Film festival screenwriters

Local actors and volunteers read from screenplays during a screenwriters table meeting Saturday. From left: Brendan Rowlands, Rebecca Ellis, Jared Johnson and Danny Loughmiller.

TWIN FALLS — Producing a film from a screenplay takes time and money, but it has to start somewhere.

That’s why Los Angeles actor Ray Chao decided to bring actors and screenwriters together during the Twin Falls SANDWICHES Film Festival. The group met late Saturday morning at Twin Beans Coffee Co. to read and listen to excerpts of screenplays while the café downstairs was abuzz with activity.

In organizing the film festival, Chao didn’t want to overlook screenwriters in the film industry.

“A lot of times the screenwriters aren’t as highlighted as much as the film,” he said. “This is where it starts.”

From coast to coast, and even from overseas, screenwriters gathered to hear their scripts read out loud by local actors and volunteers.

Rebecca Kluken, of Melbourne, Australia, said it was her first trip overseas, as she dislikes flying.

“I just did a Google search and I found it,” Kluken said.

She enjoyed hearing her comedy screenplay, “Brightside” read aloud by American actors.

“It’s the first script that I’ve ever written,” she said. “I normally write children’s books.”

She said there are differences in the Australian and American sense of humor.

And that’s not all she’s discovered since coming to Twin Falls. Kluken was initially confused about the amount of water in U.S. toilets, and during one excursion thought they were all broken. While as a whole, the U.S. isn’t too different from Australia, Kluken said, the small differences add up.

Closer to home, Scott Ennis of Ocean Shores, Washington, was interested in hearing his sci-fi screenplay “The Outside Curtains” read aloud.

“Just hearing actors do it is beneficial,” he said. “I can say ‘Oh that doesn’t work’ or ‘That does work.’”

The readings allow the writers to hear individual voices aloud, Chao said, instead of inside their heads. It’s the first step toward production, he said.

Local actor Aiden Dopson, 13, was among those reading parts from the scripts. He’s been acting in school and at the Orpheum Theater.

“I just like performing in front of people,” he said. “I’m more on the comedic side.”

Dopson read alongside other members of his “theater family,” Rebecca Ellis and Brendan Rowlands.

“Based on the reading from ‘The Outside Curtains,’ I already know where I’m going to do some rewriting,” Ennis said.

He wasn’t there only for the reading, however.

“If you become an award-winning screenwriter, then the producers want to make your movies,” he said.

His screenplay “Feed My Sheep” won an award at a festival last year, he said.

The SANDWICHES Film Festival would present two screenplay awards Saturday night — one for best screenplay for a movie, and another for best written screenplay. The Ileen Fogarty Sullivan Award for Excellence in Screenwriting came with a $500 prize. The Best Screenplay of a Film award winner would receive a digital download of Final Draft 9 screenwriting software.

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