Interview with Screenwriter Dylan Stagno (Good Movie In The Luck Business)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Dylan Stagno: This screenplay mainly depicts two issues of Hollywood’s golden era. Firstly, Hollywood’s concern of Communist propaganda being infiltrated through the industry. Secondly, the leaps and bounds of which small time production companies had to go through in order to make their films on shoestring budgets.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Dark Comedy/Thriller.

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

It’s a screenplay about selling and producing a screenplay. It’s a unique never seen before tale that any filmmaker/writer/film enthusiast can relate too.

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

Unintentionally hilarious.

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

‘’Bottle Rocket’’ by Wes Anderson.

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

A few months.

7. How many stories have you written? You ever heard of a bag of tricks?

Well I have a bag of scripts.

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

Right now, ‘’This Must Be The Place’’ by The Talking Heads.

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

Being respectful and as realistic as possible to the juncture of which the screenplay is set in.

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

Food!

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

I think Film Freeway is a great platform for aspiring filmmakers and screenwriters alike. It provides access to thousands of festivals & competitions which in part makes it easier for talent to become recognized.

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

I entered the festival because I want it to get made. Feedback was insightful, encouraging and helpful.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

After a communist screenwriter is killed, his latest script comes incidentally in two B movie producers’ possession. Despite the fears of defying state politics, their desperation convinces them to actually try and make this project happen.

CAST LIST:
Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Curt: Hartley O. Gyamfi
Eli: Joseph Ferrari
Leland: Shawn Devlin
Dickie: Sheldon Graham

 

Interview with Screenwriter Helen Marsh (THE GREATEST HEIGHT)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Helen Marsh: The Greatest Height is about finding a higher purpose within the struggles and conflict of day to day life. The story follows Nickle, a quirky girl who recently graduated high school and figures it’s about time she tries her hand at love. She sets her eyes on a do-gooder church boy, and through heart-break and betrayal finds something much more genuine and lasting. She finds God.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Family, Romance, Spiritual, Comedy

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

A lot of stories about finding God and discovering faith and spiritually centre around epic journeys and overcoming the impossible. What’s beautiful about The Greatest Height is that the epic journey is simply finding God, and the focus of the story remains on “the average girl” who’s discovering herself and realizing what she’s had in front of her all along. This is a comedic underdog tale (like Juno or Ladybird) that brings people to leave the theatre high on life.

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

Daringly beautiful

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

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (by my favourite author and screenwriter Stephen Chbosky)

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

One year

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve been writing stories since I was able to hold a pencil in my hand; the amount of strange ideas I’ve put to paper are endless. However, when it comes to screenplays I’ve written thirteen (the spookiest of numbers).

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

My favourite song is probably Lost Boy by Ruth B.

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

I went through a bit of a spiritual journey of my own while writing this. I meticulously searched the bible for inspiration and quotes that helped propel the screenplay. I also researched stories about other people finding faith (no matter the religion, believing in something is nice!)

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

I’m passionate about horror movies and watch way too many of them. Of course, I have to see them in theatres to get the full surround sound scare. I’m also a great lover of animals, with two cats, a dog, and a bunny for roommates.

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

FilmFreeway is awesome! t’s a great tool and can often lead to industry connections.

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

WILDsound Festival was an obvious choice for The Greatest Height because it offers feedback as well as a real prize: screenplay reading. For most festivals you receive a laurel if you’re a winner, which is great but doesn’t help your writing in any manner. By having my screenplay read out loud, I am able to hear my characters come to life and get a better understanding of which lines work and which don’t. The written feedback they gave me was also phenomenal, and really helped streamline my script and elevate my writing.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Logline: A rebellious and quirky young woman seeks true love in the form of a do-gooder church boy. However, after heart break and betrayal she finds something much better. She finds God.
CAST LIST :

Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Church: Hartley O. Gyamfi
Rosa: Lada Darewych
Stephanie: Jennifer Misiorowski
Pastor: Sheldon Graham

Interview with Screenwriter/Novelist Bill Steigerwald (30 Days a Black Man)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Bill Steigerwald: The true but forgotten story of a daring, pioneering and historic undercover journalism mission into the Jim Crow South of 1948 by two brilliant, accomplished, older men — one a star white newspaperman from Pittsburgh pretending to be black and the other a black political and social leader from Atlanta. Their unique collaboration created a nationally syndicated newspaper series that shocked the white North, pissed off the white South, pleased millions of blacks and started the first national debate in the media (print and radio) over ending Jim Crow legal segregation.


2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Nonfiction docudrama buddy movie.

