Interview with Winning Screenwriter Joel Stern (WORD GAMES)

WORD GAMES is the September 2017 Winning Feature Screenplay.

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

“Word Games” is about two strangers in a nursing home who are isolated because of the “Blizzard of the Millennium” . One man – Sal Genesinni – is the janitor. The other is Dave Phillips, an old man, wheelchair bound, who was found abandoned in the storm. While Phillips’ true identity remains a mystery, he and Genesinni play “Scrabble” to kill time. As they spell certain words it takes us back in time to real life events. As they recall these events they actually change what happened. This affects the destiny of the promising young people they speak of. As the story unfolds, we realize their “game” is a battle of wits between good and evil – one they engage in as different people throughout time.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Suspense/Horror

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

“Word Games” would provide moviegoers with a suspenseful, alternative view of destiny and attempt to explain why bad things happen to good people.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Story in two words: Inescapable destiny.

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

The movie I’ve seen the most: “Pineapple Express”

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I wrote the short story two years ago (now on Amazon). I began writing the screenplay in January, 2016.

How many stories have you written?

I’m currently writing my third screenplay. I began my first, “Trickle Down”, a dramatic comedy based on the 2007 mortgage meltdown, in 2012.

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

Favorite song – Rod Stewart’s “Have I Told You Lately…”

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Obstacles to writing screenplay: Trying to think as God

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Other passions: Sports, politics, travel, history

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

Film Freeway: Easy to work with

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

I entered the festival to gage interest in my work and to get it produced. “Word Games” also won a Finalist Award at the Cannes Film Festival Screenwriting contest in April of this year.

I was thrilled with the feedback I received. I made a few clarifications when asked to.

Genre: Thriller, Horror, Drama

A commercial airliner flying to Paris explodes off the U.S. East Coast killing sixteen members of a high school French Club and a young pianist destined for greatness; a pair of deranged teens go on a terrifying high school shooting spree ending the life of a young girl devoted to serving God and mankind. If there is a master plan, how could these horrific events be allowed to happen?

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Val Cole
Sal: Kris Hagen
Dave: Peter Nelson
Monica: Shania Belton
Julie: Katelyn Varadi
Tanya/Shannon: Carina Cojeen
Lassen: Mike Ruderman
Bill: Nick Wicht

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Interview with Winning Screenwriter Holt Boggs (BROTHERS MCSHANE)

BROTHERS MCSHANE was the September 2017 Winning 1st Scene Screenplay.

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

Donny and Dickey McShane are two dumber-than-dirt lawmen who find out that their long lost twin brothers are actually the notorious Shifty Silver City Gang. They enlist the help of a “weird Indian fells” as they embark on a journey to find their siblings and save them from the hands of the deadly Molcajete Brothers before it’s too late.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy/ Western

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

Brothers McShane is a hybrid throw back to many of the great physical comedies (comedians) like, Blazing Saddles, Don Knotts, Buster Keaton and the like, not seen in modern cinema. Those elements mixed with a more modern action-packed feel, use of meta humor and modern references, while narrowly bordering a family friendly tone, I feel offers an interesting, heart-felt story to a much wider audience than your typical action/comedy. Basically, it’s an action-packed comedy that adults will want to see, but with enough potty humor and content safe enough to take their kids to. You can’t lose with fart jokes.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Fu**ing hilarious.

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

The Big Lebowski

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Two years.

How many stories have you written?

Eight

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

Probably the score to Leon – The Professional or anything from Eminem.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Really, it was finding the tone I wanted. Originally, I was dealing with a production company that was pressuring me to write a family film. Hungry to get a film made, I caved and it had a totally different feel. Paco was originally a twelve year-old boy with a dog and much of the humor was dumbed down, but I just didn’t feel it, so I went back and wrote the film I wanted to see. No dog and now Paco is a little person with an attitude.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I’m an actor by trade, but I love motorcycles and my kids. Not in that order necessarily, but it depends on the day.

