Winning Feature Screenplay: PEACE PLEDGE, by George M. Johnson

Watch the Winning August 2017 Feature Screenplay Reading

Genre: War, Drama, Romance

A disillusioned First World War veteran, challenged by a reckless Anglican priest, reluctantly fights for peace against fascists in 1930s Britain, losing both friends and family but gaining a second chance in love. Based on the true story of Canon Dick Sheppard and the Peace Pledge Union.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Dick Sheppard: Scott McCulloch
John: Brogan Caulfield
Esme: Sandra Krstin
Alison: Julie Sheppard
Burt: Peter-Mark Raphael

 

B>Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

A disillusioned First World War veteran, challenged by a reckless Anglican priest, reluctantly fights for peace against fascists in 1930s Britain, losing both friends and family but gaining a second chance in love. The screenplay is based on the true story of Canon Dick Sheppard and the Peace Pledge Union, the strongest pacifist movement in history.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Period drama, history, biopic

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

Peace Pledge is a gripping and heart-felt story about standing up for what you believe in, even against all the odds. It is also a tale of redemption, love and the power of the human spirit. Peace Pledge is timely with the centenary commemoration of the end of WWI on the horizon (and the 80th anniversary of the beginning of WWII); the story becomes more relevant every day with the escalation of military spending and worldwide violence.

How would you describe this script in two words?

heart-warming, uplifting

What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I started researching it in 2012 and have worked on it along with other projects since then.

How many stories have you written?

I have written about a dozen stage-plays, some of them award-winning. “Still Life With Nudes” is a comedy about seniors who stage a sit-in at a contemporary art gallery in protest when their full-length nude self-portraits were rejected. It won the National Playwrighting Award and several other awards. I’ve also penned three award-winning screenplays, including “Peace Pledge,” which received Honorable Mention in the Euroscript Competition, and “The Wonder,” a finalist in the British Independent Film Festival, as well as half a dozen children’s stories, one, “Marissa and the Mountains,” to be published by Simply Read next year.

What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

Universal Soldier has been a long-time favourite.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Information about the Peace Pledge Union has been buried in history and so it took considerable digging to piece together the peace story.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I am passionate about social justice issues, particularly fighting threats to the environment where I live in B.C.. I also enjoy canoeing, camping, and travelling with my family.

You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

It has been great!

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

A friend had entered and told me it was worthwhile. I was elated at the encouraging, articulate, insightful feedback and inspired to make further revisions to make this the best script possible.

 

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Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Director: Kierston Drier
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson

Camera Operator: Mary Cox

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Best Scene Reading – Le Chat Noir by Paula Sewell

Watch Best Scene Reading of LE CHAT NOIR:

SYNOPSIS:

Genre: Animation, Family, Comedy

A tough alley cat detective teams with the pets of an upscale neighborhood to find a missing black cat, and uncovers a deeper mystery.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR/TWINK – Danielle Nicole
CLANCY – Geoff Mays
MICKEN – Hugh Ritchie
BIGGIE – Scott McCulloch

Get to know writer Paula Sewell:

1. What is your feature screenplay about?

A tough alley cat detective teams with the pets of an upscale neighborhood to and a missing black cat, and uncovers a deeper mystery.

2. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

This movie is not only a modern day noir, and a mystery, it is also about family, and what makes a family.

3. This story has a lot going for it. How would you describe this script in two words?

Pet Noir

4. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

Road Warrior. It is the ultimate hero’s journey. It’s also thebest script I’ve ever read.

5. This is a very tight, emotionally engaging and fun screenplay. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

From first draft to current draft, I’ve been working on this one for about a year.

6. How many stories have you written?

Way too many to count. I’ve been writing since childhood.
Bad poems for dead cats were my forte as a nine year old. Currently I’m writing my first novel.

7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?

I was motivated by the handmade Lost Cat signs I see posted everywhere, my love of noir films, and the huge number of animated films I’ve seen since having my children. Plus, every character is based on a pet I had in my own childhood.

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

Figuring out the way into the story; which characters to include, which to cut out; how to have the tropes of noir film be in a children’s film; and deciding what would be appropriate to talk about in a children’s film. Spaying and neutering? Probably not.

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

History – especially early American history. I can’t imagine saying goodbye to my family FOREVER, then sailing for two months, only to have to build my own house when I got there. And then 150 years later, deciding to take on the most powerful country in the world for independence. Craziness.

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

In the beginning, write what you know. When you’ve gotten some experience, write what you’re passionate about. Realize that criticism is not a personal attack. Takecare of housekeeping before you hand someone a draft – spelling, punctuation, anything that will throw someone out of the story. You have complete control over that. And never, ever stop writing.

