Watch 1st Scene Script Reading: PROMISES, by Lee Forgang

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

Watch the October 2014 1st Scene Script Winner:

PROMISES, by Lee Forgang

SYNOPSIS:

On the eve of World War II, promises are made as a family is torn apart.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Frances Stecyk
SARAH – Silvina Andrea D’Alessandro
BERTA – Cindy Landerman
ARI – Dan Cristofori
ABE – Neil Bennett
GESTAPO AGENT – Jason Martorino
AGENT #2 – Gabriel Darku

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1st Scene Screenplay – RENAISSANCE MAN by Robert Tolz

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

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

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

Get to know writer Robert Tolz: 

1. What is your screenplay about?

A renaissance faire actress, formerly a Wall Street occupier, and an apparently regular guy visiting the faire fall in love – until she finds out he’s her incredibly rich undercover boss.

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

Because it’s funny, colorful, romantic and engaging, and because it has more on its mind than your standard rom-com.

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

Love transcends

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

Groundhog Day

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

Gestation- 3 to 4 years; Labor- about 6 months.

6. How many stories have you written?

Half a dozen.

7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?

I wanted to tell a fun story about people crossing conventional economic lines, dogmas and expectations – Joseph Campbell in sheep’s clothing.

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

None.

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

The evolution of the human race.

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

I understand that the first few pages of a screenplay are critical to getting the story past the gatekeepers, and I wanted to see whether I was successful. Initial feedback was encouraging and it also appropriately threw light on some needs of the script.

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

You will no doubt be receiving lots of feedback and some of it will be conflicting. It’s your job to separate the wheat from the chaff. You are the ultimate architect of your story.

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Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: John Johnson

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.

CAST LIST:

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.

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Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: John Johnson

1st Scene Screenplay – BEFORE GOD by Stuart Wright

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

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

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Fran Townend
ABE – Jonathan Robbins
SUZANNA – Annie MacKay
GOOFY – John Marcucci

Get to know writer Stuart Wright:

1. What is your screenplay about?

The logline for BEFORE GOD is: After surviving a suicide attempt, a troubled pastor is tormented by visions of a 12 Year Old Boy that force him to confront a suppressed childhood memory.

Thematically it is about a crisis of faith, but not in the usual sense of doubt in the existence of God. Abe Stonehouse is a man who has given his life to the church, but despite his dedication and knowledge of scripture he never believed – ever. He only ever joined the church because he thought if he could gain God’s forgiveness for then he could move on. Only it never happened and before he knew it he’d been a longstanding, valued member of the local diocese. BEFORE GOD blurs the lines between life and death to expose Abe’s true self and offer him salvation.
Tonally it’s inspired by Jacob’s Ladder and Donnie Darko.

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

BEFORE GOD should be made in a movie because it dares to suggest that faith can be learned to fool everyone but yourself. Spiritually speaking this can only lead to personal misery and denial of who you truly are. Rediscovering your one true self proves to be liberating in this life and the next.

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

Dark and Enlightening

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

Time Bandits, Texas Chainsaw Massacre… More recently Only God Forgives enjoys repeat viewings in my house.

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

A couple of years on and off

6. How many stories have you written?

I’ve outlined many stories, but I’ve written ten feature length screenplays… My writing quality gets better with each one… Arguably only the last three or four, including BEFORE GOD, have the potential to be sold or developed into a movie.

7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?

I wrote and produced an award winning short film called FALLEN. As confirmed Atheists, the director and I set out with the ambition of making something that would show how mean God is. However, through the development of the film, and my own personal research interviewing born again Christians, we became increasingly sympathetic to people with faith; differentiating them from organised religion. During the editing process I began to see what we had done together as maybe the end of a film. Brainstorming ideas of how the story got there led me to BEFORE GOD. Writing the screenplay didn’t turn me into a believer, but it steered my resolute atheism a tad closer to agnostic.

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

The structure of BEFORE GOD is non-linear and plays fast and loose with what is real and unreal. It is meant to keep the audience in the dark until the final moments where the curtain is pulled back on my unreliable narration. It was my first serious diversion away from linear and I wanted to make sure the audience didn’t begin to mistrust me as the author because there were too many surprises or not enough clarity about some of the more supernatural elements that are included.

Fundamentally speaking, pun intended, an early draft table read of the short film version exposed our anti-religious bias in our characters. The pointed criticism asked if we believed in God. Proudly we said no. The person giving the feedback said neither do any of your characters. This led to me reaching out to born again Christians, vicars and pastors to interview them about their faith.

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

I am keen podcaster and host the weekly film podcast for britflicks.com. As a writer I shamelessly use to learn from other filmmakers about their process of nailing story and turning that into a film. They’re archived here http://www.britflicks.com/podcasts.aspx and available through iTunes too.

By the early nineties a combination of Public Enemy, Ween, Slayer and Sonic Youth changed everything for me in terms of music I love and would prove to be a platform for a never-ending search for challenging singers and artists. Although I’m a long way from too cool for school as both Todd Rundgren and Bob Seger are fixtures on my MP3 player and turntable alike.

I am a big fan of Liverpool Football Club and enjoy cycling in the British countryside.

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

I value the impact a table read can have on me as a writer when I hear other people tackling my words. Film is a very collaborative medium so it’s imperative to discover how your work is interpreted if you’re to understand its strengths and weaknesses.

The written feedback I received was bittersweet. It told me what I wanted to hear – the transitions were jarring – but it was framed as criticism.

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

The headline advice of writing is rewriting is still worth banging on about. If you think about that notion you’re accepting you have to get it wrong on the page to get it right in the end. This is counter intuitive and must be nurtured as part of your development as a writer. Essentially, if you commit nothing to paper, you’re not writing and you’ll never know if that idea floating around your head works or not.

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Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: John Johnson

Watch 1st Scene Winner: SPARKS by Megan K. Bickel

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

SPARKS by Megan K. Bickel

SYNOPSIS:

A romantic comedy with a sci-fi twist. Dr. Emma Spegal stumbles upon a stranger who reactivates the effects of an old laboratory accident, which sends lightning shooting from her hand. She drags him to her lab to find answers, but instead they find secret plots, hidden agendas, and high-voltage reasons to stick together.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Frances Townend
Charlie – Kaleb Alexander
Emma – Alicia Payne
Barista – Jacqueline Brown

Watch 1st Scene Winner: THE CURSE OF SAM HAIN by Jacob F. Keller

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

THE CURSE OF SAM HAIN by Jacob F. Keller

SYNOPSIS:

The long survivor of a crash landing on a distant world becomes the surprising savior to the aborigines facing genocide.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Frances Townend
Belenus – Sean Ballantyne
Sam Hain- Neil Kulin
Daughter – Julia Vally
Rider – Kaleb Alexander
Wife – Jacqueline Brown
Man #1 – Charles Gordon
Man #1 – Rob Salerno

Watch 1st Scene Winner: THE ARV by Joshua Collins

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

THE ARV by Joshua Collins

SYNOPSIS:

A film is about a lethal obsession and how it can alter a persons perception of their world. As well as a very uncovered subject matter(in film)–aero-technology.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Fran Townend
ALAYAS – Sean Ballantyne
MARK/MARDALE – Peter Nelson
VOICE OVER – Becky Shrimpton
Steven – Bubba