ROFFEKE: What inspired you two to write Tomi Thirteen?
Max Sparber: We've been working on one version of this script or another for a long time. I think the original idea, which has always been central to the story, was that in a post-apocalyptic future, even ordinary jobs would have to be superheroic. Once we settled on the story being set in a city contained inside an entire building, it seemed quite funny to us that the superintendent would have to be a literal superhero.
ROFFEKE: What are the benefits and challenges of working as a duo on one script?
Max Sparber: The benefits are that we have very different imaginations, and so the story is enriched by unexpected details and ideas. We work quite well together, so if we have any challenges it is that we have a lot more ideas than we have time for.
ROFFEKE: Max, you are in your 50s. What has been your screenwriting journey? How long have you been a screenwriter? Highest point so far? Lowest point so far?
Max Sparber: I have been a professional playwright for a long time, but have always wanted to pursue screenwriting. I only began to do it in earnest a few years ago, with my writing partner (and girlfriend) Coco Mault, and almost entirely through the festival circuit. It has been very rewarding -- at this moment we have won 18 contests and were flown out to Los Angeles to pitch a script at a number of different companies. Of course, it's much easier to write a screenplay than to get one produced, and so we are patient, knowing the process is slow, but it can be frustrating trying to attract the attention of agents and managers.
ROFFEKE: Any advice for upcoming screenwriters?
Max: Write the movie you would want to see. There is no way to predict what the market is going to be, or what scripts people are going to want to buy, but if you write something you care about, at least you will have done something that will have been worth doing even if it takes forever to get made.
ROFFEKE: What lessons did 2020 teach you?
Max: That it's important to pursue the things you care about, and to surround yourself with the people and projects that really move and interest you.