Paris Lift-Off Officially Selected Screenplays

After a huge number of submissions for Paris Lift-Off Film Festival, here are the 5 screenplays officially selected to go forward onto the Community platform. Congratulations all! In order to read the screenplays, sign up to the Lift-Off Community here:

The Albigensian Crusade – Don Durrett

SYNOPSIS: The Albigensian Crusade has all the attributes of an epic. It’s based on a true event in history: the Albigensian Crusade, which took place in Southern France from 1209 until 1229. This crusade is largely unknown even though it is closely related to our current era.

What was the inspiration behind this script?
It is adapted from my book, Last of the Gnostics. After I wrote the book, I realised that it would make a good movie. So, the question is, what inspired me to write the book. I did a significant amount of reading about the Cathars and Mary Magdalene in Southern France. I’m a writer, so it was a natural fit for me to write about the Albigensian Crusade after I was exposed to its history.
What are you looking for to take this project to the next stage?
I would love to see it made into a full length feature film. It would be a very powerful and controversial film, but the story needs to be told. If not a film, then a cable series would be my second goal.
What advice has helped you get where you are now?
The best advice anyone has every given me is not to quit.


(Dis)Honoured – Sarah Davison

SYNOPSIS: A drama set in both the United Kingdom and Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2009 in the midst of the Afghanistan war. The drama’s themes tackle issues such as PTSD, depression, and LGBTQ issues both in the army and at home. Robert is a war hero – who saves the lives of his fellow soldiers, but must pay the price for secrets left on the battlefield.
What was the inspiration behind the screenplay?
My inspiration actually came from a song. I was listening to ‘Charlie Boy’ by The Lumineers and it really hit me. I knew then that I wanted to write a script which dealt with war. Like myself, my characters belong to the LGBTQ community, something that I feel very strongly about in terms of getting positive representation out into the mainstream, and I was intrigued with the concept of there being issues within this relationship due to the marriage laws (or lack thereof them at the time in the UK). This gave (Dis)Honoured it’s time setting of 2009, as well as the war Robert serves in, and backstory events which have affected the lives of the Ellsworth brothers.
What are you looking for to take this project to the next stage?
Someone who is as excited and invested in Robert, Noel, and Scott’s story as I am, and shares the same love for (Dis)Honoured to bring it to life from page to screen. Nothing excites me more than the concept of being able to watch this script come to life through the talents of an industry where creativity is king, and actors give their all in performances that bring out even the deepest of emotions inside yourself. To be able to stand before Robert, Noel, and Scott in the flesh would be something beyond my wildest dreams, and a moment I would never forget.
What advice has helped to get where you are now?

(Dis)Honoured was created as my dissertation piece at Northumbria University in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and was a labour of love for the two years I spent writing it. I owe a lot to my incredible screenwriter tutor, Len Collin who gave me some invaluable advice when creating this script. The main piece of advice that really stuck with me was ‘In Late, Out Early’ to make sure that your scenes only contain the essential elements to keep the audience invested. I also particularly liked the script note ‘Less Crying’, which Len wrote on the back page of the first draft he read over, that was quite comical, and true.

I would also credit my amazing girlfriend, Katie who is a huge fan of this script, and helped me through each of the drafts, giving me her own feedback to various story ideas along the way.

The Farm – Samuel Vartek

SYNOPSIS: A rebel teen leads a group to escape a forced labor Farm, guarded by his father, in an overpopulated future where a desperate edict has been enforced to revive the planet after an agricultural collapse—only those who agree to slave labor on Farms are allowed to have children, while those who choose a career in the Cities cannot. e escapees head for Earth’s one remaining greenland, on a journey that uncovers a secret plot, which threatens the families left behind and endangers all of mankind.

What was the inspiration behind this screenplay?

I conceived of “The Farm” while being interviewed on NBC Executive Vision regarding my PBS feature documentary “Blue Gold: World Water Wars”, for which I traveled the world and risked my life investigating the increasing conflict over the world’s fresh water supply. The NBC host asked what a worst-case scenario future might look like for the world? I explained that as fresh water drought increases, Brazil is poised to become the “Middle East of Water” , as the Amazon River continually fills its groundwater. If our current trends continue, trees will die and the world will desertify to “Mad Max” proportions, until Brazil is the only natural farmland left in the world. I discovered that many counties which seemingly have plenty of water, like Japan, are actually already importing 40% or more of their food. And if we allow desertification to continue, we are headed for an agricultural collapse where we will be completely dependent on Brazil for our food supply. I wondered how we might deal with such a dire future world, when also adding overpopulation into the picture? How would we turn desert back into farmland and save the human race?

I envisioned a dystopian society forced to enforce a Verdict as incentive to build the workforce needed to revive the world’s failed farmlands; only those who agree to a life of slave labor in Farm Camps are allowed to have children, while those who choose personal careers in the Cities are not. The resulting film will be unique by its externalised themes of the choice between family and career, a choice which everyone struggles to find balance with, especially young adults in college who will make up the core audience. This dystopian society is thus divided absolutely between rich and poor, with middle class desert nomads trying to live off the grid whilst teenagers seek to escape from The Farm and flee to Brazil where the food is, only to find greed and power there making a Revolution necessary.

“The Farm” thus blends the deep social commentaries explored in science fiction dramas such as “District Nine” and “Children of Men” with the action and suspense of “Maze Runner” and “Mad Max : Fury Road”. I hope you enjoy reading it!

What are you looking for to take this project to the next stage?

IA Producer or Production company.  “The Farm” can be presented either as a three-part trilogy (this script being part 1) or a six part one-hour mini-series, so I am very open as to the direction the project takes.

What advice has helped you get where you are now?

Two bits of advice that I find I continually repeat to myself are my writing teachers advice to “Take off your sprinting shoes and put on your marathon shoes” when preparing for a career in film.  It takes patience and a true understanding that time is required, yet one must remain proactive and creative, despite the length of time needed for a project to be made.  Also somebody once said “Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better”.  That has helped me continue to write daily, and realize that I can always improve, no matter how many screenplays I write.  Combined, I find these two bits of advice allow me to appreciate the value and necessity of time while utilizing that time to improve my talent daily.


A Jungle Dark-TV Pilot – Courtney Suttle

SYNOPSIS: A mysterious young woman with a unique gift to perfectly mimic any writer in any language, and her unscrupulous agent have, for years, been preying on famous, desperate authors who have lost the ability to write due to divorce, alcoholism and drug addiction, earning a small fortune in the process. Her latest commission, a bequest in a will from a dead author to complete an unfinished manuscript, will take them to a beautiful seaside village on Puget Sound, where the mimic will discover a mystery in the blank pages, that could get her killed.

What was the inspiration behind this script?
A Jungle Dark is taken from my award winning novel, Mimic. I’d been toying with the idea of the protagonist, Sarah Blue, for years. After iconic novelist Robert B Parker passed away I grieved the loss of two of literature’s best characters, private detective Spenser and small town police chief Jesse Stone. When Parker’s publisher revived Spenser in a novel written by a surrogate I read it with great anticipation. That writer, as good as he was, could not duplicate Parker’s witty dialogue and prose. I despaired, discovering that Parker’s unique voice passed with him. In 2015 I was commissioned to ghost write a book for a young entrepreneur in Austin, TX. I discovered first hand the impossible task of duplicating another person’s voice in prose. That’s what inspired me to pursue Sarah and her unique gift in the form of a novel, short film and limited television series.
What are you looking for to take this project to the next stage?
I own a small production company, Whiskeyslinger Productions. I am looking to partner with another production house, studio or network to bring this story to life. I am also looking for a publisher for my novel, Mimic.
What advice has helped you get where you are now?
Don’t try to be the next Ernest Hemingway, Aaron Sorkin, or Don Winslow. Be the first Courtney Suttle.