Watch the January 2017 Winning TV SPEC Screenplay Reading.
Genre: Comedy, Family
After refusing to fulfill Claire’s request to hire tree trimmers, Phil, with Luke’s help, takes matters into his own hands; Claire and Mitchell attempt to have a relaxing getaway; Gloria has problems trusting the Dunphys.
How does this screenplay fit into the context of this show?
When the idea for this story came to me, I knew it would be able to fit in nicely with the rest of the series. The conflict that arises from the three separate storylines converge in a way that I have definitely witnessed on the show before.
How would you describe this script in two words?
What TV show do you keep watching over and over again?
I have a problem with continuously re-watching, not only Modern Family, but also How I Met Your Mother. These two shows have great strengths in both writing comedy, and in writing characters we care about. I love seeing that in a comedy and hope to create something similar in my own writing.
How long have you been working on this screenplay?
I started this screenplay in the Summer of 2016 while pursuing a Screenwriting Certificate from NYU. It took me about the entire summer, with the help of my professor and my fellow classmates, to establish a good first draft. From there it went through many revisions until it was in it’s strongest form by around the end of December.
How many stories have you written?
Although this is my first spec script that I have written, I’ve written and produced a number short films (one that has gone on to be nominated for Best Screenplay at some festivals), I’ve written a feature, and most recently I finished a Two-Act comedy play that will be produced and performed around the end of April.
What motivated you to write this screenplay?
Last Summer, before I even thought about writing this spec, I had been helping my father cut down trees around the yard. My mother begged him to hire professionals instead of doing it himself, but he thought it would save time and money. Well, a few days later as I was helping him cut down a rather large tree in our front yard, we miscalculated where it would fall and it ended up crashing into the top of our house. The A story of my script follows, almost exactly, this chain of events. After this occurred during the Summer, I had so many people telling that it would fit very well into an episode of Modern Family, so I decided to bring it to life.
What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
There were numerous obstacles that I faced when finishing this screenplay. It went through so many changes during my revision process and before even sending it to festivals, there was a point where I basically scrapped half of it and started over. The reason for this was due to the three complex storylines that intertwine throughout the script. I knew where I wanted them to go and how I wanted it all to end, however, it was getting them all to that point that had me scratching my head and scrapping rewrite after rewrite. In the end though, I feel that it came together very nicely.
Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
I really enjoy doing anything that has to do with music. I play a number of instruments, including guitar and a little bit of piano, but I have recently got into the habit of trying to learn even more instruments. Most recently, I have picked up the drums and the trumpet.
What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
Initially the biggest thing that made me want to enter this festival was the recorded performance of our written scripts if we were to win. After receiving my notes from the festival though, I would say that I now have two big reasons to submit to this festival again in the future. The notes I received were very well thought out and helped me immensely during my most recent revision of the script. The festival put a lot of effort into making the notes as thorough and helpful as possible.
Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
The best advice I could give other writers would be to power through. There are times where you might think that you need to take a break from your writing and step back, maybe giving yourself an hour or a week to think about the story and your characters before you continue. I know in my experience though, that an hour turns into five and a week can turn into a month. If you sit down and write out your story, no matter how terrible it might seem to you, just know that the revision will always be better. Revisions can’t happen though, unless you actually write the script.
Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson