Interview with Lukas Hassel (INTO THE DARK)

Lukas Hassel’s short film played at the January 2017 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film Festival. It was the winner of “BEST PERFORMANCES” at the festival – which Lukas was also the main actor of the film.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Couple of different things. Mainly, some of my feature screenplays were getting some wins in competitions nationally and I wanted to be pitched as the director for those. However, all the producers I met were like: “What have you directed? We can’t pitch you unless you have made something.” So, I knew I needed to make a short film. Then it became a matter of figuring out what i wanted to say. What was my point of view. I realized i wanted to highlight the growing hardness and lack of empathy that our society is promoting. I wanted to explore the need for human connection and do it in a way that told us where our moral compass is currently.

So I wrote a drama that I disguised as Sci-fi because i really enjoy that genre, and it served my theme well.

MT: From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

I wrote an outline which I finessed for about 4 months, then wrote the script in a week. Designing and building the set by myself with the significant help from my co producer and DP, Henry B. Lee, took another another two months. Waiting on VFX, another 5 months. So probably around a year in total.

MT: How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Claustrophobic. Harsh.

MT: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The establishing shot in space was very tricky to do. I had a great post production company doing most of the VFX, but they couldn’t do the space shot in a satisfactory manner, and many others tried to help for free, but in the end I had to throw money at the problem and hire a top professional (not cheap) to do the space sequences. Held me up for 6 months.

MT: What were your initial reactions when watching the Toronto audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Very pleased. It seemed that people got what I was going for.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

MT: How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I have always liked the idea of a small set, of restrictions as a way of setting creativity free. I have always wanted to act in a sci-fi film. And I have always been fascinated by the five stages of grief, so I decided to explore this in a creative way. The main character goes through these five stages and it provided me with a great outline for the script.

MT: What film have you seen the most in your life?

Cabaret – a film that gets overlooked by many filmmakers because it’s dismissed as a musical and a Liza Minelli vehicle. What they miss is the extremely advanced editing and cinematography. It’s mind blowing and seamless. It’s the first time I can really point to where editing is part of the story construction. Must have seen it over 40 times.

MT: What is next for you? A new film?

I’m acting in a couple of films coming up, but as a filmmaker and writer, I wrote a short screenplay, “The Son, the Father…” that just won at HollyShorts Screenplay Competition for best screenplay, and part of the winning deal is that it gets produced. So I pitched myself as the director, and the production company really dug “Into the Dark”, which means they’re letting me direct it later this Spring.

After that, I have a feature screenplay – “Halfway” – ready to go, and I’m currently looking for the right producer to get attached.

Looking forward to all opportunities coming my way.

A huge thank you to Wild Sound Feedback Festival for including my short film.



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 month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to for more information and to submit your work to the festival.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival


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