Tag Archives: chris huron

Watch Selected Scenes from screenplay TO DIE IN TENNESSEE

Mostly, it was positive things we heard about WILDsound and Matthew Toffolo. Also, for me, there’s a certain affinity for Canada. We used to get Canadian movies on the Bravo channel. I’ve never forgotten the sweeping prairies in a little-known Canadian film titled, “The Greening of Ian Elliot” or the frozen wilderness in “Lost in The Barrens.” Setting can be such a vital part of a story. That’s the way I see TO DIE IN TENNESSEE. The setting is almost a character in itself. It’s an adversary. The men of the Expedition fought the elements. They were bitten by snakes and chased by bears. They were almost drowned in their sleep when the river suddenly changed course, prompting Frenchman Pierre Cruzatte to say, “The river, she is like jealous woman. Stab you with knife while you sleep. Is not for nothing they call her the troubled waters.”

– Verlynn Kneifl & Laurie Larsen, on why they submitted to the WILDsound Screenplay Festival (Review)

    Watch the Selected Scenes:

    Genre: Drama Historical/Biographical

    Synopsis: William Clark recalls the perilous Lewis & Clark Expedition and its aftermath, casting a startling new perspective on the impetuous life and mysterious death of fellow explorer Meriwether Lewis.

    CAST LIST:

    NARRATOR – Becky Shrimpton
    WILLIAM CLARK – Julian Ford
    WILLARD – Andy Bridge
    MERIWETHER LEWIS – Chris Huron
    PETER CRUZATTE – Aaron Rothermund
    THOMAS JEFFERSON – Sean Ballantyne

Q&A with co-writer Verlynn Kneifl

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

VK: William Clark recalls the perilous Lewis & Clark Expedition and its aftermath, casting a startling new perspective on the impetuous life and mysterious death of his fellow explorer, Meriwether Lewis. Lewis died on his way to Washington to defend actions he’d taken as governor of Louisiana. He was troubled. He was known to be ill, probably with malaria. He died at Grinder’s Stand, an isolated accommodation for travelers on the Natchez Trace. James Neelly, a man of dubious character, informed Thomas Jefferson that Lewis had died by his own hand. Neelly was later known to be in possession of some of Lewis’s personal effects, including a set of custom-made pistols. No formal investigation was ever conducted into Lewis’s death. Lost in the pages of history were the words of a witness, a black man who insisted until the day of his death that Governor Lewis was murdered at Grinder’s Stand.

MT: Why should this script be made into a movie?

VK: The Lewis & Clark Expedition was one of the most dramatic and colorful events in American history, yet with the exception of Ken Burns’ documentary, the only film ever based on this event was the 1955 movie, “The Far Horizons.” Since then, a great deal of historical material has become available about this epic endeavor and the two very different men who commanded it. Also, more than two centuries later, the question is still debated. How did Lewis die? Was it suicide or murder?

MT: How long have you been writing stories?

VK: My first article was published in 1972. It was an article about the ancient art of dowsing. A practicing dowser taught me the technique and I’ve been doing it ever since. I eventually moved on to fiction, which allows more freedom to develop interesting plots and characters.

MT: What movie have you seen the most in your life?

VK: Dances With Wolves.

MT: What artists would you love to work with?

VK: Directors Kevin Costner, Lasse Hallstrom or James Cameron. I also wonder what Alexander Payne would do with a script like this. I’d love to see Colin Firth as Meriwether Lewis. Lewis was President Thomas Jefferson’s secretary. He was eloquent. He was stylish in manner and dress. He oversaw Jefferson’s dinner parties and on one occasion even delivered Jefferson’s address to Congress. William Clark? Nothing “pretty” about him. He was the youngest of the “fighting Clarks” of Revolutionary War fame. His brother was the famous General George Rogers Clark, dubbed “Long Knife” by the Indians. Harriet Kennerly said of William Clark, “My pretty cousin is going to marry that homely man?”.

MT: How many stories/screenplays have you written?

VK: Laurie and I have written eleven large-cast stage plays. All have been produced, with some performed all over the United States and in Canada. I’ve had maybe thirty-six articles published, some poetry and a number of short stories. A melodrama and two short stories won area awards. I served as editor and wrote some of the articles in Lindy Lore, a collection of stories about the colorful Lindy community where I once resided. Lindy Lore was well-received, went into a second printing and is now sold out. I’m currently working on a novel set in the Sandhills region of Nebraska, just north of the Dismal River.

MT: Ideally, where would you like to be in 5 years?

VK: Taking time off from finishing our next screenplay to sit in a theater watching TO DIE IN TENNESSEE

MT: Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?

