I have to admit, when “Flat Pennies” performs well in some of the huge competitions this year, I will have to give WILDsound much credit for making my script stronger and far better.
– Writer Robert Ward
Watch FLAT PENNIES First Scene Reading by Robert Ward:
NARRATOR – Susan Wilson
Ian – Dan Fox
Mrs. Guth – Pip Dwyer
Matt/Tyler – Ryan Anning
Antoinette- Christina Aceto
Matthew Toffolo interviews writer Robert Ward:
1. What is your screenplay about?
“Flat Pennies” follows a paraplegic man’s internal and outer struggles — from a lonely existence in a dark apartment filled with a sprawling model railroad all the way to finding love, happiness, and sunshine with the next-door neighbor who’s raising a young child and saddled with an abusive ex-husband. I have worked on this story for almost eight years, refining it over and over again. “Flat Pennies” is the toughest story I’ve ever written because it is extremely complex. Without giving away too much, the story also includes a strong, profound teenager who assists the man during his character arc.
2. Why should this script be made into a movie?
I strongly believe this story is so unique, so different from most of the usual theatrical offerings out there, that moviegoers would enjoy the ride greatly. I’ve always envisioned writing a story where people in theaters sit there after the final credits roll, their minds overwhelmed, taking it all in, wondering about what they just witnessed. And we’ve all been there. We know that feeling. It’s a wondrous sensation, sitting there in the semi dark and digesting a film just watched, truly affected, smitten and touched, and hopefully maybe even changed.
3. How long have you been writing stories?
I was a journalist for many years, but started my foray into fiction with “Flat Pennies” about eight years ago.
4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?
Definitely “Shawshank Redemption” since it was broadcast on a television network that played it almost around the clock for a couple of years. It’s actually a terrific movie, stuffed with great metaphor and allegory.
5. What artists would you love to work with?
I’ve always mentioned Billy Bob Thornton when asked, but after seeing “Game Of Thrones” the last couple of years, there are several awesome actors on that show that would be ideal, such as Iwan Rheon, Jerome Flynn, and Liam Cunningham. As for direction, I think Tim Burton or possibly the Coen Brothers would be perfect for “Flat Pennies.”
6. How many stories/screenplays have you written?
I have a dozen short screenplays (one entitled “The Final Job” that’s done really well on the contest circuit including a win here at the WILDsound Festival Short Screenplay Competition in 2013), plus I have the “Flat Pennies” feature screenplay along with 71,000 words toward the “Flat Pennies” novel. I’m really excited about the novel. It’s been a tremendous amount of work, especially tracking all that’s going on, a rough and slow slog as a matter of fact, but the end result will be something I’ll be extremely proud of for the rest of my life. I’ve gone deeper into the story, as you naturally would with a novel, and I attack the nitty gritty of the story’s historiography.
7. Ideally, where would you like to be in 5 years?
One answer and one only… sitting on the deck of a beach house writing screenplays and novels.
8. Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?
I do attempt sticking to a schedule, usually time in the late morning when it’s quietest. During my days of pounding keys in a newsweekly office, where I held several jobs plus a column, my mind was trained to filter out distractions. I recall copyediting and light proofreading articles while blaring “Nine Inch Nails” as background din through my earbuds. Where my girlfriend and I live at the moment, there is a lot of truck and city traffic rolling past my window. I barely hear it, though unfortunately, passing barking dogs and noisy children own me.
9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
Bicycle riding has me by the throat. I’ve been riding ever since since I was six, really got into at 12, started long and even a few mountainous rides at 15 and 16, and have ridden almost daily from there on out. I either clear my mind through it as a catharsis, or ponder ideas further and farther as an incubator. I like power walking too just to mix things up. I’m an Oakland A’s fans and just two years ago, my girlfriend and I got immersed in a new passionate love, the San Jose Sharks NHL team.
10. What influenced you to enter the WILDsound Festival? Did you enjoy the feedback you received?
I really lucked out on this one. I enjoy the website Moviebytes.com. The guy who runs it, Frederick Mensch, does a nice job of posting a huge amount of contest info. I found the WILDsound Festival on that site. Regarding “Flat Pennies” you could say that WILDsound greatly affected the screenplay’s arc. The feedback was that good. Here’s an example… After reading the abundant feedback (I made a bullet list of the feedback’s main points and placed it next to my laptop), I not only completely changed the feature screenplay, but I printed the script out and I’m now in the process of injecting those changes into the novel as well. I have to admit, when “Flat Pennies” performs well in some of the huge competitions this year, I will have to give WILDsound much credit for making my script stronger and far better.
11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
Ha! Proofread. Nothing turns off a reader more than typos and shoddy grammar. If you’re a professional writer or want to be a professional writer, act like it. Even in posts on forum threads, my writing is clean and errorless. I’ve worked way too hard to be a good writer and I don’t want to infect my style with disease in any manner.
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Deadline: FIRST SCENE (first 10pgs) SCREENPLAY FESTIVAL Get it performed at the festival. Full feedback
– Submit the first stages of your film, get it performed at the festival, and get full feedback!
WATCH past 1st Scene Festival readings: