Interview with Screenwriter Paul Nurkowski (CETACEANS)

https://www.facebook.com/Cetaceans2016/

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Paul Nurkowski: In a near-futuristic world, Dr. Amanda Kozky, a bio.robotics scientist and doctor, has developed new technologies that enable her and her team of human scientists to work with bottle nosed dolphins, CETACEANS, who use robotic arms and voice conversion modules to communicate with the human scientists. When it’s revealed that dolphins are descended from a race of aliens, and smarter than people, a powerful army of men deem to destroy her research and pirate the dolphins’ ancient alien technologies to rule the world.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

CETACEANS is a high concept, sci-fi, action film wild with imagination and full of surprises.

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

CETACEANS is a totally original script that probes deep philosophical themes, is beautifully cinematic and provides a passionate, dramatic spin on the popular world of “dolphin movies”. The audience will love CETACEANS, become immersed in it’s intensely convincing futuristic world inhabited by both human and non-human players, who they’ll love, hate, laugh with and cry for.

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

Entertaining, Educational

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

I’ve been around for quite a while, many favorites come to mind (i.e., Terminator(1984), The Fifth Element(1997), The 13 th Warrior(1999), Edge of Tomorrow(2014)), but it seems that the title that keeps popping up on my TV for a watch is definitely, “Galaxy Quest(1999)”.

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

I started scripting CETACEANS in November, 2015. As my writing progressed, I also began creating both 2D and 3D concept art for my story. After copywriting my first draft (150 pages) in 2016, and working with a consultant, who told me that my story had potential but actually began on page 115, I began referencing the first 114 pages as backstory, reduced my page count to 95, and over the next two and a half years, and countless drafts later, now consider CETACEANS, at 99 pages, to be 99.999 percent completed, so approximately four years.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve always been a storyteller, expressed myself through a variety of visual media, including designing video games. CETACEANS is my first attempt at writing a feature screenplay.

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

I listen to all genres of music depending on my mood, but love the classics, a thumbs up for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, 3rd movement.

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

I‘d rather call them challenges. When an artist paints a picture, countless, individual brush strokes are intuitively placed on the canvas, eventually merge to create a singular manifestation of the artist’s inner vision. For me, scripting CETACEANS was like painting my story with words. I’d edit each scene, line of descriptive text and dialogue, until I had a clear vision of what was happening, could hear what each voice was saying. I found that process very time consuming, at times neverending, definitely the most challenging project I’ve ever undertaken.

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

I’m a retired fine arts and technology teacher, have taught a variety of creative and constructive disciplines. For years, that was my passion. Now, with my screenplay completed, I’m planning to pool my 2D, 3D, and creative writing skills, begin working on a CETACEANS graphic novel. That’ll be my passion for quite a while.

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

GREAT! If your screenplay is ready to go, go FilmFreeway! I found that their submission platform offered an ongoing slate of easily accessible festivals, a valuable tool, and they maintain an updateable listing of every writer’s submitted screenplays, along with a record of their festival activity, a great asset.

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

I was notified about your festival through a sci-fi competition that I entered last year. The feedback I received enabled me to tweak my script a little bit more. That’s why I always consider my script to be 99.999 percent completed, leave a little room for minor changes.

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Interview with Screenwriter Julia Sauder (DR. NEVES)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Julia Sauder: It’s about what can happen when you mess with Mother Nature and try to play God. How it can devastate lives and leave a path of destruction in its wake.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

I imagined it as a horror, but there is a lot of science fiction.

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

It would be a fun ride. I want to write movies that make people happy, so they can have a good time.

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

Monkey business.

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

Aliens. I know it backwards and forwards. It taught me some valuable lessons about storytelling like timing and plot points. It’s just a great, entertaining movie, and I love to watch it.

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

I wrote the step outline in the fall of 2006 in Lake Como, Italy. The rough draft took me 11 days. After that, I worked on it off and on for 13 years.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have no idea. I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I think it would be cool to know an actual number, though.

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

“Freedom ’95” by George Michael. It’s my anthem, and I totally rock out to it. It really gets me going and gets me excited.

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

Making the reanimation believable. I wanted the power source to be realistic. It had to be strong enough to wake the dead. There’s a fine line between cheesy and clever.

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

Traveling. I love going to new places and absorbing cultures, seeing new things. Just put me on a plane and tell me where to later. Time stops as you connect to the world.

