Interview with Screenwriter Tali Zingman (HEADSTRONG)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Tali Zingman: Alice (32), a girl plagued by her own self-criticism and loathing, has just caught her boyfriend of five years cheating. Faced with the double-edged question of what to do, Alice confronts the different, zany sides of her personality. In this inner battle of the mind, she must weigh out what she is more afraid of: being in an unstable relationship or being alone.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy, drama, psychological piece

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

Film often uses tropes for their depiction of female characters: the traditional mother, the punk rebel, the girl-next-door. Headstrong takes these tropes and shows that they can exist all within the same girl. The female lead is complex, multi-faceted, and most importantly, authentic. The film also addresses the themes of mental illness, anxiety, and feminism. Alice’s inner battle is one that so many girls unfortunately face in the modern age. They are instilled within this self-criticism and the social pressure to be dependent and a care-giver, rather than a self-functioning and thriving individual. For a short film, it covers a great deal of ground all under the accessible format of an innocuous comedy.

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

Self-love story (Hyphens count, right?)

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

Nightmare Before Christmas.

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

Two years.

7. How many stories have you written?

Over 30.

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

Lately, it’s been “Nobody” by Mitski.

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

I struggled with the “cheese-factor”, mainly because I don’t usually write rom-coms. When I started, I didn’t realize that what this was, at the end of the day, was a girl learning to fall in love with herself. At the end, when she goes around the room and tells the different sides she loves them, she’s finally accepts every part of herself and validates that she loves them. That to me felt dramatic, but at the same time, I questioned “Why?” Why is it so taboo to say you love yourself just the way you are? That for me was my own self-discovery.

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

Nothing…except caramel frappuccinos and my dog.

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

I found my experience with Female Film Festival to be extremely positive. They are personable, enthusiastic, and really focused on building a safe environment which nurtures each artist. I was truly touched by their constant passion and investment in my work.

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

I felt very proud of this script and wanted the right platform to present it. I found the festival’s mission to be exactly the right fit. The feedback was timely, constructive, and extremely helpful.

 Watch the Screenplay Reading:

Alice, age 32, is a self-conscious girl with a bitter dilemma: what to do after catching her boyfriend of 5 years cheating. It’s up to her and the kooky sides of her personality in her head to decide. This is one epic inner battle.

CAST LIST:

Revenge – KAT SMILEY
NARRATION – STEPHEN SANDQUIST
Mother – JULIE SHEPPARD
Alice – JESSICA BOWMER

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Interview with Screenwriter Marilyn Lee (WOMEN OF STEEL)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Marilyn Lee: Three women share their powerful and touching personal histories, past and present, to reveal phenomenal determination, steeling themselves, focusing on physical and emotional survival and overcoming inner conflict and pain. In the telling they share what and how they did this to create a new life for themselves. These women become heroes as they share their search for their identities and to realize the success they were able to achieve.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Women, traumatized by parents and other life events, overcome their challenges, rise to become who they really are. This story is meant to say to anyone abused or has suffered a debilitating trauma can stand for themselves and overcome whatever might be hindering their success in life. In other words, you too can do this.

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

To celebrate the overcoming of life traumas by those who are seen as weak or vulnerable. It’s a message to those who might need it.

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

True story

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

Gone With the Wind

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

Three years

7. How many stories have you written?

Three

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

Celebration

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

Getting it right for starters. Including elements significant to those involved that are easily overlooked and/or taken for granted.

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

Assisting others to see and better understand issues in life that might be mind-boggling, puzzling or just plain unseen speed bumps. Everything I write, whether fiction, non-fiction, or screen plays, everything has a message designed to be helpful or provide insight into human relations and other life issues. Currently I am enrolling in a graduate program for a PhD in Religion. I wish to explore the actual function of religion and how it impacts our lives, for good, bad, or in-between. Seeing religion as a function might provide us with other ways to see everything else.

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

Costly

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

My initial feedback provided much negative observations that I took seriously. I welcome critical reviews and re-geared myself to address what was seen as frailties in the story/script. I believe I greatly improved the story.

3 PART Best Scene Readings:

Short feature: Memoir of a childhood remembered as one of energy vampired away through routine rapes and sexual abuse until the age of nine. The child takes a stand for herself against her parents that provide relief of sorts.

PART 1:

CAST LIST;

Anna – JESSICA BOWMER
Dennis – STEPHEN SANDQUIST
NARRATION – STEVE SWITZMAN
Rachel – JULIE SHEPPARD
Mary – KAT SMILEY

PART 2:

CAST LIST:

Ma – JESSICA BOWMER
Rachel – JULIE SHEPPARD
NARRATION – SARAH-HAZEN BASK
Mary – KAT SMILEY
Jerry – STEPHEN SANDQUIST
Dad – STEVE SWITZMAN

PART 3:

CAST LIST:

NARRATION – STEVE SWITZMAN
Mary – KAT SMILEY
Ron – STEPHEN SANDQUIST

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Interview with Screenwriter Rodrigo Juatco (ROAR)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Rodrigo Juatco: ROAR is a story that straddles a thin-line between truth and reality; but when reality appears in the form of a legendary beast hell-bent on revenge, the truth suddenly takes a backseat to TERROR.

2. What genre does your screenplay fall under?

Horror/Thriller

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

For the same reason scary campfire stories as so popular, people love getting freaked-out. There are enough horror elements in my screenplay to do just that—get people afraid of the dark woods. Moreover, I believe the Sasquatch is the next monster trend. There has always been a fan base for this elusive creature; but since the Dyatlov Pass Incident was declassified by the Russian Government, (I believe) it is about to become the next big thing (I don’t mean its feet.)

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

Chills and thrills.

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

Alien is one of my all-time favorite movies. In terms of suspense and all out terror, it is an absolute masterpiece. I must have jumped out of my theater seat about 10 times when I first watched it.

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

I have been working on this screenplay for about a year and a half.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have completed 6 screenplays, and about 15 short stories which I have compiled into a collection.

8. What is your favorite song?

A song I listen to a lot is Lunatic Fringe by Red Rider. During my rugby days, it was the song we played right before a game to get psyched-out. So whenever I need a little bit of an adrenaline rush, I crank that tune.

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

Finding the time to write and rewrite, during an already hectic schedule, was my greatest challenge. When you are passionate about something, however, you always find the time.

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

My family is the most important thing in my life (that and Netflix, LOL).

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

My experience has been nothing but positive. I highly recommend FilmFreeway to any writer looking to further their craft.

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

In order to grow as a writer you need constructive feedback. There are no two ways about it. And in order to get discovered, you need to get your work out there. Period. With this in mind, entering the festival was really a no-brainer. 

 

Watch Screenplay Reading: 

ROAR is a horror/thriller that explores the depths of perception verses reality. When Raymond Foust, a traumatized sole survivor of a plane crash into the Canadian forest of British Columbia, is plagued by nightmares of being attacked by a terrifying-otherworldly creature, he returns to the forest with his fiancée and members of his phobia support group to confront, what he believed to be, his irrational, unfounded fear of the forest. What he discovers, however, is his worst nightmare made real, as he and his group become the target of a merciless Beast, and all at once, truth and reality take a backseat to terror.

CAST LIST:

Zoey – 4 – Jen Daniels
Dr. Quack – 7 – Hugh Ritchie
NARRATION – Ron Boyd
Francis – 8 – Rhys Harrison
Meemee – 3 – Anne McMaster

A FilmFreeway preferred festival:

Interview with Screenwriter Tayler Carter (FLUIDITY)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Tayler Carter: This screenplay is set in a society where children are free to explore their gender, but must choose one of the extreme binaries upon their 13th birthday, and live in that extreme binary for the rest of their lives. Our story follows Sam Conley, whose 13th birthday is only weeks away, and they have no idea which gender to choose. In fact, they increasingly wonder: ‘Why can I just be myself?’

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Science-fiction, Drama, Coming-of-Age

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

This is the type of story I needed going into my teenage years. With so little non-binary representation in media, I am attempting to aid in that growth, whether the screenplay is produced or unproduced.

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

non-conforming (Is this one word or two?)

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

Probably Stand By Me, with other 80s/90s coming-of-age films such as The Goonies and The Sandlot coming closely behind.

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

Fluidity’s story inception was around October 2017.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve been making up stories since I could talk, but I began my screenwriting education and career during my college years.

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

At the moment, it is Primavera by Ludovico Einaudi.

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

I initially wrote Fluidity as a short screenplay (20 pages) for school, but quickly realized that the story was much larger that 20 minutes could provide. So it was reimagined as a limited run television series. I am still working the story, and am unsure if it will stay as a 30-minute per episode series or a 60-minute per episode series.

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

I really love animation and graphic novels, particularly aimed at children, and am very passionate about LGBTQ+ representation in children’s media. I also enjoy drawing and illustration, but need to practice that more often.

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

Film Freeway has been a great platform for me to enter my screenplays into competitions. I had not known much about screenwriting competitions before a year ago, and Film Freeway has been very fluid introduction to the world of festivals.

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

I was searching for LGBTQ+ themed festivals to enter Fluidity in, given its content and themes. The LGBT Toronto Film Festival has been wonderful with their feedback and correspondence, and I am very grateful to be involved!

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Synopsis:

This high-concept speculative fiction piece takes place in a world where children are raised gender-neutral until they are 13, when they are required to choose their gender. While gender neutral behaviour (example playing with all kinds of toys, sports, etc) is acceptable in childhood, 13 represents a right of passage into proto-adulthood, and gender becomes clearly divided.

CAST LIST:

Allison – 4 – Vanessa Burns
Rita (40s) – 3 – Pip Dwyer
Narration – Russell Batcher
Sam (m)- 12 – Alex Clay
Jackson (f) – 12 – Sydney Addison-Rudat
Nathan – 2 – Luke Robinson

Submit exclusively via FilmFreeway:

Interview with Screenwriter James Zeankowski (MIND FORCE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

James Zeankowski: Detective Robby Banks, in possession of a supernatural gift of self hypnotic telepathy, uses said gift to find missing persons and their captors.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Supernatural Crime Drama for Television

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

Two elements that the public enjoys: The Supernatural and crime suspense.

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

Truly mesmerizing.

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

There are so many to name. I have very eclectic tastes in this regard. All kinds of genres.

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

A few months. Altogether, I have spent nearly 5 years writing scripts.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve completed a total of 4, including Mind Force. One story I had to chuck because of too many rewrites and never getting any traction going on it.

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

Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You? by Stevie Nicks. My musical muse and metaphorical fairy godmother.

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

With all of my scripts, writing them has been the easy part. Getting them marketed correctly and breaking out to get any of them green lit by Hollywood is the biggest obstacle. Trying to find ways to get through the red tape.

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

All things sports, entertainment, and politics/current affairs. I’m a journalism student by trade, so I tend to be a bit of a news junkie. If it’s trending, I’m usually one of the first to know about it.

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

This is my first time with it, and I’m hoping it helps in getting me discovered.

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

I am a tad constructively critical of those doing the reading. However, I’m not a picky individual, so we’ll see if it leads to more.
 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Detective Robby Banks uses his self hypnotic telepathy powers to find missing persons and their captors.

CAST LIST:

Chief Mackenzie – 5 – PETER NELSON
Cop – 3 – KYANA TERESA
Narration – PAOLA SCATTOLON
Robby – 22 – NICK DOLAN
Marty – 21 – ADRIAN CARLOS CARTER

A FilmFreeway preferred festival:

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Interview with Screenwriter Alan Rosenfeld (Jonny Quest: The Terror of Dr. Zin)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Alan Rosenfeld: Jonny Quest: The terror of Dr. Zin – is a story of a courageous young man who’s painful past reemerges to threaten he and his family. A madman with deep ties to his past must be outwitted to avert a disaster and heal deep family wounds.

At its heart, it’s about adventure, family, loyalty, and personal healing.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Action and Adventure with a little Science Fiction thrown in.

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

I believe it would begin a fresh dialogue about a softer approach to the action genre. It will bring fresh hearts and minds to the intrigue and adventures of a young man embarking on a life guided by strong mores.

JONNY QUEST: THE TERROR OF DR. ZIN introduces a new generation to strong family ties, an acceptance of other cultures, and a willingness to learn and explore while outwitting his old adversary, Dr. Zin.

