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7 Questions with the November Feature Screenplay Winner ELAN CARLSON

Today we like everyone to get to know the talented screenplay writer Elan Carlson. The feature script winner for her script CAHOOTS. Watch it here:

SYNOPSIS:

When their fishing village is invaded by brutal immigrant thugs, a Chinese family runs for secret shelter, asking help back to China from a pair of bickering Scottish and Irish rail hands who work a remote railroad spur and breakfast on beans and beer. Smitten by La Ling’s strength and beauty, Haggis twists Ketch’s terrified arm until he agrees. Now, all terrified, they join together undercover and set forth in a survival of scheming, conniving — whatever it takes.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Becky Shrimpton
HAGGIS – John Goodrich
KETCH – David Schaap
LA LING – Anjelica Alejandro
VARIOUS – Sean Ballantyne
VARIOUS – Stephen Flett

Questions:

1. What inspired you to write this screenplay about the railroads in the 1800s?

My inspiration to write of 1800’s railroads must have started when I was a little kid and LOVED the trains — the sound as they came and went thru town, when we got to ride, their beautiful structures… It was awhile before #0110 came to be a story.

2. Did you do a lot of research on this time to prepare for your script?

I schooled early in Berkeley, CA. Loved every trip to San Francisco, so finally moved there. Spent every moment possible in Chinatown, wallowing in the food, exploring every shop, neighborhood — and listening. Even bought their Chinese newspapers for special gift wrap.

One night I dreamed clearly of a Ruby/LaLing women standing in a shabby old western bar. With her back to me she was pleading with a man leaning against the bar — never saw his face. “She” stayed with me from then on — every day more intense for me to get to the library and find her story.

After work on evenings and weekends, I began prowling the books and discovered more and more the heart of our early Chinese tale. Which spoke of the time of Chinese emigration from Canton in its economical ruin — people in deep suffering — starving to death. Mostly men came to work the mines and new railroads or needed funds. There was one flourishing center of prostitutes in Chinatown (not the auction house), but CAHOOTS ladies chose man’s labor in disguise. So now I hear my “dream lady’s” story of how her whole self connects to the railroads’ two quirky, compassionate rail hands and how the five become bonded forever in the shelter of the trains. Makes me wonder if that really happened …

3. The interesting thing about your script currently is its tone. It reads like a PG family script for all to watch, but with racism, prostitution, and other mature plots. Was this done on purpose?

Yes — :o) — spent tons of time researching and learning, learning, learning! (and loved it!)

I met my “dream lady” with a sense of deep familyness, then researched and learned her real story — I’m sure, she needed to be heard.

4. Who would be your main target audience for this script?

Main audience target would be all adults, not any youngies, for sure.

5. In a perfect world, what actors would you love to see casted in the the main roles?

Wow! — my first feeling is George Clooney with Matt Damon as Ketch. They live their talented lives in true compassion and understanding of all others. And their ages would be fine with the roles. Wow — would that be “perfect” or what?!

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

ALL that brings peace, prosperity, joy and love to everyone everywhere!!!

7. What influenced you to enter the WILDsound Script Contest?

I’ve always loved the movies I see that carry the approval laurel of Toronto International Films.
When I was searching my email for festival entries on Withoutabox, WILDsound popped up — I “WHOOHOOed” and popped in my submission.

Elan Carlson BIO

My second-grade teacher was first to hand me a pencil to create a story. For years, other teachers did the same, and I came to embrace my inspiration with my own pen. First by publishing stories in Berkeley Gazette’s Human Interest Column and to writing PR columns for Phoenix Gazette.

Graduating on to working full time day job, my boss let me skew my work hours to get time off to work in film and to begin screenplay studies. My mentors were Richard Walter UCLA, Dov S-S Simens, Syd Field, Robert McKee, John Truby, William Goldman and Dave Trottier. I have had Linda Seger’s and Richard Walter’s supportive critiques on my beginning scripts. With studies complete in Feb 2003 I signed onto Trigger Street with my first draft of CAHOOTS. It was a daily reading/feedback to other writers and learning their feedback for me. Three months later in May 2003, I had to drop out of TS to care for my ailing dad (then my mom), so CAHOOTS came away with a rating of “Excellent — 11 out of 1,837.”

When my parents came to rest, I moved to Colorado Springs to be with my family in 2014. Here I discovered my first year in submitting screenplays to film festivals — a treasure being Toronto’s WILDsound Festival, who has mentored me with hours and pages of expert feedback and acceptance of CAHOOTS for promotion.

As of this writing, La Femme Film Festival, has awarded CAHOOTS a Finalist Laurel, and Women’s Independent Film Festival has chosen CAHOOTS as first place winner in their script competition.

Deadline is TODAY to submit your own feature script to the festival:
http://www.wildsound.ca/screenplaycontest.html