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American Gem Short Screenplay & Literary Festival
2011 Screenplay Contest

Enter your Short Screenplay, Short Story, Treatment in American Gem Short Screenplay Contest / Literary Festival. 

Winning Screenplay in the American Gem Short Screenplay Contest will be Produced.

Grand Prize Winner / Short Screenplay Gets to Pitch Screenplay to Producers, Studio Executives and Agents. Certificate of achievement awards to the Top 25 scripts and top 3 in each of the other categories.

from script to screen


FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards
Screenplay Contest Interview

| Winners | Bio | Synopsis | Script Excerpt |




Christopher Sommella for The Crossroads

The Crossroads

Christopher Sommella
Coconut Creek, FL


Logline: Shut out by his colleagues, a cocky young detective must tackle his first case on his own if he's going to stop a headline-seeking killer before he can claim another victim.



Christopher Sommella

If you asked Christopher Sommella to cut to the chase, he'd tell you he's not an established screenwriter. Actually, he's a lifelong musician and songwriter who decided the demise of the music industry was a good time to detour into something less…soul-crushing. So naturally he chose…the movie business. Kidding aside, like any screenwriter, a songwriter is a storyteller.


Part 1.


I knew I wanted to be screenwriter when...

I received really positive feedback from several screenwriting contests, validating that the headfirst dive into screenwriting was worth the risk and investment.

I know I've succeeded when...... 

At the risk of being sappy, I believe success is a process and a mindset, not a final destination. Success is a journey riddled with obstacles and failures along the way, which must be overcome to realize the goals you've set for yourself. Success is never settling. Success is being pleased when a goal is attained, and following that by setting a new one. Each goal reached should be a clear indicator of personal or professional improvement.

My inspiration to write The Crossroads.....

was when my father first shared this story from his career as an NYC detective with me from beginning to end, and I made a promise to him that one day the story would be told.

Part 2.


FilmMakers Magazine: What inspired you to write?

Christopher Sommella
: I'm inspired by stories, those of people unknown or underrepresented in modern media or culture. I'm inspired by the thoughts and emotions I've experienced, and by those I've been privileged to share with others.

FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script and how long did it take you to complete?

Christopher Sommella:
The Crossroads was my first script. It required roughly eight months of preparation, seven months to write the first version, and an additional nine months to complete five subsequent revisions, including the final version. All told, it took nearly exactly two years to complete.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set routine, place and time management for writing?

Christopher Sommella:
I typically schedule days and times for writing. If I feel like I'm really in the groove, I'll go until the mojo runs out. Otherwise, I typically set a plot point objective for the period I'm writing.

FilmMakers Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are important for aspiring screenwriters and why?

Christopher Sommella:
I believe screenwriting competitions can be very beneficial to aspiring writers because it exposes your work to industry professionals that can provide valuable criticism, allowing the writer to learn and grow. In addition, success in competitions can open industry doors, and can be a valuable element to include in a bio lacking actual published work.

FilmMakers Magazine: What influenced you to enter the FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards / Screenplay Contest?

Christopher Sommella:
Filmmakers was the very first contest I selected to enter. I did so based on it being well-established in the industry and offering the opportunity to win prizes that could be of great value to my potential screenwriting career.

FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you urge aspiring writers to read and why?

Christopher Sommella:
It would be impossible to isolate it to just one screenplay, but if I could pick one that's probably not often recommended I would suggest Machine Gun Preacher by Jason Keller. It paints a very detailed and visceral picture of the horrors children face in war-torn Africa, and his depiction of the main character Sam really comes off the page. You truly feel the essence of a man who is constantly on the edge.

FilmMakers Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate about and why?

Christopher Sommella:
I'm extremely passionate about music, both writing and playing, as well as listening. It's always been a part of my life and always will be. Nothing can convey emotion and tell a story the way a great song can. To me, it's our greatest contribution to art and culture.

FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite Screenwriter and Why?

Christopher Sommella:
At the risk of going with a current hitmaker, I would have to choose Christopher Nolan. Though he's willing to tackle complex themes, he finds ways to create main characters that are identifiable and relatable. Regardless of its budget or how effects-laden his production might be, he finds a way to simplify to protagonist’s struggle to an essential human question.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with and why?

Christopher Sommella:
If I had to select one particular director to work with to bring my current script The Crossroads to life, I would have to go with Michael Mann. I've always admired his work and his vision, and I would love to see his take on a gritty 1980s New York cop thriller.

FilmMakers Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and why?

Christopher Sommella:
Using the same logic, if I had to pick a certain actor for the lead role in The Crossroads, I’d select Vincent Piazza. As he is a huge talent who actually grew up where this story unfolds, I truly envision him as a great choice for the role. He's a young actor with a tremendous future, and the New York stuff is second nature to him.

FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things learned along the way to pass on to others?

Christopher Sommella:
If I had to give any advice, I’d start by suggesting that the basic formatting of screenwriting is very important, but once you move onto those secondary devices that are used less often—such as flashbacks and supers—don't obsess over the formatting. I've read a hundred scripts and no two writers incorporated these techniques the same way. The important thing is to find the identifiable thematic spine of the story and the emotional underpinnings of each character. If you find those and write each scene with those two things in mind, your goals should be achieved when you complete your script.

FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?

Christopher Sommella:
Hopefully what's next is selling this script! Actually, I'm wrapping production on a few videos to help me pitch it, and once the pitch is in process, I'll be interviewing some prospective subjects for a follow-up screenplay.

FilmMakers Magazine: Where will you be five years from now?

Christopher Sommella:
Five years from now I'll be working hard with my nose to the grindstone on whichever project that may be my focus at that time. It could be another script, perhaps a full production, maybe a new album, or even building a house for my family. It could all of the above. Whatever it is, I'll be attacking it the same way I've done everything else in my life--with all of my energy, focus, and determination.



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