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.

 

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

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

Watch TV Web Series: Hey You, It’s Me

Watch the 2016 winning TV Web Series: HEY YOU, IT’S ME. It will be showcased at the Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival in November 2016.

@heyyouitsmela

Watch the 2016 winning TV Web Series: HEY YOU, IT’S ME. It will be showcased at the Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival in November 2016.

@heyyouitsmela

Watch the TV Pilot Episode: 

Two women. Two cities. Used, abused… but powering through!
Go to http://www.bestiecall.com to help fund Season One!
Created by Suzanne Schmidt

Frankie Ingrassia – Director
Suzanne Schmidt – Writer
Christie Maturo- Writer

Key Cast:

Suzanne Schmidt
Christie Maturo
Jonathan Pessin
Cindy Caponera
Reiley McCleandon
Suzanne Schmidt

Read INDIE Source Magazine Interview

Interview with Creator Suzanne Schmidt:

Matthew Toffolo: How did you come up with the idea for this webseries?

Suzanne Schmidt: I looked for stories I didn’t see being told already, at least not from my perspective. I wanted to shine a light on the journey of being a woman in the entertainment industry while finding the humor and strength-building aspects of the struggle. I also wanted to write about the life affirming nature of friendship. The specifics of the idea came from actual long-distance voicemails I exchanged with Christie Maturo, my co-writter.

MT: What motivated you and your team to write and then produce the initial pilot?

SS: The initial plan was to film the whole first season in one shot. However, being a newer filmmaker, shooting the pilot episode first and learning from that experience before tackling the other episodes seemed like the wisest way to go. As far as what motivated us to produce it at all… I wanted to tell a story and I am lucky enough to have an encouraging and talented group of people in my life who jumped on board.

MT: When will the next episode premiere? How many episodes are written and ready to be produced?

SS: The first season will be out in the fall. This will consist of 6 episodes. Currently the 1st and 2nd seasons are written but presumably, there will be some changes in season two before that time comes.

MT: Watching the episode, you can’t help but think that everything you see is based on true events? Do you actually have a friend that you send voice messages to and vice/versa on a daily basis?

SS: Christie Maturo became an extremely close friend during our years in graduate school. We shared a closet sized office at NIU and were roommates during our time at The Moscow Art School. By the time I moved back to LA, we were reliant on each other’s support. We found a way to continue this friendship telephonically but due to our conflicting schedules, our biggest communication tool became our exchange of long-winded, hilarious, and vulnerable voicemails.

MT: How do you think women are portrayed in Hollywood? From a business standpoint, and the stories/roles that are produced today?

SS: If I were asked to list strong female character portrayals within the past 20 years, I absolutely could do that. There have been some amazing roles and performances. However, If I were asked to list strong male roles within that same time period, I would need multiple blank notebooks and a few weeks to complete the task. There is an imbalance in the stories being told. When our search for good stories becomes gender and color blind, Hollywood will begin to more truthfully reflect society.

MT: What films have you seen the most times in your life?

SS: Steele Magnolias, The Professional, Ordinary People, It’s a Wonderful Life, Mary Poppins, The Philadelphia Story and Tombstone. (Not necessarily in that order.)

MT: What obstacles did you face when you were making the pilot?

SS: I think we faced some of the usual obstacles. Funding, location issues, some footage loss, scheduling hiccups , last-minute re-castings, etc. However, the team we assembled was incredible and it was overall an extremely positive experience.

MT: If you could talk to yourself on the day you decided to become an actor, what advice would you give you?

SS: You have your own voice. Don’t be afraid to use it. Take charge of telling your own stories and spend time learning all mediums. Watch and learn at every moment. And…It might save you a lot of grief if you think about marrying rich! Ha.

TV Sitcom Pilot Screenplay Reading – MARRIAGE EQUALITY by Jamie Pierce

Watch the April 2016 TV PILOT Screenplay Winner.

TV Sitcom Pilot – MARRIAGE EQUALITY by Jamie Pierce

Watch the April 2016 TV PILOT Screenplay Winner.

TV Sitcom Pilot – MARRIAGE EQUALITY by Jamie Pierce

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Synopsis: A gay couple deals with two life-changing events on Mother’s Day.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Sean Kaufmann
ANDREW – Michael Lake
ANTHONY – Noah Casey
STACY/ANDREW – Sandra Krstin
JUDY – Kiran Friesen
DAD – Dennis Barham

Interview with Jamie Pierce:

What is your TV Pilot screenplay about?

“Marriage Equality” centers on Anthony and Andrew, a bookend-pair of husbands, as they attempt to navigate the chaos that is their unpredictable family. In the pilot, it’s Mother’s Day and as the husbands dutifully make the rounds visiting the various mothers in their life, they are met by a series of unexpected familial revelations.

Why should this screenplay be made into a TV show?

To offer a comparison, in many ways the premise is similar to the relationship created by the TV sitcom characters of Frasier and Lilith (and then later Niles) in that we have two people who are more or less carbon copies of one another, which creates its own unique comic situation. Add to that the wildly different and varying personalities that surrounds them. This creates two unique dynamics that can be explored both individually and as a whole.

This story has a lot going for it. How would you describe this script in two words?

Funny jokes.

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

My favorite sitcom has always been Night Court. I’ve seen every episode multiples times and can recite many of them from memory. Great writing and a great premise that keeps things fresh. That show never gets old.

This is a very tight, emotionally engaging and fun screenplay. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

The pilot is based on my act as a stand-up comic. So in that sense, I’ve been developing this material for over a decade. Fashioning it into a teleplay was a slightly swifter process.

How many stories have you written?

This is my first for the screen. Previously, I’ve written novels, essays and stage plays.

What motivated you to write this screenplay?

In the classic tradition of stand-up comedy becoming situation comedy, I wanted to see how my particular act and brand would translate to that medium.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

I kept questioning the ending I wanted to create a situation that would allow for trying to create a situation while also avoiding tropes.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I’ve been doing stand-up comedy for over 10 years and I really enjoy that. It’s creatively fulfilling as not only a writer but also performer, director and producer.

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

I really welcomed the feedback and found all of it very insightful and constructive. That’s not always the case with feedback from festival submissions!

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

Specificity is good in comedy. Offering something distinctive also helps to avoid the risk of coming across as derivative. In other words, different is good!

Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: John Johnson

Watch TV Spec Table Reading of VEEP

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

TV SPEC: VEEP “Town Hall”
by Emily Cirillo

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

TV SPEC: VEEP “Town Hall”
by Emily Cirillo

SYNOPSIS:

The episode, titled “Town Hall”, is about Selina trying to connect with millennial voters after disparaging poll numbers are released. Dan and Amy, fighting for the Campaign Manager position, have different ideas on how to win them over. And Jonah makes things more difficult for Selina and the staff after he accidentally opens a virus that crashes their office server. The episode culminates at a Town Hall event Selina attends at a local university, where she realizes winning the youth vote is easier said than done.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Frances Townend
Selina – Jacqueline Brown
Amy – Julia Vally
Sue – Alicia Payne
Mike – Charles Gordon
Ben – Neil Kulin
Adam – Kaleb Alexander
Dan – Rob Salerno
Jonah – Sean Ballantyne

Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: John Johnson

February 2016 TV Pilot/Spec Screenplay Winners

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

Watch the 2 TV Screenplay Winners for February 2016:

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

Watch the 2 TV Screenplay Winners for February 2016:

TV PILOT Screenplay – MINDWALKER
February 2016 Reading
Written by Thorsten Loos

SYNOPSIS:

Andrew Kinderman, a loner and scifi geek without any friends, witnesses the murder of his neurobiology professor and is shot by the killers as well. His mind is catapulted out of his now comatose body and is ‘anchored’ to the only person he really cares about: The actress of his favourite mystery TV show, Australian beauty Anna Chastings.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Sean Ballantyne
ANNA – Allison Kampf
ANDREW – Sean Kaufmann
SAMANTHA – Kelci Stephenson
WILLIAM – Sasha Rajamani
LEROY – Chris Reid-Geisler
ETHAN/THOMAS – Jarrid Terrell

TV SPEC Screenplay – THE BIG BANG THEORY
February 2016 Reading
Written by David Minaskanian

SYNOPSIS:

Sheldon’s mom visits for his birthday and accidentally reveals that his grandmother Meemaw passed away. Needless to say, Sheldon does not take it well.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Sean Ballantyne
PENNY – Kelci Stephenson
SHELDON – Jarrid Terrell
LEONARD – Chris Reid-Geisler
WOLOWITZ – Sean Kaufmann
KOOTHRAPPALI – Sasha Rajamani
MARY COOPER/AMY – Allison Kampf

Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: John Johnson

TV SPEC of the show THE BIG BANG THEORY by David Minaskanian

Being able to see the script performed by professionals. The feedback was very helpful and I highly recommend others enter the festival.

The Big Bang Theory was the February 2016 Winning TV Spec Screenplay

Watch THE BIG BANG THEORY by David Minaskanian

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Sean Ballantyne
PENNY – Kelci Stephenson
SHELDON – Jarrid Terrell
LEONARD – Chris Reid-Geisler
WOLOWITZ – Sean Kaufmann
KOOTHRAPPALI – Sasha Rajamani
MARY COOPER/AMY – Allison Kampf

Get to know writer David Minaskanian:

1. What is your screenplay based on the TV show “Big Bang Theory” about?

Sheldon’s mom visits for his birthday and accidentally reveals that his grandmother Meemaw passed away. Needless to say, Sheldon does not take it well.

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

Sheldon’s grandmother had been mentioned for years but never made an appearance, so I wanted to keep in line with that. But now that she was just on the show, I think the script still works if you imagine it as a future episode.

3. This script has a lot going for it. How would you describe this script in two words?

Required reading

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

Saturday Night Live

5. This is a very tight, emotionally engaging and fun screenplay. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I wrote the script in 2013. It took about three weeks, and I’ve been entering it in contests since then. It’s placed at the Austin Film Festival, the Final Draft Awards, and ScriptapaloozaTV, among others.

6. How many stories have you written?

Many sketches, screenplays, TV pilots, and spec episodes. One of my TV pilot scripts was recently optioned by producer John Murlowski.

7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?

I’ve been a big fan of “The Big Bang Theory” since it started. This was the third “Big Bang” spec that I wrote. Sheldon is a very unique character and I enjoy writing in his voice.

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

I spent a lot of time on Sheldon’s speech at the end to make sure it was how I wanted it.

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

Mrs. Fields Cookies

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

Being able to see the script performed by professionals. The feedback was very helpful and I highly recommend others enter the festival.

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

For comedy, write what amuses you. If others like it, great. If they don’t, it’s not the end of the world.

 

***

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

 

TV PILOT Table Reading – MINDWALKER by Thorsten Loos

Andrew Kinderman, a loner and scifi geek without any friends, witnesses the murder of his neurobiology professor and is shot by the killers as well. His mind is catapulted out of his now comatose body and is ‘anchored’ to the only person he really cares about: The actress of his favourite mystery TV show, Australian beauty Anna Chastings. She is terrified when Andrew’s spirit manifests in her villa and thinks he’s a hallucination caused by too much work, but soon realizes this guy is really in trouble. When he accidentially overhears her boyfriend who is cheating on her, he manages to convince her that he is real by telling her about it. She starts to feel sympathy for him and agrees to fly back to New York to help Andrew return back to his body. As soon as they start to call hospitals in order to find Andrew’s body, they catch the attention of the FBI which is investigating the case and Anna ends up as a major suspect. Meanwhile, we learn Andrew’s professor had been working on some kind of mind control / precognition technology. A mysterious organization has stolen his research and is trying it on test persons. Part of the conspiracy is senior FBI agent William Curtis who doesn’t like the extra attention caused by a celebrity involved in the case he is trying to cover up.

MINDWALKER is the winning TV Pilot screenplay from February 2016.

MINDWALKER by Thorsten Loos

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Sean Ballantyne
ANNA – Allison Kampf
ANDREW – Sean Kaufmann
SAMANTHA – Kelci Stephenson
WILLIAM – Sasha Rajamani
LEROY – Chris Reid-Geisler
ETHAN/THOMAS – Jarrid Terrell

Get to know writer Thorsten Loos:

1. What is your TV Pilot screenplay about?

Andrew Kinderman, a loner and scifi geek without any friends, witnesses the murder of his neurobiology professor and is shot by the killers as well. His mind is catapulted out of his now comatose body and is ‘anchored’ to the only person he really cares about: The actress of his favourite mystery TV show, Australian beauty Anna Chastings. She is terrified when Andrew’s spirit manifests in her villa and thinks he’s a hallucination caused by too much work, but soon realizes this guy is really in trouble. When he accidentially overhears her boyfriend who is cheating on her, he manages to convince her that he is real by telling her about it. She starts to feel sympathy for him and agrees to fly back to New York to help Andrew return back to his body. As soon as they start to call hospitals in order to find Andrew’s body, they catch the attention of the FBI which is investigating the case and Anna ends up as a major suspect. Meanwhile, we learn Andrew’s professor had been working on some kind of mind control / precognition technology. A mysterious organization has stolen his research and is trying it on test persons. Part of the conspiracy is senior FBI agent William Curtis who doesn’t like the extra attention caused by a celebrity involved in the case he is trying to cover up.

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

Because I’d love to watch it! Seriously, I think my screenplay provides a lot of opportunities for a long running TV show. Andrew’s character development from a zero to a hero, the development of his relationship with Anna which should be both funny – given their entirely different backgrounds, as well as conflict-driven as Anna is a celebrity with a lot of liabilities which stand in conflict to Andrew’s need of her help. There is the mystery part of the story, circling around that mysterious organization which is doing all kinds of borderline-tech experiments to people which will make a good bunch of investigation cases for Anna, Andrew and their FBI allies and the more they progress towards the root of the evil, the stakes are constantly rising as they slowly begin to realize the extent of the conspiracy behind all that.

3. This story has a lot going for it. How would you describe this script in two words?

unlikely allies

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

There are quite a few, I love rewatching old 80ies / 90ies scifi series like for example (list is not intended to be exhaustive):
Quantum Leap, Star Trek – TNG, The X-Files, Earth2, Sliders, Seven Days, Farscape, Earth Final Conflict, Roswell, Stargate SG-1.

Most recent shows I loved and watched every episode at least once were Fringe and Haven.

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

I got the first draft down in about four weeks and kept rewriting, submitting, taking feedback and rewriting again for at least about a year.

6. How many stories have you written?

Three of my own, original TV show pilots, a good bunch of shorts and a sci-fi / horror feature. Besides that I’m currently writing parts of episodes for an independent TV show project.

7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?

I guess the initial motivation / kick-off idea was to have a team of protagonists with completely contrary characters and backgrounds. Combine that with a scifi-plot, a lurking conspiracy and a bag full of ideas for supernatural / paranormal phenomena-like cases Mulder and Scully would have loved to investigate, and at the end of the day, I had Mindwalker in my hands.

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

As I’m a non-native english speaker (and writer), language details, nuances in the usage of the language, are always an obstacle I have to overcome. Hopefully you come to the conclusion I finally made it with this draft. Another obstacle and big part of the work is research. For example: You think you can just write a hospital scene with a realistic dialogue between an emergency doc and the clinic staff without researching? Good luck.

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

Unlikely for a German, I’m a big fan of the Major League Baseball. Maybe it’s the prejudice about Germans which says they love statistics which sticks here, I don’t know. Besides that, I’ve been studying computer science in my earlier life, so I’m a natural tech geek and still do some coding here and there.

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

I don’t really remember how I ended up on the Wildsound page, but once I’ve been there, I watched some of the table reads and thought about how cool it would be to see my own scripts performed by those actors. My feelings about the initial feedback I received were devastating – I had just completed the early 5th or 6th draft of Mindwalker and was really happy with it, and then these people tell me it wasn’t ready yet.

Thankfully, the feedback included loads of helpful notes, and when I read through them I wondered how I could have missed these flaws in the first place. Numerous drafts later, I decided to resubmit the script and Wildsound accepted it. That was a great feeling, similar to placing in a contest. It’s a very rewarding feeling to get positive feedback and the acknowledgement.

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

The best advice I can give is to never take any feedback personal, be honest to yourself, read as many scripts as possible and most important: Always keep writing.

 

***

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

 

Best Scene Reading – TV Pilot “My Life with Stella” by Linda Morganstein

I was thrilled with the possibility of hearing my script read by professional actors. The initial feedback from WILDsound helped me to make my scenes tighter, shorter and more visual. I also turned my actress (Stella) into a point of view character, which she was not in the novel.

Watch the Best Scene Reading from February 2016.

“My Life with Stella”  by Linda Morganstein

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Elizabeth Rose Morriss
STELLA – Amanda Pereira
MURRAY – Mark Sparks
KUBICEK – Gabriel Darku

Genre: Drama, Comedy

Get to know writer Linda Morganstein:

Matthew Toffolo: What is your TV Pilot screenplay about?

Linda Morganstein: “My Life with Stella Kane” is the story of a lesbian actress in forties and fifties Hollywood, her sham marriage to a gay male star, and her secret love relationship with the female publicist who arranged the marriage. An ensemble of characters, including the actress’s deaf sister and a black-balled iconic actress, struggle with the repressive times.

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

Linda: Like “Mad Men,” “My Life with Stella Kane” portrays a fascinating segment of the recent past and its cultural influence on us, as well as provoking questions about our current attitudes, especially about diversity in the entertainment industry.

Matthew: This story has a lot going for it. How would you describe this script in two words?

Linda: Bewitching. Sexy.

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

Linda: “The Good Wife,” for its strong female characters and its willingness to explore the not always so pleasant complexities of human nature. And its humor, which is essential for me.

Matthew: This is a very tight, emotionally engaging and fun screenplay. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Linda: Approximately a year and a number of drafts.

Matthew: How many stories have you written?

Linda: I have five published novels, numerous published poems and short stories, and a number of produced medical video scripts.

Matthew: What motivated you to write this screenplay?

Linda: I wanted to adapt my novel, “My Life with Stella Kane.” My original motivation for the novel was wondering what it would be like for a trio of gay characters to “beat the Hollywood system” from within and what sacrifices they’d need to make.

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

Linda: The struggle to adapt a novel–especially my own–to the visual medium of film.

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

Linda: My family and friends, gardening, sourdough bread baking and golf.

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

Linda: I was thrilled with the possibility of hearing my script read by professional actors. The initial feedback from WILDsound helped me to make my scenes tighter, shorter and more visual. I also turned my actress (Stella) into a point of view character, which she was not in the novel.

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

Linda: All writers develop their scripts in different ways, but in the end, really know your characters and their story. I have many characters from my projects that I think of as real people.

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