Archive for the screenwriting Category

Movie Review: Humpday

Posted in acting, Making Movies, Movie reviews, screenwriting with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2009 by Tom McIntire

I approached the content of Seattle writer/director Lynn Shelton‘s Humpday with some trepidation – in America pretty much the worst thing you can say (or even imply) about a straight man is that he may have some sexual interest in another man. You can see this in evidence in everything from homophobic stand-up comedy to sports trash-talking to films about straight men posing as gays to gain some special right or privilege (or the girl). What I did not want to see was yet another gay-bashing disguised as comedy. I was delighted to find the subject treated in an honest, sensitive and thoughtful manner in the knowing and funny film Humpday.

Dealing with issues of identity and choices beyond sex and sexuality, Humpday chronicles the reunion of college buddies Ben and Andrew. One has taken a more conventional path including marriage, a house and talk of having children. The other has followed the path of the Beat generation artists and poets, traveling around the world with no particular goal in mind but the trip itself. Their assumptions about one another are challenged as are their doubts about themselves and the choices they have made.

Shelton’s script is beautifully crafted and realized. Knowing a bit about the film from reviews and word-of-mouth, I wondered through the first half hour or so how she was going to pull this off. Natural, believable characters unfold as their relationships bend and twist and evolve, revealing surprising truths about love and friendship and sex. Strong performances from the cast, including Shelton’s own luminous supporting role as free-spirited Monica, demonstrate the director’s skillful,  subtle touch. Alycia Delmore‘s turn as Anna, the patient wife struggling to understand her husband and herself and what it means to be married, brings a focus and clarity that is clever and satisfying. Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard ultimately carry  the day though, delivering what feels like a single seamless performance in their critical scenes together. Their chemistry is just right, as is this enjoyable AND intelligent film.

Humpday is available on Netflix.



Wondering what to give? How about an executive producer credit on IMDB?

Posted in Making Movies, Non-profit filmmaking, reelheart, screenwriting, Seattle events, Toronto on November 23, 2009 by Tom McIntire

2010 ReelHeART International Film FestivalNon-profit Smiling Z Studios has been designated as the production team for the winning script in the 2010 ReelHeART International Film Festival (RHIFF) short screenplay competition. If we meet our fundraising goals and produce the project, the finished film will screen in Toronto in June 2010 on RHIFF’s main stage. Toronto is a great place to visit and RHIFF is definitely a go-to event.

You can help get this film made AND get a gift for your ‘person who has everything’. The wanna-be movie mogul in your life can have an Associate Producer ($500) or Executive Producer ($2000) credit on and in the credits for our upcoming production. Lots of other levels of support are available too. You can support the project on or go directly to the Smiling Z Studios site and choose Donate in the left column. You’ll further the art of filmmaking in Seattle while strengthening ties to Toronto’s filmmaking and viewing communities.

Want something you can wrap? Choose our recently released short environmentally themed sci-fi thriller Greenspoke on DVD from Greenspoke is an Accolade Award of Merit winner and received a great review in The Seattle WeeklyGreenspoke posters, T-shirts and even temporary tattoos are available on the official Greenspoke site (scroll down after you watch the trailer).

Places Every One

Posted in Greenspoke, Making Movies, screenwriting on October 26, 2009 by Tom McIntire
Michael Lorefice wrapping the logo on the emissions station sign

Michael Lorefice wrapping the logo on the emissions station sign used in Greenspoke.

The Saturn was due for an emissions check. A cold, heavy rain fell as I made the familiar trip past the State Emissions Inspection Station sign. Why a familiar trip when we only get our car checked every two years? Applus+ Technologies, the company that runs the emissions stations in Washington, was kind enough to allow us to use the Sodo station for several scenes in my short film Greenspoke. Tim glides by the sign on his bike in the film, answering the question ‘where is he going anyway?’ I’ve seen him do that exact ride a million times. Well, maybe a thousand. For our scenes in the bays and interior of the inspection station, the management was extremely helpful, even advising our lead actor Tim Gouran on how to probe like a pro.

Visiting locations you have used in a film, especially when you have literally spent hundreds of hours watching, editing, watching and re-editing the piece, is magically surreal. I almost said magically delicious. This place that initially lived in your imagination as you wrote the script took on another life when you played out your story in this physical space. The story grew into the space until they were inextricably linked. Eventually the place works its way into your consciousness like a character all its own. As I pulled up into the lane we used for Ruri’s scenes with John, the cold gray space seemed empty without the lights, dollies, camera, cast and crew. Even with that, it had a familiarity and chilly warmth that left me waiting for the line:

“You passed with flying colors.”

The friendly attendant missed her cue but the car passed and I was on my way. I never did hear that lone serendipitous train whistle we got in the film.

I had a similar experience when out cycling at Golden Gardens, the Seattle park where we shot the beach scenes in the climax of Greenspoke. This also was the location where we shot several scenes for my acting turn as a multi-murderer in the Trapped Principal episode of the Japanese television series Gyoten Sekai. This park is used often in film productions here in Seattle, so it wasn’t unusual to see a film crew. What was fun was to see the 1st Assistant Camera from Greenspoke, Angie Bernardoni and then realize that our Director of Photography Ryan Purcell and Sound man extraordinaire Matt Sheldon were also on the beach making movie magic. Even though it was a warm day, I felt again the chill of our December shoot, reliving over and over again the teeth-chattering cold that the talent went through and that I have seen (and felt) hundreds of times as well as I tweaked the color and the edit and manipulated the sounds of their screams, the passing train and the water.

Greenspoke storyboard

Greenspoke storyboard

I’m currently working on storyboards to help me tweak my feature length script The Smiling Zombie. Storyboarding helps me identify weak sections of my scripts, visualize the locations I need and develop broad production design concepts. They also help in working with the director of photography to help us find the right dramatic and visual tension for a scene. Something they don’t do, which is part of the joy of making the film, is  flesh out all the nuances of an actual space and how that can be used to further the story and enrich the visual aspects of the film. It’s like the difference between looking at a map and walking down the street. As I make my new ‘maps’, I’m looking forward to walking down the streets of the new places it brings into my stories and my life.

Aug 4 Fundraiser Screening Plus Live Music at Central Cinema – tix at

Posted in acting, Greenspoke, Making Movies, reelheart, screenwriting, Seattle events with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2009 by Tom McIntire

Smiling Z Studios

Two award-winning  short films, snacks, live music from The Daguerreotypes and a no-host bar – come see Tom McIntire’s award-winning political satire “two julias”, plus be a part of the first super secret preview screening of his latest, the sci-fi thriller “Greenspoke”.

two julias: Much to the delight of his kinky girlfriend, a counter-terrorism agent abuses his authority by spying on single women just for fun. A young woman looking for love online and a lecherous married salesman get entangled in their games. A darkly comedic political satire. Break a heart in seven languages! Winner honorable mention and director’s pick 2008 ReelHeART International Film Festival and recently nominated for Best USA Film under 25 Minutes at International Film Festival Ireland.

Greenspoke: A beautiful Japanese translator and a world-weary vehicle emissions technician awaken profoundly changed by the work of a brilliant scientist who believes he has found the solution to climate change. Winner of the Accolade Award of Merit: Short Film and nominated for Best International Film under 50 Munutes at International Film Festival Ireland.

The Daguerreotypes: Their quirky music is featured in both films – come hear this great band live!

Net proceeds benefit Smiling Z Studios, the nonprofit film studio dedicated to providing paid cast and crew positions in quality Seattle film productions

NOTE: No one under 21 years old will be admitted.

Feel free to share this info with your friends, including the discount code for your poor friends. Enter the discount code “blog” and get in at the cast and crew price of $12. Make your rich friends pay at the higher levels listed on brownpapertickets – purchases at the $25 and $50 levels include a portion that is tax-deductible, plus some thank you gifts.

I hope you can make it!

two julias and Greenspoke have both been nominated for awards

two julias and Greenspoke have both been nominated for awards

Greenspoke won an Award of Merit for Short Film

Greenspoke won an Award of Merit for Short Film

two julias won an honorable mention and a director's pick

two julias won an honorable mention and a director's pick

“The Smiling Zombie” advances to the quarterfinals in the 2009 Bluecat Screenplay Competition

Posted in screenwriting with tags , , , , , , , on June 17, 2009 by Tom McIntire

My feature-length script, The Smiling Zombie, has advanced to the quarterfinals in the 2009 Bluecat Screenplay Competition. Coming on the heels of placing as a finalist (along with a second script of mine, The Karma Stone) in the 2009 ReelHeART International Film Festival (RHIFF) in Toronto and advancing to the semifinals in the 2008 Writemovies competition, this is exciting stuff for my drama with dark comedy, music, dancing and yes a few zombies.

The Smiling Zombie is planned to be the first feature produced by nonprofit film studio Smiling Z Studios. We are currently working on the budget and urge you to support the studio if you can. There’s a link on the Web site. Smiling Z Studios provides paid cast and crew positions in quality productions even when budgets are low.

Why Is That Z Smiling? A new approach to supporting filmmaking

Posted in Making Movies, screenwriting with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2009 by Tom McIntire

I was thinking about how what I do producing and directing low budget films like Greenspoke is similar to a nonprofit live theatre group like Washington Ensemble Theatre. We raise the money we need (or in my case pay for it myself), hire the cast and crew and create a show. Then we try to get it out to the public, either by ticket sales in the case of live theatre or by festival submissions and distribution for films. The main difference is I have a finished product that can be seen again and again. And the live theatre teams rarely have much cash to pay anyone. I started to see many parallels and ways for us to work together to support eachother’s efforts. Many of the actors and crew I hired were struggling to make ends meet and grateful for even the small amount I was able to pay them. The loss of my day job last year and my subsequent difficulty finding other employment led me to think about alternative means of funding my filmmaking passion. These thoughts all ran through my mind as the idea to create the nonprofit Smiling Z Studios was formed. Don’t know if this is an original idea but it’s a new way of thinking for me.

Here’s the official pitch:

Smiling Z Studios feeds the artists while feeding the art. Local actors and crew often are called upon to work for nothing to help struggling filmmakers. While this may get a film made, it creates an environment where creative work is not valued and compensated. We like to think of what we are doing as fair trade film. Here’s how we are different:
1. With few exceptions, everyone who works on our productions gets paid.
2. We raise enough money to run professional productions even when working with a limited crew.
3. We use talent from many of the local live theatre groups and schedule in such a way as to maximize their availability for other work.
4. We schedule our crew during slow times to ensure we don’t conflict with higher paying commercial and industrial gigs. This has the added bonus of making equipment rentals more affordable.

Smiling Z Studios is a non-profit corporation that evolved out of Tom McIntire’s for-profit concern, Smiling Zombie Productions. We decided to become a non-profit film studio because our focus is on the work and the artists. While many of our colleagues leave the Northwest to pursue their film careers in Los Angeles, we believe we have the talent and the skill base here to do extraordinary work that helps everyone involved in the productions. Quality work that will be recognized with festival screenings and distribution, and ultimately help fund future productions.

Your support now will help us build a stronger, more sustainable filmmaking community here in the Pacific Northwest. To kickoff the 2009-2010 schedule, Smiling Z will produce Tom’s award-winning dramatic feature script, The Smiling Zombie. Successful musical theatre performer Jack Alcott’s career is cut short by multiple sclerosis. With the support of his HIV+ partner, he attempts a comeback of sorts with a featured extra role in a no-budget zombie film. A bittersweet human portrait inspired by actual events, The Smiling Zombie examines the performer forced to turn his attention inward and confront his own mortality.

Official pitch ends here.

So what do you think? Check us out at – if you want to help out through donations, helping with fundraising or working on our projects, let me know. We’re going to do some fundraising that puts the fun back in fundraising. Stay tuned.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Posted in Greenspoke, Making Movies, screenwriting, Toronto, two julias with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2009 by Tom McIntire

Tom Petty lyrics aside, the end of a project is when it all is beginning. Greenspoke, my environmentally themed short sci fi piece, is entered in several film festivals, including the Seattle International Film Festival. No official selections yet but by early May we’ll start hearing how it is being received by the festival programmers. After spending months and months on a project you want people to see it. And distribute it. And fund that feature you want to produce next.

Speaking of features, there was a delay in judging in the 2009 ReelHeART International Screenplay Competition. Two of my scripts, The Karma Stone and The Smiling Zombie are finalists (as followers of this blog already know). I was amazed and thrilled to have TWO scripts in the running. Out of six finalists, three were chosen as the top three, and will receive a live, rehearsed reading at the festival. Judging was by a prominent agency. Eek! This led to much checking of e-mail, wringing of hands, self doubt and consoling by friends. I sometimes think I am not very competitive but deep down I am. Unfortunately neither script made it into the top three. The festival director was nice enough to call me and let me know.

If you have not participated in ReelHeART (RHIFF) in Toronto, it is a wonderful experience for filmmakers and audiences alike.  They treat filmmakers with care, respect and make it fun to boot. My short two julias premiered there last year, winning a Director’s Pick and Honorable Mention. We also got a distribution offer from Toronto-based Ouat! Media. Even if you don’t have anything in the festival, if you are in Toronto there are lots of filmmaker-focused events.