Screenwriter Interviews

MovieBytes Interview:
Screenwriter Christopher Canole

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

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

A: Felix the Flyer

This Latino "Chariots of Fire" true story of a Cuban mailman running in the 1904 Olympic Marathon as he recounts his 1200 mile super-run up the Mississippi River to battle the world's greatest marathoners chasing him in the most bizarre race in history, filled with racism, cheating, and drugs, is an inspiration for all future underdogs.

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

A: Is there anything contest better than the International Family Film Festival with readings of finalist by professional actors, an all day Writers Boot Camp workshop, panels including Larry Guterman, director of "Ants", Evan Turner, Director of Development for Walden Media, and Vicki Jenson, director of "Shark Tale" and "Shrek", and CAA agent J P Evans, parties to mingle with directors and producers, and viewings of future filmmakers on the Raleigh Studio lot of “Ugly Betty”? My escort for the opening night reception was the lovely and talented Australian actress Gigi Edgley from Farscape, who looked like Audrey Hepburn from Roman Holiday as she charmed everyone taking in the beautiful Japanese garden of Yamashiro restaurant that sponsored the opening and awards ceremony. The next afternoon Zach Gutin from Final Draft/Script Magazine and I had a great conversation on the future of Felix which won the Script Open Door contest, while we watched hundreds of kids from all over Los Angeles bussed in for free viewings of the wonderful IFFF films. Before the awards presentation all twenty finalist in feature length and short screenplays had a scene from their script performed. James Duval, Don Swayze, Ana Berry, Peter Bisson brought my screenplay to life for the first time and I even rewrote the scene as soon as I got home. This festival win joins the 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), Nicholl Fellowship (Quarter Finals) results.

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: More than any other contest I’ve entered the IFFF organizers Chris and Suzanne Shoemacher with Patte Dee McKee posted almost daily updates to their contest and the round-by-round results of the entries. This way all the finalist received weeks of publicity. Even after the awards they are updating their web site. Now that the IFFF has moved to the Raleigh Studios in Hollywood I am sure it will become one of the premier festivals.

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

A: The feedback was not written, but there was a question and answer session after each live performance with very thoughtful questions from the audience. And during the reception after the awards presentation Swayze and Duval gave me some insights on how they enjoyed playing the main characters.

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

A: It is only a few days after the win and already I’ve gotten requests from producers and directors. My manager Leslie Rabb of RPM International uses these wins to promote all my scripts. This win on the west coast following my recent win at the Queens Festival in New York City is creating the “buzz” we only imagine.

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. While filming in Prague under the direction of Armand Mastroianni he encouraged me to start writing, and Felix the Flyer is a script I wrote specifically for him. 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: La Jolla, California is home, only a few hours from Los Angeles. Weekends like the last one at IFFF in Hollywood are exciting and seductive, but writing is a jealous love that keeps me at arms length from all the glamour.

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

A: I am now finishing my eleventh screenplay “Her Swastika Sword”, with Gigi in mind to use her fencing skills, 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. And blocking out my first romantic comedy in the world of the Prague art community.

Posted Thursday, February 8, 2007