Interview with Screenwriter Rene Collier (MISTAKES)

 June 2018 Winning 1pg. Screenplay.

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Rene Collier: Stan wants his father to purchase a used car for him. But Stan wrecked the last car his father bought him. Stan tries to convince dad to buy this one in spite of his past mistakes.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama

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

It’s one example of a true-to-life tale of a typical struggle that happen between a teen and his parent. It’s relatable to most of the population and therefore fulfills the need for inclusion of multiple demographics. Besides, it’s fun and witty to watch.

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

Past Mistakes.

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

Somewhere in Time. I’m a sucker for a great love story.

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

25 minutes. It was an assignment from a screenwriting class I was taking online at the time. Actually, the criteria was to write a 2-page script and it had to be about money. When I sat down to write, this story wrote itself in one draft. Then, to make it acceptable for this competition, I spent an additional ten minutes to edit it to one page for this competition.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written one actual short story, a sit-com, a TV episode, and 4 additional screenplays.

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

What You Won’t Do for Love, by Bobby Caldwell. I never tire of it because it reminds me of my ‘favorite’ former boyfriend.

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

A simple edit. And it was hardly an obstacle.

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

Film making in general. I love the entire production process.

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

This is my first entry. It was easy to sign up and the fee was quite reasonable. Plus, I thought a table read prize was unique and fun!

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

A) In conjunction with the online class I was taking it was listed as a competition site. It was at the same time I finished “Mistakes” that I saw it. I thought it was a terrific ‘preparation meets opportunity’ co-incidence and could not pass it up.

B) Actually, I thought the first winning notification I received was fake. I didn’t believe until the 2nd notice arrived and I clicked on the link and watched the video of the table read. Then I was thrilled and excited and ready to embrace the experience.

 

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Matt Barnes
Albert: Allan Michael Brunet
Stan: Jarrod Terrell

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Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Director: Kierston Drier

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: Kimberly Villarruel

Camera Op: Mary Cox

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Interview with Screenwriter Nevada McPherson (PIANO LESSONS)

June 2018 Winning LGBT Short Screenplay.

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Nevada McPherson: It’s a gay teen romance set in the rural South of the 1950’s.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Teen romance, coming-of-age, drama.

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

It touches on universal themes of love, friendship, trust, and acceptance. It also shows that although things have changed for the better since the time this screenplay is set, there is still a long way to go before many accept the LGBTQ community as truly equal, especially where I live in the US. This screenplay should be made into a movie because film is a powerful emotional and persuasive medium and the more varied representations of gay characters seen in films, the better. Some of the characters in PIANO LESSONS are willing to leave their comfort zones, while others are not, and it can be a lesson to all that one’s experience of life expands or shrinks according to one’s courage. Stepping up for what you believe in is worth it.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Character driven.

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

Since I’ve taught film classes for many years, there are several films that I’ve seen many, many times and that I love to share with students, such as Run, Lola, Run, Network, Citizen Kane and Bonnie & Clyde. My favorite that I’ve probably seen the most times is Sunset Boulevard. There’s so much Hollywood history wrapped up in that film, and if you look at what was going on in Hollywood at the time it was made and even in the lives of the people making and acting in the film, you’ll find it’s something of a Hollywood “Rosetta Stone.” As many times as I’ve seen it, I always hope for a happier ending for Joe and Betty, but if that were so, it wouldn’t be a true film noir, would it? For me, a huge fan of noir, this one is in a sub-genre of that style, Hollywood noir. Joe Gillis is one of my all-time favorite characters, and to me he is the patron saint of screenwriters.

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Since 1994. If that sounds like a really long time, I suppose it is! I got the idea returning to New Orleans from the first ever Austin Film Festival, wrote the script, and I’ve been through countless drafts since then. Needless to say, it’s evolved a great deal over time. I’ve written many screenplays since this one, but I always come back to it, and I’m encouraged that it’s won or placed in several contests (this is the first reading, though, which is quite awesome!). This draft emerged after my residency at Squaw Valley Community of Writers Screenwriting Program, where I worked on a new draft under the mentorship of screenwriter Tom Rickman (Coal Miner’s Daughter, Everybody’s All-American).

How many stories have you written?

Over a dozen screenplays, two short plays, short stories, a short screenplay, and a full-length play. I’ve adapted one of the screenplays into a novel, and three of the screenplays into graphic novels, including PIANO LESSONS. I wrote my very first story in the sixth grade – I remember that there was a vampire in it, and it ended in a cliffhanger. After that I was hooked on writing.

