Interview with Winning Screenwriter Stephanie Annis (SANCTUARY CITY)

 1. What is your screenplay about?

Sanctuary City, an animation story, is set inside a butterfly sanctuary. A young overseer, his sanctuary charges, and the painter/janitor come together to raise money for sanctuary repairs. When the administrator chastises, challenges, and sabotages the overseer the true higher power assists.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Metaphysical Philosophical Animation

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

The hope of this spec script is to create enough interest in order to develop a complete screenplay filled with both metaphysical and philosophical life lessons for the next generation of children watching animation theatre.

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

Civic Pride

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

The Secret

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

This script was developed during my MFA program. The complete spec script final draft was my 2017 thesis.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written more than I can count. I’ve published two novels, an auto-biography, and a short book of poetry. My column in the Review-Journal & Las Vegas Business Press from 2014-2016 included the stories of varied executives and their paths to success. And, I’ve completed several scripts including the, single page, award winning comedy ‘Dab A Duck Tape’. I’m proud to say that I was also graced with the title “Best New Writer” in August 2017 at the Action on Film Festival after submitting ‘Sanctuary City’ as my submission.

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

Eminem, “Lose Yourself”

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

I was hospitalized due to exhaustion and a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis. Living with Crohn’s Disease since I was 18 I believe I have more lives than a cat. Surviving nearly 20 surgeries inspires me to pursue this project until it’s completion.

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

I love my family, studying, and practicing yoga.

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

It’s been a good experience as an introduction to the industry.

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

I loved my first experience with wildSOUND. They performed my one page script ‘Dab A Duck Tape’ in August 2017 when I won the Festival for Comedy through a FilmFreeway submission.

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Genre: Animation, Adventure

Zen Ben is a shy tour guide. After witnessing the injuries of Lily Ladybug and Becky Butterfly, Zen Ben demands repairs. Repairs seem impossible after Queen Lee tricks Zen Ben with an opportunity to win the Philanthropy Awards.

CAST LIST:

Slick Rick: Tim Paul McCarthy
Lily Ladybug: Jane Smythe
Narrator: Hugh Ritchie
Queen Lee: Georgia Grant
Zen Ben: Scott McCulloch
Vicky: Lara Amersey

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Interview with Winning Screenwriter Margaret Dane (A SHORT DROP AND A SUDDEN STOP)

 1. What is your screenplay about?

Peter is having a typical, banal mid-life crisis, and cannot see a way out of the mess he has made of his life. He can only see one way out, and has decided to go for the rope and hang himself. Enter Carmine, an angel of dubious origins, probably The Bronx, who is much more gumbah than guardian. He has zero love for his charge. Peter has a mission…to end it all and Carmine has a mission…let him do it! Heaven and earth collide, and the afterlife will either begin or end in a grotty warehouse..

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy/Short

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

A Short Drop and an A Sudden Stop is a light story, that will resonate with many people. The Idea of a guardian angel, being responsible for our actions is an universal experience. People always like a twist on an old theme and this story does that with the most unlikely defender of good deeds! Brooklyn is not where you would imagine an angel to come from, especially one with the foulest mouth on this side of the Atlantic! It is funny and surprising, but with just a splash of redemption!

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

Smart comedy

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

It’s A Wonderful Life (no sursprise!)

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

On and off for about a year

7. How many stories have you written?

10+

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

Baker’s Street, Gerry Rafferty

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

Myself getting in my own way, mainly

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

Teaching and writing about Yoga, family, volunteering with people with addictions

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

It is really amazing. Clear, concise, easy to use, great at notifications.

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

I love the idea that you give a filmmaker the opportunity to see their work performed in real time. This is such a boost to the future career of a filmmaker. The feedback was honest, on point and very helpful. The reader had a very good grasp on the essence of the work without shying away from constructive criticism.

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Genre: Fantasy, Drama

Peter is having a typical, banal mid-life crisis, and cannot see a way out of the mess he has made of his life. He can only see one way out, and has decided to go for the rope and hang himself.

CAST LIST:

Ariel: Alicia Payne
Narrator: Hugh Ritchie
Carmine: Rais Moui
Peter: Tim Paul McCarthy

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Mark Renshaw (THE BROKEN KINGDOM)

 1. What is your screenplay about?

Influence by Brexit and V for Vendetta, ‘The Broken Kingdom’ is set in an alternate timeline in which Guy Fawkes was successful in blowing up the houses of parliament and overthrowing the English monarchy in 1605. However, the script is set in 2018 and the story follows a French-American on a business trip in London. Here he is made to feel a stranger in a very strange land. The English landscape is a familiar one but bleak with an intolerant, isolated population. It isn’t long before our ‘hero’ finds himself in deep trouble as he accidentally commits heresy; becoming republic enemy number one. His only hope is a couple of eccentric, Scottish freedom fighters, but will Scotland prove to be any better?

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Dark comedy.

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

The story is entertaining and full of subtext, while the budget is quite reasonable. I believe people would be entertained by an adaptation of this while also recognising the comparisons with how the world is shifting in today’s weird political and social climate.

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

Political satire.

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

Probably Star Wars: A New Hope.

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

The first draft was written in two weeks as part of a challenge I took part in on a writer’s forum. Since then I tweak it as and when I get feedback.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’m a storyteller, so I’m always tinkering with stories either in my mind or on the page. I started off writing spoof stories in the 1990’s at work starring the people I work with and I haven’t stopped since.

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

I don’t really have any particular favourite, or one that has been listened to more times than others. I listen to a whole range of music, but when writing I tend to listen to orchestral soundtrack music to inspire my mews. In particular, anything by Two Steps From Hell.

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

Creating the alternate timeline. I had two weeks, one week for the backstory creation and a week for writing the script. Creating alternate history from 1605 to the present, then trying to apply that as subtly as possible to the script was incredibly difficult but such a rewarding and creative exercise.

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

I love films and TV, and not just watching them. I’ve produced several of my own scripts and I’m developing a TV series called The Nearscape.

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

Filmfreeway is a very easy to use portal to the film and screenplay competition world. They are constantly updating it to make it easier to use, more functionality etc. I think it is great. It isn’t perfect of course. Their automated process makes it a bit impersonal at times and easier for scam festivals to operate.

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

I’ve entered this festival before with a Doctor Who TV script and a short story. I was extremely pleased the subsequent table reads. The feedback is honest and constructive, which is exactly how I prefer it.

 

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Genre: Comedy, Fantasy

In an alternate timeline in which Guy Fawkes blew up parliament and overthrew the English monarchy, on its anniversary half a century later, a French-American businessman finds himself on the run with Scottish Freedom Fighters after he inadvertently commits an act of heresy.

CAST LIST:

Female Reporter: Alicia Payne
Tramp/Angus: Scott McCulloch
Emilia: Lara Amersey
Narrator: Hugh Ritchie
Felix: Tim Paul McCarthy
Renee: Jane Smythe
Soldier: Rais Moui

Interview with Winning Screenwriter R. Harris Smith (MIRRORS)

 1. What is your screenplay about?

‘Mirrors’ is about the fear of your reflection watching you as you sleep – almost an extension of fear of the dark, I suppose.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Horror.

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

As a short film, it is simple to make but can be particularly frightening at the same time.

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

Quite scary.

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

Probably ‘Shaun of The Dead’ or ‘Hot Fuzz’.

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

This screenplay took me a couple of hours, mainly just small fixes needing doing after the main idea was finished.

7. How many stories have you written?

‘Chloe’, ‘Mirrors’, ‘Out of Time’ and ‘Lucid Visionary’ so far.

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

At the moment, I’m mainly listening to Royal Blood and Manic Street Preachers.

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

Luckily, I had no obstacles as it was such a short script.

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

I’m also a director and producer, plus a lecturer.

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

I have found FilmFreeway pretty useful so far.

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

I liked the idea of a festival purely for scripts and films under 5 minutes so I had a look. I was happy with the feedback I received about my script, as it was mainly positive with a couple of suggestions on how to improve it.

