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SYS Podcast Episode 139: Writer / Director Chad L. Scheifele Talks About His New Film, Natural Selection (transcript)

This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 139: Writer / Director Chad L. Scheifele Talks About His New Film, Natural Selection.


 Ashley:  Welcome to episode #139 of the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I’m Ashley Scott Meyers Screenwriter and Blogger, over at – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing Chad L. Scheifele, he recently wrote and directed the feature film,

“Natural Selection.” It’s a film he originally produced as a short film, and then he used that momentum to get this produced as a feature film. So, we talked through that entire process. So stay tuned for that.

If you find this episode valuable please help me by giving me a review in ITunes. Or leaving me a comment on YouTube. Or retweeting the Podcast on Twitter, or liking us on Facebook. These social media shares really do help spread word about the Podcast and are very much appreciated.

Any websites or links that I mention in the Podcast can be found on my blog in the show notes. I also publish a weekly transcript with every episode. In case you would rather read it, or look something else up later on. You can find all the Podcast episode show notes at – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast. And then just look for episode #139.

You want my free guide, “How to Sell A Screenplay in 5 Weeks” You can pick that up by going to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. It’s completely free just put in your Email address and I’ll send you a new episode once a week for five weeks. Along with a bunch of bonus lessons. I teach the whole process of how to sell your screenplay in that guide. How to write a professional log-line and quarry letter? How to find agents managers, and producers who are looking for new material. It really is everything you need to know to selling your screenplay. Just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide.

Just a couple of quick notes about what I am working on this week? I’ve been talking about my feature film, “The Pinch” for the last couple of months. As mentioned we shot in July, now it’s in post-production. I did finally get to see the film, the first few minutes anyway. A rough cut of the first five or six minutes of the film last week. The editor is now actually busy cutting the film. It was a lot of sort of assisted editor work that he’s been working on since we were finished shooting three weeks ago. Just syncing the sound and making proxy files we shot in this 4K raw footage so the file sizes are huge. He creates low resolution versions of all the takes, all the footage we did. So that’s what he actually edited on so it doesn’t actually drag on his computer. So, there’s just a lot of time getting all that sort of assistant editor work done. And that’s kinda where he’s done is at now, he’s kinda got that done now. So, hopefully he’s really going to start cutting and we’re actually going to start seeing this thing come together. So, far it looked really good, but I was really, you know, you don’t know when you’re on set? Somethings are like, you just don’t know if they are going to cut together. Or are going to work? And see these first six minutes, it is cutting together. And you know, it’s a nice story. And it’s just starting to see things actually take place is exciting. So, that’s kind of the main thing. I’ve kind of laid out maybe a six month plan to get this film done. There’s a lot of steps, you know, we’ve got to get a rough draft cut. And you take a couple of passes at the film. Make sure, you’ve got to get someone in there to do the sound, dialog, make sure all the sound is clean, obviously. A musician comes in and scores it and puts in incidental music. We’ll have to pick some music, color correction. There’s also quite a few effects shots. Just some little special effects, some guns, some lots of flashes we had done, prop guns on set. And so obviously they don’t shoot or anything. Just plastic guns, so we’re going to have to put in the muzzle flash, the smoke, a muzzle flash on a couple of those, and some blood splatter. We have scene where a guy is stabbed and the knife comes out and obviously on set, we are not really stabbing anybody. So the knife is not at all bloody. So, we’ve got to add that kind of special effect. There’s a scene where somebody gets shot and we’ve got to add that bullet effect. The actual bullet hitting the guy and actually knocking him down. So, that’s going to all take, you know quite a while to just get done. The logistics of getting all that done. Obviously this is super low-budget as well, so, I’m just trying to take my time and make it as good as possible. There’s really no deadline. Ideally as I said, I’d like to be done in six months. So this puts it in January, February is ideal. What would be ideal to get this thing done, as I said, January, February. But, there’s no hard deadline and as I said, the main thing I want to do is? Make sure it is as good as possible for the money we have, which is not a lot for post-production. I think of the total budget, which is about $28,000.00. it’s about $5 or $6 thousand that I have allocated to post-production. So, it’s a very, very tight budget to ever get this thing done. But, anyway, that’s the plans, so that’s probably the main thing I’ll be pushing out here over the next couple of months.

So, now let’s get into the main segment. Today, I’m interviewing Screenwriter Chad Scheifele, here is the interview.

 

Ashley:  Welcome Chad to the “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast.” I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.

 

Chad:  Thanks so much for having me, I appreciate it.

 

Ashley:  So, to start out, maybe you could give us a little bit of background on of how you kinda got into the entertainment industry and work your way up to writing and directing this latest feature film.

 

Chad:  Yeah, of course. I mean, I was always interested in putting together videos and what not? And tell a major story as well as they’re author. I think everyone that a film maker can relate to the idea of. Having the camera in their hand and making movies. I did that. Literally I knew exactly what I want to do with it exactly, until high school, Pre-production classes. That sparked my interest in making and pursuing it as a career. And then I filmed in film school, at the University of Philadelphia. Then, basically from there, I wanted to do films, and that’s where I made my short film, “Map Construction.” Which my teacher started out as a short, which I made in New York. Then from there I went and wanted to. And here I am right now, with a feature film about to be released, here next week. So. Also kind of my background was more from the back than the front.

 

Ashley:  Great, so let’s dig into some of that and specifically we can talk about,

“Natural Selection.” So, maybe to start out, you can give us quick pitch or a log-line of,

“Natural Selection.”

 

Chad:  Yeah, sure. “Natural Selection” is pretty much a trial of apparition. And it really focuses on teen and adolescence and how they deal with adversity in and out of school. And the main angle I wanted to approach for it? You’ve got to dig deep within yourself to overcome that adversity. And it’s also on how you have the chance for love and compassion and the course from other people. How you can help eradicate any constructive damage early and negative influences. So I kind of tried to make a film true dates off of that. Learning upon off of something about how to overcome adversity. And then put it into a movie with a story. Following teenagers and that. And wishing from you know, teenage life through adulthood.

 

Ashley:  So, where did this idea come from? Obviously there’s this kind of a very topical. At least seed of it, an idea? Just in terms of the whole idea of shootings and the violence at schools. But where did this idea come from? And why were you interested in it?

 

Chad:  I really think, it stood in of why people did certain things? Or what made people pick and what caused people to do certain things. There is no one answer to this. So, I’m not claiming to know the answer to this? I think it moves, it moves people along at a certain angle. That you look at, can effect people. So, I’m interested in that, that’s a. it’s that why aspect. Like a logical way of What could possibly make people do certain things? Think a certain way that they did. So, as far as that? And then I turned it into a short. And used that idea, then I incorporated the theme of it into two people. Because I also wanted it really felt strong. How somebody can take advantage of a person, who is vulnerable, a mental volley. And kind of move in a certain way, the movie in a certain way. So, it started out with that. And then it kinda turned into a collaborate feature where they feed off of each other. And they’re constantly in trouble at the outset mentally and Psychologically. And it is a tough subject matter, but I think the film focuses more on a relationship between characters and what’s going on with Charlie. As opposed to a film based off of subject matter. Which is like, be the breaking point of and the after math of it. I believe this movie focuses more on the true parts apart, meaning of and what possibly be a catastrophic event. And really just so just the thing on the relationship being the eternal struggles that we and the characters are dealing with. So, that’s kind of how the whole thing fell together. More, the story was inspired and what not.

 

Ashley:  So, you just said, you did this short film, originally, as a project in film school, is that correct?

 

Chad:  Yeah, it was my senior thesis film. So, the film that I put together, for my final project to graduate from college. So, that was my main project.

 

Ashley:  So, let’s talk through that process. What did you do with that short film that got you to the point where you could turn it into a feature film? What was sort of your marketing efforts and your networking efforts. Once you had that film, short film done? What steps did you take to turn it into a feature film?


Chad:  Well, we just. The great thing about having a short. Which I think most film makers can relate to? They have, it’s more than a proof of concept, Which actually, you know, something you can present to somebody and look at and say? It isn’t when you pitching your feature, or whatever? You can use it as a chair to show people. If you have high credentials, which is important. So, you know, film festival routes are great. So, try getting it into as many as you possibly can. But you want to put yourself in a position to be able to cross paths with other film maker producers, or whoever else business, you know. Here, your project, or help you out. So, I took the short film and took it around to festivals. And did fairly well. I did watch, back in 2013 I took it to the “South By Southwest Film Festival.” 2013. And then went overseas in a couple of places. And I attended as many film festivals as I could. And it’s a great network platform. And networking at first. So, took the short, film festivals, met, you know, get the ball rolling here. Get them excited about you know, the upcoming stuff, feature film and whatnot. And kinda started from there. And establishing connections and started doing the scene, to really push the feature film when you get the chance. And it’s ready to go. Sometimes, what I did with the short film. And then work the edges into features.

 

Ashley:  So, when you’re out networking at these film festivals and stuff. Did you already have the feature film script version written? So you could say, hey here’s the short, but I’m trying to turn it into a feature and here’s the screenplay. Or did that come later?

 

Chad:  I had it drafted, ready to go. And you know, Spring Break was re-written at multiple times before it actually reached the sheets. But, I do have a written draft ready to get out and take someone who wanted to see it. Or someone who asks questions about it, the feature, and what have you? Also, the feature find script raw and at hand, wow pending. Be the film festivals.

 

Ashley:  So, walk us through some of this process of networking, of you know, what sort of people did you meet? And how did those people ultimately help you turn it into a feature film?

 

Chad:  Well, it really was important networking with people. I’m always networking with people and everybody. Get their at in case there is a call. You know, so, don’t just be talking about your relationship. Film making is a very collaborative art. There’s so many different areas in production. Production where people can be useful. And they may help you out. So, researchers, editors, colorist, people with cam-quarters, artist, the works. So, with access, ultimately true. But, when it came to the impossible, to find me. People are bonified. And it’s crucial to know who your talking, or pitching to, depending on the subject matter. Your student matter, people are interested in and people who produce this kind of material. And will have, and you should know going into it. So, to make sure none of your, that you’re pitching to the right people. Who possibly have an interest in getting it made. You know, doing something that kind of project. So, what I call, distributed that. Talking to the most people. And what I could that also told the right people that could help distribute that wanted to see that could help make it into a feature.

 

Ashley:  And so then, you’ve bid out, you’ve networked, and now you’ve been to the film festivals. Then take us through those steps. What ultimately led this to becoming a feature film? Was there one particular person that championed this? Kind of just, what did you do? To get that next step?

Chad:  I think that the one thing that was crucial. And for, from my experience? Is, to make a film that has a bigger purpose to it. Not that every film that pretty much ever made, should have the kind of message, or have some kind of agenda. The great ones that don’t have any of that, have gone on to do great things. But I feel if you have something that you are passionate that others that needs to be told. That others needs to know? I feel that if you approach it from that angle? You can get people interested, and if you can get people interested? Get people on board, get people, you can get them a part of the process. So, what’s important to have great and interested. That you can get people to want to be a part of. And then, once you have that, you can use that as your leverage to go get people. You know, to feel the energy you’re trying to convey, you know, to move it forward. And then on top of that all, it’ll be very well put together. Also to production kit, you know, to partner with. You know, with a certain look, or have a package together, that shows, you know, a photograph, a description. You need to carry, film to film. You need structure, to build an image for anyone that contributes to the project. So, that can go and see, how you see it. I could get people to feel good, and passionate about the project too is a huge momentum boost, and comfort when people want to buy and potentially finance it. So, I would say, have a very strong script. Make it a script they will want to be a part of. And a very strong production package to get people to see it.

 

Ashley:  So, what was the tipping point specifically for this? Not just in terms of sort of general advice. But I’m always curious to actually hear about the tipping point. Where this thing went from, okay we have a script, a production team, and working on a production kit. To, actually getting the money. Where was the tipping point, where someone actually ponied up the money to finance it?

 

Chad:  Right, the tipping point to me was, I had finding the right people that believe in what you’re doing also. So, another great thing about one important thing in approaching people was, monument for in order to get projects funded is? You got to make sure you’re approaching the right people, come through. The right people who can help you out. They think they’re helping you out, or helping a cause. The right people who are equal, who are passionate about your project to get it made. So, I solution it to, find the people who believe in what you are doing. Who are passionate about the message of the film. That believe in the vision of the film. And that’s pretty much it, on the tipping point. And also, the relationship I established prior to my production. Because I did work on a film a few years ago. Where a met a lot of great individuals. And I saw a lot of people come back to production that were me, decided to do it myself, until the next one, until it went up for grabs. So, that’s how it happened.

 

Ashley:  These people you’re talking about that were, sort of believed in what this film was about? Those are people you typically would meet at film festivals. They were people you were just, you know, were cold calling? What was that, just process actually like?

 

Chad:  Some of those film festivals, or connections were through some film festivals. And then also, just you can often meet people that are just completely outside of the business. And like I said before, some people that like to support the arts, that want to help, people that are into charity and charity work, and what not. I guess a lot of people like that also. You see, you know, so, that would be the message of the movie, or for themselves that some years ago need to see it. And some people need to go see it, and are a little responsive to that.

So, a yeah, a people who do film festival connections, and all the others outside of the industry, those are important calls. And are the ones who support your film. And a lot of those are excited about the film making. And some people might just help you out without that part of the movie. Cool, people like that.

 

Ashley:  So, what’s next for you? Do you want to have another project that you’re starting to talk about?

 

Chad:  Yeah, I’m setting up a bunch of material, ever since I wrapped up this film. The thing about the business is this? Now, there’s all different kinds of what people like. Which you kind of antagonize the first screen. It sounds like you can have multiple ones at the same time, you know what I mean? Don’t throw your eggs in one basket. I do have another picture I’ve been working on, collaborating with. Actually, someone who saw my film. And were looking to financially back a picture very soon. But I have a feature coming up. Like I said, new material that I got, a kind of natural selection film. I still have stuff coming up. And it’s going to be a real good idea.

 

Ashley:  Perfect. So, how can people see, “Natural Selection?” Do you know what the release date/schedule is like?

 

Chad:  Now that “Natural Selection” is released – Friday the 26th of August. It’ll be in selected cities. In Southern Los Angeles CA. And it’s all one movie. So it’s playing: New York, Los Angeles, Miami, including selected sites in Boston. A forward of screens, but it can be found on www.naturalselection.com or you can visit the social media of Twitter @ns_home. And we are in Tempe for a week. And simultaneous be available on ITunes and VIDEOONDEMAND through your cable provider. So, we’ll have a lot to do, a multitude of opportunities to watch it through your cable, ITunes. And then shortly after that, it’ll have a blue-ray and DVD release, and then Redbox and what not. As I said, information can be found on the website. @chadscheifele.com. But, next Friday, select cities and then, ITunes and VIDEOONDEMAND. And then it’ll be out for and it will stand “R” platform. And it will be available on more outlets. So.

 

Ashley:  Perfect, perfect, perfect. I always just like to wrap up the interview by just asking the guest how people can follow along with him? Twitter, or Facebook, or blog or anything you feel comfortable sharing. Just tell us that now. And then people can just keep up with you career at least and what you’re up to?

 

Chad:  Like I said, all current things in the film, are on a trailer. Think about the production behind-the-scenes stuff, can be found on a mass collection on – www.thefilm.com. You can follow some on Twitter, it’s – [email protected]_film. If you want to follow me on Twitter, it’s @chadscheifelewindoor and if you follow me, writer/ director/film maker. @chadscheifeletrom and then if you want to check us out on Facebook, www.facebook.com/naturalselectionsfilm. So, that’s where you can find all the current developments in the film. And all the latest film stuff.

 

Ashley:  Perfect, perfect. Yeah, I’ll round all that stuff up and put those in the show notes. So people can just click over to that. Chad, thank you very much for coming on the show and sitting down and talking with me today. I really wish you a lot of luck with this film.

 

Chad:  Thanks so much for taking the time to have me on.

 

Ashley:  A quick congratulations to Justin Sloan of the, “Creative Writing Career Podcast. He recently used the SYS Email and Fax Blast Service. And ended up optioning his screenplay as a result. He came on the SYS Podcast to talk about his career as a creative writer, it’s episode #131 of “Selling Your Screenplay Podcast, if you would like to listen to that. And I went on the “Creative Writing Career Podcast,” to answer some of their questions, that was episode #134 of their Podcast. In the past few years I have optioned nearly a dozen scripts, sold one screenplay, and have gotten several paid writing assignments. All which came from me using my own Email and Fax Blast Service. I’ve also set-up a success stories page. So, if you want to check out what some other people who have tried this service, are saying. Just go to – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/success. Lots of writers are optioning and selling scripts through this service. If you have used this service in the past? And have had some success with it? Please let me know. I’d love to include you on the “Successes” page. And perhaps even bring you on the Podcast to talk about the experience. So, if you’ve used any of the SYS Services and have had success, please do let me know. I don’t always hear about people who have had success. As once the Blast goes out it’s typically in their hands. So, here’s how the Blast Service works? First, you join the SYS Select. And then you post your log-line and quarry letter in the SYS Select form. You will then get your letter reviewed in the form. Make it as good as it can be. And then you purchase the blast. And then we will send it out for you. The Emails are sent as if they are, and all replies are sent directly back to you. You can exclude companies if they are some specific  companies you don’t want to send to. To learn more about this service, just check out – www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/select, again that’s www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/select.

On the next episode of the Podcast, I’m going to be interviewing Dan Bennemore, who was on the show before, on episode #103. He recently wrote an action film called, “Initiation.” It was recently completed and now going out for distribution. So, we’re going to talk through how that film came together and all the in’s and out’s about writing that film. And who’s in the film, and scene it all the way through distribution. So, keep an eye out for that episode next week.

To wrap things up I just want to touch on a few things from the interview with Chad. Once again, if you listen to this Podcast regularly you will hear me saying similar things at the end of a lot of the episodes. Short films are a great way to maybe kick-off your career. Just as Chad explained. I think Chad is a great model to look at, produce a short film. And then as you are out promoting your short film, you have your feature film ready to go. Anyone, who likes the short your short film is going to be most likely to read your feature film script. And again, the main thing is just putting stuff out into the world and showing them what all you can do. Good things can happen to you if you are pushing stuff out into the world, and letting people see it. But nothing is going to happen to you if you’re just sitting in your room by yourself writing scripts people will ever see. The nice thing about a short film, Is well, at this day and age it’s easy for people to watch them. If you have a well done completed short film. This can be a powerful tool to use when pitching people and you’re on your latest project. I talked about the SYS Email and Fax Blast Service. And I go, it’s easy to include a link to your short film. In these types of small Email pitches. And no, not everyone is going to watch the short film. But, in many cases, they will. Especially a four or five minute short film. You can talk about it in your Email and Fax Blast. And then you have a link, certainly it’s just an Email. It’s easy just click on the link, it will open up and then people can watch it. And again, if people watch the short film, and they like it. It’s quite possible they will request that feature film script. And just one of the other things on the other end. I’m on the receiving end of a lot of short films. I get a lot of screenwriters Emailing me, they have links to their short films. And in almost every case, I click on the link and take a look at the short film. I don’t know, if it catches my interest the first minute or two? I’ll watch the whole thing. You know, only four or five minutes. Most of the time I will watch it. Again, short films are great way to write something, produce something, see how it turns out. Enter it into film festivals. Put it into your pitches. It would just be a powerful tool that should get you out there and help with some of your feature films. It just brings eye balls to your feature film scripts. It makes you more of a serious screenwriter. And not just some guy, living somewhere that has a bunch of screenplays. That you have something produced, even a short, even a low-budget short it really put you heads above the competition.

Anyway, that is the show, thank you for listening.