Toby Smith

What topic do you discuss in your script? And why?
The script explores the nature of mortality and how we, as humans, try desperately to defy it. The characters and scenarios are inspired by people and events from my own life. The story is the way it is because death is the one thing that unites us all as humans, and yet so many of us refuse to accept it. I guess the story essentially asks us why we are like this, though I don't want to get to answering that anytime soon.2. People who have read the script cite it as emotionally resonant, with strong characters that feel very real. I've always been very happy with what people have said, everyone's been very kind. My main fears with my work usually relate to characters, so it's always good to hear I've written something that feels real.

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Do you think that films can change people for the better or for the worse?
Absolutely, films can change people, though I believe the culture surrounding a film has a greater influence than the film itself. A culture of violent films will no doubt alter the brain chemistry, desensitising a person to real-world violence. It will not, however, incite someone to commit violent actions.

According to 3-act dramaturgy, how would you define your story?
In the first act, the gradual emergence of a respiratory condition interrupts the quiet life of a newly married couple, Sara and Johan. In the second act, the worsening of this condition prompts Sara to assume the role of sole carer for Johan, whilst Johan tries desperately to maintain his agency. In the third act, the inevitability of failure forces Sara to confront the ultimate loss.

How does the main character develop?
My main character goes through a very big change. Sara goes from believing she is the only one who can save Johan, to ultimately relinquishing control and allowing him the one thing he wanted: choice.

What actors do you imagine in your project (typologically)?
I think Mia Goth is one of the finest actresses working today. She has that intensity that would be perfect. For Johan, I don't have any concrete ideas. Alexander Skarsgard is a marvellous actor, and I know his chemistry with Mia Goth is there, as they were both terrific in Infinity Pool.

Why do you think your script should attract director?
It's a small, intimate drama, with few locations and fewer characters. It could therefore be made on a low budget, with emphasis on performance and the more technical aspects of filmmaking.

At which festivals did you receive the award?
I have currently received two awards - Best Original Screenplay and Best Drama Script - from the 8(1/2) Film Awards and two Official Selections, though I am awaiting news on nearly twenty other submissions.

Which screenwriters are your favorite and why?
I like writers who use their scripts to ruminate on things. I like the postmodernist writers because they deconstruct film and break it into pieces. I'm a big fan of Michael Haneke, Jean-Luc Godard (1980 onwards) and David Lynch.

Abour which topics are your screenplays?
My screenplays are very often about trying to overcome trauma, as well as the different ways we go about that. For Sara, her way of overcoming her trauma is to try and prevent a similar event happening in the present, which she believes will relieve her woes. A lot of my characters have similar struggles, but I'm trying to branch out and explore characters with different perspectives.

What motivates you the most to write screenplays?
I find motivation in everything, but my main source of motivation comes from the films I watch. I am a cinephile. I love watching films. I love reading about films, analysing films... Put simply, I love films. Seeing a film that excites me is all the motivation I need to keep going. If a medium has that much power over me, I know it is the medium I want to pursue.

What are your plans in future careers?
My plans in the future are to direct my first short film and begin trying to get a feature script off the ground. You Are My Oxygen could be that script. We'll see.