Interview with Screenwriter Louric Rankine (SQUAD)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Louric Rankine: My screenplay traces the lives of young students of color in New York City as they navigate through their under-funded school. This scene, in particular, focuses on one of the protagonists, Louis, who realizes his embarrassing bus altercation has been publicized on social media, causing pariah between him and his peers. It’s comical, but helps reflect on the negative effects of social media.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s a teen comedy/drama. However, I like to liken it to shows like Insecure or Atlanta.

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

I mean no matter what medium it is in, I think the representation matters. I feel New York City students of color don’t see proper representation of themselves, only limited through the lens of a typical white protagonist.

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

New York.

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

Spirited Away and Mulholland Drive- I know I’m weird for a 19-year-old.

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

Since junior year of my high school. One of my friends felt young queer students of color do not get the right treatment, or rather their story arc is limited to a special episode.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have this thing, where I write a different story each month and store it in my private notebook. It’s like a narrative registry for me so I can develop and evolve the narrative later.

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

“Old Age”- Masego ft. SiR & “A Long Walk” by Jill Scott.

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

I think fleshing out issues concerning youth of color without being too obvious or preachy.

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

Filmmaking, Anything artistic really

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

It was a long one. I was skeptical at first because this is my first submission and I didn’t know the logistics and mechanics around this. However, I am so glad to have this platform because it allows me to be unapologetic about my art.

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

I was in this program in high school for alternative school youths over the summer and my film teacher told me that in order for your art to be successful, you have to show it first. I am really hesitant and insecure about showing my work, but since publicizing, the reception has been well-received. I hope to grow and mature as a filmmaker, auteur, and writer and being able to tell narratives with cultural competency and narrative consideration.

Screenplay Writing: 

Teens of color deal with their disorganized high school and personal problems by talking in a group chat- which happens to concretize in a virtual white room.

CAST LIST:

Louis: John Marcucci

Jamal: Sam Fazli

Narrator: Kat Smiley

Libretta: Cassandra Guthrie

Amatou: Zena Driver

Submit exclusively via Film Freeway:

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Interview with Screenwriter Nicholas Julius (MYTHATANIA)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Nicholas Julius: MYTHATANIA – The Adventures of Erin, Owen and the Mythfitz:

Feature script/Books:Scottish siblings, Erin and Owen Macdonald, are swallowed by The Loch Ness Monster and brought to the magical land of Mythatania where all creatures heard of in Myth and Folklore have gone to escape the outside world. There they meet THE MYTHFITZ, a group of mythical youngsters, Unee the Unicorn, Pegora the Pegasus, Frost the Yeti, and Salandra the Sasquatch, and embark on a wonderful adventure.

(Animation/live action script with merchandising potential, 6 children’s books, and a full length novel. Best Animated feature script – The International family Film Festival, BEST SCRIPT – The Beverly Hills Film Festival. WINNER – KIDSFIRST ! Film Festival 99/100 rating. Quarterfinalist in Nicholls 2014, Best Family script – American Screenwriting Awards – Winner, The Nashville FF – Best animated script – Winner – Best Animation script, the Oaxaca FF)

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Animation, family. 4 quadrant entertainment.

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

Because different kids will identify with different characters. They will also learn friendship, trust, embracing individuality and teamwork to solve a problem.

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

Sheer entertainment.

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

Casablanca.

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

1st draft was 3 years ago, novel completed this year, 1st children’s book published 2 months ago, 1st short film completed last December.

7. How many stories have you written?

8 feature scripts, 2 TV pilots, one sitcom pilot, 12 short scripts, 2 novels, 12 children’s books, 5 short films. My latest live action film starring Michael Kenneth Williams THE DEVIL GOES DOWN has made 92 FF’s, won 29 awards (you can check imdb) my latest animated film ERIN, OWEN AND THE LOCH NESS MONSTER, 14 FF’s, 8 awards.

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

THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA, for obvious reasons.

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

Trimming it down.

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

Acting, working on film sets.

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

They are amazing, I have become mostly exclusive to them for submitting my films and scripts.

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

The feedback was great, and the staged reading hit a lot of fine notes. INFERNO THE PHOENIX particularly.

Screenplay Reading: 

Scottish siblings, Erin and Owen Macdonald, are swallowed by The Loch Ness Monster and brought to the magical land of Mythatania where all creatures heard of in Myth and Folklore have gone to escape the outside world. There they meet THE MYTHFITZ, a group of mythical youngsters and embark on a wonderful adventure.

CAST LIST:

Owen: John Marcucci
Erin: Zena Driver
Inferno: Shawn Devlin
Narrator: Kat Smiley
Cassandra: Corinne Sutton-Smith
Salandra: Cassandra Guthrie
Unee: Sam Fazli

Submit exclusively via Film Freeway:

Interview with Screenwriter Stephen Witty (Whittaker, Alger, and Dick)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Stephen Witty: The confluence of three political characters in the anti-Communist hysteria of the 1940s — Whittaker Chambers, Alger Hiss, and Richard Nixon–and the difficulty ever sorting out lies and getting to the bottom of the truth.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama mixed with comic interludes.

