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

 

Advertisements

Interview with Screenwriter Vinny Smith (SQUISH!)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Vinny Smith: It’s about a group of marine biology students who are stalked by a giant jellyfish. It’s basically a monster movie set in the tropics but it’s also about the environment and Big Oil’s involvement in harming it.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

I would call it horror/comedy

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

It’s fun and unique in that I have never seen a movie with a giant jellyfish before much less one where a dwarf and a 400 lb. fat guy are the heroes. It ticks all the standard boxes for blood and gore and sexy people getting killed. Plus it makes an environmental statement.

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

Entertaining, relevant.

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

Office Space

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

It took about a year.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’m just finishing my 9th feature length screenplay and I published a book of 15 short stories.

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

Tie: Hard To Say I’m Sorry by Chicago and Carolina Morning by Mickey and the Motorcars.

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

Writing it in a linear fashion. I had a bunch of scenes that I knew I wanted in it so I had to craft the story around them. I jumped around a lot and wrote it out of order.

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

Real country music and cigars.

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

It was super easy to submit and check the status of all of my entries.

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

I didn’t need much influence. I feel the more you get it out there, the more chance you will have that somebody like it enough to make it. The feedback was about what I expected. You can tell who gets it and who doesn’t. Most of the time the things that are pointed out as negatives are exactly the point I was going for like when they say it’s too formulaic or something. Yes, I’m trying to fit the format.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

 

A scrappy group of marine biology students are stalked by a giant jellyfish in the Bahamas.

CAST LIST:

Bobby: Geoff Mays
Howard: Neil Bennett
April: Elle A
Narrator: Val Cole
Nick: Jarrod Terrill
Michael: Ryan Singh
Sofia: Isabel Kruse
Gina: Bianca Alongi

 

Interview with Screenwriter Eric White (BLIND VAMPIRE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Eric White: The 15-minute Short is about a vampire who was blinded in an ambush. She learns to survive throughout the centuries by using the vision of animals and her ability to compel beings through thought. In the Short we see: (1) Healthy vampire Dreven, (2) Blinded Dreven and (3) Dreven overcoming her disability. It’s heartwarming in a horrible sort of way.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Horror, Action

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

Vampires typically don’t have a disability — they are either very strong and resilient or dead. In this case, the vampire Dreven adapts to her disability in a seemingly “normal” way by using a service dog that she has trained to detect danger, protect her and hunt for blood.

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

Pragmatic adaptation.

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

Fifth Element

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

1 month

7. How many stories have you written?

I have mature scripts for “Blind Vampire” and “Vapor”, a Sci-Fi Steampunk TV Pilot. And nascent scripts/stories for two more Pilots, “Unseen” and “Not So Charming” and one feature, “Dead Princess”.

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

Rolling Stones, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

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

Targeting 15-minutes in length and I struggled with the ending. Some will feel it ends abruptly. I could have explored a relationship with the neighbor, making the script longer, but I preferred bloodlust over just plain lust and kept the script to 15 pp.

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

Beach, beagles, and irreverence.

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

It’s great. I feel like I’m not presenting work through a portal but, rather, sharing my accomplishments with a community.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival?

The festival struck me as welcoming, constructive and interested in my work, not just building a lengthy participant list to legitimize their festival – particularly new ones.

What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

The feedback — in particular the tone, not just the content — was far more helpful and encouraging than most all other reader responses I’ve received.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Centuries after a being ambushed, a blinded vampire survives thanks to her seeing eye dog.

CAST LIST:

Thug Leader: Daniel Jones
Boris: Steve Rizzo
Narrator: Carina Cojeen
Dreven: Caroline Concordia
Melanie: Emily Weir
Celia: Judy Thrush

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

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

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

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

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

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

2. What genre does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy. Satire. Horror.

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

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

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

Very cute.

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

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

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

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

7. How many stories have you written?

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

8. What is your favorite song?

“When I Fall Love”

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

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

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

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

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

11. Experiences with the FilmFreeway site?

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

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

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

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

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

Comedy-Horror

Feature screenplay

CAST LIST:

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

Interview with Screenwriter Josh Brushett (PERSEVERANCE)

PERSEVERANCE was the May 2019 WILDsound Feature Screenplay Winner.

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Josh Brushett: The screenplay is about a young bride to be, in the prime of her life, with everything to live for until her life is unexpectedly cut short. Struggling to deal with the circumstances of her death and the discovery of an afterlife, Sarah Murphy, returned to earth in spirit form embarks upon a supernatural quest for revenge against the man who killed her.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Supernatural drama.

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

Because at the heart of it there’s a story of love and loss, loss of self and love at the same time. And there’s the idea that it could happen to anyone.

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

University project.

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

Probably one of my childhood favourites, either Jumanji or The Parent Trap (remake).

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

I spent almost two years whilst studying Scriptwriting For Film & TV at Bournemouth University on this script and it was my final major project.

7. How many stories have you written?

Not half as many as I’d like yet. Plenty in development. Choosing to focus on the LGBT side of things right now as it’s something personal to me and I always wanted to write a compelling indie rom com.

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

I can never decide my one favourite song because I go through phases where something becomes deeply personal to me. Probably “It Happens” by Busted.

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

Course pressure in my final year of university (nothing compared to the world of work but still), my own anxieties about whether it could possibly be good enough and whether I’d actually done the story justice and ended it at the right place.

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

Reading, watching films and TV box sets. Reading books at home, or listening to audiobooks whilst driving or walking. Basically stories, more than anything I love to be lost in fiction and be immersed in escapism in whatever form. I’m a sucker for a Netflix original series and I think the writers are incredibly talented and am always left wanting more.

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

My feelings were that the script still needs work, I have doubts like any human about my ability. It’s hard not to constantly compare yourself with other writers and it can be very daunting. I took the positives on board and tried to take a step back and look at the negatives and make a plan of how to address them. I entered the festival because I wanted to see if the story was something that would translate on screen and to see if anyone could connect with it.

 

 

 
Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

CAST LIST:

Mother: Sylvie Normandeau
Chris: Brodie Nichols
Narration: Danielle Nicole
Sarah: Tiera Watts
Sylvia: Rebecca Whitby
Robber: David Rowan

****

Interview with Screenwriter Nicole De Sapio (The Magnificent Mid-Century Met)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Nicole De Sapio: The Magnificent Mid-Century Met is about the intersecting, professional and personal lives of six famous singers at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, during the post-WWII period. It is almost as much about the cultural changes of the post-WWII period in America as it is about those singers.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Biopic, musical, and comedy

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

I did some research and was frankly astonished how few movies about opera (as opposed to movies of operas) have ever been made. And, while the real-life stories of the singers in my screenplay are highly humorous and dramatic, they have never yet been the subject of a movie or play. This, in my opinion, is a shame and a serious oversight. I believe my screenplay could really fill a void if produced.

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

Witty, urban

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

Either the original, 1947 version of Miracle on 34th Street or the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol starring Alastair Sim as Scrooge. I’ve seen 12 Angry Men (1957) countless times as well.

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

It was a long and convoluted process, as I had originally intended the screenplay to be a biopic of the Metropolitan Opera baritone Robert Merrill (who is one of six main characters in The Magnificent Mid-Century Met). That version (titled Merrill of the Met) I began on February 9, 2018. I began the current version, The Magnificent Mid-Century Met, on December 29, 2018 and finished the first draft on February 14, 2019. Revisions took two more months; the final draft was finished by mid-April 2019.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’m mainly an essayist, and I didn’t become interested in fiction or in screenwriting until late in 2016. I’ve written some fanfiction short stories and two biopic-type screenplays.

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

That’s really hard…Broadway is my first love, and I’d have to say that my favorite Broadway ballad is “A Quiet Thing” from a little-known, 1965 Kander and Ebb musical called Flora, the Red Menace. Liza Minnelli sang this song originally.