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

Great and it’s super easy.

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

I had heard a lot of great things about the fest from other writers, and while I didn’t agree with all of the feedback, I felt that most of it was spot on. I could tell that time was taken by the reader and not just submission money. That equates to money well spent.

Two dumber-than-dirt lawmen enlist the help of a ‘weird Indian fella’, to help them track down their outlaw twin brothers and save them from hands of the deadly Molcajete Brothers.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Adventure

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Laura Kyswaty
Sam Elliot: Brandon Knox
Ma: Julie McCarthy

Interview with Winning Screenwriter J. Logan Alexander (BREAKDOWN)

BREAKDOWN was the September 2017 winning short screenplay.

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

Liz and Alec are en route to a wedding for Alec’s boss and arguing about their own relationship woes when they collide with the runaway Bride. Battle lines are drawn when Liz and Alec oppose each other about what to do: Liz is determined to help her, but Alec insists on leaving immediately for fear of losing his job. Things get complicated after the Bride disappears into the woods and an inquisitive Cop arrives on the scene—further dividing Liz and Alec—and forcing them in a predicament: tell the truth and face the consequences, or lie to escape scot-free.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Dark Comedy

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

Well, it is a movie now. Breakdown is my MFA thesis film. We are currently in post-production.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Anti-romantic Comedy.

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

Boogie Nights or Fight Club.

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Roughly 10 months.

How many stories have you written?

Too many to count. My previous film, Wrung, follows a bull-rider and his dead beat dad. It’s available on my website, http://www.jloganalexander.com.

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

This Must Be The Place by Talking Heads.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Film school bureaucracy, minimal budget, record breaking low temperatures in Massachusetts (48 degrees in June), gale force winds, and a steady three days of rain.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Directing. There is nothing I love more than seeing a crew of artists working together to achieve something. I love working with actors. My job is to just get actors in front of a camera.

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

The platform is fantastic. Very intuitive.

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

I like to get unbiased feedback from festivals after I write a few drafts of whatever I’m working on. Getting rejections from other film fests galvanizes you–makes you want to try harder, be better.

Liz and Alec are en route to a wedding when they turn the corner and hit the runaway bride with their car.

Genre: Comedy, Romance

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Laura Kyswaty
Liz: Lindsay Rolland Mills
Alec: Brandon Knox
Cop: Luke Robinson
Bride: Premika Leo

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Gunel Asgarova (THE FLUTE OF PEACE)

THE FLUTE OF PEACE was the September 2017 winning Sci-Fi screenplay.

Get to know the winning writer:

What is your screenplay about?

My screenplay is about a bullied village girl with the supernatural power, Lanaia, who accepts her destiny of the World Savior.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Fantasy

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

Because this original screenplay has the most important ingredients of the successful fantasy movie: universal issues, good vs. evil, mythology, human psychology which are fully presented through the breathtaking adventures, unexpected twists and catchy characters. Likewise, the significant reason of its competitiveness is a key hero, a young woman, tender, yet strong enough to take the lead in life-changing events winning the battle in the end. This movie will be an inspiration for millions of girls and women all over the world.

How would you describe this script in two words?

The future blockbuster, which will hold its brand for the next five to ten years.

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

I like to watch fantasy/adventure genre movies, but according to calculation, the movie that I’ve seen the most times in my life is Harry Potter film series (first watched as a teenager, then together with my kids).

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

11 months

How many stories have you written?

I have written 6 stories (epic-fantasy, animation, fairy tale and short screenplays) and constantly working on new projects.

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

“Canto della Terra” by Andrea Bocelli

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

The most obstacles were connected to the proper formatting issues.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I am also passionate about storytelling, psychology, mythology, and anthropology. Thus, besides of my own imagination, this story is also based on the years’ long research analysis of world mythology and anthropology (including the Paracelsian concept of four elements of nature).

