Interview with Writer Ai Jiang (THIS WORLD)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your short story about?

Ai Jiang: The story is about a man who has lost his younger sister when leaving earth on a spaceship to a new world. The context of the story is that the narrator and his family must escape as a result of the destruction of the world, however, the narrator loses his sister in their escape due to a spaceship crash. What he recalls is a world that his sister dreamt of living in because of the pain that losing their home caused her. The narrator is desperately trying to recall memories of his sister through reimagining this world.

2. What genres would you say this story is in?

This story is in the science fiction genre.

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

Painful love.

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

I think I’ve rewatched the apocalyptic movie entitled “Train to Busan” about four to five times. It’s truly an amazing movie and the best out of all the zombie movies I’ve watched so far!

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

My favourite song has to be “Lovely” by Billie Eilish and Khalid.

6. Do you have an all-time favourite novel?

I would have to say Flowers for Algernon. I think it’s a very moving story about intelligence and the way it affects how we experience and perceive the world as well as those around us.

7. What motivated you to write this story?

This story was actually inspired by a prompt on Reedsy’s weekly contests which I’ve just began to take part of.

8. If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would that be?

I’d want to have dinner with Shakespeare. I think it would be very interesting to hear about his thought processes and the way he comes up with ideas for his plays and sonnets.

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

I’m a competitive badminton player and compete at both a provincial and national level. I think it’s very important to have multiple interests in life but I think sometimes it does take some writing time away from me too!

10. What influenced you to enter your story to get performed?

I want to become a better-known writer and the best way to do that is to share my work wherever I can and gain more exposure.

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

I think one of the most important things is to overcome the fear that your writing is not good or that others may not like it. Every story is worth writing, as long as you write, you will improve regardless of the quality in the end. And with every piece you complete, you’ll be able to gain confidence.

Watch the Short Story Reading: 

Interview with Writer Camille Sanghera (WHO IS SHE?)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your short story about?

Camille Sanghera: This story is about a young woman who gets lost in her thoughts while staring at her unrecognizable self in the mirror. She describes feelings of sadness and touches on how she feels that she must put on a brave face. She is known as a happy and positive person and so she feels that she must continue to pretend that this comes naturally to her when in reality, she is empty, sad, and emotionless.

2. What genres would you say this story is in?

I would say this short story would land in a genre about mental health.

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

Regrettably relatable

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

Hmm. If I had to think off the top of my head, I would say Forest Gump.

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

I absolutely love Is This Love by Bob Marley and Pursuit of Happiness by Kid Cudi.

6. Do you have an all-time favorite novel?

I love reading and books in general, but if I had to choose an all-time favorite, it would be A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

7. What motivated you to write this story?

My husband and I had recently gone through some trauma and I found myself feeling very alone. Just like the woman in this short story, I am known as a person who generally has a positive outlook. I felt that my husband and family needed me to be strong so that they could stay strong, and if I had shown them how I really felt then everything would have come crashing down. I was also afraid that if I let myself be vulnerable and publically accept how I felt, I would forget how to be positive. I wanted to write this short story to let people know that you are not alone. It is completely okay to feel how you feel. You don’t have to hide like the woman in this story. Use your support system because you don’t have to carry that burden alone.

8. If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would
that be?

If I could have dinner with one person, I would choose Bob Marley. He seems to have just radiated positive energy.

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

Apart from writing, I am passionate about health and fitness in the mind, body, and soul. I run frequently, spend time with my dogs and loved ones, and try to grow herbs and vegetables.

10. What influenced you to enter your story to get performed?

I am a strong believer in the law of attraction, and I had asked the universe for some direction. Soon after, I was approached by someone from LinkedIn who was familiar with my writing. This person encouraged me to enter, and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to see where this could go. It has all been extremely exciting so far.

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

Personally, I feel like the best piece of advice that I can pass along to other writers is to just be as honest and as raw as possible. Be present in every moment of your day. Remember how you felt, what you saw, what you heard, what you smelled in an environment or situation and use that when creating a character. Also, don’t give up. Writing can be a long process, and it can be tricky to put what you’re thinking into words. To help clear your mind, jot down all of your thoughts in point form, and then expand, and then expand some more until you have a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter, a story.  

Watch the Short Story Reading: 

Performed by Allison Kampf

Interview with Screenwriter Kelly Byrnes (33 Weeks A Prude)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Kelly Byrnes: “33 Weeks A Prude” depicts the age-old conflict between sinners and saints or in today’s high school terms, Prudes and Sluts. Our protagonist, Nora, who belongs to the latter clique, is uprooted from her native Southern California town and plunked down in the Bible Belt, in the midst of a Purity Movement led by her nemesis, Raquel. Nora quickly becomes a social pariah due to her racy apparel and liberal perspectives. After a derogatory homophobic comment pointed at Nora’s younger brother, Zeek, a series of escalating retaliations between Raquel and Nora are set into action. The battle culminates when Nora and her only friend, Tamara, a closet Wiccan, conspire to pose as prudes and infiltrate the Sisterhood of Celibacy, the occult chastity group led by Raquel. Their goal: to force the prudes to face their biggest fear — the male penis — and “enjoy every sinful second, which will send any self-respecting Bible Humper into a lifelong masochistic psychosis.”

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy. Think “Heathers” and “Mean Girls.”

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

The show employs a sharply satirical portrayal of sex and religion while broaching parallel themes with honesty and sincerity — something we don’t see in most high school comedies. On the surface, there’s an antipathy between the righteous and the unscrupulous, but the script also travels to the dark underbelly of character psyches to understand the delicate puzzle pieces that narrowly hold them together, where we find Prudes and Sluts are not just incredibly varied, but also inextricably linked. Similar to Emma Stone’s character in EASY A, I think it’s rare to see a show centered entirely around “that girl” from high school. And allowing Nora to break the fourth wall adds a tongue-in cheek-quality that seems to be absent from most high school comedies.

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

Shrewd campiness.

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

The Sound of Music!

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

I started it about a year ago and continue to revise while I work on another project.

7. How many stories have you written?

Two features and two pilots, including this one.

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

“The Waiting” by Tom Petty.

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

I struggled at times to make sure the script didn’t feel too one-sided so I tried to play up the shortcomings of both the Prudes and Nora and applaud and criticize all aspects of being a prude and a slut.

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

Mountain biking.

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

It’s been relatively easy to find great festivals and track the status of my script entries.

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

The chance to get my script read by professional actors really appealed to me. It’s amazing to see the characters come to life! I tried my best to implement the feedback with the time I had and have since been inspired to revise the script several times.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A liberated Californian teen and new girl at her high school, finds herself at odds with the girls of the Christian chastity club.

CAST LIST:

Tyler: David Rowan
Zeek: Thomas Fournier
Tamara: Pascale Behrman
Narration: Kat Smiley
Nora: Aimee Poulin
Raquel: Jillian Robinson
Bill: Bill Poulin
Jerry Turner: Allan Brunet

 

Interview with Reginald Johnson (BATMAN: Beyond the Cowl)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Reginald Johnson: Beyond the Cowl is about the role of class in crime and society’s inability to see the humanity in our poorest citizens.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Action/Fantasy/Drama

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

It presents a timely sociological view on law enforcement, the nature of crime, politics with, in my mind, a style and caliber of action closer to an East Asian Martial Arts film (The Raid 2, Ip Man, etc.). If only, WB…if only.

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

Don’t blink.

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

Probably “The Last Dragon” starring Taimak. It was one of three VHS tapes I had as very young kid.

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

Tough to quantify. Probably 4 months.

7. How many stories have you written?

Five.

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

Easy. Funkadelic’s “(Not Just) Knee Deep.”

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

Two young children, a full-time job. Learning story structure on the fly.

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

Family, music and people.

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

Awesome.

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

I wrote a story on what was in my head, which happened to be on a piece of studio IP. I liked it and wanted to see what someone else thought. As one might surmise, this was extremely affirming!

 

 

 

 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Batman works to uncover a new sinister crime wave and realizes Bruce Wayne must rise to be the hero that Gotham needs.

CAST LIST:

Various: Val Cole
Sebastian Hady: Ron Boyd
Alfred: Wyatt Lamoreaux
Narrator: Sean Ballantyne
Bruce Wayne/Batman: John Fray
Candace Collins: Weronika Sokalska
Lonnie Machin: Caleb Jacques

Interview with Screenwriter Thom Holland (The Last Breath Of Winter)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Thom Holland: A huntsman battles a brutal winter and the spirits that in habit the forest around his family’s home.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Fantasy, and horror to some extent

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

It’s a tight, short tale that offers a rich visual narrative wrapped up in the mythos of traditional fables and fantasy. We don’t see those nearly enough anymore!

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

Rather tragic.

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

Alien.

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

The first draft was written in a single weekend when the idea came to me, almost fully formed. It’s since had several redrafts over about four years until I landed on wanting to do it as an animated short and from then on it’s been pretty much locked.

7. How many stories have you written?

Dozens!

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

I’m completely all over the place, musically. I’m currently listening to a lot of ELO and Thom Yorke but tomorrow it might be Earth, Wind & Fire with David Bowie or Talking Heads and some vaporwave/electronica mixed in.

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

Remembering that I designed it to be entirely without dialogue so needed to keep my focus on action!

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

Filmmaking, animation, illustration, design, psychology and sci-fi.

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

It’s been great! Very easy to use. Wish it had been as prevalent 10 years ago, it would have helped motivate me to get more work out there!

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

I did a number of searches on fantasy/horror/sci-fi festivals and this one came up well recommended – the opportunity to have a recorded table read made it very appealing above festivals that simply offered laurels and small cash prizes too!

Watch the Screenplay Readings: 

A huntsman battles a brutal winter and the spirits that inhabit the forest around his family’s home.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Val Cole

Interview with Screenwriter Bethany Maines (BLUE CHRISTMAS)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Bethany Maines: Blue Jones just stole Jake Garner’s dog. And his heart. But technically the French Bulldog belongs to Jake’s ex. And now they’re both being chased across Seattle by Jake’s ex-girlfriend for a dog collar’s worth of smuggled diamonds. For Blue, Christmas has never been quite so dangerous. For Jake, Christmas has never been quite so Blue.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Romance, Comedy, Action

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

Blue Christmas should be made into a movie because we need more stories about couples finding love, the bad guys getting arrested, and Uber drivers who finally have their dream of being in a car chase come true.

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

Romantic Fun

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

Die Hard and Clue, probably followed by The Princess Bride.

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

One year or three months, depending on if you count the time I spent working on the novella that the screenplay is based on.

7. How many stories have you written?

Uh… In my lifetime? Published? How are we counting this? Can we call it a lot? I’ve been writing since grade school. My first short story was published when I was nineteen and my first novel was published in 2010. Writing stories is one of my passions. However, this is my first screenplay. I’m excited to write more.

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

That is an extremely difficult question. I use music to set the mood for what I’m writing and I’ll listen to a pretty wide variety of stuff, so picking an absolute number one is practically impossible! Top five, in no particular order:
Have a Good Time by Paul Simon
Got Your Money by Ol’ Dirty Bastard
It’s a Fire by Portishead
Rock DJ by Robbie Williams
The De Guello, the theme from the John Wayne / Howard Hawks movie Rio Bravo

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

Well, I first had to learn how to write screenplays and that was a bit of an obstacle. Also, being a parent presents many challenges in regards to scheduling time to be creative.

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

I’m a graphic designer and I’m passionate about good design. I love when I can synchronize a clients story with visuals.

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

FilmFreeway has been extremely useful and easy. I like that I can sort my submissions, track contests and surf for new opportunities all in one location.

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

I entered because I really wanted to get feedback and it felt like a festival that matched my screenplay. The feedback was incredibly helpful and adorably Canadian since they used the word “whilst”. I got feedback, not just about industry standards for some of my first-timer formatting mistakes, but also about content and how to strengthen my script. I used the feedback to make changes that I’m very happy about (and secretly wish I could go back and add them to the novella).

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Drunken TV news cameraman Jake Garner thought he was tackling an intruder. But no, Jake just took out the fantastically attractive dog sitter. Mortified, Jake does what any man would who has just been dumped right before Christmas would do—give the offended party all his ex’s things. Meanwhile, Blue Jones is determined to do whatever it takes to get her grandmother the best cancer treatment possible, even if that means some high-rise burglary from one of her worst dog-sitting clients, the failure to walk, feed or book a pet-sitter for a three day weekend, Grace Lorra. But Blue didn’t count on Grace’s ex, Jake, showing up and drunkenly handing over all of Grace’s belongings— including her adorable French Bulldog, Jacques. It takes no time at all for Blue to fall in love with Jacques, but Blue also finds herself wondering if it would be so bad to return to the scene of the crime to reconnect with Jake. But as Christmas draws closer, Grace pressures Jake to return the dog and Blue is targeted by mysterious assailants. Can Jake find Blue and Jacques before her stalkers do? And can Jake and Blue stop these mystery men without also getting Blue arrested for theft? For Blue, Christmas has never been quite so dangerous. For Jake, Christmas has never been quite so Blue.

CAST LIST:

Grace: Victoria Murdoch
Jake: David Rowan
Narration: Esther Thibault
Blue: Mojeane Sadr
Cindy: Julie Sheppard

Interview with Screenwriter Samuel Zehr (MY FAVORITE PERVERT)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Samuel Zehr: It is about a guy struggling to sexually satisfy his wife/ keep his marriage alive.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy. Rom-com. Dark comedy

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

This screenplay would make a great movie because it shows the honest/ugly, funny and dirty side of a realistic relationship.

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

Absurd. Crass.

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

The Sandlot

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

I wrote this screenplay in 48 hrs.

7. How many stories have you written?

Hundreds.

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

My current favorite song is “brain” by the Action

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

Staying awake.

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

Acting, comedy , playing music – and just being in a constant state of creation

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

Fine.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Logline: When the spark has faded in a 20 year marriage; an intuitively sexual husband tries to convince his not-so-carnal minded wife to go to a sex-con.

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Romantic-Comedy, Dark-Comedy, Offbeat-Comedy.

CAST LIST:

Narration – Steve Saet
Jim (40s) – 21 – Michael Ruhs
Janet (40s) – 21 – Barbara Bergeron

***

Interview with Screenwriter Raymond A. Porter (Himal Gold: Murder and Intrigue in the High Mountains)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Raymond A. Porter: A WWII German plane is discovered crashed in Nepal in 1953.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Action, adventure.

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

It’s a great historical action adventure that is based on fact.

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

Epic adventure.

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

The Sound of Music

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

12 months

7. How many stories have you written?

6 books, 8 screenplays

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

Too many to list

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

Finding time, working and family always take up most of my day.

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

Martial arts, i gave up teaching at the end of 2017. And making movies.

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

All good, is straight forward and easy.

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

To get my script promoted. Initial feedback was good.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

In 1953, a British Journalist in Nepal to cover the attempt on Mt Everest, writes an article about an old Nazi cargo plane that has been found crashed in a sacred valley.

Upon reading the article, the Nazi officer who led an expedition into Tibet in 1938, seizes on the opportunity to reclaim the gold that was lost on that fateful flight.

CAST LIST:

Vincent – 3 – Michael Ruhs
Gunther – 1 – Steve Saet
Narration – Carrie Schiffler
Hauptman Weiss – 8 – David Occhipinti
Sebastian – 1 – Steve Saet

***

Interview with Screenwriter Gail B. Robinson (He Tried to Kill Me… He Died!!)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Gail B. Robinson: A woman dies after giving birth to Identical twin girls. 32 years later they grow up to become beautiful, smart and successful women. This is one of many things that they have in common but will later find the horrific tragedy that had taken place in their bloodlines. Lies, deceit, and bad choices in men will have them cross paths and reveal their truth. He Tried to Kill Me…He Died!! Tells the story of… Secrets! 32 Years! Shocking Revelations! And their lives will never be the same!

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama/Crime/Murder (Fiction)

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

It starts off keeping you on edge and you will remain focus with all of the twist and turns throughout the movie.

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

On edge

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

Sparkle (The original version in 1976)

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

Since 2015 and still do rewrites

7. How many stories have you written?

Two books and one screenplay.


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

Any song from “The Jackson 5”

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

Having the time and rewrites/changes in the script.

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

Singing and enjoying life.

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

It was very user friendly.

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

I was contacted on Linkedin and I was intrigued. I was very excited on the feedback, it was great!

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Beautiful, smart and successful is what they have in common but will later find the horrific tragedy that had taken place in their bloodlines. Lies, deceit, and bad choices in men will have them cross paths and reveal their truth. He Tried to Kill Me…He Died!! Tells the story of… Secrets! 32 Years! Shocking Revelations! and Their lives will never be the same.

Genre: Family, Drama, Crime

CAST LIST:

911 – 4 – Stephanie Herrera
Lynn – 6 – Sarah Bedford
NARRATION – Brian Carleton
Man/James – 21 – Russell Batcher
Woman/Ann – 15 – Bree Ali
Officer Albert – 2 – Jolly Amaoko

****

Interview with Screenwriter Eduardo Ramirez (TRAVEL COMPANION)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Eduardo Ramirez: The screenplay is a romantic drama about a couple of men whose lives cross paths when they’re both at the lowest point in life. They develop a friendship, which eventually turns into something more.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Romantic Drama

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

The story explores a side of human relationships that is normally treated as a taboo: a romantic relationship between two men. In these times of increasing intolerance towards the LGBT community, it’s important to produce films that include these type of relationships to hopefully create a more positive view of them in our society.

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

Unconventionally warm.

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

Star Wars Episode IV (37 times)

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

I worked on it for about 6 months but I have made changes since then.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have written several short stories. This is the first full length (feature film) screenplay I’ve written. I am currently working on three new short stories.

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

‘Time After Time’ by Cyndi Lauper.

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

Lack of quiet time in which I can focus and write.

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

Being a film director.

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

My overall experience with FilmFreeway is very positive. I really enjoy submitting material to festivals via their website.

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

I received an invitation. I was really excited after I read the initial feedback.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Logline: The lives of two men: An unsuccessful writer and a former mixed martial arts champion cross paths when they’re both at the lowest point in life. They develop a friendship that turns into something more.

Genre: LGBT Romance, Drama

CAST LIST:

Gloria – 5 – CASSANDRA GUTHRIE
Julia – 11 – ETHEL ABRAY
NARRATION – TED POWERS
Brian – 19 – JUSTIN DESOUZA
Helen – 11 – OLIVIA BARRETT
****