Based on a True Story

Carole Rinn

Weekly Newsletter
Issue #318

Based on a True Story

Carole Rinn is a graduate of Film Connection, who recently completed her first feature length screenplay, Unfolding. The topical and hard hitting drama is based on her own experiences facing workplace harassment. I sat down with this up-and-comer to discuss life, writing, her script, and the program.

How did you originally get interested in screenwriting?

During the pandemic I lost my job, but I’d been planning on attending the Toronto Film School anyway. I did two terms there. Because of the timing I was really only able to attend online classes and they weren’t sure when they were going to fully reopen. A few of the classes I took were writing centered. I’m a theater actor, I don’t have a writing background. I’ve always wanted to transfer into film. I was nervous about taking a writing class, but it turned out way better than I had thought. We had to just write short two-page long assignments, and I got great feedback. I thought, “Maybe this is what I should do!” 

How was transitioning from acting into writing? 

I’d been doing theater, as an actor, for about seventeen years. It wasn’t exactly an easy transition, but I have lots of stories in my mind. I just didn’t quite have the tools on how to put them down on paper. You need to know how to do that. 

Acting inherently does provide some insight into the process, though. From character development to understanding the ins-and-outs of the script medium. 

Most definitely. As an actor I can tell good writing from bad writing when reciting lines. You can feel it. It needs to feel genuine. When I’m writing, I always act it out loud, and I can sense when it isn’t right. I can detect when it isn’t coming from a truthful place. 

I love when people say that they act out their scripts in real time! I guess Aaron Sorkin once broke his nose while acting out a scene from The Newsroom

I’ve heard about that! That’s some crazy commitment!

How much of this script is from your real life?

Quite a bit, it’s based on a true story! I worked at a place where a lot of terrible things went down. Harassment and stuff. I’m not a mother or widow but, I wanted to portray the relationship of a single mother and her child. She is kind of based on myself, but also single parents I know who are struggling to raise their kids on their own. It’s a tough thing. 

Besides the workplace harassment aspect of the script, what other facets of it are based on your own life? 

I lived in the south, in the area where it’s set, and I was a bit of a fish out of water there.  

The script is a mirror of my own experiences there. I grew up around a lot of diversity. I was born in America but was raised in Europe. I was lucky to have a great international upbringing. I’ve been exposed to a lot of different mindsets. When I moved to that part of the south, I had some culture shock, because of the homogeneity. One race, one view point, one religion– with everything else being considered “wrong.” It was a challenging time in my life, and I channeled that through my main character. The story is fundamentally about navigating through the challenges life throws at you. 

But, I understand you worked hard to not make this script a right vs. left or north vs. south trope? 

I made a point not to stereotype people from the south. There are characters throughout the story that show Abby [the protagonist] kindness and help her. Some are Trump supporters and might have their prejudices, but they are not the bad guys in my script. The real bad guy is poverty. How poverty affects you in every way and changes you and how hard it is to get out of it.

How’d you decide to base your first script on such a personal experience? 

When I first started the course I had to come up with three different ideas for films. I handed them in and discussed them with my mentor, Richard Brandes. He asked, “Is one of these more urgent than the others?” I was really nervous about writing my first full script. I thought to myself, “It’s best to write the one that is the most relevant with my life.” Write what you know, as they say. 

What’s next for this project?

I’ve written three drafts, and I am starting to shop it around. I’m just trying to get it out there. Submitting it to different film festivals. I am also starting a new project.  

How’d you discover Film Connection? 

I couldn’t continue on at the Toronto Film School, because they didn’t know when they were going to reopen and the other courses I needed to take had to be in person. I left and was at a bit of standstill. I really wanted to get into film somehow. I started researching other schools with good writing programs. I found Film Connection online, reached out, spoke to someone, and it took off from there. 

Can you tell us a bit more about your mentor?

Richard was fantastic! I’m so so happy I was paired with him. He’s a great mentor and really guided me and helped me. I didn’t have the background and the knowledge, but he passed on everything he knew. Every week I was excited when we would talk on the phone to review my latest pages. It was a thrilling experience. I couldn’t have done it without him, he’s truly amazing. 

Do you have any advice for someone thinking about joining the program? 

I’d say absolutely do it! It’s an amazing program. Like I said, I’m trained as an actor, I went to drama school, which was great, but Film Connection was so helpful. This is the program to do. If you’re committed and put in the work, your mentor is definitely going to help you get where you want to go. The internship is such an important part of the program. It really helps you get your foot in the door, which we are all so desperate to do. 

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