Interview with Screenwriter Gustavo Freitas (OPERATION BROTHER SAM)

OPERATION BROTHER SAM was the winner of BEST FEATURE SCREENPLAY at the August 2018 Action/Adventure/Crime/Mystery Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Gustavo Freitas:During the Cold War an Intelligence Officer, haunted by the death of his wife, must stop a US Ambassador who plans to fraud the Brazilian elections. This script is based on true historical events.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

This is an action / spy thriller.

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

Usually Cold War movies focus on the European setting, but there were so many interesting stories happening in Latin America in the same time period. This is a part of the History that must be told.

Few people still remember that during the sixties and the seventies the U.S. Government supported dictatorships all over South America in order to stop the Communist threat. I wanted to tell a story about a group of people trying to fight against that kind of foreign policy. This is a story about idealism, sacrifice, fairness and fighting for what’s right, even against all the odds. This is a timeless discussion and one I believe it’s worth telling.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Summarizing almost one hundred pages of a script in two words is probably be the worst nightmare of a screenwriter. That being said, and with a gun in my head, I would have to say: dark and sharp. Is it three words?

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

I believe it was “Star Wars IV: a New Hope,” but it is a close dispute with “The Godfather.”

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I had researched the material for over a year, trying to find the story I wanted to tell. The execution part of the script took me three months, counting the rewrites.

7. How many stories have you written?

That’s a tricky question. I’m developing an animation series for Fox, so I had to write down 26 short episodes just for the first season. Specifically about features, I’ve written three screenplays so far, one of them optioned. Also, I’ve worked on six pilots for TV series, two of which are being market right now.

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

I love music, so this is probably the hardest question for me. One of my top choices would have to be “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” by Nirvana. But I actually have a long list of favorite songs, coming from The Doors to Arctic Monkeys.

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Many sleepless nights, I’ll tell you that. Setting up the plot was quite easy, but entering the minds and views of each character was a huge challenge. Looking to the final draft, I’m happy to see that each character stands with his own voice, and they sound quite unique and fresh.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I love playing guitar and I’m really dedicated to that. That’s something I try to do almost every day. I also like to sing, which is quite relaxing. Besides that, I’m a certified scuba diver, which is something that I really love to do when I have some extra time in my hands.

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

I’m a big fan of FilmFreeway. It’s very practical for the writer, as you can easily submit to multiple contests and keep track of them.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

Being able to have professional actors reading your script is a wonderful experience. It’s invaluable. Feedback was good, but it can’t be compared with a table-read. First, it was very satisfying to see all these characters come to life. Second, to be able to hear an actor performing your material is an incredible tool to sharpening the dialogue. I would recommend every single writer to do at least one table-read of their scripts.

 

Genre: Action, Political Thriller

During the Cold War, an intelligence officer, haunted by the death of his wife, must confront a corrupt politician who plans to start a military dictatorship in Brazil.

CAST LIST:

Thomas: Charles Gordon
Camilla: Amber Copeland
Narrator: Carina Cojeen
Mark: Kevin P. Gabel
Colton: Neil Bennett
Garrett: Ryan Singh

******

 

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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Interview with Screenwriter Kris Bauske (THE BOOK WRITER)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Kris Bauske: The script is the story of a divorced woman who knows she can write a terrific book for a musical, but no one will give her a chance until an old friend arranges for her to work with platinum 80’s rock star Larry Limpet. The only problem is that Larry is a chauvinist and is determined to be rid of the woman. She refuses to be dumped, and they go head to head while creating a hit musical until Larry realizes he’s been a terrible ass and maybe he even likes this feisty book writer. Through conflict and difficulty they both grow and realize life isn’t over because you’re over 50, and they might even have one last chance at love.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Comedy
Romance
Romantic Comedy

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

There are a lot of men in the world who don’t realize they limit the number of opportunities available to women. Many of them even think they support women, but when they’re faced with the truth, they’d have to admit they prefer to work with other men and do all they can to make that happen. This movie shows guys how pervasive the problem really is while setting it up in a relatable, hilarious comedy so the moral of the story isn’t too hard to take. The film also allows women a chance to show the men in their life just how accepted the problem really is while watching one woman prove women really can do anything they set their minds to.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Painful Truth

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

To Catch a Thief

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I wrote it in 3 days. I have rewritten it four times since then, adding a little more depth each time. I started in late March 2018.

7. How many stories have you written?

Dozens. I started as an internationally published and produced playwright and migrated to screenplays.

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

In The Air Tonight, Phil Collins

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

None. Fortunately or unfortunately, I had just faced a similar experience in my own life, and I find it therapeutic to write it out when I’m really angry. The more angry I am, the faster the story comes, and this time I was pretty hot.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I have two adult children who still come to me for advice and guidance, so I am passionate about letting them know they are my highest priority. Aside from that, I spend a lot of time working with animals and trying to explain to people why they should adopt shelter animals and forego pet stores. Animals need advocates because they can’t speak for themselves.

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

It has been immensely satisfying. I have learned about festivals and competitions I never knew existed because of my membership with FilmFreeway. I have received thoughtful feedback, and this particular script has won at five different festivals this year, so it’s been mostly very positive. Of course, you always scratch your head when it wins at multiple festivals and then is completely ignored by others, but that’s the way in this business.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

I love to write comedy, and much of my published work is humorous, so I wanted to participate in a festival that only considers comedies. I was delighted to learn the script would get a reading. There is no better tool for honing a script than hearing it read by talented actors, especially a comedy. I can’t wait to see the video!
 

Doyle Tipton is a successful playwright and author, but her name causes most people to think she’s a man. She has the chops to make it as a bigtime book writer for stage musicals, but she’s never actually had a success in this area. Every time she proposes a concept to a band, they hem and haw and steal the idea without including the woman book writer. Finally, Doyle calls in a favor and gets hired, sight unseen, to write the book for a musical based on the catalog of Larry Limpet and the Lizards, a multi-platinum band that hit huge in the eighties. The only problem is, Larry Limpet is a male chauvinist in the truest style, and Doyle Tipton isn’t taking any of his shit.

CAST LIST: 

Narration – Katelyn Varadi
Larry – Sean Ballantyne
Doyle – Norma Dawn Dunphy

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Filmmaker Jim Wilmer (WATER)

Matthew Toffolo's Summary

 WATER was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the August 2018 Documentary Short Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jim Wilmer: In our travels across the planet, shooting commercial video for travel and tourism, we realized that there are a several ‘constants’ in our global environments, the most obvious is water, which takes form in some of most spectacular natural forms- waterfalls, ocean waves, rivers and streams, etc- each of which is accompanied by its own unique auditory imprint of sounds- a natural composition of sights and sounds. We wanted to share these ‘mini symphonies’ and without words to transcend language and culture barriers to share our message.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

The filming of WATER occurred over a span of 3-1/2 years, however, once we had the…

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Interview with Filmmaker Harrison Lane (THE GHOULIES)

THE GHOULIES was the winner of BEST FILM at the August 2018 STUDENT & YOUNG FILMMAKERS FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Harrison Lane: What inspired me to make this film was the relationship i had with my own older brother, the film actually went through multiple different iterations, all of them centred around the relationship between two siblings and the neglect they once experienced being patched. At one point it was even a full fledged horror film with a polar opposite style and story. But decided i wanted to go into a more realistic and simple direction. I was motivated to make something entertaining that a lot of people could take something from and reflect with.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

It was for uni so we were assessed on the writing, so i’d say it took around a month or two to cycle through all the different versions of this story, once i had it nailed down i spent a couple of weeks polishing it so it was as precise and direct i could make it, it was only allowed to be 5 minutes and i really wanted to tell a satisfying arc in that time. I spent a few weeks before we shot finding the locations and all the denim jackets so they could be painted and then we shot the whole thing in two days. It was a blast.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Family, Dirty

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

It’s odd, this film was an absolute joy to create from the get go, I enjoyed basically every aspect. I guess the hardest experience was locking down the script, i can’t stress how much it changed. But i feel like every version added to something incredibly layered for the final version.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

It was bizarre, I had to pause and finish watching in the morning because it was so surreal. It’s so strange watching people you have no connection to picking apart something you spent months to create. All the feedback was great and so affirming that i was successful in telling this arc and not being too dramatic and getting the performances as good as i could get them. After the initial strangeness of it, it was brilliant to watch.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I do a lot of reminiscing on my own upbringing and a lot of that time as a i was looking up to my older brother and his friends. Wanting to be around them and fit in with a crowd much too old for me, but really it was because i aspired to be like my brother. I got picked on by that group a bit but my older brother had my back and i could tell he really cared about me.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Far out, that’s hard. I definitely reckon it’s The Sandlot though. I used to watch it on repeat and i can quote the whole film to this day. It’s got such a nice feeling to it.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I think it’s great, It’s super easy to find new festivals that your film could qualify for.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

I am an absolute music fanatic, this is difficult, i cycle through a lot of different artists depending on my taste at any period, but i reckon one artist who will stay with me forever is Sufjan Stevens. His storytelling is so inline with my vibe. My favourite song of his is Djoharia.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I am approximately 13 days from shooting my graduate film at the VCA. I am very stressed and it’s a much bigger production then any i’ve tackled previously. I reckon it’s going to be really special and meaningful for me. So i’m excited.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Filmmaker Evi Stamatiou (KALTRINA)

KALTRINA played to rave reviews at the August 2018 Crime/Drama Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Evi Stamatiou: Two personal life-changing experiences from years ago. The first personal experience is that I worked as a nurse for three years in oncology and psychiatry, two areas that constantly challenge medical ethics. Moreover, I love nurses and they deserve more representation in drama. Consequently, I wanted to create a main character that is a nurse and bring the profession to the centre of attention. The second personal experience that motivated me to create this film, is that I had a car accident and my boyfriend, who was the driver, died. His parents donated his organs, including the heart. Accordingly, my focus turned to the ethics of organ transplantation, scientific developments on cell memory and organ trade. I owe the emotional and metaphysical grounding of the film to this experience.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

Two years.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Controversial. Metaphysical.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Budget. When it’s your first film, it is very difficult to attract money. But then because of the low budget, it is very difficult to make a good film. Chicken and egg situation.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

She didn’t get it. He did. She didn’t like. She did. Two people like my film! Fab!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

During my nursing life, an oncologist was diagnosed with cancer. He knew that medication would not be effective for his type of cancer and, consequently, refused to receive any. His choice to live his last days without the side effects of the chemotherapy, exposes the patients’ dignity as a controversial ethical issue. It was only years later in 2017, that the World Health Organisation revised the Declaration of Geneva (the contemporary version of the Hippocratic oath), bringing the ‘autonomy and dignity of the patient’ into play. However, this ethical question, felt extremely controversial to dramatise. Therefore I transferred it to the organ transplantation area, which turned the mere question ‘am I working for the patient or the pharmaceutical companies?’ into something less provocative and more dramatic. Having said that, organ transplantation also has some ethically challenging areas: unfortunately, this life-changing practice that we are all so grateful for, also triggers and sustains organ trade. Do we (the Westerners that can afford the practice) take this ‘side effect’ (which usually harms people from the developing world, especially during upheavals) as our own responsibility?

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

The Godfather and West Side Story are all time favourites.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

Works really well for me. Apart from one thing–somehow my email address has leaked to all kids of festival that send me emails to submit a project. That’s annoying. And how do these festivals comply with the new law about data use?

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Down in the Depths by Cole Porter

10. What is next for you? A new film?

Kaltrina is continuing its festival run, getting attention, nominations and awards. If there is interest, I would love to turn it into a feature. But I’m also writing a new short film, a serious comedy, which is really my strong point.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Filmmaker Randy Kerr (BROTHERS)

BROTHERS was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the August Under 5 Minute Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Randy Kerr: While my background has been in landscape / travel still photography, I’ve been shifting more into nature documentary film work since it touches on my love of music and story as well. Any time I can embed myself in a story with people pursuing their passion, I’m always eager to capture the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of what they do. As I got to know Tim Burke (narrator, co-producer), I suspected a compelling story might come from spending time with him.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

Nine months, though we let it simmer at times for much of that.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Perseverance rewarded.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Beyond the technical hassle of shooting in wet windy conditions, the biggest obstacle creatively was abandoning my own preconceptions of shooting a sunny, beautiful, easy day of fishing on the river. Nature delivered us just the opposite conditions, and finally we realized the backdrop was the perfect metaphor for the brothers’ struggle and perseverance story in their lives.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Delighted and gratified our universal message of family bonds, perseverance through adversity, and passion for the wild and a sport came through. Flattered that the footage effectively communicated the beauty and awe we feel on the river to the audience.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Tim Burke (narrator, co-producer) initially approached me to create some footage of him guiding his fishing clients, but as we became closer friends and he revealed more the backstory of what fishing has meant to him and his brothers, we realized we had a narrative possibility for a short film.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Lawrence of Arabia.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

As a first-time festival-submitter, I can’t imagine doing it any other way than online through Filmfreeway. It has been quite a friction-free process of bulk-submitting to festivals I think would appreciate our film.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

In a previous life I was a classical pianist, so it’d have to be Ballade #1 in G minor by Chopin.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

A grizzly bear wildlife documentary in British Columbia, a thriller (narrative) shot I’m toying with, and who knows what other outdoor documentary I might bump into.

my_little_brother_3.jpg

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Filmmaker Aram Atkinson (FIREFLIES)

FIREFLIES played at the August Under 5 Minute Short Film Festival in Toronto to rave reviews.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Aram Atkinson: I actually made this film for two specific reasons, firstly that I was just about to go freelance and wanted to kickstart with a narrative based passion project, and secondly for Rode Reel, the online film competition. I had just quit my full-time videographer job at the RNLI in the pursuit of moving forward with my goal to writing and directing narrative work, and I knew if I didn’t make Fireflies I would build up a fear of making any of my original work. Much to my surprise Fireflies has been exceptionally well received, winning Best Drama at Rode Reel, making the shortlist for Best film and picking up a load of other nominations here and there. I put it down mostly to the incredible performances of Ivy-Mae Harris, Ben Elder and Ellie Snow who really brought it to life, and the brilliance of Harrison Bates, Ricky Gane and Jamie Kemp who turned a sheet of material into a magical place. You can actually watch a behind the scenes film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pe_O-5UWmMA

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

I had the idea about 2 years before actually making it, just written down in a notebook, so when Rode Reel came up and I was flicking through my ideas, I instantly knew this was the one to make. Writing the voice of a 5 year old girl was a challenge and so I asked Nikki McMullen, a brilliant writer who was a colleague of mine at the RNLI, to help me pull it together. Once we had a script I then had two weeks to get the ball rolling. I was lucky to have the support of Treehouse digital in Bournemouth who let me use their loft studio space over a weekend, so on the Saturday we went about trying to make a tent, buying material and building a-frames, fairy lights and props.

This film relied heavily on set design to be believable and install the sense of magic (it was a massive relief the ‘Fireflies’ light effect actually worked)! I think too inside the box when it comes to building things however, so if it wasn’t for the ingenuity of Ricky, Harrison and Jamie when it came to building the tent, this film simply wouldn’t have happened. I then had about 10 days to edit it before the Rode Reel deadline so all in all it was about a 4-6 week process (excluding the 2 year hiatus from concept)

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Unashamedly sentimental.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The biggest obstacles would be both getting the actors and the final location. The day before the shoot, the actor playing the dad pulled out, so I entered a frantic hunt for someone to fill the role and luckily my close collaborator and friend Riyadh Haque (an incredible writer/director in his own right) put me in touch with the outstanding Ben Elder. I called him and despite the fact he was 5 hours away at a family party, he learnt the script, camped overnight in his van and drove down early in the morning to help make this film possible. I’ve worked with Ben since and I think he’s a phenomenal actor, and an admirable professional.

Similarly, the hospice we were planning to use for the climactic reveal pulled out two days before, but I was sure a hospital would help once they saw most of the film, so I actually went ahead and shot Fireflies without knowing if I would be able to source that clinching shot. So after we shot the tent scene, I quickly pulled an edit together and spent the next few days asking hospitals if they would let me film one quick scene at their hospital, and Poole Hospital were heroes in letting us shoot there, so at midnight on a Thursday evening Harrison and I went and tried to replicate the tent in an unused ward…nothing like some indie filmmaking!

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

It was humbling to see such strong responses! I’ve been fortunate to see Fireflies screened twice and see an audience reaction in person, but this was the first time I’ve been able to hear such academic deconstruction of Fireflies and it’s amazing to hear a consensus I hadn’t even considered. This film is very much told through the eyes of Alice, and as said in the video and podcast, the film would be tragic beyond belief to view it through the dad’s eyes, but I had never actually realised this is what I was doing. I love moments like these, where you discover your own artistic decisions and style by listening to others’ take.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I can’t actually remember how I first came up with the idea for Fireflies, I have a tendency for nostalgic themes and bittersweet situations though. I’ve been asked a few times if it is based on a personal experience and whilst my family has been effected by cancer, thankfully never in the tragic way that it is in Fireflies.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

You’ve got mail is probably my guilty pleasure, I love Tom Hanks and I’m a sucker for a romantic story. I have a new pen pal because of the Under 5 minute Film Festival so perhaps this will lead to my own You’ve got mail! I’ll try not to put them out of business…

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I think it’s an amazing platform, one of the few times submission systems are done right. It’s so refreshing having it all in one place and being able to determine the value of festivals by reviews, photos and detailed info!

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

There’s too many to pick. Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley or Adaggio for Strings by Barber really get me though so I’ve probably those two. Although ‘Doin me’ by Mikey Mike is making a strong claim at the moment.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

Whilst I am incredibly proud of Fireflies, even after 5 years of filmmaking, it is only now that I am preparing to make what I consider to be my first true film. I am in development of a short film that tackles some of the issues in the UK I feel passionately about and is a far bigger challenge than anything I have made before, both in what it is trying to say and the level of execution. I have a crew attached, and am rewriting the final version of the script, whilst also seeking funding, which as we all know requires a lot of perseverance and resilience. But I believe this film needs to be made, and the goal is to make it before the end of 2018, funded or not!

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.