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Area Teacher’s Screenplay Wins Big Apple Honors

Catherine D’Agostino

Fredonia resident Catherine D’Agostino recently placed as a semifinalist in the Big Apple Film Festival and Screenplay competition for her new screenplay, “Say Something Funny.”

According to the competition’s web site, its “goal is to celebrate the great city of New York through the exhibition of innovative and purposeful filmmaking.”

In addition to New York City, D’Agostino includes several local areas and businesses in her story. “The setting is split between New York City and Chautauqua County and highlights the Lenhart Hotel in Bemus Point, the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel in Celeron, the former Rooney’s restaurant in Fredonia, the Lily Dale Assembly, Chautauqua Lake, and Jamestown High School.”

In the full-length drama, the accidental discovery of touchable holograms in post-pandemic America pushes the daughter of a famed comic into a cryptic world of greed and jealousy that she can’t escape without the help of mystical powers, a quirky teen, and some comedic legends.

Inspiration for the screenplay came to D’Agostino during a visit to the National Comedy Center in August 2019.

“The holographic welcome by Jim Gaffigan and all the memorabilia on display — Dan Aykroyd’s Harley Davidson, Jerry Seinfeld’s puffy shirt, Lucille Ball’s polka-dotted dress, George Carlin’s handwritten notes, and the Ghostbusters’ uniforms — got me thinking: What if holograms were touchable? After the drive home, I started an outline on a scrap piece of paper.”

D’Agostino wove direct and indirect references to many famed comedians into the storyline, including Dan Aykroyd, Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin, Richard Pryor, Gilda Radner, John Mulaney, George Carlin, Eddie Murphy, Carol Burnett, Johnny Carson, Jerry Seinfeld, Betty White, Jonathan Winters, Lewis Black, John Belushi, Tina Fey, Harold Ramis, Joan Rivers, and Charlie Chaplin.

I’m thrilled that my screenplay received some recognition from the film industry. That’s really the first step. The next step is the tough one: finding a producer who wants to take my screenplay to the big screen,” she said. “Capturing the attention of Dan Aykroyd, Steve Martin or Bill Murray wouldn’t hurt either.”

The Big Apple Film Festival and Screenplay Competition received approximately 700 entries.

An English teacher in Western New York for 28 years, and currently at Dunkirk High School, D’Agostino resides in Fredonia with her husband, John, and welcomes comments, questions and suggestions at cathstino@gmail.com.

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