Interview with Screenwriter Christian Jilka (CAPTURE THE FLAG)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Christian Jilka: It is about a history professor, who meets a petty thief. Together they hatch a plan to score easy money. Things go awry when the score becomes a priceless vintage diamond and one of the professor’s students wants in to make her dreams of becoming a pop star true.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Crime, Drama, Dark Comedy

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

Because it aims to entertain without having to sacrifice its own artistic voice. It is a familiar story (that of people chasing money), but it is told with a fresh new spin and some unique characters at its heart.

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

Wild and Unexpected.

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

That is a very hard question to answer, because the films that I like and remember the most are probably the ones I’ve seen the least amount of times. But one movie that really opened my eyes to the sheer possibilities of film was “Love Exposure” by the Japanese filmmaker Sion Sono. Watching it for the first time stuck out as one of the strangest and most fascinating experiences I’ve had with a film.

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

A bit over two years.

7. How many stories have you written?

I don’t really keep count. But in terms of actually realized projects I have written 4 short films, some short stories and a lot of “works in progress”, which will probably see the light of day some time in the near future.

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

It is a cliché answer but it’s the Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, not only because of its musical brilliance and perfectly structured form, but because it serves as a constant reminder that if we put in the work and time to truly master our craft, we can achieve universal greatness. You can compose the most beloved piece of music even if you are deaf and can’t hear a single note. Beethoven did it, so can you.

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

It took a long time and lots of experimenting to find a satisfying ending. Since the characters are so different from each other, they naturally clash. This is great because it meant that you get a lot of entertaining and thrilling scenes throughout the story, but it made it harder to bring them together at the end and give their collective story a definite conclusion. Even though I always had a layout the ending never seemed to work when brought to paper. In the end though I did come up with something that I really liked and that links the characters throughout their adventure together, while also driving home the themes of the film quite strongly.

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

I love painting. It really forces you to think visually and challenges you to tell entire stories through one still image.

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

I’ve had quite positive experiences with FilmFreeway in the past. It makes submitting easy and is a great tool for finding festivals.

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

I have looked at the website and found that it may fit my screenplay really well. I liked the idea of a genre-based screenplay competition, so I gave it a shot and I am very glad I did. The feedback was great and insightful. It didn’t shy away from pointing out things that were holding the screenplay back from unlocking its full potential, while also complementing those aspects that already worked and made it special.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A depressed history teacher, a narcoleptic small-time crook and a teenage girl dreaming of becoming a pop star. Three very different people yet they could all use a bit more money in their lives. Luckily, they cross paths when finding a historic yellow diamond which an anonymous collector is offering a bag full of cash for. As none of the three is willing to split the money, however, they quickly become competitors in a game of deception. A thrilling race begins in which only one of them can capture the flag…

CAST LIST:

Pharmacist: Katelyn Varadi
Melanie: Miriam Capper
Narration: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Graffiti: Gabriel Darku
Oliver: Ted Powers

Interview with Screenwriter David Hearne (Starfarers & Tharnians In Space)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

David Hearne: Old hat good guys versus bad guys in space. Twist is Earth are really the bad guys. Mirrors the U.S war in IRAQ via subtext. It’s an older screenplay brought back to life recently.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Space Opera

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

I’m not sure it should, it’s a bit dated now. I wrote it a long time ago. Some bits work but others not so much. I do think it’s still entertaining though.

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

Galactic candy.

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

Aliens followed by Casablanca

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

It took me a year with many revisits.

7. How many stories have you written?

A dozen shorts and four features.

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

Eye of the Tigers, Survivor. I’m a big Dave Bickler fan. His recent album Darklight shows he’s still got it. He’s got me through some rough patches.

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

Many! I wrote it during studying the advanced diploma of screen and my whole class and instructor critiqued it.

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

Animal rights.

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

Pretty good. This is one of my favourite festivals because you bring the screenplays to life! Some you never hear back from.

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

Sounded good and lived up to expectations. I’ve attended quite a few of the festivals in person and none of them have done readings thus far. Screenplays are often just an add-on.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

In the far-flung future, a conflicted space pilot will fulfil an ancient family prophecy and discover a plot to start an intergalactic war. Rather than stop the war, his enemy realises that with the right motivation, he can actually be the catalyst for it. On the planet Callon, a group of peace-keepers led by Jarre encounter the Tharnian Empire. Jarre escapes after clashing with a tharnian named Rugor.

CAST LIST:

Wright: Sean Ballantyne
Masterdon: Matt Schichter
Ganna: Katelyn Varadi
Narration: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Jarre: Ted Powers
Ky: Gabriel Darku
Vegas: Miriam Capper

Interview with Screenwriter Alex Gold (CLAW CON)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Alex Gold: Two online friends meet for the first time at a Furry Con. But when their pasts resurface, will their relationship survive?

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s a comedy/drama. It will make you laugh, but it explores serious themes.

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

The characters, scenario and depiction of furries 100% authentic.

The furry fandom is often misunderstood and misrepresented. Nothing else out there captures it as accurately as this screenplay. It’s like looking into another world, but it’s all real.

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

Hilariously Authentic

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

Real-talk: I love Home Alone. I used to watch it all the time as a kid, and it still makes me laugh as an adult.

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

The idea’s been floating around in my head for several years. It felt good to finally get it all out.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve been writing all of my life. I write professionally for video games, and I’ve written numerous other screenplays.

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

I’ve been listening to 666 ʇ by Bon Iver at least once a week for several years. It’s detailed, enigmatic, and I love how it escalates. Each time I hear it, I catch something new.

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

Because of my closeness to the subject matter, it was painful to write. Almost every experience within has been taken directly from my life, or inspired by the lives of close friends. This is as real as it gets.

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

Video games. Music. And it probably goes without saying, but the furry fandom is a significant part of my life.

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

Coverfly has been fantastic! Easy to use, and wonderful for connecting to great festivals like this one!

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

I was intrigued by the live readings, and it was highly reviewed! I agree with a lot of the feedback – I will be taking all of it to heart for future projects! 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Love, hope and heartbreak at a Furry convention.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
Berry (M): Geoff Mays
David (M): Steve Rizzo
Silver Blade (F): Cassandra Guthrie
Curl Power (M): Fabio Abreu
Berry (M): Allan Michael Brunet

Interview with Screenwriter Lyndal Simpson (THE FARRELL GIRL)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Lyndal Simpson: Two abused young girls survive the brutal massacre of their family only to be separated in the state care system. Shaun “Fish” Whiting, the main suspect in the killings, remains at large and the exact circumstances of the Farrell family slaughter are shrouded in mystery. Twenty years on the estranged sisters exist as psychologically damaged adults. Their fragile existence is shattered when Fish returns to hunt them down once more. They must find one another before he finds them, and when they do, demons from the past must be finally confronted.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama. Thriller. Crime.

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

“The Farrell Girl” packs a strong emotional punch while tackling some very heavy social issues – namely child sexual abuse, and violence against women and girls in the home.

I have crafted “The Farrell Girl” to be a story that makes you FEEL – outrage, sympathy, horror, fear and joy. It is also a story designed to make the audience think. Questions such as: How do we as a society judge people and determine who deserves our compassion and who does not? Does the community bear some level of culpability for not acting strongly enough to act on and eliminate domestic violence and child abuse?

The movie would appeal to women across the age spectrum due to the strong female characters, especially the ever-defiant Caitlin Farrell. The thriller element would provide the basis for an even broader appeal, as would the engaging central mystery which draws the viewer in and carries them through to the end – who brutally slaughtered the Farrell men, and why did they do it?

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

Gritty realism.

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

‘Rocky’. I hate boxing, yet I absolutely love this movie. It’s the gritty, yet endearing tale of an underdog with an indomitable, yet naive spirit who rises against the odds, finds himself on centre stage for his chance at glory…and then loses. And yet, somehow, he doesn’t seem to lose at all. The fact that he got that far and gave it his all comes across as being as good as a victory. The film achieves all this without it ever feeling sappy.

The unlikely romantic pairing between the outgoing and simple Rocky, and the introverted and intelligent Adrian is brilliant. Those final scenes where a battered Rocky calls out for Adrian after losing his fight to Apollo give me goose bumps.

Rocky is the perfect hero for an audience to champion. The story is gripping and uplifting, with one of the most convincing romance plots going. ‘Rocky 2’ is just as good!

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

I started working on ‘The Farrell Girl’ in late-2018. I knew I wanted the story to be about child sexual abuse. I knew that the location would be a small Australian town. I also knew who the central characters would be. The seed of the idea came from my own experience growing up in a small town where a particular family were openly shunned by everyone.

7. How many stories have you written?

At this point I have written (1) short – “Possum”, (2) pilots – “The Whistler” and “Four Crows”, and (2) feature scripts – “The Farrell Girl” and “Sun Woman, Moon Man”. I’m currently working on a novel “Afterlife” and a pilot script “Gloomtown” which is adapted from the novel.

I have previously written numerable short stories and won two National Literary Awards in Australia for my stories “The Trolley Boy” and “Spring Frost”.

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

“Bright Eyes” by Art Garfunkel. I know that this is very unusual choice, but this song really gives me the feels in a big way. Death and bunny rabbits – emotional stuff!

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

As a mother of two young boys, the biggest obstacle to my writing is always juggling parenting with personal time set aside for writing. For me the key is consistency. I try to write every single day, even if it’s only for a short period.

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

History. In particular European/Indigenous relations within Australia; the Third Reich in Germany; and Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century.

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

Coverfly functions really well as a central platform from which screenwriters can submit their work to competitions, festivals and for feedback. I love having all of my submissions in the one place. It keeps everything so neatly organised. I’ve also had numerous industry downloads requests due to my short screenplay “Possum” being the #1 Thriller Short for 2019 on Coverfly’s Red List.

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

I generally trust the reputation of competitions that are on Coverfly. I also looked at the Wildsound Festival Review page and could see that the festival was run with a lot of passion.

The feedback that I received was incredibly detailed and constructive. Divided into sections such as PLOT, and even TYPOS. I found that I was able to immediately improve my script as a result. I really appreciated how specific the feedback was in the way that it referred to identifiable paragraphs, dialogue or plot points.

 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Two young sisters, sole survivors of a family massacre, must find one another after almost twenty years of separation, when the chief suspect in the killings seeks to hunt them down once more.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
Caitlin (F): Mandy May Cheetham
Rosie (F): Julie Sheppard
Brodie (M): Fabio Abreu
Alice (F): Cassandra Guthrie

Interview with Screenwriter Mark McKee (POSTHUMAN)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Mark McKee: After eight years on the run from a deranged doctor intent on studying him due to his startling visions of the afterlife, a teen boy finds himself in danger of being experimented on when his father is killed and he’s returned to the custody of his estranged mother.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Science Fiction/Horror and a dash of Thriller.

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

There was a great catharsis in developing Posthuman because it allowed for me to creatively confront the very same demons I encountered as an adolescent that didn’t quite “fit in” while growing up in a southern town where the highest of aspirations involved an athletic pursuit. Films that confront these demons (especially in the horror genre) typically skew them in a way that leaves the viewer with either an ambiguous OR negative ending. I wanted to erase that notion and create a protagonist that (while flawed) is able to overcome his personal and family demons and utilize them for the betterment of others. Make no mistake, Bruce is angry and while that manifests in his relationship with his mother, the evolution of their relationship creates a compelling narrative that highlights the brokenness of both individuals and allows them to acknowledge and accept each other for both who they are AND what they’ve done.

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

Imaginative/Visceral

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

Batman (89)

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

The draft submitted for the contest took three months to complete. Following the advice of reviewers after the contest win, I began work on the “final draft.” Once completed (so close), the story will have taken about nine months.

7. How many stories have you written?

Four screenplays and too many short stories to count.

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

God’s Away on Business-Tom Waits

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

My wife and I had our son in March 2019, so the navigation of insomnia, anxiety and career proved to be quite difficult. Thankfully, screenwriting was a healthy outlet that allowed me to communicate my anxieties through some particularly horrific scenes.

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

I have a smattering of things that I’m passionate about, so let’s just list a few.

1.) Comic Books: If quarantines took place in comic book shops, I would be enjoying this lockdown much more.

2.) Action Figures: Really…any high-end collectible with a Batman logo attached to it.

3.) Running: Two marathons and countless hours of story building in my head.

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

I love how intuitive the system is, and having the ability to register for multiple contests under one platform makes Coverfly my go-to choice for contest registration.

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

The feedback being included in the cost of the package was quite enticing. While I did not know if I would win at the time, the prospect of seeing a performance of a piece of my screenplay from professional actors definitely finalized the decision for me.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

 Follow his death and resurrection, a boy is hunted by a mysterious government organization hell-bent on learning the secrets of the afterlife.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
Darren (M): Allan Michael Brunet
Bruce (M): Geoff Mays
Elderly Woman (F): Mandy May Cheetham
Nurse (F): Cassandra Guthrie
Clerk (M): Steve Rizzo

Interview with Screenwriter Zack R. Smith (In Too Deep: The Brian Futz Story)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Zack R. Smith: A modern-day murder-mystery-comedy wrapped around a 1980’s absurdist underdog comedy.

30 years after the murders of the most prolific screenwriting duo of the 1980’s, their final screenplay has finally been brought to life — ‘In Too Deep’ is the story of a disgraced college swimmer returning to the pool at age 40 looking for a shot at redemption.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy

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

‘In Too Deep’ is not only funny for an audience of any age, but it also taps into the nostalgia felt so many people who came up in the absurd 1980’s.

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

Joyful lunacy

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

‘Deconstructing Harry’

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

9 Months

7. How many stories have you written?

30

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

Peter Cetara – Glory of Love

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

The hardest part was cutting. Initially, this script was close to 150 pages of joke after joke after joke. While obviously too long, the goal for my writing partner and myself, at the time, was to make each other laugh. So, we just kept going. Eventually, we had to do away with some great stuff.

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

New York City, yoga, animals

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

Mostly positive. Easy to use. The downside, of course, is that there are SO MANY competitions on FilmFreeway – many with little to no payoff for entering or even winning them.

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

The real motivation for entering ‘WildSound’ was the possibility of having our work performed by professionals. I’m not sure either of us have designs on directing. We simply love writing comedy. But also want to see our work put out there. And low and behold, we were fortunate enough to pick up a win and have the opening scene from ‘In Too Deep’ performed, which was great. But even before that, our initial feedback from ‘WildSound’ – the feedback we received in writing – was both informative and full of positive praise. So, that was pretty great, too.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

30 years after the murders of the most prolific screenwriting duo of the 1980’s, their final screenplay has finally been brought to life — ‘In Too Deep’ is the story of a disgraced college swimmer returning to the pool at age 40 looking for a shot at redemption.

CAST LIST:

Narration: Esther Tribault
Meriwether: Pierre Simpson

Interview with Screenwriter Oliver Warren (THREE DATES WITH BEN)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Oliver Warren: Three Dates with Ben is a dark gay romance about a young man’s obsession with his ex, and the devastation it causes over the course of a decade.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s most definitely an Indie Drama, a Dark Romance and in many ways, a Coming of Age story, too.

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

I believe the script speaks a lot to first, and unrequited, loves – many people’s firsts, especially in the LGBT world, are rarely the sweet, clean-cut romances, and they leave wounds that take years to heal. Whilst there’s so much of my own experience in this script, I feel it speaks to the universal desire for love.

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

Dark Romance.

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

So I Married An Axe Murderer.

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

The idea formed in January 2019, and I started writing it in October 2019, completing the first draft by December, and the current draft in January 2020.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written four features, six tv pilots, three radio plays and a handful of short films too.

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

I Love You, by Woodkiid

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

Making time in amongst my career as a fashion film director – particularly as last fall I was chasing Jennifer Lopez around the world for a fashion brand!

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

Writing is most definitely my over-riding passion, but I feel incredibly passionate for directing, as well as collaborating creatively with my partner, Cameron McNee, a fashion photographer, when we create fashion and documentary content with the LGBT community.

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

I think it’s a well organized, easy to use site, with excellent functionality – I do find it frustrating though, that it is so structured around their Red List / Rating system, and that many competition entries (including Wildsound) don’t include the all-important scores to affect placement on the Red List, thus defeating one of the key advantages to the site.

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

Having seen the festival on Coverfly, it felt like a supportive and inclusive festival, which drew my attention to it, initially. The feedback I received was fantastic, both from a positive affirmation perspective, but also with useful critical insight too.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A brutal dumping, and a vow to win back his first love, sends a gay eighteen year old romantic into a spiral of discovery and destruction, but over the next decade, each time the damaged ex resurfaces, his heart is crushed anew, however when the romantic’s latest partner is dragged into this savage love affair, he must finally learn to lay his first love to rest.

CAST LIST:

Narration: Allison Kampf
Radio DJ (M): Steve Rizzo
Ben (M): Manny Pacheco
Fatima (F): Val Cole
GRAZYNA (F): Miram Capper

Interview with Screenwriter WH Clark (HELSTAF)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

WH Clark: A scientist in Antarctica trying to save the penguin population from extinction ends up having to save the whole planet from Noah’s Flood 2.0 when a giant solar superstorm hits and melts the polar ice cap.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Thriller, Sci-Fi, action/adventure

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

Hollywood is way behind the curve in informing the public about the many threats to the environment. Some major environmental organizations have complained about this in position papers. I guess Hollywood just doesn’t know how to get the idea across without seeming condescending or preachy. “OMG. Another environmental disaster flick? No effing way.” HELSTAF highlights two major environmental issues that people don’t know much about: the danger of Freon to the ozone layer (China is still manufacturing Freon-11) and the threat of a solar superstorm (which would knock out the entire electronic infrastructure for decades – i.e. no GPS or smartphones for 15 years). Global warming, as threatening as it is, is just a subplot. So you can still scare folks about global warming and not appear to be far-left liberal activist about it. All three major issues are related in the story in what one reader called the “ozone war.” LOL. I put all the hard-core tech details on my website whclark.com if you want to learn more about these issues. Lots of beautiful photos of Antarctica there. Great place to live if it wasn’t so damn cold (although in February 2020 it was in the 70s!)

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

Gripping, authentic. Plus: readers like that every problem the heroes solve causes three more, and that there’s a steady beat advancing the action forward. Readers also like the sheer scope and scale of the drama. Whatever that means.

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

The sci-fi trilogy of Dune

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

Ten years. It was an autobiographical novel before that; so make that 20 years. The original drama was set at the real HELSTAF facility at the US Army White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, where I got into a boatload of trouble when I was in the service. Think sequel… White Sands is only a few miles from the 1947 Roswell UFO crash site. Actually, there were two sites – the craft HIT on one side of White Sands, BOUNCED, and CRASHED on the other side near Roswell, NM. The military said it was a weather balloon, but balloons don’t behave like that, do they?

7. How many stories have you written?

I have five feature-length thriller screenplays which I have been working on for ten years via notes, critiques, and feedback. Please tell me screenwriting gets better than this. Do all my best friends for the rest of my life have to be characters in my screenplays?

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

I like the theme song from Flashdance, “What a Feeling” by Irene Cara. Lousy movie, but a great song.

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

I’ve been through at least 30 coverages on this one project. The biggest issue was I tried to say too much. “The plot is too complicated, and you need to take some of the complexity out and focus on the character’s arcs.” I’m an engineer, very smart (close to a Ph.D. in mathematical physics) and very technical. I write the kind of stories that appeal to me. Which doesn’t work so well with everybody else. It’s hard to have lots of science, which readers say adds authenticity to the story, and to explain it well. So, with each draft, you cut out some tech things, get notes, see how that works, etc. Also, I have really bad vision problems (100% disabled veteran), which is frustrating. (Excuse me, but does anybody ever actually make money doing this screenwriting stuff?)

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

I’m an engineer by trade, and my passion is energy conservation. I published one of the first textbooks on the subject with McGraw-Hill back in 1997. A second McGraw-HIll text published a year later, on (saving energy in) electrical design, is still in print, still the first edition. I can only hope that I’ve helped some folks reduce their carbon footprint. Free copies and software on my website whclark.com

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

CoverFly works very well for me.

