1st Scene Script Reading: EXISTENTIAL QUANDARY, by Brandon Maline

Watch the June 2016 Winning 1st Scene Screenplay



Genre: Horror, Thriller, Crime

A serial killer who turns his victims bodies into works of art becomesfixated on a little girl. She has dreams of him and thinks he is her angel, her mother pays little attention to it until the girl makes a model of the murderer.


NARRATOR – Geoff Mays
CAROLINE – Tee Schneider
CINDY – Kelci Stephenson
PRINCIPAL – Julian Ford

Get to know the winning writer:

1. What is your screenplay about?

It’s a supernatural thriller slasher film where a new killer has come to wreak havoc and mystery in a quiet town by placing atrocious “totems” around. The story soon discovers that a single-mother and her child have some sort of connection to this killer; but why and in what way? As they scramble to unravel the mystery, the killer himself is dealing with his own EXISTENTIAL QUANDARY as to his own purpose.

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

I feel as if this particular story is unique in its set up and its layout, and hasn’t ever really been done. I like to think I take influence from Wes Craven and revitalizing and breathing new life into what is known as a drawn out subject matter. When I write, I try to imagine a film I haven’t seen, or a film I would want to see as a full fledged idea. This is why I feel a new, original (in my eyes) story is one to be seen.

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

Slowly intensifying.

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

Quite a few: probably Nightmare on Elm Street (original) over 25-30 times, Scream about 20+, and Hocus Pocus about 40+ times since 1993.

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

I started the first draft in my screenwriting class in Dec ’13, and it has slowly evolved over the years little by little-it still isn’t even fully complete.

6. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written about 5-7 short scripts, and 2-3 partial full features. Also, I’ve written quite a few short stories, not scripts, for various fiction/creative writing classes and 3/4ths of a novella.

7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?

It actually came to me as I was reading a comic book that involved a former serial killer helping to analyze new crime scenes to help the police, yet he slowly starts to slip back to his ways—I’ll keep the title out to avoid copyrights. And I wanted to, in a sense, explore the psychological aspects of serial killings.

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

Still current. I was able to write the first 10 pages fairly quickly, but I am now only up to about 47 pages and haven’t finished.

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

Film studies/analyzing films. Or just general film viewing and collecting.

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

I’ve always been curious as to the start of this since it does involve dark subject matter and a child and her mother, so when I came across this festival through one of my many script sources I wanted to see if I was heading in a possible right direction and wasn’t too taboo or obscene. I was interested in grabbing the reader quick and taking a thrill ride through a killer’s psyche.

At first I was shocked that they actually understood where I was taking this and that I did a great job to convey the feeling of the story and leave questions for the reader to be wanting more. It felt good to know the script that is my most questionable actually is off to a great start.

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

Keep at it; collect stories, watch the world, write what you know and write what you want, not want the majority wants. Know what your specific audience you are writing for will be and don’t try to cater to everyone. Find your voice.


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