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

Without a doubt the biggest challenge was deciding what story I actually wanted to tell and then finding the right form for that story. The screenplay didn’t really “take off” for me until I realized that it needed to have more than one protagonist and more than one storyline.

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

Opera, musicals, detective stories, and 19th-century English paintings.

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

Film Freeway is so usable and convenient that I couldn’t imagine my screenwriting life without it.

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

My brother, who is also a writer, suggested I enter the festival. Had I not done so, I would still have no idea how to format a screenplay or how to write proper slug-lines. In those two areas (and in others), the reader gave me indispensable advice.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

LOGLINE: Singers at the post-WWII Metropolitan Opera House face artistic and personal challenges amid cultural and social changes.

GENRE: True Story/Biography

CAST LIST:

Lillian (40s + – 8 – Carrie Schiffler
Narration – Barbara Bergeron
Abe (40s +) – David Occhipinti
Merrill (20s) – 10 – Steve Saet

***

Interview with Screenwriters Vicki Cargill, Adam Cargill (STEVE & OLIVIA)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Adam : The story is about what really makes a family. Two long-lost siblings are reunited when they are both at their lowest and find a connection they’ve never experienced before.

Vicki : It’s about finding roots and discovering your own definition of family. It’s about watching two middle-aged people who are already meant to know this, try to discover what family means to them, and how it’s very different from what society expects.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Adam : It’s a comedy with dramatic elements, strictly speaking. Really I think it’s counterprogramming for the MCU!

Vicki : It’s a pretty dark comedy, with a bunch of drama thrown in.

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

Adam : Steve and Olivia is a funny, sad, life-affirming, heartbreaking story. It tells a universal tale of redemption, acceptance and letting go. It’s a story I think people can connect with.

Vicki : It’s a story that has tremendous heart and a fierce humanity, which is something that can lacking in many big-budget action epics. The connections we all have are in our flaws, and these characters have a bunch of them on display. And I just want to see it, to be honest.

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

Adam : Love. Family.

Vicki : Finally written. Still polishing. Award Winning!

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

Adam : The Princess Bride.

Vicki : Withnail and I. Possibly Frozen given that we have young kids.

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

Adam : Since 2017.

Vicki : It was written in 2017, but it came about quickly once we began.

7. How many stories have you written?

Adam : Too many! We’ve completed about 7 feature scripts and our newest is in development with the British Film Institute.

Vicki : I have no idea. Don’t know when it started, or if it will ever end. It’s fun finding out, though.

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

Adam : At the moment, Hallelujah I Love Her So by Ray Charles – it was kind of the spirit of this screenplay.

Vicki : I’ll Be Seeing You, by Sarah Vaughan.

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

Adam : The characters were always there, but finding the spine of the story while allowing them the space to grow was a challenge. We knew the beginning, we knew the end, but as usual with us, Act II was a little trickier. But we got there eventually, I think.

Vicki : We always tend to write with a strong start and a good ending. We tend to have a midpoint lull trying to get them connected, and we lost a lot of sleep figuring it out.

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

Adam : Reading, art, family, food. All the good stuff!

Vicki : Our kids. Art. Music. Creativity. Food. Friends. Being in nature. All the good things in life, the stuff that makes you get up and get out.

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

Adam : It’s been a real boon for us – it’s easy to use, easy to update, and has really helped us increase our visibility and profile.

Vicki : It’s been pretty seamless, really.

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

Adam : We loved the idea of a festival that might actually table read the screenplay – and we were fortunate enough to have it happen! The feedback was very valuable – both with format and structure. Overall, we’ve been blown away by the level of support and promotion we have received.

Vicki : The feedback we received sent us over the moon! It was such a shot of positivity. Thanks!

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

When his grand comeback falls flat, a Broadway legend finds himself out of favour and out of luck. Finding the sister he never knew he had leads him on a journey of separation, hope and redemption that answers the question: what is a family?

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Shawn Devlin
Steve: Colin Sandquist
Jonathan: Neil Bennett

***