TV SPEC Reading – BROOKLYN NINE NINE by Linsen Oyosa

I was searching for festivals to which I could present my work. I had no idea that my script would even be good enough. I just wanted to hear some feedback. When I got the feedback, I was extremely happy because it was very detailed and helped me improve my work and of course, I was accepted into the festival.

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Watch the June 2016 Winning TV Spec Screenplay. 

BROOKLYN NINE NINE  by Linsen Oyosa

Genre: Sitcom, Comedy, Crime

Synopsis: Jake and Charles try to take down a drug dealer. Meanwhile, Terry deals with inter-precinct theft and Holt helps Rosa deal with her recent politeness.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Val Cole
JAKE – Christopher Huron
ROSA – Tracey Beltrano
CHARLES – Jeff Sinasic
TERRY – Deney Forrest
HOLT – John Lester Phillips
GINA – Laura Darby
AMY – Hannah Brenen

Get to know the winning writer: 

1. What is your screenplay based on the TV show “Brooklyn 99” about?

Jake and Charles try to take down a drug dealer. Meanwhile, in the precinct, Terry must find out who stole his yogurt and Holt helps Rosa deal with her recent politeness.

2. How does this episode fit into the context of the television show?

This episode fits into the context of the show because it stays true to the tone and nature of the show. It also shows these characters dealing with situations that would make the most of their personalities.

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

Funny, witty

4. What TV show do you watch over and over again?

Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Friends, Parks and Recreation and Family Guy.

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

I worked on this screenplay for about two months, taking minor breaks during that period.

6. How many stories have you written?

I have written two stories including this one. The other is a feature screenplay. I am currently working on a second feature screenplay.

7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?

I love comedy as a genre for TV more than any other and I love this show in particular. I had been studying screenwriting for awhile and wanted to test my skills. Since this was a show I loved and watched religiously, I decided to start by writing a spec for it. I also felt that I understood the characters more than I did for any other show. This helped a lot.

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

Coming up with the different storylines was a bit of an obstacle at first. Making sure the character voices were accurate was another obstacle.

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

Apart from writing, I am passionate about Mathematics. Maybe one day I’ll create a show about Maths.

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

I was searching for festivals to which I could present my work. I had no idea that my script would even be good enough. I just wanted to hear some feedback. When I got the feedback, I was extremely happy because it was very detailed and helped me improve my work and of course, I was accepted into the festival.

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

If you are just beginning to write, I would suggest you find a genre you are truly passionate about. Study the shows or movies that you love in that genre. Focus on the types of characters within that universe and how you can use them to help create your own. Don’t give up. It’s a long journey but it’s certainly one worth taking.

****

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

 

TV PILOT Reading: WILD MAGIC by Julie Nichols

Watch the June 2016 Winning TV PILOT.

WILD MAGIC  by Julie Nichols

SYNOPSIS:

Genre: Family, Fantasy, Drama, Comedy

A female teenager enters a typical High School and is immediately challenged by bully. Unbeknown to her she has the ability to do magic. It’s Buffy meets ABC Family.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Val Cole
BRITTANY – Laura Darby
JILLIAN/LULU – Tracey Beltrano
ROSSALYN – Hannah Brenen
MARIO – Christopher Huron
SHANE – Deney Forrest
FERGUS – Jeff Sinasic
DOMINICK – John Lester Phillips

Get to know the winning writer:

1. What is your TV PILOT about?

Wild Magic is a comedy-drama about a half-elf, half-human, 16-year old princess from an enchanted island off the coast of Scotland. Now on the run from a demon hoard seeking to destroy her, Rossalyn hides out with her family and best friend, the impish fairy Luella, in the sunny Mecca of beach bunnies and surfer dudes: Orange County, California.

It’s kind of Outlander meets The O.C.

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

This show is funny. I think that’s what makes it different from a lot of other contemporary teen fantasies which are predominantly dramas and thrillers. The target audience (12 – 26 year olds) has an unquenchable appetite for comedy, most of it found on YouTube. The characters in Rossalyn are really colorful and fun, especially Rossalyn’s punk fairy sidekick. And the market is really strong. Science fiction and fantasy TV shows just seems to be getting more and more popular.

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

Fresh magic

4. What TV show do you watch over and over again?

I’ve watched a lot of the Outlander episodes over and over again. I’m a fan of the books and love what Ron Moore has done with the story for the series. Flipping channels, old Star Trek TNG episodes tend to make me put down the remote. My last accidental binge watch was Arrow–one episode turned into seven before I surfaced. My latest find is the BBC show Poldark which stars Aidan Turner from The Hobbit films. Riveting.

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

I’m a fast writer. I wrote the first draft in about a week, then threw it in a drawer for a bit. When I took it out, I tore it up pretty ruthlessly and put back together again.

6. How many stories have you written?

Countless–from newspaper articles to screenplays. I have another finished pilot that’s very different, a procedural called Southern Comfort Zone that’s set in the Low Country of South Carolina. I’m finishing up a couple of full length screenplays now—a thriller and screwball comedy. And I’m working on a short play, too.

7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?

I love fish-out-of-water-stories and slamming opposites together. As I was hiking on the Isle of Arran off the coast of Scotland one summer, I came across a little place called Fairy Dell which started me thinking about magic and fairies in the world today. Then, when I was driving in Orange County one afternoon, a perfectly-tanned blond passed me in a convertible, bubble gum pink jeep. Her license plate holder read, “Now all I need is Ken.” Bam. Scottish magic meets Barbie.

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

Originally, Rossalyn was an American teen who finds herself in Scotland. When I flipped it around so that she’s a Scottish teen living in America, everything changed. I threw out so much stuff that I loved, but it’s a better story this way.

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

Travel and cycling. Creativity and innovation. Global warming and the environment. And I’m a sucker for a great love story.

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

There’s no better way to know if your material works than hearing it read aloud by professional actors. I truly appreciate the feedback and will incorporate it into my next rewrite!

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

The biggest mistake I see writers make is working endlessly on one pet project to the exclusion of all else. You learn so much from building a body of work. You have to keep flexing your creative muscles by writing new stories. Not everything you write will win a contest or find a buyer, but you’ll learn so much just from working on and finishing each new story. So just keep writing!

****

Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo

Editor: John Johnson

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

 

 

TV PILOT Reading – CIVILIAN by Gina Scanlon

Watch the June 2016 Winning TV PILOT.

CIVILIAN by Gina Scanlon

Watch the June 2016 Winning TV PILOT.

CIVILIAN  by Gina Scanlon

Genre: Drama, Crime

Synopsis: A young marine returns to her small Texas town after a recent tour in the South Sudan to complete police academy.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Val Cole
BRANDI – Laura Darby
AMOS/STOKER – Christopher Huron
DR. BURNS – Tracey Beltrano
SHANE – Deney Forrest
MARCUS – Jeff Sinasic
MARCEL – John Lester Phillips

Get to know the winning writer:

1. What is your TV PILOT about?

A young marine returns home to Texas after a traumatizing tour to reclaim her life as a rookie cop. Unfortunately more than a few unwelcome complications await her.

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

Female assault in the military, the challenges of combating PTSD, and the way these two issues trickle down and weave into American society I feel warrants more attention, and are topics I believe people are interested in. Plus, TV could use a few more badass, imperfect female protagonists!

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

questionable redemption

4. What TV show do you watch over and over again?

I can’t get enough of The Twilight Zone! I’ve also re-watched the first season of Jessica Jones a couple times.

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

For a couple of years now. I went through a near Page 1 rewrite about a year ago. I knew I loved the main character and topic, but needed to tackle it from a different angle and make it more exciting.

6. How many stories have you written?

Tons! I started writing fiction when I was in middle school, and plays towards the end of high school and never stopped. But as all writers know, most of them don’t stand out as very good.

7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?

A documentary called “The Invisible War,” which is about how so many people (women in particular) have suffered sexual assault and find no justice in the US military made me so angry, I started writing this script. Though the pilot of “Civilian” doesn’t tackle that specific issue, its main character goes through similar turmoils and challenges, and that theme would continue to resonate throughout the series, should it ever get to that point!

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

I originally saw it as a feature, so I had to restructure it. I added characters and storylines in order to give it more of a setup for a potential series, and to give it more longevity in general. I definitely had people I trust read drafts along the way, which helped in turning it into a believable pilot format.

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

Kurt Vonnegut and his weird ideas. I’m obsessed with history, particularly the War of the Roses and both American and French Revolutions. International, and national women’s rights are up there, and so is supporting the preservation of journalism. I find it scary that the majority of people get their news from Twitter, celebrities, or websites like Buzzzfeed these days, and meanwhile reputable news sources are going bankrupt. On a lighter note, I’m also really into stand-up comedy and air hockey. haha

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

I wanted to start receiving professional feedback on the script, and heard positive things about the festival. The initial feedback was extremely helpful in improving my next draft, and brought to light certain things I hadn’t even thought could effect the salability of the script.

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

Trust your instincts, and never write something for superficial reasons (the current market trends, etc.). Do it because you really care about what you’re writing about, and I believe people will gravitate towards that authenticity.

****

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/

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

LIFE IN THE FAST LANE is the January 2016 winning TV Pilot. Watch the table reading performed by professional actors.

TV PILOT: LIFE IN THE FAST LANE
by Debi Calabro

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

Get to know writer Debi Calabro:

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Debi Calabro: It’s about three very different families and how their involvement in the sport of horse racing brings them together.

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

Debi: The series would focus on these three families and their trials and tribulations on and off the racetrack. Their situations are all very unique and it will be compelling to see how they solve (or try to solve) their own issues as well as how they intermingle which usually causes more turmoil than not.

Racetrack attendees are a rare breed and this group is no different which will make the show interesting and entertaining to watch.

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

Debi: Unique, entertaining.

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

Debi: Rescue Me, Modern Family, Seinfeld,

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

Debi: About eight months.

Matthew: How many stories have you written?

Debi: Lost count.

Matthew: What motivated you to write this screenplay?

Debi: As a racehorse owner I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write about the characters that attend the track on a daily basis. From the down and out gambler who would spend their last two bucks on a bet to the wealthiest thoroughbred owners, they all have one thing in common, to win

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

Debi: None.

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

Debi: Being a racehorse owner.

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

Debi: I really liked the idea of the reading and the feedback was priceless.

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

Debi: Always get your work critiqued before sending it out. When you receive the critique back read it a couple of times to really understand what your consultant is trying to say because when you first read it one would perhaps try to dismiss it since, as the writer, you might not be able to comprehend how “your” story could be any other way. But someone else’s opinion, especially a professional, can most often than not, open the writers eyes for a new perspective.

Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo

Editor: John Johnson

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

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