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

Because it’s a good story and relevant to these fraught times.

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

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

Citizen Kane

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

Including research, at least four years.

7. How many stories have you written?

A number of short stories, many poems, a novel, a couple of screenplays.

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

Quiet Girl (I believe that’s the title), the melody by Leonard Bernstein — not sure who wrote the lyrics.

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

My own impatience, feelings of dissatisfaction, and tendency.
to lose faith.

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

Horses. My wife and daughter, Jazz. Painting. Experiencing great art, in many forms.

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

Very positive, friendly and responsive to any questions that came up.

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

I wanted to get my screenplay made, well-made, and have the satisfaction of sharing the feelings underlying the story.

Watch Screenplay Reading: 

An interconnected story about Whittaker Chambers, Alger Hiss, and Richard Nixon against the background of the hysteria of the post-war 1940s.

CAST LIST:

Esther: Norma Dunphy
Narrator: Esther Thibault
Bagley: Isaiah Kolundzic
Chambers: Dan Cristofori

A FilmFreeway preferred festival:

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Interview with Screenwriter Marc Gatschner (OF THE SEA)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Marc Gatschner: In the twilight of his life, an aging surfer reflects on his past..

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Romance. I know some shun that word for fear of being categorized into a genre they think somehow is beneath them, but they shouldn’t, we live life to love– which is not just bound to another person. We love life, we love moments, we love songs and weather, and that’s what this screenplay is about, love.

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

Our world has changed, there’s a pressure on people now to think only about the future, to prepare for a life that may be, but sometimes we need to slow
down a little and take a moment to appreciate the life we are living.

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

Unabashed love.

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

Jaws.

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

On and off for about seven years. Every summer I’d go back and change a little.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written over thirty short scripts and about a half dozen feature length scripts.

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

There is no one song I can pinpoint, but well writing this particular script, I listened to the album Riceboy Sleeps by Jonsi and Alex.

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

This script was about emotion, and trying to pass that feeling onto someone through visual moments and brief conversations is tough. There will be some that
go with it and others that won’t.

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

Waking up each morning and living life. It’s a damn fine world out there, you just got to find your place in it.

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

Fantastic. There are a lot of wonderful writers out there that just want their stories to be heard and sights like FilmFreeway provide us with
those willing ears we so desperately crave.

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

I love telling stories, and Wildsound was willing to listen. As for the feedback– I’ve sent this particular script in about three times, and everytime I received feedback I could use, both positive and negative. It’s scary as hell having someone judge your story, but it is just that, your story, and no one can take that away from you with a simple criticism, so I say take the chance and send it out, let the world see what you can do.

Screenplay Reading: 

 

An aging surfer reflects on his past while facing an uncertain future.

CAST LIST:

Mark: Peter Mark Raphael
Gonzo: : Isaiah Kolundzic
Narrator: Esther Thibault
Sarah: Monica Knox
Rev: Dan Cristofori

You can also submit via FilmFreeway:

Interview with Screenwriter Michael Preston (Inherit-ly Gay)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Michael Preston: Spencer’s life is upended when he finds his longtime boyfriend cheating on him the day before his uncle dies. He makes the long journey from L.A back to his small southern town in Freeburg, Illinois where he hasn’t visited in years. Spencer’s life takes a strange turn when his uncle’s lawyer reveals he left a dilapidated gentleman’s club to him in his will. Spencer must decide to sell or the keep the club – a decision made simple when he meets his potential buyer Betty Lou Bryant, a nasty local ‘Christian woman’ who vents her disgust at Spencer and his sinful ways and plans to tear the sinful establishment down as soon as the deed is in her name.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

LGBTQ and Comedy

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a TV show?

We have seen gay protagonists in many movies, however when it comes to TV series we see very few. Yes, we have Will and Grace and other shows that support the LGBTQ community, however, there are few TV series based on a single gay character. This teleplay focuses on the strength and power one person can have in a community no matter what their sexual orientation or ethnicity is.

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

Unconventional and witty.

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

It’s a close race between between Home Alone and Steel Magnolias. Wide range if you ask me.

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

I took a train from LA to Monterey which takes over 8 hours. This was great because I was isolated without any distractions. I got the first half completed on the way there and finished the second half on the way back. Of course, rewrites were inevitable which took several months.

7. How many stories have you written?

This is my first script. I am currently working on my 2nd and 3rd scripts loosely based off of my life experiences.

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

Total gay cliche but that would be “Vogue” by Madonna. I was a young gay boy in a southern Illinois town with a full length mirror! What else was there to do but pretend to be Madonna?

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

Being a first time writer I had to research how to actually write a screenplay. I read a few books, researched comedy TV pilots, sat down with writer friends and ultimately jumped in feet first.

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

Having a degree in both music and interior design makes anything that involves creativity a passion for me.

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

It was easy to navigate and submit.

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

I wanted to test the waters and see if I could float in the writing pool. The feedback I received was excellent which helped me finesse certain scenes as well as strengthen specific characters.

Screenplay Reading: 

A gay man’s decision to take on his uncle’s strip club in the small town that once rejected him while the town’s Christian matriarch tries to take him and his newly inherited business down.
CAST LIST:

Narrator: Esther Thibault
Spencer: : Isaiah Kolundzic
Randon Gay: Peter Mark Raphael

Submit your TV Show/Pilot via FilmFreeway:

 

Interview with Screenwriter Alexander Stathis (HOMEFRONT)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Alexander Stathis: “Homefront” – A Korean War veterans’ pleasant return home from duty to his family is cut short when his wife dies, causing him to struggle as a single parent in the mid-20th century while he deals with the psychological scars of war and fights to regain custody of his sons. (3rd in TVWriter™’s 2016 People’s Pilot).

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Action, Character-Driven, Drama, Non-Fiction/History, Period, Strong Male Lead, Tragedy, and War/Military

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

This is a teleplay and should therefore be made into a television series because it showcases the events of the Korean War and resulting effects of it, while showcasing a single father raising his family on his own. Both stories are rarely shown on television or film and certainly are stories that need to be told.

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

Family War

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

Batman: The Dark Knight

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

Primarily 1 year, but I was making slight changes to it over a 4-year period.

7. How many stories have you written?

9 teleplay stories and dozens of short stories

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

Real McCoy’ “Another Night”

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

Struggles of work and living from place-to-place.

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

Watching movies, spending time with friends and family, and teaching people how to be better writers.

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

It has taught me a lot about how my script is, markets that it performs well at, and has helped me learn about the industry and network.

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

I was let go from a job that I rather had a negative outlook on and knew I needed to pursue my passion, especially, since my script had been winning awards in several different festivals. Initially, I was learning that my script was excellently written and was a good story. There are very minor tweaks to make, but I just need to get it in the hands of the right person.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A shell-shocked soldier, George Ganakis, looks to reunite with his family as he returns from the strife of the Korean War. Though, civilian life isn’t as easy as he thought as he struggles to adjust to civilian life, experiencing wartime flashbacks. While attempting to find a job, he slowly learns that his service meant nothing to the nation. George even has to ask his brother, Andrew, for his help for a job.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Kat Smiley
Duncan: Shawn Devlin
George: Sam Fazli

 

Submit exclusively via Film Freeway:

Interview with Screenwriter Chima Idigo (MEAT)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Meat is about obsession and murder. I was real inspired by the murder of Travis Alexander and the movie Bully by Larry Clark. The main character, Rachel, was partially based off of Jodi Arias, Rachel Moyal, who was part of the cast on The Real World: Austin, and another woman, but I don’t want to say who.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Meat is a drama script. The best movies are drama movies. Taxi Driver, Network, Bully, if…., Five Easy Pieces, just to name a few.

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

It pushes boundaries and it isn’t the typical script. If you feel very uncomfortable reading Meat, then it should be made into a movie. Some of the best movies are movies that took big risks and made viewers feel uncomfortable.

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

Very intrusive

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

Taxi Driver, mainly because it’s my favorite movie. Oh yeah, fuck the Academy for not nominating Martin Scorsese for that movie.

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

It only took me three weeks to write Meat. I knew what I wanted to do, so I didn’t have any trouble coming up with scenes.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written six stories and I’ve turned two of them into scripts.

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

My favorite song is Still Remains by Stone Temple Pilots. I fucking love that band! Scott Weiland had so much soul, he was an amazing singer and great dancer. It’s crazy cause I didn’t know he died until I randomly typed in his name on the Google search engine and it said he passed away. I found out on Saturday and what’s crazier is that fifteen minutes before I typed in his name, I was imitating his dance moves in my kitchen. R.I.P. Scott Weiland.

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

I guess trying to write something as good as my previous stories. The last story I wrote, before Meat, was horrible, so I had to make sure to bring my Korine game.

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

Doing stunts, which I really miss recording. Before I started writing I was doing stunts like Jackass. I will always be passionate about doing stupid shit.

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

Real good, I don’t have any complaints.

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

I wanted people to see the fucked up shit I write. All I gotta say is that I’m happy I found this festival.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

Logline: An unstable waitress decides to murder her ex-boyfriend for breaking her heart, so she convinces her new lover, who is unaware of her attentions, to get her a gun.

CAST LIST:

Valerie – 1 – Vanessa Burns
Sandra (20s) – 4 – Sydney Addison-Rudat
Narration – Pip Dwyer
Kris – 12 – Luke Robinson
Ronald (20s) – 4 – Alex Clay

A FilmFreeway preferred festival: