Get to know winning writer Alexander Nachaj
Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?
Alexander Nachaj: Dead North is a story about a group of survivors trying to, well, survive in a soon-to-be frigid zombie apocalypse in Northern Canada. Though I can’t help but think that the apocalyptic setting along with the monsters is largely a backdrop for where a story like this could take place, make sense and help build the tension and stakes. After all, the zombies aren’t the greatest threat in this world; it’s other people and the environment they navigate.
MT: Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?
AN: Because I think people will love it. It’s filled with the kinds of things people want to see in movies, especially those big summer blockbusters. It’s got plenty of action and exciting visuals, lots of tension and conflict, and hopefully some characters the viewer can care about and root for. Even though it’s an original story, with a few twists and spins on existing ideas and conventions, it’s not so different that people won’t know how to relate to what’s taking place on the screen. Also, I suppose who doesn’t want their screenplay to become a movie? These kinds of things are meant to be seen, not just read.
MT: How would you describe this script in two words?
AN: Bloody fun.
MT: What movie have you seen the most times in your life?
AN: There’s a handful of movies that I seem to re-watch constantly, but the winner for most viewed would have to be the original Planet of the Apes with Charlton Heston. The number of times I’ve watched that movie as an adult has probably overtaken the number of times I watched Star Wars as a kid. I’m also only half-ashamed to say I’ve seen Apes’ wonderfully awful sequels (all four of them) almost as many times as the original movie.
MT: How long have you been working on this screenplay?
AN: I had the initial idea for the screenplay a few months before I sat down to write it, probably at the end of summer when that first autumn breeze rolled in through the windows. At the time it was just some ideas for scenes, visuals and possible character dynamics. When I finally sat down to write it, the whole story really just poured through like I had turned on a tap and it wouldn’t stop. I churned out the first draft during a somewhat sleep-deprived 72 hours in order to make the first deadline for this festival, actually.
MT: How many stories have you written?
AN: While I’ve written a few shorts, this was the first real feature-length screenplay I’ve completed. I’ve spent a lot of my creative time since then keeping track of ideas, scenes and characters that I’d like to incorporate in future, feature-length stories like this one. I’ve also been writing plenty of short horror stories. Since January, I’ve completed four stories and am in the process of adding two more to the list.
MT: What motivated you to write this screenplay?
AN: Definitely the thrill of putting together a complete, standalone story and potentially seeing it come to life. Though I’d be lying if I said having a festival deadline only a few days away didn’t help! Deadlines have a way of motivating me like few things do.
MT: What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
AN: Remarkably, not that many. When you have a story in mind, have the time and the motivation, I found that it was pretty easy to get it on paper and finish it. I suppose clearing up my weekends to write and then later edit was the largest challenge. Not everyone wants to keep seeing “busy, writing” every time they text and sometimes other projects have deadlines that can’t wait either. Fortunately, everything lined up perfectly for me.
MT: Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
AN: It might be an odd thing to hear coming from a guy who just wrote a screenplay that contains flesh-eating monsters, but I’m actually kind of passionate about my vegetarian lifestyle; that is to say, I’m thrilled that I live in a city where I can afford to be a vegetarian and know tons of other people who share my habits. It’s clearly not possible for everyone, so I definitely feel fortunate to live in a place like Montreal where it is.
MT: What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
AN: I found out about the festival only a few days before the initial deadline (which turned out to be for the best), so I was really motivated to try and finish something and enter it in time. When I received the feedback on my first draft I was honestly blown away not only by how positive it was, but also how helpful it turned out to be with ironing out the kinks and polishing up my story. Even just the little details and observations the festival reviewers sent me made a huge difference in helping me produce the screenplay it is today.
MT: Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
AN: Finish what you start, no matter how unpleasant it might feel at times. Just push through that wall. Also, deadlines really help. If there’s no room for procrastinating, you tend to do it less. Lastly, submit your work to festivals and competitions and have others read it. You’ll never realize how important feedback is until you receive it.
Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson
The theme of the FEBRUARY Horror/Thriller 2016 FILM FESTIVAL was:
“GOOD IS BAD”.
Every film showcased on the night was about a character twist. It’s never what you think it is.
Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Videos for each film shown at the festival
AUDIENCE FESTIVAL AWARDS
Best Film: VICIOUS
Best Overall Performances: Actors from CHATEAU SAUVIGNON: TERROIR
Best Cinematography: CHATEAU SAUVIGNON: TERROIR
Best Music: The music from VICIOUS
Here’s the summary of each film:
– THE ART OF GESTURE: In a disused chapel, a man is being tortured in a strange way.
– VICIOUS: A woman returns home late one night to find her front door unlocked.
– CHATEAU SAUVIGNON: TERROIR: A boy is divided between this father and daughter.
– SILENTLY WITHIN YOUR SHADOW: Lucette’s obsession for her dummy Hugo starts to strain her relationship.