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

Ringo Starr’s “It Don’t Come Easy.”

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Endings are always difficult for me; it took me several drafts to arrive at this ending!

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Creating visual art, reading, and going on road trips with my husband Bill, a retired speech professor, and our rescue Chihuahua, Mitzi.

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

Very positive. I find Film Freeway to be a very user-friendly platform and a great way to track contest submissions.

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

Since PIANO LESSONS is a gay teen romance, I was drawn to the LGBT Toronto Film Festival, and excited at the prospect of the script being read by actors! The feedback I received was invaluable: insightful and constructive. I recommend this festival to writers wholeheartedly.  

 

Genre: LGBT, Drama

Junior Jordan has a talent for shooting at targets and a mad crush on his new piano teacher, Conrad. In the 1950’s rural South. that’s enough to get a boy into trouble.

CAST LIST:

Pastor: Rob Notman
Conrad: Allan Michael Brunet
Narrator: Matt Barnes
Junior: Jarrod Terrell
Elsie: Lauren Kristina Maykut
Thelma: Meghan Allen

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Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Director: Kierston Drier

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: Kimberly Villarruel

Camera Op: Mary Cox

Interview with Screenwriter Fabian Martin (HALFWAY TO MARS)

1. What is your screenplay about?

Fabian Martin: My screenplay is about “Lucy”, a transgender, whose ambitions to complete her transition leads her into a “hellhole” which she fights to crawl out of.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

The genre my screenplay falls under would be LGBT and Thriller.

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

Although LGBT films are on the rise, there are very few LGBT films that feature Latino characters. Last year’s academy-award-winning foreign film, “A Fantastic Woman” illustrates the fact that there is a thirst for such stories.

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

How about a hyphenated word: self-preservation.

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

Wow, that’s a tough one. However, I’d have to say whenever “Shawshank Redemption” or “Seven” is on television I will sit and watch them through.

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

I worked on this particular screenplay for four months but did a few months of research beforehand.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written over fifty stories and over twenty screenplays.

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

Another tough one but I can always listen to “Lovely Day.” That song always puts me in a good mood.

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

No real obstacles but doing thorough research was important. Because I was creating a transgender character, it was important that I got it right so as to not misrepresent the transgender community.

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

Apart from writing, my other passions are health and fitness and traveling.

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

I love FilmFreeway. The submission format is very user friendly unlike others.

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

I know the Toronto community is both film savy and LGBT-friendly so it was important for me to enter my screenplay in a community that respects this particular genre. In regards to feedback, well, you did a reading of my screenplay….what can be better than that! I hope to parlay this recognition into a film version….I’m looking for investors!!

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

Genre: LGBT, Drama

Lucy is a transgender in the process of transitioning, determined to see it through at any and all costs. So when an opportunity arises to accelerate this process, she seizes it unabashedly. This decision though casts her unwillingly into the dark, violent world of prostitution and the ruthless, cold-blooded drug-dealing pimp behind it who goes by the name “Soup.” Here is where Lucy’s real transformation begins as she fights to escape Soup’s relentless grip and free herself from the dangerous vestiges of a debt she cannot pay.

CAST LIST:

Summer: Kyra Weichert
Narrator: Matt Barnes
Lucy: Rob Notman
Rocky: Jarrod Terrell

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Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Director: Kierston Drier

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: Kimberly Villarruel

Camera Op: Mary Cox

Interview with Screenwriter Linda Hullinger (REAL TIME DENIAL)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Linda Hullinger: After falling asleep while reading about doppelgangers, a woman awakens to a disturbing display on her security camera screen.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Supernatural Horror

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

For those who enjoy watching Twilight Zone type of stories, it is short enough to be a filler for anyone looking to create that type of anthology.

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

Eerie thinker

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

House on Haunted Hill (1959 version)

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

It took me a of couple days to write it.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written four features and eighteen short screenplays. Also, I’ve written two TV pilots, two middle-grade novels, one young adult novel, three mystery novels, and over twenty short stories.

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

“Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince

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

It was a bit challenging trying to keep it under one page without losing its eerie vibe.

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

Black and white horror movies. My favorites are with Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and Vincent Price.

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

It’s always been an excellent source for locating a variety of contests, and I especially appreciate their reminder emails when the deadlines are approaching.

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

The opportunity to have one of my screenplays read by actors.

 

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Matt Barnes
Jill: Lauren Kristina Maykut

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Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Director: Kierston Drier

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: Kimberly Villarruel

Camera Op: Mary Cox

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Christopher Kerr (THE CUT)

 1. What is your screenplay about?

Two young men have to find passage through the canals of post-apocalyptic London, to peace and freedom in the “promised land” beyond – Bristol.

Ostensibly a coming of age tale, in the guise of a zombie, road-trip, buddy-movie, canal tour; a genre much under-represented in mainstream cinema to date.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Sci-fi / black comedy – somewhat akin to A BOY AND HIS DOG (1975) in tone.

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

Though an engaging story on its own merit – balancing hubris and heart as it does – this script was always penned, in part, as a love-letter to the hidden beauty of London. It’s a landscape and pace one has to see on-screen to truly appreciate. To this end, the screenplay has wonderful cinematic potential in the hands of a suitably talented / adventurous crew.

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

Subversive Indie.

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

When I was a kid, my Dad used to get a half-day off work on Wednesdays. This meant that once I’d finished school, and walked the dog, we’d sometimes have time for a movie together before Mum got in. We must have watched OUTLAND (1981) countless times, then; simultaneously enjoying it for everything it does right in its Sci-fi adaptation of the Western, whilst lambasting the science myths it perpetuates, and Sean’s typical post-MARNIE performance. Perhaps having a mouthful of scenery, still, explains away the accent, Sean? Anyway, it is an absolute gem of a film and well worth checking out.

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

I deliberately set out to pen an indie-budget Feature – one I could potentially even self-finance somewhere down the road a bit! – and gave myself a month to achieve it. Researched. Plotted. Written. Edited: 4 weeks.

7. How many stories have you written?

Depends on *your* definition of a story! I like to make every e-mail typed, anecdote told, Tweet sent, or Facebook comment posted, a story in its own right. Well, maybe not Twitter – that forum is, really, more just the local crazy person shouting into the void, isn’t it?

Discounting those particular narratives – as well as some ghost-writing I’ve done, and script-consultation work? – I have something in the order of a dozen stories I consider ‘complete’; with another 3 or 4 on my development slate at the moment. The dozen range from original Feature, to TV pilot (plus series outline), to Short Film, One-Act Play, and even some Spec TV episodes.

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

Checking against Spotify, and that seems to think “Revolution” by The Score. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a splendid track and all, but I fear this statistic may be somewhat skewed. (I wrote a Rick & Morty spec recently which referenced that track in a musical montage… so it’s been looping away on repeat in the background.)

Always query statistics!

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

Portraying the mechanics of canal travel necessary for the final Act to work in an economical way, as well as capturing the essence of specific key geographic locations en-route, for a reader who may (or may not) be familiar with some aspects already – all the while avoiding heavy exposition – was a bit of a challenge. Not so sure I entirely achieved it, in fact!

Written with a practical Indie budget in mind, I was also very conscious of ‘bang-for-the-buck’. This led to a couple of potential sub-plots being dropped (though they remain viable as a tie-in, sequel, or in a higher-budget redraft).

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

I remain fascinated by, and occasionally even active in, aviation; with a particular passion for rotary-wing aircraft in the experimental classes.

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

I’m a big fan of FilmFreeway, and use it – rather than my own website these days – as my primary online folio host. Super-easy to find interesting festivals / competitions through it, and submitting projects into those is as simple as a couple of clicks. I’ve recommended the platform not only to fellow writers, but also some Directors and festival organisers I know.

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

Sci-fi, innit? Though I’m versed working in other genres, sci-fi is where my own original works tend to naturally gravitate. Via FilmFreeway it was easy to find the Fantasy Sci-Fi Festival, and submit my project. Ultimately, I was hoping to rally a bit of PR, some industry recognition, maybe even an extra award under my belt for the CV; it all helps when it comes to selling a spec, landing a commission, or a foot-in-the-door for a staff gig.

With regard to feedback as a service, I feel in general it can be something of a double-edged sword. Primarily, of course, feedback is a subjective thing: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Furthermore, it’s very easy for feedback to deflect unique, experimental, or even subversive projects back into just routine, formulaic, fare. With this in mind, I didn’t order any additional feedback, and only took the default offered. Happily, I can report that what I did receive was fair, professional – even somewhat encouraging. Thanks for that!

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Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy

Two young men must find their passage through the canals of post-apocalyptic London, to peace and freedom, in the “promised land” beyond: Bristol.

