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Monday, May 16, 2016

Don’t Go in the Bathroom – Short Script Review (Available for Production) - posted by wonkavite

Don’t Go in the Bathroom
A young woman endures horrific violence; danger yet lingers in the bathroom.

Bathrooms can be scary places. Sharing one often demands more intimacy than sharing a bed.

And how many of us can honestly say they didn’t have to check behind the shower curtain for years after Psycho traumatized them to shreds?

Following the release of Hitchcock’s masterpiece, a number of films have indulged in restroom unrest—from suicides and murders in movies such as Fatal Attraction, to other forms of loo nastiness in films like The Conversation and Trainspotting as well. Even the poor protagonist of Finding Nemo experiences an ordeal of Toilet Hell.

Michael Cornetto’s Don’t Go in the Bathroom takes such terrors to a whole new level.

Protagonist Anne has survived a brutal beating and rape. And it’s in her very bathroom that the violence comes to a sticky end. Traumatized to her core, Anne cannot muster the courage to return “to the normal world”. Instead, she isolates herself in her apartment for days on end – going to extraordinary and disturbing extremes to avoid using her toilet at all.

Margaret – her well-meaning, yet irritatingly persistent caseworker – is sure she can overcome Anne’s neurotic fears. But Margaret is missing some key information. One wrong move on her part and she could wind up making things a whole lot worse; for both of them.

The result: an extreme dose of violence, blood, urine and feces – all of which provide a sublime source of irony. A disgusting one, of course.

So, if you’re a director looking for a script that rips through the envelope of gut-wrenching detail… up towards emotional/psychological heights, you will not want to miss Don’t Go in the Bathroom.

So print up a copy, and bring it in for a read. Everyone’s got to go… sometime.

Pages: 10

Budget: Low.

About the reviewer: Julia Cottle is a cultural anthropologist living in Chicago. She has worked for years as a university instructor and researcher for organizations committed to social justice. She always has loved to write, but only recently has discovered the joy of film and stage writing. She may be reached at: Cottle54321“AT”Gmail.

About the writer: Michael is a graduate of the New York School of Television Arts and has been screenwriting since 2005. A number of his short scripts have been produced and several have played the festival circuit… with over 70,000 views on Youtube. Drop Michael an email at mcornetto “AT” hotmail!

READ THE SCRIPT HERE – AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!!

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM 

OR THE BLOG VERSION OF STS HERE.

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. 

The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Midnight Clear – Short Script Review (Optioned!) - posted by wonkavite

Midnight Clear
Nearing Christmas, a man with a peculiar talent attempts to give his grieving wife the most precious gift of all.

“Stages of grief” have become a popular way of describing the numerous ways people navigate the loss of a loved one. But grieving is rarely unidirectional. Within moments of profound sadness, there can be instances of peace and even joy; flashes of happiness torn asunder when the reality of loss manifests again.

Steven Clark’s Midnight Clear beautifully captures the melancholic twists that the path of grieving often takes.

Married couple Steve and Bryn’s shared life seems ideal. When the script opens, they’re home together for the holiday. The house itself is cute; chock full of character and charm. Steve sips on champagne as he puts the finishing touches on a model village. He taps gently on the church steeple, the entire town lights up like a million dots of fairy dust. Magic. Or so it seems.

Bryn compliments her husband on the amazing dinner he prepared. Effortlessly, she clears the table and starts the dishwasher. As a favorite LP plays, the two embrace and affectionately reminisce about their first dance.

Continuing the late night celebration, Bryn and Steve take a walk together with their son to a nearby park. Steve leans back against the car – while mother and child play a game of hide and seek.

Basketball, tennis courts. See-saws and swings.

Bryn meanders around a jungle gym, searching. Another tug at her coat.

BRYN
There you are!

She giggles and gives chase.

But the specter of grief haunts them all – and in very different ways.

Maybe Bryn and Steve don’t realize it (or perhaps they do), but the harmony of their picture perfect evening will soon come to an end. The reality of their loss will return full force, leaving audiences surprised… and deeply moved.

Are you a director with a preference for naked, true drama – yearning for a story with soul? Then give Midnight Clear a read. If you’ve got a poet’s touch, maybe you’re fated to shepherd it to the screen.

Pages: 9

Budget: Low to Moderate. Several scenes, including one setting other than the home.

About the reviewer: Julia Cottle is a cultural anthropologist living in Chicago. She has worked for years as a university instructor and researcher for organizations committed to social justice. She always has loved to write, but only recently has discovered the joy of film and stage writing. She may be reached at: Cottle54321“AT”Gmail.

About the writer: A writer since the age of 12, the first book that Steven Clark ever read was Amityville Horror. The second was Cujo. He’s been writing ever since, and is currently hard at work on two features. He’s reachable at SAClark69 “AT” verizon.net (or on Long Island, if you’re in the area!!)

READ THE SCRIPT HERE – AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!!

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM 

OR THE BLOG VERSION OF STS HERE.

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. 

The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Popped – Short Script Review (Available for Production!) - posted by wonkavite

Popped
A young man wakes up to find himself trapped in a cell.
With fellow prisoners that refuse to explain – or escape.

Six people awaken to find themselves trapped in a pit with little recollection of how they got there… or how to escape. No, this isn’t the SF film Cube.

This is Popped – a thrilling, quirky sci-fi script. One with yet more stakes at play.

Jimmy, the central character in Popped, faces a more dire dilemma than the characters of Cube. You see, he tries to escape (naturally), but receives no help from his companions; dismal denizens of the pit. What’s actually going on? What did Jimmy and the others do to deserve their fate?

Speaking of his cellmates, what do these people know that Jimmy doesn’t? And why is it they won’t tell?

