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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Intersection by Brendan Beachman – Filmed - post author Don

Intersection (22 pages, pdf format) by Brendan Beachman

(Short, Comedy, Dark Comedy) – The monotony of two road construction workers day is smashed with the violent arrival of an object from the sky.

INTERSECTION from Brendan Beachman on Vimeo.


Discuss this script on the Discussion Board

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Friend in the End – Short Script Review – Optioned! - post author Anthony Cawood

A Friend in the End
A new friend gives an old lady cause to believe she is about to die.
But they always think that, don’t they?

Dustin Bowcott is no stranger to seeing his scripts on STS. His latest short, A Friend in the End, joins the ranks of his thoughtful dramas that put a twist on the familiar… delivering a magical result.

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Gladys – an old woman residing at Village Green Residential Home for the Elderly. She’s not as independent as she used to be – but Gladys remains chirpy anyway. Not to mention reluctant to accept Frank, her new would-be helper, into her home and her life.

But Frank is pretty persistent, and he makes Gladys’ tea perfectly. When he takes her hand for a dance, it becomes clear Frank’s an even better chap… able to trip the light fantastic – transporting Gladys to a passionate time, when she was young.

But Gladys has been around the block, and is no fool. She knows exactly who Frank is, and why he’s traveled to her side.

The next time her son Warren visits, Gladys lays out her suspicions – ones Warren dismisses as the ramblings of senility. But is that really the case? Or is something else going on?

A realistic yet touching tale, A Friend in the End delves into the universal themes of old age, responsibility and death…with a deft and simple touch. Make it to “The End” of this story, and you’ll experience a sweet, satisfying conclusion. Just as Frank fits into Gladys’ life – this script may be just what you need.

Pages: 8

Budget: Low

About the writer: Dustin Bowcott is a self employed microbe retailer and father of four boys and a girl. He has enjoyed writing since the day he read his first novel. For Dustin, writing is something he has to do, when not writing, he’s thinking about writing and will absorb himself into multiple projects at one time. When he gets tired of writing one thing he moves onto another and has been known to work on three different stories in one day, writing for sometimes 12 hours straight and, on occasion, even longer. Dustin can turn his hand to any genre and has just finished first draft of a new children’s novel. Dustin is a BBC Writer’s Room finalist and a Shore Scripts finalist both in 2014. He is a produced and optioned writer, and has recently turned his hand to production, having produced his first short film with another in the pipeline that should be completed this year. Want to see what else he has in store? Give him a shout-out at dustin7375 “AT” gmail.

About the reviewer: Anthony Cawood is an award winning screenwriter from the UK with a whole bunch of short scripts sold/optioned/produced and has recently had his first feature script optioned too. Check out his website at www.anthonycawood.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.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Great news for writer Rick Hansberry! (Wasteland Premiere) - post author wonkavite

Please join STS in congratulating writer Rick Hansberry. Discovered through Simplyscripts/STS, Rick Hansberry recently partnered with Director Desiree Brajevich to provide magic writing touches on her new produced short, Wasteland.  Having premiered in April, Wasteland will soon be hitting the festivals and getting (we’re sure) lots of attention!

Other directors take note: Last Dance is still available for professional use, as are several more Rick-flavored scripts!

Cards (drama) –  A pair of copyrighters continue their career-long battle long after retirement.

Over the Lump (drama) – Objects in the mind’s mirror may appear larger than they are.

Freak (drama) – A simple wave and smile alters the life of a teenager.

By the Power Vested in Me (drama) – Will a power outage serve as a sign that a wedding shouldn’t happen?

Hello (drama) – Interesting what you can find in used bookstores – and often there’s a reason it’s there.

‘Til Death (Comedy) – A marital tiff erupts to epic proportions.

Burn the Ships (drama) – Life lessons alter the courses taken by a teacher and his student.

Taking the Reins (drama FEATURE) – A reckless equestrian struggles through personal and professional setbacks to try to make history as the youngest winner of the elite Rolex championship, but his destructive personality poses the biggest obstacle to claiming the title.

2) Rick’s SF feature length, Alienate, is now available for purchase!  Take a gander at the DVD review here!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Course Listing Unavailable – Short Script Review (Available for Production!) - post author Hamish

Course Listing Unavailable
An ambitious student signs up for an internship program promising real world, hands-on experience. Who knew bloodthirsty demons would be involved?

For today’s youth, the challenge of getting a good job has never been tougher. Many are determined to do anything that will enhance their resumes in the eyes of employers. Taking “useful” classes, getting internships, and doing extra-curricular activities are just a few examples of what diligent individuals do to spruce up that valuable sheet of paper.

The protagonist in Course Listing Unavailable, 17-year-old Gortat Emmanuel, is just another determined Ivy League freshman with a whiff of intelligent innocence about him. A mix-up in paying the tuition has meant he’s one class short of the minimum semester credit, and so he sees a counselor to get into a subject that appeals to him.

But every time the counselor enters the course he wants, there’s a problem.

Organic Chemistry? Unavailable. Biology? Unavailable. Ecology? Yup…unavailable. As a last resort, the advisor offers Gortat a chance for some real world experience: a month shadowing a service professional. Because the last guy who did it dropped out.

That’s all the information available. Apart from a name: Mr Shephard. Despite this, Gortat accepts, still eager to learn. And so on his first day, he’s dressed up as if he’s the President attending their inauguration.

However, Gortat’s destination isn’t as beautiful as the White House. Unless you’re into dilapidated buildings and tales of wasted lives in needle format littering the ground.

And the professional isn’t some smarmy doctor. Turning up in a classic American muscle with uninviting objects abundantly decorating the interior, Max Shephard invites Gortat in for his “education”. There’s no textbooks. No worksheets either. There’s only one rule, and it ain’t a typical one:

MAX
…no matter what happens
you will not puke in this car.

This may sound easy enough to obey until Max’s profession is revealed…demon hunter. Not quite what our Ivy League kid was expecting. In addition, it transpires that the supposed dropout dropped out of life…unwillingly. Oh, and for his first day on the job, he’s got to complete a practical helping Max eradicate the beast responsible for failing the previous student. Turns out “real world experience” means “other world experience” in this case.

Will Gortat pass his practical? Will he break the one rule? Will he even survive? Only one thing’s assured: direct this one well, and judges at film festivals will be giving you full marks!

Pages: 16

Budget: Okay, there’s a bit of FX involved in here. But nothing a skilled director can’t – and won’t want to – tackle!

About the reviewer: Hamish Porter is a writer who, if he was granted one wish, would ask for the skill of being able to write dialogue like Tarantino. Or maybe the ability to teleport. Nah, that’s nothing compared to the former. A lover of philosophy, he’s working on several shorts and a sporting comedy that can only be described as “quintessentially British”. If you want to contact him, he can be emailed: hamishdonaldp “AT” gmail.com. If you’d like to contact him and be subjected to incoherent ramblings, follow him on Twitter @HamishP95.

About the writer: James can be reached at jbarron021 “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.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Patch-Up Kid – Short Script Review (Available for Production) - post author The Merrows

Laptop-Shorts

The Patch-Up Kid

Scavenging dead bodies and fixing people was all that the Patch-up Kid knew, but a cowboy in Nino Sangre has one more test for him.

When you’re twelve years old and you live in a dusty, wild west town called Niño Sangre (Child Blood) you need skills. Plenty of ‘em.

Meet the Patch-Up Kid. He’s twelve. And sure enough – he’s got skills. Like plugging up bloody bullet holes in gunfighters’ bellies. Or yanking the gold teeth from the mouths of the other guys – the still-warm losers who didn’t walk away from the gunfight. Assisted by friends Fingers, Squeak and Mule, the Kid does the dirty deeds that others twice his age won’t do…

A kid’s gotta make a living, right?

Yep, the Patch-Up Kid’s a survivor. Y’gotta be when you’re half-white, half-Native American, and grotesquely scarred with only one good eye (the result of a grizzly bear attack, or a drunken father – depending on who’s telling the tale.)

And speaking of tales… imagine a gritty portrait of a street kid – told old west style. Expertly painted by screenwriter Rustom Irani, TP-UK is a poignant story about a hard-luck kid with True Grit, with light-heart touches of humor crusting the dusty edges.

This particular script focuses on the Kid’s run in with big n’ burly Dawson – a wounded desperado who blackmails the young gang to dig a bullet out of his chest (and arrange for a quick get-away outta town.) Just five pages long, it’s a colorful intro to the character.

But ambitious directors take note. This is one world that has plenty left to explore. The Patch-Up Kid works beautifully as a stand-alone story. But it’s also ideal as the intro for a feature length movie. Or TV series for the right producer! So grab the opportunity while you can. ‘Cause nothing stays still in the Wild West for too long…

About the writer: A film and video aficionado based in Mumbai, Rustom Irani works as a freelance editor and screenwriter for projects ranging from narratives, commercials, and documentaries to corporate and music videos. His website is available at www.planetrusty.com, and he can be reached at rustyirani “AT” gmail.com!

Pages: 5

Budget: Low to moderate. We would have said low, but it’s a period piece – which might drive the cost up a touch. (All those six-shooters and Stetsons, y’know?)

About the Reviewers: Scott & Paula Merrow are a husband and wife screenwriting team. Since 2006, they’ve written over 50 short screenplays, several of which have been produced. They tend toward family-friendly scripts, but they’ve written a little bit of everything: horror, fantasy, sci-fi, comedy,… the whole nine yards.

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!) - post author 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) - post author Guest Reviewer

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 writer: Based in upstate, NY, Steven Clark is the writer of over 30 short scripts, several of which are under option, in pre-production, or have already been made into films. On A Clear Night, a family Christmas feature aimed at a Hallmark Channel-type audience, is currently in the works. Steven can be reached at Steamroller138 (a) gmail.

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!

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) - post author Dane Whipple

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! - post author Anthony Cawood

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

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December 15, 2018

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