1st Scene Screenplay Reading of AMERICAN SNAKE PIT, by Dan Tomasulo

Genre: Drama, Crime, Mystery

Based on a true story a young doctor takes over an experimental program the government is trying to shut down to help save the most troubled patients out of Willowbrook, the worst asylum in American history


NARRATOR: Rachel Rain Packota

Kate: Vanessa Burns
Dr. Dan: Isaiah Kolundzic
Mrs. Grimp: Stephanie Haines
Jack: Jason Gray

Get to know the writer: 

  1. What is your screenplay about?

Based on a true story of a young doctor who takes over and attempts to save a group home comprised of the most troubled patients from Willowbrook, the worst asylum in American history



  1. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Historical / Drama (Although it recently won the category for best comedy / drama)




  1. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

American Snake Pit is in the vein of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.  The true story aspect makes this the first movie of its kind concerning the treatment of psychologically-disturbed patients coming from the infamous Willowbrook Institute, a hell on earth Bobby Kennedy called a “snake pit” in 1965. The movie is a heart-warming and surprisingly funny story of patients not just surviving, but flourishing for the first time in their lives, proving the resilience and hope of the human spirit.




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

Disturbingly hopeful.



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

All of Me



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

One year—but the memoir it is based on—10 years.




  1. How many stories have you written?

Over 50.  A little over half of them have been published.



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

Born in the USA.  I live in Jersey.  I live in Asbury Park—You got a problem with that? J




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

Moving from the book toward the screen required changes.  I originally thought it would be more documentary style—but ends up it is more “inspired by” as these changes were introduced.



  1. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about? I am a psychologist and teach at UPenn in the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program (MAPP) and designed and teach the Optimal Well-being program at Columbia’s Spirituality Mind Body Institute. My deep interest is the intersection of positive psychology and storytelling as an agent means



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

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

Camera Operator: Mary Cox


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