My first professional interview!

This month Festival Director Denise Gossett spoke with Janet Loftis, 2009, 2012, 2017, 2018 screenplay finalist and 2015 semi finalist!

DG: What is your name and company URL?

JL: Janet Loftis, writer.

I don’t really have a company/URL, but here are the links to my e-book on Amazon, and my WordPress blog.

http://smile.amazon.com/Skin-Bones-Janet-Loftis-ebook/dp/B00E19DQHA/

https://janetloftis.wordpress.com/

JL

DG: What is your specialty…filmmaking or screenwriting?

JL: screenwriting. preferred format: shorts (for now…)

DG: What are you currently working on?

JL: I’ve just started a new short for Shriekfest 2019 (of course). And I’m in the process of adding a couple of new stories to my horror/dark fantasy collection “Skin & Bones” which currently is only available in e-book format. Once that’s done, I’ll be creating a print option.

DG: Nice! Who do you consider your mentor and why?

JL: I’ve had several over the years, from teachers to friends, and even friends of friends (who I’ve never met in person) who were generous enough to read & critique. And a special nod to my friend, Xina Uhl, who is the one who encouraged me to try e-book sales. We often give each other virtual “kicks-in-the-rear” to get back to work.

DG: That is so important. Why do you think the horror/sci-fi genres have such a large following?

JL: I think horror/sciffi offers the most variety, incorporating every other genre in any combination – where else could you create a story about a time traveling amphibious alien serial killer who falls in love with Rasputin, his next intended victim? Hmm…now there’s an idea I haven’t tried yet.

DG: LOL What do you love most about this business?

JL: I love the family feel, the inclusiveness. I met so many incredibly nice people at Shriekfest who welcomed me with open arms, instantly making me one of their own.

DG: That makes me happy! What do you dislike most about this business?

JL: I’m not sure. Probably the same that others dislike: how hard it is to break in – what does it take to get that one break? that leap from finalist to winner to getting a script made into film?

DG: What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

JL: My last two finalist placements in Shriekfest, especially since, I must confess, I wrote each of those two days before the final deadline.

DG: Wow, that’s impressive! Any advice you’d like to give newbies?

JL: Sit your ass down in a chair, move the cat off the computer keyboard, and write.

DG: LOL Great advice! Anything else you’d like to say?

JL: See you in October!

DG: Thank you It was great chatting!

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Adventures in Screenwriting

Ever have random story ideas pop in your head, but they’re incomplete and you don’t know what to do with them? Of course you have. The notion of writing a zombie story involving sisters and/or brothers has been in my head for a while. I even had the perfect opening line: “You ate mom!”MyDeadSisterPoster1BW

But I couldn’t decide who my characters should be or who would get zombified. I’d been thinking I’d go with one of the standard horror movie tropes: the cute young sisters, but then I saw “Train to Busan” (South Korea’s surprising hit entry into the zombie genre). Two of the supporting characters are elderly sisters, In-gil and Jon-gil. In their scenes we’re shown two siblings whose relationship doesn’t seem to be that close. There’s some bickering, a little bit of chastising. But then the two women are accidentally separated during a mad dash back to the safety of the train, leaving each woman with a different group of survivors. Then you see their despair, the devastation they feel in believing the other is dead. You see how alone each woman is without her sibling. There is one moment of hope when the sisters are almost re-united, but Jong-gil falls victim to the zombies. Defeated, and angry that the actions of others caused her sister’s death, In-gil deliberately opens the door to allow the zombies in, joining her sister in death (well, in un-death – is that a word?)

Then I had my story. I decided to cast my characters as in their early 50s (approximately the actual age of me and my real sister), better to relate to them as I explored their actions and their futures, or lack thereof. This also left the script open to throwing in a menopause joke – not a hot (flash) topic in many zombie movies. I know how zombified I felt before hormone replacement therapy and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. Right, ladies? If you know what I mean, raise your hands (the one not holding onto an ice pack).

Instead of a short story, I decided to turn it into a super short screenplay and entered it into the 2018 Shriekfest Horror Film Festival, the longest running horror festival in Los Angeles, founded by actress Denise Gossett (considered to be one of the most influential women in horror). I’ve submitted five other times (not in consecutive years), and placed in the finals, then the semi-finals, then finals, then semi-finals, and then finals. (I’m sensing a pattern here.) When “My Dead Sister” made the list of finalists this year, not just a semi-finalist, I was really hoping to truly break the pattern, but, alas, was not the winner. Still, I enjoyed attending the festival first weekend of October. I saw some great films (like “Amy’s in the Freezer” – a dark-humored short  – and “Echoes of Fear” – which won best supernatural horror feature). Of course there were a couple that were not so terrific, but only one I had to walk out on to prevent its lighting effects from triggering a migraine (another thing that turns me into a zombie). And I truly enjoyed meeting so many other friendly and encouraging writers, some of whom were my competition of course, but were so warm and welcoming.

Before I close, and before my real sister think I actually wished she were a zombie and therefore, you know, dead, the siblings’ relationship portrayed in the script does not reflect reality (other than a particular detail I plucked from our childhood as key to the plot). But, if she was actually dead I wish she’d be a zombie because then she’d still be around so we can hang together and drink beer. Well, I’d drink the beer and she’d eat people. But eating people is kinda gross, so, umm, anyway, love ya sis!

We interrupt Africa for…South Korea

…and zombies!

Horror movie aficionados, zombie movie fans, subtitle lovers, have you seen “Train to Busan” yet?

South Korea’s first blockbuster zombie flick, it came out last year and had a good run in U.S. theaters (although I managed to miss it) and has also won some awards. There’s even talk of an American re-make, but don’t wait for that. You can easily find it on Amazon Prime or Comcast’s On-Demand, etc. That’s what I did and it was fantastic! Loved it. When’s the last time a zombie movie made you cry?

Run to your computer or tv now. Well, first pop yourself some popcorn and find a comfy seat. If it’s chilly, grab a blanket. Okay. Settled in? Type “Train to Busan” in your search window. Even typing “Snakes on a Plane” uh, I mean “Zombies on a Train” will get you there too. You won’t regret it. In case you need a little convincing first, here’s the trailer: