Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Christopher Canole

An interview with screenwriter Christopher Canole regarding the San Diego Writing Competition.

Q: What's the title of the script you entered in this contest, and what's it about?

A: Felix the Flyer

The true story of a young Cuban mailman who ran the 1200 miles of the Mississippi from New Orleans to St. Louis to reach his goal of running in the 1904 Olympic Marathon. The Marathon itself is one of the most infamous Olympic stories in history; filled with cheating, drug abuse, racism, torturous conditions and non-stop twists and turns that changed the very nature of Marathon races forever. Felix is an inspiration for all underdogs seeking to cross their own finish line with pride, and the good relations Cuba and the United States once had.

Q: What made you enter this particular contest? Have you entered any other contests with this script? If so, how did you do?

A: Like most contest writers who have not yet been produced I write in a vacuum waiting for the next contest results to be posted on Moviebytes.com or my Manager Leslie Rabb phoning me to tell me someone loves one of my screenplays and is ready to start filming. I wondered what it would be like to have the general public recognizing my efforts, so I entered Felix in my local contest. And this is the first contest linked with a film festival. Then to top it off, the American Screenwriters Association decided to hold their annual conference here. I thought I had died and gone to unknown writers heaven. So this contest became a great push for both my career and confidence which began last year when I was as a winner in the 2004 Screenplay Festival contest. I decided then to re-write Felix and enter as many competitions as I could afford. So far Felix has won the A/Exposure monthly, come in second in the Acclaim Film and TV, made the finals of the Scr(i)pt magazine Kaplan Open Door, made the semi-finals in the Scriptapalooza, Page International, as well as the quarter-finals of the AAA Screenwriting and FilmMakers International, and I received a hand written note from the Nicholl Fellowship saying Felix was in the top 10%.

Q: Were you satisfied with the adminstration of the contest? Did they meet their deadlines? Did you receive all the awards that were promised?

A: The San Diego Film Festival organizer Joel Eisenberg administered the contest both professionally and enthusiastically, Unlike some contest where you have to check the Moviebytes.com news page to find out what is happening, Joel called me in advance with the results of every round. While waiting for the results I read Joel's humorous book on the Hollywood industry, "Aunt Bessie's How to Survive a Day Job While Pursuing the Creative Life.” The SDFF met every deadline exactly to the day and were quick to send the winning package and even upgrade my passes to the San Diego Film Festival.

Q: Were you given any feedback on your script? If so, did you find the feedback helpful?

A: The best feedback I’ve received so far from a contest came in an extensive email detailing not only strong and weak points, but also comments from individual judges. With these comments in hand as well as the feedback from the Acclaim Film and TV contest and my Manager’s assistant Tanna Thompson I am re-writing again for the next round of competitions. Some of these competitions specifically provide extensive coverage as part of their prize package.

Q: Has your success in this contest helped you market your script? Were you contacted by any agents, managers or producers?

A: The win in this contest pushed Felix higher up the national charts on Moviebytes new web page WinningScripts.com to first in Sports, third in Family, and third in Biography. Several producers have contacted me noting that they use this new feature of Moviebytes.

Q: What's your background? Have you written any other screenplays or television scripts?

A: I am a union set photographer and actor who decided it was time to create my own stories. In the past three years I have written ten screenplays: Bloodgroove (60’s college story), Drawn Together (political thriller), DVD Day (science fiction doomsday), Spring Snow (Mishima novel adaptation for my PhD in literature), Runaway Horses (Another Mishima), Z.I.A. (Family Zoo story), Counter-Clockwise (Science fiction romance), Felix the Flyer (sports biography), Pen Dragon (comic book fable), and The Last Limo (post 9/11 American Odyssey).

Q: Do you live in Los Angeles? If not, do you have any plans to move there?

A: I live in La Jolla, California and thanks to Amtrak I head up to LA every time someone needs a face-to-face, or to attend a screenwriting conference.

Q: What's next? Are you working on a new script?

A: Due to my background as a fencer, and popularity of my two female lead character scripts on the Inktip.com web site (1700 downloads in just six months), I am currently writing “Her Swastika Sword” a sports bio-pic about Helene Mayer the Jewish-German Olympic fencer who crossed-swords with everyone from the American Olympic committee to the Nazi organizers for her own mysterious motives. Fortunately, during my lunch with Tom Craig he let me know his interest in Felix the Flyer was to shop it around as a part of an Olympic Games television series. So maybe winning a monthly contest like WriteMovies.com can produce just as much buzz as one of yearly contests.

Posted Monday, October 3, 2005