Erica Barfield Peterson – December 2016 TV Screenplay Winner

Written by Erica Peterson
Read 10 Questions with the writerCAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Michelle Alexander
MARK – Ucal Shillingford
JANICE/ALEXIS – Angela Cavallin
PHARMACIST – Sean Ballantyne
BETT – Chris Reid Geisler


Genre: Comedy, Horror

On his 40th birthday, Leatherface has decided it’s time to “find his truth,” so he reaches out to the one person who can help him… his only victim that got away.

Get to know the winning writer:

1. What is your screenplay about?

It’s the story of Leatherface (from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) turning 40 and realizing the life he’s been living may not be the life he wants. Maybe he doesn’t want to hack people to death. Maybe he doesn’t want to eat people at every meal. Maybe he loves candle making but will never know until he goes on a journey to find his truth, and the only way he knows how to do that is with the aid of his one victim who got away – Mark. Mark survived, lived to tell the tale and even wrote a book about how he learned to live his truth because of what he went through. It’s an Odd Couple story in which both Mark and Leatherface realize how much they can truly help each other find their truths.

2. How does this episode fit into the context of the series?

I think it makes a great buddy comedy. You have two people trying to figure out how they want to live their lives and can only do so with the help of the other. One being a semi-successful self-help author and the other is a murderous psychopath. Each episode the two characters can have new goals of things they either will or won’t want as a part of their new lives. Leatherface has never dated before, never driven — basically never done much other than kill people, so there’s definitely an engine for plenty of stories. Mark is scared of life and wants to learn how to live it to the fullest which is also a great engine for many stories. I think it’s something we’ve never seen before in terms of pairing comedy and horror in the odd couple sense for a TV series.

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

Delightfully Psycho.

4. What TV show do you watch over and over again?

Arrested Development is by far my favorite. That and anything that profiles serial killers.

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

I worked on this particular pilot for three months.

6. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written 10 specs and 7 pilots.

7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?

I’m obsessed with the genre blend of horror and comedy. I had just seen “What We Do In The Shadows” and was like, “That’s what I want to do!” I kind of knew that all along because my favorite movie is “Young Frankenstein,” and I adore “Shaun of the Dead” but it just clicked that day, and I knew I had found my niche. I’m also so fascinated by Leatherface because we never hear him speak and I always wondered — would his life be different if he was taken in by a more “normal” family. Does he ever want to tell his mama to shove off cause he just wants to listen to music or kiss a girl? — so I wanted to explore the question of what would he be like if he came to that realization himself.

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

None, really. This was one of those times where I loved every moment of writing this because it’s something I am passionate about so it made it fun. I couldn’t wait to finish to get feedback and make it better and better.

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

I love to dance (was a semi-professional football cheerleader — will not tell you the team name because there are embarrassing photos out there), animals, fighting for the rights of others, making people laugh, sleep and donuts (GOD I LOVE DONUTS).

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

I wanted to see what people thought of my script. Sometimes you give your writing to people and worry that they’re just being nice because they know you — with this — you didn’t have to be nice, and you were wonderful! The feedback was great and encouraging. Now I just gotta get those rights from Tobe Hooper!

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

Just keep writing and always write. Write what you’re passionate about – not what you think other people want to read. Read scripts – lots of them. Nail down structure and story — if you can get those two things done well then the rest is a piece of cake. Also, forget doubting yourself. You’re not here to please anyone but yourself. If you’re writing to make money and wouldn’t write if you couldn’t make money — maybe you shouldn’t be a writer. And always be willing to take feedback — especially if you get the same note from several people. The goal is to get better and not think that you are already the best.


Producer/Director: Matthew Toffolo

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: John Johnson

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