TV SCI-FI BEST SCENE Reading of MORPH, by Christine Davis

Genre: Sci-Fi, Crime

Logline: “Morph” is a Sci-Fi story in which Jack Oberman is a Los Angeles homicide detective who gets captured by the killers he pursues, mad scientists who alter his DNA and turn him into a monster.

CAST LIST:
Narrator: Sean Ballantyne
Morty: Allan Michael Brunet
Jack: Nick Baillie

Get to know the writer:

 1. What is your screenplay about?

Morph is about a slightly bromantic pairing of two cops, one of whom is a former accountant from the East Coast. As LA homicide detectives, their first case brings them up against a mad scientist who captures Detective Jack Oberman and alters his DNA so he turns into a strange nonhuman but still vaguely recognizable creature. Reminiscent of the fun of Season 1’s Hawaii Five-O pairing of Steve and Danny, fused with the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferigno The Incredible Hulk TV show from the 1970s, Morph brings procedural cop television into the sci-fi/creature genre, creating opportunities for individual episode arcs and one single overarching goal for the protagonist: finding a cure that’ll keep him from turning into the monster he becomes, even as he has to keep his day job of being a cop, solving mysteries and saving lives. All with his somewhat annoying partner – the only other person who knows his secret (or so he thinks) – along for the ride.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Broadly, it’s Science Fiction. It could also be called Superhero Fiction because technically the creature Jack morphs into acts much like the Hulk, and is therefore an unwilling superhero. It’s a Crime Drama with a focus on being a Detective Story and could fit into any number of Fantasy sub-genres. In other words, this TV show has the potential to draw in a lot of viewers from a lot of different genres!

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

Broad appeal. Superheroes are all the rage these days, you need only check out the numbers from Marvel and DC Comics offerings at the box office. In addition, procedurals such as the aforementioned Hawaii Five-O, NCIS, Criminal Minds and the multiple Law & Order and CSI spinoffs have proven that fans continue to have a huge appetite for episodic catch-the-bad-guy shows. There will also always be a large fan base for Creature Features. A lot of the Hammer Horror movies still have a rabid cult following, and bringing the heart into those in the way that Bixby’s David Banner/Hulk transformation did brings in a side to the audience you may not get if you go straight horror or hard-boiled detective. What I used to call “the CBS side of things.” 

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

Fresh, fun

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

Setting aside Disney movies (it doesn’t count if you see a move nonstop because of your child viewing it repeatedly!), probably Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan or White Christmas. It’s really a toss-up because if I get obsessed with something I will watch it repeatedly for a period of time and then suddenly I’ll be over it and move on to the next thing!

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

I worked on it for approximately six months, including heavy revisions after some feedback I received via a different screenplay competition.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have written hundreds of fan fiction stories, five completed screenplays and two original novel series. Never mind the ones I’ve written that haven’t yet seen the light of day. So a lot!

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

Instrumental: A River Runs Through It by Yiruma; Vocal (general): The Sound of Silence by Disturbed; Vocal (romantic): Per Te by Josh Groban and Bound by Christina Aguilera; Pop: Thunder by Imagine Dragons

Sorry. I listen to a LOT of music and MANY different genres!

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

Morphing (ha-ha) what began as a work of fan fiction into a screenplay and a novel series. It’s not easy to go from a world your reader already knows to creating one out of whole cloth. I also had to weigh my own vision against some feedback that tried to veer it away from the slightly campy/comic book feel I purposely gave it. It’s not always easy to take a stance and stick to it because it’s what feels right versus what’s popular.

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

My home, Oahu, Hawaii…specifically the Ko’olau Range and historic and ancient Hawaiian sites. Homeless pets and homeless people. Helping people learn how to help themselves and tackle their Overwhelm. My ImpCat, Ramses, who’s an insane feline.

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

I think it’s fantastic. Had no troubles whatsoever. It’s nice having so much in one place like that.

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

I’ve entered before with other screenplays, but I don’t think I’d ever entered a logline competition. I wanted to give it a try because I thought I had a really good logline for this TV pilot! In spite of that self-assuredness, I actually am thrilled and quite surprised that I made the top twenty! Thank you!

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

Director: Kierston Drier

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: John Johnson

Camera Op: Mary Cox

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January 2018 TV Pilot/Spec Screenplay Winners

ACTORTV SPEC Screenplay of RICK & MORTY TV Show
January 2018 Reading
by Daniel Richardson
ACTORTV Best Scene Screenplay – PEEL
January 2018 Reading
by Matthew Torti
ACTORTV Best Scene Screenplay – FUNNY FARM
January 2018 Reading
by Deshon Porter
ACTORTV Best Scene Screenplay – CELTIC BLOOD
January 2018 Reading
by Richard William Masterson
ACTORTV Best Scene Screenplay – NOVEMBER OF MY SOUL
January 2018 Reading
by Jack Trammell
ACTORTV Best Scene Screenplay – A MATTER OF BAD TASTE
January 2018 Reading
by Gene Gwynne
ACTORTV Best Scene Screenplay – CRUDE INVESTIGATIONS
January 2018 Reading
by Chris Roberts
ACTORTV Best Scene Screenplay – FUTRE TENSE
January 2018 Reading
by Kyle Williamson
ACTORTV Best Scene Screenplay – MOISH’S MOB
January 2018 Reading
by David R. Weinraub
ACTORTV Best Scene Screenplay – LASTVIEW
January 2018 Reading
by Taylor Johnson
ACTOR TV Best Scene Screenplay – ED’S DOOR AND WINDOW CO.
January 2018 Reading
by Parker Cross Jr.
ACTORTV Best Scene Screenplay – AMERICAN SCHOOL
January 2018 Reading
by Michael Hager

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

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

Camera Operator: Mary Cox

2017 TV PILOT Winners (19)

 

ACTORPSI-COM 5 TV PILOT
December 2017 Reading
by
ACTORMINNIE NOIR TV PILOT
December 2017 Reading
by Katie Grotzinger
ACTORFANTASY TV PILOT Screenplay – EIRE’S SONG
November 2017 Reading
by Kristen Nedopak
ACTORCRIME TV PILOT Screenplay – THE BIGGEST LITTLE
October 2017 Reading
by Craig Page
ACTORLGBT TV PILOT Screenplay – THE UPSIDE OF OVER
October 2017 Reading
by Dan Hass
ACTORBEST SCENE TV Screenplay – DARK HEROES
October 2017 Reading
by Peter Sims
ACTORTV 1st Scene Screenplay – KODAK MOMENT
September 2017 Reading
by John Cruz Alarid

ACTORTV 1st Scene Screenplay – CELTIC BLOOD
September 2017 Reading
by Richard William Masterson

ACTORSTUDENT TV PILOT Screenplay – EVERHART
August 2017 Reading
by K. Wayman Dodd

ACTORLGBT TV PILOT Screenplay – THE DISAPPEARANCE
August 2017 Reading
by Jess Harris Distefano

ACTORWESTERN TV PILOT Screenplay – SIRINGO
July 2017 Reading
by Nathan Ward

ACTORANIMATION TV PILOT Screenplay – CHICKEN COP
July 2017 Reading
by Bryan Cahill

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

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

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

ACTORFAN FICTION TV PILOT Screenplay – THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR
April 2017 Reading
Written by Richard Mueller

ACTORTV PILOT Screenplay – WHEN THE WORLD WAS SQUARE
March 2017 Reading
Written by Irwin Greenstein

ACTORLGBT WEB SERIES Screenplay – LITTLE SISTA
March 2017 Reading
Written by Charmaine Bingwa

ACTORTV PILOT Screenplay – ECHOES OF BONNIEVILLE
February 2017 Reading
Written by Simon Schneider

 

 

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

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

Camera Operator: Mary Cox

2017 TV SPEC Winners (11)

ACTORTV SPEC Screenplay of BETTER CALL SAUL
November 2017 Reading
by Jimmy Prosser

ACTORTV SPEC Screenplay – QUANTICO Show
September 2017 Reading
by Leslie Lyshkob

ACTORTV SPEC Screenplay – BOJACK HORSEMAN show
September 2017 Reading
by Cameron Chapman

ACTORTV SPEC Screenplay – RICK & MORTY
August 2017 Reading
by Daniel Richardson

ACTORFAN FICTION TV PILOT Screenplay – D FOR DEXTER
July 2017 Reading
by Jessi Thind

ACTORFAN FICTION TV SPEC Screenplay – DOCTOR WHO
June 2017 Reading
by Paul Hewitt
ACTORTV SPEC of SUPERNATURAL
May 2017 Reading
by Bonnie Bonaduce

ACTORTV SPEC Screenplay – BOB’S BURGERS
April 2017 Reading
Written by Matthew J. Gonzalez

ACTORTV SPEC Screenplay – THE FLASH TV series
February 2017 Reading
Written by Nader Hobballah

ACTORFAN FICTION Screenplay – POPEYE “SPINACH RUN”
February 2017 Reading
Written by Neil Chase

ACTORFAN FICTION Screenplay – EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND
March 2017 Reading
Written by Marc Mulcahy

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

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

Camera Operator: Mary Cox

December 2017 TV Pilot/Spec Screenplay Winners

 

ACTORPSI-COM 5 TV PILOT
December 2017 Reading
by
ACTORMINNIE NOIR TV PILOT
December 2017 Reading
by Katie Grotzinger

 

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

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

Camera Operator: Mary Cox

November 2017 TV Pilot/Spec Screenplay Winners

 

ACTORTV SPEC Screenplay of BETTER CALL SAUL
November 2017 Reading
by Jimmy Prosser
ACTORFANTASY TV PILOT Screenplay – EIRE’S SONG
November 2017 Reading
by Kristen Nedopak

 

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

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

Camera Operator: Mary Cox

Winning TV PILOT Reading of MINNIE NOIR, by Katie Grotzinger

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR: Becky Shrimpton
Minnie: Kate Varadi
Nick: Scott Beaudin
Dash: Merlin Simard
Ms. Kirkpatrick: Mahtab Sabet
Connor: Allan Brunet
Lincoln: Anthony Tran

Get to know the writer: 

What is your TV Pilot screenplay about?

Minnie Hughes is a hardboiled noir detective that also just so happens to also be the shortest girl in the fourth grade. When a candidate for class president’s show and tell South African ostrich egg goes missing, Minnie jumps on the case. Meanwhile, she also deals with her best friend Lincoln Park feeling under appreciated after she calls him her secretary and struggles with asking her crush, Vijay Sampat, a kind of male femme fatale, to be her dance partner for gym class.

Why should this screenplay be made into a TV show?

There are so many wonderful cartoons right now inspired by Japanese anime. They take joy in taking the viewer to strange lands and entertaining them with awesome action sequences. I think that’s great, but I also think there’s much to be mined from American genres like noir. Additionally, I think there’s room for quieter shows that embrace more what it’s like to be a kid. I think Hey Arnold and Recess both did that beautifully and I’d like to write something like that for kids growing up.

Most of all, Minnie is for every weirdo kid that finds solace into escaping into another world for one reason or another. For Minnie, it’s noir and her love of mystery comes from the fact that she never got to know her parents, so they’re the biggest mystery of all. If this show could make some kid feel less alone, that would the greatest honor.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Kid Noir

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

South Park!

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Good question! This was actually my thesis project for my Screenwriting MFA at DePaul University in Chicago. I worked on this for a few semesters and now continue to tinker with it off and on.

How many stories have you written?

Quite a few! I try to write every day and have accumulated hundreds of false starts over the years. I have a handful of scripts I’m truly proud of.

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

I’d say right now it’s “Something Beautiful” by Pansy Division.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

I had a clear idea of the A story in mind from the get go, but my MFA thesis professor and classmates really challenged me to flesh out the B and C stories and I think the pilot is much stronger for it.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I’m a total true crime geek. I regularly follow two true crime podcasts – The Last Podcast on the Left and My Favorite Murder. Both are absolutely fantastic. If I can’t think of anything to watch, I’ll turn on a cheesy serial killer documentary. Also, my favorite true crime book right now is The Yoga Store Murder: The Shocking True Account of the Lululemon Athletica Killing by Dan Morse.

Believe or not, my fascination with The Zodiac Killer actually made its way into an episode of Minnie Noir I’ve been writing – the Christmas special to boot! Nothing violent though, of course. Minnie just struggles to crack a mysterious, intensely complicated code from letters she’s received. (The code, naturally, is composed from stickers.)

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

Despite working and reworking on this pilot as much as I have, I still recognize that it could always be better. I have a big place in my heart for this story and I want to do anything I can to make it the best it can be, so feedback is a must.

And it’s funny! See, originally, I had two characters named Connor. This was for a couple of reasons. For one, when I was growing up, there was a year where we had three Connors to one class, all spelled the same way, only to be identified by the first initial of their last name. I also have a common name and there’s usually another Katie, so I empathized. It seems like such a staple of childhood. It was also a shoutout to shows I loved growing up like Ed, Edd n’ Eddy and the Ashleys from Recess where the same names are part of the camaraderie and comedy.

But I had gotten the note before that having two Connors was confusing. I finally made the change when I got the note from you guys! Thank you for finally getting me to change it.

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

It’s been stellar! I’ve submitted a bunch of stuff through FilmFreeway and appreciate how easy it is to find specific contests for certain projects.

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

I have difficulty finishing scripts unless I have someone to bounce ideas off of. Having a community of writers, or even just one friend, to get feedback from makes scripts come together so much easier and better than they would be in just the isolated writer bubble we all sometimes fall into. Also, watch episodes or read scripts similar to what you’re going for. It’s not only fun, but it’ll give you some inspiration.

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

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

Camera Operator: Mary Cox