Watch WESTBOUND, TV Pilot by Jeff Alulis:
NARRATOR – Sean Ballantyne
Termite/Doughboy/Pennwise – Jerald Bezener
Uranium/Caboose – Rob Salerno
Emily/V-Switch – Misha Harding
Ozarks – Charles Gordon
Trails – Katelyn Cooper
Get to know writer Jeff Alulis:
1. What is your TV PILOT about?
“Westbound” is an ensemble show about modern-day freight train riders. In the shadows of your local train yard there exists a whole subculture of people who hop trains as a lifestyle. This show explores the lives of a dozen characters whose lives intersect while riding the rails.
2. Why should this screenplay be made into a TV show?
Modern train hopping is a world that has never been explored dramatically. The constantly changing environment and the vast array of characters involved in that world make it perfectly suited for an episodic format, and the gritty stories and fascinating personalities would keep viewers riveted.
3. This pilot has a lot going for it. It’s part adventure. Part drama. Part thriller. Part mystery. How would you describe this story in one sentence?
The lives of criminals, hippies, addicts, and misfits intersect as they search for freedom and adventure by hopping freight trains across America.
4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?
That’s a tough one…I know I’ve seen “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” and “The Goonies” enough to practically quote their entire scripts. I actually recently went to the 30th anniversary celebration of “The Goonies” in Oregon and won a “Goonies” trivia contest while I was there!
5. This is a very tight, emotionally engaging TV screenplay. How long have you been working on this pilot?
I wrote it over the course of about a year, from when I first started brainstorming to the point where I had a draft that was ready to send out to competitions. But a lot of that time was spent researching the world of train-hopping and fleshing out the characters before I started outlining.
6. How many stories have you written?
I’ve written eight feature-length screenplays and a couple of spec TV scripts, but this was my first attempt at an original pilot, so I’m very humbled by the fact that it has earned some attention.
7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?
I’ve been fascinated by the world of train-hopping for a long time. It has its own rules, its own language, and it seems like every ride generates a unique story. Some people have made documentaries about it, but it’s never been explored in a fictional context so I thought I would give it a shot.
8. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
When I was in film school we all read each other’s scripts regularly and gave each other feedback, but these days we’re all busy and I feel bad bothering my former classmates to regularly read my stuff. I’ve joined writing groups but they come and go. So the hardest thing about writing this script was doing it alone, with very little help, notes, or guidance.
9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
I love music, which has been reflected in my documentary work and my involvement with various bands. And I love to travel, which I do whenever I get the opportunity, whether it’s to a new continent or a new corner of my home city.
10. What influenced you to enter the WILDsound Festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
I was submitting a separate documentary project to competitions via Withoutabox and when I decided to enter my script in competitions the same way WILDsound popped up in my search and it seemed like a perfect fit. The initial feedback was very thorough; it was evident that my script had actually been read all the way through rather than skimmed. I was pleasantly surprised at how in-depth and thoughtful the notes were.
11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
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