Interview with Screenwriter Kelly Ann Guglietti ( The Orange Chihuahua)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Kelly Ann Guglietti: “The Orange Chihuahua” is about a young chihuahua who learns that the key to knowing his self-worth is to be his true self.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It is an animated family dramedy.

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

This screenplay is written to teach children that there is no need to pretend to be what they perceive as better than what they are and that to know their true value, they must be their true selves.


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

Funny and relatable.

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

As a parent, I must say that I have seen most of Disney’s animated productions between 1992 and 2003 many times over. Currently, my husband and I seem to watch “American Sniper” and “The Help” whenever they come up on TV. We both lean towards biographies, history and historical fiction.

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

It took me about six months to write “The Orange Chihuahua.”

7. How many stories have you written?

I have written the children’s starter 8-pack of crayons worth of stories. Three are published to date: “The Green Tom,” “The Yellow Sea Lioness” and “The Orange Chihuahua.” I wrote screenplays on the latter two and am presently writing my third screenplay on a fourth book to be published sometime within the next year or so.

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

I don’t really have a favorite song. I like music of many genres. I have been a diehard fan of Cher since I was ten years old. I love to dance to the faster music of Elvis Presley, Elton John, The Beatles and Billy Joel. I also like Neil Diamond and Kenny Rogers. I currently exercise to “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, “Sugar” by Maroon 5 and “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake.

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

My only obstacle was time. I had to purposefully find time to hash out scenes out in my head and then type them.

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

My goal is to build esteem and empathy in kids with an aim to end bullying. One of the key elements in the profile of bullies is their lack of self-esteem. I support the mission of the Sandy Hook Promise to “prevent gun violence and other forms of violence and victimization BEFORE they happen by creating a culture of engaged youth and adults committed to identifying, intervening, and getting help for individuals who might be at risk of hurting themselves or others.” I believe they hit empathy right on the nose. I have seen variations of some of their suggestions in play at schools that I teach in. The atmosphere in those schools is definitely more positive and upbeat than in schools that do not exercise any of their suggestions.

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

The FilmFreeway has opened the door to contests I did not know existed. My screenplays have experienced a few honors. “The Yellow Sea Lioness” made first reading in the Southern California Screenplay Competition and placed as a quarter-finalist in the StoryPros Screenplay Contest in 2018. Through my entry at StoryPros, I was exposed to Ink Tip Magazine, so I have been marketing my screenplays through them for a year now. “The Orange Chihuahua” placed as a quarter-finalist in the Scriptapalooza Screenplay Competition in 2018 as well as a Top 10 Log Line for the month of April in storypitches.com and a Best Scene Video through your organization in 2019. These honors boosted my confidence in my work.

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

I was in a slump, wondering where to go next after I had already entered several screenplay contests. I decided to search via genre and audience population and found your Drama and Family Film Festival.

I appreciated my initial feedback. It was suggested that I create a problem for my main character, Amador (AKA Chile), perhaps having Amador getting swept up and taken to a cruise liner. I tried writing to that end, but it seemed to take me further away from my central message. As my script is now, Amador learns not to make false claims by almost getting caught three times in the story. That’s basically the story, so I am at a mental block when it comes to stretching the story further.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

After spending his days beside his owner, a chihuahua named Amador slips on his master’s enchanted slippers and transforms into bright orange Chile by night. The boisterous and outgoing Chile is the life of the party, although some of the other dogs begin to grow tired of his antics and ego. One day, Amador discovers that his master has gotten a new pair of slippers and he is no longer able to transform into Chile. He goes to his friends and tells them the truth about his charade, but they reply that, given the choice, they would prefer to spend time with him rather than Chile. Amador becomes more confident and comfortable as himself.

CAST LIST:

Alvaro: Steven Holmberg
Narrator: Cynthia Crofoot
Chile: William Poulin
Devante: Fabio Abreu

Interview with Screenwriter Danny Gendron (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – “Opening Act”)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Danny Gendron: While on tour with famous singer Shy Baldwin, Midge struggles to handle newfound anxiety that comes with her looming success. Elsewhere, Susie keeps a secret from Midge that could seriously threaten their friendship and working relationship.

2. How does this script fit into the context and themes of the show?

This script zeroes in on the moment when a performer makes a certain jump in career status that means they are no longer a big fish in a small pond. In the context of the show, Midge has been crushing it at clubs, rising to the occasion at dinner theaters, and pulling a miraculous performance out of thin air for an all-or-nothing appearance on a telethon. But what happens when you start to feel like your whole career is all-or-nothing? The weight of the prospect of fame and visibility might make even the most confident performer start to crack a little.

3. Why should this screenplay be the season 3 opener for this show?

It was fortunate that season 2 of Mrs. Maisel ended with the prospect of Midge and Susie going on a six month long international tour. It gave me a lot of freedom to write our main characters in locations that are different from the show’s usual New York setting. What’s even more fortunate is that the show frequently visits various locations. So while I got to break the mold a little, I never felt like I was betraying what made the show special (something I feel a lot of spec scripts can easily end up doing).

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

“Doubt” and “Inevitability”

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

That’s tough. I think it’s a tie between “Back to the Future” and “The Shawshank Redemption.”

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

I conceived, outlined, and wrote this spec script in about two months. I rewatched a lot of season 2 of the show and took notes on every scene to get a feel for how the show is structured and to figure out what hallmarks of the show I wanted to embrace.

7. How many stories have you written?

This year I wrote this spec and an original pilot. With that, I have now written four teleplays and a feature length screenplay. But, in my job as a television writers’ assistant, I am apart of crafting several stories a week along with the writers and showrunners in the room.

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

“The Suburbs” by Arcade Fire jumps to mind but I have a playlist of like 20 songs that I basically listen to over and over again. I also love “Don’t Get Married without Me” by Punch Brothers.

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

This is a story in which Midge is facing a lot of self-doubt. That turned out to be the biggest balancing act in the story because she is typically an incredibly confident character who specializes in getting people to like her. It was a fun challenge (but a challenge nonetheless) to figure out how to have scenes where people DON’T like Midge and where she loses her confidence without feeling like I was being unfaithful to the character. Ultimately, the solution was to just have her talk out how she’s feeling in real time.

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

I love music, food, and alcohol. If this writing thing doesn’t pan out, you’ll be probably find me working at a winery tasting room in Edna, California by day and hosting open mics by night.

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

FilmFreeway is the easiest way to submit your projects to various fests. I’ve also submitted short films through the site and what’s immediately obvious is that the festivals themselves work closely with FF. There’s mutual trust that makes you feel good about sending in your work for evaluation.

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

As this was my first ever spec script, I was really keen to get feedback on it from people who love TV and know the show. The positivity of my feedback was frankly overwhelming and a big confidence booster. I am very fortunate that Television Feedback Fest received my piece so warmly. I would submit again in the future.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

While serving as the opening act for singer Shy Baldwin on his European tour, Midge grapples with the anxiety and fraud complex that comes with her increasing stardom. Meanwhile, Susie wrestles with a secret she should have revealed to Midge a long time ago.

CAST LIST:

Rose: Jordan Boscariol
Joel: Fabio Abreu
Shy: Gabriel Darku
Narration: Sean Ballantyne
Midge: Justine Christensen
Susie: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Moise: William Poulin
Abe: Steven Holmberg

Interview with Screenwriter Carlos Perez (IN HYDING)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Carlos Perez: In Hyding is a unique adaptation of the novella, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Instead of Jekyll turning into an evil monster, he turns into what he feels is his real self, a trans woman. He relives himself as the person he was when he was a young man and had a relationship with one of his close male friends in which he would dress as a woman and they would make love to one another.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama and romance, and to some extent, horror.

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

I feel the aspects of Jekyll’s transformation would be more easily conveyed for the screen because the transformation is completely in Jekyll’s mind, and in the screenplay whenever he looks in the mirror as Ms. Hyde, he sees himself as he was when he was a young man, even though those who are around him see him as his real self in make-up, dressed in a wig, and wearing woman’s attire.

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

Disturbingly Beautiful

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

Storm of the Century because it seems to correctly convey, in a rather horrific way, just how inhumane humanity can be and the dangers of mob mentality.

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

Over two years

7. How many stories have you written?

I have dozens of published short stories and several published stage plays, along with quite a number of produced writer-for-hire screenplays, and two original screenplays that have been produced.

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

Hotel California by The Eagles

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

The subject matter was one which I knew would have a difficult time finding a producer for, and there is an intense scene in which Jekyll’s father tries to cure young Henry of his homosexuality that was also a difficult sell. But the scene isn’t gratuitous and is necessary to help in defining Henry’s mental state.

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

Our Civil Rights. I’m a proud member of the ACLU.

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

Excellent. I like their platform because it’s reliable, helpful, and easy to use.

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

The ideas behind it intrigued me and it seemed very open. The feedback has been quite helpful to me, and I truly enjoyed the reading and found it to be very professional.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Dr. Jekyll has perfected a formula that will allow him to be the person he feels he is inside.

CAST LIST:

NARRATION – DIANA FRANZ
Utterson – 1 – GENE ABELA
Father – 18 – SEAN BALLANTYNE
Henry – 18 – THOMAS FOURMIER

Interview with Screenwriter Arturo Portillo (AMONG US)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Arturo Portillo: My screenplay, AMONG US, is about a group of people who are forced to come together to fight an unspeakable horror that has invaded their small Nebraskan town. A horror that permeates from within human flesh!

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Action, and Creature-Feature sub-genre

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

Because it is a fun ride from beginning to end. The audience will not really have a chance to feel safe. They’re part of the survivors rooting the characters on. If you like the movie’s The Thing, The Blob, Tremors, and Slither, my screenplay AMONG US will surely be right up there with them.

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

Scary fun

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

Pulp Fiction

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

3 years

7. How many stories have you written?

27 stories

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

The song I’ve listened to the most times is FM-84 – Running In The Night (feat. Ollie Wride)

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

Finding the time to sit down and just write.

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

Filmmaking and drawing/painting

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

FilmFreeway is such an easy way to navigate and easy to upload. I’ll keep
using that medium to submit my projects.

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

I wanted to see my writing come to life. To see how others interpret my material.

My initial feeling was being surprised about how the actors interpreted my characters.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

CAST LIST:

Cash: Trevor Howes
Teller: Wilfred Lee
Narrator: Val Cole
Bunny: Mercedez De Castro
Sandy: Veronika Gribanova
Bum: Ted Powers

 

 

Interview with Screenwriter Wanda Wright (SUPREME LEADER)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Wanda Wright: It’s the year 2031 and Teller Lowder is working at becoming Supreme Leader with the help of his good friends and the absurd seems to be working beautifully.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy

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

Supreme Leader is a 1/2 TV Comedy and it should be produced because it’s funny and has endless comedic material that makes us laugh.

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

Wild and Crazy

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

The Wizard of Oz, it had an edge because I first saw it when I was a tiny kid.

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

A few weeks, I have several projects I work on and Supreme Leader is the funnest because I still laugh about it no matter how many times I read it or write on it.

7. How many stories have you written?

At this point, I’ve written 4 novels and two spec scripts Supreme Leader and Shabby, a thriller as well as 36 short stories and am currently writing a science fiction series novel that I will shortly be doing a spec script for as well.

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

I have too many favorites to name just one in music. I am a big fan of just about all of it.

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

None, the material is definitely endless so it’s just about writing more on it and laughing more.

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

Traveling and I’ve done that more than the average bear as well as going to concerts and playing online poker which I am getting better and better at.

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

It was great and seamless.

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

StoryPitches.com I won their monthly log line contest and they encouraged me to submit it and gave me a discount to do it because I won the log line contest.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

CAST LIST:

Cash: Trevor Howes
Teller: Wilfred Lee
Narrator: Val Cole
Bunny: Mercedez De Castro
Sandy: Veronika Gribanova
Bum: Ted Powers

Interview with Screenwriter Tammy Caplan (BLACK-ISH “Keepin’ It Real Estate”)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Tammy Caplan: It’s a 30 minute TV comedy spec of the show Blackish. My episode is called Keepin’ It Real Estate. Dre discovers housing discrimination happening in his own neighborhood of Sherman Oaks and fights to stop it.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Family comedy

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

The Blackish writing staff has touched on the subject of housing discrimination before but there’s so much more to the topic that they could deal with. As I told my in-laws what I was writing about, they came out with their own horror stories of housing discrimination and how these areas of our country that discriminated still lack diversity. That lack of diversity contributes to so many of the social and political issues we grapple with today. Even after the 1968 Fair Housing Act, real estate agents still discriminate but in subtler ways. For example, they’ll use online advertising tools to send their ads to whites only instead of everyone. There were two great movies, BlacKKKlansman and Sorry to Bother You, which dealt with “black voice.” What many don’t realize is that “black voice” and “white voice” is another product of housing discrimination and not having diverse communities in the United States for multiple generations.

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

Social Comedy

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

Probably Star Wars. I’m a nerd who still has her action figures taking up half her desk space.

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

I immersed myself in Blackish by watching every single episode of Blackish, some more than once. That took about a month. I also went to the WGA library (a great resource which anyone in Los Angeles can go to) and studied the Blackish scripts and outlines they have on file. After really studying the structure and absorbing the voices of the characters, I wrote the actual script fairly quickly.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written a comedy pilot called The Last Abortion Clinic in Kansas, which was a finalist in four writing contests including the Austin Film Festival Writing Competition. I’ve also written an anti-bullying comedy screenplay called 8th Grade Sucks, which was a Nicholl Fellowship Quarterfinalist. I love writing comedy that pokes fun at social and political issues.