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

Despite the positive feedback from more than four hundred potential viewers, I was eager to get the professional opinion.

I am very grateful for the detailed and sincere feedback, which helped me to properly polish my script. I am very satisfied with the feedback, special THANKS to my reader!

Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure

After the break of the balance between the Light and Dark Powers, enforced by Dark Lord Erk, Mother Universe sends a child of Light – Lanaia to embark on a dangerous journey chasing the magic flute, as only its melody could save the world from disaster.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Sean Ballantyne
Nabi: Rais Moui
Teli: Connie Wang
Guli: Daniella Zappala

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Alison McGrath (TWITS)

TWITS is the September 2017 Winning COMEDY Screenplay.

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

TWITS is a satirical look at humanity’s addiction to technology, and what happens to people when their (de)vices are taken away from them.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy, Satire

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

I think in this “game of life” we need to laugh at ourselves a little bit, and take a look in the mirror to see the real person–the one without the snapchat or iPhone filter–staring back at us. Films help us do this. TWITS in particular sheds light on our addiction to technology and how it’s shaping everything from our sex lives and our relationships with our kids, to how we navigate–literally–through life. To me, TWITS lends itself to some personal exploration: Do I see a little bit of myself in these characters? How do I feel about that? Am I OK with the real-life role I’m playing and where we’re headed as a society? There is no wrong answer, as long as you think about it and be honest with yourself. That’s what’s so magical about film, and comedy in particular. There is no pressure, and you’re supposed to laugh. Humor is a great way to half-ass explore your emotions without feeling too much! I think many people will be able to identify with TWITS and I really hope it gets made into a movie.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Scary. Outrageous.

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

Bridesmaids

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

A few months

How many stories have you written?

Ten. Eleven if you count the one I wrote when I was 9 years old about a rotten banana named Eachanonie who was finally happy once he was made into banana bread. Even bruised bananas can find their place in this world.

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

Jump in the Line, Harry Belafonte. Every time hear it, I become Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

I didn’t face obstacles with this one, which is a crazy thing for me to say. I’m usually stumbling, breathless, army crawling to the finish line. TWITS had been swirling in my head for quite some time. I’d been taking notes for a couple months and then when I sat down, it just flowed. It was really fun to write.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I love being a mom. I love to boogie board, ski, and travel. I am especially passionate about jalapeño margaritas. No salt. I feel like this should be on Tinder. Please swipe right.

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

It’s been amazing. I love how organized and easy it is.

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

I feel so passionate about TWITS coming to life on screen, and the thought of having it read at your festival seemed like an awesome next step. I can’t wait to hear it!

The feedback I received was encouraging, very helpful and respectful. Being kind goes a long way, and I thank you so much for that!

Genre: Comedy

How one community deals with life when technology goes dark for a brief moment in time.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Val Cole
Paul: Nick Wicht
Demi: Carina Cojeen
Emergency Alert: Peter Nelson
Barista: Shania Belton
Cheryl: Katelyn Varadi

Interview with Winning Screenwriters Janine Cobain & Gary McElkerney (VOLUNTEER)

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

Volunteer is based on the novel of the same name written by me (Gary McElkerney).

What starts as a humanitarian mission, for a university student from Belfast, descends into a fight for survival after his search for adventure takes him off the beaten track to the frontline of the Ethiopian conflict. Chris Johnston faces his fears, and battles with his own darkness, on this emotive journey, which will leave you with a question; if faced with such horrors, what are you capable of doing in order to survive?

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It falls into Action/Adventure most comfortably, but also has elements of drama, and even thriller.

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

There has never been a film about humanitarians in conflict zones: we have the soldiers’ stories, and the victims’ stories, but never the volunteers. In times of war and tragedy, I always say to people ‘look out for the helpers’; the people lifting others to safety, and giving hope that people care. It is an insight into a closed community – we don’t often talk about it and in turn are left to deal with our own emotional trauma – but what are the humanitarian’s stories, their backgrounds, in a time when the world seems to be falling apart, who are the people holding it together?

I hope Volunteer show even in the worst times there is always a hand to pick you up, and people who risk their lives – and often lose them – to save others.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Beautifully horrifying

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

For me it’s Forrest Gump, for Janine it’s a tough call between The Holiday and Cocktail.

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

2 years to complete the novel and further 2 on the script, so far.

How many stories have you written?

For me it’s a novel, a couple of short stories, this feature script and around 5 short films, for Janine also a novel (How Will You Remember Me?) and the screenplay adaptation of it, Volunteer’s script, and numerous scripts for short films, TV drama, and comedy; she won the Northern Ireland Comedy Writers programme last year.

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

For me, Foo Fighters – Best of You (U2 – With or Without You would be up there too), Janine struggled to pick one but Iris – Goo Goo Dolls would be up there or anything by Walking on Cars.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Initially, learning how to write a screenplay! After completing the novel, and looking in to getting the script written for us, Janine decided to take it upon herself, and has spent hours and hours learning all she could about the craft. After laying down a first draft, we took the time to re-write it based on new learnings and notes, and on feedback received. Learning the importance of reshaping the screenplay to make it flow better, it’s hard to have scenes cut out and stripped back when in real life they were personal moments in history but it is necessary otherwise I’d talk forever.

For me, while writing the novel and the screenplay was therapeutic, you have to relive the experiences and it would often trigger my PTSD.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Well I suppose I have to say Lighting Design since it’s my full time job, in truth anything creative – music, film, art, writing, acting. For Janine it’s film production.

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

So simple, being able to search for competitions and store projects makes the process very easy.

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

Janine chose the festival based on its Action/Adventure specification and because of the opportunity of feedback. The report we received was excellent – it was great to actually be assured that someone had taken the time to read and provide good quality notes that we could work on. After a revision, a local producer commented on the quality of the script, which the notes received undoubtedly influenced.

What starts as a humanitarian mission, for a university student from Belfast, descends into a fight for survival after his search for adventure takes him off the beaten track to the frontline of the Ethiopian conflict. Chris Johnston faces his fears and battles with his own darkness on this emotive journey, which will leave you asking yourself, if faced the horrors of war, what would you do?

Genre: Action, Drama, Biography

 

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Laura Kyswaty
Michael: Cory Bertrand
Chris: Jim Canale
Odette: Regan Brown

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Taryn Procsal (PALACES)

The September 2017 Winning STUDENT Screenplay writer for their short script PALACES.

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

Logline: An upper-class wife and mother seems to have the perfect life, but when her husband discourages her from pursuing a career in art she is challenged with a new understanding of how a woman’s value is measured.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

This screenplay deals with subtle issues of social inequality that are often overlooked in film. I believe it is a strong dramatic narrative with a valuable message.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Feminist drama

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

Mallrats

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

About four months

How many stories have you written?

Seven screenplays, but countless stories

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

Violet by Hole

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

I had to work on several other school projects while writing this screenplay. I also struggled with keeping the potential budget of production low, while also depicting a lavish lifestyle.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Political activism, especially concerning issues of civil rights and social equality

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

I love FilmFreeway! It’s so much easier to use than Withoutabox.

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

I really wanted to get feedback on this screenplay to get a better idea of its value. I’m considering using it as my writing sample for my graduate school applications. I thought the feedback was honest, helpful, and polite, which is pretty rare; there are a lot scathing, embittered script readers out there.

Chava, an upper-class wife and mother, seems to have a perfect life, but when her husband discourages her from pursuing a career in art, Chava is tormented by her new understanding of how a woman’s value is measured.

Genre: Drama

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Laura Kyswaty
Chava: Regan Brown
Paul: Jim Canale
Knox: Cory Bertrand
Deb: Rachel Rain Packota