Interview with Winning Screenwriters Jennifer Woldman & David Maddox (A STUDY IN SCARLETT)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

A Study in Scarlett is a re-imagining of the classic Sherlock Holmes, with inspiration also taken from American history circa late 1860s-70s. The enigmatic genius Scarlett Holmes is a bi-racial woman. She meets her loyal friend and partner Joanna Holmes, a struggling doctor, to solve a murder and save an innocent man from hanging. Throughout the series historical situations and events are explored through adaptations of Doyle’s classic tales. To solve each episode’s puzzle, and the interlocking season-long mystery, the legendary sleuths must navigate issues of race and inequality, and the complicated nature of justice.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Mystery, Historical fiction

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

It is the right moment in America for a television series like A Study in Scarlett. Through the eyes of these diverse characters we explore a time in American history whose echos we feel today in our laws and culture. As past readers have pointed out, A Study in Scarlett gives us an opportunity to explore modern themes of race, gender, equality, and justice through the lens of classic Holmes tales. These are conversations that we need to be having in modern day America as we confront our own history, and our future together, and this series can be an access point.

This series can reach a broad audience — classic Sherlock fans will find the stories and characters familiar, and we stay true to the spirit and rollicking fun that has made the original work a classic, and it’s more recent reincarnations huge successes on the big and small screens. The diversity of the characters and the compelling issues we tackle will appeal to a younger, more modern audience, who might not have seen much for them in recent Holmes remakes. History fans will love this exploration of an under-represented, yet critically important, era of American history. There is truly something in this series for everyone.

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

Scarlett Holmes

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

Jen – Probably Empire Strikes Back. Or maybe Harry Potter, because it is always on television, and sometimes we put it on like background music in my house.

David – The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. The film changed my life as a child, that’s why I do what I do now.

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

About 9 months. The idea for A Study in Scarlett came to me last summer in the middle of moving. I was finally able to get the basic story down by October, and then David and I worked on it daily for about a month. We continue to make revisions based upon feedback.

7. How many stories have you written?

A Study in Scarlett is our first screenplay working as a team, but we each have been writing on our own for a long time. I have a completed novel named Redemption, and a work in progress novel named Earth Tour. David has a SciFi screenplay named Greetings from the Vortex, and an animated pilot called The Adventures of Darryl Springbornne.

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

Jen – Listened to most in my LIFE? Probably something by New Kids on the Block, lol, as I played those tapes on my boom box until they ran out in the early 90s. Hello from Generation X.

David – Jesus Jones. Their slight hit in the 90’s International Bright Young Thing. All the remixes of it!

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

We were very eager to obtain feedback from people of color, particularly Black women. We center diverse characters, and we want to make sure we are true to that lived experience. As a mixed race woman who as often felt “other” like Scarlett, this is a very important to me personally, and frankly it can be difficult to find professional readers with that background. If A Study in Scarlett were to move forward as a project, we would want to make sure the team we work with is appropriately diverse.

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

Jen – I have two teenage boys with special needs, so they are my main passion! Politics, and my career in technology, and theatre.

David – I’m a performer and filmmaker so that takes up a good deal of my time, and I have a casual interest in astronomy.

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

Coverfly has been a great experience for us!

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

We entered an early draft, in the hopes that we would get some valuable feedback to help make the script better. The feedback we got was helpful, and we’ve incorporated some of the notes in recent revisions. Hearing our words performed by actors is a thrill, and also a learning experience. Our goal at the end of the day is to see A Study in Scarlett on the TV screen, and we’re hoping exposure through Wildsound will help us connect with people who can help make that happen.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A re-imagining of the legendary sleuths, multi-racial Scarlet Holmes and aspiring-doctor Joanna Watson solve mysteries during the cultural upheaval of post Civil War America.

CAST LIST:

Officer: Isaiah Kolundzic
Narrator: Hannah Ehman
Male Doctor: Bill Poulin
Watson: Nkasi Ogbonnah

 

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Joe Kourieh (Voosch And Helina)

“Voosch And Helina” was the March 2020 SCI-FI/FANTASY SHORT Screenplay Winner.

