Genre: Biography, Drama
In 1971, young French model Maria Schneider gets cast in Bertolucci’s scandal-ridden “Last Tango in Paris” next to an imposing Marlon Brando. Starstruck and inexperienced, Maria finds herself torn between what she wants and how much she is willing to swallow for her breakthrough as an actress.
Narrator: Val Cole
Maria: Clare Blackwood
Romeo: Gabriel Darku
Turtleneck: David Schaap
Marie-Christine: Lauren Toffan
Get to know the writer:
What is your screenplay about?
As An Actress, on a broad scale, is about being a woman in the “industry” and how one sometimes has to push through, gnashing teeth and throwing fists, to reach the goals we have set for ourselves. On a much more personal scale, it is Schneider’s story, of course, and her development from starry-eyed cinema fledgling on the set of Last Tango in Paris to wise and aware woman in her later life. Schneider’s experiences shed light on a specific cinematic arena and constellation, which more often than not is dwarfed by the film maker and male co-star’s mere presence. As An Actress gives voice to a story which was muted by societal and industry-inherent protocol.
What genres does your screenplay fall under?
It aims to be a biographical Drama.
Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?
Schneider’s experiences on the set of Last Tango in Paris have been reviewed again and again in the media. While there is enough articles in circular citation, there is no biographical account or closer inspection of the forces that literally “perforated” her integrity during and surrounding the making of Last Tango. In light of recent occurrences of sexual harassment, mainly directed towards younger women in the industry, As An Actress still has so much relevance, and sadly so.
How would you describe this script in two words?
What movie have you seen the most times in your life?
How long have you been working on this screenplay?
I have an on/off relationship with this script – altogether we’ve been dating for a good three years. A very early draft of it was my master’s thesis at uni. Since then, it has changed a lot, naturally. There’s always plenty a room to tinker with and sharpen into more refined, more appropriate shape.
How many stories have you written?
Around 15 in various stages of drafty-ness. Most of them feature strong female protagonists, as I believe there is still so much crucial storytelling ground to be covered.
What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)
I’m quintessentially Austrian, which means I listen to classical music a whole lot. Since my early childhood, Antonio Vivaldi has always been my go-to guy – the Winter section of his Four Seasons grabs me right by the heart every single time.
When I write, I listen to piano strumming, right now by Ludovico Einaudi.
My favourite karaoke songs are Jason Mraz’ I’m yours and Anouk’s Nobody’s Wife, which sounds a bit bipolar, come to think of it.
What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
I never have troubles finishing a script, and this one isn’t an exception. The major difficulty was to find the perspective that did justice to Maria Schneider’s experience. In its early draft, the story was framed by an interview with Bertolucci, which after some contemplation had to yield to make room for other scenes, because quite frankly, it’s not his story, it’s Maria’s. Another hurdle was not to victimize Maria. As a writer and woman, it’s a challenge to balance empathy and empowerment, especially if you want to do justice to a real human being and her experiences. Storyteller’s responsibility and thematic issues have to become indistinguishable.
Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
I spend lots of time and money at cinemas and theatres, naturally. I absolutely admire the power of language/s and how one can shape the world with words. I have recently rekindled my excitement for Flamenco, much to the dismay of my feet. And although I’m not blessed with any sense of winning ambition to speak of, I enjoy doing escape rooms and pub quizzes. And motorbikes, definitely those.
You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?
It’s quite purposeful, I’d say, and easy enough to use even for a technophobe like me.
What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
By nature of my script, women centred festivals are a good fit for it, so the decision was an easy one. The initial feedback was a lovely surprise, for sure. It is very thorough and insightful, very kindly worded, and enormously supportive and inspiring. I can’t wait to glimpse into the scene reading and delve back into Maria Schneider’s world.
Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com
Director: Kierston Drier
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson
Camera Operator: Mary Cox