Winning HORROR 1st Scene Screenplay – SILHOUETTE by Lukas Hassel

Genre: Horror, Thriller, Crime

A disabled mother of two fights to protect her children not just from bullies but from an unknown force in mirrors everywhere.


Narrator: Val Cole
Lindsey: Mandy May Cheetham
Corey: Ryan Yusep
Terri: Angelica Alejandro

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

It’s about standing up to bullies. Essentially. It is wrapped up in a horror premise wherein a young daughter befriends a mirror in order to help her bullied brother. Before long their mother struggles to save both her children.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Horror. Drama.

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

It’s a horror film set within a social context. As in, not horror for horror’s sake, but trying to convey something more complex than mere scares.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Intense. Dark.

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

Cabaret. More than 40 times, probably. The first film where editing became a huge part of the driving of a story. Genius cinematography. Great script. Top notch acting. Much more than “just” a musical movie.

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

On and off, six years. Did an early version that was plot driven. Never worked. Then left it for a few years, and went back to it. Changed the protagonist from son to Mother and made it character driven. The best decision I made with regards to that script.

How many stories have you written?

I have about 5 feature scripts, and two shorts (both of which are now movies – the latest “The Son, the Father.. just had its world premiere opening night of Hollyshorts in the Chinese Theater cinemas in LA)

What motivated you to write this screenplay?

I wanted to take on bullying in a surprising and different way. Show that horror is not just a throw away genre with gore and rolling heads, but can be so much more.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Feeling hokey when constructing the all important third act. For me, most horror films fall apart in the third act. It’s easy to set up suspense, mood, and mysteries in the first two thirds of the movie, but hard to resolve it all it a surprising and satisfying way. The action has to be amped up and lead to a climax. My third act has all the bells and whistles that a horror film needs, but I usually write more subtle stuff. Nothing subtle about my third act. It’s all out.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I’m primarily an actor. For the horror fans, I have just had a comedy horror called The Black Room hit Netflix. I play the lead opposite Natasha Henstridge (Species) and Lin Shaye (Insiduous). I’m also a filmmaker (“Into the Dark”, and “The Son, the Father…”)

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

Film Freeway is great. Easy to use, and with people ready to help with any questions. However, not all film festivals are on FF as they seem to compete with Withoutabox, and strike exclusive deals with certain festivals. You really have to be on both platforms.

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

I have entered script before and felt that the feedback was useful and the reading a great experience to hear script out loud by a cast of strong actors.


Producer: Matthew Toffolo

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

Camera Operator: Mary Cox


Feature Screenplay Reading: FIEND, by Jeff York

Watch the July 2016 Winning Feature Screenplay Reading.

FIEND, by Jeff York


Genre: Horror, Thriller, Crime, Mystery, History

When famed Jekyll & Hyde author Robert Louis Stevenson turns out himself to be a dangerous split personality, the only one who can save him and London from his fiendish alter ego is a maverick American psychiatrist with daring, unconventional methods.


NARRATOR – Sean Kaufmann
PRINCE – Michael Kazarian
BURKE – Devin Upham
CLAY/CARTLER – Neil Bennett
ANNE – Elizabeth Rose Morriss
FANNY – Mandy May Cheetham

Get to know the winning writer Jeff York: 

1. What is your screenplay about?

It’s historical fiction, based upon two men who were contemporaries of each other in 19th century Europe. Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scotsman living in England who wrote the famous story about split personalities called “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.” And Dr. Morton Prince was an American psychologist working in Salpetriere Hospital in Paris treating split personalities and other psychosis. The two never met, but with so much in common, I deemed that they should.

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

“Fiend” would make for a elevated thriller that the Cineplex could use more of these days. It’s kind of a cross between “Sherlock Holmes” and “The King’s Speech” and it has a lot of smarts and a lot of heart.

3. How would you describe this script in two words?

Historical faction.

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

“Jaws” is one that I watch all the time, even when I come across it on TV, and see something new and amazing in it every time. It in itself is an elevated horror movie that has so many layers and nuance, in addition to being very primal.

5. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

All told it took me about a year to get “Fiend” into tip-top shape to start entering it into contests, where it has done very well, but I still tinker with it here and there. One never really stops rewriting until it’s filmed and in the can. And even after that, there may still be reshoots and additional rewriting!

6. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written 8 feature scripts, 3 television pilots, 1 short film script and a play.

7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?

I am a history buff and was drawn to Stevenson’s history as a man who was sick most of his life and longed for a life where he wasn’t hampered by his frailties. Hence, he wrote things like “Jekyll and Hyde”, as well as “Treasure Island.” His writing about mental illness and dissociative personality disorder (split personalities) in “Jekyll & Hyde” was incredibly insightful, such that there were those who wondered how he could grasp it all so well. Then, when I found out about Prince’s work in the same area and how Salpetriere wanted the rest of Europe to follow suit in bettering their treatment of the mentally ill, it struck me that there could be a entertaining juxtaposition in those two stories.

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

The balance of fact and fiction. Most movie bio’s take a ton of liberties with the real story, and because this one was clearly made up, I didn’t have to be quite so faithful. Still, I wanted to be true to the actual history known of the two men, and striking the right balance between reality and fantasy is what presented the biggest challenge.

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

I love movies, theater, art, reading…most anything from the arts world. I have an orange tabby so I’m partial to cats. And I find current events and politics to be endlessly fascinating and spend a lot of time watching MSNBC. (I’m quite the liberal at heart.)

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

I love those that embrace horror, and it seemed like a wonderful opportunity to connect with similar fans of the genre. The notes I received were superb, and I incorporated all the terrific suggestions into the rewrite of the script that was recorded. So thanks for making it better!

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

Breaking into Hollywood is very difficult, and you’ll run into a lot of pretenders and wannabe’s. Gravitate towards those who remain positive in their response to your work, or at least encouraging, and realize that not everyone is going to do cartwheels over what you’ve written. Still, if you really enjoy writing and want to be a cinematic storyteller, keep at it and you will find advocates. You just need to find that one who also has money to make your script into a movie. That is THE struggle, but if you’re good, write a lot, and remain persistent in learning, rewriting, writing more and more scripts, and keeping the faith, you’ll find yourself getting closer and closer. And hopefully that day when you get the dream call, you’re ready for it all.


Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson