FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards 2005 - Interview

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FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards

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Romeo Ciolfi
Fifth Place  Winner
Romeo Ciolfi
of Toronto, ON, Canada
Screenplay
HOME
Drama
Biography:

From a very young age, Romeo loved to create stories and watch movies. He worked with his brothers producing their own 8mm silent film projects which they would, write, direct, act and edit. Growing up in the small city of Welland, Ontario where he attended high school, he began writing plays and performing them. After graduating, he moved to Toronto to study at York University where he focused solely on screenwriting and playwriting. He continued to write his own plays and perform them on the York campus.

Post graduation, Romeo has continued to concentrate on perfecting the craft of screenwriting and still directs and performs in the odd play. He has worked on two short films, one of which he wrote. In the past several years he has sent his scripts out to many reputable screenwriting contests including the Nicholl Fellowships where he has placed in the top 10%.

He is currently working on two scripts, one of which he hopes to shoot next summer. He describes it as a psychological thriller in the vain of Hitchcock and “The Sixth Sense”.

Interview

I knew I wanted to be a screenwriter........

when I made silent super 8mm films with my brothers growing up.

I know I've succeeded........ 

when each script I write is better than the last.
 

My inspiration to write HOME.......

came from making casual observations of people in my work environment.

 

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FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Romeo Ciolfi: It was a need. Writing helps me understand things around me. It allows me to filter the world through words, action and dialogue.

FilmMakers Magazine: What did you do to prepare yourself to write your first script?

Romeo Ciolfi: Whether it's my first script or current script, when I prepare to write I spend weeks pacing, brainstorming, writing 20 or 30 pages of notes, ideas, creating characters and research if need be - before I even write one single page of a script. I like to outline my plot. I like to have a good sense as to where I am going.

FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to complete?

Romeo Ciolfi: No, Home is not my first script and it took me around three months to brainstorm ideas and write out a first draft. My first drafts are always on paper - I find I can think better. Once I reworked and typed out the first draft, I spent a few more months on re-writing.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?

Romeo Ciolfi:
I write best between early afternoon and early evening, but it often depends on what stage of the writing process I'm at. I spend a lot of time gazing out the front window of my house. I can't write in coffee shops or public places where I get easily distracted.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?

Romeo Ciolfi: Screenwriting contests can get your foot in the door and if you do well in one, it offers a writer a ray of hope (albeit it a subjective one). It can give a writer that little bit of push to keep at it, don't give up. That's what they've done for me.

FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the FilmMakers.com / The Radmin Company Screenwriting Competition?

Romeo Ciolfi: I do a lot of research on screenwriting contests and have used moviebytes as a great resource to find the best ones. I basically have four criteria to pick a contest to enter: track record, reasonable fees, awards and the credentials of those running the contest. Based on these criteria I felt satisfied with the Filmmakers' contest.

FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?

Romeo Ciolfi: Ordinary People is one of my favorite films. Alvin Sargent wrote the script. It's full of subtleties and nuances in character that make the film an incrediably moving experience.

FilmMakers Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?

Romeo Ciolfi: Food. Health. Gardening. Acting. Making people laugh. I believe a writer needs other passions in his/her life to help fuel the writing.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Romeo Ciolfi:
I don't really have a favorite writer, but to name a few good ones: Alvin Sargent (Ordinary People, Dominick and Eugene);  Steven Zaillian (Searching for Bobby Fisher, Schindler's List);  Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption); Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve).

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with and why?

Romeo Ciolfi: Although he is not with us anymore, Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock had such a unique style. I loved the way he moved the camera and how the actions of a character spoke more volumes than dialogue. He was at the top of his game is such films as Rebecca, Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, Vertigo, Psycho and The Birds.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and why?

Romeo Ciolfi: Jeff Bridges. Hands down. He is one of the most under-rated actors in American films and it's because he is so subtle in what he does. Take a look at his work in Starman, The Fisher King, American Heart, Fearless and The Door in the Floor. His facial reactions, body language and the way he underplays a given emotion defines his greatness.

FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?

Romeo Ciolfi: Don't get easily discouraged. Don't do it for the money. And if you call yourself a writer, write and rewrite. Too many people talk about writing, but don't do enough of it. Give your work to other people and writers and whatever you learn on one script, pass it on to the next.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Romeo Ciolfi: I've just finished two scripts. One is about a brother and sister who grew up in a small town and must deal with the ailing health of their father. It's a story about how an incident in the past has informed and influenced this family in the present. It has a feel to it like You Can Count On Me. The second script is in the vain of The Sixth Sense and Hitchcock. It tells the story of how fear (imagined or real) drives us and often times keeps us in our place. My hope is to eventually shoot this script as it lends itself to an independent-type film.

FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from now?

Romeo Ciolfi: Still writing.
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