– BALLERINA: A woman at home alone encounters a malevolent presence in the form of a… music box?
– TIME TO EAT: A mischievous boy’s trip to the basement leads to a monstrous revelation.
– CANTATA IN C MAJOR: Six-hundred-five film clips are assembled and used to create a piece of electronic music.
RSVP your FREE Tickets to the best of Horror Short Film Festival – Thursday February 25th, 7pm. Carlton Cinemas
SILENTLY WITHIN YOUR SHADOW, 14min, UK, Horror/Thriller
Directed by Scott Lyus
As their relationship grows, Lucette’s obsession for ventriloquism and her dummy Hugo starts to strain her relationship with Jace. To Luctette Hugo is more than just a dummy, he’s her best friend and represents her ambition as an artist, to her, he’s very much real.
Silently Within Your Shadow – Director’s Statement
Silently Within Your Shadow is my attempt at creating a story driven horror film, with strong characters, that doesn’t rely on blood and gore.
I wanted to dig into the heart of an artist, in our case a ventriloquist performer, and see how deep her love for her art ran; and explore the effects on her relationship with her boyfriend and the horror that provides.
Film Type: Short
Runtime: 14 minutes 2 seconds
Completion Date: July 1, 2015
Production Budget: 4,000 GBP
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Country of Filming: United Kingdom
Film Color: Color
Submit your Horror Screenplay to the Festival Today: http://festivalforhorror.com
WALK WITH THE DEVIL
Written by Alison C. Hall
Read 10 Questions with the writer
Walk with the Devil is a supernatural drama in which a young sex slave must choose between kidnapping a girl for her pimp or suffer his vicious abuse — all the while fully aware of the Devil’s eyes on her, waiting for her fall.
NARRATOR – Sean Ballantyne
OFELIA – Victoria Kucher
JULIET – Marsha Mason
RAMONA – Lorry Ayers
DON ANTONIO – Allan Brunet
PINCERS – Dan Cristofori
JULIET – Adam Martignetti
GOON – Geoff Mays
Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html
Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca
Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month: http://www.wildsoundfestival.com
Submit your Horror Screenplay to the Festival Today: http://festivalforhorror.com
Watch the Audience Feedback Video of THE BLOOD OF LOVE:
THE BLOOD OF LOVE, 19min, USA, Horror/Thriller
Directed by Jeff Meyers
Unwilling to accept the death of her husband, a young widow, acquires a machine that can bring him back to her. But the machine exacts a terrible price: she must provide the blood it needs to revive her beloved. And it starts demanding more and more blood for less and less time.
James St Vincent
Steve Xander Carson
Film Type: Short
Runtime: 19 minutes 28 seconds
The New Neighbors is the January 2016 Winning Short Screenplay.
THE NEW NEIGHBORS
Written by L. Filippo Santaniello
Genres: Horror, Thriller
Three friends are screening and selecting short films for a low budget horror film festival when the babysitter from the floor below rings the bell. Something bad has happened and she needs help.
NARRATOR – Peter Nelson
VIVIAN – Katelyn Vanier
ZACH – Dan Cristofori
ASHLEY – Holly Sarchfield
ALEX – Geoff Mays
ASIAN BOY – Lorne Hiro
Get to know writer Filippo Santaniello:
- What is your screenplay about?
“The New Neighbors” is a story about three friends that work as short film selectors for a Horror Film Festival. Disappointed by the overall quality of the films they wonder why no one is creating something original. Right then the bell rings. The babysitter from downstairs appears at the threshold of the door. Does she need help or is she just hungry?
- Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?
I believe that the screenplay is well-structured and it can also be enjoyed by those that are not just horror film fans. And there is lots of blood!
- This story has a lot going for it. How would you describe this script in two words?
- What movie have you seen the most in your life?
I would say Daro Argento’s Profondo Rosso because I’m a huge lover of the horror movies produced in Italy between the ‘60s and ‘70s. There are no words to describe the works of authors such as Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci, Joe D’Amato. As an Italian writer I feel very close to these authors but I’m also enthusiastic about international directors like David Lynch, David Cronemberg and John Carpenter.
- How long have you been working on this screenplay?
- How many stories have you written?
Quite a lot. Not only screenplays but also short stories and two novels.
- What motivated you to write this screenplay?
The fun for the macabre.
- What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
I didn’t face any serious obstacles in writing this screenplay. It all went smoothly.
- Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
Music. I listen to rock music all the time. And now that Lemmy and Bowie are out of the scene we are left without myths.
- What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
I wanted to compete with other good international authors in order to expose my writing to markets outside of Italy.
I think feedback is important, it helps you grow. If everything went well we would remain the same without the possibility to improve.
- Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
Keep on writing. Always. First and foremost for yourself. And have fun while doing it!