resilience, wit, and self-sacrifice, not fighting badassery, and she
deserves a place alongside Buffy and Black Widow and Daenerys Targaryen!

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

Dynastic magitech!

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

Labyrinth, dozens of times as a child, and dozens more times as an adult
with my nieces. (And, not infrequently, without them).

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

I’ve been developing Panthé, the world of the Outriders, for many years, but
I first put it down in screenplay format in late 2018.

7. How many stories have you written?

Hundreds. I cut my teeth on fan fiction (who didn’t?), and I have a 600,000+
word Dragonriders of Pern fanfic that’s been described both as a gritty
reboot of Pern canon and better than the original. I’m also a regular
competitor in the NYC Midnight screenplay, short story and flash fiction
competitions, with multiple heat-winning stories and scripts, three finals,
and placing 5th, 8th and 11th out of fields of 3000+ writers.

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

Station to Station, David Bowie. (I’m developing a theme here aren’t I?)

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
I first envisaged Outrider as a novel – it was only when I started dipping
my toe into the world of screenplay that I realised it was crying out for a
visual medium. Then, of course, adapting a novel for the screen is never
easy – so much has to be left out, or rearranged, or taken apart and put
back together. Figuring out what belonged in the pilot and what could be
saved for later was tough – as was planting the seeds of multiple plots and
mysteries for later episodes and seasons!

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

Horse riding and racing, David Bowie (you may have gathered that already)
and my silver tabby cat, Deputy US Marshal Raylan Givens.

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

I love how it consolidates all your competition results to give an overall
picture of how a screenplay is being received. Outrider is currently the #1
rated fantasy TV pilot of the year on Coverfly’s Red List. (That being said,
its Wildsound Sci fi Festival win isn’t yet appearing!)

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

It was exciting to envisage my screenplay performed as a table read, and I’m
very much looking forward to the complete read once the Covid-19 situation
allows! The feedback was very gratifying to read, as Outrider has been my
creative baby for many years now.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

When a mysterious train crash devastates the struggling Steles dynasty, estranged daughter Robin Steles must resume her long-abandoned role as a warrior-diplomat Outrider to keep her family’s reputation – and finances – afloat.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf

DOVEKIE (F): Hannah Ehman

AUK (M) Scott Beaudin

TRAIN GUARD and PASSENGER (M): Geoff Mays

OLD LADY and INJURED WMAN (F): Val Cole

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Jay Strong (GREEN ACRES)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Jay Strong: About 25 minutes long… it’s about a couple finally making a personal connection to their new community.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy.

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a TV SHOW?

Because it’s a clever take on a familiar story and a loving twist on a set of familiar characters.

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

Naughty silliness.

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

Impossible to say, I love the movies I love, but I love even more discovering new ones I’ve never seen before.

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

This one was quick, maybe a month total, though the idea percolated for over a year after a casual conversation with friends who were also fans of Green Acres.

7. How many stories have you written?

Hard to say, I started writing in earnest in grade school. Maybe two dozen short pieces (stories, sketches, short plays), two novels, ten full length screenplays (on my own or in collaboration), two tv pilots (with pitches and subsequent episode outlines), three stage plays, one musical, and over thirty years worth of stand-up material,

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

Monkey in Your Soul – Steely Dan. And pretty much everything else by them.

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

Full time job, consulting on a cabaret show, running a weekend writing workshop, and the death of my last parent.

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

Rewriting, performing, directing, editing, photography, sex, laughing.

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

So far so good.

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

I had written very little of what could be called fan fiction (one of my screenplays spun out of my love for the Man from UNCLE) and was looking for somewhere to submit thi 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Oliver and Lisa deal with the Ziffels shooting a porno in their barn.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
Oliver (M): Bill Poulin
Eb (M): Scott Beaudin
Lisa (F): Alicia Payne

Interview with Winner Screenwriter Greg Emmerth (PALMETTO)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Greg Emmerth: On a basic level, a wayward son returns home for his mother’s birthday. On a slightly deeper level, it’s about how people allow the past, and past grievances and holding onto pain for far too long, to hobble their present lives.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s primarily a family drama.

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

I believe in the story, and that there is an important message in trying to move beyond the sometimes negative circumstances that bring us to where we are in life.

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

I’d call the script a ‘pleasurable burden.’ The story itself in two words I would describe as ‘vicarious dysfunction.’

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

I’m a bit of a nerd, so I suspect the combined Star Trek films would be it. I also really enjoy Dangerous Liaison with Glenn Close and John Malkovich and have watched it countless times since it came out in the 1980s. It’s an amazing character study in duplicity and revenge with highly nuanced performances.

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

On and off for over a decade. I just revisited it roughly 9 months ago after about 2 years away from it.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written 5 short films, all of which were produced, two published novels and two unproduced feature screenplays. I tend to work on several projects at once and bounce between them, so I have a novel, a short film and this project all under construction at the moment.

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

At 50, with decades of music under my belt, that’s a hard one to answer. I think ‘One Moment in Time’ by Whitney Houston or ‘I’m Still Standing’ by Elton John. They’re both inspiring in their own way and have pulled me through more than one rough patch. Right now, I am enjoying the acoustic version of ‘Have it All’ by Jason Mraz.

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

Finding the time to work on it given the competing priorities, coupled with struggling to call it done and stop tweaking it. A word here, a couple lines there… it’s challenging me for me to not want to edit it.

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

Depends on the season. With winter here if I’m not at work I try to be on my snowboard. It’s a great escape and way to recharge from the week. I love learning. Three degrees down and most likely going back again in a year or two. Lastly, always trying to take the road less traveled.

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

I have not had any issues with them whatsoever.

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

For me it was the feedback and opportunity to see part of it read aloud. I enjoyed the feedback and tend to focus on festivals that provide it. Even when negative, I find value in getting a different perspective. I don’t always follow their notes, but I think I’ve been able to make some pretty significant leaps forward by incorporating feedback into the latest draft.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

Jack, a young, wealthy, gay man returns home to Charleston for his mother’s birthday, a few years after his father’s death, and still hasn’t resolved his anger for them both.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
Jack (M): Geoff Mays
Jamie/Elton (M): Allan Michael Brunet
Connor/Robert (M): Steve Rizzo
Carol (F): Hannah Ehman
Liz (F): Kyana Teresa
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