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

I grew up in a home full of country music and my mom would go through phases where she played the same song over and over. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” Luckily it’s a good song.


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

One challenge for me was squeezing the history of over 100 years of housing discrimination into one scene. I wanted to leave the audience understanding that our history of racial disparities have caused the inequalities in our society that exist today but they can be fixed if we’re willing to take action.

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

I’m also a professional actress. I find it meditative to get under the skin of another character. I’m one of those nutty actors who actually loves auditioning.


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

It was easy and fast.

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

Not a lot of contests exist which accept spec scripts so I was delighted to find a contest that not only takes specs but also gives lengthy feedback.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Original screenplay from the popular ABC Sitcom

CAST LIST:
Narrator: Carina Cojeen
Dre: Kaleb Alexander
Bow: Natalie Morgan
Eustace: Aaron Williams
Janine: Barb Scheffler
Diane: Cassandra Guthrie
Junior: Gabriel Darku
Josh: Andrew Ball

Interview with Screenwriter Nathan Zoebl (HAPPY FUN TIMES)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Nathan Zoebl: A group of disaffected twenty-somethings plot to get rich by suing an amusement park after scheming for one of their crotchety, terminally-ill grandmothers to accidentally die on a dangerous ride. It’s Throw Momma From the Train meets Adventureland, and it’s about a colorful group of bottom-feeding characters on the fringe of life becoming an unexpected team for a very questionable goal. It’s about fun characters behaving badly in a weird place.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s definitely a Dark Comedy first and foremost but we also consider it a buddy film as well as workplace ensemble.

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

I feel deeply in my bones that it would find a rabid audience that would appreciate and celebrate this ridiculous movie. I want this movie to come to life because I want this story to exist regardless of whether my name was on it. I don’t feel like there’s anything else out there quite like Happy Fun Times and I think it has meaty parts that great comedic actors would kill. I also know it can be made for “Hollywood cheap!”

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

“Insanely funny.” How’s that? Do those words count too? Oh no, I’m doing this wrong.

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

I have a healthy love of bad movies, so it’s likely The Room at this point, a film I notice something new every time I watch it.

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

From start to finish, this was one of the fastest scripts we’ve ever written. Within a week of being hired to write this story, we had 9 pages of notes and ideas and jokes. It was an amazingly fruitful process where we made one another laugh to the point of tears. Within three weeks in the fall of 2017, we had gone from initial premise to finished script. It has gone under some revisions and tweaks, as most scripts do, but the core is still the same from draft one. It was one of those rare writing opportunities where things just felt so natural and we were driven by our creative excitement for the project.

7. How many stories have you written?

Personally, I’ve been writing screenplays since I was in high school. My writing partner Ben Bailey and I have been writing steadily together for about seven years and have amassed a dozen scripts/pilots/outlines and even more shorts. We like to stay productive and enjoy working with one another. We even prefer to write with one another physically present in a room, which I’ve discovered is by far the minority work method when it comes to writing pairs.

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

I don’t know if I have a favorite song per se but some bands I’ve been getting into include Mother Mother, Sleeper Agent, Dirt Poor Robbins, and Phantogram.

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

Tone was a major consideration given that we were asking for the audience to go along with characters plotting to profit from murder. How far could we go and still make the characters likeable even if maybe we weren’t fully rooting for them to pull off their big scheme? We had to consistently ask whether we had lost what made us care about the characters at various points and correct missteps so that it didn’t go too far in any wrong directions. There are many ways a dark comedy can go bad, and it can be easy to pander when it comes to Shocking Elements, so we tried to navigate a safe passage that balanced the tone we desired to have fun with the weird and macabre but also maintain a sense of heart on its own terms.

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

I’ve been a film fan ever since I can recall from my first memories. I love movies and experiencing stories and I enjoy writing them, making them, and writing about them.


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

I have nothing but positive experiences about the platform and its ease at connecting artists to festivals and contests.

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

I had heard good feedback from several other screenwriting friends and thought it might be a strong fit. The feedback we received on Happy Fun Times was extremely gratifying and a confirmation that we might have something special here. Hearing from people that they felt this was “one of the best specs out there” makes me hope that others might agree and Happy Fun Times will eventually find the right person who says, “Yes, this! Of course, this!”

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

When a young man learns of a theme park’s policy to give out large cash settlements to guests who lose a family member whilst at the park, he conspires to take his ailing grandmother on one last ride.

CAST LIST:

Kevin: Ted Powers
Narrator: Val Cole
Liv: Veronika Gribanova
Colin: Wilfred Lee