VK: Laurie provided most of the ideas for our stage plays. The theme for my novel came to me in its entirety. I knew the ending before I began. Rule of law: The farther I am from the computer, the more talkative my characters become. A line of dialogue, even a single word, can prompt a scene. I end up with multiple scenes in absolutely no chronological order. I’ll go back later and try to tame the beast. Finding time to write is the most difficult part of the process for me. Left alone, I’m likely to write all night and be awakened all day by the telephone and doorbell. I think I must have been born parked at an angle in a parallel parking world.

MT: Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

VK: Reading, the great outdoors, and music. For me, music conveys all that’s left unsaid in movies. In “Castaway,” Alan Silvestri’s sound track speaks volumes in the scene where Tom Hanks has finally managed to navigate the coral reefs imprisoning him; he’s rowing away into the unknown, looking back at the island that has been his home for four years. Laurie especially appreciates music. She’s an accomplished musician in her own right.

MT: Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

VK: Read. Read everything. Scripts, plays, books, articles, short stories, newspapers. Analyze. Be on the lookout for an idea, a theme, something that excites you. Ask yourself, “What if?” I read a newspaper article with a one-line reference to the secrecy surrounding the burial place of Jack McCall, who gunned down Wild Bill Hickock in 1876. I ended up with an award-winning short story after I asked myself, What if Jack McCall was still alive? What if years ago, he intercepted a young newspaper reporter who’d gone to a rest home to interview a woodcarver? What if he told the reporter, “I got a story for you. It wasn’t me they hung in Yankton 1877. It was an actor claimin’ to be me.” Imagine your characters. Ask them questions. If your characters start talking to you at odd moments of the day, the rest will likely take care of itself.

Matthew Toffolo, Interviewer BIO

Matthew Toffolo is the current CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival. He had worked for the organization since its inception in 2007 serving as the Short Film Festival’s moderator during the Audience Feedback sessions.

Filmmaker of over 20 short films and TV episodes. Took over full reins of the WILDsound Festival in May 2013. From then to the end of 2014, he’s presented over 90 movies at the monthly FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto, plus has had over 60 screenplays and stories performed by professional actors at the bi-monthly Writing Festival.

Go to http://www.wildsound.ca and submit your film, script, or story to the festival.

Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com and watch recent and past winning writing festival readings.

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David Redstone Winning Feature Screenplay – Fleet Week: Evanscence

For unproduced writers, the real frustration after keystroking “The End” is trying to get noticed.  There are so few outlets to present your material.  WILDsound appeals to me because my work now migrates from an unread concept into a produced staging, easily accessible by industry pros.

 – David Redstone, on the WILDsound Screenplay Festival (Review)

Based on David Redstone’s Sci-Fi/Drama novel, FLEET WEEK: EVANSCENCE is the December 2014 WILDsound Feature Screenplay Winner.

    Watch the Full Winning Reading Here:

    SYNOPSIS:

    A Navy ex-SEAL goes independently active to rescue his kidnapped niece from the ghostly world of undersea ‘Neathers’.

    CAST LIST:

    NARRATOR – Becky Shrimpton
    KRYSTEL JANELLI – Erin Boyes
    TOM GILMORE – Julian Ford
    DEREK GARNET – Andy Bridge
    CAPTAIN BERTREL – Chris Huron
    RAY KELVIN – Aaron Rothermund
    VARIOUS PEOPLE – Frances Townend

Q&A with writer David Redstone:

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Fleet Week reveals the initial clash between our world of Topsiders and an undersea world of ‘Neathers. The crews of certain warships sunk during World War II became rejuvenated as oceanic ghosts. They existed in isolation for decades – their minds imprisoned by horrifying images of their own violent deaths and that of their shipmates. Advancing technology finally gives ‘Neathers brief windows of time to go topside and enjoy some of the good things in life that had been denied them. This first story in the Fleet Week saga centers around an obsessed ‘Neather captain bent on revenge and retribution, rather than pleasure-seeking. His target is a young woman related to the demise of his ship and crew.

MT: Why should this script be made into a movie?

I believe that a movie can only succeed if it grabs viewers and keeps them riveted throughout. Therefore, both plot and pace set by a film are critical. I think the storytellers are most essential: Viewers must become fully engaged with the people involved. That’s why some films reach the nirvana of repeat-watching. It’s not so much a film’s plot or pace that convinces a viewer to see it again and again. It’s fascination with the characters inside that very unique world. My hope is that the Fleet Week script displays these elements with enough clarity to be easily recognized by film producers.

MT: What is the theme of Fleet Week?

The main theme is second-chance opportunity. Redemption and obsession are sub-themes.

MT: What movie have you seen the most in your life?

I think it’s a tie between the original Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz. Logical perhaps, because so many parallels exist between Oz and that first Star Wars film.

MT: What artists would you love to work with?

As far as well-known directors, the usual suspects: Eastwood, Lucas, Spielberg, Cameron, Peter Jackson. Yet I admire the diverse talents of so many in the film world. I’d be honored to work with any of those who excel within the multiple phases of cinematic storytelling.

MT: How many stories/screenplays have you written?

I’ve done 2 novels and 5 screenplays.

MT: Ideally, where would you like to be in 5 years?

Writing and/or directing feature films, and authoring more novels.

MT: Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?

I envision a long-form drama project as building a rail system:

1. The track is the Plot.
2. Stations and terminals are Locations/Settings.
3. Train cars are Characters. Main characters are engines, followed by boxcars of varying sizes, according to the weight of each character’s role.

Plot ideas arrive in various ways. I’ll poke around on the Internet within historical periods, searching for fascinating items which may not yet have been fully explored. Other times I’ll write within a genre that interests me greatly, such as crime drama.

I get a general idea of each character’s mindset before I write, and then alter them to fit once the actual writing begins. At some point your characters speak to you because you know them. You comprehend how they think.

Prior to writing a single word of the actual drama, I conduct thorough research into aspects of the project. The buck stops with me as the storyteller, initially anyway. So, I amass more than enough background information beforehand. I feel it’s a major responsibility to not let the audience lose track, or begin to question anything during their suspension of disbelief.

MT: Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Family and friends, of course, top the list. I’m also passionate about certain social/environmental/political issues. I am somewhat of a film buff. I’m very passionate about computers and especially software development. That’s been my day job.

MT: Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

I believe the first priority for storytellers is to be absolutely fascinated with people. What they do, how they do it. What they say. What drives them, what are their fears, doubts, strengths and weaknesses. Whether a story is character-based or plot-driven, even if it involves talking animals or aliens – it’s still always about people, and how an audience relates to them.

Solid research is vital when writing anything, including fiction. You are the authoritative voice behind the words. If your characters as storytellers don’t pitch it credibly? The audience will pick up on it right away and then you’re sunk, Sunk, SUNK. There are no shortcuts to a well-researched piece of writing.

For newer writers: You’re going to get better as long as you keep at it. Act upon those critical points of feedback from others whose opinions you value. Eventually your style will emerge and you’ll fly on your own.

Matthew Toffolo, Interviewer BIO

Matthew Toffolo is the current CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival. He had worked for the organization since its inception in 2007 serving as the Short Film Festival’s moderator during the Audience Feedback sessions.

Filmmaker of over 20 short films and TV episodes. Took over full reins of the WILDsound Festival in May 2013. From then to the end of 2014, he’s presented over 90 movies at the monthly FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto, plus has had over 60 screenplays and stories performed by professional actors at the bi-monthly Writing Festival.

Go to http://www.wildsound.ca and submit your film, script, or story to the festival.

Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com and watch recent and past winning writing festival readings.

Give My Love To Rose, December 2014 Winning Short Screenplay

Many festivals do well to provide encouraging feedback but I find that the WIldSound experience was a real game changer for me. The feedback, when critical, was offered in a way that challenged me. Some festivals will just say “this works, this doesn’t”. and that’s about it. And that’s nice. But when you guys first critiqued Rum House, I not only understood what was really wrong with the script but I also felt very charged and excited about the changes that came to mind. My first script has real solid momentum now because of WILDsound.

– Michael Sieve, On submitting to the WILDsound Screenplay Festival (Review)

Micheal Sieve’s script GIVE MY LOVE TO ROSE, was the December 2014 winning Short Screenplay.

    Watch the script reading here:

    CAST LIST:

    NARRATOR – Becky Shrimpton
    THOMAS – Chris Huron
    ROSE – Erin Boyes
    JOHN – Julian Ford
    HARRIS – Andy Bridge
    GUARD – Aaron Rothermund
    MS. PIKE – Frances Townend

    SYNOPSIS:

    A man is released from prison after spending 15 years serving a murder he didn’t commit. His first order of business is to give a letter to Rose.

Q&A with Writer Michael Sieve

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Michael: The script is loosely based on a Johnny Cash song of the same name which a friend of mine has the rights to. He sent me the mp3 and instructed, simply, “write about this”. The song tells the story of a wanderer who comes across a man who has been stabbed and is dying. In the song, the dying man is the convict who was released from prison and traveling home to his family. I made some changes to pursue the DNA exoneration angle. It’s a hot topic and a constant source of embarrassment to the broken and ineffective judicial system in our country. America represents 5% of the world’s population but 25% of the world’s incarcerated population. Land of the free, indeed! And every week another story begins to circulate about yet another man being exonerated after serving years, even decades, behind bars.

MT: Why should this script be made into a movie?

Michael: Judicial reform is one of our country’s most prominent needs and yet, thanks to the greed and want as perpetuated by our own elected officials, reform is a near impossibility. I like the idea of finding more of these stories, of pressing the public with more information as it regards prosecutorial misconduct and just plain lazy law-making that snowballs into faulty convictions and unreasonable sentences.

MT: Your feature script RUM HOUSE was the first screenplay we performed in 2014. And now your short script is the last script we performed. You sandwiched our festival in 2014. Any reactions on that?

Michael: It all just overwhelms me. Rum House was a very personal story for me to tell and I never wrote it with the idea that someone might read it, much less like it, much less that it would win the awards that it has, topped by this exceptional honor from your festival. Rum House was my first try at a screenplay. I wrote several others between RH and Rose. By the time I finished Rose I knew I was doing something that I loved and that I was doing it well. And that is all I have ever wanted from life! That I was able to win twice at WildSound is a most unexpected reward. I am humbled and grateful. The awards are nice but the feedback from WildSound has made me a far better writer than I ever thought I was capable of!

MT: What has been your favorite movie you’ve seen in the last 2 years?

Michael: Another Earth comes quickly to mind. That little indie darling wowed me. I was just blown away. Brit Marling just rocked my world!

MT: What influenced you to write this script?

Michael: As mentioned, the Johnny Cash song. And the lives and hearts of those critically humbled by wrongful prosecution and harsh prison sentences for crimes they never committed.

MT: How many stories/screenplays have you written?

Michael: 6 completed features, including my latest, a Stevie Ray Vaughan bio-pic (my first paid gig!) and about 4 shorts. 5 more features are outlined and I just started a romantic dramedy set in the after-life called “PurgaStory” which I think will turn a few heads and, hopefully, hearts. I have been told point blank that this will be the one that gets me to the next level. So, it will be in your hands shortly WIldSound!

MT: Ideally, where would you like to be in 5 years?

Michael: I’d like to be a very active and profitable part of the independent movie industry. The independents are coming on strong and I give them as much attention as I can. I was recently told by a literary agent in Beverly Hills (name withheld) that, after reading 3 of my scripts she was moved to tears, that it was some of the most engaging writing she had read in years and that she couldn’t possibly represent me because, in her words, “as I turned each page I knew there was no way in hell I could sell this in my town!”. It was the most inventive compliment I think I have ever heard. So, I am aching for the smarter ranks, for the independent core in need of good writing. And, as I have seen repeatedly, it is a movement that is well supported by some very excellent writers. It is my goal to rank among them!

MT: Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?

Michael: It varies now as I have new people in my life, new exciting connections. Generally, I write for a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening, leaving me some time to really focus on the stories during those hours in between. The afternoon is reserved for brainstorming, for challenging my plot lines, for picking things apart and putting them back together. Its easy to tell a story. It’s a tremendous challenge to tell a really good story. I focus on the challenge and that requires a good deal of time and energy.

MT: Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Michael: I firmly believe that reading is a huge part of what makes a writer a great writer. I have a passion for 19th Century English and Russian Literature. And I mean the actual books, not the nooks and kindles. When you pick up Tolstoy you know, by touch alone, that you are about to step into a very big, very involved world. I don’t get that sensation at all from the electronic devices. So, books are a passion for me. Romance. And people who get “it”.

MT: What influenced you to enter the WILDsound Festival?

Michael: The feedback, first and foremost. Many festivals do well to provide encouraging feedback but I find that the WIldSound experience was a real game changer for me. The feedback, when critical, was offered in a way that challenged me. Some festivals will just say “this works, this doesn’t”. and that’s about it. And that’s nice. But when you guys first critiqued Rum House, I not only understood what was really wrong with the script but I also felt very charged and excited about the changes that came to mind. My first script has real solid momentum now because of WildSound.

MT: Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Michael: The old axiom of writing what you know is good. But sometimes break out of the box. Study something you don’t know. Write about that. Read as often as you can. Study your genre and get to know your characters deeply. Don’t write for the agent or for the producer or for the audience. Write for you and only you. Make your story authentic and smart. And never, ever give up! All writers start off hopeless and that, I feel, is the hallmark of a good writer in the making!

Matthew Toffolo, Interviewer BIO

Matthew Toffolo is the current CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival. He had worked for the organization since its inception in 2007 serving as the Short Film Festival’s moderator during the Audience Feedback sessions.

Filmmaker of over 20 short films and TV episodes. Took over full reins of the WILDsound Festival in May 2013. From then to the end of 2014, he’s presented over 90 movies at the monthly FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto, plus has had over 60 screenplays and stories performed by professional actors at the bi-monthly Writing Festival.

Go to http://www.wildsound.ca and submit your film, script, or story to the festival.

Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com and watch recent and past winning writing festival readings.