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

Thrilling and engaging.

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

Casablanca.

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

As a fan of the original work, I’ve always wanted to see the excitement brought to the big screen. I started playing with ideas for the script a few years ago. I wrote the first draft in about a month. I wrote the second draft in a weekend.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written a feature animation treatment, JOURNEY OF THE VOYAGERS. It’s a feature animation that takes place inside the Voyager I spaceship.

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

“Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves

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

I’m dyslexic.

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

My day-job keeps me busy as a VFX Lighting Artist which I have been doing for over thirty years now. I still love to get to work and make synthetic reality with pixels every day.

I also am a great home baker and make killer cheesecakes.

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

Excellent! What a great on ramp of opportunities they have afforded us. Brilliant!

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

I needed a starting point to kick off this adaptation. A gauge on not only my ability to write a complete script but also on how other fans would take to seeing one of their childhood icons come to life again. There are many voices when it comes to writing a story such as Jonny Quest. The invaluable feedback from the festival helps me understand what other see in the story and help guide me as a young writing artist and bring the story to life.
 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Logline: “When a madman attempts to destroy Apollo 11, a courageous clever young man and his family must outwit their old nemesis to save the rocket and heal family wounds”.

CAST LIST:

Dr. Zin – 5 – ADRIAN CARLOS CARTER
Dr. Quest – 4 – PETER NELSON
Narration – PAOLA SCATTOLON
Jade – 5 – KYANA TERESA
Hadji – 5 – NICK DOLAN

A FilmFreeway preferred festival:

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Interview with Screenwriter Elizabeth Shum (THE GOLDBERGS TV Spec Screenplay)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your TV Spec screenplay of THE GOLDBERGS TV Show about?

Elizabeth Shum: Beverly uses a Caboodle to transform Barry into “Bowie”, who sings-off against Erica to win Lainey’s extra Guns N’ Roses ticket – becoming “The Labyrinth” muse Adam needs to remove his writer’s block.

2. How does this screenplay fit into the context of the show?

It’s a comedy that hits all the familiar notes of the show like family comedy, emotional moments, hilarious archetypes, and the 80s era so many of us love.

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

Nostalgic comedy.

4. What TV show do you keep watching over and over again?

Game of Thrones is one of my favorite shows. It would have been easier to pick my top ten favorites because I watch far too much television.

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

It took me one week to write the spec.

6. How many stories have you written?

Eight, but I have a list of plots and outlines as long as my arm. I have so many ideas that it’s hard to choose which one to write next.

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

)I don’t have a favorite. I probably listen to theme songs or musical scores than anything else because I watch so much Film and TV.

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

None. I had to write it quickly for a deadline, but it came pretty easily to me because I’ve seen several funny but heartwarming Goldberg episodes.

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

Food, producing, art, and traveling.

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

I’m happy to have been chosen as one of the winners. The table read is such an outstanding prize because it allows us a peek into what it would be like if someone made the show. Personally, I care more about seeing my stories come to life on screen than I do about anything else.

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

I love FilmFreeway because it’s so easy to send your work out and track upcoming festivals. It’s like Project Management for screenwriting festivals.

12. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Submit to festivals and get as much feedback as you can. Then rewrite, rinse, and repeat. The rewrite is key for most scripts, although, it does depend on the genre and length. I found it much easier to write a spec than a pilot because you don’t have to create the world and find a way to introduce the characters. That’s why my spec only took a week. Don’t get me wrong, I prefer writing pilots, but they do require more rewrites than spec scripts. Having a show bible really helps me to develop my characters on a deeper level prior to writing pilots.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Beverly uses a Caboodle to glamourize Barry into “Bowie”, who sings against Erica to win Lainey’s extra Guns N’ Roses ticket – becoming “The Labyrinth” muse Adam needs to remove his writer’s block.

CAST LIST:

Erica – 30 – KATELYN VARADI
Murray – 22 – PETER NELSON
Beverly – 70 – PAOLA SCATTOLON
Narration – Sean Ballantyne
Barry – 64 – NICK DOLAN
Adam – 43 – ADRIAN CARLOS CARTER
Lainey – 32 – KYANA TERESA

Submit your TV Show/Pilot via FilmFreeway:

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