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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Interview with Screenwriter Federico Vicino (Karl Reagan: The Capitalist-Communist)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Federico Vicino: Karl Reagan: The Capitalist-Communist is about a dark horse candidate running for a seat in Missouri’s House of Representatives. Set on the heels of a near-apocalyptic nuclear winter, his platform is to fuse the best characteristics of capitalism and socialism to help the common person realize the struggling American Dream. His pitch to the electorate is a devotion to standing up to corporate greed.

Karl’s unconventional strategies has led to great notoriety in that area. For instance, he wants to allocate funds towards the essentials; money for food, medicine, a cleaned-up ecosystem…and for everyone to get the latest iPhone. He hosts bottomless brunches at soup kitchens. He composes songs that will be the anthem to his revolution and hopes one day he can sell those songs for big bucks to a car commercial. Karl seems to be his own enigma, but always has the voters’ best interest at heart. His opponent, a politically established contender named Tom Baker, uses conventional and tiresome tactics to label Karl’s candidacy as ludicrous and too idealistic. Their rivalry will come to a head come election day.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Dark Comedy.

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

Political satire has long been ingrained in American pop culture and I feel this screenplay comes at a perfect time given the tumultuous political climate. Even with the current instability, this script can cut across the political aisle and reach a broad audience.

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

Organized Chaos.

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

It is a tie between Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas and Taxi Driver.

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

I came up with the idea for this character a couple of years ago, but I worked on this screenplay for about nine months.


7. How many stories have you written?

I have written five completed screenplays, including this screenplay.

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

If I had to choose, my favorite song is “Rocks Off” by The Rolling Stones. It’s confluence of disorganization and harmony makes it the perfect song to me. It is organized chaos.

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

An Obstacle I faced to finish this screenplay, at first, was writing a feature-length script to this story. I was stumped on how I could make this story more than 80 pages. However, as I kept coming up with more situations and how I envisioned Karl’s journey panning out, I found myself not being able to stop writing. Up to this point, this is the longest screenplay I have written at 116 pages.

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

Apart from writing, my passion is my daytime job, which is being a Licensed Social Worker. I feel that my career is really fulfilling and I have worked with various populations, such as adults, middle schoolers, alcohol/drug users and undocumented immigrants.

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

I LOVE FilmFreeway. It such an accessible platform to get your work out to many different festivals, along with finding festivals that I have never heard of before. I would recommend this site to anyone who wants to promote their screenplay.

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

I was drawn to this festival as I read the information about this festival and the great reviews it got. I was really touched seeing a portion of my table read, as I never had one of my screenplays had a table read before. The feedback was great as it was encouraging, while at the same time gave great pointers as to how to enhance and improve certain areas of the story.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Karl Reagan is an underdog candidate running for a seat in Missouri’s House of Representatives. Set on the heels of a near-apocalyptic nuclear winter, his platform is to fuse the best characteristics of capitalism and socialism to help the common person realize the struggling American Dream. Mr. Reagan’s pitch to the electorate is a devotion to standing up to corporate greed, especially to a company called NuTech who has not fulfilled their promise of cleaning up the environment after the catastrophe. His unorthodox approach to stumping on the trail leaves voters enthused, angered, and baffled. His rival, a politically established contender named Tom Baker, uses conventional and tiresome tactics to label Karl’s candidacy as ludicrous and too idealistic. As his campaign progresses, Karl Reagan gets a slice of American values, fortitude, hardships, and inconsistencies. The electorate get a front row seat of his as well.

CAST LIST:

Eric: Matt Schichter
Karl/Randy: Ted Powers
Narration: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Marcus: Gabriel Darku
Jeff: Sean Ballantyne
Serena: Katelyn Varadi

Interview with Screenwriter Danica Edelbrock (SHADOW DANCE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Danica Edelbrock: Shadow Dance is about a young woman finding her way in a fast city. She slows down to enjoy the subtle beauty of nature around her, transforming her life moving forward.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Shadow Dance is a drama.

