Interview with Screenwriter Alex Alvarez (WILL)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Alex Alvarez: It’s about a middle aged gay man struggling to balance his love life with the full time responsibility of being a caregiver.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama.

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

I think WILL poses interesting questions. What led up to this moment? What was Will’s young adulthood like? What happens now? I think there is a movie leading up to the moments we experience in WILL. On the flip side, I think that it can also be a very powerful first act in the story of a man who finds the will to live and love again. It’s a personal story for me. One that I’ve closely observed. I’ve seen the gift of caregiving and the cost of it.

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

Love lost.

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

I don’t know that I know the answer to this question, but I do know that my Junior or Senior year of High School I watched FARGO every single day.

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

This was a labor of love. It poured out of me. But I got very helpful feedback from Pat Rushin (THE ZERO THEOREM) who teaches at University of Central Florida.

7. How many stories have you written?

Many.

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

Favorite song? But I LOVE so many!

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

I struggled with how to end it. I saw examples of men and women who found it challenging to have a romantic relationship while caring for their parent(s). But I was hopeful that there was a way to do it. Still, I wanted to document the truth of what I saw.

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

I’m an actor based in South Florida and a dubbing artist. I can send you my bio if you like. 🙂

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

It’s a quick and easy way to get your work read.

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

I felt like this was a unique protagonist, one that we don’t see frequently represented in LGBTQ+ films. I was excited by the feedback. People want to know more about Will. What are his dreams? What are his demons? What’s keeping him from letting someone like Charles in?

 
Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A middle aged gay man struggles with sex and love while taking care of his elderly mother.

CAST LIST:

Lydia: Avelyn Grey
Narration: Carina Cojeen
Will: Allen Brunet
Charles: Ron Boyd

Submit via FilmFreeway:

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Interview with Screenwriter Paige Brien (Burden of the Blood Moon)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Paige Brien: Burden of the Blood Moon is a contained horror film with a strong female lead and supporting roles. Based in the 70’s with 3-4 locations.

Logline:

Bartender, JOE (30’s), establishes herself in a small town to start a new life in the 1970’s. When MARA (20’s) shows up at Joe’s bar during the blood moon, she brings all the demons from Joe’s past with her.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Thriller/Horror

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

I began outlining this story during the ‘Me Too’ movement and the Kavanaugh trials. Witch hunts have been occurring for hundreds of years and still continue to this very day. This movie should be made as a reminder of how society continues to quiet women and the sacrifices we make to keep our sisterhood safe. This film has a very strong female cast, which is rare and much needed.

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

Poignant & Daring

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

ET

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

1 Year

7. How many stories have you written?

Too many to count, I have been writing all my life.

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

‘Painted Black’ By. The Rolling Stones

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

Describing The Monster in this film was the biggest challenge, I still feel I didn’t do it justice in words. I think when my FX person begins to build it from my imagination, that is when I can find the exact words.

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

Storytelling in all mediums; film making, painting, animation and music videos.

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

Excellent! I prefer them to the previous hub ‘Without a Box’.

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

I have entered before and had a great reading from another film.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

CAST LIST:

Lynn: Carina Cojeen
Max: Amber Copeland
Narration: Shawn Devlin
Joe: Anne McMaster
Mara: Avelyn Grey

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Interview with Screenwriter Thomas Clary (The Switch)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Thomas Clary: Well, the official logline is: “After an unexplained global event, where everyone on Earth has switched bodies, an FBI agent must recapture every serial killer he’s ever put in jail after they’ve “escaped” into other people. They look nothing like they did before; they have different DNA and fingerprints… But one thing hasn’t changed — their desire to kill.”

That’s the story, but at its heart it’s “about” the question of “Who are we really?” You think you know who you are… But are you 100% sure? And, would you stay that way if everything you thought you knew about yourself just “switched” one day? Our hero FBI agent, Cooper Langford, suddenly finds himself in the body of literally the richest man in the world after going to sleep living a life of a miserable failure. When he starts to discover that he could very well be at the center of why the world has been turned upside-down, he must decide whether he’s going to help get to the bottom of it all — or compromise everything he thought he believed in to keep from changing back.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s a Sci-Fi Suspense/Horror series inspired by those suspenseful, cinematic serial killer movies like “Silence Of The Lambs”, “Manhunter”, and “Seven” — and the larger “mythology” science fiction T.V. shows like “The X-Files” and “Westworld”.

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

Well, because I think it’s pretty awesome!!!

Seriously, though… I think there is a real fun and watchable “monster of the week” aspect to it as Cooper and his crew attempt to re-find all of these dangerous serial killers and hunt them down all over again. But on top of that, there is a deeper story about why everyone has suddenly changed bodies — and is there a way that they can ever change back? I think that’s going to be the story that really hooks everyone and keeps them coming back week after week to see what happens.

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

Fun read.

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

I think for everyone my age, our answer is going to be a very boring one. When I was seven years-old, the original Star Wars was my babysitter. My mom used to drop me off at the Sherman Oaks General Cinema (here in the San Fernando Valley) with enough money for a ticket and a couple of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups from the concession stand. While she would run errands in the morning — I would go to Tatooine and the Death Star. It was a different time and it wasn’t an issue for a 7 year old to be alone in a movie theater (hard to believe, I know), so I ended up seeing it about 50-70 times. Little did I realize, it was one of my first masterclasses in filmmaking and is still a deep influence on my storytelling even now, forty years later.

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

I started writing it about seven or eight years ago, got to about page twenty and then put it on the shelf for a while. Then, about a year ago, I decided to blow off the dust and cobwebs from it and had it done in about two months. It all flowed pretty quick at that point.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written quite a few stories. I’ve written about four or five full length screenplays. I wrote a spec script for the “X-Files” as a writing sample. But, nothing has been produced or published.

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

The Power Of The Heart sung by Peter Gabriel. It was originally a Lou Reed song that he wrote to propose to Laurie Anderson. Gabriel’s version of it is achingly gorgeous and just puts me in the mood every time I sit down to write my next full-length screenplay. Someday, my dream is to create something so beautiful.

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

I’m the father of 6 year-old twins with a full-time day job as a Visual Effects Producer for film and TV. Finding the time to write with all the plates I was spinning was quite the adventure. But now I’ve been able to set up more of a routine that makes that less of an issue.

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

I love photography. There is something about telling a story with a single visual image that excites me and (I hope) helps me to be economical and efficient in my writing. I’m also trying to teach myself the guitar — but that’s more of a sadistic passion rather than a “passion” passion.

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

I think it’s a wonderful site. Anything that makes it easier to enter festivals — and toot your own horn, as well — I certainly endorse.

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

I actually owe quite a bit to a colleague at work for urging me to enter, if not specifically this festival, science-fiction based festivals in general. I had mentioned to him that I was doing well in other festivals, but I couldn’t seem to break the top 20 or 10. He suggested that maybe I should enter festivals that were specifically for the genre(s) my screenplay was in. His thinking was that other festivals may be making the mistake of not taking this type off work as seriously as they should — instead rewarding more traditionally “important” pieces. It was excellent advice. And now, here we are!

The feedback was very good and helped me to put the last bit of detail work into the script I needed to really “dot my i’s and cross my t’s.” I was confident in the work prior to getting the notes, but it really helped to hear things that would take it over the top.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

After an unexplained global event, where everyone on Earth has switched bodies, FBI Agent Cooper Langford must recapture every serial killer he’s ever put in jail after they’ve “escaped” into other people. They look nothing like they did before; they have different DNA and fingerprints… But one thing hasn’t changed — their desire to kill.

CAST LIST:
Mille: Regan Brown
Bertie: Peter Nelson
Wentworth: Kevin Gabel
Narration: Laura Kyswaty
Cooper: Kevin Robinson
Waters: Patrice Henry
Trillium: Emily Weir

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Interview with Screenwriter Stan Barton (Moon Over the Hill)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Stan Barton: A hard-edged attorney leaves it all and moves into a secluded adobe in the high desert with an acquaintance, but the house holds a secret that brings trouble knocking at the door.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Thriller, Dramedy

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie

? It is emotional, intriguing, inexpensive and has a positive theme of making amends. It has few speaking parts and 90% of scenes can be filmed on property owned by the writer.

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

simply entertaining

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

SLEEPLESS IN SEATLE

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

6 months

7. How many stories have you written?

six

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

YOU REALLY GOT A HOLD ON ME

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

developing a fairly complex story with few characters and my first effort at the thriller genre – I had to study a lot about what makes a thriller work.

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

Horse racing

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

GOOD


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

I wanted quick feedback on my first draft. Feedback was valid – but maybe the reader wanted a more predictable story

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

When a cutthroat lawyer seeks a new life and redemption in a secluded homestead in the high desert of New Mexico, she discovers the previous owner’s mysterious experiment, which the government is desperate to bury, along with anyone associated with it. She is determined to make the wonder drug available for the public’s good.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Val Cole
Rosie: Michelle Urbano
Black M: Peter-Mark Raphael

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Interview with Screenwriter Giselle DaMier (ASHPODEL)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Giselle DaMier: ASPHODEL explores moral conflict, and the extent to which humans will go to satisfy their theological beliefs. With the classically disarming energy of the Twilight Zone and the theme of two women falling in love, ASPHODEL creates an equally timeless and culturally relevant take on the thriller genre.

Log Line: After stepping off a train into a foggy grassland, Lyla meets a beguiling girl named Marie in an isolated town called Asphodel, where the residents believe they exist in a realm between life and death.

2. -What genres does your screenplay fall under?

ASPHODEL falls under the following genres: Thriller, Romance, LGBT, Mystery, Drama.

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

Although I think the LGBT struggle is a valid theme and something that absolutely needs to be represented in the media, I also think that it is important to tell stories that normalize homosexual romance, where the main characters are comfortable in their sexuality. Firstly, ASPHODEL is a dynamic, ethereal film that will captivate fans of the classic noir genre, and it also happens to star two girls in love.

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

Heaven & Hell.

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

Clue (1985)

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

Two years.

7. -How many stories have you written?

Countless, with about 20 that I actually like.

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

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

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

I was so focused on the relationship between the two leading women, it took time to develop the other characters that populate the town of Asphodel.

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

I am passionate about Greek mythology, French New Wave cinema, and the sea.

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

FilmFreeway has become my favorite submission website because it allows me to add specific details to each project, including a poster, a writer’s statement, and a list of awards.

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

Surprisingly, there aren’t yet many LGBT film festivals, especially for screenwriters. I am grateful that the Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival has provided this platform. I found the feedback to be valuable and applicable.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

After stepping off a train into a foggy grassland, Lyla meets a beguiling girl named Marie in an isolated town called Asphodel, where the residents believe they exist in a realm between life and death.

CAST LIST:

Diane: Regan Brown
Marie: Patrice Henry
Narration: Laura Kyswaty
Lyla: Emily Weir
Engineer: Peter Nelson

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Interview with Screenwriter Paul Weidknecht (Paying the Night Differential)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Paul Weidknecht: The story is about two New York mobsters who have to deal with the ghost of an associate they’ve ‘taken care of’ who keeps showing up for work at a no-show job they created.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

A paranormal, dramedy.

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

Because everyone wants to know how the mob would handle a construction working ghost!

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

Creepily, funny.

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

It’s a toss-up between Braveheart and A Christmas Carol (1951 version with Alastair Sim).

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

The screenplay is based on a flash fiction piece by the same title (currently in the anthology, Untethered: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales of the Paranormal, by the Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC.). From idea to finished product, it probably took me a few hours to write.

7. How many stories have you written?

Dozens and dozens.

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

Photograph by Def Leppard (I’m a product of the ’80s, when the hair was loud and the music was louder).

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

Trying to make the two characters who are similar–as they have comparable backgrounds–not speak identically.

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

Anything to do with the outdoors, especially fly-fishing. Time in the woods, on a stream casting a fly to a trout, is always therapeutic. I also enjoy reaching out and helping people with needs; there is a great satisfaction in seeing people being blessed.

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

It has been very convenient, with everything right in front of you to keep track of projects and submissions. Organizing one’s work for submission is a necessary part of writing, but first and foremost, writers need to write.


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

The Festival’s commitment to short scripts and film was attractive, and at less than five minutes screen time, short scripts actually have a chance at being produced. Paying the Night Differential was one of several short scripts in this time range I had on hand that I thought might fit. The feedback was insightful and motivating.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Two New York gangsters find the no-show job they’ve created gives new meaning to the term ‘ghost worker’,

CAST LIST:

Narration – Danielle Nicole
Pasquale – Ted Power
Johnny – Brogan Caulfield

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Interview with Screenwriter Nehemiah Russell (ODE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Nehemiah Russell: My screenplay involves a small town ambushed by music loving humanoids. A sleepless curious boy named Vite wanders around his home and ends up wandering to the right place at the wrong time.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Horror/Thriller/Drama

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

Moviegoers demand a new kind of horror. Movies like Get Out inspired me to be more adventurous in the way I execute horror, and with all the reboots and live action movies coming out, people want and need new and authentic stories.

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

Silent dread

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

The Lord of the Rings. Easily.

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

1-2 months

7. How many stories have you written?

23 stories

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

After Dark by Asian Kung-Fu Generation

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

There was a lot I wanted to write, but had to narrow down for such short screenplay.

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

Music and Art. I make my own comics and I perform with various orchestras in the area.

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

It’s been great. The site is easy to use and the directions are straightforward.

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

Writing horror stories has always been fun to me. It’s nice to experiment with different concepts and combine them together. This was my first time submitting a horror screenplay, so I will definitely do even better on the second submission.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

They came from the ground, and they stayed for the music.

CAST LIST:

NARRATION – Anne McMaster
Little Girl – 1 – Brittany Clough

A FilmFreeway preferred festival:

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