Such questions form the mystery at the forefront of this tense tale. And, in a short (get it?) amount of time, things become horrifyingly clear…

Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the ending. But Jimmy finally receives help from another prisoner: an older man named Paulo. And that’s when things turn real grotesque. We get some answers and they’re… not pretty.

If it seems I’m being coy, I am. Like any Mystery/SF, Popped works best when you have no idea where it’s going. But have no doubt, there’s twists and turns… and a shockingly original ending that’ll have you gasping and chuckling at the same time.

And once you’ve seen what’s coming, movie night may never be the same…

Budget: Mid-range. 6 actors, and four settings: A hole. A living room and kitchen. As for the effects: A savvy director can use the “less is more” approach when filming horror, so the budget there ‘just depends.’)

Pages: 11

About the reviewer: Mitch Smith is an award winning screenwriter whose website (http://mitchsmithscripts.wix.com/scripts) offers notes, script editing and phone consultations. You can also reach him at Mitch.SmithScripts “AT” gmail and follow Mitch at https://twitter.com/MitchScripts.

About the writer, Michael Cornetto: Michael is a graduate of the New York School of Television Arts and has been screenwriting since 2005. A number of his short scripts have been produced and several have played the festival circuit… with over 70,000 views on Youtube. Drop Michael an email at mcornetto “AT” hotmail!

READ THE SCRIPT HERE (AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!)

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM 

OR THE BLOG VERSION OF STS HERE.

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Combination – Short Script Review (Available for Production) - posted by wonkavite

The Combination
Parents who lose their child must eventually find a way to… let go.

Between 40,000 and 60,000 children die each year in the United States, according to the National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths.

All these parents share a similar, tragic plight – being confronted with a situation they never expected. For each one, it’s a long, pain filled road back to “normal life”. And some might never be able to let go.

In Steven Clark’s short script The Combination, Paul Reed and wife Melinda are in just that boat. All they have left are a handful of keepsakes: a small memorial with a picture of their five year old son, his dented bike and a teddy bear – trinkets they cling to, desperate to keep memories alive. The bike itself? It’s attached to a road sign with a chain and a combination lock.

Paul copes as best he can. But Melinda is troubled, to say the least. Mentally paralyzed, she hasn’t left their house since their boy’s death – finding herself unable to move on. Paul keeps asking for the lock’s combination as a sign Melinda is ready to let go. But he never gets an answer. Melinda isn’t ready. Probably not tomorrow. And definitely not today.

Finally, Paul takes action and cuts the chain, spiriting the bike away, into the family garage for repairs. He’s determined to turn this symbol of grief into something else. The result: a wonderful and heart-warming payoff, one your audience will surely engage with.

Dealing with such a heart-rending subject, The Combination does a brilliant job giving us insight into the inner life of parents who lose their “guiding light”. It’s stories like these which deserve to be produced, providing families dealing with grief a form of hope. And hopefully, conjuring a smile on at least one face.

Pages: 11

Budget: Low. This is a character-driven script. No extravagant locations or effects required.

About the reviewer: A German writer, Thorsten Loos is running his own software development company for a living. In his spare time, he primarily writes tales and scripts in the Science Fiction, Conspiracy and Paranormal genres. (Though he does drift into different genres with his shorts.) Thorsten’s currently working on episodes of an international TV series in development for a U.S. based production company. His TV pilot Mindwalker is a winning pilot script at Wildsound Festival. His short script ‘The Wall In The Garden’ was recently optioned and is going to production in May. Want to learn more? Then reach out to him at loos.thorsten “AT” web.de!

About the writer: A writer since the age of 12, the first book that Steve Clark ever read was Amityville Horror. The second was Cujo. He’s been writing ever since, and is currently hard at work on two features. He’s reachable at SAClark69 “AT” verizon.net (or on Long Island, if you’re in the area!!)

READ THE SCRIPT HERE – AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!!

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM 

OR THE BLOG VERSION OF STS HERE.

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Yo-Yo – Short Script Review (Available for Production!) - posted by wonkavite

Yo-Yo
Bullying can backfire pretty badly…

Three pages. Not a single word of dialog, but a strict goose bumps guarantee:

You like horror? Then travel with us into the pages of MJ Hermanny’s Yo-Yo – a micro script that takes readers on a trip of horror, into the abyss of a wounded soul.

Maybe you’ve experienced it yourself or at least know someone who did. Being the outsider – the bullied one everyone laughs about – isn’t easy for anyone. Especially not teenagers. Life for them is awkward, as-is.

But what if those victims found a way to manifest all their accumulated pain and hate?

That’s the dilemma of 19 year old Ellen, Yo-Yo’s protagonist. Harassed and isolated, she ends up in a library where she pours over covers of horror DVD films. And the genre that sings its siren song to her isn’t surprising in the least. After all, when one suffers mental torment, the pain and unconscious longing for revenge proves a wonderful breeding ground for… whatever Ellen is about to find in those dark, dismal aisles.

It all starts out with a yo-yo. As the shadows deepen, Ellen’s encounter turns even more horrifying… building into an unholy agglutination of visuals that many will find themselves unable to face.

Sounds like the perfect blend of terror? For those who like stories that burrow under your skin, then trust me… Yo-Yo is! Just imagine the visuals of The Ring or Silent Hill – packaged into the ultimate creepy micro script.

If executed with solid special effects, Yo-Yo is guaranteed to be a jawdropper for film festivals. Pick this up before someone else does. And bring this demonic tale to life!

Pages: 3

Budget: Low to medium. Some solid post or CGI required.

