Interview with Screenwriter Horton Emory (TRANSPARENT Spec Screenplay)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Horton Emory: My spec script ‘Transparent: Who’s Getting Ali?’ is about using the rare moments of anonymity we have to explore gender.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy Spec

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

Self exploration

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

Best in Show

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

I worked on this screenplay for about five months.

6. How many stories have you written?

In my day job I’m a journalist, so combined with narrative work it has to be at least hundreds!

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

I’m going to hold “A Father’s First Spring” by The Avett Brothers close to me even though I can’t bring myself to listen to it, because my mother sent it to me just before she died.


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

There were two big challenges in this screenplay: first of all, I had to figure out what to do with Maura, since Jeffrey Tambor is no longer with the show and the episode is set after the fourth season ends but before the fifth begins. I let Maura move away and have her own life, but after I wrote the spec Transparent revealed Maura will be dead in the newest season and I wish I had thought of that! I think I was afraid to kill off one of the most prominent transgender characters in television. But now that the show has done it, I think its a brilliant way to wrap up the series. Maura needs to leave the show in a strong, final way and there will be a lot of emotional material to work with in the rest of the characters to end on a strong emotional note, as this show is known to do. (I know that was a rant, but I want to put my respect for the direction the show took out there!)

As far as a more technical obstacle, that had to do with the timeline between writing scenes in both Los Angeles and Israel, and how those would meet up. It was very confusing and it took a while to create a sequence of events that made sense logistically.

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

Media literacy! I used to manage a newsroom and the company was taken over by a man with no media literacy, and boy is that dangerous. I’ve seen first hand that some people who control media aren’t media literate, and that’s how ignorance spreads.

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

I started using FilmFreeway as a festival I was working with was switching from Withoutabox. I had used both platforms and FilmFreeway was so much more user-friendly!

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

I entered this festival because at this stage in my career, I want all the feedback I can get.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

CAST LIST:

TSA Officer: Allan Brunet
Husband: Diego O’Brien
Len: Justin Martins
Narrator: Elizabeth Morriss
Sarah: Michele Urbano
Ali: Jessica Bowmer
Davina: Victoria Urquhart

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Interview with Screenwriter Louetta Jensen (Bittersweet Serenity)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

The screenplay, Bittersweet Serenity, is about an estranged wife who is desperate to put an end to her failed marriage from a maverick scientist, and joins forces with an endangered family who have been touched by the scientist’s evil. As a result, the wife becomes empowered, through necessity, in order to bring the scientist down and end his tortuous treatment of patients.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Psychological thriller, mystery, horror.

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

It’s the hook which is the specific method of treatments done by the scientist which is the use of holograms in a scientific approach, leaving patients wondering if their greatest fears are real, or a dream, and neither which they can escape mentally.

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

Fear monger.

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

The Witches of Eastwick, and Tom Cruise’s War of the Worlds.

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

Many years. It has been adapted by myself and my co-writer from my published, award winning, novel by the same title name.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have personally written 4 novels, 3 screenplays, and many short stories, most of which are published.

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

The Prayer by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli.

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

No obstacles. The words fell onto the pages. No one will stop me from writing my heart out.

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

I’m also passionate about working as an animal advocate and have done this for many decades due to my deep love for animals.

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

Film Freeway is a great and streamlined way to enter submissions.

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

I’ve done so previously and was pleased with the final product.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

Logline: In the remote mountains of Washington State, there lives an evil and monstrous legend: his name is Dr. Martin Braddock, and he devours souls for a living. The maverick scientist has a brilliant mind and advanced technology, yet he’s about to face his toughest opponent ever . . . his estranged wife, in what becomes a war between the bitter and the sweet.

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

CAST LIST:
Orenda – 10 – Carrie Schiffler
Narration – David Occhipinti
Krystyna (20s) – 21 – Ella A
Logan (20s) – 17 – Steve Saet

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Interview Screenwriter George M. Johnson (THE WONDER)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

George M. Johnson: In The Wonder, an ambitious Edwardian journalist saves an uncannily precocious child from drowning in a pond. The boy, Victor, reads through the library of the local aristocrat and rejects the accumulated knowledge of mankind before trying to communicate his own theory of life. This theory threatens authorities, particularly the local Rector, but also drives the journalist to the brink of insanity. In the end he discovers the boy dead in the same pond and is distraught, but manages to restore his sanity by writing the child’s story so that others may share the wonder.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

I have adapted The Wonder from the early “scientific romance,” as speculative, science fiction stories were called, of the prolific writer J.D. Beresford’s 1911 novel The Hampdenshire Wonder. It has the caché of being the first “superman” story in English literature and probably the first story featuring what we now recognize as an autistic child. The Hampdenshire Wonder was praised by the likes of H.G. Wells, Graham Greene, and Alistair Cooke, among others.

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

We are fascinated by exceptional people who don’t fit in, who are compelled to convey a message more advanced than our capacities can handle – just think about the popularity of films about exceptional children, as in The Room, Gifted, and A Brilliant Young Mind, and stories about genius, such as The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game.

The Wonder taps into our collective anxiety about the unknown, what it means to be human, and the possibility that we do not have all the answers about how the world works, despite our scientific advances and our obsession with information. For these reasons it is a compelling story for our time.

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

Threatening genius.

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

Every so often I return to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a brilliant send-up of a legendary quest.

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

I’ve been at it on and off for several years.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve drawn on my expertise in early twentieth-century literature to write several award-winning period dramas, but I also love writing contemporary satirical pieces, such as Mockus, a play about a clown who provokes a desperate Mayor into trying playful approaches to his city’s social and environmental ills, including replacing corrupt traffic cops with mimes.
Some of my other work can be viewed on my website: georgemjohnson.com.

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

Probably John Lennon’s Imagine because I believe in the transformative power of the imagination.

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

Beresford’s original novel, though a compelling read, is rather philosophical and is populated almost exclusively by male characters, so I had to imagine concrete scenes or set-pieces displaying Victor’s uncanny ability to predict seemingly random events as well as to develop a backstory for the unnamed narrator. I decided to weave in details from Beresford’s own life, such as his romance and marriage to his first wife Linda, an actress, in order to make the story more human and compelling.

I had written a biography of J.D. Beresford (Simon and Schuster, 1998) so knew Beresford’s descendants and they were happy to give me permission to pursue this project.

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

I am passionate about peace, social justice, and environmental issues and recently was awarded the Peace Medal from the Y.M.C.A. for my writing and activism on these issues for over 25 years.

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

This platform is seamless. I like the fact that I can keep track of my submissions in one place.

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

I received very discriminating and supportive feedback on my script Peace Pledge, which won a full Wildsound Table Read and so decided to submit The Wonder. The feedback was really helpful, and encouraged me to make revisions.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A journalist finds himself fighting to protect a boy whose deformity might actually be a link to discovering the origin and true meaning of life.

CAST LIST:

Victor: Shawn Devlin
J.D.: Colin Sandquist
Narrator: Norma Dawn Dunphy
Ellen Mary: Melie B Rondeau
Man: : Neil Bennett

Interview with Screenwriter Andrew Fisk (GEEKS: A LOVE STORY)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Andrew Fisk: “Geeks” is a David versus Goliath story that takes place in the Silicon Valley. When a corporate buyout takes place, the employees of the company that was taken over are all laid off and their products are stolen.

A group of five laid-off employees band together to start their own company and create a fantastic virtual reality chamber. The president of the mega-corporation that nearly ruined their lives sees them as a threat and results to a number of underhanded, humiliating and illegal tactics to stop them.

Their ability to fight back and triumph over the larger corporation is the core of this story. The title is “Geeks: A Love Story” because the conflict brings people together to form relationships who might not have met without it. They succeed by teamwork, friendship and sacrifice.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy, romantic comedy and even science fiction. The final battle between the five entrepreneurs and the mega-corporation takes place in a virtual reality environment similar to the battles in “The Matrix.” I see this story as a metaphor for corporate warfare and the survival of the individual.

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

The characters are interesting and varied. The original five rebels against the mega-corporation include Shannon Blake, a punk rocker/programmer, and India Moonpeace, a counterculture/new age personality in her seventies. Todd Bergstrom, the inventor of the virtual reality chamber, is forced to come out of his emotional bubble and become a leader.

The CEO of the mega-corporation, Geoffrey Sterling, is a composite of the stereotypical narcissistic, scheming Silicon Valley executives.
The special effects possibilities for this movie are huge. The virtual reality chamber can create entire 3D worlds that people can journey into. Do you want to explore the Amazon jungle? No problem. Go surfing on hundred foot waves? Got you covered.

I think this movie offers a realistic view of corporate life as well. Despite the glossy overhyped picture that some large companies like to present, a lot of them really are horrible places to work. The five rebels are told again and again by their CEOs that everything about their company is wonderful. They walk in the next morning and find out they do not have jobs and the company is closing down. This has happened to me and I want to portray this experience on the big screen.

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

Wild fun.

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

Probably Blade Runner (the original). Followed by Forrest Gump, Dr. Strangelove, Aliens and To Live and Die in L.A.

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

It only seems like forever. I wrote the first draft a few years ago. The version that exists today is very different from the original. The characters are the same but the way the story is presented has changed.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have written five feature length screenplays, a thirteen-episode science fiction limited series and nine short scripts ranging from five minutes to thirty minutes.

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

“Rainy Night in Georgia” sung by Brook Benton, written by Tony Joe White.

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

Mainly, it was my fear of rewriting and rewriting until the story was just the way it should be. Someone said that art is never really finished…at some point it is abandoned. Even after a number of rewrites it just didn’t have the right vibe. I worried that it never would and at some point I would have to abandon it. But now I am completely happy with the latest version.

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

Being outdoors. Hiking, ocean kayaking, exploring new territory and college football.

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

I find that Film Freeway is complicated and exasperating to work with. Several times I have decided not to enter a screenplay contest because I know I will have to go through the Film Freeway maze again.

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

WILDsound did a reading of another feature length screenplay of mine, as well as some other creative works. So this was certainly an incentive. The feedback I received for “Geeks” was incredibly helpful. It let me see the screenplay in a way I had not seen before and got my brain moving in a new direction. I got rid of all the scenes that were slowing the story down and streamlined it. This screenplay is so much better now than it was a few months ago.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

CAST LIST:

SHANNON – 3 – ETHEL ABRAY
NARRATION – TED POWERS
TODD – 11 – DANIEL JONES
CD NARRATOR – 8 – OLIVIA BARRETT

Interview with Screenwriter Alice L. Lee (Purgatory: A Love Story)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Alice L. Lee: “Purgatory: A Love Story” is my reworking of the “Princess and the Frog”. There are lots of versions of this story from all around the world, but for many women, the story boils down to having to kiss a lot of frogs (read, unsuitable men) in order to find your prince and true love.

I’ve always thought of love stories as being Purgatory in nature.

There’s a little suffering, a little transformation, followed by a little happiness. So,
what’s more Purgatory than dating and mating?

I divide the whole dating process into three groups: Sugar Daddy/Trophy Wife relationships– or what can I get from this relationship, relationships, the “I-can-onlymarry-the-most-perfect-person” relationships, and then there’s the “We-have-somuch-in-common”, relationships where you fall in love with each other even if one of you is a toad.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy and twisted fairytale. I know that last one’s not a genre, but it should be. LOL!

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

Because I want it to be a movie? LOL!

I wanted to make a film about mating and dating and about how, if we could forgo some of the items on our checklist of “qualifications” that we have to have for our perfect mates, maybe we could all find a little more happiness.

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

Twisted fairytale.

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

Tied: Terminator and Rashomon

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

I made two films that “Purgatory: A Love Story” is a part of. “the good boy” about
underground boxing which represents hell, “Artemis & the Astronaut” about love and Alzheimer’s, which represents heaven. Then I thought, s**t, I need a purgatory story.
As soon as I thought Purgatory, “A Love Story” popped into my head. The basic story
kinda wrote it self in a few hours. (This almost never happens. sigh!) Then I rewrote it a few dozen times tweaking here and there off and on for a couple of years, but the essential story has remained the same.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written five feature screenplays, and three short film screenplays.

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

I come from a classical music background. I’ve heard Glenn Gould’s interpretation of J. S. Bach’s, “Goldberg Variations” (the second recordings) so many times, all I need to hear are the first 5 notes of the Aria or any of the variations to know that it’s a Glenn Gould recording.

But for the past few months, I’ve had “It’s Not Easy Being Green” stuck in my head. Damn you, Kermit!

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

Because I wanted to make this screenplay a live action film, I kept wondering, can I
write this? How would I shoot this? Part of the reason why he’s a toad and not a frog
is because I didn’t want my actor sitting in water for hours and hours each day.
I don’t have the money or the skillset to do a lot of CGI (computer-generated imagery), so I’m still trying to figure out how to make this film with actors and not with clay or from drawings. But I’m leaning towards shrinking the actor and rotoscoping him and the frogs, Charles and Tom.

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

Directing. I see my scripts before I write them. For “Artemis & the Astronaut”, I saw
Artemis staring into her husband’s eyes and only seeing herself reflected back at her– that’s why I have the Astronaut wearing a helmet with a reflective visor.

Filming with a visor that was like a mirror, meant we had to hide all the lights, camera and crew, and my actor and Lynn Cohen (Sex and the City, Hunger Games) had to be in every shot! Shooting that film almost killed my award winning DP, Diego Jiménez!

For “Purgatory: A Love Story”, I saw the two witches, waiting for the third witch. I saw exactly where I wanted to film them. And then I wondered how much it would cost to shoot in Central Park.

No worries, financiers! Lots of parks have trees, shrubs and a small pond that can “body double” for Central Park.

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

It’s pretty straight forward using FilmFreeway. Wish it was cheaper to submit to
festivals, but I also wish NYC apartments were cheaper, too.

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

I had submitted my film “the good boy” to WILDSound Film Festival and had a really
great experience. I loved hearing what people had to say about the film. “the good
boy” swept all the categories! Romance Film and Screenplay Festival was started by
the same people who started WILDSound.

It was very interesting to hear the actors do a table read of my script, but being a
director, I kept on wanting to jump in and direct the actors. Sigh!

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

An arrogant, self satisfied man named, RICHARD (DICK) YORK, has the misfortunate of insulting the wrong witches in New York City’s Central Park. Turned into a toad and unable to lie, Dick must find a true love and loyal heart to break the spell. In this world of Facebook, Snap Chats and Tweets, would a toad be able to get anyone to spare a moment to help him, much less be his true love and loyal heart?

CAST LIST:

Alys/Olivia: Victoria Murdoch
Frog Charles: Caleb Jacques
Narration: Carina Cojeen
Richard: Aaron Williams
Katherine: Leanne Hoffman
Helena/Izzy: Natalie Morgan

Interview with Screenwriter Jerry Nield (CATCH!)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Jerry Nield: A historical madcap comedy drama depicting family values, romance, morals, religion, gambling, corruption and revenge.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Historical, biographical, drama, action, comedy.

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

Because it’s an entertaining, must see, four quadrant movie. That brings back to life a forgotten part of history.

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

Page turner.

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

Alien.

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

I started doing the research almost 10 years ago.

7. How many stories have you written?

This is my first screenplay.

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

Three Little Birds

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

Learning how to write a screenplay.

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

Growing fruit and veg, fishing, travel and local history, especially the local myths and legends that abound where I live in Wales.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama

Synopsis: Could David really defeat Goliath?

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Val Cole
Bertha: Elizxabeth Rose Morriis
Martha: Ali Chappell
Edison: Scott McCulloch
Ogre: Peter-Mark Raphael
Rufus: Gabriel Darku

 

 

Interview with Screenwriter Mark Thiru (BLACK LIVES MATTER)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

I’m not going to choose black nor will I choose white because I’m a human being and that’s all that matters and all lives matter. The love I have for human progress is more than the hate I have for human hatred. I fight for all and not for one and I’d fight for one to save all. I’m not concerned about life because I considered fighting for lives and I am. Human progress for black lives is progress for all lives. The human race depends on all to progress and not some. Those who hate are dead to themselves but those who love are alive to themselves and others because the room for racist behaviourism has evacuated the heart and others are respected as humans beings rather than colored beings. The script ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’ is about human progress and that for all rather than some! I don’t believe in black power! I believe in human power! I believe in human progress! I believe in progress for all and all should!

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Thriller.

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

‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’ should be made into a movie because it is in support of human progress for all rather than some. That is the right human call. Kindness and gentleness for all and without such the human race is dead alive.

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

Human progress.

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

‘LONG WALK TO FREEDOM’.

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

About a year.

7. How many stories have you written?

One.

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

‘GOOD LIFE’

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

I haven’t finished yet and so far I have no obstacles but one I’m trying to solve being human progress for all.

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

Writing is a strength of mine linked to the passion I have for film making.

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

I love the site. I’ve had no problem whatsoever. I don’t imagine problems in the future because of it’s professionalism.

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

The festival was always conspicuous to me but the professionalism I heard about it from others influenced me more. I had no bad feelings about the feedback I received. I was glad because I knew its professionalism.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Logline : “Los Angeles, 1992: An eminent police department commissioner resolves to purging his deputy commissioner after passion manifestation become inevitable between him and his deputy’s spouse.”

Genre : Thriller

CAST LIST:

Crystal King: Erica Levene
Daryl Gates: Isaiah Kolundzic
Narration: Esther Thibault
Dr. Ethan Harris: Charles Gordon
Rodney G. King: Gabriel Darku
Report Presenter: Julie Sheppard

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