Interview with Screenwriter Vinny Smith (SQUISH!)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Vinny Smith: It’s about a group of marine biology students who are stalked by a giant jellyfish. It’s basically a monster movie set in the tropics but it’s also about the environment and Big Oil’s involvement in harming it.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

I would call it horror/comedy

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

It’s fun and unique in that I have never seen a movie with a giant jellyfish before much less one where a dwarf and a 400 lb. fat guy are the heroes. It ticks all the standard boxes for blood and gore and sexy people getting killed. Plus it makes an environmental statement.

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

Entertaining, relevant.

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

Office Space

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

It took about a year.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’m just finishing my 9th feature length screenplay and I published a book of 15 short stories.

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

Tie: Hard To Say I’m Sorry by Chicago and Carolina Morning by Mickey and the Motorcars.

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

Writing it in a linear fashion. I had a bunch of scenes that I knew I wanted in it so I had to craft the story around them. I jumped around a lot and wrote it out of order.

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

Real country music and cigars.

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

It was super easy to submit and check the status of all of my entries.

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

I didn’t need much influence. I feel the more you get it out there, the more chance you will have that somebody like it enough to make it. The feedback was about what I expected. You can tell who gets it and who doesn’t. Most of the time the things that are pointed out as negatives are exactly the point I was going for like when they say it’s too formulaic or something. Yes, I’m trying to fit the format.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

 

A scrappy group of marine biology students are stalked by a giant jellyfish in the Bahamas.

CAST LIST:

Bobby: Geoff Mays
Howard: Neil Bennett
April: Elle A
Narrator: Val Cole
Nick: Jarrod Terrill
Michael: Ryan Singh
Sofia: Isabel Kruse
Gina: Bianca Alongi

 

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Interview with Screenwriter Eric White (BLIND VAMPIRE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Eric White: The 15-minute Short is about a vampire who was blinded in an ambush. She learns to survive throughout the centuries by using the vision of animals and her ability to compel beings through thought. In the Short we see: (1) Healthy vampire Dreven, (2) Blinded Dreven and (3) Dreven overcoming her disability. It’s heartwarming in a horrible sort of way.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Horror, Action

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

Vampires typically don’t have a disability — they are either very strong and resilient or dead. In this case, the vampire Dreven adapts to her disability in a seemingly “normal” way by using a service dog that she has trained to detect danger, protect her and hunt for blood.

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

Pragmatic adaptation.

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

Fifth Element

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

1 month

7. How many stories have you written?

I have mature scripts for “Blind Vampire” and “Vapor”, a Sci-Fi Steampunk TV Pilot. And nascent scripts/stories for two more Pilots, “Unseen” and “Not So Charming” and one feature, “Dead Princess”.

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

Rolling Stones, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

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

Targeting 15-minutes in length and I struggled with the ending. Some will feel it ends abruptly. I could have explored a relationship with the neighbor, making the script longer, but I preferred bloodlust over just plain lust and kept the script to 15 pp.

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

Beach, beagles, and irreverence.

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

It’s great. I feel like I’m not presenting work through a portal but, rather, sharing my accomplishments with a community.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival?

The festival struck me as welcoming, constructive and interested in my work, not just building a lengthy participant list to legitimize their festival – particularly new ones.

What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

The feedback — in particular the tone, not just the content — was far more helpful and encouraging than most all other reader responses I’ve received.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Centuries after a being ambushed, a blinded vampire survives thanks to her seeing eye dog.

CAST LIST:

Thug Leader: Daniel Jones
Boris: Steve Rizzo
Narrator: Carina Cojeen
Dreven: Caroline Concordia
Melanie: Emily Weir
Celia: Judy Thrush

Interview with Screenwriter Ron Micci (ALL THE WOLVES YOU WERE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Ron Micci: It’s a tongue-in-cheek, droll, humorous take on werewolves involving the British aristocracy during the Victorian era, think 1880s. A satire and a parody of those old Universal Wolfman films.

The Prescotts, whose aristocratic fortunes are in decline, are hoping that the marriage of their son, Lawrence, to a mysterious young Romanian princess whose family has established a summer residence nearby, will save them from financial ruin.

On the eve of the nuptials, the princess (Elizabeth) confesses that she is a werewolf and begs Lawrence to call off the wedding.

When he poo-poos this, she runs off to the moors. What ensues with the help of a subplot involving a romance between a village boy and an uppercrust girl, a mad doctor, and a shrewd gypsy who seeks to lift the princess’s curse, culminates in a very hairy and hilarious set of church vows.

2. What genre does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy. Satire. Horror.

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

It’s consistently funny, and werewolf films are generally popular based on the special effects involved in the wolf transformations.

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

Very cute.

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

Last time I said The Best Years of Our Lives, but there are any number of films, particularly in the film noir genre, that I have seen many times.

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

Actually, I began work sometime in the 1980s, then switched to writing for the stage and created a three-act stage adaptation, then returned to the script in the late 90s and did intensive rewrites of it.

7. How many stories have you written?

About 60 one-act plays and sketches, three longer plays, three novels, four screenplays, one episodic TV pilot, three screen shorts and two original sitcom pilot scripts.

8. What is your favorite song?

“When I Fall Love”

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

The most difficult challenge was to sustain the same droll, tongue-in-cheek tone throughout.

If it’s a spoof, you want to maintain that feeling beginning to end. Certain scenes were more difficult than others, but I managed to persevere and feel I succeeded in doing that.

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

Playing the flute, for one thing. And making humorous videos. I’ve been told quite adamantly that I should have been an actor, and I believe there is more than an modicum of truth to that. (I suppose writers are actors.) But I didn’t realize this until much too late in the game. (Hey, choose your favorite form of starvation, right?)

11. Experiences with the FilmFreeway site?

Tough to say. In trying to use the site to submit to screenplay competitions, I hit a dead end. I believe technical glitches.

12. What influenced you to enter the Festival? Reactions to feedback you
received?

By and large I was surprised at how fair-minded the feedback was, a rarity. The fact that they even bothered to read the scripts, and it was obvious they had, was a pleasant surprise. I think in most of these contests they simply throw the scripts against a wall and whatever sticks they give awards to.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

Logline: “Do you take this werewolf — I mean woman — to be your lawful wedded wife?” “I — I — I — ulp! — do.” In Victorian England, a wedding between a British aristocrat’s son and a mysterious Romanian princess is thrown in jeopardy when the princess reveals she’s a werewolf. A droll, witty farce.

Comedy-Horror

Feature screenplay

CAST LIST:

Hastings: Daniel Jones
Narrator: Sean Ballantyne
Col. Wellington: Peter Nelson
Lady Wellington: Judy Thrush

Interview with Screenwriter Ronald V. Micci (MARLISE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Ronald V. Micci: A fragile lesbian and her sister who are in financial straits. Marilise, one of the sisters, is very vulnerable and finds herself the object of more than one set of affections, tearing her between her jealous sister, Leigh Ann, and a number of women. When well-to-do older lesbian seduces Marilise at a garden party, this causes friction with her sister. On a picnic with the older woman, Marilise must break the fact to her that their relationship can’t go on. She pursues Marilise on bike, and is killed in a road accident. Her twin sister seeks revenge. At first Marilise believes she is being haunted by Alisa, the dead woman. She consults a psychiatrist. But in fact, she is being haunted by the dead woman’s twin sister, who is intent on getting revenge and killing her.

Another woman who has taken Marilise under her wing betrays her, and has set her up as a target in a cottage on Montauk Point. But the police have gotten wind of the twin sister, and they are in a race against time to save Marilise from being murdered. The story culminates in gunshots and death on the beach at Montauk. Ergo, this is a love story and murder mystery combined.

2. What genre does your screenplay fall under?

It’s both love story and crime drama (murder mystery).

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

Mostly because it has a genuine emotional core. Most films today are lacking any true emotional basis.

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

Emotionally engaging.

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

The Best Years of Our Lives

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

The screenplay was finished several years ago. It began as a screen short, then I expanded it.

I usually write and rewrite and polish until every beat of the script is as
perfect as it can be (this is the equivalent to probably half a dozen times).

How long this takes can vary. As far as I’m concerned, I’m pleased with the script and it is finished. (It got Honorable Mention, or at least a shorter version of it did, in a screenplay competition in New York several years ago. I subsequently fleshed out a couple of scenes when it appeared that a film student was actually going to shoot the thing.)

7. How many stories have you written?

Three novels, about 60 one-act plays, four screenplays, four screen shorts, two sitcom scripts, a one-hour pilot script.

8. What is your favorite song?

Too many to pick a favorite. Any of the great show standards.

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

Nothing more than the usual grind of writing a script. But a critical turning point is when Marilise is betrayed by another woman who has taken her under her wing. That car scene surprised even me, and added a great twist and suspense to the denouement. It just kind of came out of nowhere.

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

Jazz and classical music, and playing the flute

11. What has been your experience working with Film Freeway?

Actually, I submitted several scripts via the specific contest websites rather than using the generic Film Freeway format, which seems to have locked one script in and which I couldn’t defeat.

12. What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

I thought the feedback was benign and it was clear that they had actually read the scripts. A couple of things eluded the reader, and I never did get feedback on the Marilise screen short submission, probably an oversight. This batch of readers seemed pretty on the ball, didn’t seem to “get it” in only a few

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A gentle lesbian love story between two financially strapped sisters in their 20s in the Hamptons turns deadly when they seek the assistance of an older woman, who comes between them romantically, and whose sudden accidental death leads to a revenge killing and murderous shootout on Montauk Point.

Crime

CAST LIST:

Jeffrey – 1 – David Occhipinti
Leigh Ann – 13 – Ella A
Narration – Michael Ruhs
Marilise – 52 – Barbara Bergeron
Alisa – 57 – Carrie Schiffler

***

 

 

 

Interview with Screenwriter Raymond A. Porter (Himal Gold: Murder and Intrigue in the High Mountains)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Raymond A. Porter: A WWII German plane is discovered crashed in Nepal in 1953.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Action, adventure.

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

It’s a great historical action adventure that is based on fact.

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

Epic adventure.

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

The Sound of Music

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

12 months

7. How many stories have you written?

6 books, 8 screenplays

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

Too many to list

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

Finding time, working and family always take up most of my day.

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

Martial arts, i gave up teaching at the end of 2017. And making movies.

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

All good, is straight forward and easy.

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

To get my script promoted. Initial feedback was good.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

In 1953, a British Journalist in Nepal to cover the attempt on Mt Everest, writes an article about an old Nazi cargo plane that has been found crashed in a sacred valley.

Upon reading the article, the Nazi officer who led an expedition into Tibet in 1938, seizes on the opportunity to reclaim the gold that was lost on that fateful flight.

CAST LIST:

Vincent – 3 – Michael Ruhs
Gunther – 1 – Steve Saet
Narration – Carrie Schiffler
Hauptman Weiss – 8 – David Occhipinti
Sebastian – 1 – Steve Saet

***

Interview with Screenwriter Eduardo Ramirez (TRAVEL COMPANION)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Eduardo Ramirez: The screenplay is a romantic drama about a couple of men whose lives cross paths when they’re both at the lowest point in life. They develop a friendship, which eventually turns into something more.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Romantic Drama

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

The story explores a side of human relationships that is normally treated as a taboo: a romantic relationship between two men. In these times of increasing intolerance towards the LGBT community, it’s important to produce films that include these type of relationships to hopefully create a more positive view of them in our society.

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

Unconventionally warm.

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

Star Wars Episode IV (37 times)

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

I worked on it for about 6 months but I have made changes since then.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have written several short stories. This is the first full length (feature film) screenplay I’ve written. I am currently working on three new short stories.

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

‘Time After Time’ by Cyndi Lauper.

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

Lack of quiet time in which I can focus and write.

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

Being a film director.

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

My overall experience with FilmFreeway is very positive. I really enjoy submitting material to festivals via their website.

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

I received an invitation. I was really excited after I read the initial feedback.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Logline: The lives of two men: An unsuccessful writer and a former mixed martial arts champion cross paths when they’re both at the lowest point in life. They develop a friendship that turns into something more.

Genre: LGBT Romance, Drama

CAST LIST:

Gloria – 5 – CASSANDRA GUTHRIE
Julia – 11 – ETHEL ABRAY
NARRATION – TED POWERS
Brian – 19 – JUSTIN DESOUZA
Helen – 11 – OLIVIA BARRETT
****

Interview with Screenwriter Alysha Nunez (SOW DON’T SING)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Alysha Nunez: LOGLINE: A boy who lived without love joins the military to find belonging only to end up in the mob as Consigliere and fall in love with the chauffeur.

“Sow Don’t Sing” is the journey of a boy’s abused life starting from when he’s 18 and ending with when he’s 30 and the wild events that occur in the short, 12-year span between.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama.

Although, I usually describe it as “a military movie that is really a romantic crime drama.” (When talking out loud.)

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

It should be a movie because when words fail, then audio and visuals may convey what words cannot.

This story was conceived through my attempts at taking my personal hardships and turning them into words. Speaking about my feelings out loud is seldom understood. I want to provide a visceral experience that can convey these feelings better than words can. To take others into experiences outside their own, and maybe learn something from it.

This is a story dedicated to the people that are also walking wounded. My hopes are that if this story can reach enough people, then they may have their own cathartic release alongside experiencing the life of my protagonist. Especially to those who have also lived without emotional support.

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

Cathartic, poignant.

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

Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

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

The first draft was completed on September 11th, 2018. It was a coincidence since my story briefly mentions and takes part in the events following 9/11.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have nine original projects across different mediums I continue to write for. “Sow Don’t Sing” is my first serious attempt at screenwriting.

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

“One Day Too Late” by SKILLET. I’ve enjoyed many of the band’s songs, and this song in particular sparked much inspiration for “Sow Don’t Sing.” I couldn’t have written it without it. The song spiritually embodies the whole story.

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

The hardest obstacles are trying to find the correct people that may help you learn, understand, and hone the craft of screenwriting. Even in educational circles (colleges, universities) there are a lot of dead ends.

For the act of writing the screenplay specifically, it was trying to utilize freeware script writing programs. All of them are prone to technical errors that can lead to the death of the script’s credibility. I have since learned my lesson and purchased Final Draft.

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

Drawing is my first love. I value myself as a visual artist first and foremost.

I’m happy to learn that when working on this script, I am able to grow and understand myself as a capable writer. I can only hope to move forward from here.

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

I tinkered with the idea of submitting the script via Withoutabox.com but then they went under, haha. FilmFreeway has been an easy, accessible, and indispensable resource.

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

The amount of offers and opportunities this festival can provide.

It was interesting to learn that there is a divide between looking at animation as a genre, and viewing it as a medium. Feedback left much to be desired.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

This is the story of the boy who came to be known as “Ole Lukøje. ”

A boy who lived without love joins the military to find belonging only to end up in the mob as Consigliere and fall in love with the chauffeur.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Carrie Schiffler
Odine: Ella A
Luca: Steve Saet
Nelson: Michael Ruhs