Interview with Screenwriter Max Federman (ABANDON ALL HOPE)

ABANDON ALL HOPE was the winner of BEST SHORT SCREENPLAY at the July 2018 Screenplay Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Max Federman: A sinister government organization investigates a mysterious, seemingly infinite stairwell after a group of college students unwittingly stumble upon it hidden on campus. Unimaginable evil lurks in the oily dark.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Horror, thriller, suspense, cosmic terror, conspiracy

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

This is just a taste of a much larger world I have crafted over years and years. The mysterious organization introduced here play a major role in locating, securing, and destroying supernatural objects, creatures, and events. A film will ideally lead to a franchise where we can explore a world that outwardly looks much like our own only with the extraordinary waiting around every corner while a shadowy psuedo-government organization goes to any limit to protect the world. – Genre is in and this is the kind of shared-world sandbox that allows for a studio to produce several films simultaneously each with unique and talented filmmakers.

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

Monster Cover-up

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

John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)

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

It took me a few weeks to write it about 90% of what it is now but I have been tweaking it and perfecting it for about a year.

7. How many stories have you written?

Dozens if not hundreds.

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

Train Song by Vashti Bunyon

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

Like all shorts I write, I feel the need to keep going. I have a treatment for this project as a feature and as a series – it was tough for me to decide where this story ends exactly and I chose to end it the way I did because it feels more like a beginning of a much larger story.

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

I assume this is obvious, but in addition to writing, I also direct and produce films. I have to count film-making and storytelling more broadly as my greatest passion in life.

I grew up in rural Oklahoma and what most people don’t know about Oklahoma is that it has nearly every biosphere imaginable: the iconic plains, thick forests of trees, sprawling desert, swamps, mountains, lakes and rivers. My grandfather, was a member of the Comanche tribe as well as a Ranger at Roman Nose State Park and he passed on his deep spiritual love of the outdoors along to me. I have visited nearly every national park in the country and plan to get started counting off State parks next. Living in LA I am lucky that I can get a good hike in nearly every day, and with all the amazing places within a few hours drive I get to spend most weekends exploring somewhere new. My deep connection to nature is a defining part of who I am. Coming from a town of only 3,000 people, I appreciate the value of community and go out of my way to foster a sense of community wherever I am. Extending from this is my involvement in local beautification efforts, environmental, and animal rescue initiatives.

I have played soccer my entire life, from the time I could walk through college and even now I play in a recreational league. But what brings me the most joy is getting involved in kids soccer whether its refereeing games or coaching young kids – I love passing on my love of the game to another generation.

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

It is very convenient to have all a shared submission platform because I do not have to reenter the same information over and over again as I submit projects. The browsing feature is also very helpful and has resulted in me discovering dozens of film festivals perfect for my works.

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

I was very interested in feedback and the taped table read and I have been beyond grateful for what I got back from the festival. I will definitely recommend this festival to other writers I know.  

Genre: Thriller, Horror, Sci-Fi

A student disappears down a dark staircase, and something is down there with him. Tension and intrigue build as campus security is edged out by a shadowy organization taking over the scene.

CAST LIST:

Hilary: Kyra Weichert
Police Dispath: Lauren Kristina Maykut
Narrator: Matt Barnes
Dr. Cary: Jarrod Terrell
McNamara: Allan Michael Brunet
Sean: Rob Notman

_____

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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Interview with Winning Screenwriter John Lucas Bowman (THE COLD SLEEPER)

Get to know the writer:

 1. What is your screenplay about?

Hudson, hotshot CIA Agent with photographic memory, learns that his slightly senile Grandpa is a forgotten Soviet sleeper agent who is reactivated when his former handler Korolov escapes a Russian mental institution.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Action Comedy

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

It’s a tale of conflicting loyalties, of compassion and what it means to be family, and an exploration of what to do when you fall in love with the enemy. Those are very human topics most spies struggle with. – But mostly because the movie is funny.

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

Great entertainment!

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

Some like it hot.

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

I wish I could crank it out over the weekend, but it took some doing and a couple of @#$% rewrites.

7. How many stories have you written?

Enough to cease counting.

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

Everything Clapton.

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

Finishing something is no problem. Making something compelling is the real challenge. (for me)

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

The search for intelligent life on earth.

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

Having a screenplay read out loud is a valuable experience that reveals whether the script works or not. The initial feedback was helpful in the rewrite.

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Hudson, hotshot CIA Agent with photographic memory, learns that his slightly senile Grandpa is a forgotten Soviet sleeper agent who is reactivated when his former handler Korolov escapes a Russian mental institution.

CAST LIST:

Hudson: Allan Cooke
Narrator: Olivia Jon
Luddmilla: Jennifer Vallance
Becker: Shawn Devlin

Interview with Winning Feature Screenplay Writer Brooke Elowe (BLACK WIDOW: FUGTIVE)

 1. What is your screenplay about?

The story follows Natasha Romanoff, better known as the Black Widow, after the events of Captain America: Civil War, so it’s set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Natasha was branded a fugitive for violating the Sokovia Accords and is currently being hunted from all sides. She must not only protect herself but also a young girl from her past: Ava Orlova.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Action, Sci-Fi, Spy Thriller

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

Not only have fans wanted to see Natasha Romanoff shine in her own standalone franchise for years, it’s also a ripe time in the industry to make female-lead superhero films. I think this story serves as a unique take on the genre, focusing on a dual-protagonist, sisterly dynamic between Natasha and Ava. That, combined with Marvel’s winning formula for making superhero films, would make for a successful movie of an iconic character.

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

Dynamic Duo

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

Definitely Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Also Stepbrothers.

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

Start to finish, I’d say about a year. The process was broken up by my college courses and job, so I worked on it whenever I had time.

7. How many stories have you written?

This is actually the first screenplay I’ve ever written, which is why the writing process took a bit longer than normal. I first had to learn how to construct an actual script, with regards to formatting, editing, etc.

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

That’s definitely a tough one. I’d say “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit or “You Need Me I Don’t Need You” by Ed Sheeran.

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

I think deciding which characters to include in Natasha’s story was a challenge, considering the extensive line-up of heroes in the MCU. Also, mapping out the script and making sure it was coherent, with regards to plot holes and character arcs, was another challenge as well. However, I really enjoyed the process of constructing Natasha’s story. I have a large amount of material that either changed or didn’t make the final draft, which enriched the editing process and added to the overall satisfaction of completing the script.

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

Most definitely music. I’m a songwriter and am hoping to get into Music Supervision after college. I love reading, travelling, and video games. I’m also currently working on a sequel to this screenplay.

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

It was a very seamless process. I had no trouble submitting my script or payment.

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

Seeing as this was a passion project of mine, I really wanted to have an industry professional’s point of view, as having a knowledgeable set of eyes reading the script would benefit the story. The feedback was fantastic. It was critical without being negative, bettered the script overall, and increased my confidence as a screenwriter.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime, Fantasy

After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Natasha Romanoff is on the run. Branded a fugitive for violating the Sokovia Accords, Natasha tries to keep her head down and lay low, but there’s no rest for the world’s greatest spy…

CAST LIST: 
Narrator: Carina Cojeen
Natasha: Kiran Friesen
Ava: Alicia Ryan
Ivan: David Occhipinti
Tony Stark: Christopher Huron
Nick Fury: Peter Nelson
Tori Raven: Carly Tisdall

Interview with Screenplay Writer Dan Hass (THE UPSIDE OF OVER TV Pilot)

Winning LGBT TV PILOT Screenplay for October 2017.

1. What is your TV Pilot screenplay about?

The Upside of Over is about a gay (possibly alcoholic?) twenty-something named Adam—whose fresh start is interrupted when the ex he ran away from forces his way back into his life.

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

For me, Upside scratched an itch—it’s the kind of show I’m desperate to see more of on TV. Fast paced wit of Happy Endings, overt sexuality and honesty of Broad City, and all framed within a young gay narrative that’s still struggling to find a place on mainstream television. It’s a fun, gay ride with a cast of crazies. What’s not to like?

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

Hot mess

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

Right now, I’m all about Fleabag and Gravity Falls. Is that weird? Feels weird.

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

All in all, it took about 6 months to write (and 26 years to live).

6. How many stories have you written?

It’s hard to count the notches on my writer belt. But so far, I’ve written a handful pilots, a few commercials, a bunch of specs, a huge collection of half-finished (mostly illegible) short stories, and one original comedy musical—so let’s round up to 20?

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

Billy Joel’s “Vienna.”

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

It was a long rewrite process—because as much as I want this to be a hoot, I want it to have some real heart, too. So here’s hoping that comes across in the read!

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

Into the gay usuals like gymming and brunching—but also love a good long camping trip away from the city. With brunch still, though. Because I mean, come on, we’re not animals.

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

I saw a real opportunity to connect with like-minded creators who were passionate about getting more gay stuff out there—and I’m blown away that they responded so strongly to this (sometimes verging on trashy) comedy. Honestly, the whole process has been pretty inspiring.

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

Only good things! It’s packed with opportunities and it’s really easy to use (which, thank god, because keeping track of submissions is impossible otherwise).

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

Work with your friends. That’s helped me more than anything. You’ve got an amazing system of support, ideas, feedback—whatever you need—at your disposal. And if you’re lucky, they want to make it as writers or directors or artists or actors just as badly as you do. So reach out and get working.

Watch the Winning TV Reading: 

Genre: Comedy, Romance

A gay (possibly alcoholic?) twenty-something’s fresh start is interrupted when the ex he ran away from forces his way back into his life.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Carina Cojeen
Adam: Fabio Abreu
Blake: Dennis Barham
Nathan: Nick Baillie
Jason: David Occhipinti
Megan: Norma Dunphy
Zoey: Lindsay Gerro

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Joel Stern (WORD GAMES)

WORD GAMES is the September 2017 Winning Feature Screenplay.

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

“Word Games” is about two strangers in a nursing home who are isolated because of the “Blizzard of the Millennium” . One man – Sal Genesinni – is the janitor. The other is Dave Phillips, an old man, wheelchair bound, who was found abandoned in the storm. While Phillips’ true identity remains a mystery, he and Genesinni play “Scrabble” to kill time. As they spell certain words it takes us back in time to real life events. As they recall these events they actually change what happened. This affects the destiny of the promising young people they speak of. As the story unfolds, we realize their “game” is a battle of wits between good and evil – one they engage in as different people throughout time.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Suspense/Horror

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

“Word Games” would provide moviegoers with a suspenseful, alternative view of destiny and attempt to explain why bad things happen to good people.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Story in two words: Inescapable destiny.

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

The movie I’ve seen the most: “Pineapple Express”

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I wrote the short story two years ago (now on Amazon). I began writing the screenplay in January, 2016.

How many stories have you written?

I’m currently writing my third screenplay. I began my first, “Trickle Down”, a dramatic comedy based on the 2007 mortgage meltdown, in 2012.

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

Favorite song – Rod Stewart’s “Have I Told You Lately…”

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Obstacles to writing screenplay: Trying to think as God

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Other passions: Sports, politics, travel, history

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

Film Freeway: Easy to work with

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

I entered the festival to gage interest in my work and to get it produced. “Word Games” also won a Finalist Award at the Cannes Film Festival Screenwriting contest in April of this year.

I was thrilled with the feedback I received. I made a few clarifications when asked to.

Genre: Thriller, Horror, Drama

A commercial airliner flying to Paris explodes off the U.S. East Coast killing sixteen members of a high school French Club and a young pianist destined for greatness; a pair of deranged teens go on a terrifying high school shooting spree ending the life of a young girl devoted to serving God and mankind. If there is a master plan, how could these horrific events be allowed to happen?

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Val Cole
Sal: Kris Hagen
Dave: Peter Nelson
Monica: Shania Belton
Julie: Katelyn Varadi
Tanya/Shannon: Carina Cojeen
Lassen: Mike Ruderman
Bill: Nick Wicht

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Gunel Asgarova (THE FLUTE OF PEACE)

THE FLUTE OF PEACE was the September 2017 winning Sci-Fi screenplay.

Get to know the winning writer:

What is your screenplay about?

My screenplay is about a bullied village girl with the supernatural power, Lanaia, who accepts her destiny of the World Savior.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Fantasy

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

Because this original screenplay has the most important ingredients of the successful fantasy movie: universal issues, good vs. evil, mythology, human psychology which are fully presented through the breathtaking adventures, unexpected twists and catchy characters. Likewise, the significant reason of its competitiveness is a key hero, a young woman, tender, yet strong enough to take the lead in life-changing events winning the battle in the end. This movie will be an inspiration for millions of girls and women all over the world.

How would you describe this script in two words?

The future blockbuster, which will hold its brand for the next five to ten years.

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

I like to watch fantasy/adventure genre movies, but according to calculation, the movie that I’ve seen the most times in my life is Harry Potter film series (first watched as a teenager, then together with my kids).

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

11 months

How many stories have you written?

I have written 6 stories (epic-fantasy, animation, fairy tale and short screenplays) and constantly working on new projects.

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

“Canto della Terra” by Andrea Bocelli

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

The most obstacles were connected to the proper formatting issues.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I am also passionate about storytelling, psychology, mythology, and anthropology. Thus, besides of my own imagination, this story is also based on the years’ long research analysis of world mythology and anthropology (including the Paracelsian concept of four elements of nature).

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

Despite the positive feedback from more than four hundred potential viewers, I was eager to get the professional opinion.

I am very grateful for the detailed and sincere feedback, which helped me to properly polish my script. I am very satisfied with the feedback, special THANKS to my reader!

Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure

After the break of the balance between the Light and Dark Powers, enforced by Dark Lord Erk, Mother Universe sends a child of Light – Lanaia to embark on a dangerous journey chasing the magic flute, as only its melody could save the world from disaster.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Sean Ballantyne
Nabi: Rais Moui
Teli: Connie Wang
Guli: Daniella Zappala

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Alison McGrath (TWITS)

TWITS is the September 2017 Winning COMEDY Screenplay.

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

TWITS is a satirical look at humanity’s addiction to technology, and what happens to people when their (de)vices are taken away from them.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy, Satire

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

I think in this “game of life” we need to laugh at ourselves a little bit, and take a look in the mirror to see the real person–the one without the snapchat or iPhone filter–staring back at us. Films help us do this. TWITS in particular sheds light on our addiction to technology and how it’s shaping everything from our sex lives and our relationships with our kids, to how we navigate–literally–through life. To me, TWITS lends itself to some personal exploration: Do I see a little bit of myself in these characters? How do I feel about that? Am I OK with the real-life role I’m playing and where we’re headed as a society? There is no wrong answer, as long as you think about it and be honest with yourself. That’s what’s so magical about film, and comedy in particular. There is no pressure, and you’re supposed to laugh. Humor is a great way to half-ass explore your emotions without feeling too much! I think many people will be able to identify with TWITS and I really hope it gets made into a movie.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Scary. Outrageous.

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

Bridesmaids

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

A few months

How many stories have you written?

Ten. Eleven if you count the one I wrote when I was 9 years old about a rotten banana named Eachanonie who was finally happy once he was made into banana bread. Even bruised bananas can find their place in this world.

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

Jump in the Line, Harry Belafonte. Every time hear it, I become Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

I didn’t face obstacles with this one, which is a crazy thing for me to say. I’m usually stumbling, breathless, army crawling to the finish line. TWITS had been swirling in my head for quite some time. I’d been taking notes for a couple months and then when I sat down, it just flowed. It was really fun to write.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I love being a mom. I love to boogie board, ski, and travel. I am especially passionate about jalapeño margaritas. No salt. I feel like this should be on Tinder. Please swipe right.

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

It’s been amazing. I love how organized and easy it is.

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

I feel so passionate about TWITS coming to life on screen, and the thought of having it read at your festival seemed like an awesome next step. I can’t wait to hear it!

The feedback I received was encouraging, very helpful and respectful. Being kind goes a long way, and I thank you so much for that!

Genre: Comedy

How one community deals with life when technology goes dark for a brief moment in time.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Val Cole
Paul: Nick Wicht
Demi: Carina Cojeen
Emergency Alert: Peter Nelson
Barista: Shania Belton
Cheryl: Katelyn Varadi