Genre: Comedy, Romance
When a college crush visits New York, Ted is determined to chip away at her until she dumps her boyfriend, a play the gang refers to as “Shawshanking”
Get to know the winning writer:
1. What is your TV screenplay based on the TV show “How I Met Your Mother” about?
In my HIMYM script, an old college crush comes to visit New York, and Ted is determined to chip away at her until she dumps her boyfriend. In the Bro Code, this is referred to as “Shawshanking.”
2. How does this episode fit into the context of the series?
I wrote this episode in the midst of season eight, the second to last season. Barney and Robin are together. Marshall and Lily just had their baby. And Ted is very close to meeting the mother of his children.
3. How would you describe this script in two words?
4. What TV show do you watch over and over again?
Recently, I’ve been re-watching episodes of “Star Trek: TNG” and “The X-Files.” In terms of sitcoms, it’s easy to come home after work and relax to an episode of “Seinfeld,” “Friends,” “Big Bang Theory,” or “How I Met Your Mother.”
5. How long have you been working on this screenplay?
From conception to submitting it to the TV fellowships, I’d say about six months.
6. How many stories have you written?
Honestly I don’t know. I’ve been writing short stories since before high school so that’s a good 25 years. In terms of scripts, I have four features, eight TV scripts – both pilots and specs, and several short film scripts.
7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?
A couple of things. A roommate and I were watching the “Shawshank Redemption,” and our Australian roommate walked in and asked us if we knew what “Shawshanking” was. We didn’t know. So he told us that in Australia, Shawshanking is slang for when a guy, for example, chips away at a woman’s relationship with her boyfriend until they break up and he’s there to be the shoulder to cry on and hopefully become her next boyfriend. I thought this had to be worked into a script, and a HIMYM script just made perfect sense.
In the meantime, I was still getting over a crush with a librarian I used to work with. I had written a romantic comedy about Isaac Newton in which he falls for a Prussian royal (who is also the librarian at the Berlin Royal Academy) and, as a result, makes his greatest scientific discoveries. I guess I still wasn’t over the librarian, so I used the HIMYM script to explore the regret over missed opportunities. Some of the dialogue between Ted and Ally, the librarian, are based on conversations I had with the real-life librarian.
8. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
The eternal struggle is finding time to write between the hours of your day job. I called in sick a few times to meet deadlines.
9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
I love watching movies and reading comic books and going to concerts. I also love Sour Patch Watermelon.
10. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
I love the idea of a fan-fiction festival. I’ve written “Star Trek” fanfic, and I’ve won a few fan-fiction writing contests for shows like “Star Trek,” “Battlestar Galactica,” and “Painkiller Jane.” At the end of the day, TV spec scripts are essentially fan fiction. You get to play with characters outside the canon. You get to do things that shows would likely never do. I’ve always thought it was a shame that spec scripts have an expiration date. The Fan Fiction Screenplay Festival allows participants to breathe new life into their so-called expired scripts. I
I thought my initial feedback was fantastic. It’s great to get feedback from someone who doesn’t know you personally. It’s especially helpful when trying to figure out if jokes land and how to fix them when they don’t.
11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
I think it’s profoundly helpful to surround yourself with talented writers and form tight bonds with them. Last year I was part of the CAPE New Writers Fellowship and the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop. I’ve grown very close with the writers I met in both groups. Not only do they give great notes, but also any success by one person contributes to the success of the group as a whole. Some of these friends are now staffed on shows or are publishing novels with traditional publishers (and garnering awards at the same time). They raise the bar and open doors for the rest of us.
Producer/Director: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson