Original Script Reading of QUANTICO TV Show, by Leslie Lyshkov

Watch the September 2017 Winning Screenplay:

In the present day, both Alex and Ryan are assigned to the American Southwest. Alex to offer security to a fringe gubernatorial candidate. Booth to infiltrate a dangerous alt-right militia. In the flashback, Owen’s CIA trainees are assigned to launder money out of foreign country back to the United States.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller, Mystery


Narrator: Laura Kyswaty
Alex Parrish: Premika Leo
Ryan: James Boutcher
Harry/Putin: Rob Notman
Eddie: Brandon Knox
Popeye: Luke Robinson
Abigail Torres: Julie McCarthy
Shelby: Lindsay Rolland Mills

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay based on the TV show about?

Because my teleplay uses the flashback/flash-forward format of season one and two Quantico, my A-story and B-story occupy separate time lines. The flashback B-story is a “typical” episode at The Farm where Owen Hall tasks the CIA trainees to complete a training mission within a single episode. The A-story conforms to the series multi-episodic format for the flash-forward sequence. In this case, a new setup for a new flash-forward sequence. I saw no other way to write a Quantico spec within the second season format.

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

Quantico’s format and principal cast are expected to change for Season 3. However this spec remains a continuation of Season 2. Because no Season 3 episodes have aired yet, I have no idea how this spec will fit within the series after (S3:E1) airs.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Documentary-Fiction. Fictional setups written months earlier are being caught up by current events. The WILDsound Festival can attested to this. This teleplay was submitted in May and Charlottesville occurred the month AFTER the teleplay was selected by WILDsound.

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

I like the original UK version of Life on Mars for its over-the-top characters. At present, I am binge-watching The Wire in preparation of tackling my first pilot teleplay.

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Six months total. I began to binge-watch Quantico a year-ago because it seemed a good prospect for a spec teleplay. I spent two months outlining a story, three months writing the teleplay’s first draft, and one month rewriting and polishing its second draft. All writing was done in spare time. The script reflects somewhat under 200 actual hours labor. It could’ve been finished in four weeks if it had been a full-time project.

How many stories have you written?

Not enough. My portfolio consists of two feature length screenplays, an under-feature length 60-some page thriller, and this spec episodic. My goal for 2018 is to write a pair of 1-hour television pilots.

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

George Gershwin’s Summertime. It’s not my all time favorite song but I do like it a lot and I’ve heard so many cover versions by so many artists that there couldn’t be a song I’ve heard more often. For anybody unfamiliar with jazz, the rock band Sublime’s Doin’ Time is a cover of Gershwin’s Summertime.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

This was easy. Character and tone are the toughest things for me to write. In this episodic spec, rather than create characters and create a tone, I mimicked Quantico’s characters and its tone. Regrettably, my talent for mimicry clearly exceeds that for creativity.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Bicycling and swimming. I am not particularly passionate about what a writer should be passionate about such as: reading, film, or television. My favorite part of writing is typing THE END at the very bottom of the last page.

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

I figure that a spec teleplay exists only to get exposure and that WILDsound’s table reading is that kind of exposure.

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

Withoutabox is the easiest-to-navigate submission platform for the technically challenged, such as myself.

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

I’m convinced that, for the vast majority of us, writing a feature script is an exercise in futility. Although I don’t share the same pessimism toward television writing at this moment, I have no idea how ‘ll feel about it a year from now.
Don’t be in too big a hurry and wait until you have a polished draft before submitting to a writing competition. The worst thing that can happen with a script is to have a rough-draft make the finals or place third when a polished draft might have actually won.


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

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

Camera Operator: Mary Cox

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


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.


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.


Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson