Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Christopher Canole

An interview with screenwriter Christopher Canole regarding the GAFFERS Writing Competition.

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

A: The true story of a young Cuban mailman who sought to match the feat of his ancient Greek hero, the mailman who the Marathon is dedicated, by running 1200 miles up the Mississippi from New Orleans to St. Louis to reach his goal of competing 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: On June 17, 1956 my nine-year-old self watched a half-hour television dramatization of the Cuban mailman Felix Carvajal. In 2004 the director Armand Mastroianni (Celestine Prophecy ) asked me to write a sports bio-pic for ESPN and I vaguely remembered Felix’s story. This year I finally realized the inspiration for my screenplay Felix the Flyer when I won a bid on an Ebay auction for the original TV program from Joseph Taverney. Once I had the date I was stunned to see the GAFFERS film festival screenwriting contest would be announcing their winner at their Hollywood festival on June 17, 2006, exactly 50 years to the day from the day I first learned about Felix. So I entered, and won! Since entering I have also obtained a copy of the TV Guide from that week in 1956 and learned Felix was played by Pedro Gonzales-Gonzales, the grandfather of actor Clifton Collins Jr., who along with Diego Luna and John Legaizamo is someone I see playing Felix. In fact if anyone reading this interview knows Clifton, I want to give him the original 50-year-old 16mm film of his grandfather’s performance.

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: I am a huge fan of film festival screenplay writing contests. I write for films, not contest, so GAFFERS is the best arena for writers to do more with their scripts upon winning. Their web site kept me updated on all aspects of the contest. The awards were given out during the awards dinner. For those of you in New York City and San Juan Puerto Rico check out the GAFFERS when it plays in your town.

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

A: All the winners read from their scripts for immediate feedback during the film festival. I think face-to-face feedback is more honest where you can see how people react to your story. This is a screenplay I re-write after every win, and even making the finals when I receive extensive notes from someone like Bonnie Sanders at the 20/20 contest. All feedback is helpful if a writer does rewrites. And the best feedback at a film festival like GAFFERS is meeting future directors and seeing their wonderful films.

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

A: GAFFERS set up interviews with the media like E Entertainment, so I look forward to the broadcast. They also knew I would like to have Edward Olmos play Felix’s grandfather, and are attempting to make contact with him, as well as Andy Garcia to be a director or producer of this great Cuban story.

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 eleven 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 but enjoy the trip to Los Angeles to receive awards like the GAFFERS which was held at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel across the courtyard from the Kodak Theater…maybe someday...

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 and web sites (more than 4,500 downloads each), 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. I am writing this script like a Western during my Writers Boot Camp on-line class and loving their great character based approach.

Posted Friday, June 23, 2006