Genre: Fantasy, Drama, History
1845—An aggrieved young Irish-English woman must harness Celtic magic to fulfill prophecy, with the help of two men, to defeat an ancient cult before they destroy Ireland, all the while struggling to find her own self-power.
Narrator: Val Cole
Mary: Clare Blackwood
Connor/William: Gabriel Darku
Hurst: David Schaap
Alford: Noah Casey
Fuller: Neil Bennett
Josephine: Lauren Toffan
Get to know the writer:
What is your TV Pilot screenplay about?
The Irish Celtic goddess of war The Morrígan gives a prophecy that rules our series that an ancient cult—The Fir Dorcha (The Dark Men)—will unleash a “storm of death” on Ireland (endless blights), but that three heroes could connect to the old magic to defeat the enemy, heal the land and save her people. Should our heroes accept their fate. Mary Beaumont, a 21-year-old daughter of a wealthy English landowner, an Irish witch and a descendant of the Druid bloodline is one of the three, along with a poor, spiritual Irishman Connor Ryan and a rebellious-yet-broken English nobleman William Stewart. This series takes place during the Great Famine (1845-9) and uses real history as a backdrop for a story about abuse of power, specifically England’s oppressive rule over Ireland during that time. I’ve combined facts with Irish mythology, a dark cult and magic to tell the tale. At it’s heart though, this is a story about a young woman who has to find her self-power, her magic, to save the Irish from extinction. It’s her spiritual journey to reconnect to the Old Ways that we follow. The series has so many complex characters; side stories, including parent/child relationships and love; and powerful themes, there’s so much more!
Why should this screenplay be made into a TV show?
This series is an allegorical piece of literature that comments on our current political climate today, and how human beings still feel the only way to survive is through fear, domination and greed. Mary is a young woman who doesn’t fit into “normal” society and is trying to find her place in that world. I think many people can relate to that feeling of helplessness and will connect, and hopefully be inspired by, her journey. Plus… magic and Irish mythology! I truly feel this series is unlike any other I’ve seen before, so it’ll be unique and fresh. Let’s not forget all of those English and Irish accents. *wink*
How would you describe this script in two words?
An enchanting page-turner. Or so I’ve been told. 🙂
What TV show do you keep watching over and over again?
Game of Thrones! That series did a lot for the fantasy genre by showing the world what fantasy fans already know. That our beloved genre is not cheesy! It’s dark, dramatic, political, mysterious, complex and the characters are always incredibly real and flawed human beings trying to survive, just like us. On that same note, I also loved Handmaid’s Tale. Especially considering every disturbing moment is based on something that really happened or is happening to women. Reality is scary, isn’t it? Oh, and you can’t say no to Stranger Things! So many shows…
How long have you been working on this screenplay?
As soon as I returned from my trip to Ireland in April 2016, I knew I had a story in me. It took me a few months of fiddling around with the plot (which was very different in the beginning!). Then the characters started coming to me. I actually wrote what now looks like an outline for the first season as a film, and as soon as it was complete, I knew it wasn’t working. I didn’t have enough pages to tell the vast story I wanted to. Around February 2017, I began transforming it into a TV pilot.
How many stories have you written?
Though I’ve worked in film and digital for some time (and technically wrote a play in 4th grade that my class performed!), this is my first television pilot. What. A. Challenge! This is the most complex piece of writing I’ve ever done. I honestly had no idea how complex television was until I sat down to write it. The structure of the pilot alone is harrowing.
What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)
I listen to music that fits my mood, and I’ll get obsessed with a song for some time while I’m writing, letting it drive the story. If I had to choose, I’m a huge fan of Loreena McKennitt and I love The Dark Night of the Soul (one of my episode is named after this, very personal, experience). Though, if I’m doing karaoke, it’s definitely Journey Don’t Stop Believin’! I’m a child of the 80’s and 90’s.
What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
The emotional roller coaster this story took me on. There were many times during my writing sessions where I would uncover my own personal wounds (this story is based on my journey set in another time). I would break down in tears and want to set the story aside in the beginning. Then I learned to just sit with it to see where it led me. Without fail, the scenes that came out of those sessions were the most powerful, and also healing to me personally. Mind you, I’ve written well beyond the pilot. I have many scenes already written for seasons 1-4, including the ending. There is one scene in season one in particular that makes me bawl like a baby every time I think about it. It’s about Mary and her father. Kleenex would be wise to sponsor this series!
Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
Traveling. I’m addicted to exploring other cultures and in particular, sacred places. I’m writing this while in Ireland! I’ve got a huge bucket list I’m working through with Peru and Tibet on the top of that list. I’m also passionate about good whiskey. Can I say that?
What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
Though I entered quite a few festivals, I was specifically looking for those celebrating sci-fi and fantasy. The feedback was incredibly thorough and inspiring. I’ve gotten some ridiculous notes before that were clearly opinions, like my female lead being “too smart;” however, the feedback for this festival was professional, insightful and related more to how I could make a bigger impact with some of my plot points. I took a lot of the notes and and it made a huge difference. Thank you!
You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?
FilmFreeway is… the… best. Zero hassle. I literally uploaded one file and I was done. I use it for everything.
Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
First, I always tell stories that are tied to my life experiences and are connected to me emotionally because that is what I’m passionate about. Write something you’re REALLY passionate about. Something you need to tell. If it’s a story that you can relate to and have lived through, it will be that much more real. The material will just flow out of you. It’s passion that will keep you going.
Second, use that voice of yours and make a statement. Whether it be political or just a great story that moves us, that what art is all about. Art is an experience we are meant to feel. It creates an emotional bond that connects us. Strong voices create powerful art that influences people and changes the world.
Lastly, and most importantly. When you’re tired, beaten, rejected and ready to give up, remember these words: it is not about you. Your story came to you for a reason, and it is your gift to share because the world needs to hear it. When you get stuck thinking only of you and your success, your failures and your ego, you’re blocking the power needed to manifest. Consider all of the people who are relying on you to change their lives. They need you to believe in yourself. If you don’t, who else will? Then tell your ego to pipe it and get back to writing!
Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com
Director: Kierston Drier
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson
Camera Operator: Mary Cox