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

I believe after college many young adults struggle to find what it is they are truly passionate about, who they are and may lack the confidence to pursue their passion. They find themselves drinking and partying to fill the void until something captivates and inspires them! In this film Jules experiences nature’s beauty while being reminded of the family and friends that love and support her. She doesn’t want to waste anymore of the precious time in her life.

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

Loving oneself.

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

Almost Famous by Cameron Crowe

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

I had the idea for this screenplay a few months ago and began to write it last month.


7. How many stories have you written?

I have worked in healthcare for the last 20 years so this is my first creative writing piece. I am now working on a sitcom and have written 5 episodes so far!

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

Pictures of You by The Cure

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

The biggest obstacle was overcoming my fear of writing. I never thought of myself as writer so actually putting my thoughts down to share with others was very intimidating. I first had my daughter read it and then my husband. He is an incredible writer; my biggest fan and critic. He doesn’t sugar coat anything. So far he likes all my work!

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

I am passionate about my career as an exercise physiologist! I have been blessed to work with incredible people over the years, guiding them toward health and a better quality of life through exercise and yoga.

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

It was very easy to use.

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

I wrote the script and then had no idea what to do so I decided to enter it into some contests and festivals. I choose this festival because I liked the idea of getting feedback. It’s difficult for me to receive feedback but I am getting better at it as I get older, more mature and confident.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A young woman finds herself through the simplistic, natural beauty around her.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf

Interview with Screenwriter Bennett Weinschenk (FOR BLOOD)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Bennett Weinschenk: Well, beside the obvious rescue mission, I’d say the film is about familial love, and learning how to be vulnerable. That it’s okay to show love as a vulnerable thing; it’s not something you need to protect yourself from.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Sci-Fi/Dystopian Action I’d say; Children of Men, Logan-type films.

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

It’s a female-driven action film that actually shows the consequences and carnage of action while avoiding as many story clichés as it can. The real question is why hasn’t this been made yet?

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

Love and Pain

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

Any of the Star Wars films; maybe Casino Royale. Maybe The Dark Knight? I don’t really keep track of these things, I just watch what feels right in the moment. Hopefully some of that tells you something about me.

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

Just over a year.

7. How many stories have you written?

Five. This, another feature, two pilots, and a short film. Plus everything I did at the beginning of college and high school. This is really all I’ve ever done.

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

“Finale” by Max Richter, from Mary, Queen of Scots. Max is a truly gifted composer (probably the most gifted, in my mind). Highly recommend.

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

Jobs, other screenplays I was writing, and generally making sure that I was getting this screenplay right. Developing the world of this film was definitely a major obstacle. I had to get really in depth with it, and not much of it is on the page. But it’s something you have to know as the writer.

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

Politics, unfortunately. I grew up in the DC suburbs so it kinda just seeped in. I’m also a passionate fan of the Boston Red Sox, and baseball in general.

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

They’ve been great. Very supportive. I always look forward to feedback.

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

I really wanted feedback from a different corner of the festival circuit, and I was really touched that your feedback didn’t rip me to shreds. I think you always kind of expect that your feedback is gonna rip you to shreds. But I got lucky.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

After a disease has wiped out millions of us, Universal Blood Donors will be identified and contained by the government. When Morgan Woodard found out his son Sam was O Negative, he took his family and went into hiding. Twelve years later, a man, desperate to survive, kidnaps Sam, and shoots Morgan. The only person left to save anyone is Sam’s older sister, Virginia.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
Sam (M): Bill Poulin
Morgan (M) Scott Beaudin
Virginia (F): Alicia Payne

Interview with Screenwriter KD Farris (LOVE NEVER SLEEPS)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

KD Farris: It’s the story of a woman whose magical view of the Universe as a child, crosses into her present reality. It’s about the way in which our childhood view can be a more accurate portrayal of who we are boundaries in her adulthood, pathing the way for her return to what’s most important in life.

The sanity in believing in oneself beyond what is possible.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Romance
Romantic Fantasy
Magical Realism
Drama

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

Love Never Sleeps is a return to the old style Romantic films. It looks at romantic fulfillment being instigated by personal fulfillment instead of the other way around. Romantic films, so many people’s favorites, are hard to come by these days. Set aside a decade ago.