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Genre: Horror, Thriller

Young Rachel is getting ready for bed, but as she sleeps, she worries her reflection might be watching her. Once her eyes are closed, her bedroom mirror reflection gets off the bed and presses itself against the mirror. Tapping to get out

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Hugh Ritchie
Rachel: Georgia Grant
 

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Kelly Lamphaer Dash (BURSTING FOR A BREAK)

1. What is your screenplay about?

A really frustrated employee.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy.

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

It’s a very visual story.

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

Spontaneous combustion.

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

The Wizard of Oz. After that, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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

Not long.

7. How many stories have you written?

Finished 3 features. Several unfinished features. About 10 shorts completed.

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

This is a really difficult question to answer. It always depends on time and mood what I will listen to repeatedly.

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

None. It was just a challenge to myself to see if I could actually write a genuine 1 page script.

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

Travel. And my kids, but not necessarily together.

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

Pretty positive.

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

I found it by chance through the “browse festivals” option. Very positive. Thank you!!!

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Genre: Comedy

A worker in a cubicle is about to explode if she doesn’t get a break.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Hugh Ritchie
Steffi: Jane Smythe
Co-Worker: Rais Moui

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Carla Miles (WAVERLY RIDING)

 1. What is your screenplay about?

‘Waverly Riding’ is about a woman who has tried hard to always do the right thing but she reaches her breaking point when she gets an eviction notice and her ex-husband says he’s going to try to get custody of their three kids. Waverly needs money now and devises a plan to rob the supermarket she works in. It’s a story about right and wrong, and how far a person will go for the people they love.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

This is a comedy script with many dramatic undertones. Or vice-versa.

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

I think a lot of people will be able to relate to this story – the financial hardships, single parenting, and a lousy job. And It’s ultimately a feel-good story.

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

Life’s hard.

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

Norma Rae.

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

I first thought of the story 20 years ago when I worked in a supermarket while raising six kids. So…

7. How many stories have you written?

At least 15 screenplays and 20 short stories.

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

Changes by David Bowie.

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

Working overtime as a police dispatcher, putting kids through college, babysitting grandkids, laundry, cooking, housecleaning…

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

Music and law enforcement.

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

I only recently discovered Film Freeway and my first submission was selected so I’m pretty psyched about it. I have had a couple of passes on other stories since but it helps me see which of my stories have potential, and the site is super easy to use and search for festivals.

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

I was drawn to this festival because of the word FEMALE. We really are underappreciated and underproduced in the film industry. There needs to be more great roles for women in film and more opportunities for female writers.
The feedback I received was phenomenal, very detailed and well thought out. I know my screenplay was read and carefully considered and this was all I wanted. I applied all of the suggestions to my script!

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Genre: Drama, Crime

A single mother in a financial crisis engineers a robbery at the supermarket she works in.

CAST LIST:

April: Lara Amersey
Narrator: Hugh Ritchie
Kat: Georgia Grant
Waverly: Jane Smythe

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Robert J. Sawyer (TRIGGERS)

 1. What is your screenplay about?

After an experiment to cure PTSD goes awry, one of fifteen people is now able to read the President’s memories — and the race is on to find out which one it is before national security is blown all to hell.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

A present-day science-fictional thriller.

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

It’s a fast-paced thriller with an African-American lead and some thoughtful social commentary.

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

Exciting; relevant.

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

2001: A Space Odyssey.

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

Three years.

7. How many stories have you written?

44 published stories; 23 published novels, including Hugo Award-winner HOMINIDS.

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

“Yesterday” by the Beatles — a song about memories and regret, very apropos of TRIGGERS.

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

Honestly, the Trump administration: it’s almost impossible to tell a story about a fictional president these days when truth is stranger than any fiction!

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

Paleontology.

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

Very convenient; fast and easy.

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

Glad to see a Toronto-based festival. The initial feedback was excellent and useful.

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Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Action/Adventure

After an experiment to cure PTSD goes awry, one of fifteen people is now able to read the President’s memories — and the race is on to find out which one it is before national security is blown all to hell.

CAST LIST:

Susan: Jane Smythe
Daryll: Rais Moui
Narrator: Hugh Ritchie
Jerrison: Scott McCulloch
Manny Cheung: Tim Paul McCarthy