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

It’s a very simple process. It’s very easy to apply to contests, to get information about festivals. I like how the dashboard where you can see where you’ve applied and what your status it.

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

Definitely the free feedback was a large draw. I was very happy with the feedback. It was encouraging and constructive. Well done and professional. And I especially liked the grammar notes.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

After practicing first on a manufactured ape, an ambitious doctor creates life while losing control of his own.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Shawn Devlin
Neves: Colin Sandquist
Woman: Melie B Rondeau

Interview Screenwriter George M. Johnson (THE WONDER)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

George M. Johnson: In The Wonder, an ambitious Edwardian journalist saves an uncannily precocious child from drowning in a pond. The boy, Victor, reads through the library of the local aristocrat and rejects the accumulated knowledge of mankind before trying to communicate his own theory of life. This theory threatens authorities, particularly the local Rector, but also drives the journalist to the brink of insanity. In the end he discovers the boy dead in the same pond and is distraught, but manages to restore his sanity by writing the child’s story so that others may share the wonder.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

I have adapted The Wonder from the early “scientific romance,” as speculative, science fiction stories were called, of the prolific writer J.D. Beresford’s 1911 novel The Hampdenshire Wonder. It has the caché of being the first “superman” story in English literature and probably the first story featuring what we now recognize as an autistic child. The Hampdenshire Wonder was praised by the likes of H.G. Wells, Graham Greene, and Alistair Cooke, among others.

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

We are fascinated by exceptional people who don’t fit in, who are compelled to convey a message more advanced than our capacities can handle – just think about the popularity of films about exceptional children, as in The Room, Gifted, and A Brilliant Young Mind, and stories about genius, such as The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game.

The Wonder taps into our collective anxiety about the unknown, what it means to be human, and the possibility that we do not have all the answers about how the world works, despite our scientific advances and our obsession with information. For these reasons it is a compelling story for our time.

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

Threatening genius.

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

Every so often I return to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a brilliant send-up of a legendary quest.

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

I’ve been at it on and off for several years.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve drawn on my expertise in early twentieth-century literature to write several award-winning period dramas, but I also love writing contemporary satirical pieces, such as Mockus, a play about a clown who provokes a desperate Mayor into trying playful approaches to his city’s social and environmental ills, including replacing corrupt traffic cops with mimes.
Some of my other work can be viewed on my website: georgemjohnson.com.

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

Probably John Lennon’s Imagine because I believe in the transformative power of the imagination.

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

Beresford’s original novel, though a compelling read, is rather philosophical and is populated almost exclusively by male characters, so I had to imagine concrete scenes or set-pieces displaying Victor’s uncanny ability to predict seemingly random events as well as to develop a backstory for the unnamed narrator. I decided to weave in details from Beresford’s own life, such as his romance and marriage to his first wife Linda, an actress, in order to make the story more human and compelling.

I had written a biography of J.D. Beresford (Simon and Schuster, 1998) so knew Beresford’s descendants and they were happy to give me permission to pursue this project.

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

I am passionate about peace, social justice, and environmental issues and recently was awarded the Peace Medal from the Y.M.C.A. for my writing and activism on these issues for over 25 years.

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

This platform is seamless. I like the fact that I can keep track of my submissions in one place.

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

I received very discriminating and supportive feedback on my script Peace Pledge, which won a full Wildsound Table Read and so decided to submit The Wonder. The feedback was really helpful, and encouraged me to make revisions.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A journalist finds himself fighting to protect a boy whose deformity might actually be a link to discovering the origin and true meaning of life.

CAST LIST:

Victor: Shawn Devlin
J.D.: Colin Sandquist
Narrator: Norma Dawn Dunphy
Ellen Mary: Melie B Rondeau
Man: : Neil Bennett

Interview with Screenwriter Montgomery Burt (THE GIRL ON THE SKYTRAIN)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Montgomery Burt: During an early morning trip on the commuter train, a good samaritan tries to help a naive young woman seemingly headed for trouble but she doesn’t want his help.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama.

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

The interaction between the two main characters reflects what’s going on in life—young people not questioning what may be an “opportunity” they found on the internet.

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

Two perspectives.

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

North by Northwest.

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

A few months. About five drafts.

7. How many stories have you written?

Many. I’ve been writing since I was fourteen.


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

I have hundreds of CDs with thousands of songs but my favorite is Los Super Seven’s debut album.

https://www.allmusic.com/album/los-super-seven-mw0000040720

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

Having it workshopped at my screenwriters group, Upwords. It’s a true story so I tried to work within the confines of what actually happened and still make it dramatic and interesting. Three of my colleagues, when they were younger, got into creepy situations with photographers and they explained why they overlooked any danger for the prospect of fame.

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

Music, movies, travel, volunteering at our local animal shelter. I team up with directors to make shorts. Here is our most recent, a short comedy directed by Tabatha Golat called “The United Guys Network.”

https://www.storyhive.com/project/show/id/783?fbt=share

This is the proposal for our next project:

http://www.thefilmcollaborative.org/fiscalsponsorship/projects/dougiedog

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

Excellent. It’s easy use and quite dependable with notifications. Service is good, too. When I informed them of a possible scam festival, for example, they looked into the matter right away.

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

I wanted the challenge of writing a short script with few characters and limited locations.

The written feedback I received was excellent.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

During an early morning trip on the commuter train, a good samaritan tries to help a naive young woman seemingly headed for trouble but she doesn’t want his help.

CAST LIST:
Automated voice – 2 – OLIVIA BARRETT
NARRATION – JUSTIN DESOUZA
Sean – 24 – DANIEL JONES
Carly – 21 – CASSANDRA GUTHRIE

Interview with Screenwriter Andrew Fisk (GEEKS: A LOVE STORY)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Andrew Fisk: “Geeks” is a David versus Goliath story that takes place in the Silicon Valley. When a corporate buyout takes place, the employees of the company that was taken over are all laid off and their products are stolen.

A group of five laid-off employees band together to start their own company and create a fantastic virtual reality chamber. The president of the mega-corporation that nearly ruined their lives sees them as a threat and results to a number of underhanded, humiliating and illegal tactics to stop them.

Their ability to fight back and triumph over the larger corporation is the core of this story. The title is “Geeks: A Love Story” because the conflict brings people together to form relationships who might not have met without it. They succeed by teamwork, friendship and sacrifice.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy, romantic comedy and even science fiction. The final battle between the five entrepreneurs and the mega-corporation takes place in a virtual reality environment similar to the battles in “The Matrix.” I see this story as a metaphor for corporate warfare and the survival of the individual.

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

The characters are interesting and varied. The original five rebels against the mega-corporation include Shannon Blake, a punk rocker/programmer, and India Moonpeace, a counterculture/new age personality in her seventies. Todd Bergstrom, the inventor of the virtual reality chamber, is forced to come out of his emotional bubble and become a leader.

The CEO of the mega-corporation, Geoffrey Sterling, is a composite of the stereotypical narcissistic, scheming Silicon Valley executives.
The special effects possibilities for this movie are huge. The virtual reality chamber can create entire 3D worlds that people can journey into. Do you want to explore the Amazon jungle? No problem. Go surfing on hundred foot waves? Got you covered.

I think this movie offers a realistic view of corporate life as well. Despite the glossy overhyped picture that some large companies like to present, a lot of them really are horrible places to work. The five rebels are told again and again by their CEOs that everything about their company is wonderful. They walk in the next morning and find out they do not have jobs and the company is closing down. This has happened to me and I want to portray this experience on the big screen.

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

Wild fun.

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

Probably Blade Runner (the original). Followed by Forrest Gump, Dr. Strangelove, Aliens and To Live and Die in L.A.

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

It only seems like forever. I wrote the first draft a few years ago. The version that exists today is very different from the original. The characters are the same but the way the story is presented has changed.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have written five feature length screenplays, a thirteen-episode science fiction limited series and nine short scripts ranging from five minutes to thirty minutes.

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

“Rainy Night in Georgia” sung by Brook Benton, written by Tony Joe White.

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

Mainly, it was my fear of rewriting and rewriting until the story was just the way it should be. Someone said that art is never really finished…at some point it is abandoned. Even after a number of rewrites it just didn’t have the right vibe. I worried that it never would and at some point I would have to abandon it. But now I am completely happy with the latest version.

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

Being outdoors. Hiking, ocean kayaking, exploring new territory and college football.

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

I find that Film Freeway is complicated and exasperating to work with. Several times I have decided not to enter a screenplay contest because I know I will have to go through the Film Freeway maze again.

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

WILDsound did a reading of another feature length screenplay of mine, as well as some other creative works. So this was certainly an incentive. The feedback I received for “Geeks” was incredibly helpful. It let me see the screenplay in a way I had not seen before and got my brain moving in a new direction. I got rid of all the scenes that were slowing the story down and streamlined it. This screenplay is so much better now than it was a few months ago.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

CAST LIST:

SHANNON – 3 – ETHEL ABRAY
NARRATION – TED POWERS
TODD – 11 – DANIEL JONES
CD NARRATOR – 8 – OLIVIA BARRETT

Interview with Screenwriter Michael D’Ambrosio (Princess Pain)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Michael D’Ambrosio: Princess Pain is about a black market courier who renegs on a special delivery, drawing the ire of the black market entities, law enforcement and mercenaries who want the package at any cost. When her real identity is discovered, the stakes are raised as some want her dead; others want her alive.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

(Futuristic) action, sci-fi

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

I believe Marina is a character that viewers would want to see. Her story is a scarred one beginning with her hatred toward her missing parents believing that they abandoned her at an early age. She lives for pain as a means of dealing with her loneliness, possibly wanting to die as well, based on her extreme actions. The action scenes are dramatic and in the final showdown between her and the man who hunts her, she learns that it was he who murdered her parents, driving her to exact her revenge and accept that her whole life was a lie.

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

Intense and Angry

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

5th Element with Bruce Willis. A little sci-fi, fantasy, humor and lots of action

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

2 years

7. How many stories have you written?

11 novels and 7 screenplays. Always close with the screenplays but no cigar.

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

Bloody Reunion – Molly Hatchet

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

How to find the best resolution to the story. There was a lot going on and I wanted to capture all of it.

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

Anything exciting or futuristic. I love technology especially in regards to space.

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

It’s well-organized and easy to use.

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

  Originally I wasn’t a fan of contests as winning doesn’t guarantee a movie deal. I have realized, however, that by winning or placing in a contest, buyers can see that the script is quality.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Marina is a cold-hearted courier of contraband who likes to play rough. Her life as a loner is just fine until the delivery of a flash drive with stolen weapons technology ends her alias and makes her the target of a power-hungry militia leader who wants her alive, and his sultry assassin lover who wants her dead. The action-filled chase across the sector with two unlikely allies melts the ice off her heart and leads her to a secret that changes everything she ever stood for. Nothing is easy with Marina as she drives everyone crazy with her anger-driven arrogance and stubbornness, including Britt, the militia captain, who falls in love with her.

CAST LIST:

Balthus – 3 – TED POWERS
Sonia – 2 – ETHEL ABRAY
NARRATION – OLIVIA BARRETT
Jerrold – 2 – DANIEL JONES
Marina – 7 – CASSANDRA GUTHRIE

Interview with Screenwriter Sean Sullivan (THE UPSIDE DOWNINGS)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Sean Sullivan: The Upside Downings are about the ups and downs of family parenting. In this show the family is flopped so the kids are the adults and the parents are the kids. Nobody realizes the difference.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Sitcom.

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

I’ve written many screenplays for a solid 5 years now. I have landed on a solid concept and feel this format is incredibly funny. Someone described it a lightning bolt of creativity.

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

Family Flipped

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

I’ve seenThe Godfather probably the most in my life. It’s usually on in the spring around wedding season. I actually bought the DVD on my wedding day in 2002. I got a divorce 4 years later. Little did I know.

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

I’ve been working on this screenplay for about a year.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written about seven screenplays.

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

I’ve listened to the song Hotel California the most in my life.

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

This script didn’t have many obstacles. I think the conceptual part was the biggest maybe because at first I just wanted adults as kids but the parents to still be adults. Then when I made the parents kids it really came to life.

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

I am passionate about art and design. I love a great piece of art.

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

Film Freeway has been great to get quick submissions and exposure.

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

I liked the festival name and the easy online form for sitcoms. I did like the readings too and the price was manageable. The feedback was on point.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

An untraditional family where the kids are adults and the parents are kids navigate through their work, school and home lives while never losing their sense of humor.

CAST LIST:

Kate: Victoria Murdoch
Narration: Carina Cojeen
Howard: Ross Cummings
Carol: Leanne Hoffman
Billy: Sean Ballantyne