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

Love Story

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

I have to say, it’s a tie between, The Philadelphia Story, You’ve Got Mail, Same Time, Next Year, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir & Local Hero. There’s an insight into my inner workings!

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

It started as an idea with nothing else Two Years. But I’ve had the idea for as long as I can remember.

7. How many stories have you written?

Four complete (but still polishing, does that ever end?): Sonny & Jake, Threshold, Love Never Sleeps, and What My Grandmother Taught Me About the Universe (as well as the novel I authored from which it’s adapted). One treatment: View Finder and two scripts in process Tin Drum, and Gentleman’s Affair.

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

I have a playlist I’ve been cycling the last ten years. Again, with ties, they are Crazy by and All the Women in the World Goodnight Moon and Thomas Dolby’s version of I Scare Myself which you’ll recognize from the script.

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

The greatest obstacle has been that of skill and experience. I learned to rewrite with this project. How to say NO to some comments and how to ask for help when I realized I didn’t’ have the skills to move forward, especially when I agreed with the feedback I was getting.

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

C.G. Jung, Liminal Space, Huskies, Meditation, and Travel.

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

Besides being easy and straightforward, it introduced me to contests I would have otherwise not known. Like WILDsound

Watch the Screenplay Reading:


Kimberly, still grieving the loss of her parents, has given up on love, but when her childhood hero comes to life in the form of the man of her dreams, she discovers the path to her true self is even more important than the one to true love.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
Candace (F): Mandy May Cheetham
Little Kimberly (F): Cassandra Guthrie
Edward (M): Steve Rizzo
Annabelle: Miriam Capper
Dahvin: Allan Michael Brunet

Interview with Screenwriter John Ravitz (THE WRONG CANDIDATE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

John Ravitz: A Well financed terrorist organization has trained operatives since they were children; when they finally have viable candidate to run for president, the current president sets into motion a plan to put his own successor into the Oval Office.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

The Wrong Candidate is a political thriller/action series.

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

After the 2016 presidential election, most people would agree that political conventional wisdom was thrown out the window, especially in terms of who the nominees were. Watching The Wrong Candidate will make people forget Trump vs Clinton in a heartbeat. The Wrong Candidate will give viewers a front row seat to the most bizarre and deadly presidential election in this country’s history.

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

Fast paced.

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

Rocky

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

Two years.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have been writing screenplays for the last four years.

8. What is your favorite song?

New York State of Mind.

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

A full-time job, four kids and other responsibilities.

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

Family, sports, music and reading.

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

No problems at all. I appreciated the updates that you sent.

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

All good!.

 
Watch the Screenplay Reading:

When a well financed domestic terrorist organization which has breed sleeper agents since they were children, finally have a viable candidate to run for president, the current president sets into motion a plan to put his own successor in the Oval Office.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
Dorothy (F): Hannah Ehman
Paul (M): Steve Rizzo
Lanky Boy/Man (M): Geoff Mays
Mr. Smith/Voice Over PA (M): Allan Michael Brunet

Interview with Screenwriter Andrew Moodie (TORONTO THE GOOD)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Andrew Moodie: An African-Canadian defense attorney has to defend a white female officer for killing a black youth.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Legal drama.

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

This will be the first Canadian film that deals with racial injustice in Canada.

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

Tight. Honest.

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

It’s a Wonderful Life

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

10 years.

7. How many stories have you written?

Lost count.

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

Muzzle – Smashing Pumkins


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

What I’d like to do is get some actors together and go through each of the moments, one by one, so that we really explore each of the character’s motivations.

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

Acting

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

Awesome! I highly recommend

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

At some point you really need to hand your script over to someone who doesn’t know you. They’re not your friend (or enemy), someone who works in the industry and can give you feedback. Whether you use it or not, it’s important to hear critique and listen and consider it fully and ask yourself the hard questions so you can find the hard answers.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

An African-Canadian Crown attorney has to defend a white police officer who has killed a black youth.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
Elsie (F): Kyana Teresa
Thomas (M): Scott Beaudin