Laura Barbato

What topics do you discuss in your script? And why?
Oh wow, there’s a few different topics I hit on in this script. Amnesty is definitely an intense and well packed pilot! I hit on everything from family, to death, to survival, to post traumatic stress disorder, all the way to spirituality. I wanted to make this relatable to everyone, so you’ll see all of my characters are three dimensional. When they hurt, the audience feels it. When they’re happy, we’re happy. That’s what makes a show successful, and renewed. The ability to get the audience to relate to the characters is so important.


How do people feel after reading your script?

Yeah, the biggest reply I get after someone reads Amnesty is, “I want more!” or “I can’t believe you killed ‘so and so’!” I won’t say the name because I don’t want to spoil it! I feel like people are filled with different emotions from start to finish. It’s intense, it’s sad, it’s exciting, it’s fast, and it’s so New York City.

Do you think that films can change people for the better or for the worse?

I think certain films can change people for the better by shedding light on topics that either aren’t spoken about at home, or even socially acceptable to talk about. Films with taboo topics are amazing because they open up the floor for discussion and make it a reality of the world, sort of like a “like-it-or-not”. I’m Executive Producer on an amazing film titled, “Dear Luke, Love, Me” that deals with asexuality in such a beautiful way, and the response to that film has been so inspiring!

According to 3-act dramaturgy, how would you define your story?

Wow, that's an interesting question. I’d say “intense” is a good word to define it. I wrote the pilot episode for the Amnesty series based on my own personal experiences. I was a New York City police sergeant, I was in the detective bureau as a boss, I was in the Bronx Narcotics unit, I lived in the Bronx for many years, and I suffer from PTSD. So of course, if we’re talking about act structures, I created a hard, gritty world easily in the beginning because I’ve been there. Our main characters go through their highs and lows pretty quickly. Then, we get to our “oh damn” moment and what we need to do about it. In a pilot, you really only have 60 pages to put it all together to make an amazing impression, so you have to strike hard from the beginning and keep going!

How does the main character develop?

Slowly. Manny goes from being in prison, to returning home to his family, then finds himself back in the streets selling drugs. During this transition, you’ll see Manny is heavily influenced by his environment. It’s a slow process, but with any series, there’s plenty of time to move through his ups and downs with him, all sculpting him into the person he’s meant to be.

What actors do you imagine in your project (typologically)?
I love this question. Amnesty is based in the Bronx so it’s going to be a New York, gritty series. I want actors from all different backgrounds in this. I want realness, I want New-York-tough actors. If they fit the criteria, then welcome to the Bronx!

Why do you think your script should attract a director?

I already have a director in mind to shoot the pilot that I’ve worked with before, and of course, he’s from the Bronx! I, too, have toyed with the idea of directing the Pilot, so we will see when the time comes!

Which screenwriters are your favorite and why?

I love the realness of Lena Waithe. Her voice in her scripts can be heard from New York to California. I’ve read a lot of her scripts, but the first one I read was “Queen & Slim” and since reading that, I’ve been a fan. I just find her writing so relatable. Her characters are so three dimensional. Her worlds are so real.

What topics are in most of your screenplays?

I love the human mind, so psychology is always in my scripts. What motivates a person to act a certain way? The paranormal, as odd as it may be, finds a way to enter into my scripts. And of course they say, “write what you know”, so I find in some way, shape or form, that police officers or detectives become part of my pages!

What motivates you the most to write screenplays?

I just love to write, you know? I love to create. I love to get people to think, and to have in depth conversations about certain topics. Is it this way, or that way? What was meant by this? What lessons were learned? Writing is a way to make sense of life when words can be so hard to articulate.

What are your plans for your future career?
Well with Amnesty, I’d like to shop it around to see if I get any interest in the industry. In the meantime, I’m developing a graphic novel that I’m having a blast doing. The first story in it is titled “Bo Jenkins”. Things are limitless when you're illustrating or animating your script, so the possibilities are endless for the storyline. We don't have to worry about not using certain things because it’ll blow the budget, or filming in certain locations. If I want to blow up a car in my graphic novel, I’ll blow it up! If we are to blow up a car on set, it might literally cost us an arm and a leg!