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

As usual, I think all the feedback is terribly wrong and the comments are unjust, cruel, bigoted, prejudiced, and hurtful. A few days later I cool off and discover that everything they said was spot on, and after making their suggestions the material is greatly elevated. Over the years I’ve used all the major coverage services and all the major screenplays that give feedback. A couple of years ago I decided that Wildsound gives the most consistently best feedback out there, comments that I can depend on and trust. Since I started using just Wildsound feedback the material has gotten consistently better. So, thanks.

Watch the Winning Screenplay Reading: 

CAST LIST:

General Volt: Bill Poulin
Adm. Ashray: Sean Ballantyne
Narrator: Hannah Ehman
Waco: Isaiah Kolundzic
Jaxx: Nkasi Ogbonnah
Col. Jinn: Cameron Stannard

Interview with Winning Screenwriters Jennifer Woldman & David Maddox (A STUDY IN SCARLETT)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

A Study in Scarlett is a re-imagining of the classic Sherlock Holmes, with inspiration also taken from American history circa late 1860s-70s. The enigmatic genius Scarlett Holmes is a bi-racial woman. She meets her loyal friend and partner Joanna Holmes, a struggling doctor, to solve a murder and save an innocent man from hanging. Throughout the series historical situations and events are explored through adaptations of Doyle’s classic tales. To solve each episode’s puzzle, and the interlocking season-long mystery, the legendary sleuths must navigate issues of race and inequality, and the complicated nature of justice.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Mystery, Historical fiction

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

It is the right moment in America for a television series like A Study in Scarlett. Through the eyes of these diverse characters we explore a time in American history whose echos we feel today in our laws and culture. As past readers have pointed out, A Study in Scarlett gives us an opportunity to explore modern themes of race, gender, equality, and justice through the lens of classic Holmes tales. These are conversations that we need to be having in modern day America as we confront our own history, and our future together, and this series can be an access point.

This series can reach a broad audience — classic Sherlock fans will find the stories and characters familiar, and we stay true to the spirit and rollicking fun that has made the original work a classic, and it’s more recent reincarnations huge successes on the big and small screens. The diversity of the characters and the compelling issues we tackle will appeal to a younger, more modern audience, who might not have seen much for them in recent Holmes remakes. History fans will love this exploration of an under-represented, yet critically important, era of American history. There is truly something in this series for everyone.

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

Scarlett Holmes

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

Jen – Probably Empire Strikes Back. Or maybe Harry Potter, because it is always on television, and sometimes we put it on like background music in my house.

David – The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. The film changed my life as a child, that’s why I do what I do now.

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

About 9 months. The idea for A Study in Scarlett came to me last summer in the middle of moving. I was finally able to get the basic story down by October, and then David and I worked on it daily for about a month. We continue to make revisions based upon feedback.

7. How many stories have you written?

A Study in Scarlett is our first screenplay working as a team, but we each have been writing on our own for a long time. I have a completed novel named Redemption, and a work in progress novel named Earth Tour. David has a SciFi screenplay named Greetings from the Vortex, and an animated pilot called The Adventures of Darryl Springbornne.

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

Jen – Listened to most in my LIFE? Probably something by New Kids on the Block, lol, as I played those tapes on my boom box until they ran out in the early 90s. Hello from Generation X.

David – Jesus Jones. Their slight hit in the 90’s International Bright Young Thing. All the remixes of it!

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

We were very eager to obtain feedback from people of color, particularly Black women. We center diverse characters, and we want to make sure we are true to that lived experience. As a mixed race woman who as often felt “other” like Scarlett, this is a very important to me personally, and frankly it can be difficult to find professional readers with that background. If A Study in Scarlett were to move forward as a project, we would want to make sure the team we work with is appropriately diverse.

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

Jen – I have two teenage boys with special needs, so they are my main passion! Politics, and my career in technology, and theatre.

David – I’m a performer and filmmaker so that takes up a good deal of my time, and I have a casual interest in astronomy.

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

Coverfly has been a great experience for us!

