Interview with Screenwriter Robert Tartell (CLEOPATRA’S REVENGE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Robert Tartell : Cleopatra’s Revenge was really based on a true story. “Ross” and I really did see something sticking out the side of my house and it did vanish from his grasp- to this day I don’t know if Pam really saw a snake or not! (But she did indeed storm out!)

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Genre: Comedy. Farce all the way.

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

The world can always use a few more good laughs.

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

Two-word summary: Screwball comedy. Think I Love Lucy. Or Fawlty Towers.

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

The Third Man and The 39 Steps, one of the few Hitchcock films I really loved. Before I started writing, I read the screenplay and realized it was all about the writing(and Hitch married the screenwriter).

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

This one, just a weekend, because it was practically a transcription of the facts. (But a lot of tiny revisions)

7. How many stories have you written?

Four feature-length and five or six shorts.

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

Favorite song: Desafinado, and Bossa Nova in general.

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

Obstacles: Poor organization. Too often I start writing based on an idea without having the end in sight- and so I have some scripts in complete limbo. I need to think the whole thing out, make a proper outline, learn to create storyboards, etc.

 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A snake’s on the loose in Mike Turner’s new house and his wife is really freaking out!

CAST LIST:

Pam: Katelyn Varadi
Narration: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Mike: Sean Ballantyne
Ross: Ted Powers

Interview with Screenwriter Adam Seidel (CALIFORNIA)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Adam Seidel: At it’s core California is about a man who decides to fight for his loveless marriage through taking extreme measures. It’s a piece that examines the way we often go all in on lost causes and how that affects us. Do we come out the other end completely destroyed or do we find a strength and purpose within ourselves we didn’t know was there? I think it can definitely go either way. In the case of this story, our protagonist finds the latter.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

I’d say dark comedy / thriller.

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

I think the themes are very relatable to most people, whether they want to admit it or not. I think despite some of the more graphic parts of the story, the end offers a sense of hope. Also there’s a lot of dry comedy in the script that comes in strange moments that sort of tilts the world a bit. I think the script is looking for a very niche producer who loves gritty noir storytelling. If you’re out there, hit me up!

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

Barren hope.

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

It’s a very close call. It used to be Uncle Buck, no question. But the past year my daughter has become obsessed with The Grinch and it gets played at least two times a day. I can recite 80% of the dialog by heart.

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

It used to be a play, which I wrote in 2016. When it had it’s first staged reading this past year, the people in the audience who were repulsed came up to me and told me it should be a screenplay. So I turned it into a screenplay and found out that all those people were right.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written like thirty plays, four screenplays and three pilots. I also wrote a novella about visiting Waupun maximum security prison in Wisconsin and accidentally getting left behind in the mess hall.

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

Pink Floyd “Have a Cigar”

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

Self doubt. Time management. Life in general. The older I get the more I find I can’t just hunker down and grind for 13 hours. Also the majority of people in my writer’s circle that I share stuff with for notes hated the script. How I stuck with it I do not know. Tenacity? Dedication? Stupidity?

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

I love going on walks in the woods during summer. During winter cross country skiing is a great way to be out doors. I’m an avid swimmer. I find it calms my mind and ideas and problems often get worked out in the pool.

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

Pretty great actually.

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

It just seemed like a good opportunity. And here we are now!

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

After discovering that his cheating wife is planning on running off with his scum bag brother, a scorned and bitter man decides to take violent action, altering the course of his life, and the lives of those around him, forever.

CAST LIST:

Large Trucker: Sean Ballantyne
Narration: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Syd: Miriam Capper
John: Ted Powers

Interview with Screenwriter Paul Sargia (THE TATTOOED BLONDE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Paul Sargia: Bungee jumping… skydiving… stock car racing! Nothing can shake the numbness a divorced, wealthy ex-hedge fund manager feels until he’s hit by a car driven by an eccentric Wall Street icon.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama.


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

Because it’s a time when the public needs to be reassured, once again, that there’s pure joy in life beyond the material pleasures we enjoy. Sometimes it takes getting knocked down before one wakes up to that fact.

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

Life resurrected.

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

Casablanca — It’s a great story, and also has a great message about putting the priorities that are closest to your heart above the ones that are only dictated by your head.


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

I completed the original draft within a year, then went back and made major changes a few years later. Then, again, I tweaked it with the help of a screenwriting editor, Erin McMullan, sometime after that. And just prior to submitting it to this contest I made some more minor changes.


7. How many stories have you written?

I have written eight screenplays that I am proud of besides the first one which I call my practice script which I fooled around with for about 15 years before moving on.

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

Hands down, a song few people know about, by a group few people have heard of. I just feel it’s magnificent. WORD OF GLORY by the StarScape Singers under the direction of Kenneth G. Mills,

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

This was the first script I wrote after my “practice script.” Over the years I had to clean up a lot content in it that was due to my naiveté, etc. about life. Few scripts are perfect. A writer just does his best to get it as “right” as possible. Hopefully, this one is both entertaining and has meaning for its readers.

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

Besides improving myself as a person on this planet, which I spoke about in a previous interview, I love well made films (especially foreign and independent ones), keeping myself healthy with proper diet & exercise, following my favorite sports teams (the New York Yankees & New York Giants), and, of course, music, which enhances the soul when it’s the right kind.

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

It’s so easy to enter contests after all your scripts, and accompanying info, are input on your page. It’s also very easy to update all of that.

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

In the case of the all-genre contest there is no feedback. It’s basically a contest about how many copies of your screenplay will sell in a given period of time. It’s nice that a copyright is included in the entry fee, too. And who doesn’t like seeing their screenplay in paperback form? I certainly don’t!

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

CAST LIST:

Sharon: Miriam Capper
Sal: Ted Powers
Narration: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Dennis: Gabriel Darku
Jon: Sean Ballantyne

Interview with Screenwriter Susan Boger (The Day the Corn Hatched)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Susan Boger: A genetically modified cornfield is irrigated with contaminated radioactive river water. After a severe storm, corn creatures hatch, simultaneously the town is engulfed in marijuana smoke. The corn creatures run amuck attacking and terrorizing the town people. Two teenagers through a series of comical events try to figure out how to restore peace in their town.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Sci-Fi horror comedy

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

More people are aware of the potential problems of eating genetically modified foods. This an entertaining and comical approach to give more information about genetically engineered foods. And it gives some knowledge of why one should be careful of what one eats.

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

Hilarious Sci-Fi

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

Zoolander

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

Several years

7. How many stories have you written?

Three

8. What is your favorite song?

I don’t really have one favorite song, but I love Reinga Carter’s version of “Ain’t Nobody.”

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

The biggest obstacle was learning formatting along with improved dialogue.

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

I am passionate about my family, encouraging my children and grandchildren to follow their dreams. And to set challenges with realistic goals for myself.

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

The site is easy to work with. It shows all the various contests, information about the contests, and the deadlines. It is easy to check on the status of my submissions.

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

What influenced me the most was it was a festival for fantasy and sci-fi. The initial feedback was terrific. I was thrilled and encouraged by the reader’s feedback.
 
Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Considered irresponsible and having a vivid imagination, a smart teenage stoner/hacker gains respect from his family when he saves his town engulfed in marijuana smoke from mutant killer corn creatures.

CAST LIST:

Anchorman: Kaleb Alexander
Narrator: Carina Cojeen
Devin: Nikolai Afanasev
Rick: Peter Mark Raphael

Interview with Screenwriter Stephen Beyer (Living In The Moments)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Stephen Beyer: Jon spends most of his time partying and carousing with best friends Joey and Jay, and filling his life with hijinks. But when he develops romantic feelings for his new coworker Holly, he’s challenged to grow up a little so he can have a more mature relationship with her, while also introducing her to his wild and crazy world.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Romantic Comedy

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

A film at it’s core has a real beating heart about relationships and friendship that can inspire!

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

Hilarious & Heartfelt!

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

Casablanca

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

18 months

7. How many stories have you written?

3

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

Memories by Elvis

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

Many including sleep apnea and merger at work.

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

Family.

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

Very enjoyable.

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

I was influenced to enter the festival because of the great potential of getting my work out there on a platform that can be see by many. The initial feedback was extremely insightful. Since then a few revisions has been made and I have received perfect reviews from Miami and NYC since.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

CAST LIST:

Joey: Geoff Mays
Narrator: Val Cole
Jon: Biden Hall
Jay: Shawn Devlin

Interview with Screenwriter Shruti Tewari (Flares)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Shruti Tewari: FLARES is a screenplay about friendship underscoring the thought that “When women come together, magic happens.”

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

DRAMA

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

FLARES should be a movie because it holds a mirror to several unexplored issues pertaining to women’s rights and serves as a metaphor for the lives of my characters that seek humor in darkness, serenity in turmoil and the freedom to shine, even if fleetingly, quite like a flare.

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

Survivor’s Choices

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

Forrest Gump

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

One year

7. How many stories have you written?

Stories for film – 4

Stories overall – Lost Count

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

Top of the World – Carpenters

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

The story and characters were in my head for a while but some of the plot points, inspired by actual events, took a while to fit in with the rest of the narrative.

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

I feel passionately about supporting and educating at-risk youth and have worked as a mentor in juvenile halls for nearly a decade with a local non-profit organization.

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

Great. I love the ease of the interface and enjoy discovering new festivals that match my subject interests.

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

I initially submitted just my logline and that submission was free. It was a great way to test if I was able to elicit interest in my project based on a couple of sentences.

I was then able to submit more information based on the response and the feedback helped me make revisions that benefited the pacing of the screenplay.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

CAST LIST:

NARRATION – Rebecca MacDonald
Starry (f 30s) – Krista Barzso
Sunny (f 30s) – Tracy Rowland

Interview with Screenwriters Sean J.S. Jourdan, Danielle Prall (JESS)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Sean J.S. Jourdan, Danielle Prall: Our screenplay is about an ex-con who, like many of us, struggles with medical bills, minimum wage employment, and companionship. Due to her circumstances she pulled back into the world she escaped from, to her detriment, but is able to provide for family. It’s a story about folks we see everyday but don’t see. People who live on the margins of our booming cities.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama, Suspense, Crime, Thriller

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

This screenplay should be made into a movie because it shines a lot on good people who are, unfortunately, not the beneficiaries of entitlement, yet they do what they can to survive. They’re not superheroes or royalty or super spies. They’re people we know. Relatives. Maybe even ourselves. Their struggle and world deserves to be shown on the big or small screen too.

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

Human. Struggle.

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

When I was a kid I think I saw ET more times than I want to admit… and Poltergeist. – Sean

16 Candles, A Bug’s Life and Enter the Dragon. I only had a handful of VHS tapes (no cable/TV) for several years. – Danielle

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

Off and on for a couple of years.

7. How many stories have you written?

Hard to say… and I’ve told more than that 🙂

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

It changes… currently The Queen is Dead by The Smiths – Sean

Ditto…lately I’ve been repeating When I Get my Hands on You by The New Basement Tapes – Danielle

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

Finding time within our schedules.

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

Exercise (swimming, yoga), skiing, reading (particularly music/band biographies for fun). – Sean

Movement of many kinds – yoga, martial arts, snowboarding, also gardening and growing just about everything – Danielle

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

It’s great. A lot better than the old withoutabox.

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

The feedback was great and our story contains people who are LGBTQ/POC. With friends and family members who are LGBTQ/POC we feel that their representation and inclusion is important. That’s what attracted us to this festival.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

On the hard edge of the urban west, Jess, an ex-con and single mother, strives to provide for herself and her own in the face of desperate poverty.

CAST LIST:

Various: Nikolai Afanasev
Carlos: Peter Mark Raphael
Narrator: Carina Cojeen
Jess: Kristen MacCulloch
JJ: Kyana Teresa
Various: Kaleb Alexander