Winning TV SPEC Screenplay – BETTER CALL SAUL, by Jimmy Prosser

Genre: Crime, Drama

Suspended lawyer Jimmy McGill endures community service at a high school where he meets an accused teen, while Mike searches for the distributor of Cheese, a popular new drug.

Narrator: Val Cole
Jimmy: Noah Casey
Mike: David Schaap
Bobby/Nacho: Gabriel Darku
Talbot/Hector: Neil Bennett
Secretary: Clare Blackwood
Kim: Lauren Toffan

Get to know the writer:

What is your TV Spec screenplay about?

The logline is “Suspended lawyer Jimmy McGill endures community service at a high school where he meets an accused teen, while Mike searches for the distributor of Cheese, a popular new drug.” Going deeper, this episode provides viewers a better understanding of why Jimmy McGill cares about his clients, and particularly those over their head and in situations they did not anticipate. In a flashback, we see teen Jimmy (along with young buddy Marco) devising a clever money making scam but abandoned by older brother Chuck once caught. In present day, Jimmy identifies too closely with an accused teen as he struggles to find a way to defend him. We also learn more about the Hector/Gus rivalry as they make moves to expand from meth to a new heroin derivative that became very hot in this time frame.

How does this episode fit into the context of the TV series?

“QUESO” would be Episode 26 ½ (during Season 3 between episodes 6/7) and opens on Jimmy’s first attempt to satisfy his community service requirements following his suspension by the New Mexico Bar Association.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Achilles heal

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

The show I’ve watched repeatedly over the years is “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Each of the characters are perfectly drawn and I admire the writers’ willingness to really push boundaries. However, the show that I currently admire most is “Black Mirror.” I have been focusing on one-hour drama and, as I work on my own pilot and series bible, the tone and structure of “Black Mirror” is what keeps coming to mind. If I could write for one show, it’s “Black Mirror.”

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I will be graduating in a few months from New York University’s (NYU), Tisch School of the Arts, where I study Dramatic Writing and Producing in the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television. I’ve written plays, screenplays and sitcoms, but this script, QUESO, is my first one hour drama spec, which I wrote over 12 weeks this past summer.

How many stories have you written?

I’ve always liked to tell stories – but mostly orally to my family and friends. About 4 years ago, I began dramatic writing in earnest so over that time I must have written 20-30 short stories, plays, screenplays, sitcoms and now television drama scripts.

What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

Being a kid growing up in San Diego during the 2000s, I have to say “I Miss You” by Blink-182.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

I believe I’ve been able to capture the characters/dialogue and tone of “Better Call Saul” pretty well so the toughest part for me is to formulate the proper four act structure in a way that really communicates the right arc for the A, B and C stories.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Music, definitely. My favorite escapes are listening to music alone or grabbing instruments to play with my buddies as loudly as we can. When I write, a soundtrack always is in my head.

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

As I mentioned before, I’ve written a lot but this is my first drama spec so I was anxious to hear objective feedback. Some of the feedback I received was right on; some I think missed aspects of the script, especially when it comes to Jimmy’s motivation to help Bobby.

You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

FilmFreeway has been great. My first experience with it was submitting a short screenplay, “NOTEWORTHY,” which won several festivals and is going to be shot in January. We hope to submit that completed short film to several of the best festivals next year via FilmFreeway because it is very easy to use.

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

As painful as it is, I feel that you must create a full beat sheet before trying to write the script! Once that solid outline is in place, the writing comes much easier. It is tempting to write a fun standalone scene as soon as you think of it, but if you don’t have your structure in place you may find yourself spending too much time trying to wedge that scene into the overall story. 

****

Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Director: Kierston Drier
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson

Camera Operator: Mary Cox

Advertisements

Original Script Reading of BOJACK HORSEMAN TV Show, by Cameron Chapman

Set at the end of Season Three, BoJack takes his new philosophy of isolation literally when he’s accidentally kidnapped by a health and wellness cult.

Genre: Comedy, Animation

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Laura Kyswaty
BoJack: Rob Notman
Kevin Spacey: James Boutcher
Buzz: Luke Robinson
Ethan: Brandon Knox
Olivia: Lindsay Rolland Mills
Sabrina: Premika Leo
Lizzie: Julie McCarthy

 Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay based on the TV show about?

This BoJack Horseman Spec Script picks up right at the end of Season Three when BoJack is accidentally kidnapped by a health and wellness cult and their charismatic leader, Kevin Spacey. While unknowingly trapped in their desert compound he explores his newfound philosophy of isolation while deep-diving into an old episode of his former sitcom “Horsin’ Around”.

I tried to connect BoJack closer with his character from “Horsin’ Around” through the idea that they both manage to surround themselves with a supporting cast, mainly, to not allow themselves to be truly alone. When he flees to the desert at the end of the third season I think there’s this notion that BoJack needs to work on breaking down all the emotional barriers he’s built up over the years but I liked the idea that, in true BoJack self destructive style, he decides what he needs is the opposite. That he needs the isolation and maybe in his own BoJack way, he’s not wrong?

How does this screenplay fit into the context of the TV series?

When I wrote this I envisioned it as essentially Episode 13 of Season 3 of the series, picking up right where we left off, BoJack in the desert, alone, watching the herd of wild horses running off in the distance. Of course since then Season 4 has been released so I would have assumed it’s context within the full arc of the series would be obliterated, however with a couple tiny tweaks I can still see it slipping in quite nicely between the first and second episodes of Season 4 which starts off with BoJack still AWOL.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Alone together, (question mark)…

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

Obviously BoJack Horseman, I usually crush it in a hurry the day it’s released but they created such a rich, fast paced show and it’s wall to wall jokes so it’s always worth going back over again and again to pick up more details. I also love Man Seeking Woman, Rick & Morty and Silicon Valley. This past year Search Party, Fleabag and Catastrophe were especially great. There’s so much great TV on right now in all genres, on so many platforms, I’m just devouring it all!

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I wrote this in 14 days, start to finish. Hahaha! I received an email about applying to a writing program at an animation studio and part of the application process was to write a Spec Script off their list of approved shows. I saw BoJack on there and thought, yup, this is happening! Unfortunately the deadline to apply was in 14 days but somehow I finished and submitted in time. It was the first Spec I’ve ever written but it all came together fairly quickly.

How many stories have you written?

I’ve written several short and full length screenplays and am currently about six episodes into a Series that, I suppose, would fall into the 1 hour drama category. I work full time in the Film Industry mainly as a Production Coordinator so I try to write as much as I can. Of course, anyone familiar with the hours we work in film might question my sanity but this is why we do it. Right?! We’re here to tell stories no matter how self destructive, Hahaha!

What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

I’ve always said that “Rainbow Connection” by Kermit the Frog is my favourite song of all time. There’s a beautiful cover by Willie Nelson too.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Well as I said above, I was working full time, 12-14 hour days on a Series for SyFy called Wynonna Earp when I wrote this and I remember being on the ice at hockey one night thinking, “Oh what if this happened in BoJack or what if that happened” or whatever. Hahaha! I also have an amazing Wife and two incredible Children so I would say the hardest part was not sleeping for two weeks.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I’m Canadian so naturally I’m a huge Hockey fan but I love Baseball, Music and Film, anything Star Wars… I love Comedy and Animation. My Family is the most important thing in the world to me so every chance I get to share one of my passions, including my writing, with them is very special.

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

I had entered this same Spec Script into a different contest and it luckily performed quite well, making it to the semi-finals. There was only one other Spec in that group of scripts and I noticed it was one that had previously won this Festival. When I saw that the reward for winning was a live reading I couldn’t not enter it. The value as a writer of hearing your script read aloud in the hands of professional actors is too immense and can’t be overstated. It was a no brainer. Plus I was really looking forward to seeing who got cast as a man with the head of a horse.

The feedback was unexpectedly thoughtful. I was bracing to get raked a bit for writing such a BoJack-centric BoJack episode which I assume is not the best way to tackle a Spec Script but I feel like the feedback I received understood most of the themes and what I was going for. That was a pleasant surprise which really helped me to push forward on some other projects I’m working on and to trust myself going forward.

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

Share! Don’t be overprotective of your ideas or your writing. You’re not alone in the universe, you’re not the only one scratching out crappy dialogue at 3:00am on a Sunday. Find like minded people either in your hometown or online and share, work together, go away and write, come back together and give feedback. Talk about it, work it, be open, make it better.

****

Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Director: Kierston Drier
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson

Camera Operator: Mary Cox

First Scene Reading of TV SPEC: RICK and MORTY TV Show, by Daniel Richardson

Watch the August 2017 TV SPEC Screenplay Winner.

Genre: Comedy, Animation

After shooting Summer and Morty with a ray that forces them to spout their inner monologues, Rick takes Beth out on a space adventure for her birthday.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Rick: Scott McCulloch
Morty: Brogan Caulfield
Beth: Julie Sheppard
Summer: Sandra Krstin
Jerry: Peter-Mark Raphael

 Get to know the writer:

What is your TV Pilot screenplay based on RICK AND MORTY about?

My speculative script for Rick and Morty is about developing a tangible relationship between Rick and Beth. The sub-plot focuses on gender roles and how people perceive them. I thought it was really fun to explore reactions to people speaking their mind as well as gender stereotypes through Morty and Summer’s schooling.

How does the episode fit into the context of the television show?

In the context of the show, this episode would fit somewhere in season 2. I wrote the screenplay whilst waiting for season 3 and it felt like a natural continuation of what preceded it. With the release of season 3 and the character changes that have already occurred, I’d now definitely place my screenplay as a season 2 episode.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Heaven Burning.

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

Bob’s Burgers is my favourite show to binge-watch. It reminds me of the wholesome, family oriented, comedy that was so successful in early episodes of The Simpsons (another show I have watched over and over again).

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

The original draft was written in around a month, when I wasn’t too busy with work. The re-drafts and edits took about two months because of a busy schedule. During that time, I’d spend a lot of time jotting down fresh thoughts for the show and tinkering with ideas.

How many stories have you written?

I have written around 9 television specs and pilots, some of which will never see the light of day (for good reason). In terms of stories, I have a lot of notes outlining beats in old notepads. I think it is always good to have a bunch of ideas to draw off, even if you leave parts of the story behind. The only problem is sifting through the bad ideas.

What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

My favourite song, by some margin, is Millencolin – ‘No Cigar’. It’s a great punk-rock song and was one of the first tracks that introduced me to the genre. I think the message of the song is fantastic and its support of diversity has made it a track that has grown in significance, for me personally, as the years have passed.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

I found two big obstacles in writing this screenplay and they were time management and re-reading. Time management is pretty self explanatory, I wanted to give more time to the script than I had. The issue of re-reading your own work is that it’s quite an insular process and so I find myself growing tired of my own writing and questioning my jokes. During this time, it was really helpful to get friends to read the script and tell me what they liked/ disliked.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I’m a big fan of music, particularly punk and metal. I feel these genres offer interesting ideological perspectives and also my joy of music introduced me to working with radio which was really gratifying. I also love soccer (or football as we call it here in the UK). Between football, music and writing I play video-games when I’m tired of being passionate for the day.

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

The main thing that influenced me to enter WILDsound’s festival was the fact that they gave feedback. So many competitions demand a large amount of money for feedback or give non at all, as someone who considers himself to be a developing writer, these kinds of competitions didn’t offer as much room for me to grow.

I always think feedback is incredibly useful, but it puts you on an emotional rollercoaster. Scripts take so long to put together, that you become reluctant to see its flaws. With that said, the feedback I received was very helpful. On my first effort, the script relied on meta humor rather than real motivation for the continuation of the story. I think this is a problem that the writers of Rick and Morty have now found in season 3.

Episodes like ‘Rickmancing the Stone’ and ‘Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender’ both have moments where they outline the call to action or turn to the camera and skip to later in the story. These moments are too knowing and disrupt the story for a small comedic payoff. I like to think the final version of my screenplay avoided this disorientating style of humor and that’s thanks to the feedback I received.

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

Buy a notepad, pester any literate friends you have to read your work and plan your stories thoroughly before you write. Also, collaborations can be really helpful for developing your skills and getting out of an insular writing space!

****

Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Director: Kierston Drier
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson

Camera Operator: Mary Cox

June 2017 TV Pilot/Spec Screenplay Winners

Deadline for Television Pilot/Spec Screenplay Festival: https://tvfestival.org/

Watch the 2 TV Screenplay Winners for June 2017:

 

ACTORFEMALE TV PILOT Screenplay – JUNKED
June 2017 Reading
by Alice Dennard

 

ACTORFAN FICTION TV SPEC Screenplay – DOCTOR WHO
June 2017 Reading
by Paul Hewitt
 

****

Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Director: Kierston Drier
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson

Camera Operator: Mary Cox

May 2017 TV Pilot/Spec Screenplay Winners

Deadline for Television Pilot/Spec Screenplay Festival: https://tvfestival.org/

Watch the 2 TV Screenplay Winners for May 2017:

 

ACTORLGBT TV PILOT – FAUK MY LIFE
May 2017 Reading
by Stephanie Neroes

ACTORTV SPEC of SUPERNATURAL
May 2017 Reading
by Bonnie Bonaduce

 

ACTORTV BEST Scene – INFINITY’S EDGE
May 2017 Reading
by Anthony M. Dionisio

***

Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Editor: John Johnson

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

January 2017 TV Pilot/Spec Screenplay Winners

Deadline for Television Pilot/Spec Screenplay Festival: https://tvfestival.org/

Watch the 2 TV Screenplay Winners for January 2017:

 

ACTORTV PILOT Screenplay – DOWN WITH THE BUREAUCRACY
January 2017 Reading
Written by Dimitry Pompee

ACTORTV SPEC Screenplay – MODERN FAMILY “Relax, I Got This”
January 2017 Reading
Written by Edward Pronley

ACTORFAN FICTION Screenplay – UNIVERSAL SAINT BATMAN
January 2017 Reading
Written by Nathan Trumbull

 

 

***

Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Editor: John Johnson

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

December 2016 TV Pilot/Spec Screenplay Winners

Deadline for Television Pilot/Spec Screenplay Festival: https://tvfestival.org/

Watch the 3 TV Screenplay Winners for December 2016:

 

ACTORTV PILOT – MIDLIFE CRISIS
December 2016 Reading
Written by Erica Barfield Peterson

ACTORTV SPEC of the show RICK & MORTY
December 2016 Reading
Written by Matthew Feldman

ACTORFAN FICTION Spec – HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
December 2016 Reading
Written by Eugene Ramos

 

***

Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Editor: John Johnson

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne