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

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

Editor: John Johnson

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

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TV SPEC Screenplay – RICK & MORTY “The Rickgotiator” by David Cryan

Watch the August 2016 Winning TV PILOT screenplay.

RICK & MORTY “The Rickgotiator” by David Cryan

SYNOPSIS:

Genre: Comedy, Animation

When Morty accidentally gets his family kidnapped while trying to stop an alien war, he and Rick must execute an elaborate plan to rescue their family and trick the aliens into calling a truce.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Becky Shrimpton
RICK – Stephen Flett
MORTY – Adam McNamara
BETH – Laura Darby
JERRY – David Straus
BLECKAR – Lorne Hiro
GARY – Rais Muoi
SUMMER – Victoria Urquhart

Get to know the winning writer:

What is your Rick & Morty TV SPEC screenplay about?

My Spec is about Rick learning where he can get some Chromosome Infinity, an elusive and rare substance he’s been after for a while. Rick finds out that it is located in the neutral zone, and if he tries to get it, it could spark an alien war, but he’s selfish. Meanwhile, Jerry tries to get a job and deals with his overall lack of confidence.

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

It fits well into the context of the show because it has the big high concept sci-fi A story and a low key down to earth B story that collide at the halfway point.

How would you describe this script in two words?

I wouldn’t.

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

Oh boy, one? I have an obnoxiously long list including: The Simpsons, Arrested Development, The Larry Sanders Show, Seinfeld, 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Veep, Futurama, The Critic, Frasier, Community, The Wire, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, and of course Rick and Morty. That’s me cutting my list short. Like I said it’s obnoxiously long.

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I spent roughly two weeks on the outline, another two weeks on a first draft, and then did periodic rewrites over the course of a couple months.

How many stories have you written?

I have written lots of sketches. Two pilots, one of which goes in drawer marked as a learning experience and is to never see the light of day. As well as three specs of existing shows, including Veep, Rick and Morty and an Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt which I just finished a first draft of and am beginning to rewrite.

What motivated you to write this screenplay?

Fear of failure.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Also fear of failure.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Personal privacy.

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

I’m at a point where I have enough writing samples that I’m happy with. So I’ve begun actively trying to get my stuff read, be that by submitting to agencies or entering contests. As far as the feedback, some of it I agreed with some of it I didn’t, but it definitely helped make my next draft stronger.

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

No.

 

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

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: John Johnson

TV PILOT Winning Reading – The Spectral City by Arthur Vincie

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

Watch the TV Pilot Screenplay Winner for July 2016:

The Spectral City by Arthur Vincie

SYNOPSIS:

Genre: Sci-Fi, War, Supernatural

Three refugees, thrown together by chance, flee a modern-day civil war set in an unspecified country. Evading the army, rebels, bandits, gods, and demons, they head to the one place no one dares go to the Haunted City at the heart of the country. There they seek out the White Witch, who rules the City and who’s either their ticket out or their worst nightmare.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Susan Wilson
JULIET – Courtney Keir
ISHMAEL – Brandon Knox
THEO/MATTHEW – Julian Ford
STEVEN/ADJAI – Sean Ballantyne
JIM – David Guthrie
NURIYAH – Meghan Allen

Get to know the winning writer:

1. What is your TV Pilot screenplay about?

“The Spectral City” is a war/supernatural story, about six refugees trying to flee a modern-day civil war. Thrown together by chance, and pursued by the army, rebels, bandits, monsters, and gods, they head for the one place no one dares go – the Haunted City in the heart of the country. Will it be the key to their salvation, or the beginning of an even worse fate?

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

“The Spectral City” is about the people who are usually left out of war stories – the civilians. By focusing on their struggles for survival, redemption, and healing, we can avoid the usual war story cliches. It’s about ordinary people finding extraordinary grit in the face of adversity. By combining the war and supernatural/horror genres, the story brings out the inner as well as outer conflicts of the characters. This keeps the scale human-sized while also delivering an epic tale. The story aims to humanize refugees and those who are caught in the gears of war.

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

Surviving warfare

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

“Firefly” for its imaginative use of dialog, its balance of humor, and its blending of genres.

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

Two years.

6. How many stories have you written?

In addition to “Spectral City,” I’ve written several spec scripts, and wrote and directed two features, “Caleb’s Door” and “Found In Time.” I’m currently writing and directing a webseries, “Three Trembling Cities.”

7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?

I was interested in exploring the stories of people who’ve been caught up in civil wars. I was “inspired” by the stories of the child soldiers who were conscripted into both sides of the Sierra Leone civil war. Later I read up on the civilians who fled or who are currently fleeing the wars in Mali, Sudan, Libya, Georgia, Central African Republic, Eritrea, Syria, the border wars in Assam (India), and other recent (and in some cases ongoing) conflicts.

I also wanted to write something a little more grounded in “reality” (my last project was a sci-fi film, “Found In Time.”)

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

Finding the right balance between natural and supernatural elements. The supernatural part of the story reflects how people fall back into superstition when confronted with extreme chaos (soldiers are extremely superstitious). I also wanted the country depicted in the story to be a “blend” of real-world places and cultures, so that it felt alive and complex; but I didn’t want the reader to pin the country to a specific location.

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

Directing, still photography, reading. I’m a science and history nerd. I’m a closet drummer.

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

I thought the festival was a good fit for the material, and I was excited at the prospect of having the project read aloud. I thought the initial feedback was terrific and it helped me quite a bit.

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

Your first script (and maybe the one after that) is probably going to suck, but that’s okay – you have to learn to crawl before you can walk. It’s all about practice, and developing a discipline of some kind, so that you’re always writing, rewriting, researching, or recharging (so you can write again).

Don’t get too bogged down in details that you can work out later. Don’t get obsessed with perfection. Those are great ways to keep from ever finishing a draft.

It’s good to get a basic grasp of screenplay formatting and structure, and outlining is helpful, but memorable characters make or break the script. Don’t be afraid of not knowing where a scene is going – sometimes the best stuff comes up when you’re in a corner and you don’t know what you’re supposed to write next.

Jealousy, anxiety, dissatisfaction, and outrage can be your best friends as long as they don’t cripple you. Those “negative” emotions can keep you at the keyboard typing away or rewriting.

Find creative partnerships (with actors, producers, directors, other writers) – it’s too hard to go it alone in this field. These folks can give you honest feedback, help you get things off the ground, support you when you’re down. And you’ll do the same for them.

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

 

 

 

January 2016 TV Pilot/Spec Screenplay Winners

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

Watch the 3 TV Screenplay Winners for January 2016:

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

Watch the 3 TV Screenplay Winners for January 2016:

TV PILOT – LACIE BIDWELL
Written by Jameel Khan

SYNOPSIS:

LACIE BIDWELL is about a girl who’s father created a zombie virus that killed thousands. It’s twelve years later and she’s in college and still has to deal with being the daughter of one of the most hated men in the world.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Sean Ballantyne
LACIE – Elizabeth Owens Skidmore
CHALMERS – Nick Baillie
HOPE – Maya Woloszyn
JEFF/BEN – Jovan Kocic
DAVID/OMAR – Christopher Huron
SAITO – Mandy May Cheetham

TV PILOT – LIFE IN THE FAST LANE
Written by Debi Calabro

SYNOPSIS:

Life in the Fast Lane is about three very different families and how their involvement in the sport of horse racing brings them together.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Sean Ballantyne
JESSIE – Maya Woloszyn
SAL – Christopher Huron
MARIA/SONIA – Mandy May Cheetham
JAMES/RYAN – Nick Baillie
SCARECROW/MICHAEL – Kaleb Alexander
YOUNG SAL – Jovan Kocic

TV SPEC – UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT
Written by Jen Turriff

SYNOPSIS:

In this spec of ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,’ Kimmy quickly becomes addicted to an iPad game. As she discovers she unknowingly made in-app purchases, she has to find a creative way to pay her debts. Meanwhile, Titus battles his own obsession and Jacqueline struggles with her need to be accepted by Xan.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Christopher Huron
KIMMY – Mandy May Cheetham
TITUS – Kaleb Alexander
JACQUELINE – Elizabeth Owens Skidmore
BUCKLEY – Jovan Kocic
SALES WOMAN – Maya Woloszyn

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Director/Producer – Matthew Toffolo

Editor – John Johnson

Casting Director – Sean Ballantyne

 

 

 

TV PILOT Reading – LACIE BIDWELL by Jameel Khan

I really liked the idea of having a reading of the pilot. There is no substitute to hearing the words out loud. I plan to make several adjustments based on what I hear. As for the initial feedback, I thought it was solid. I don’t take one source of feedback at a time, but collect from several people and try to balance out personal tastes. Any piece of professional feedback is valuable to me.

Watch TV Pilot: LACIE BIDWELL:

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Sean Ballantyne
LACIE – Elizabeth Owens Skidmore
CHALMERS – Nick Baillie
HOPE – Maya Woloszyn
JEFF/BEN – Jovan Kocic
DAVID/OMAR – Christopher Huron
SAITO – Mandy May Cheetham

Get to know writer Jameel Khan:

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Jameel Khan: It’s about a girl who’s father created a zombie virus that killed thousands. It’s twelve years later and she’s in college and still has to deal with being the daughter of one of the most hated men in the world. She tries to move on an live a relatively normal life. But when a mysterious USB drive shows up in her dorm room, she learns that her father may have been setup. Lacie must try to balance her college life while uncovering a mystery that leads her into a far more dangerous and stranger world than she ever imagined.

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

Jameel: There is a rich world with compelling characters allowing for long format storytelling. I believe the themes of identity and finding our place in this world are universal. And it’s just plain fun.

Matthew: How would you describe this script in two words?

Jameel: Mutant fun.

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

Jameel: Lost, Battlestar, Buffy, Parks and Rec, really so many. I might have a problem.

Matthew: How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Jameel: 3 months.

Matthew: How many stories have you written?

Jameel: Dozens if you count short stories.

Matthew: What motivated you to write this screenplay?

Jameel: The initial seed that compelled me was to tell a story of what it would be like to be the child of a Hitler, or any infamous bad guy.

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

Jameel: My biggest obstacle is always the same. It’s the letting it go and releasing it out into the world. At some point you got to stop tinkering.

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

Jameel: Pretty much anything geek.

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

Jameel: I really liked the idea of having a reading of the pilot. There is no substitute to hearing the words out loud. I plan to make several adjustments based on what I hear. As for the initial feedback, I thought it was solid. I don’t take one source of feedback at a time, but collect from several people and try to balance out personal tastes. Any piece of professional feedback is valuable to me.

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

Jameel: Do the work.

Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo

Editor: John Johnson

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Submit your TV Pilot to the Festival Today: https://tvfestival.org/

Best Scene Reading of the TV Pilot ABSYNTHIA by Seregon O’Dassey

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

Watch the Best Scene Reading of ABSYNTHIA:

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Nick Baillie
SYNTHIA – Mandy May Cheetham
JULES – Christopher Huron
RIVEN – Kaleb Alexander
VAJA – Elizabeth Owens Skidmore
TEA – Maya Woloszyn

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/