screenwriter to watch
Noto is an alumnus of Berlinale Talents, The Berlin International Film Festival’s top-notch talent development program. His short films have screened and been nominated at numerous festivals, including Sitges International Film Festival (for the film Butcher’s Hill) and Fantasia International Film Festival (for the film La Ricetta). Noto also won two Best Short Film awards and the Audience Award at the Philadelphia Film Festival. He has written several original screenplays, including The Nail (2007), The North Star (2015), Addiction: A 60s Love Story (2016), and Beyond the Night (2018). He is a member of the Writers Guild Association, East, and has recently completed his directorial debut title, Beyond the Night.
How did you break in or get your start in screenwriting?
The first project I ever worked on was a movie about an all-female biker gang based in Philadelphia, whose members are werewolves and work as strippers. The script ultimately never saw the light of day, but I’ll be damned if that one still doesn’t deserve to be made. From that script, I was brought on to develop a semi-biographical story titled The Nail: The Story of Joey Nardone, a film about a blue-collar boxer recently released from prison who fights to reconcile his past. From that point, I was able to find consistent work as a screenwriter.
Writer, Beyond the Night; Director, Beyond the Night; Writer, Addiction: A 60s Love Story; Writer, The North Star; Writer, The Nail: The Story of Joey Nardone; Writer, La Ricetta; Writer, Butcher’s Hill.
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is that screenwriting as a profession is for gamblers. At no point in a screenwriter’s career is anything guaranteed. You have to keep your foot on the gas and your hands in the dirt if you want to build a lasting career.
What’s the hardest scene or project you’ve ever had to write? How did you navigate the challenge?
The hardest scene I’ve had to write and actually shoot is the funeral scene in my latest feature film, Beyond the Night. A number of my close family members passed away before and during the production of the film. I was wrought with emotion during the filming because of that, which only added to the challenge.
What was a major turning point in your career?
I was invited to take part in the Berlinale Talent Program with my coming-of-age screenplay, Latchkey Kid, which also placed in the top five percent in the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition. That script opened a lot of doors, but no one has had the courage to produce it yet!
What are you working on right now?
I have a lot of new projects since the release of Beyond the Night on all major platforms. I am in development with several television properties and films with producer Robin Garvick of Summerhawk Films. Beyond the Night generated attention and interest from individuals I’d very much like to work with, so I’m excited about what is around the corner.
What are some of your favorite movies?
Specific films are difficult to say, but films that make my favorites list include those by Terry Gilliam, Gyorgi Palfi, William Freidkin, Jodorosky, and Villeneuve.
Who are some of your favorite screenwriters?
Here are a few of my favorites: Taylor Sheridan, for his true-to-life dialogue, Tony Gilroy for his diversity, Michael Cimino for his protagonist work, Frank Pierson for his iconic characters, and Eric Roth for his complexity and commercial viability.
Share a memorable experience at Austin Film Festival.
The most memorable experience I had at AFF was in 2018. I arrived with my producers outside the State Theater to find the name of our film, Beyond the Night, in big black letters on the marquee, with a line of people around the block for the premiere. I was overwhelmed with emotion.