Interview with Screenwriter Heather Farlinger (NO GOOD DEED)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Heather Farlinger: My screenplay is based on the life of Oliver Wellington Sipple, who was a decorated marine and wounded Vietnam veteran with PTSD, who heroically saved the life of President Ford from an assassin’s bullet. The would-be assassin, Sara Jane Moore, actually fired twice, and Mr. Sipple intervened, with no thought to his own physical danger. This one heroic act, a split-second reflex, landed Mr. Sipple directly in the crosshairs of history, with major irreversible and terrible consequences for his own life.

Living as a gay man in San Francisco in the 1970s, he was working for gay rights in perhaps the most transformative decade in American gay and lesbian history, especially in New York and San Francisco. That time in history was tense, with the US in the midst of a cold war with Russia, and there was much violence against members of the LGBTQ community. In many cities, gay people were denied their civil rights, and the police were often part of the problem, inflicting serious violence with impunity. In the state of Florida, there was even a Miami ordinance toward the end of the decade, banning gay people from adopting children, courtesy of Anita Bryant and her venomous crusade against the community overall.

Before the assassination attempt, Mr. Sipple was able to live a happy, quiet life in San Francisco, but at the same time, maintain his relationships with friends and family back home. In his conservative home town of Detroit, he knew that his religious family would never accept him if they found out the truth. When he saved Ford’s life, his first instinct was to remain anonymous, and even asked the police not to release his name, but they released it anyway. A few days later, his good friend, Harvey Milk, spilled the beans to a local columnist. To his great misfortune, at a tenuous time in history for minority rights, and gay rights in particular, he was outed and betrayed by the media, and propelled into the national zeitgeist, which destroyed his life forever. Sadly, his religious mother severed ties with him, and his father refused to allow Mr. Sipple to attend his mother’s own funeral, in accordance with her wishes. It’s a shocking narrative with themes that resonate today, such as the right to individual privacy versus freedom of the press, civil rights for minorities in general, and LGBTQ rights in particular.

At a time when basic human rights are once again being questioned in our highly polarized culture, my project screeched out of my head and onto my computer screen in a kind of fever dream, probably because when I first researched the story, I was completely gutted by it, and still am.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama/Historical


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

I can only repeat here what I just said above, but I think it’s worth repeating:

It’s a shocking narrative with themes that clearly resonate today, such as the right to individual privacy versus freedom of the press, civil rights for minorities in general, and LGBTQ rights in particular.

At a time when basic human rights are once again being questioned in our highly polarized culture, my pilot project screeched out of my head and onto my computer screen in a kind of fever dream, probably because when I first researched the story, I was completely gutted by it, and still am.

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

Gut punch.

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

Almost impossible to say, because I love so many different kinds of stories, but some films (probably in equal measure) would be as follows:
The Shining, The Wizard of Oz, and 2001: A Space Odyssey

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

About 9 months, if you include research.

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

The obstacles for this story were the same as all writers face, I suppose, when trying to convey the raw emotional truth of something, without being redundant or didactic in any way. Especially for historical pieces, there is an obligation to convey the time period in a cinematic way, without sugar-coating it or writing revisionist history to meet current-day world views, which are (thankfully) more evolved than the time period that the story occurs in. It’s important to understand how we got here, even when how we got here is often ugly, hateful and cruel. Stories are important generators of hope, which is something we all need now more than ever. My intention with this screenplay is to reveal a story that many people don’t know about, or have forgotten completely, and in some small way, I’m hopeful that we can learn from our mistakes as a society and engender greater empathy, understanding, and action that will create a better world for those around us, and for those who come after us.

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

I’m passionate about life in general, but certain simple things really touch my heart these days, probably because we’ve all been in lockdown mode for a while now. Where I live, we have so many months of winter that we really need a break from it, and usually can’t wait until summer, so we travel to somewhere warm. Before the Corona virus, we were always planning our next trip, our next adventure, our next restaurant, our next project, our next … whatever. At the moment, I’m finding extra pleasure in basic things like nature, the Twitter writing community, our backyard, and the little wildlife creatures who live there! Thankfully, the weather is beautiful right now, so I’m trying to take advantage of it as best I can, before the cold sets in again, which will be way too soon. (I have to admit, however, that I’m sooooo looking forward to going to a restaurant again one day!)

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

I have found Coverfly to be excellent overall. It’s very easy to use in terms of submissions, and offers straightforward tools that provide insight if you choose to drill down into what the algorithm flags as being especially good, or similarly, areas that could be improved. I love it.

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

I really felt that this story needed to be told, and I felt this was the perfect festival to participate in!

My feedback made me jump over the moon and back, I was so thrilled. To be received so well by the people I want to impress the most, who matter so much to me, and who are the backbone my story, well, there are no words to express my gratitude and joy. I’m getting misty-eyed just writing this. It’s the best feeling imaginable, and I feel so grateful to the entire team for taking the time to read my screenplay and honouring me with such positive feedback. My heart is really bursting over this entire experience, and I it’s so personally meaningful that this amazing festival endorses this project, it’s the best gift I could ever receive. I will never forget it!
 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

In 1975, a decorated Marine and wounded Vietnam veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder heroically saves the life of President Ford, only to be outed and betrayed by the media, destroying his life forever. Based on true events.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
Wayne (M): Bill Poulin
Adrian/Patrillo (M): Geoff Mays
Billy/Coroner (M): Scott Beaudin
Ludwig/Sanchez (M): Allan Michael Brunet

Producer/Director: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Festival Moderators: Matthew Toffolo, Rachel Elder

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editors: Kimberly Villarruel, Ryan Haines, John Johnson

Festival Directors: Rachel Elder, Natasha Levy

Camera Operators: Ryan Haines, Temitope Akinterinwa, Efren Zapata, Zack Arch

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 Screenwriter Andronica Marquis (DARK ANGELS)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Andronica Marquis: Dark Angels is about the struggle we all face to understand the true beauty of our nature despite the distraction of our pain, disappointments and insecurities.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Fantasy


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

While the screenplay is currently undergoing significant revisions to strengthen and clarify the characters, relationships and theme, it should eventually be made because it’s a dramatic and moving display of both what makes us human and beautiful beyond our mortality

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

Powerful and entertaining


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

Terminator 2


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

Over a year


7. How many stories have you written?

Four short films and three feature films

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

Etta James, I’ll be seeing you

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

Digging deeply to understand the heart of it

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

Dance and Film Producing

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?

I entered because I believe in the screenplay and believe it will be produced; I always appreciate feedback and anything I hear helps me grow and get better
 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Cast from Heaven to Earth, a beautiful demon, torn between her conflicted dark angel clan and the flailing human race, fights her demon nature to find love and fulfill her destiny.

CAST LIST:

Narration: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Ronny: Gabriel Darku
Desiree: Katelyn Varadi

Interview with Screenwriter Adam Seidel (CALIFORNIA)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Adam Seidel: At it’s core California is about a man who decides to fight for his loveless marriage through taking extreme measures. It’s a piece that examines the way we often go all in on lost causes and how that affects us. Do we come out the other end completely destroyed or do we find a strength and purpose within ourselves we didn’t know was there? I think it can definitely go either way. In the case of this story, our protagonist finds the latter.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

I’d say dark comedy / thriller.

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

I think the themes are very relatable to most people, whether they want to admit it or not. I think despite some of the more graphic parts of the story, the end offers a sense of hope. Also there’s a lot of dry comedy in the script that comes in strange moments that sort of tilts the world a bit. I think the script is looking for a very niche producer who loves gritty noir storytelling. If you’re out there, hit me up!

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

Barren hope.

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

It’s a very close call. It used to be Uncle Buck, no question. But the past year my daughter has become obsessed with The Grinch and it gets played at least two times a day. I can recite 80% of the dialog by heart.

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

It used to be a play, which I wrote in 2016. When it had it’s first staged reading this past year, the people in the audience who were repulsed came up to me and told me it should be a screenplay. So I turned it into a screenplay and found out that all those people were right.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written like thirty plays, four screenplays and three pilots. I also wrote a novella about visiting Waupun maximum security prison in Wisconsin and accidentally getting left behind in the mess hall.

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

Pink Floyd “Have a Cigar”

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

Self doubt. Time management. Life in general. The older I get the more I find I can’t just hunker down and grind for 13 hours. Also the majority of people in my writer’s circle that I share stuff with for notes hated the script. How I stuck with it I do not know. Tenacity? Dedication? Stupidity?

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

I love going on walks in the woods during summer. During winter cross country skiing is a great way to be out doors. I’m an avid swimmer. I find it calms my mind and ideas and problems often get worked out in the pool.

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

Pretty great actually.

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

It just seemed like a good opportunity. And here we are now!

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

After discovering that his cheating wife is planning on running off with his scum bag brother, a scorned and bitter man decides to take violent action, altering the course of his life, and the lives of those around him, forever.

CAST LIST:

Large Trucker: Sean Ballantyne
Narration: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Syd: Miriam Capper
John: Ted Powers

Interview with Screenwriter George Deihl Jr. (The Journal Of Second Lieutentant Issac Bangs, Unabridged)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

George Deihl Jr: The bookish Isaac Bangs, a playful Nathan Hale and mysterious Lizzie Fannon battle a fiendish soul stealing demon in Manhattan set by the backdrop of the American Revolution.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy Action Horror Thirller

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

It has the feeling of Indiana Jones. And I think we’re missing that in cinema today. It’s simple and the special effects could be achieved practically. But it’s not as ‘flashy’ and the time period lends itself to being a ‘thinker’ because the dialogue is somewhat heightened. And they are real people- even Isaac. You can google his actual journal. Id like to add a little intelligence back into our action films. Like Raiders of the Lost Ark.

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

Action. Thriller.

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

Star Wars: A New Hope

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

It’s been bouncing around in my head since about 2005. But I wrote it over the summer of 2018. All told 4 months.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written some shorts, some fan fiction and science fiction. I wrote a short which was produced called ISSUES. It’s about a psychiatrist, Dr. Leer, who has a patient, Calvin Elliot, is the world’s most powerful superhero. When he talks about his life, it cuts away to comic books page and panels. I illustrated those as well.

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

Currently Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man by The Bob Seeger System. It’s on the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Soundtrack.

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

Starting. Actually putting pen to paper. It was much easier having it live at as this perfect idea in my head.

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

I’m an actor. georgedeihljr.com I also draw. bixelboone.com My wife (who I’m also passionate about) adopt senior dogs. Right now we love and care for a toothless little poodle named Vanilla Beans. You can find him on Instagram #vanillabeantonguemachine

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

It’s great. The only way to go.

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

I was pleased and found the feedback helpful. I also felt the judges took time with the feedback.

for reels and reviews check out http://www.georgedeihljr.com
for tee shirts and art check out http://www.bixelboone.com

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

In 1776, a young medic in the Continental Army struggles to solve a series of gruesome murders in Manhattan’s Brothel District, and uncovers a secret that could cost him his soul.

CAST LIST:

Jacob: Biden Hall
Lizzie: Aliya Hamid
Ben: Geoff Mays
Narrator: Val Cole
Cunningham: Shawn Devlin
Isaac: Chris O’Bray
Madame: Pascale Behrman

Interview with Screenwriter Kelly Byrnes (33 Weeks A Prude)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Kelly Byrnes: “33 Weeks A Prude” depicts the age-old conflict between sinners and saints or in today’s high school terms, Prudes and Sluts. Our protagonist, Nora, who belongs to the latter clique, is uprooted from her native Southern California town and plunked down in the Bible Belt, in the midst of a Purity Movement led by her nemesis, Raquel. Nora quickly becomes a social pariah due to her racy apparel and liberal perspectives. After a derogatory homophobic comment pointed at Nora’s younger brother, Zeek, a series of escalating retaliations between Raquel and Nora are set into action. The battle culminates when Nora and her only friend, Tamara, a closet Wiccan, conspire to pose as prudes and infiltrate the Sisterhood of Celibacy, the occult chastity group led by Raquel. Their goal: to force the prudes to face their biggest fear — the male penis — and “enjoy every sinful second, which will send any self-respecting Bible Humper into a lifelong masochistic psychosis.”

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy. Think “Heathers” and “Mean Girls.”

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

The show employs a sharply satirical portrayal of sex and religion while broaching parallel themes with honesty and sincerity — something we don’t see in most high school comedies. On the surface, there’s an antipathy between the righteous and the unscrupulous, but the script also travels to the dark underbelly of character psyches to understand the delicate puzzle pieces that narrowly hold them together, where we find Prudes and Sluts are not just incredibly varied, but also inextricably linked. Similar to Emma Stone’s character in EASY A, I think it’s rare to see a show centered entirely around “that girl” from high school. And allowing Nora to break the fourth wall adds a tongue-in cheek-quality that seems to be absent from most high school comedies.

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

Shrewd campiness.

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

The Sound of Music!

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

I started it about a year ago and continue to revise while I work on another project.

7. How many stories have you written?

Two features and two pilots, including this one.

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

“The Waiting” by Tom Petty.

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

I struggled at times to make sure the script didn’t feel too one-sided so I tried to play up the shortcomings of both the Prudes and Nora and applaud and criticize all aspects of being a prude and a slut.

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

Mountain biking.

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

It’s been relatively easy to find great festivals and track the status of my script entries.

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

The chance to get my script read by professional actors really appealed to me. It’s amazing to see the characters come to life! I tried my best to implement the feedback with the time I had and have since been inspired to revise the script several times.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A liberated Californian teen and new girl at her high school, finds herself at odds with the girls of the Christian chastity club.

CAST LIST:

Tyler: David Rowan
Zeek: Thomas Fournier
Tamara: Pascale Behrman
Narration: Kat Smiley
Nora: Aimee Poulin
Raquel: Jillian Robinson
Bill: Bill Poulin
Jerry Turner: Allan Brunet

 

Interview with Screenwriter Tai-Ying Chi (You Don’t Deserve My Jelly Strips)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Tai-Ying Chi: The story is about a girl who is sexually assaulted by the boy she loves and always wants to be romantically involved with, therefore she doesn’t know how to react at first, and she’s struggled between what her heart really wants and what her heart believes to be right. It also talks about some international students, or even some young immigrants’ insecurities and anxieties they have to face when they firstly come and reside in the U.S.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama.

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

When the Me Too movement widely started in the United States in 2017, the cases that provoked most discussions surrounded what had happened on American majorities. It got me think, there must be many other newly arriving minorities, who may have encountered the same situations but had even less resources and know-how to ask for help. Plus, depending on what kind of the cultural backgrounds they were coming from, they may have been dealing with different levels of culture shocks, and feeling lost in telling what’s right or wrong in this new social conventions, and will only be able to grab some sense gradually after time proceeds. (In many stereotypical ideas American society is viewed as much open and complicated in sex and relationships. There’re people who are victimized by this believe, trying to blend in; and there’re people who take advantages on them.) Even when later Me Too became a more common topic and movement in other societies in the world, there can still be subtle and different range of violence in relationships that is hard to be categorized. Therefore, I think making this kind of stories into movies is important.

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

Sad gain.

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

Jurassic Park 1993, It was one of the few VHS tapes I owned when I was a kid.

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

I’ve worked on it on and off, mostly in summer vacation periods, for two years.

7. How many stories have you written?

Two short screenplays in English and many more in traditional Mandarin Chinese.

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

First of May by The Bee Gees.

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

The dialogues were firstly written in traditional Chinese, but for the contest and subtitles purposes, I translated them into English. It was a bit challenging to write English lines that are used among urban youths to give more layers to their personalities, but also preserve the same essences in English as in Traditional Chinese so readers can still get the context of how they talk or behave in the world they came from. Another major challenge was that, I wanted to introduce a delightful Taiwanese dessert into the screenplay to enhance the idea that they had shared childhood memories, which was sweet and delightful just like they used to remember each other, and by what happened to them and the dessert in the end, it also symbolizes they both for the first time really have to graduate from their childhoods. I spent so much time to look for this specular dessert that can be playful, sweet, nostalgic, look pretty on screen, and will also be easy to preserve and handle as props. Finally, the Taiwanese jelly strips.

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

I like animals and bugs, when I discover a mystery about animals or bugs that I don’t have answer to, I will feel an urge to go online and conduct full research about it. I also like good foods and quality time with family and friends.

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

Self promotions, good strategies and management in social media accounts are more important than I thought.

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

I feel networking is very essential when you want to turn pages into actions. Festival helps with the exposures for artists and builds the network. Apart from that, it is generally just an irresistible feeling of desire to be recognized and have reasons to go to events and have fun!

I look carefully into every feedback I received, but even though there are many good advices, I try to only extract core essences from the feedbacks that I feel can work on my piece without risking losing the attitudes of the project.
 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A newly arrived International student finally gets to see her high school crush in New York, but the gap between their understandings to their relationship finally forces her to choose between falling in love, or to admit the harm that would draw them apart.

CAST LIST:

Drunk Man: Charles Gordon
Yu-Chen: Wildred Lee
Narrator: Gene Abella
A-Mei: Tiffany Elefano
Lisa: Elizabeth Morriss

Interview with Screenwriter Zach Kalinyak (STARLEAGUE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Zach Kalinyak: The screenplay is about Larry Trenton’s success of turning had-been enemies into a close-knit family striving to unravel a galactic conspiracy that all of these aliens have unwittingly stumbled upon, earning them places on a hit-list.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy, Action, Family, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Adventure, Mystery

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

Currently, this screenplay is NOT ready to be made into a movie. In fact the movie that best introduces the entire franchise that this movie exists in is being produced by the writers ofThe Intrepid Factor – To Catch a Falling Star this winter.

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

Insanity united.

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

Star Trek: IV: The Voyage Home

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

Eleven years, three alone, eight with P.E. Novak

7. How many stories have you written?

Alone, about 10 to 20, with P.E. Novak over 1,000

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

Oh, every year that changes as my journey changes. The song that best describes The Intrepid Factor – To Catch a Falling Star is Barry Manilow’s It’s a Long Way Up.

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

Originally Starleage: The Intrepid Factor – To Catch a Falling Star was Star Trek: The Next Frontier – Strength of Will. A spinoff from Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine set after Voyager’s return home from the Delta quadrant. It took creating a totally different franchise to determine these characters fromThe Next Frontier belonged in a world apart from that of Star Trek as their behaviors did not match those of the characters and races created in the Star Trek universe.

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

I’d say that the answer to that would be either songwriting, as I do that, too. Or changing the world for the better. Entertainment just seems the best way to go about doing that.

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

FilmFreeway is a good submission platform. I don’t have any complaints.

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

I entered the festival, because the only reward was the table-read and Starleage – The Intrepid Factor – To Catch a Falling Star is not slated for production for at least a decade, so the pressure to produce this script, which is perhaps one of the strongest having been so thoroughly edited for so many years, while likely to win (which it did) would be just left at a low-key table-read still un-produced, allowing its franchise to grow into the size needed to support The Intrepid Factor as a television series, while giving us the laurels needed to be taken more seriously as writers. My thoughts on the feedback. The first feedback was good. It convinced me to cut ninety percent of the scenes with the Hadolites (pronounced HAH-doe-LIGHTS) as the real two lead characters are Larry J. Trenton and Elbapac Eurt, a point to which that first reader was oblivious. Therefore I understood better having seen that misinterpretation how to rework a screenplay to convey important information while minimizing the roles of supporting characters. So I learned an important lesson from it.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

The starcraft Intrepid sets out, premature to save one star, and begins an isolated journey to unite the galaxy.

 

CAST LIST:

Veltin: Ron Boyd

Kilo: Michael Ruhs

Narration: Shawn Devlin

Bihong: Hannah Ehman

Klevar: Bree Ali

Interview with Screenwriter James Abney (PLAYING WITH CHOPSTICKS)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

James Abney: “Playing with Chopsticks” is a fish out of water story about Jimmy, an average white man, and Jenny, his beautiful Chinese girlfriend, and the cultural differences they experience as they date outside their normal bounds.

Problems arise after the meeting between him and her strict parents goes terribly wrong, forcing him to win back their respect, while trying to defeat her handsome suitor, all during her sister’s traditional Chinese wedding.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Romance, comedy

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

This movie should be made into a movie because it tells the true story of two people who, despite their cultural differences and family’s ethnocentrism, fell in love and nurtured a healthy and supportive relationship. Given the current cultural climate, I think a lot of people will be able to relate to this story.

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

Culture clash.

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

Batman (1989)

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

I’ve been working on this screenplay for about 7 years, starting it the year before I moved to Los Angeles.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written 16 screenplays.

8. What is your favorite song?

B.B.K. by Korn

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

The biggest obstacle I faced when finishing the screenplay was writing the “happy” ending after my real-life relationship, and inspiration for the screenplay, had just ended. Although me and her remain friends, it was difficult writing an ending that I knew was no longer true.

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

Although writing is my biggest passion, a close second is watching and cheering for the Green Bay Packers.

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

FilmFreeway is the only platform I use for festival submissions. I love their user-friendly dashboard and all of the features they offer for free.

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

I entered the festival because I wanted to see how my story would fare against other stories in my given genre. Being a pessimist, I was surprised, yet honored, to learn I had been selected to have a reading of my script. The feedback I received was very helpful and I used many of the notes on my next draft, which I also submitted for feedback.

 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

After the meeting between him and his Chinese girlfriend’s strict parents goes terribly wrong, one average white man is forced to win her parents respect, while trying to defeat her handsome suitor and former flame, all during her sister’s traditional Chinese wedding.

CAST LIST:

NARRATION – DIANA FRANZ
Evy (29) – 7 – SARAH DESOUZA-COELHO
Jimmy (20s) – 10 – THOMAS FOURMIER
Mary – 3 – JULIE C. SHEPPARD