Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Christopher Canole

An interview with screenwriter Christopher Canole regarding the Screenplay ShootOut 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’s desire to match the first Marathon run without losing his life. Felix Carvajal 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 former good relations between Cuba and the United States.

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

A: Having won online, film festival and the Scr(i)pt magazine contest I decided to enter Felix in a competition run by a production company. This would be a test if people are willing to invest money in my screenplay. Though the $3,000 first place prize was not an option, it is another step up the ladder of success. So far Felix’s results in contest are: Scr(i)pt Open Door ( Winner - Gold ), Screenplay Shootout ( Winner - Gold ), ( Winner - Gold ), Contest-of-Contest ( Winner - Silver ), Screenplay Festival ( Winner - Silver ), Acclaim Film and TV ( Winner - Silver ), San Diego Film Festival ( Winner - Bronze ), GAFFERS Film Festival ( Winner - Bronze ), 20/20 (Finalist), All Access (Finalist), Red Inkworks (Finalist), Scriptwriter Dig (Finalist), Script Shark (Semi-Final), Scriptapalooza (Semi-Finals), Page International (Semi-Finals), American Accolades (Semi-Finals), Writers on the Storm (Semi-Finals), Fade In Magazine (Quarter-Finals), AAA Screenwriting (Quarter-Finals), New York City Latino Film Festival (Quarter-Finals), FilmMakers International (Quarter-Finals)

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: In the middle of their busy production schedule Shane Thueson and James Doolin notified me with a great phone call, sent the check immediately, and posted a fun and insightful interview they conducted with me on their web site.

Questions like: “Tell us about your writing habits. Any advice or lessons you’d like to share with other aspiring writers?”

Researching a month in advanced of writing a screenplay has become an unexpected passion that acts like a rehearsal amongst actors and a director. I fill my studio walls with images of the theme of my screenplay like a set designer and cinematographer. The pre-writing momentum builds as more and more people get wind of my latest story. People from all over the world have supplied me with invaluable artifacts I never knew existed.

The most important lesson I've learned this year is the absolute power of the REWRITE. Each time I win, or place high, in a contest I rewrite Felix the Flyer. I wrote a new version for a particular types of contest like the San Diego Film Festival and Screenplay Shootout, and suggestions from reading Scr(i)pt magazine. I've rewritten this script imagining John Leguizamo in the lead to bring out Felix's aggressive comedic nature, and then a rewrite with Diego Luna as Felix to accentuate the vulnerable innocent hero. Since submitting Felix to the Shootout I've written a version for a Cuban producer like Andy Garcia who can bring out more nuances to the story . And now I am writing Her Swastika Sword for a powerful actress like Charlize Theron.

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

A: This was not a feature of the competition. But they have remained in constant contact every since the win to answer questions.

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

A: If you mean investing $3,000 in my career to market my script through other contests and contacts at film festivals…YES. My manager Leslie Rabb of RPM International uses these wins to promote all my scripts.

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, which I think is the goal of many successful screenwriters. Fortunately Los Angeles is close enough to attend meetings and film festivals.

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

A: Enter Felix in more competitions to gain the attention of a studio to put him on the big screen. Till then I am now writing my eleventh screenplay, Her Swastika Sword, about Helene Mayer German a Jewish fencer attending the University of Southern California who drew her sword to fence in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. I am writing in the style of a Western lone gunfighter forced to stand tall against multiple antagonists including Hitler and the US Olympic Committee.

Posted Thursday, July 13, 2006