Watch the Best Scene Reading of ABSYNTHIA:
Get to know writer Seregon O’Dassey:
Matthew Toffolo: What is your TV Pilot screenplay about?
Seregon: Logline: An attack on a mercenary airship, while on a seemingly innocent cargo run sends the lives of the Captain and her crew into their not so innocent pasts. Will the events that unfold destroy the future for everyone that the government has carefully and deliberately planned?
The crew (of the airship, The Absynthian) is five mercenaries operating under the direction of a secret Organization known as Tri-Aengle. They are on a random cargo run when they are attacked by a rival ship. After each crew member suffers par amnesia – to varying degrees – their random memories and experiences complicate their relationships.
Matthew: Why should this screenplay be made into a TV show?
Seregon: This screenplay addresses situations from all sides of the same story. Who is the hero/villain, and who gets to make the rules and why? It has strong female characters in roles that are anything but traditional: these women as smart, strong, fighting their own battles (both physically and emotionally), and the fact that they are beautiful is just a bonus.
Matthew: This story has a lot going for it. How would you describe this script in two words?
Seregon: Emotional roller coaster
Matthew: What TV show do you keep watching over and over again?
Seregon: Star Trek: TNG. I’m also hooked on The Expanse right now.
Matthew: This is a very tight, emotionally engaging and fun screenplay. How long have you been working on this screenplay?
Seregon: Several months. I wrote the first draft in 3 weeks in February of 2015. I spent a couple of months doing revisions and then decided to start entering it into festivals. The story kept going in my head, so I kept writing.
Matthew: How many stories have you written?
Seregon: I have written a novella (not yet published), several short stories and poems, 4 episodes total of Absynthia (3 in addition to the pilot) and a short film that I am directing in a couple of weeks.
Matthew: What motivated you to write this screenplay?
Seregon: I tend to write what I see and hear, and I always write down vivid or crazy dreams. I like to philosophize about society and behavior, and I often take the side of the underdog. I like to question who the real protagonists/antagonists of stories are, and why we (as a society) are conditioned to champion one over the other. Most things are not quite that absolute: even the “villain” has a story…
Matthew: What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
Seregon: To finish the first draft? None. It just flowed. The challenges were in the editing and the three subsequent episodes I also wrote. I had to remember what happened when and to whom. When it’s an episodic one has to think ahead, remember what they already came up with, and be careful they don’t write themselves into a corner.
Matthew: Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
Seregon: Reading and exploration of nature vs nurture. I’m a strong believer in breaking the “boxes” that society has created for people. I encourage everyone to question everything they’ve ever read, heard, or been told. That’s why I love Science fiction: it’s a great avenue to explore sociology and psychology. Anything goes: It’s literally science and fiction meshed together to create philosophy.
Matthew: What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
Seregon: At first I entered a couple of festivals that had general screenplay categories, but I thought it best to concentrate on festivals that had a specific category for TV pilots, as this would provide the best feedback and advice. After researching several festivals I found this one to have a high amount of recognition. Receiving feedback from this festival has not only helped me significantly in becoming a better writer, but it’s helped me to learn how to write in the industry. Coming from an avid reader background, I used to write how I read: very novel-esque. I now feel I have a better handle on screenwriting vs. novel writing.
The initial feedback I received from this festival made me think creatively, but also keeping in mind the marketability of my material. I had pretty thick skin to begin with, being an actor for several years, but I had to learn how to take advice and apply it to what I had. That constructive criticism was priceless information.
Matthew: Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
Seregon: On a creative level: READ! Read everything – stuff you love, stuff you hate, and all subjects. If you only read one thing, you only think one way. Listen to people. Don’t just hear, but really listen. Watch people. Learn. Life, even in the fiction word, is happening all around. When you create your own world anything goes, so don’t limit yourself.
On a practical level: Don’t stop doing your thing. Don’t compare yourself to anyone except the person you were yesterday. Don’t listen to haters or naysayers, and don’t get caught in the net of other people who are too afraid to try. Remember the saying that those too weak to follow their own dreams will always find a way to discourage yours. In the Labyrinth, you get a lot of false alarms, especially when you’re on the right track.
On an emotional level: There are going to be days that you just want to sulk, cry, and not want to get out of bed, particularly after you get a rejection. Remember that the best people in history suffered setbacks. Go ahead and cry if you want. Just dry your tears and get up. Try again. And again. And again.
Express gratitude. Always.
Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo
Editor: John Johnson
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Submit your TV Pilot to the Festival Today: https://tvfestival.org/