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

It’s a great story about America — white and black — set in 1948 in the Jim Crow South, Pittsburgh and New York City. Often shocking and crammed with historic characters like Eleanor Roosevelt, NAACP leader Walter White and young Martin Luther King Jr., ’30 Days a Black Man’ is also loaded with powerful dramatic events like bloody race riots and the country’s last mass lynching. It’s a timely and important subject, co-stars two brilliant, mature characters (think Jeff Bridges and Samuel L. Jackson), and deserves to be made into a sophisticated six- or seven-part Netflix-like series.

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

Shocking history.

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

Tie: “1984” and “Brazil”

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

Six months (it’s adapted from my own nonfiction book, ’30 Days a Black Man.’

7. How many stories have you written?

Thousands of newspaper articles, feature stories and op-ed columns over 35-plus years as a newspaper and magazine journalist. Two nonfiction books — ‘Dogging Steinbeck’ and ’30 Days a Black Man.’ Several attempts at screenplays.

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

I’m old. Too many great ones to choose — anything by Hendrix, Pretenders, Tom Petty, Billie Holiday, Count Basie et al.

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

Not finished. I wrote three episodes of a series, written to show potential of the story and the rich historical setting.

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

Jazz. Journalism.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

In 1948 a daring white newspaperman from Pittsburgh disguises himself as a black man and goes undercover for a month in the Jim Crow South. What he sees makes him ashamed to be an American. What he writes wakes up the whole country. What he and the brilliant black leader who protected him from the KKK did strikes an important early blow against America’s apartheid. A true story.

CAST LIST:
Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Dobbs: Hartley O. Gyamfi
Sprigle: Joseph Ferrari
Dr. Vaughn: Sean Balantyne
Willie Kirkland: Sheldon Graham

Interview with Screenwriter Jonah Ocuto (RISES TO THRONE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Jonah Ocuto: My Screenplay “Rises to Throne” is about a programmer named Bill, who, convinced that the world will end in 5 days, is forced to team up with a nihilist in order to secure an afterlife for every soul on Earth. The screenplay addresses how much of our lives are dictated by the codes we live by, and what happens when we are forced to realize that our way of seeing the world was incorrect the whole time. Often, the most profound truths are the ones that have been hiding right in front of us, the ones that we can’t see until we admit our own failures.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Is Weird Drama a genre? If not, then just Drama.

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

Rises to Throne is a script that you don’t see too often nowadays — it’s a slow burn, but packed with insight. This script turns a keen eye to individuals and circumstances that we may not look at otherwise — I believe that it’s of paramount importance that we give the least among us as much of a voice as the rest of us. Rises to Throne should be made into a movie because it is a story that can only be told through the medium of film.

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

What now?

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

Oh man, it’s probably a tie between Eraserhead and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

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

Rises to Throne has been in development for about a year and a half now, but the finished script was written over the course of 15 weeks for a Screenwriting class at the film school I attend.

7. How many stories have you written?

Outside of this feature and four short films I’ve written, I write creative nonfiction stories weekly on my website, jocuto.wordpress.com.

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

I’m the most indecisive guy you’ll ever meet — a terrible curse for a hopeful screenwriter — but probably Rock Bottom Riser by Bill Callahan.

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

As a student, running out of time is always the biggest obstacle — Rises to Throne was developed over the course of only 15 weeks for class, and on top of this, I was taking 4 other classes. The biggest obstacle regarding screenwriting, for me, however, has always been allowing your characters to dictate and direct the plot, rather than force your characters to meet milestones you’ve arbitrarily laid out before them.

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

While writing is my one true love, I’m also a Tetris fanatic. Top 5% in the nation. Tetris is a bit like writing, actually — It’s not about making the correct decision, it’s just about making a decision as fast as possible, and seeing where it leads you.

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

Film Freeway is an invaluable tool in the independent screenwriters arsenal. I’ve only had great experiences with the website, as it gives me the opportunity to hear about festivals and competitions I never would have learned about otherwise.

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

I really wanted to enter a festival that would give timely feedback on my first draft, and this one seemed like a perfect fit. The feedback I received, while brief, will be an instrumental part of the rewriting process as I continue to develop the script further.
 
Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Bill lives in Chicago and is an amazing computer whiz and writes a program called, Categoric. He is convinced the world is going to end in a few days.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Carina Cojeen
Emma: Katelyn Varadi
Bill: Michael Ruhs

Interview with Screenwriter Anna Bielkheden (WALK OF SHAME)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Anna Bielkheden: It’s a raw drama series centered around three female roommates in LA going through a quarter life crisis in the age of social media. My main characters are 29-year old makeup artist SKY from Sherman Oaks, 26-year old personal trainer ASH from Oklahoma and 25-year old aspiring student actress CLARA.

I decided to call the show “Walk of Shame” because it’s set in Hollywood in the modern era of online fame, where the line between shame and fame is always slim and wobbly.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama

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

I think that that as a web or TV drama series, it really fits in with the times we’re living in.

It’s real, gritty, diverse and shows the modern reality of what it’s like being a young person, especially a woman, trying to make it in a city like LA. Most drama shows set in Los Angeles are incredibly unrealistic, and I wanted to show a different side without all the bells and whistles.

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

Endearing rawness.

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

I’m pretty sure it’s Goodfellas.

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

On and off for about two years.

7. How many stories have you written?

Going back all the way to when I started writing, I don’t really know. I’ve written one and a half novel (got stuck midway on the second one) and completed a total of three screenplays.I also have four additional treatments in progress, including a new pilot and three features.

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

I’m not really into favorites, to be completely honest. I like diversity, whether it’s people, buildings, colors or music. I listen to anything from Cypress Hill to Garbage and Abba. It’s all about the mood. If it doesn’t make me feel what I want to feel, I turn it off.

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

Getting my ass in gear and finishing it. Walk of Shame was also my first pilot script, so I kind of had to learn the ropes as I went along in terms of structure and formatting. Other than that, most of the script came naturally. My outline consisted of rough scenes on post-it notes, which I placed on a big white board so I could move them around as needed. But in terms of really nailing the details, the story unfolded on its own. My characters talk, I just listen and write it down.

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

Human connection is what drives me. Understanding how we are similar in our differences and uniting polar opposites really fascinates me. I’m more into deep conversation than adrenaline boosting experiences. To me, the beauty of life really is in the little things.

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

I’ve had a great experience so far. It’s simple to use and gets the job done!

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

I was drawn to the motivation behind the festival; to showcase female writers and filmmakers.That is definitely needed! I was over the moon with my submission feedback. It was super detailed and very helpful. Most importantly, I got the impression the person reading my script truly understood what I was trying to say and saw what I envisioned with the show.

 
Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Walk of Shame is a raw drama series about three female roommates in LA struggling to navigate the road to success and personal identity, smack in the middle of a booming social media era and a pending quarter life crisis. Over the course of ten episodes, we follow the complicated lives and relationships of a 26-year old personal trainer from Oklahoma with a raging Tomboy vs. Barbie complex (ASH), a 29-year old second generation immigrant MUA from Sherman Oaks with the goal of becoming a star beauty influencer (SKY), and a 25-year old aspiring actress from Denmark with an expiring student visa, desperate to make it at any cost (CLARA).

CAST LIST:

Avery: Aaron Maxwell Williams
Alexis: Katelyn Varadi
Sky: Camila Aguirre
Narrator: Carina Cojeen
Clara: Melinda Jordan
Ash: Kristen MacCulloch
Miguel: Michael Ruhs

Interview with Screenwriter Stephanie Annis (OLIVIA & BORIS TAKING RISKS)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Stephanie Annis: A mob princess coming to power.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Thriller/Action

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

It’s the perfect cast of characters with a modern gangsta appeal.

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

Family & Murder

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

The Crow

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

Too many years (idk)

7. How many stories have you written?

More than a few, maybe a dozen, who tracks such things?

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

At the moment, “Smoking Section” – Jelly Roll.

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

Survivial.

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

French Bulldogs and Nature.

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

Okay, but I prefer to deal direct with WildSound.

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

My goal for entry is to have the table read. The table read helps me to judge my own work.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

CAST LIST:

Sam: Michael Ruhs
Ava: Kristen MacCulloch
Dahlia: Melinda Jordan
Narrator: Carina Cojeen
Olivia: Camila Aguirre
Boris: Aaron Maxwell Williams
Ella: Katelyn Varadi

 

Interview with Screenwriter Frank Friedlander (KILLER BE KILLED)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Frank Friedlander: A Manson-Esque band of pleasure killers venture deep into uncharted territory. There, they run afoul of a pair of super soldiers thought to have died years ago; and they intend to keep it that way.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

-Action-Horror-dark comedy

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

-I would appeal to fans of multiple genres and could be done on a very low budget.

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

-Campy. Fun.

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

-If I had to guess, I’d say Beetlejuice.

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

-It seems like an eternity.

7. How many stories have you written?

-Are we talking about those in my head or just the ones that have made it to paper?

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

-The Rake’s Song by The Decemberist. Disturbingly dark yet brilliantly blithe.

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

-The ability to leave well enough alone; meaning that even long after it was finished, it’s difficult to walk away from making minor tweaks, which can ultimately evolve into not so minor tweaks.

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

-Refer to my email address;) – (Cubs fan!)

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

-Very well organized and easy to work with.

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

-Reasonable entrance fee with an enticing description. As for the initial feedback, it was honest and helpful.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

CAST LIST:

Jeffrey: Aaron Maxwell Williams
Abigail: Kristen MacCulloch
Narrator: Carina Cojeen
Tammy: Camila Aguirre
Portia: Katelyn Varadi
Karaleigh: Melinda Jordan