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

We entered an early draft, in the hopes that we would get some valuable feedback to help make the script better. The feedback we got was helpful, and we’ve incorporated some of the notes in recent revisions. Hearing our words performed by actors is a thrill, and also a learning experience. Our goal at the end of the day is to see A Study in Scarlett on the TV screen, and we’re hoping exposure through Wildsound will help us connect with people who can help make that happen.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A re-imagining of the legendary sleuths, multi-racial Scarlet Holmes and aspiring-doctor Joanna Watson solve mysteries during the cultural upheaval of post Civil War America.

CAST LIST:

Officer: Isaiah Kolundzic
Narrator: Hannah Ehman
Male Doctor: Bill Poulin
Watson: Nkasi Ogbonnah

 

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Shane W. Smith (BLACK MIRROR)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Shane W. Smith: Matchsticks 2.0 is a Black Mirror spec script about a family caught up in a government push to genetically normalise its citizens, using biometric user data gathered from a popular game to target imperfect subjects.

But at its heart, this is a story about the dangers of allowing advanced technology to drive social change, and the dehumanising ways in which people with disability and other vulnerable people are too often treated in public discourse.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

In true Black Mirror style, Matchsticks 2.0 is first and foremost a dystopian sci-fi story. Its secondary genre is family drama.

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

Honestly, it probably shouldn’t. At least not until we strip the Black Mirror aspects out of it.

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

Tech-led genocide.

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

I’ve got four kids, so it’s no doubt something Disney. But if we’re talking by choice, it’s probably a three-way tie between Star Wars, Children of Men, and the M*A*S*H: Goodbye, Farewell and Amen movie-length finale.

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

The first words of this story hit the page way back in 2016, but other projects took over. The bulk of this screenplay came together in the month of August 2019.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’m a lifelong writer, with around ten published graphic novels and a number of shorter published stories under my belt.

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

Tricky question, and so many viable contenders! Edging out the others, partly because the dystopian sci-fi angle is tonally in line with Matchsticks 2.0, I’m going to go with Save Yourself and I’ll Hold Them Back, by My Chemical Romance.

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

One of the options presented to us when my son was diagnosed with ASD and ADHD several years was a regimen of powerful medication that would radically change his personality, an option that – after careful consideration – we turned down in favour of a more involved road of occupational therapy and intensive one-on-one time. Being presented with this choice triggered a range of conflicting feelings, and this conflict was absolutely central to the concept of Matchsticks 2.0. In comparison to the real-life issues that underpinned it, the actual act of putting the script together was practically a non-issue.

From a technical standpoint, Matchsticks 2.0 was one of my first attempts at a TV script and as such, earlier drafts of the script were a bit overwritten. Thankfully, my local screenwriting group helped me smooth out the narration and tone, with a view to keeping things punchy and simple.

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

Apart from writing? Only my family: my incredible wife of twelve years, Katie, and our four amazing children, Annie, Liam, Nella and Molly.

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

I have a complicated relationship with Coverfly. I love the convenience of having information centrally available, and how easy it is to locate festivals and competitions. The homogenous layout for each event makes it really easy for writers to find key dates, prices, and eligibility rules, as well as tracking updates for submissions.

At the same time, however, the ease of the platform also contributes to it being quite addictive and, if a writer like me gets a rush of blood to the head, it can be worryingly easy to spend a small fortune on competitions in a very short amount of time.

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

Although I’m a lifelong writer, I’m a newcomer to screenwriting, and I was looking for some indication that I was on the right track. There were several reasons I chose to submit Matchsticks 2.0 to this festival:
reader feedback for every entry was a huge draw;
accepting spec scripts for existing shows set this festival apart from most others I found;
and the potential to hear my words brought to life by a cast of professional actors was an incredibly enticing prize too.
The feedback I received was very positive in nature, and mirrored the positive reaction I’d gotten from my local screenwriting group. It was tremendously heartening and encouraging to feel like I was indeed on the right track.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

“Perfect is the enemy of special.

When the government starts to use data mining software in order to identify genetically imperfect citizens, the software’s lead designer must come to terms with what it means to be perfect, and decide what kind of life he wants for his children.

CAST LIST:

Sally: Rebecca MacDonald
Brad: Peter Valdron
Narrator: Justine Christensen
Daniel: Nick Hendrik
Mara: Georgia Grant
Tag: Thomas Fournier