2016 CONTEST |
Rampaging Wild Horses
of Hughesdale VIC Australia
Rampaging Wild Horses
John Panozzo is
45 years old. He lives in Melbourne, Australia with his
wife, three young children and a cat called Mojo. John's day
assisting businesses to locate in Victoria for the Victorian
State Government. By night he's a budding screenwriter by
table lamp light.
John likes Australian football, live concerts and stand-up
comedy, and he enjoys the basics in life's good company,
food and beer.
A dejected man is
unexpectedly drafted to be the best man at the wedding of
his childhood enemy.
Interview Part 1.
I knew I wanted to be screenwriter
when I discovered the craft. I’ve always had ideas, stories,
character arcs and humor in my mind but I’m an awful
novelist. All inspired after reading Nick Hornby’s “High
Fidelity”, I wrote the first page of a novel once, and tried
rewriting it a number of times before realizing… I’m no Nick
When I discovered movie scripts, I found a medium that
resonates with my style of writing, cutting through the
in-depth description and focusing instead on the detail that
I know I've succeeded
When I’ve made someone laugh.
2) When I’ve been acknowledged for my screenwriting.
3) When someone says, “hey John, I want to produce your
inspiration to write
"Rampaging Wild Horses"
was... for a short time I worked nights stacking grocery
shelves during a university break. I was invited to a stag
party for one of the guys who worked there full-time and was
surprised to find that his best man was one of the other
guys from the grocery store… I was surprised because I was
sure they didn’t like each other. That sparked a broad idea
for a humorous story around childhood “frenemies” who are
reunited around wedding obligations.
I was very keen to explore themes of relationships,
adulthood and responsibilities. And I wanted to challenge
myself to weave in as much fun and humor as I could into the
story I was telling.
Interview Part 2.
inspired you to write?
John Panozzo: For me it is an avenue to express
myself, to challenge myself and, with a life revolving
around my three young, beautiful (and busy) children, to
have something of my own. It gives me great joy to get my
stories down on paper and to share them with others.
FilmMakers Magazine: Is this your first script
and how long did it take you to complete?
John Panozzo: “Rampaging Wild Horses” is my first
script. It took about sixteen months to write given I took
time to read many good comedy scripts along the way. This
ensured I knew what the benchmark was. I found the times
when I left my script to ‘sit’ while I read other scripts
gave me inspiration to review my script with a renewed
FilmMakers Magazine: Do you have a set
routine, place and time management for writing?
John Panozzo: Inspiration comes to me in different
places and at different times and I just have to get my idea
down somehow and then put the meat on the bone at the next
possible opportunity, usually in the evening at my desk at
Magazine: Do you believe screenplay contests are
important for aspiring screenwriters and why?
John Panozzo: I believe any serious budding
screenwriter should enter writing contests... just make sure
it’s ready to go. Writing contests are important, even vital
if you have limited access to industry feedback, as you get
an indication of whether you’re around the mark.
If you’re a winner or a finalist then it should give you
great confidence to pursue your dreams (it has for me!) and
if you place in semi or quarter finals you know you’re on
the right track. One thing I do know is that scripts will be
judged differently by different readers, so don’t be too
disheartened if you miss out – just keep working on your
craft (and take up reader feedback options).
Magazine: What influenced you to enter the
Filmmakers International Screenwriting Awards?
John Panozzo: The thing that set the Filmmakers
International Screenwriting Awards apart from many other big
screenwriting contests was the classification of scripts in
three distinct streams. I liked the idea that my comedy
script would be assessed against other comedy scripts and
not against other genres.
While cash prizes are great if you win them, for me it’s all
about potential exposure in the industry. Filmmakers offers
great opportunity for exposure, even for scripts that missed
getting an award – having the top 50 scripts read by a
production company was a great incentive to enter.
FilmMakers Magazine: What script would you
urge aspiring writers to read and why?
John Panozzo: Well, I’ll answer this from a comedy
perspective given my interest in this genre. Do yourself a
favor and get your hands on Michael Arndt’s “Little Miss
Sunshine.” It’s a beautifully written script with crisp,
vivid expressions that conjure images that just blossom in
And it won the Academy and BAFTA awards for Best Original
Magazine: Beside screenwriting what are you passionate
about and why?
John Panozzo: I’m a proud Australian of Italian
heritage. I love my city, Melbourne, Australia’s second
biggest city with a population forecast to surpass Sydney in
the next 20 years. I have played a small part in attracting
business to Melbourne as part of my day job.
I’m passionate about my family and helping my kids along
their life journeys. I’m into Australian football, live
music and comedy and a good story regardless of its medium.
FilmMakers Magazine: Who is your favorite
Screenwriter and Why?
John Panozzo: That’s like asking me who my favorite
child is. Really?
Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg get a special mention for the
joy they have given me with the Three Flavors Cornetto
trilogy. I have derived great pleasure in following how they
weave comedy through themes such as growing up, being an
individual in the system and personal relationships.
I’ve loved the likes of the Farrelly Brothers, Michael
Bacall and John Francis Daley/Jonathan Goldstein for comedy
writing that has had me regularly laughing out loud
Basically, I’m interested in reading the scripts for movies
that have been box office successes and have personally
struck a chord with me - and that makes for a long list of
Magazine: Name the director you would love to work with
of course, many directors I would love to work with, but to
name one – I would say Judd Apatow. I admire character
driven comedy and how he finds the right balance between the
hilarious and the serious. He has also well and truly put
the “b” into bromance comedy – this resonates strongly with
the characters and story in my script “Rampaging Wild
Did I mention The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and
Magazine: Name the actor you would love to work with and
easy - Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Seth Rogan and Michael Cera.
If forced to choose one, on the basis of character type and
age in my script - “Rampaging Wild Horses” - it would have
to be Michael Cera… and Seth Rogan.
I love these guys. If you know they’re in a movie, you know
you’re in for a fun ride. They’re relatable, they know
comedy and they make it look easy.
FilmMakers Magazine: Any tips and things
learned along the way to pass on to others?
handle on the craft - read lots of successful scripts in
your chosen genre and sweat the little details of script
formatting. You can’t expect anyone to invest their time and
engage in your story if you can’t be bothered to get the
Be vivid, not boring, in all aspects of your script. Review
and rewrite character and scene descriptions, dialogue and
action (basically everything). But don’t over fluff it!
And for non-American writers, check the phrases and spelling
you use to ensure they won’t be misunderstood, e.g. humor v
humor, flashlight v torch, gas station v servo (that’s an
Australian colloquialism for service station!).
FilmMakers Magazine: What's next for you?
story buzzing around in my head, another comedy, involving
poles-apart brothers, built form and cultural heritage,
ships that pass through the night and the most
inner-beautiful and innocent girl in Rome.
FilmMakers Magazine: Where do you see yourself in
five years from now?
with some of the funniest minds in the movie industry.
Here’s hoping :). And writing, writing, writing.
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