November 2018 – Read the best of Screenwriter Interviews

Interviews by Matthew Toffolo

Touch the link and read 22 different interviews with the best of new screenwriters from around the world.

Louric Rankine (SQUAD)
Interview with Screenwriter Louric Rankine (SQUAD)

Nicholas Julius (MYTHATANIA)
Interview with Screenwriter Nicholas Julius (MYTHATANIA)

Stephen Witty (WHITTAKER ALGER AND DICK)
Interview with Screenwriter Stephen Witty (Whittaker, Alger, and Dick)

Marc Gatschner (OF THE SEA)
Interview with Screenwriter Marc Gatschner (OF THE SEA)

Michael Preston (INHERIT-LY GAY)
Interview with Screenwriter Michael Preston (Inherit-ly Gay)

Alexander Stathis (HOMEFRONT)
Interview with Screenwriter Alexander Stathis (HOMEFRONT)

Joel Stern (THE WAITING ROOM)
Interview with Screenwriter Joel Stern (THE WAITING ROOM)

Chima Idigo (MEAT)
Interview with Screenwriter Chima Idigo (MEAT)

Anthony Cicchelli (MILE HIGH ROOM)
Interview with Screenwriter Anthony Cicchelli (MILE HIGH ROOM)

Karen Matthews (PANDORA)
Interview with Screenwriter Karen Matthews (PANDORA)

Suzanne Lutas (THE DEAD RINGER: THE GRAND JURY)
Interview with Screenwriter Suzanne Lutas (The Dead Ringer, The Grand Jury)

Brandon Gillum (CADENCE OF THE BATTLE CRY)
Interview with Screenwriter Brandon Gillum (CADENCE OF THE BATTLE CRY)

James Grayford (THE FRANCHISE)
Interview with Screenwriter James Grayford (THE FRANCHISE)

Joshua Ashburn (A BRIEF WORD ON HYPERSLEEP)
Interview with Screenwriter Joshua Ashburn (A Brief Word on Hypersleep Studies: Chiliagon)

Connie Corcoran Wilson (CONFESSIONS OF AN APOTEMNOPHILE: I THINK I AM)
Interview with Writer Connie (Corcoran) Wilson (CONFESSIONS OF AN APOTEMNOPHILE: I THINK I AM)

Michael De Sapio (INCREDIBLE LIFE OF JOEY COLETTA)
Interview with Screenwriter Michael De Sapio (Incredible Life of Joey Coletta)

Paul Watkins (KENOBI: A STAR WARS STORY)
Interview with Screenwriter Paul Watkins (Kenobi: A Star Wars Story)

Rodgers Wilson (ELLA WITNESSING)
Interview with Screenwriter Rodgers Wilson (ELLA, WITNESSING)

John Renney (THE CULTISTS)
Interview with Screenwriter John Renney (THE CULTISTS)

Isaac Sweeney (SHOOTING)
Interview with Screenwriter Isaac Sweeney (SHOOTING)

Peter Lloyd (STREET LAW)
Interview with Screenwriter Peter Lloyd (STREET LAW)

Michael Head (LIGHTKEEPERS)
Interview with Screenwriter Michael Head (LIGHTKEEPERS)

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October 2018 – Read Interviews with the best of NEW Poetry and Writers

Interviews by Matthew Toffolo

Touch the link and read 9 different interviews with the best of new writers and poets from around the world.

Interview with Poet Lauren White (First Contact)
Interview with Poet Lauren White (First Contact)

Interview with Poet Susan L. Brown (Response To 8 Philosophers)
Interview with Poet Susan L. Brown (Response To 8 Philosophers)

Interview with Poet Sam Allen (Viola’s Rebellion)
Interview with Poet Sam Allen (Viola’s Rebellion)

Interview with Writer Pat Jourdan (DECEMBER)
Interview with Writer Pat Jourdan (DECEMBER)

Interview with Writer Peter Inson (HATS OFF TO THE TEACHERS, SMASHED)
Interview with Writer Peter Inson (HATS OFF TO THE TEACHERS, SMASHED)

