Feature Script Performance: I’M STILL HERE, by Sean Elwood (plus interview)

Watch the Feature Screenplay Reading of I’M STILL HERE:


NARRATOR – Sean Kaufman
RYAN – Andrew Farr
MICHELLE – Susan Wilson
DR. ROSENBERG – Julian Ford

Matthew Toffolo interviews winning writer Sean Elwood:

Matthew: What has been your experience going through the WILDsound Festival rounds. From your original submission to the final product of your full feature screenplay reading?

Sean: My experience (working with WILDsound) has been a great one. The festival’s crew has been extremely helpful with their critique toward my screenplay to help make it better and easier to read, and the comments they left will remain with me as I venture on to new screenplays and stories. The readings of my script have allowed me to see the story and the characters come to life—something every screenwriter wants to see, I’m sure.

Matthew: What motivated you to write this screenplay?

Sean: What motivated me to write this screenplay are stories and movies that focus on the same subject matter as seen in I’m Still Here, and wanting to bring something new the table. The idea alone intrigued me enough to really brainstorm about it and add a new twist and vision to it, something that audiences haven’t really seen in a movie. I was also motivated by the visuals in my head when thinking of the scenes as I progressed through the script, and how challenging it was to put it onto paper. I needed it to make sense, while it didn’t make sense—if that makes sense.

Matthew: Without giving away too much of your story, what would you call the place your main character is situated in your screenplay?

Sean: About 95% of I’m Still Here takes place within Ryan’s home—his safe haven. It’s the place that he is most familiar with, yet he can’t shake off the feeling that something about it seems off after he has had his near-death experience. He is stuck in between fear and confusion, as well as determination as he attempts to solve the mystery that surrounds this sudden haunting of his home, or the subtle surrealism that is brought along with it.

Matthew: Have you had previous life experiences with known people who have been in a coma?

Sean: I have not personally known anyone who has been in a coma before, but I have heard and read plenty of stories of people who have either been in a coma, or have known someone who has. Most of the stories have the patients recalling experiencing small, minute things, like remembering what nurses, doctors, or relatives have talked about while having conversations around the patient, and having surreal dreams that almost make sense, but just not quite.

Matthew: How would you describe your main character in one sentence?

Sean: Ryan is a determined, yet sensitive, young gentleman who won’t go down without a fight, even if it breaks him, physically or mentally.

Matthew: This script is written for a low budget/cost movie, but with high potential for box office interest? Was this done on purpose or was this just how the story turned out?

Sean: That is correct, and it was done both on purpose and it was just how the story turned out. I typically enjoy writing screenplays that lean more toward lower budget productions. I feel that the more limited the budget is, the more creative both the writer and the director have to be in order to produce the right atmosphere and storytelling. It has high potential for box office interest because the story is one that will keep you guessing until the end, a story that tests your sanity just as much as it does the characters’, a story that, even after it is over, will keep you thinking and asking questions.

Matthew: What was your favorite TV show when you were a child?

Sean: I actually never really watched too much TV when I was a child. I played outside more than anything, but when I did, my imagination went wild, and I didn’t necessarily need TV to entertain me. However, I did watch some shows, such as “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” and “Goosebumps,” as well as your typical Saturday morning cartoons and nature documentaries. Nothing that inspired me to write the stories that I write in today’s time, but shows that inspired me to write nonetheless.

Matthew: If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?

Sean: Mary Roach. She is an author of non-fiction books on science topics, such as cadavers, ghosts, sex, the digestive system, and astronauts. She is one of the most entertaining non-fiction writers I’ve read where she puts explanations in layman’s terms so that she can include jokes and witty remarks to help make the reader not only understand the subject matter, but laugh at it as well. I have a feeling that she would make one hell of a dinner date.

Matthew: Do you believe in ghosts?

Sean: I would love to believe in them, but out of some of the strange and scary experiences I’ve had before, none have been paranormal enough to where I could consider it ghostly, so I stand in between as a believer and non-believer. However, I find life more exciting to believe that they do exist, and that those bumps in the night are not of the house settling or a tree branch scraping the window, but of something more sinister. It is the “want to believe that they exist” that allows me to love horror and be inspired to write thrilling stories of the supernatural, the scary, and the unknown.

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By WILDsound Festival

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