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Joe Kourieh: This Sci-Fi short is about something all too familiar – a World War – but in an unfamiliar place (under the sea). Humans’ dominance over the planet has been lost and they are now at the mercy of warring animal alliances. The characters in this scene represent a drastic hierarchy, and are trapped within it (for some, literally). The moral truth of the situation is different from everyone’s perspective. The Octopoids blame the humans for some grave developments on Earth – but does that justify a genocide?

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It is a Sci-Fi and also a drama piece. I would imagine that if produced it would likely be animation.

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

I believe it does the ideal job of a short film which is to capture a powerful and relatable emotional moment but with a distinctive twist to enhance the perspective given to the chosen emotion. It lets a very human conundrum breath freely in a new setting.

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

Tragedy, tentacles.

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

Cable Guy.

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

Not long, it’s one of my smaller projects. But still a fun one.

7. How many stories have you written?

In my head, hundreds. In screenplay format, about a dozen.

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

Opeth – “Heir Apparent”

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

I was challenged to keep it to just 5 pages.

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

Video games, shows, heavy metal, Boston sports, cats.

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

Coverfly is absolutely awesome. Staying organized is so important, and their interface is just about flawless. I use it pretty much daily and recommend it. Also there’s no simpler place to browse quality screenplay contests and film fest listings.

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

I will enter just about anything related to Sci-Fi and Fantasy or animation. I am always working toward breaking into these industries. The feedback provided for this entry was excellent – positive, and focused on the nature of the short film format.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

In the far future, the world is engulfed in a war with genocidal implications. One young soldier, faced with an innocent victim, juggles the pressures of duty and conscience in his many arms.

CAST LIST:

Human 2: Nick Hendrik
Human 1: Peter Valdron
Narrator: Justine Christensen
Helina: Rebecca MacDonald
Gaard: Thomas Fournier

Interview with Screenwriter Phillip Hollins (BLACKBALLED)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Phillip Hollins: ‘Blackballed,’ centers on an awkward relationship between a black FBI agent and the newly elected white supremacist leader whose daughter, by some twist of fate, gets a heart transplant from the FBI agent’s son, causing them to flee together from hate group leaders who wish them harm.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Psychological thriller/drama

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

“Blackballed” tackles social issues in an entertaining way, yet is far from anything on TV today. You can say, made in the mold of “Breaking Bad” & “No Country for Old Men” but on steroids.

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

Intense and Explosive

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

Untouchables, Hacksaw Ridge & Mad Max: Fury Road

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

Always a work in progress.

7. How many stories have you written?

Over a dozen.

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

N/A. Way too many to name.

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

Blackballed involves a sensitive subject that’s fast and in your face. Yet was important not to over tell this story. When you finish reading the script, the one word I hope you’ll say is “Wow”.

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

Spending time with family and pets, making pizza, thinking of new ideas.

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

Filmfreeway allows us enter a variety of contests with hopes of competing at a larger scale.

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

All screenwriters want to know how their work stacks up among their peers. It’s important to gain traction. WILDSound has a reputation of being a solid contest. The feedback was great. It mirrored similar comments from other competitions.

Screenplay Reading: 

CAST LIST:

Bucky: Scott Hilton
Nicole: Nadine Charleson
Narration: Esther Tribault
Travis: Pierre Simpson
Dr. Pendergrass: Ron Boyce

Interview with Screenwriter Whitney Stewart (STEAL THE LIGHT)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Whitney Stewart: My screenplay, Steal the Light, is about the resilience of humans through war and disaster, and about family bonds that endure. The story takes place in post-Katrina New Orleans and in World War Two era Europe. A young journalist loses her home and career after Hurricane Katrina, then abandons everything to fulfill her German grandmother’s dying wish to find her brother who went missing on the Russian Front of WWII. The search tests the journalist’s courage and tenacity, but she survives to bring truth home.

Steal the Light was inspired by my own experiences of helicopter-evacuating after Hurricane Katrina, and later discovering a box of war letters that prompted me to search for my husband’s German uncle who went missing on the Russian Front of World War Two.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama, historical.

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

Steal the Light will speak to families who have been affected by war or natural disasters, or to anyone who has lost a family member. In this time when people are searching for family history, and hoping to understand themselves by understanding their heritage, this film story will inspire audiences. The protagonist is a strong female who despite experiencing disaster learns to trust herself and unravel a poignant mystery that crosses time. She will leave audiences moved.

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

Enduring truth

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

Inglourious Basterds

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

I worked on the screenplay, on and off, for two years, but before that I spent five years going back and forth to Germany and Poland to track down my husband’s missing uncle who inspired a published book and this film script.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have published more than 25 books and have an archive of at least another dozen book or film stories.

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

“We Belong Together” by Rickie Lee Jones or “A Walk Across the Rooftops” by The Blue Nile

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

Writing a script based on my own story was challenging because I didn’t want to stick to the facts. Instead I wanted those facts to inspire a more interesting protagonist who faces more difficult conflicts than I faced. I also had to return to Europe three times to research WWII history as it happened in Germany and in rural Poland. I needed to hire a translator and a WWII expert to guide me on my work. I didn’t just sit down and write a historical drama; I actually dug for shrapnel and bones in former WWII battlefields.

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

Children, I love being around them. I also teach mindfulness and meditation to kids. I love to travel, study foreign languages, and visit museums. Of course I see more films than I can count every year. And I love to be outdoors and to exercise. I’m a big hiker, but I live in New Orleans where the land is flat. So, I travel to the mountains whenever I get the chance.

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

Browsing festivals and submitting my script was very easy on FilmFreeway. I plan to submit again.

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

I am interested in seeing more films by female writers and directors, and I like to see strong female leads. That’s why I submitted to the FEEDBACK Female Film Festival. I also wanted to watch/hear a table read, to help me in my writing. Of course, I hear my script in my head, but hearing other dialog interpretations is invaluable. After watching/hearing the read of my first scene, I’d love to see/hear more scenes read aloud.

Screenplay Reading: 

After Hurricane Katrina destroys her home and career, a young journalist abandons everything to fulfill her German grandmother’s dying wish — to discover the fate of her brother who disappeared on the Russian Front of World War Two.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Sean Ballantyne
Charlotte: Hannah Ehman
Anna: Nkasi Ogbonnah

Interview with Screenwriter Jeremy Kruse (MASTER OF NONE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Jeremy Kruse: My script, Master of None – Social Media, is about social media and how it can be toxic.

2. How does this script fit into the context of the MASTER OF NONE TV
show?

The script further explores Dev’s experience with racism.

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

Quit Sharing!

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

And Now For Something Completely Different – Monty Python

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

At least one day.

6. How many stories have you written?

Dozens and dozens.

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

Mr. Tambourine Man – Bob Dylan

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

The biggest obstacle was figuring out how Dev would deal with the situation.

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

Reading, spending time with my family and hygiene.


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

Film Freeway is user friendly and reliable.

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

I submitted my script to WILDsound FEEDBACK Film and Screenplay Festival because it is a respectable festival. My feedback was sound.

Screenplay Reading: 

When Dev receives abuse after an old insensitive comment he made on Facebook reemerges, he is forced to reevaluate his relationship with social media.

CAST LIST:

Nisha : Nadine Charleson
Benjamin: Pierre Simpson
Denise: Elizabeth Erhart
Shannon: Tiffany Davison
Narration: Esther Tribault
Dev: Atesh
Arnold: Sean Ballantyne
Ramesh/Malcolm: Ron Boyce
Todd: Scott Hilton

Interview with Screenwriter Ma Troggian (FOREIGN)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Ma Troggian: Foreign is a story about love, loss and immigration in a politically polarized America.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama, Romantic Drama.

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

The script is timely. Foreign sheds light upon the importance of immigrants in America, while spontaneously telling an LGBTQ love story.

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

Sincere and political.


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

Moulin Rouge…

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

Four years.

7. How many stories have you written?

Two plays, one pilot, one short film and one feature film.

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

That’s hard. I listen to A LOT of music. Lately, Prière Païenne by Celine Dion.

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

Many. I was born and raised in Brazil. It took me a lot of work to research vocabulary and to feel confident writing in English. On top of that, I didn’t go to school for writing. I’m learning as I go. It took me many, many versions and a lot of honest feedback to get to this version.

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

Music, acting and politics. I’m a queer latina woman. I love to dress up and dance. Right now, I am about to release the fourth single of my career, followed by its music video. (You can check my music at http://www.matroggian.com, under music.)

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

Really great!

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

I was researching platforms that cherish LGBTQ work. I had a great experience with the festival in general and I loved the reading.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Foreign is a romantic drama following the journey of Julia, an undocumented immigrant from Brazil, trying to survive in Brooklyn. Julia’s dreams of being a singer are far left behind, and she now searches the city for a safe place to work as a server. After being assaulted by Davis, a business man who takes advantage of her status, Julia ends up hired under the table by Barbara, a successful restaurant owner. Julia and Barbara fall in love and impact each other’s realities. They live a profound love story, eventually threatened by Davis.

CAST LIST:

Various: Patrice Henry
Davis: Allan Brunet
Narrator: Kat Smiley
Barbara: Esther Thibault
Julia: Amiee Poulin
Ian: Gabriel Davenport

Interview with Filmmaker Kieron O’Sullivan (Consequences of Living a Lie)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Kieron O’Sullivan: The Consequences of Living a Lie is about a young man who can’t accept that he’s gay, so he’s a lived a constant lie and after the death of his girlfriend, he finally starts to face the consequences of all the lies he’s told. This is journey where Jack finally accepts who he is after being haunted by the ghost of his heartbroken girlfriend, and he finally finds happiness with his true love, Ellis.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

This screenplay is a Coming of Age story that falls into the Drama/Dark Comedy genre.

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

I believe this screenplay should be made into a movie because I haven’t seen this kind of coming out story before. This screenplay represents a different side to the LGBT community that shows the consequences of lying to yourself and the people around you, and how painful it can be for a man to come out as gay when he’s shrouded by the guilt of being in love with a man within a straight society. On top of that, this screenplay shows the perspective of girlfriend who’s been lied to by her secretly gay boyfriend, and how it darkens the view of her seemingly perfect life as she tries to pass onto the afterlife.

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

Unique and Honest.

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

If we’re including my childhood, it would be a tie between The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast (the original animations of course). But we’re simply talking adulthood, it would probably be Christopher Nolan’s Inception – I love how complex the narrative is and I’m still dying to know what the ending means!

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

From coming up with the idea to actually executing the screenplay, it took me 3 months to finish the current draft of the screenplay.


7. How many stories have you written?

I currently work in the Story Team of one of the biggest Soap Opera’s in England, and we broadcast 322 episodes a year, so I’ve written hundreds of stories for that. In terms of my own work, I’ve written 4 screenplays so far with another in progress.

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

Probably Jolene by Dolly Parton.

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

One of the biggest obstacles I faced in finishing this screenplay was trying to fit in writing time around my job. The story came to me quite quickly but it took a lot of perseverance to sit down and write after work and on my free weekends.


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

Apart from writing, I’m passionate about spending time with my husband and my family. I love watching films and binge watching TV series but I’ve recently started to learn pole dancing – it began as a joke with my boss but I quickly fell in love with it and haven’t looked back since – and it’s nice being one of the only men in the class.

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

My experience has been extremely positive it was easy to use and easy to keep track of my progress.

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

I wanted to enter this festival because I believed my screenplay would be in safe hands within an LGBT competition – it’s nice to know that my screenplay was read by people who really care about LGBT stories. The feedback I received was incredibly helpful, encouraging and it inspired some great ideas to help improve my screenplay.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

This is a story about one’s boys journey out of the closest, and the consequences of the lies he’s to everyone in his life, especially his girlfriend.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Val Cole
Jack: Biden Hall
Daisy: Aliya Hamid