About the reviewer: A German writer and computer scientist, Thorsten Loos is running his own software development company for a living. In his spare time, he primarily writes tales and scripts in the Science Fiction, Conspiracy and Paranormal genres. (Though he does drift into different genres with his shorts.) Thorsten’s currently working on episodes of an international TV series in development for a U.S. based production company. His pilot script Project Endolon made it to the semi finals of the Creative World Awards 2015, his pilot Mindwalker won ‘best TV Pilot’ in February at Wildsound Festival. His short script ‘The Wall In The Garden’ was recently optioned and is going to production in May. Want to learn more? Then reach out to him at loos.thorsten “AT” web.de!

About the writer: Boasting an MA in Scriptwriting for Film, Theatre, TV & Radio, MJ is an award winning writer, with shorts optioned and produced in countries as diverse as Croatia and Norway. Residing in sunny England, she is currently hard at work developing a series with the BBC Writersroom – as well as working on a number of features (including one low-budget horror and a fantasy adventure script.) Her website is available here: redcatwriter.wordpress.com/. MJ herself can be reached via mjhermanny – AT – gmail!

READ THE SCRIPT HERE – AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!!

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM 

OR THE BLOG VERSION OF STS HERE.

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Last Shot – Short Script Review (Available for Production) - posted by wonkavite

Last Shot (aka Baby Shoes)
Shoot first, die later.

Where the road to perdition meets the highway to nowhere, there sits a small café. And in that café there sits a man, calmly reading the newspaper, skimming the classifieds. When he notices an ad for ‘Baby Shoes’, our man moves to the pay phone and places a call.

But, the transaction that’s about to take place doesn’t involve any actual shoes. You see, our man’s name is Baby Shoes, and he is not just any man, he’s a hitman. You know it well – the lethal kind.

With the information on his target secured, we ride along with Baby Shoes as he carries out his latest job…

….or at least attempts to. Turns out not everything goes as smoothly as Baby Shoes (and his employer) had planned.

After a botched first shot, all hell breaks loose. His target on the run, Baby Shoes races after his prey in hot pursuit, setting off a rock-em sock-em, high-octane action chase sequence that will literally blow your socks off. Well – ok – not literally, but somebody is getting something blown off, I guarantee that. But who?

Will the target live to see another day, or will Baby Shoes take his last shot?

Everyone loves a good hitman movie. From Collateral to Machete, it’s practically its own genre. Last Shot provides a strong character in the vein of no less than Leon: The Professional – with a slam-bam action pace that will keep even the most stubborn audiences on the edge of their seats.

But don’t think this is a mindless six-page car chase, oh no. The central arch provides us with a weightier intelligence more akin to Killing Them Softly; providing a director with ample opportunity to highlight directorial skills in action as well as straight drama.

Think you’ve got what it takes to be the last man standing? Then grab your silencer and put on your black gloves. You’ve got a job to do.

Pages: 6

Budget: Medium. Limited actors but multiple locations, props, and an action sequence.

About the Reviewer: Dane Whipple is like ten-thousand spoons when all you need is a knife. He is currently working on that screenplay everybody keeps talking about: The Wild Age. Contact him at dane.whipple (at) live.com

About the writer: Elaine Clayton is a London-based screenwriter, who has written several well-received shorts and is currently working on her first feature length scripts. Comfortable in a broad range of genres, Elaine has an innate sense of structure and arc development. Contact her at Elaine_clayton (AT) Hotmail(.)co(.)uk

READ THE SCRIPT HERE – AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!!

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM 

OR THE BLOG VERSION OF STS HERE.

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

Friday, May 6, 2016

An Interview with NYC Film Veteran (DP and Writer) Shawn Schaffer! - posted by wonkavite

In between digging for wonderful shorts and features to produce, STS does travel to distant lands, meet interesting people, and engage them in conversation to learn what truly makes them tick.

Today, we’re thrilled to feature yet another great interview by Anthony Cawood, this one with Shawn Schaffer: a very nice guy in general, not to mention a talented NYC Director of Photography – blessed by a list of credits that would make anyone involved in film drool…

Q: Could you give me a little bit of background on how you got into film making?
A: I usually tell people I started as an actor, but in reality, before that I was just a friend driving their actress friend to auditions. I remember the exact date. May 16, 2002. Opening day of Star Wars Episode II Attack of the Clones. My friend asked me to bring her to an audition before my showtime, so I obliged. It was hot as hell that day, so sitting in the car was not an option. I went inside to the stage theatre production had rented for auditions, it was only me, my actress friend, my girlfriend at the time and her friend, the director, and the producer in the whole place. She auditioned, we were about to leave when the director asked me and my friends to audition. I reluctantly got up on stage and auditioned. I got the part. I still have the audition tape somewhere in my office I think. From there, I was an “actor”, but being an actor on a no budget short just means you wore one more hat than everyone else. I helped with lighting, set design, sound, even camera, among everything else. Shortly into my acting “career”, I realized I had more interest (and talent) behind the camera than in front of it. So I started writing, making my own terrible no budget shorts, and getting on every set I could as a Production Assistant working for a cold slice of pizza to learn and shadow other crew members.

Q: What was your first film making experience?
A: I made my first film, “Fragments“, in the fall of 2003. It was a personal story to me about a young woman contemplating suicide. At her breaking point, a conversation among fragmented parts of her personality begins. Her Hope, her Despair, and her Anger give her all the reasons she should or shouldn’t end her life in a debate like fashion. We shot it in one day, in my father’s spare bedroom, lit with one Home Depot work light, shot on a Canon XL1s on tape. We shot the actress playing each part individually and used the magic of editing to make a round table discussion of it. The source material was a journal entry from when I was about 16 years old.

Q: You work primarily as Cinematographer/DOP but you’ve worked as an Editor, Director, Actor etc, which is your favourite?
A: They all have aspects I enjoy, but I love cinematography. I love being a Director of Photography. Being able to visually tell a story gives me great satisfaction. I strive to make art at 24 frames per second, meaning I aim to make imagery that you could take any single frame of it and hang it on a wall. A beautifully composed and lit shot that has my fingerprint on it gives me chills every time, even after 14 years.

Q: You’ve also written a few scripts, do you like the writing process?
A: I enjoy the writing process a great deal. For me it’s a creative outlet for when I’m not shooting. When I read a script, I am playing the movie in my head, so writing for me is that process reverse engineered. I see the movie I want to make and find the way to put the imagery to words as opposed to the other way around that I’m used to. Dialogue for me is always my favorite part, however, because I aim to give every character a unique voice and then through a stream of consciousness let the dialogue among the characters happen. If you didn’t know me, you’d think at this point in reading the interview, I might be schizophrenic between my description of my first film and my writing process, but I make my internal dialogue external quite a bit in all aspects of my life, I use it as a method of problem solving.

Q: Do you want to direct your own scripts or are you looking to option them to other film makers?
A: I have directed my own scripts in the past, but I really want to focus on the visuals once I’m on set. I’ve already written the words, I’ve played the movie in my head, I’m re-creating it from my mental blueprint in real life on set, and I trust the director will bring the best out of the actors and give it his own spin and unique flavor to the production. I’m not a stickler for my words once on set, there’s more than one way to skin a cat as they say, likewise, there’s more than one way to breathe life into the words on a page.

Q: How was the experience of directing your own material for the feature version of ‘Pawn’?
A: That was an experience to say the least. It was 2004, I was contemplating going to film school because I felt it was what I “had” to do to continue in the film industry. I spoke with some colleagues about it and the consensus was that I could spend what a year of film school would cost and just make a film. At the end of it, it would have cost me the same, I would have gotten the practical, on set education, and I’d have a product to show for it. Like a lot of stories, it seemed like a good plan at the time.

Q: How did you fund ‘Pawn’?
A: This is the “at the time” part of it seemed like a good plan at the time. I funded “Pawn” via credit card. Being 22 years old, I had virgin credit that every credit company would love to violate, and they did. I kept accepting cards, they kept sending them, and I kept spending it. I spent $25,000 in credit to fund “Pawn” which, given interest rates, late fees, etc, if I had to guess, probably ballooned that to $60,000 when all was said and done and destroyed my credit for a lengthy period of time. Only to be rebuilt and destroyed again by identity theft in 2008. So I went from the cost of one year of film school to two or more by the time all was said and done. Here’s the kicker, “Pawn” never got finished.

Q: I believe ‘Pawn’ wasn’t finished/released, what happened and what did you learn from this?
A: Enough was enough. I couldn’t spend any more and the credit offers stopped coming. Now I was working to pay interest only payments to the credit companies. It’s 95% there, but by the time I righted the ship from colliding with two icebergs, the initial debt and then identity theft, “Pawn” wasn’t a viable product anymore. It was dated, shot in Standard Definition, and one of my lead actors, Michael J. Cannon, who portrayed Benjamin Harris, passed away. I learned a lot of things from all of it. Most importantly, and this is something I try to express to every filmmaker that approaches me with a project in a similar situation, if you can’t pay for it, don’t do it. Or at least don’t produce beyond your means. It’s okay to make low to no budget films, it really is. Everyone has to get their feet wet and make a few terrible, unwatchable films before they can evolve as filmmakers. Your first film is not going to be your great opus. Neither will your second, maybe not even your third. Even after 14 years, I’m improving, learning, and growing every time I’m on set. When you get to the point where people want to give you money to make your film, whether by asking for it like with crowdfunding or they’re offering it, is the point where you can compose your opus. What I wouldn’t give to have had crowdfunding in 2004/2005…

Q: ‘Pawn’ features a great character in Benjamin, the chess player, was he the hook for the story and you built it round him?
A: Benjamin is the embodiment of the mentor I wish I had. Devin in the film is me at the time, through and through. Visiting the undiagnosed schizophrenia again, Benjamin was the voice that told me the rational and logical things I needed to hear. The subconscious speaking it’s mind to tell me what I needed to hear, whether I wanted to hear it or not. Never saying I told you so, but approaching things from a very Socratic method as asking questions, giving examples, and leading you to the correct response. Benjamin is also largely influenced by my grandfather, Carmine DeStefano, who passed in 2013. My grandfather was to me what Benjamin was to Devin. He never pried or inserted himself into what was going on with me in my life, he just patiently waited for me to seek his advice. He was my rock, my lighthouse as I traversed the foggy seas in my life. Even know after he’s passed, I can still hear him when I’m unsure in life, and I always will.

Q: How do you get your scripts ‘out there’? And do you think it’s any easier for you given you are working in the industry?
A: My scripts tend to stay close. I have a completed feature screenplay, another feature screenplay that I’ve finished a draft of, another feature screenplay I’m currently writing, and I’ve toyed with brushing off “Pawn” and modernizing it. I hear reboots are all the rage. The completed screenplay I’m on the fence as to what to do with it. I know some people I could send it to, but I also know I’d love to shoot it, and depending on the potential buyer and their production, those two things may not be able to both happen. I think the only aspect that’s easier for me is there are more eyes willing to look at it, but it doesn’t making it any easier to sell or produce. It’s a friends industry, so you still need to know somebody and while I know a lot more people now than years ago, I don’t know “somebody” that can snap their fingers and make it happen. So the short answer, no it’s not any easier.

Q: Any particular method/structure you use when writing scripts?
A: Stream of consciousness. Nearly every first draft has been insanely long. I write out EVERYTHING. It’s typically a winding road that forks to many places. I know the characters, the beginning, the conflict, and the resolution when I sit down. Everything else just happens. Then I revisit and start hacking away at the overgrowth of vines until I have a clear and straight path.

Q: I believe you swerved film school and formal training, how did you go about building your rep?
A: This is a friends industry as I mentioned. So, I made friends. There’s still a small handful of people who were there in the very beginning that I still work with today. I started with that small group, working on each others projects, no budget, but big dreams. We kept putting our work out there until people took notice, then they started calling and became my new friends. This industry is really about the person, not always the talent. I’ve known plenty of directors who have cast their second choice for a role because they were much easier to deal with and direct. Same goes for crew, I’ve been told to my face I wasn’t someone’s first choice, but I’m friendly, good to work with, level-headed, a problem solver, AND have a level of talent at what I do. There are a lot of brilliant people I have worked with, far superior to me, that I never see on set anymore, because some of them behaved like entitled, insolent children and you can’t have that. From top to bottom, you need good people first, then people who are good. It’s true that one bad apple spoils the bunch. There’s nothing worse than a sour member of the team that causes a pandemic like level of misery on set of what would otherwise be a great project. It’s different if that team member had been legitimately wronged, whether by production or something else, then it becomes a rallying point to circle the wagons around that team member, because that’s just it, we are a team on set, we are the closest thing to family without being related.

Q: I noticed on your IMDB that you were a grip on Bridge of Spies, what was that experience like?
A: I wasn’t a core team member of the grip and electric team, as it was a Local 52 show. I was a “permitted” which means a non-union guy who knows enough to not kill someone or endanger the set, but who knows enough to do good work, they just don’t happen to be a member or a current applicant. Having said that, I day played, I wasn’t on for the whole production. I just wanted to make that clear as I know a lot of great guys who were on for the whole production and did way more than me. The experience was tremendous though, seeing the army it takes to make a movie like Bridge of Spies. We took over a four block radius in Brooklyn for a couple days and changed everything; store fronts, signage, cars, etc all to be period appropriate and to turn it into Washington DC. I was fortunate to meet Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks in person and shake hands with them both the first day I was on, they both really enjoyed my shirt, which had the hand drawn original Star Wars poster on it. Mr. Spielberg joked “Hey, I know that movie” and Mr. Hanks simply stated “Great shirt, where can I get one?” So I gave the web site info to his assistant who was helping him get out of wardrobe since we had just wrapped. Most awe-inspiring to me though was being able to watch Janusz Kaminski work on set. He’s such an amazing Cinematographer and to see him command an image, a set, and lighting the way he does was incredible.

Q: I believe you work in NY, how is the film community and opportunities on the East Coast?
A: There is always an abundance of production in New York. I think I read it’s actually at it’s highest point in history in terms of man hours and productions happening concurrently of one another. The city is teeming with artists and with creativity. It’s everywhere, quite literally. Walk through Brooklyn and you’ll see beautiful pieces of graffiti art everywhere, cafes with poetry, performance pieces, and more and of course a multitude of film productions happening everywhere. There really are only two hubs in the country to experience the film industry in a way unlike any other, NY and LA.

Q: Have you worked in LA and/or thought of moving out there?
A: I have worked in LA a handful of times. Traditionally it’s a tough sell as a Director of Photography to fly you out and put you up for a production when they have their own myriad of talented DPs out on the West Coast. Perhaps as an actor it’s more common to consistently work bi-coastal because if you have a “look” that is a great selling point. I’ve considering relocating, mainly because after 33 years living in New York, I’m growing weary of snow and freezing temperatures, but my daughter loves snow and what’s left of my family is here, so I stick it out and just make myself available to be anywhere in the world for work.

Q: Clearly visuals are very important to you, how much comes from the script and how much do you get to influence things, say in something like The Perfect Color? (which I loved!)
A: A lot of my visuals are inspired by the script since I play the movie in my head when I read a script. I have a great influence on a lot of things visually on set, but always in collaboration with the Director. Ultimately, it’s their show, so if they say no go after you’ve made your case, then it’s no go, but I find typically that myself and nearly every director I’ve worked with can get on the same wavelength rather quickly. Then it becomes one feeding off the other creatively. With The Perfect Color, that was the case. Justin and I clicked right away and made it almost a game of one-upsmanship to create the best visuals we could. Perfect Color link – https://vimeo.com/128883117

Q: What’s the best experience you’ve had making a film and why?
A: I would have to say making Comedy Warriors: Healing Through Humor was my best experience making a film. I knew every day we went to work we were going to laugh and have a good time. We had become good friends with the five tremendous members of our Armed Forces that were our subjects of the documentary. Having spent over a year on the project filming, we got to see some positive and great changes in them. When we first started, Rob Jones was very quiet and we couldn’t quite get him to come out of his shell during the intake interviews, but by the end, he was transformed into a thrill-seeking, risk-taking, adventurer who just kicked ass and took names. He was a bronze medalist in the 2012 Paralympics in London in two-man adaptive rowing, he rode an adaptive bicycle over 4500 miles from Maine to San Diego in the name of charity, I recently read he’s going to the Freedom Tower climb up the 100+ flights from the ground to the crown. Bobby Henline has become a tremendous motivational speaker, he’s in the process of raising funds through his Sunrise Warriors to pay it forward to other veterans by establishing a quick service restaurant to hire veterans and provide a steady income. He’s been such a force in helping promote an improvement in the quality of life of veterans. So in making Comedy Warriors, it wasn’t just a documentary film that we did, it got released, people watched, and hopefully enjoyed, it was a catalyst for our stars and the fruits of the films labors and the labors of the veterans involved are still showing today, years later. It’s one of my proudest ongoing moments in this industry.
Comedy Warriors trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqbX0DB4m1w

Q: Did you learn anything from that experience and subsequent work?
A: I learned that I want to replicate that feeling every time, every project. I want to have a feeling of immense pride with everything I do, both in the visuals and in the project. While I do this for a living and make an income from it, it’s true there are some things money can’t buy. I understand that I won’t be able to do replicate it every time, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to.

Q: Of the films you’ve worked on which is your favourite and why?
A: That’s like picking your favorite child. I only have one child so in real life that’s easy, but in my professional life, that’s hard. I like all of my films for different reasons. Whether it was the people involved, the fun times and stories I could tell from set, the sheer entertainment I got from watching the finished product, the pride I felt in seeing go out into the world on big screens or small screens alike, or the one I felt I shot best, they all have aspects that make them my favorite.

Q: Any other shorts/features you’ve worked on in pre-production we should be looking out for?
A: I’m currently in pre-production on a few shorts. “Cornbread & Feta: Growing Up Fat & Albanian” goes into production the end of April. That should be fun, picture My Big Fat Greek Wedding mixed with Bridget Jones’ Diary, but Albanian. “Coffee and a Donut” goes into production in May, that one will be a good short as well, it’s about a young immigrant trying to assimilate to being in America, starting with being able to order his own breakfast at a local diner. I’m currently talking with producers on another short called “Towards the Grassy Knoll” which would possibly get lensed in June. On the feature front, I’m in development with producers on a few feature films. “Lather“, a comedy satirizing the soap opera genre, “The New Weapon“, which is an feature length adaptation of the award-winning short film dealing with cyber-bullying, “Dear Soldier“, a tense drama surrounding mistaken identity, and an untitled docu-drama about the 35 years of apparitions of the Virgin Mary, the visionaries who see it and speak with her, and the 50 million people who have made pilgrimage over those 35 years to the town of Medjugorje in modern day Bosnia to see the apparition. The features in particular could all benefit from some additional funding, wink wink, nudge nudge in case anyone out there is interested.

Now for a few ‘getting to know you’ questions

Q: What’s your favourite film?
A: Leon: The Professional, Luc Besson at his greatest.

Q: Favourite cinematographer?
A: Roger Deakins, it’s criminal with his resume that he hasn’t won an Academy Award after 13 nominations.

Q: Okay, I couldn’t get you to specify a fave film of your own… what about fave Deakins films?
A: Shawshank Redemption of course is one of my favorite films period. I also really enjoyed the look of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and The Reader. Also, In Time I feel is a vastly under-appreciated film both stylistically and as a great sci-fi film.

Q: Favourite author and book?
A: I don’t have a lot of time to read, but when I have, it’s been Matthew Howe and either his “Film is Hell” or his latest work “Waypoint“. I also enjoy Christopher Loken’s “The Boy Next Door” and “Come Monday Morning“, which I’m currently reading concurrently with “Waypoint“.

Q: Beer or Wine (or something else)? And which variety?
A: I enjoy a good Jack and coke. Otherwise, I drink Guinness most of the year, but in summer I drink some form of craft Hard Apple Cider or Redd’s Apple Ale.

Q: Favourite food?
A: Rib eye steak and Potatoes, I’m a simple guy.

Q: Sports, or any other interests and passions?
A: I love baseball and football for spectating, I used to play golf until I injured my shoulder, then I played pool with the APA, competing five times in the National Championships, finishing twice in the top ten.

Q: Any final thoughts for the screenwriters of SimplyScripts?
A: Write every day. Build a library of screenplays, shorts and features, in a number of genres. Someone is always looking for something to produce.

About the reviewer, Anthony Cawood: I’m an award winning screenwriter from the UK with over 15 scripts produced, optioned and/or purchased. Outside of my screenwriting career, I’m also a published short story writer and movie reviewer. Links to my films and details of my scripts can be found at http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

About Shawn Shaeffer: Shawn has worked as a the Director of Photography on hundreds of projects, ranging from commercials to theatrically distributed feature films starring Academy Award nominated talent. Most notably, Shawn was the Director of Photography for “Fighting for Freedom”, starring Kristanna Loken (Terminator 3) and Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee Bruce Dern (Nebraska). Want to learn more? Of course you do – who wouldn’t? So visit his site at http://www.shawnschaffer.com

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Congratulations to STS’ Anthony Cawood – Fairy Tale Optioned! - posted by wonkavite

As we’re always proud to declare, there’s tons of fun stuff on the way…

Today, STS is happy to announce that Anthony Cawood’s romantic elevator short Fairy Tale has been officially optioned by RAMSTAR Studios.  No, we’re not surprised. At all.

If you’re looking for anything else to shoot – here are a few more Cawood scripts on the market – at least for now!

Glitch (SF/Thriller/Horror) – A desperate wife resorts to extreme measures to ensure her husband gets the lifesaving operation he needs. Winner of the Nashville Film Festival Short Script Award!

All My Love (aka Stuffed) (Horror/Drama) – A wronged woman takes a scorched earth approach to her revenge.

I-Robot (SF, Comedy) – It’s Man Vs. Roomba when Octogenarian Roy receives a surprise present from his daughter

Love Locked (Horror) – Two teenagers discover romantically painted padlocks on a bridge. Are they Valentines from a love-struck Romeo… or something more sinister?

About Anthony: I’m an award winning screenwriter from the UK with over 15 scripts produced, optioned and/or purchased. Outside of my screenwriting career, I’m also a published short story writer and movie reviewer. Links to my films and details of my scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

STS Exclusive Interview: A Chat with Kent Tessman, Creator of Fade In Screenwriting Software! - posted by wonkavite

Kent Tessman is the creator of Fade In screenwriting software, no small achievement in itself… but he’s also a great screenwriter and film maker too. Details of his feature Bull can be found at http://www.bullthemovie.com/ and you can hear a fantastic table read of his script, Chrome Noir, on the Blacklist podcast http://blacklist.wolfpop.com/audio/35178/chrome-noir-pt-1

In addition giving up his valuable time for this interview, Kent has also provided a 20% discount code for Fade In for a limited time! Just use the coupon code SIMPLYFADEIN2016 when purchasing through http://www.fadeinpro.com until May 25, 2016.

So without further ado… over to Kent.

Q: Could you give me a little bit of background on yourself and how you got into screenwriting?
I was one of those film kids. I was nine years old and taking books out of the library and learning how traveling mattes worked. I think I was fourteen or fifteen when I wrote my first feature and sent it to Steven Spielberg. I got back a “No thank you” letter, which of course I kept. I doubt everyone got a letter back from Amblin, so it must’ve been pretty obvious a fourteen year-old wrote the script.

Q: And how many features, shorts etc have you written now?
The cool answer would be three: the two feature-length things I directed plus CHROME NOIR. The real answer, however, is lots, most of which really weren’t very good at all.

Q: Can you give us a brief logline for Apartment Story and what was the inspiration for it?
APARTMENT STORY is about a guy who decides one day not to leave his tiny little apartment, and came about because I was living in a tiny little apartment and that was the one location I knew I had access to. The production budget was pretty much my rent cheque. It was done right at the time when you first could do a film like that, thanks to digital video and computers.

Q: Same question for Bull?
BULL is a murder mystery that takes place during the summer during a heatwave amidst the skyscraper canyons of the Toronto financial district, because I remember what it was like working during the summer in a heatwave amidst the skyscraper canyons of the Toronto financial district and always thought it would be a hell of a lot more interesting if there was, you know, a murder mystery or something going on instead. It was another technologically well-timed project, among the first of the independent HD films, and the whole goal was to make something that looked like it cost a couple million bucks for far, far less, complete with a real, professional cast, elaborate locations, and visual effects.

Q: Any other Options/Sales/near Misses along the way?
I think for anyone trying to do this the ratio of Things I’ve Done to Things I’ve Almost Done/Things That Almost Happened is probably tiny. You learn early on not to get too excited and/or disappointed about any particular thing. It’s nice when someone says something nice. It’s nice when something nice happens. When it doesn’t, well, it doesn’t.

Q: You’re also the creator of Fade In, screenwriting software, what prompted you to create your own software and not use the more traditional and established products?
Honestly, because I’d used those more traditional and established products — for years — and thought they could be an awful lot better than they were (and are).

Q: You have a famous and vocal advocate in Craig Mazin, do you think one day you could replace Final Draft as the software of choice for screenwriters?
I’m genuinely grateful for the kind things Craig has said about Fade In, and I’m glad that I’ve been able to provide him and other writers with a writing tool that they find useful and hope that I’ll be able to continue to do so. The nice thing is that I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know Craig a little, and he’s a very smart guy who puts a lot of thought into what he says, and who doesn’t mince words and who doesn’t suffer fools (or foolish software), so while I’m happy with the kind things, I try to pay more attention to what he and other professional writers are saying they want and need because it only helps to benefit the software and, as a result, everybody who uses it.

(And by the way, anyone out there who isn’t listening to Craig and John August on their Scriptnotes podcast is just plain crazy and missing out. It wasn’t that long ago when it would have been completely unimaginable to have a totally free opportunity every week to hear two extremely well-spoken, well-informed people talk inside baseball about the film business from a writer’s perspective.)

As for Final Draft, I honestly don’t think about it that much, other than when a user presents me with an issue they’re having with a Final Draft file, or with their workflow, etc. The fact that so many professional writers are switching to Fade In does say at least a little something about “software of choice”, though.

Q: Any other well-known screenwriter users of Fade In?
To be honest: quite a few. There are a number of movies and television shows coming out this year and next, for instance — some pretty big ones, too. I won’t run through all of them here; but I’ve started to list some at http://www.fadepro.com under “Who uses Fade In?” where people will probably recognize a name and a title or two.

Q: I see you also did some VFX work on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, must have been interesting, which element did you work on?
For that film I worked on the IMAX 3D version. And the most interesting part was easily getting paid to sit down every day in front of Bruno Delbonnel’s cinematography. And that part was wonderful.

Q: Writer, Director, Editor, Composer, Game Creator and Software Developer, bit of a polymath, any particular discipline you prefer out of these and why?
Prefer? Directing. It’s the closest you come to actually making the movie. (Or, more accurately, to actually living out The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark, which I read fifty times when I was a kid.)

Writing is one of those things where are definitely better writers than me, but that doesn’t mean there are better screenplays available for me to direct. For obvious reasons. So writing is at least partly borne out of necessity. As is pretty much everything else that follows.

Because there are definitely better editors than me, too. And there are definitely better composers, but that’s something I’ve really enjoyed doing, and I look forward to hopefully doing it again.

As for software development, I wouldn’t call it enjoyable. I would, however, maybe call it useful and sometimes sort of satisfying. Useful because it gives me — and hopefully others — better tools to work and write with. And sometimes sort of satisfying because programming is different from, say, writing in that really you can solve any problem you have as long as you just hit the keys long enough. (And the game(s) I created because I had a couple of screenplays that weren’t going to get made into movies.)

You chose “polymath” when the other way you could’ve gone was “master of none”, and I think that’s maybe actually a cautionary tale worth talking about. I mean, I’ve known — or certainly known of — people who have spent twenty years doing almost nothing but shooting film, whether commercials and/or movies, and on most days I’d happily have traded places with them had that at all been a possibility. But one big reality of this sort of undertaking is that it’s like wrestling a whale, and you don’t always get to pick the direction the fight is going.

Q: Did you undertake any formal writing/film making training, courses or just jump in?
Oh, I went to film school. I’m old enough that when I was a kid and wanted to do this, going to film school was pretty much the only way you were going to get your hands on a camera and lights and editing equipment, at least coming from where I was coming from. That’s not the case today.

Q: You don’t live in LA, but have managed to work within the industry, how have you achieved this?
“The industry” is an expansive term. There are films getting made in Canada. Not as many of them, and not as…easily. But they do get made. There are films getting made in England. There are films getting made in India and Hong Kong and Nigeria and pretty much everywhere else. And an independent film, well, that you can make anywhere, by hook or by crook or by smartphone. And then again there’s Hollywood, and Hollywood is in Hollywood (most of the time).

As for writing, you don’t have to be in LA to write. You can write anywhere. Now, you may very well have to be in LA to meet and work, depending on what you want to do, but that’s another discussion. (And that said, I have lived in LA, for varying lengths of time, at different points. But as a Canadian that can be a tough thing to manage to do full-time and long-term.)

Q: And have you managed to get representation along the way? If so, any thoughts on this aspect of the industry?
I have, at points along the way, had representation. My experience with this aspect of the industry is that it can provide you with some highly entertaining stories for dining out.

Q: Your excellent script, Chrome Noir, was recently featured on the Blacklist table read podcast, how did that come about?
Well that’s very kind of you to say. I had been fiddling with CHROME NOIR for years, since before Fade In, and finally forced myself to pound out an actual first draft and threw it up on the Black List website anonymously (in case everyone thought it sucked). Luckily people seemed to like it, and it was really well reviewed, and when they decided they’d let the audience pick the next screenplay to be produced for a table read, Franklin Leonard asked me if I’d like to put CHROME NOIR up for voting and I figured I had nothing to lose. I guess people were curious enough about “Men in hats. Tommy guns. Robots.” to pick it.

Q: And has the additional exposure resulted in any additional interest?
Oh, for sure.

Q: What do you think of services like The Blacklist and Inktip for writers trying to break in?
I think the Black List (website) is unique and that, despite some similarities to other services, there’s really nothing else like it for a couple of key reasons. I should start by saying — and I’ve actually said this before elsewhere — when the Black List website first debuted I was quite skeptical of it. But even before I had a positive experience with CHROME NOIR I began to see where what it was doing was different. The fact is, you just can’t do what I did when I was first starting out, which is to mail your screenplay or your tape (yeah, I said tape) to a studio executive. You just can’t get away with that sort of thing anymore. But the Black List has a curated membership of industry professionals, and they have industry readers doing the evaluations. So it ends up being a fairly low impact way of potentially getting your work read in a professional forum, by people actually in the industry. When I recognized that, that’s I decided to give it a whirl with CHROME NOIR. Anonymously. Like a coward.

I do think that people have to be realistic about it. I don’t think it’s perfect. It costs money and there are no guarantees. In fact the odds in general are stacked tremendously against you — just like they always are. I think that’s probably the number one thing that everybody really has to get their heads around. That even if you have a great script — by industry standards, not just in your own — it still doesn’t necessarily mean that “something” is going to “happen”, not by a long shot, because there are just too many variables in play. But hey, we’re writers, not statisticians. (I don’t really know anything about Inktip and can’t comment on it.)

Q: How do you approach structure in your scripts? Do you follow any particular method?
No, I don’t.

Q: What’s the best and worse screenwriting advice you’ve been given?
As far as bad advice goes, when I first started writing it was before Twitter and the proliferation of websites and forums, and so advice overall for the most part came in books. And I read more than a few bad ones (because there were and still are very few good ones). The best advice I’ve ever gotten has probably been something along the lines of: “Do you wish to save before closing? OK | Cancel”

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring screenwriters on SimplyScripts?
What advice would I give? Find someone smarter than me to take advice from. There are probably things I’m qualified to give advice on, if I think hard enough, but for aspiring screenwriters, that’s probably the best I can and should do.

Q: Any advice for writers who think they have the next $500 million hit script if they could just get an agent/make a connection?
Probably that…they’re mistaken? It’s probably easiest to think that when you haven’t read a lot of the really good screenplays that have been in development over the years, or if you don’t know how many really good writers there are writing them, or if you don’t know just how much more complicated things are than “Oh, that’s a great script, here’s your big bag of money, let’s make a movie.” But things just don’t work that way. And it’s probably useful, then, to spend some time absorbing all the information you possibly can about the way things do work.

But look, what do I know? Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe they do have an amazing screenplay, and if only they could connect with someone it would change both the box office and cinema itself as we know it.
In that case I promise to buy a ticket.

Oh: but I’m also one of those people who really believes that if your motivation revolves around writing a $500 million hit script then probably your motivation isn’t right. It’s not a lottery. It’s a craft, at least, and at best it’s art. And in the end the odds of fabulous financial rewards are slight, to say the least. The point is that if you’re going to do this, it should be worth it to you, still, even with full knowledge of that.

Q: What other projects are you working on now and when can next expect to see your name on the credits?
One thing I’ve learned is to talk about these sorts of things less and work more.

Q: Any final thoughts for the screenwriters of SimplyScripts?
If you take any of what I’ve said as advice or instruction, you’re probably making a terrible mistake.
Except this: always use Fade In!

About reviewer Anthony Cawood: I’m an award winning screenwriter from the UK with over 15 scripts produced, optioned and/or purchased. Outside of my screenwriting career, I’m also a published short story writer and movie reviewer. Links to my films and details of my scripts can be found at http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

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May 27, 2016

    Nothing about Nothing by Xavierie Mbangtang

    The icy winds are already biting at us, if we don't hurry it will be too late~ Nothing About Nothing- Inspire That Kind of Obsession! 43 pages
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