Congratulations to Lee O’Connor – The Brightest Star Update (Part 2)!

Back in November, STS was thrilled to announce the optioning of Lee O’Connor’s short, The Brightest Star.

Last month, we provided STS readers with a glimpse of the produced film (still available for viewing at https://vimeo.com/129374340).

But now we can add additional news to the mix. Brightest Star has been chosen as the Best Indie Film winner for the Top Shorts Online Film festival.

Congrats to both Lee and Grant. Well done!

About the writer, Lee O’Connor:

I am a writer from the UK for the screen and theatre. I have written several shorts which are in various stages of production. I am currently in the process of writing a feature film which will be shot in L.A early next year. Alongside that, I am in the process of working on two feature films which the genre and subject will remain a mystery.

I like to tackle subject matters that will pull on the heart strings, educate and open a your eyes. Although these genres are at the opposite ends of the spectrum I predominately write drama and sci-fi. I believe you write with what you know, so be yourself and don’t try to mimic another film or script you have read, create your own voice. I am reachable via email: lee.a.oconnor “AT” gmail

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Congratulations to Lee O’Connor – The Brightest Star Update!

Back in November, STS was thrilled to announce the optioning of Lee O’Connor’s short, The Brightest Star.

And today, we’re honored to be able to help unveil the finished product. Directed by Grant Pollard, TBS will be hitting the festival circuit – including TMFF and the Apex film festival in Minnesota (and that’s just for starters!)

In the meantime, the full film is available for your viewing pleasure here: https://vimeo.com/129374340. Congratulations again to Lee, for a job well done!

About the writer, Lee O’Connor:

I am a writer from the UK for the screen and theatre. I have written several shorts which are in various stages of production. I am currently in the process of writing a feature film which will be shot in L.A early next year. Alongside that, I am in the process of working on two feature films which the genre and subject will remain a mystery.

I like to tackle subject matters that will pull on the heart strings, educate and open a your eyes. Although these genres are at the opposite ends of the spectrum I predominately write drama and sci-fi. I believe you write with what you know, so be yourself and don’t try to mimic another film or script you have read, create your own voice. I am reachable via email: lee.a.oconnor “AT” gmail

Robots Love Movies – Available Now on Youtube

Hey guys and dolls! Remember the good old days of Mystery Science Theatre 3000? Or if you’re more Gen Y inclined, then the more-than-addictive Honest Trailers? Well, mix those together with a touch of Archer, and you’ve got…

Robots Love Movies, a new animated series by Brett Martin, and animator Ben Liska. “Narrated” by robots Unit-S and E-bot, RLM currently has three videos live, and more to come. Check out the Youtube servings here*:

Robots Love Movies

About the Writer and Animator: Brett Martin is an unrepped screenwriter and freelance reader living in Los Angeles.  He sold an action/thriller to Quixotic Productions, which is owned by Brett Stimely (Watchmen, Transformers 3) and can be reached at soleil.rouge13 “AT” gmail. A professional animator, Ben Liska has done work for the likes of Steve Martin. He can be reached at arobotinspace “AT” gmail

* Are you a child of the 70-80s? Then try to pick out the ‘bot design influences if you can!

 

 

The Making of The Ephesian – An Interview with Mark Lyons and Koran Dunbar

Written by Simplyscripts’ very own Mark Lyons, the short film The Ephesian recently made its theatrical debut at the Maryland International Film Festival.  Greeted to an enthusiastic reception by the audience, the film nonetheless deals with a rather serious topic: the death penalty: When a long-grieving father lobbies to visit a killer on death row, he walks into the chance of a lifetime to come face-to-face with the man who murdered his infant son. (Script available to read here.)

In this interview, STS’s Sean Chipman sat down with Mark Lyons and Producer Koran Dunbar to discuss the making and distribution of the film…

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Sean Chipman: Well, thank you both for joining me this morning.

Koran Dunbar: Thank you.

Mark Lyons: Thanks for thinking of us.

SC: Let’s talk about the big story of the day: “The Ephesian”. Were you guys surprised by how well the film was received?

KD: The film was received very well. We were up against VERY talented filmmakers.

ML: I knew the talent behind [production company] Rags to Riches, so I knew it was going to be a very high quality film off the bat. But there was nothing like walking out of the theater and everybody saying how well they liked the film and how much it made them think.

KD: That was the key… Made them think… These days too many filmmakers are trying to change the world. That’s next to impossible. You need to allow your audience [to] think… And it was a very thought-provoking screenplay.

SC: What was it, Mark, that compelled you to write that script?

ML: Two different situations that happened to me in real life. One was a couple years ago, when my son was one, and I took him for a walk to get a gallon of milk. On the way back, we got to the corner of our street and there were gunshots a couple blocks down. They didn’t stop and were heading our way. I shoved him behind a bush and stood in the way and hoped for the best. Luckily, they had turned up the street before ours and it stopped a little after that. Then, not too long after that, I was held up, this time way down at the other side of the street. He was arrested and I had to go to his trial months and months later. At the trial, I could truly tell that he was sorry for what he had done and after thinking about it, I really had forgiven him. I truly think he’s going to be a good guy. That got me kind of putting the two scenarios together and if a terrible thing had happened to my son, would I be able to forgive the person if they were truly sorry.

SC: Which begs the question, “Would you?”

ML: That’s so hard to answer. I’d probably say no. It’d be too hard. But, of course, our system takes years and years to put people to death, and I don’t know if I could hold that much hate in me for that long of a time. I’d have to let it go at some point to move on.

SC: Now, on the opposite end of the spectrum, Koran, why “The Ephesian”? What was it about this script that you knew you had to make it and did you know from the moment you opened the script?

KD: I really like scripts about humanity… Since Greencastle, I get “Freshman Scripts”. Scripts that are so contrived and dark just for the sake of being dark. This was different. I have to like the actors… They need to be believable. In this case all of them were. Michael’s character grabbed me so much I wanted to portray [him]. However, there was a better person for that role… Then, I saw another actor that blew us all away… I’m about a good project not putting myself where I WANT to be… I sat back and wore the producer’s hat…

ML: That’s what really made me stand back and go, “Wow. Koran was definitely the right person for this film”. It’s not too often you’ll see somebody step back out of a role and do what’s good for the story. It really showed Koran’s passion for the vision he saw in his mind.

SC: And it seems like it was the right decision as well.

ML: Lol. Of course, we’ll never see Koran in the role. I heard he has some chops.

KD: [Laughs]

SC: Well, I’ve seen him in action, so I can definitely vouch for that.

KD: I am all about working with people that are NOT divas… And, honestly, 50% of things don’t get created due to ego… When I talked to Mark, I felt he was sincere and wanted things to happen…

SC: That’s the first step in getting a film to screen. So, what were your favorite and least favorite parts of filming?

KD: My favorite parts of filming is the cast and crew. They become family for life regardless if you fight or not. The worst part is the sacrifice and time from family and friends. And, of course, budget and red tape from locations… There is so much I would like to do if it wasn’t for budget…

SC: Did you have any specific negative and positive experiences with this shoot?

KD: Honestly, no. Wait, there was a drunk extra that came to the set. Other than that, nothing.

SC: Ah, those random drunk extras. Seems like there’s one in every shoot.

ML: [Laughs] Dave [Vanderveer] was telling me about that! I heard she ended up getting a copy of Greencastle [A 2012 film written, directed by and starring Koran Dunbar], though!

KD: Yes. [Laughs] How do you know?

ML: Dave was telling me and Tanya Chattman about it at dinner at the after party. I wanted to be there so bad for the filming. I tried like crazy to get there. Which is another rarity to see from a production company. Unless it’s filmed local, I doubt any independent film company invites and offers to pay the writer to come to the filming. It’s just a testament that Koran likes to build close-knit families with the people he works with.

SC: That does make me curious, Mark, about the level of involvement you had with the production.

ML: As most writers know, it usually goes that you get an E-mail asking for permission to film your script, then you don’t hear from them again. If you’re lucky, you might get an E-mail in a couple of months saying it’s filmed and to check it out on YouTube. Or, if you’re really lucky, an E-mail that it’s been filmed and won an award at [a] festival. But Koran and David kept me up to date and talked to me and asked my opinions about things throughout the whole process. Early on, they even asked me to do a read-through with the director. That’s another rarity that I think writers don’t get the privilege of. At least not that I’ve seen or heard of. The best part is, all the changes and directions they wanted to go, like adding more lines for Michael’s wife, played by Tanya Chattman, those were things I had already thought of when I wanted to turn “The Ephesian” into a feature. It’s rare to be on that same thought-level as someone.

SC: When everyone’s on the same wave length, good things are going to happen.

ML: Absolutely.

SC: Now, Mark, we spoke briefly about how Koran had initially been interested in the part of Michael. I’m curious how the look of the actors compared to how you visualized them when you were writing the script.

ML: That’s one thing I try not to do while I’m writing a character, is pigeon-hole them. It seems natural I know for a lot of writers, especially new writers to read their character’s dialogue in Kevin Spacey’s voice. (I still do it, though only under certain circumstances.) With “The Ephesian”, and you can probably see from his description in the screenplay, I left a very open interpretation to the casting. I’m a very firm believer in let the actors do their magic and let the dialogue only serve as a blueprint. That being said, I can’t see anybody but Joseph Mills III in that role, now.

SC: It’s amazing the effect it has when you see someone perform a role really well. The actor becomes that role.

ML: That, and he’s got a tremendously strong voice, which is what I’m sure Koran saw in him.

SC: Are there any more scripts in your immediate future, feature or otherwise?

ML: Oh, yeah. Right now there’s not a lot of time to write them between working two jobs and spending as much time with my kids as I can, but I’m constantly thinking about new stories, or how to make old ones better. Thanks to the two jobs, I have a little more money I can sink into the script contests and film festival contests this year. I have one I’m working on now I’m really excited about entering into Shriekfest this year, and I’m getting a feature together for Bluecat in the fall.

SC: What about the big job? Can we expect you to hop in the director’s chair at some point or are you content to stay behind the scenes?

ML: I’d of course need a lot more experience on set before I’d even consider hopping into the big chair! But, ultimately, it is a goal of mine, because a lot of stories that I have, I’m pretty sure I’ll be the only one who’ll make them without any fear. Unfortunately, Youngstown doesn’t have much going on for it, so it may be a while and I’ll probably have to do a lot of traveling to get the experience I need to make the kind of film I want to make with the quality that I want. I’d feel comfortable with gearing the story and the actors, I believe, but I’d need one hell of a cinematographer to make me look good.
I think we’ll chalk that up to a “Yes, if…”.

SC: A big congratulations to you both on getting “The Ephesian” filmed. Thank you for your time and the best of luck in the future.

ML: Thank you very much. I appreciate it!

KD: Thanks, a lot.

_______________________________________________________________________

Mark Lyons is a screenwriter from Youngstown, Ohio. He’s written several scripts, most notably ‘Best Film’ award winner “God’s Empty Acre”, which was filmed as ‘Girl(s)’, at the 2013 Winter Shorts Film Festival and Best Drama at the 2013 World Independent Film Expo. He has also written the feature “Thistles” which was a Quarter-Finalist in the 2013 Bluecat Screenwriting Competition and the short “Ginger” which was a Finalist at the 2013 Shriekfest Film Festival. He can be reached at markielyons “AT” yahoo

Koran Dunbar is a Jack-of-all-trades, working as a director, producer, screenwriter and actor from Greencastle, Pennsylvania. His directorial feature film debut, “Greencastle” won ‘Best Feature Film’ at the 2012 Indie Gathering Film Festival as well as nabbing him a ‘Best Actor’ award at the World Music and Independent Film Festival.

 

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Dog Run – Produced Video Review

Along with a selection of shorts ready for production, we at Simplyscripts will also be posting videos from a few special short scripts that have already made the leap to the silver screen – with notable results!

Dog Run (aka Linus)

A woman takes her pet to the Dog Run… and is approached by a man claiming to own all the dogs she’s put to sleep….

About the director: UK based Richard D. Kinsella is a director of several shorts – additional works available via IMDB here.

About the writer: Phil Clarke, Jr. is a contest winning writer who has had feature films optioned, but no mainstream feature length productions as yet.  Produced shorts of Phil’s have been featured at Cannes and Clermont Ferrand.  More of his work is available at his website: www.philclarkejr.com.  (IMDB Credits listed here.)

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So Pretty Series – The Dexter of Vampires – Produced Video Review

Along with a selection of shorts ready for production, we at Simplyscripts will also be posting videos from a few special short scripts that have already made the leap to the silver screen – with notable results!

So Pretty (the script)

The continuing tale of Sean – a 200 year old vampire with a conscience; who preys on the equally monstrous….

An ongoing web series, that is well on its way to success, the first script – So Pretty – was workshopped on Simplyscripts by long-time member James Williams.  Meant to appeal to the anti-Twilight, pro Dexter crowd (and who doesn’t count themselves as at least one of those?) the script featured a chance meeting on a subway train between a vampire-fan, and a fellow passenger who isn’t quite what he seemed.

But who could possibly want to stop there?  The sequel quickly followed, entitled:

So Dark

Chronicling what happened after the initial slaughter….

And it looks like they’re just getting started.  The cast and crew are currently on Indiegogo, seeking funding for

So Dark 3 (now on Indiegogo here)

Sure to be a huge success.  So hats off to both the crew and James!  This is what successful indie production should look like!

About the Director: Al Lougher (IMDB credit here.)

About the Writer: Our very own James Williams (IMDB credits here.)

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