Genre: Crime, Drama
An up-and-coming white-collar defense lawyer gets caught up in a fraud scheme and must take on the pro bono defense of a Native American man facing the death penalty in order to restore his reputation.
Get to know the writer:
1. What is your screenplay about?
An embattled attorney caught in a fraud scandal must undertake the pro bono defense of a Native American man facing the death penalty for killing his girlfriend while confronting a corrupt investigation and trying to restore his reputation.
2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?
3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?
As I was developing the idea for Indian Country, I looked around to ask myself what kinds of stories weren’t being told. There are very few stories that shine a light on the experiences of indigenous people, and I wanted to write a story that allowed for a glimpse at these experiences. The main character of Indian Country is a man, but he does not go through the script propped up by women who exist only to move him forward. Instead, I worked really hard to make sure that the female characters were strong and had unique voices that could speak to different aspects of the plot. Finally, within the confines of the story world, the story is legally accurate. Sometimes legal dramas gloss over important details or inaccurately portray the law, but I avoided those tropes in the script.
4. How would you describe this script in two words?
thought-provoking and honest
5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?
Silence of the Lambs
6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?
All told, from conception to completion of the first draft (so including outlining and early revisions), about six months. Revisions took about one month.
7. How many stories have you written?
I guess it would be impossible to say if I am really broad about stories. Like most writers, I’ve been creating worlds and stories for most of my life. I fell away from storytelling in my early adulthood because of the demands of school and career, and I have more recently returned to writing and storytelling. As far as screenplays go, this is actually my first screenplay.
8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)
Music really inspires me, and especially during this process, I was really, really into Hamilton. Some of my friends might have thought I had a problem. My mom might have learned the words to some of the songs in Hamilton just from me singing them aloud without ever having listened to them herself. The brilliance of Hamilton is that listening to the music teaches important lessons about story progression at the same time because the composition is so brilliantly executed.
9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
Since this was my first screenplay, I was doing a lot of reading and self-teaching about screenwriting while I was in the early stages. So, in the midst of outlining the idea, I read Save the Cat and Story, among other texts. My initial obstacle was a lack of familiarity with the medium, and I was fortunate that the process worked relatively smoothly for me to have an idea in play with which I could immediately implement the lessons I was learning.
10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
I am passionate about the arts across a variety of media: television, film, music, and theater. Beyond that, I am passionate about social justice issues like criminal justice reform, gender equality, and economic and housing justice.
11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?
FilmFreeway is such a convenient platform, and I appreciate the sorting features that helped me find festivals to enter that offered what I was looking for at my current level of writing development. The way the platform is organized has really helped me stay on track with submissions.
12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
I was drawn to the festival because of the genre focus and the opportunities for full feedback, which is not offered in many festivals at all. For any writer, feedback is valuable, but it isn’t all created equally. With my feedback from this festival, I was happy to see that there was individual attention given to my script and actionable items that I could work with to enhance the script’s quality.
Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com
Director: Matthew Toffolo
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: Kimberly Villarruel
Camera Op: Mary Cox