Interview with Writer Diane Elliott (Remembering Momma)
Interview with Writer Diane Elliott (Remembering Momma)

Interview with Nia Markos (ELEMENTS: BOOK ONE)
Interview with Nia Markos (ELEMENTS: BOOK ONE)

Interview with Novelist James Charles (Spirit Of The Amaroq)
Interview with Novelist James Charles (Spirit Of The Amaroq)

Interview with Novelist Bogdan Dzakovic (FORTRESS OF DECEIT)
Interview with Novelist Bogdan Dzakovic (FORTRESS OF DECEIT)

Interview with Kevin McLaughlin, Founder Boardwalk Film Festival

The First Annual Boardwalk Film Festival with be premiering in September
of 2016 in Asbury Park at the beautiful New Jersey Shore. The BFF promises to be one of the key events on the film festival circuit. They will kick off a long weekend of films and events that is sure to become a must-attend festival for filmmakers and film lovers far and wide.

Kevin smallerWriter/Director Kevin McLaughlin founded the Boardwalk Film Festival, an annual 4 day event taking place in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

Go to http://www.boardwalkfilm.com/ and learn more about the festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What is the festival attempting to accomplish for filmmakers and the attendees? 

Kevin McLaughlin: We want to give filmmakers and film fans everything that any good festival does: First, we offer a great screening experience in a quality venue and the opportunity to see new and unknown works and meet the people behind them.  Secondly, we’re making sure that there are numerous opportunities for networking and making connections, both personal and professional. And most importantly, we want the festival to be a fun, welcoming event that people will want to put on their calendars year after year.

Matthew: There are a lot of film festivals out there. How will the Boardwalk Film Festival separate itself from the pack with its first annual festival?

Kevin: The BFF will be different from most festivals in several ways. First, we won’t be showing any films that glorify or

trivialize violence.  There are a lot of great films being made that don’t involve blowing people’s heads off, and we want to insure that they have a venue in which to be celebrated.  We’re also honoring storytelling, and the people who do it well.  Unfortunately, a lot of indie filmmakers will create a beautiful-looking film that just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  We’re more interested in a well-told story that entertains and informs.  Finally, we intend to honor the filmmakers above all.  I think it’s important to remember that if it weren’t for the filmmakers, there would be no film festivals.

I also think it’s important for the festival to give a true picture of the community to which it belongs.  There are other festivals in the region that have a festival director and a programming staff, none of whom live in the state. How could they possibly represent the community?  We’ll do that much better because we are truly a part of this community, and most of us have been for all our lives.

Matthew: How did the festival get started? 

Kevin: As a veteran filmmaker, I’ve screened my films at a number of festivals, I’ve attended several major festivals, and I’ve worked at a couple of festivals as well, and I’ve always thought that I could do it better. Too often, festivals are run by bankers and businesspeople who just want to boost the economy of their town. I thought it was important to have a festival run by filmmakers who understand the needs of the indie filmmaker. So I gathered a number of people I’ve done productions with over the years, and started this festival from the ground up.  We’re adding more people to our team all the time, and as we gain sponsors and supporters, the team becomes more rounded and broad-based, but at the core is a group of people who understand and revere filmmaking and that will be reflected in this event.

Matthew: Where do you see the festival in 5 years? 

Kevin: I’d like to see our festival become an important date on the calendar of every filmmaker and film lover. I know we’re not going to be challenging Sundance for the top spot anytime soon, but I think that east-coast filmmakers and film lovers will come to know us as a must-see festival every September.

Matthew: How is the film scene in Asbury Park?

Kevin: The arts scene in general is booming in Asbury Park.  In a city that’s best-known for its music scene, artists of all stripes are a key component.  The city has numerous art galleries and there is a small community of filmmakers as well.  There’s another film festival in town – the Asbury Park Music in Film Festival, which only shows films about music (that’s why we DON’T show music films) and while they just launched last year, they’re off to a great start.  There’s no limit to what can happen here.  Travel & Leisure magazine recently named Asbury Park among the ten best places to travel to in the whole world!

Matthew: How many films do you anticipate showcasing at your 2016 Film Festival?

Kevin: We’re still working out the details of our screening schedule, but we will probably be showing about 30 feature-length films and around 70 to 80 short films.

Matthew: Can you give us a sneak peak of what to expect for the 2016 Festival?

Kevin: FUN!  That will be the most-used word you’ll hear on the boardwalk that weekend.  We’ll have films, parties, the beach, and lots of great people coming together to celebrate their love of film. We have some great sponsors that will be hosting events in some of the city’s famous venues right alongside the Atlantic Ocean, and in mid-September, the crowds are gone but the weather is still beautiful.

Matthew: What do people living at the Jersey Shore think of that infamous reality show based on the area?

Kevin: I’m so glad you asked that. There is no doubt that the LEAST popular TV show in this area is MTV’s Jersey Shore.  A fact most TV fans are not aware of is that NONE of the people on that show were from New Jersey, and the image they present is not remotely what The Shore is about. Visitors to the Boardwalk Film Festival will see an environment that bears no resemblance. You’ll meet people who are educated and articulate, who go TO THE BEACH when they want to get a tan!

Matthew: What’s the best place to eat at the Jersey Shore?  

Kevin: Well, a lot of people don’t realize that the Jersey Shore is an area over 140 miles long, encompassing hundreds of little towns, each with its own personality and hot spots.  In Asbury Park, where the Boardwalk Film Festival takes place, you’ve got a small town with over 60 restaurants, clubs, and brew pubs.  That includes five-star spots like Moonstruck and Porta, along with more casual places like The Wonder Bar or Johnny Macs, where you get free pizza anytime you buy a drink! There’s even a food truck park where, in one spot, you can get Korean Tacos, Peruvian food, and New Jersey’s favorite guilty pleasure, Pork Roll and Cheese!  The festival shuttle bus will stop at a lot of these spots, so you can judge for yourself which one is the best.

Matthew: How are people in New Jersey reacting to your Governor, who is currently running for president?   

Kevin: I myself was never a fan, and I think since he’s been running for president, Chris Christie has lost many of the fans he did have here. His approval rating is down around 33 percent.  Don’t mention his name to any teachers here unless you want to hear a tirade of negative sentiment.  He’s no more popular among filmmakers, since he killed the tax credit program the state had for film production.

Matthew: What film have you seen the most in your life? 

Kevin: That’s a tough one, since there are a number of old favorites that I’ll watch over and over again – The Wizard of OZ, The Graduate, The Jerk, Citizen Kane, The Grapes of Wrath, A Christmas Story, Rocky, Blade Runner… the list goes on and on. Any time Titanic pops up on my TV, I just can’t change the channel!

—–

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is a multiple award winning short filmmaker. He is currently the CEO of the weekly WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival.

Interviewee Kevin McLaughlin graduated from Seton Hall University, earning a Master’s Degree in Television and Film from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.

His credits include everything from elementary school science programs to America’s Most Wanted and The Uncle Floyd Show. He most recently served as Head Writer and Supervising Producer on Where Health Works, a 3-part series created for PBS TV.

THEIR MISSION 

The Boardwalk Film Festival was created to bring arts, culture, commerce, notoriety, and good public relations to the New Jersey Shore.  The annual festival will provide a platform for exhibition of a wide variety of films, some of which would not otherwise be available to the local population.  The BFF will have a special emphasis on well-told stories that don’t rely on violence for their dramatic energy.

Movie Review: THE LADY IN THE VAN (2015)

the_lady_in_the_van_poster.jpgTHE LADY IN THE VAN (UK 2015) ***1/2
Directed by Nicholas Hytner

Review by Gilbert Seah

There are several reasons to watch the new Maggie Smith, Nicholas Hytner and Alan Bennette collaboration of THE LADY IN THE VAN. For one, it is based mostly on a true story – the words that appear on the screen at the film’s start, signifying a modest comedy on life. And with an equally number of pleasures as well to be derived from the film.

Adapted from the based-on-fact hit West End play by Bennett (best known for THE MADNESS OF KING GEORGE), the film’s title referring to a high-born homeless woman, known as Miss Shepherd (Dame Maggie Smith) fallen on hard times who finds temporary shelter parking her van in Bennett’s driveway — for fifteen years. It is a chronicle of the unlikely friendship between the writer (played by Alex Jennings) and the elderly eccentric who takes over his driveway.

The play and script is smart enough to have two protagonists – Miss Shepherd and Bennett. Bennett is seen as a double in the film. As explained – there is the man that writes and the one that lives. They speak to one another, the equivalent of the man talking to himself. He gives himself a perspective of his life, humorously as well as dramatically. He is a timid fellow, kind enough to look after his ailing mother as well as Miss Shepherd. In contrast, Miss Shepherd is ornery, impolite, and bullying Not all there, she claims to take advice from the Virgin Mary. And she smells bad. There is a mystery about the woman that is kept from Bennett and the audience but all is revealed by the end of the film. But Bennett, despite his very private nature, takes pity on her and says she can stay there for three months.
Miss Shepherd is seen to be one that hates music. She screams and scares away children that play music outside her van. But she has studied music in Paris and plays the piano. The reason for her current behaviour is an intriguing one, and one that Hytner uses to full effect.

But besides being a film about friendship and old age, it is mostly a film about life. The film depicts the bit seedy yet very respectable London neighbourhood of Camden Town (on the Northern Tube line). (I am proud to say I have lived there – though as a tourist and guest for 15 days and the film brings a good effective feel in of neighbourhood chivalry and friendliness.) The message about life in the film is an obvious one, though one mostly ignored. It is stated clearly at the end – to love life is to start living. It is, put subtly, in the writing of Bennett’s character – that he is not to put himself in the writing but to find himself in the writing.

Maggie Smith bares all in the film and she is not afraid of looking old, haggard and ugly for the role. It is a completely different role from her Oscar winning THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE. She would get my vote for her second Oscar.

THE LADY IN A VAN is a tale of life, playfully funny and authentically set in Camden Town, London. Great performances in a film relatively well directed from a clever script full of ripe dialogue.

the_lady_in_the_van_yellow_van

Movie Review of the short poetry film “Hammer”

“Hammer” played at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival, part of its October 2015 best of horror/thriller short films from around the word event. 

First off, watch the Poetry Film NOW:

Read Movie Review of HAMMER by Amanda Lomonaco:

While Hammer lacked a lot of the excitement and action that went along with the other films of the night, I still can’t deny how interesting the concept was. Like all experimental films, there will probably be a strong love/hate split between anyone who see sthis film, but I’ve always been a big proponent of experimental filmmaking.

Pushing the boundaries of any medium is incredibly important to highlighting and understanding its limitations, as well as helping us understand our own psyche. That might seem like a bit of a snobbish reason to justify experimental films, which can be pretty snobbish themselves sometimes, but its something many people don’t consider. Our reactions to new things can teach us a lot about ourselves, and about those around us, so it can be fun sometimes to give these films a try.

The poem that is narrated in Hammer is beautiful and original on its own; taking the perspective of a murder weapon as the narrator. The pictures that acompany the narration, superimposed, blurry, and dark, help emphasize the eeriness of the words. The closeups, forced perspective, and lack of clarity of the images also highlight the narrator’s perspective as an object, rather than a living thing. The merger between both mediums enhances both mediums equally, and puts you in an interesting space, both as an audience member, and as a listener, or reader.

Here is where I admit my massive bias; I am a Halloween freak. I love horror films, gore, SPFX make-up, dressing up, getting scared, gorging on candy, all of it. Naturally, I would always be more inclined to like this kind of film, regardless of the subject matter. Of course not ALL horror films pass the test, but the uniqueness of this one stood out to me. I wouldn’t recommend this film to everyone, but if you’re a fan of the gothic, Poe, melancholic style of horror, you’ll definitely appreciate this one.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of HAMMER:

Movie Review of the short film “Boudoir”

“Boudoir” played at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival at the October 2015 best of horror/thriller short films. 

BOUDOIR, 9min, US, Horror/Mystery
Directed by Gina Lee Ronhovde

An agoraphobic photographer is psychologically tortured by a mysterious client during a routine boudoir photography session, escalating into a battle to stay alive.

Read the movie review of “Boudoir” by Amanda Lomonaco

No. Just no. I spent this entire film excited to hear what I was hoping would be hilariously negative comments about it during mediation, and was incredibly disappointed when I heard its praise. As if it wasn’t enough that the film itself had disappointed me.

Some of this is my own fault. I didn’t realize some of the bad acting in the film was actually intentional. Probably because I didn’t recognize the actress originally (apparently she’s famous – oops!). In any case, I was entirely too distracted by the poor acting to allow myself to actually enjoy the film. With the enlightenment of the comments raised during the mediation period, I could probably have appreciated this film a little more, but I still don’t think I would give it a thumbs up.

The concept itself is kind of cool. It even has a little bit of an air of Black Swan to it; some lesbian implications, a tortured artist with just a dash of schizophrenia, an apparent murder that turns out to be suicide… If you’ve seen Aronofsky’s film this will all sound familiar. Quite a few people in the audience really did seem to enjoy it, although I don’t know how much of that was driven by the supporting character’s celebrity.

Yes, I am being incredibly harsh and bias in this review, but reviews are supposed to be a matter of opinion, so I’m simply giving you my own. This was the weakest film in what would have otherwise been a flawless line up for October’s WILDSound Feedback Film Festival, but I suppose you just can’t please everybody all the time.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of BOUDOIR:

Movie Review of the short film “The Blood Of Love”

“The Blood of Love” is a multiple award winning horror/romance short film. It won BEST FILM at the WILDsound October FEEDBACK Film Festival, part of their best of Horror Short Film event. 

THE BLOOD OF LOVE, 19min, USA, Horror/Thriller
Directed by Jeff Meyers

Unwilling to accept the death of her husband, a young widow, acquires a machine that can bring him back to her. But the machine exacts a terrible price: she must provide the blood it needs to revive her beloved. And it starts demanding more and more blood for less and less time.

Read movie review of THE BLOOD OF LOVE by Amanda Lomonaco

There are so many ways in which I loved this film, I’m afraid I won’t even be able to fit it in this review, or that I’ll even be able to describe them properly. So many elements of this film were equal parts clever, funny, creepy, & ironic. What’s best, Jeff Meyers seems to have found the all too elusive balance between telling too much or too little.

You can’t say much about The Blood of Love without revealing the whole plot line. It’s a pretty unique story in itself, but I can start by saying the best part is the end. Not the “official” end, but the end after the credits, when you think the story has finished, and then Meyers steps in with one final jab to wrap the story up a little better. In fact, both endings are funny, and I would have felt satisfied regardless of which one I had viewed, which is a rarity in and of itself.

The one pitfall of the film that I would have to point out is the lack of chemistry between the two characters. While their acting was great, and the scripting was all very natural, everytime I saw things get a little more sexually charged between them I wanted to cringe just a little. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t awful, I might just be nitpicky with this one, but I definitely got the sense that, despite their talent, those two people did NOT want to be kissing each other.

Somehow none of that ruined the film for me. I’m not sure if I should thank the editor for minimizing the instances of intimacy between the two main characters, or if that was simply a directorial choice from the get-go. Nevertheless I never felt at any point like the story was lacking. It was always fun, it was always entertaining, it kept me wanting to see more, and yet when it was over, I was sufficiently satisfied. I always say a good short film leaves you wanting more, but this is one of the few cases where I will say, at 20 minutes, The Blood of Love was about the perfect length.

Don’t expect too much from this one if you’re all about guts and glory, but if you’re a fan of clever plotlines with a healthy dose of irony, give this one a go. Even if you don’t enjoy your average, everyday horror film, I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of this one. Meyers definitely seems to have found a little bit of something to please all audiences.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of THE BLOOD OF LOVE: