Best Scene TV Screenplay: THE MESSIAH PROJECT, by David E. Baugnon

I was very curious to see how far it might advance and if there was anything in particular that’s been keeping this from actually getting made. The feedback was great and encouraging.

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Watch the June 2016 Best Scene TV Screenplay Winner.

THE MESSIAH PROJECT, by David E. Baugnon

SYNOPSIS:

Genre: TV Pilot, Drama, War

Hour long TV Pilot transcript reading. Scene begins as Bruce wakes up in the hospital not to happy about what has just transpired.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Marsha Mason
KELLY – Roselie Williamson
JAMES – David Strauss
BRUCE/GRADY – Allan Michael Brunet
NURSE – Alan Shonfield

Get to know the writer:

1. What is your TV Pilot screenplay about?

The Messiah Project is about an Army scientist who’s working on a rapid healing serum, but doesn’t create it in time to save her own husband. The serum works so well in the field, the Army’s not even sure these guys can be killed, and of course, chaos ensues.

2. Why should this screenplay be made into a TV show?

This is character-driven story about the cost of war, as well as an exploration of what would you do if you couldn’t be killed: Work for the center of disease control? Rob a bank? Topple a government? Become a Messianic figure? Some great terrain to explore a multitude of possibilities.

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

I think the title does a good job but “unchained ego” works.

4. What TV show do you keep watching over and over again?

Fargo. (1st season of True Detective close second)

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

Originally, it was a feature length script completed about 12 years ago. In 2007, i adapted it to TV and continued rewriting it until i felt it was ready to submit. The Messiah Project, was one of two winners of the International Screenwriters Association Fast Track Fellowship program in 2015 and won the 2013 Showtime’s Tony Cox Television Pilot (Hour ­Long) Competition at the Nantucket Film Festival, the Silver Medal in the Television Drama category for the 2013 Page International Screenwriting Awards.

6. How many stories have you written?

I have 3 completed TV pilots and 7 features with numerous ideas in development.

7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?

I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of healing (I was pre-med for a year) and technological advances made in that pursuit. I was also drawn to explore this idea in the military arena where so much is lost and sacrificed. Seemed like a perfect fit and many new technologies are discovered in war time.

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

The biggest obstacle is knowing when the script is good enough. William Goldman once wrote that screenplays are never finished, but abandoned, meaning a writer is never completely satisfied and can overwork a script. I’ve been guilty of that.

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

I consider myself a writer/filmmaker but I also love photography, art, hiking and a damn good meal.

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

I was very curious to see how far it might advance and if there was anything in particular that’s been keeping this from actually getting made. The feedback was great and encouraging.

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

I believe writing should be enjoyable. You know you’re hitting your stride when you love what you’re working on, even at the first draft stages. It’s very easy to let your inner critic ruin the process, so I do whatever i can to remember that.

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Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson

Best Scene Reading – TV Pilot “My Life with Stella” by Linda Morganstein

I was thrilled with the possibility of hearing my script read by professional actors. The initial feedback from WILDsound helped me to make my scenes tighter, shorter and more visual. I also turned my actress (Stella) into a point of view character, which she was not in the novel.

Watch the Best Scene Reading from February 2016.

“My Life with Stella”  by Linda Morganstein

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Elizabeth Rose Morriss
STELLA – Amanda Pereira
MURRAY – Mark Sparks
KUBICEK – Gabriel Darku

Genre: Drama, Comedy

Get to know writer Linda Morganstein:

Matthew Toffolo: What is your TV Pilot screenplay about?

Linda Morganstein: “My Life with Stella Kane” is the story of a lesbian actress in forties and fifties Hollywood, her sham marriage to a gay male star, and her secret love relationship with the female publicist who arranged the marriage. An ensemble of characters, including the actress’s deaf sister and a black-balled iconic actress, struggle with the repressive times.

Matthew: Why should this screenplay be made into a TV show?

Linda: Like “Mad Men,” “My Life with Stella Kane” portrays a fascinating segment of the recent past and its cultural influence on us, as well as provoking questions about our current attitudes, especially about diversity in the entertainment industry.

Matthew: This story has a lot going for it. How would you describe this script in two words?

Linda: Bewitching. Sexy.

Matthew: What TV show do you keep watching over and over again?

Linda: “The Good Wife,” for its strong female characters and its willingness to explore the not always so pleasant complexities of human nature. And its humor, which is essential for me.

Matthew: This is a very tight, emotionally engaging and fun screenplay. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Linda: Approximately a year and a number of drafts.

Matthew: How many stories have you written?

Linda: I have five published novels, numerous published poems and short stories, and a number of produced medical video scripts.

Matthew: What motivated you to write this screenplay?

Linda: I wanted to adapt my novel, “My Life with Stella Kane.” My original motivation for the novel was wondering what it would be like for a trio of gay characters to “beat the Hollywood system” from within and what sacrifices they’d need to make.

Matthew: What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Linda: The struggle to adapt a novel–especially my own–to the visual medium of film.

Matthew: Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Linda: My family and friends, gardening, sourdough bread baking and golf.

Matthew: What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

Linda: I was thrilled with the possibility of hearing my script read by professional actors. The initial feedback from WILDsound helped me to make my scenes tighter, shorter and more visual. I also turned my actress (Stella) into a point of view character, which she was not in the novel.

Matthew: Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Linda: All writers develop their scripts in different ways, but in the end, really know your characters and their story. I have many characters from my projects that I think of as real people.

Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson

 

TWO EMPERORS, Best Scene TV PILOT Reading by Paul Gross

The six-part miniseries traces the parallel lives of Beethoven and Napoleon, their formative years, their loves, their interrelationships via music and their passages to their final years.

Watch the Best Scene Reading of TWO EMPERORS:

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Amaka Umeh
LUDWIG – Isaac Alfie
NEEFE – Julian Ford

Get to know the writer Paul Gross:

Matthew Toffolo: What is your TV Pilot screenplay about?

Paul: The six-part miniseries traces the parallel lives of Beethoven and Napoleon, their formative years, their loves, their interrelationships via music and their passages to their final years. 

Matthew: Why should this screenplay be made into a TV show?

Paul: The two lives have been the subject of many feature films and TV productions. This is the first six-part series that attempts to link their lives in a dramatic fashion. It is also the first to show the genius of the two men, their flaws and their attempts to deal with love and adversity.

Matthew:  This story has a lot going for it. How would you describe this script in two words?

Paul: Scrutinising greatness.

Matthew:  What TV show do you keep watching over and over again?

Paul: House of Cards

Matthew: This is  a very tight, emotionally engaging and fun screenplay. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Paul: Two years

Matthew:  How many stories have you written?

Paul: Four books, one feature screenplay, one TV miniseries, one thriller.

Matthew:  What motivated you to write this screenplay? 

Paul: The music of a flawed genius, the flaws of a powerful ruler and the possibility that they might have met and liked one another fleetingly.

Matthew:  What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay? 

Paul: Converting  dry accounts of two histories into a drama that reveals motivations, passions and tragedies.

Matthew: Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about? 

Paul: Classical music

Matthew:  What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

Paul: I like competition and I am very happy with all feedback, particularly negatives that I can turn into a better script.

The feedback in this festival was valid and had the desired impact as the revised script is now short-listed in four festivals or competitions

Matthew: Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers? 

Paul: Scriptwriting is hard, even when you love it.

Stepping back from many beloved drafts and ditching them is the price of acceptance by those who read them.

Producer/Director – Matthew Toffolo
Casting Director – Sean Ballantyne
Editor – John Johnson