CAST LIST:

Junior: Allan Michael Brunet
Alex: Salma Dharsee
Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Spencer: Hugh Ritchie
Jessica: Courtney Keir
Toovey: Zazu Oke

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Norma Hickox (MAGIC MAN)

 1. What is your screenplay about?

Hara, engaged to Minta, meets Lisan, with whom he has had several previous lives. Can he break the bond of previous lifetimes and move on? Who does he marry in the Valentine’s Day 2300 wedding? A musical play with futuristic dress, flashbacks to 1990’s and a robot.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Sci-Fi Romance

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

It brings to people’s attention the fact of reincarnation and shows what life may be like in the future with futuristic costumes and jewelry and hairstyles and also with mock-ups of all the new technology.

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

Lighthearted entertainment

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

Gone with the Wind

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

10 years

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve published over 15 books (Merging Science and Spirituality) plus two stage musicals and I have a storyboard script for The TimeLine of Eternity – The TimeTraveler goes to different TimeSpots to show how spaceships landed on the cooling earth and impregnated the life forms found there. After many experiments to refine the forms, the divine spirits enter these forms to experience earth and we now have humans!

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

“Imagine” by Jon Lennon

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

Time to write the play and the music and still work to support myself.

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

Music

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

It was fine.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival?

What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received? Wanted to see how it stacked up in competition with other plays. I felt the feedback was fair and truthful.

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Genre: Action, Drama

A musical 2 act play. This futuristic musical takes place in the year 2099 in a town called Grand Beach, Colorado. An engaged couple enter college and the guy meets another girl that he feels a very strong attraction for.

CAST LIST:

Lisan: Salma Dharsee
Sarah: Marissa Otto
Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Hara: Zazu Oke
Jasek: Isaiah Kolundzic
Minister: Allan Michael Brunet

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Mark Hammond (M – DEMON KILLER)

 1. What is your screenplay about?

A young waitress discovers that she is the last in an ancient line of Demon Killers and Hell Gate Closers, as a portal to hell opens under City Hall. Worse, legend holds that this warrior of the Light always dies. M is a New York City waitress, but this may be asking too much.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Urban Fantasy, Horror, Supernatural Action, Female Hero, Asian Martial Arts

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

M’s journey of blood and loss to become a demon killer and fulfill her destiny mirrors every person’s battle to overcome their own fears to fully become everything they can be in the world. Also this story has big international appeal with an Asian heroine and her loyal hell hound, Native American demons and classical Chinese demons, plus settings in New York City and China. The next two stories are completed: M in the Empire of the Dead – set in NYC, China, Paris and its catacombs; M and the Last Hell gate – set in NYC, China and the High Plateau of Tibet.

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

International Franchise

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

Ghost in the Shell, Dir. Mamoru Oshii, writer Shirow Masamune

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

4yrs+ for the script and the 3 ‘M’ books

7. How many stories have you written?

Many. M – Demon Killer is based on the first book of the completed M in the Demon Realm Trilogy avail. Amazon/Kindle. Assorted shorts, pitches, screenplays and stories.

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

RISE by Origa from the Ghost in the Shell series theme. Japanese composer, lyrics in Russian and English, sung by a Russian soprano.

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

Other than life, the city, and my job, it was me. I was afraid about not doing justice to these great characters, particularly M, who showed up to have their amazing story told. I had to overcome my harsh inner critic, let the characters show me and just write it anyway.

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

Family, friends, mythology, religion, the supernatural, action movies like Deadpool, Underworld; early films like Nosferatu, Vampyr and Metropolis; classic Japanese horror movies like Ringu and Ju-on. Korean films such as Old Boy and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance; noir detective fiction, cyber-punk fiction, urban fantasy; working out and classical dance. Currently, I’m crazy about Lawrence Kasdan’s script for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Caffeine, sugar and carbs are an abiding passion.

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

FilmFreeway makes submissions effortless.

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

That it’s specifically a Fantasy festival and international in scope. The feedback I received was incredibly thoughtful and clear.
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Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy

A young Asian waitress discovers she is the last in a long line of Demon Killers when a billionaire/sorcerer opens a portal to Hell under City Hall in New York City. Local Native American demons hunt in the tunnels and, even more strangely, powerful Chinese warrior demons are sent to slaughter her before she can stop the invasion from hell. M is a New York City waitress but this may be asking too much.

CAST LIST:

Liana: Marissa Otto
Louise Ricci: Courtney Keir
Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Det. DeAngelo: Allan Michael Brunet
Emma: Salma Dharsee