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

My family and I recently moved from Los Angeles to Toronto, and I was hoping to meet other writers and people in the area. I also love to hear actors takes on something I’ve written. I loved the feedback. A lot of it was spot on and will be helpful when I do my next draft.

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Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: John Johnson

Feature Screenplay Reading – Catch the Devil by Martin Blinder

Watch the April 2016 winning feature screenplay.

CATCH THE DEVIL by Martin Blinder:

Genre: History, War, Adventure, Drama

Synopsis: A Civil War true adventure tale of three Union soldiers, the first winners of a Congressional Medal of Honor, whose audacity and bravery trumped the superior lethal technology of the Confederate South in their daring raid into the heart of Dixie.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Danielle Nicole
EVERETT – Geoff Mays
MABEL – Scott McCulloch
VARIOUS – Hugh Ritchie

Get to know writer Martin Blinder:

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Martin Blinder: A true story about how, during the American Civil War, three daring Union soldiers, a suicidal fatalist, a reckless gambler and a morose obsessive-compulsive sneak into the Confederate South well behind enemy lines and there commit many successful acts of sabotage, all the while eluding almost an entire pursuing Confederate Army, and at war’s end are awarded this nation’s first Congressional Medals of Honor for bravery, one of them, posthumously.

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

MB: So many of the action films that come to the multiplex consist of fictional and unreal characters or comic book figures who are faced with apocalyptic forces of evil. They all seem the same to me – unconvincing, loud, and ultimately boring. By contrast, Catch the Devil is the largely true story of real men who bravely place themselves in situations of real peril and who, despite conflicts between them and in their inner selves, ultimately prevail. You will care about all the people in this story on both sides of this epic fight. A motion picture is an excellent medium with which to tell this highly visual tale.

MT: How would you describe this script in two words?

MB: Character driven.

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

MB: I often cannot find the time to see the new movies as they come out (and I am including those wonderful television series), let alone find the time to again see a movie already viewed but I think I’ve seen Casablanca and Gungadin more than once.

MT: How long have you been working on this screenplay?

MB: That remains to be seen. Still working on it.

MT: How many stories have you written?

MB: Probably a dozen.

MT: What motivated you to write this screenplay?

MB: Real and attractive characters have a real, highly visual adventure that incidentally perfectly fits the Hollywood formula for a compelling film.

MT: What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

MB: Telling a complex story involving a half dozen fully developed characters in less than 200 pages.

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

MB: Unfortunately, too many things. Seems I have a short attention span.

MT: What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

MB: Unlike a book or article a screenplay has no life unless it’s performed.

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

MB: 1. Read your script aloud twice, first just the dialogue, then just the descriptions.

2. Look at every page without reading a word. There should be lots of wide space. If you see big chunks of words you’ve got some cutting to do.

3. However succinct your writing, there isn’t a paragraph in your script that would not profit from losing a sentence, and not a sentence that would not profit by dropping at least one word. I have posted on my writing desk some advice given back in medical school by my old professor of surgery:

“If in doubt, cut it out.”

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Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: John Johnson

Best Scene Reading – Matsqui Massacre by Mark Curtis Dunn & Pamela C Royal

Watch the April 2016 Best Scene Screenplay Winner

Matsqui Massacre by Mark Curtis Dunn & Pamela C  Royal

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Geoff Mays
TIM – Hugh Ritchie
DOLLY – Danielle Nicole
JARROD – Scott McCulloch

Genre: Horror, Thriller, Mystery

Synopsis: When a beautiful woman celebrates her 40th birthday on Halloween with a masquerade of country music artists and celebrities, the evening turns into a night of terror after two lunatic hired killers go on a rampage of lust and murder.

Get to know writer Mark Curtis Dunn:

What is your feature screenplay about?

How excessive desires can lead to catastrophic consequences.

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

It is an entertaining reminder of how we can let our better natures lead us wrong.

This story has a lot going for it. How would you describe this script in two words?

Excessive desires.

What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

A Christmas Carol.

This is a very tight, emotionally engaging and fun screenplay. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

My partner, Pamela, has worked on it longer than I. I have worked on it for seven months.

How many stories have you written?

Dozens. I’ve lost count.

What motivated you to write this screenplay?

I met my writing partner through social media. She mentioned she had a script with her original music intact. She sent it to me and we got it going.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Email problems, for one. Getting all the pages with which to put together the final draft. Polishing the format, characters, structure, and the prosody. Still finding typos.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Family. Music. Fine painting. Sculpture. The human condition and how it can be improved.

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

Success is one thing. If it happens, that’s an advantage. Appreciating what one’s got, developing a sensibility from one’s art, that can’t be taken away.

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Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: John Johnson