Interview with Director Dan Pal (COUNTING)

Dan Pal’s short film COUNTING played at the ROMANCE FEEDBACK Film Festival in Los Angeles in September 2017. It was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Dan Pal: I am a company member of a non-for-profit organization in Chicago called Pride Films and Plays. We were looking for a short script that took place in our city and that featured an LGBT theme. The screenwriter, Kari Morris, is part of our writers network. Her script for Counting was the most beautiful and heart-wrenching I had read. It really reflected the idea that no matter how far we go with equal rights in the U.S., we must always remember those that came before that were not so fortunate. I was thrilled to be able to bring this story to life!

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

We chose the script in the winter of 2016. There were about four months of pre-production soon after that. Shooting was completed in two days at the end of July 2016. Post-production was fairly brief. We had a couple of rough cuts in August but after a few tweaks, we premiered the film at a Pride Films and Plays film festival in early November.

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

Marriage Inequality!

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

About two weeks before production, our Director of Photography dropped out of the project to work on a feature film. Fortunately, he had a replacement ready to go! Then our outdoor location fell through and we had to quickly find another spot to shoot the very key opening scene! After combing a few neighborhoods in Chicago we found a lovely park bench in front an older couple’s house. I knocked on the door and, after a little bit of negotiation, they agreed to let us film on their property!

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

I was definitely grateful for the variety of responses and perspectives! All of the feedback was very constructive and useful. I can’t wait to share this with our screenwriter and music composer!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

As I mentioned earlier, the story was the brainchild of our screenwriter Kari Morris who was inspired by an older gay man who told her he had been with the same partner for decades. Sadly that person died before they could legally wed in the 2010s. Kari adapted his story to reflect a female couple.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Probably Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. It inspired me when I was young and suggested that film doesn’t have to follow a specific structure and style.

You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the new(ish) submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I love it! It’s a great way to get your work out into the world and seen by programmers, film fans, and other filmmakers.

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

Wow! That’s a tough one! Music is a BIG part of my life! I can’t come up with just one…but maybe a Top Ten if I really think about it!

What is next for you? A new film?

I am currently working on a short script and have outlined a feature I may want to develop. Pride Films & Plays is also currently reviewing screenplays for our next short so it could be one written by someone else again.
Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto twice a month, and every other month in Los Angeles. 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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