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FGCU sophomore Shelbie Tyndall writes ‘Fighting a War of My Own’ screenplay in just two hours


Shelbie Tyndall 02One of the films being screened by the 2017 Bonita Springs International Film Festival is a 12-minute short titled Fighting a War of My Own. It tells the heart-wrenching tale of a veteran returning home to overcome memories of childhood abuse.

The project was directed and produced by Cape Coral filmmaker Aaron Jackson for the 2016 Richmond, Virginia 48-Hour Film Project, a wild and sleepless weekend in which filmmaking teams write, cast, shoot, edit and produce short films in just 48 frenetic hours. On Friday night, teams draw a genre from a hat. They are then given a character, Fighting a War of My Own 07prop and line to include in their films. On Sunday night, in a wild dash to the drop off event, the film is turned in – and teams celebrate. The film is then screened at a local theater in front of an audience of filmmakers, friends and families.

The screenplay was written by Tracey Lynn Frame and Shelbie Tyndall.

But there was a twist involved in this particular project. Shelbie did not make the trip to Virginia for the 48-Hour Film Project. She was here in Fort Myers, waiting by the phone.

“Aaron got the genre and what he had to include in the film at 7:00 p.m. Fighting a War of My Own 11and called me around 8:00 with a faint idea of what he wanted,” recounts Shelbie of her part in the project. “He described the scene and told me to just go with it. It took about two hours of straight writing, after which it went back and forth between me and [Aaron and the rest of the team]. They made a few minor changes, due to the setting, because I wasn’t able to see everything [in the photos and video Fighting a War of My Own 10they sent me]. The magic just happened from there.”

When reminded that producing a screenplay for even an 8-minute short in just two hours is astonishingly quick, Tyndall nods. “It was … intense,” she acknowledges, breaking into an easy lilting laugh.

Fighting a War of My Own 12Of course, the initial writing was followed by hours of fine-tuning and on-the-fly changes. “I was up to about 4 in the morning making the changes that were necessitated by who they could cast and the setting they were able to secure.” Several times, she was called upon to provide backstory for a character, which she’d then incorporate into a line or two of dialogue.

Fighting a War of My Own 09Following the film’s submission at the end of the 48 hours, the judges took several days to review each entry before announcing the ten films they decided to screen. Happily, Fighting a War of My Own made the final cut.

“It was an anxious few days,” Shelbie conceded.

But she did get to fly to Virginia for the screening, which allowed her to experience the audience’s reaction Shelbie Tyndall 07to what she had written and the final product that Aaron Jackson directed and produced.

Fighting a War of My Own was nominated for 8 and won 6 awards. Two reflect directly on Tyndall, Best Writing and Best Use of Line.

Shelbie is but a sophomore in college. She is majoring in English at Florida Gulf Coast University. But she has already written a few full-length plays, a couple she completed while in high school and another that she’s bringing to FGCU.

“I haven’t had anything produced yet,” she says wistfully, “but that’s the Shelbie Tyndall 06plan at FGCU.”

Although she’s not a theatre major, she is working with both Barry Cavin and Gerritt VanderMeer. She has also worked at Florida Repertory Theatre and hopes to participate in one or more local 24-hour screenwriting competitions. So, hopefully, local audiences will get to see more from this promising young writer over the next couple of years.

The 2017 Bonita Springs International Film Festival runs January 26-29, 2017. It closes Sunday night with a 8:30 p.m. Awards and Filmmakers Party in the Larry & Beverly Hinman Auditorium on Bonita Beach Road.

Shelbie Tyndall 04January 27, 2017.


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