Austin Comedy Short Film Festival
Fall 2017 Official Selection
- Screenplay Title: "Harry's File"
- Link to the Official Website | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn
- Category: Feature Length Screenplay
- Awards: Best Feature Length Screenplay Award Winner
- Screenwriter: Jude Gerard Prest
- Tagline: “A comedy with dramatic elements, Harry's File, is the story of an alienated, bitter man’s life that gets turned completely upside down when he is forced to relive seemingly random moments of his life after a naive angel - new to Heaven - wanders into the massive file room in Heaven where everyone’s life is stored on 3X5 index cards and drops Harry’s file - scattering and re-ordering the events of his life.”
- Review: "Harry's File" is a comedy screenplay with dramatic events that will have the reader asking themselves this same questions. Screenwriter Jude Gerard Prest does an excellent job of taking the reader on this adventure. We caught up with him for an interview.
Interview with Screenwriter Jude Gerard Prest:
We had a chance to catch up with screenwriter Jude Gerard Prest for some background information on his screenplay "Harry's File."
- What is the title of your screenplay and why did you think that your screenplay was a good fit for the Austin Comedy Short Film Festival? “The title of the screenplay is “Harry’s File.” Though based in Los Angeles, I do a lot of work in Austin, overseeing, show running, producing and directing a lot of the media for an Austin based media and marketing company. Over the five years that I've been coming back and forth to Austin, I have fallen in love with the city, the people and the overall creative vibe of Austin. I gotten involved a bit in the Austin Film community and am anxious to get more involved. I was excited at the chance to enter the Austin Comedy Short FF when I saw they had a screenplay competition... and was even more excited to hear that I was one of the finalists.”
- What inspired you to write this screenplay and how did you come up with the title? “My interest in film is very diverse - from cheesy b horror movies to lofty art house foreign films. The Godfather is my favorite movie but i'm also really drawn to stories of characters that are fish out of water and in need of a second chance. Stories and films like: A Christmas Carol, It's a Wonderful Life, Heaven Can Wait, Groundhog Day and other are favorites of mine and I wanted to tell that type of story. As far as the title, I was always taught that the title of your script is usually somewhere in your script. In this case, Harry's File really summed up the overall thing that puts Harry's story in the motion and keeps him on the roller coaster that he (and other characters) are on throughout.”
- What was your inspiration for some of the characters in your screenplay? “I love the physical comedy of the early films of Steve Martin (All of Me, The Jerk, etc) and Bill Murray. But i also love that they are actors that while ridiculously funny can also pull off highly dramatic roles. Other actors that I really like doing that lately are John Hamm and Chris Pine among others. They can be goofy, physical, out there but also turn on a dime and break your heart in a heavily dramatic scene or film. Harry's File has a lot of ups and downs, comedy and drama weaved throughout, so I really looked to those types of actors for character inspiration while writing.”
- In your mind, where do you see this story taking place and why? “It's always been set in New York City because it needed to be set in the hustle and bustle of a big metropolis with skyscrapers etc. Some very specific New York City locations are also central to a few key scenes. That said, It could theoretically take place in any large major metropolitan city, but it was written with NYC always in mind.”
- Do you have plans to fund the production of this film independently? If so, where are you at, in the process? “It has seemed to me that since this is a higher concept film with lots of location, enormous amounts of visual effects and a story that literally goes between Heaven and Earth in detail, that it probably needed to be more of a studio funded film. I have a budget done for a fairly modest 10 million dollars (relatively) but as with anything depending on the stars, the locations, the effects etc., it could certainly be much higher than that. I have other projects that I'm working on raising the money independently but this is one that I've been working to get in front of the right studio, management / production company or producer that can help me get it produced.”
Has creating this screenplay helped your writing career in any way? “It has a lot. I think you are always growing, adapting, and evolving as a writer. I'm writing a new television pilot currently that is unlike anything I've ever written before and that is largely made easier by what I learned doing Harry's File. Harry's File was a pretty early script in my screenplay writing journey. Originally it was a pretty different script. Much more slapstick, much less grounded in any sense of reality. Much more “The Jerk” than “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Defending your life. And the script was getting some notice but after awhile when nothing was really happening with it, I actually put it away for a lot of years and moved on to other things. It wasn't until a couple of years ago, that I dusted it off and did pretty extensive rewrite on it. Same Characters, same story, but much more real within the world of a very unreal situation. It really helped me writing wise to be flexible with my own stories and not hold anything too precious. It was a great learning experience.”
- What were some of the creative challenges that you encountered while writing this screenplay? “It was definitely out of my comfort zone in terms of storytelling. This script had a lot of challenges... criss crossing timelines, different ages of the same character interacting with other characters who are still at a certain age. It was a bit of a puzzle to make all the time zapping interaction and ages etc. correct. I always say i got a lot of the creative genes and not so many of the mathematical ones, so I had to really focus on making sure that all played out correctly. There's also a very interesting thing when you make any sort of changes. I directed and produced the “Bruce Lee Biography” for A&E years ago and a Bruce Lee quote always stuck with me. He said that if you throw a pebble in a stream, no matter how small, it changes the course of that stream and river forever. That's how I feel about rewrites and changes. A change in a script, a character, a thought - no matter how small or insignificant it seems, changes the course of that script. Re-writing is always challenging for me. I write a lot, but I'm not necessarily a fast or prolific writer. i wish I was. I tweak and change and labor over words and scenes as I go - reworking a scene numerous times before i move on. I don't know if that makes rewrites any easier, but it helps me get to the point where I feel like individual moments are closer to being where I want them to be by the end of the first draft.”
- How do you promote your screenplay on social media or other online websites. “I do the usual - my website, Facebook, etc. but it's really been the jumping into the festivals on sites like Withoutabox and FilmFreeway that have become a way for me to get it out there. I'll promote the script on my social media sites when it gets some sort of nice recognition.”
- Did you have any funny or weird ideas that popped into your head while writing this screenplay, that didn't make the final draft? “There were a lot of crazy things. I had this one idea that since he pops back and forth in time anyway, i would do a scene where he pops so far forward that time has actually ceased to exist. Not only was it a bit too dark for a comedy screenplay... I had absolutely NO idea where to take it from there or how to get out of that situation. It did not make the cut.”
- Can you list any awards, nominations or official selections for this film? “In the last 9 months Harry's File has done really well and that's been very cool to see. Very unexpected but very fun. In late 2016, it was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at the Film Invasion - Los Angeles international Film Festival and Screenplay competition. In 207, it was awarded 2nd place at the NY International Screenplay awards. It won third place at the LA Comedy Film Festival and Screenplay Competition, It was a semi-finalist at Conquest and got 4th place and the Malta International Film Festival and screenplay competition and now most recently here at the Austin Comedy Short Film Festival!! I have no idea if it will advance anywhere further in this or other festivals but it's been really fun to have this nice run of festival love.”
Screenwriter Jude Gerard Prest Bio
Jude Gerard Prest is currently an Executive Producer and Sr. VP of Development and Production for Full Throttle Media – Los Angeles based - Prest also serves as Showrunner and Director for many of the Austin, Texas based companies: Commercials, Documentaries, Promos, & Specials as well as overseeing development of the company’s non- scripted and scripted feature film and television development for projects filmed around the globe. Prest has Directed, Produced and Overseen hundreds of hours of broadcast, syndicated, cable and international programming. Prest has also served as Executive Producer, Co-Executive Producer, Writer-Creator, Supervising Producer Showrunner and Director for numerous series and specials for networks such as: ABC, CBS, UPN, FOX, PBS, Discovery, National Geographic, A&E, The Travel Channel, Sony Pictures Television, SYFY, The History Channel, HGTV, Comedy Central, Fox, Universal-NBC Sports, Animal Planet, VH1, Court TV, 20th Century Fox, Fox Movie Channel, international markets and more.
Prest owns all media rights and adapted the screenplay for the award-winning memoir, “THE LOS ANGELES DIARIES”. The screenplay is currently in pre-selection status at the CINEMA LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL FILM & SCREENPLAY FESTIVAL. Academy Award winning director, Steven Soderbergh is a consultant and advisor to the project.
Prest’s original Screenplay “Harry’s File” was awarded the GRAND JURY PRIZE for Best Screenplay at the FILM INVASION LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL in late 2016. In early 2017, it advanced to the quarter finals of the prestigious CINEQUEST INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL. In May 2017, the script was named one of the top three in the LA COMEDY FEST screenplay competition and took 2nd place in the NY INTERNATIONAL SCREENPLAY AWARDS and placed 4th (of top 5) at the MALTA INTERNATIONAL FILM & SCREENPLAY FESTIVAL. The screenplay is currently in contention as a semi finalist in the AUSTIN SHORT COMEDY FILM FESTIVAL to be help in November 2017.
Prest served as: Co-Exec Prod / Showrunner & Director for the Wolper Organization (Roots, Bates Motel, LA Confidential) and Warner Brothers on a special: THE GHOST SPEAKS for A&E and BIO CHANNEL among others. He was the Executive Producer, Co-Creator, Director and Showrunner for The Travel Channel special – CITY SWAPPERS – as well as the Showrunner and Director for 26 episodes of the hit ABC Saturday series - OCEAN MYSTERIES with Jeff Corwin. He was the showrunner for season 2 of the hit SPIKE series: DEADLIEST WARRIOR among many others specials and series.
Prest Directed, produced & adapted a popular NEIL GAIMAN short story – WE CAN GET THEM FOR YOU WHOLESALE – from Gaiman’s bestselling short story collection – SMOKE AND MIRRORS. The short film – GAIMAN also narrates, premiered at Long Beach Comic Con. Produced through Prest’s LifeLike Productions, LLC, the short stars BRIAN HOWE and DANIEL ROEBUCK with visual effects by Catalyst Media (Titanic, Twilight, Matrix Revolutions, Spiderman 3. Prest was showrunner and writer for 13 episodes of the FOX MOVIE CHANNEL series: THIRTEEN NIGHTS OF FRIGHT with NEIL GAIMAN.
Prest Executive Produced, Wrote and Directed the award-winning feature documentary film: Rabbit Hash – the Center of the Universe which tells the true story of the town of Rabbit Hash, a sleepy little Kentucky town that elected a dog named Goofy as their mayor. The award-winning film also spawned a special for Animal Planet called, Mayor Dog – which he also Exec Produced and Directed. Prest has overseen hundreds of hours of programming on six continents in around 100 countries. Prest has also worked extensively as an award winning screen and stage actor, writer and voice over actor.