1st Scene from WHEN THERE WAS TIME by James Gillard, Kevin McGruder

Winning 1st Scene Screenplay for June 2016. Watch the reading performed by professional actors.

WHEN THERE WAS TIME  by James Gillard, Kevin McGruder

Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller

Synopsis: When a drug dealer is killed in Harlem, NY, a corrupt cop is ordered to solve the case. A conscious witness in the community steps forward.


DIX – Deney Forrest
MURDOCH – John Lester Phillips
CARL – Christopher Huron
REVEREND – Jeff Sinasic
ANGELA – Tracey Beltrano

Get to know the writers:

1. What is your screenplay about?

When a drug dealer is killed in Harlem, NY, a corrupt cop is ordered to solve the case. A conscious witness in the community steps forward. Unbeknownst to her, her testimony can implicate him, unearths secrets about his partner, and reveals the paralyzing effect of “NO SNITCHING” in the community.

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

This screenplay should be made into a movie because it deals with sensitive polarizing subject of the term “snitching”. Delving into the issues which surround numerous communities and their constant fear of speaking out.

Fear that they won’t be protected and fear of the stigma it places on them if they come forward. . It also takes a look at those people who hold their community in fear with violence because they really have no power

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

insightful, edgy

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

Sugar Hill

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

For 2 years

6. How many stories have you written?

I have written about 40 stories in my life. I am an author or 2 books which feature numerous short stories I have writen
4 plays. 2 movie scripts.

7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?

Gun violence. A changing community which is Harlem, USA.

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

The piece was written originally as a full length play. But in play form the script was too adventurous for the stage. The constant scene changes and cast made it difficult to produce theatrically.

So a decision was made to convert it into a screenplay.

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

I enjoy music. Jazz and hip in particular. I’m passionate about reading and also helping people tell their own stories in different formats – books, plays, movies

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

I was motivated to enter the festival because I wanted to share the script. It was written several years ago and has really been just taking space on my computer. Waiting to be heard.
It was a scene shot for potential producers but that project folded. And I always wanted to put it into a festival or reading event where I could find out what works and doesn’t. I’m still learning the format of screen writing.

I welcomed it. As any writer criticism can be tough but in order to make progress you have to be willing to receive it. And the feedback has been invaluable. Some of the critiques I was aware of and some I wasn’t. Helps me sharpen my pen.

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

be unafraid to share your work. Many people have masterpieces they are sitting on because they are afraid of criticism or they fear it will never get done. We write to create and then to share.

So share continuously — finding new ways to tell your story will help you grow as a writer.


Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo

Editor: John Johnson

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne