Watch the June 2016 Winning TV PILOT.
CIVILIAN by Gina Scanlon
Genre: Drama, Crime
Synopsis: A young marine returns to her small Texas town after a recent tour in the South Sudan to complete police academy.
Get to know the winning writer:
1. What is your TV PILOT about?
A young marine returns home to Texas after a traumatizing tour to reclaim her life as a rookie cop. Unfortunately more than a few unwelcome complications await her.
2. Why should this screenplay be made into a TV show?
Female assault in the military, the challenges of combating PTSD, and the way these two issues trickle down and weave into American society I feel warrants more attention, and are topics I believe people are interested in. Plus, TV could use a few more badass, imperfect female protagonists!
3. How would you describe this script in two words?
4. What TV show do you watch over and over again?
I can’t get enough of The Twilight Zone! I’ve also re-watched the first season of Jessica Jones a couple times.
5. How long have you been working on this screenplay?
For a couple of years now. I went through a near Page 1 rewrite about a year ago. I knew I loved the main character and topic, but needed to tackle it from a different angle and make it more exciting.
6. How many stories have you written?
Tons! I started writing fiction when I was in middle school, and plays towards the end of high school and never stopped. But as all writers know, most of them don’t stand out as very good.
7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?
A documentary called “The Invisible War,” which is about how so many people (women in particular) have suffered sexual assault and find no justice in the US military made me so angry, I started writing this script. Though the pilot of “Civilian” doesn’t tackle that specific issue, its main character goes through similar turmoils and challenges, and that theme would continue to resonate throughout the series, should it ever get to that point!
8. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
I originally saw it as a feature, so I had to restructure it. I added characters and storylines in order to give it more of a setup for a potential series, and to give it more longevity in general. I definitely had people I trust read drafts along the way, which helped in turning it into a believable pilot format.
9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
Kurt Vonnegut and his weird ideas. I’m obsessed with history, particularly the War of the Roses and both American and French Revolutions. International, and national women’s rights are up there, and so is supporting the preservation of journalism. I find it scary that the majority of people get their news from Twitter, celebrities, or websites like Buzzzfeed these days, and meanwhile reputable news sources are going bankrupt. On a lighter note, I’m also really into stand-up comedy and air hockey. haha
10. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
I wanted to start receiving professional feedback on the script, and heard positive things about the festival. The initial feedback was extremely helpful in improving my next draft, and brought to light certain things I hadn’t even thought could effect the salability of the script.
11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
Trust your instincts, and never write something for superficial reasons (the current market trends, etc.). Do it because you really care about what you’re writing about, and I believe people will gravitate towards that authenticity.
Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo
Editor: John Johnson
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne