1st Scene Screenplay – ELISSA OF TYRE by Alan Mehanna

Submit your First Scene to the Festival: http://firstscenescreenplay.com

Watch Table Reading of the March 2016 Winning First Scene Screenplay.


NARRATOR – Fran Townend
ELISSA – Annie MacKay
BALTHAZAAR – Jonathan Robbins
PYGMALION – John Marcucci
LAZURUS/ACHERBUS – Sean Ballantyne

Get to know writer Alan Mehanna:

1. What is your screenplay about?

TYRE 820 BC – the death of the king causes ripples within the city as politics take over and the citizens fight over who between his two heirs should take the throne in his place. This is the origin story of Elissa, Princess of Tyre and how she rose to become the legendary Phoenician Queen.

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

“Films communicate information and ideas, and they show us places and ways of life we might not otherwise know.” One of my favorite quotes from Film Art by David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson and I believe it truly answers this question. Too often now in cinema the Middle East is portrayed negatively and as a Lebanese American screenwriter I believe it is my job to bring about better portrayals of my culture and my world.

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

Historical Drama.

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

A tie between Empire Strikes Back and The Two Towers.

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

Three years.

6. How many stories have you written?

Around 10.

7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?

I have always had an interest in ancient history and being Lebanese, the Phoenicians are our ancestors. Elissa, before becoming Queen of Carthage, was a Phoenician princess and while
researching Phoenician history, I connected with her story. I lived in America for 13 years and in Lebanon for the same amount so I have always used that to tell tales that have universal
themes. I, also, loved the fact that she was a strong woman from the Middle East.

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

The Phoenicians never left records of their history, so I had to read Greek accounts, Roman accounts, as well as others to try and create a path for the film I was going to write. Nailing down the factual part of the screenplay was the hardest.

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

I love acting. My father is a known actor in Lebanon, so I guess I inherited this.

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

I wanted to finally start exposing myself as a screenwriter and nothing works better than taking a leap and throwing one’s work out there. I loved the initial feedback because it shed some light on what wasn’t working in the screenplay and once I applied what was said in the notes, I noticed the difference.

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

Always be open to listening to feedback and notes. It’s sometimes eye-opening. When you are writing you get so close to the characters, the conflict, and the world of your story that you can sometimes miss some opportunities that could strengthen the screenplay.

Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: John Johnson