Interview with Filmmaker Hollis Sherman-Pepe (TO QUIET MY MIND)

TO QUIET MY MIND was the winner of BEST FILM at the March 2018 Under 5 Minute Feedback Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Hollis Sherman-Pepe: I always write my short films with specific actors in mind. My star Ryan McKenzie is a fabulous actor and painter. We both trained for years with the same acting coach, the now retired Jeremiah Comey. Ryan’s paintings inspired me to make a film where a painting would come alive.

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

The format of this script was non-conventional. The concept took an hour to write and several meetings to iron out details and the how-to questions for filming. We shot it all in two days. Between the two shoot dates we needed to edit the B Roll film-with-in-a-film that would later be projected onto the actors face on Day 2. The bulk of time was dedicated to editing, score, and a tremendous amount of visual effects work. All in all it took a little over a year from start to finish.

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

Abstract Retrospection

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

Being an experimental film it was challenging to find festivals that wanted to take a chance on screening a film so out of the ordinary. That being said we have won prizes at most of the festivals it screened in. To Quiet My Mind absolutely stood apart from the traditional narrative short, but in the best possible way.

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

I was in the audience, sitting with my lead actor. I was completely blown away by the response. The audience was full of very tough critics, but their reaction to To Quiet My Mind was overwhelmingly positive. I am glad so many people were moved by the content and could relate to the narrative. I only wish I could have heard more, since there were so many eager people with hands raised to speak.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I love the idea that our memories are not facts – only impressions of truth, or tools we use to recall a facts. Imagination fills in the gaps where the truth is missing. I wanted to explore that idea in the imagery, soundscaping, and voice over of the film. I was also captivated by the idea of a painting coming to life. How a portrait captures a piece of the subjects soul.

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

Beetlejuice. My sister and I would watch it over and over again as kids. Young Frankenstein and The Shinning are both second runner up.

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

I love it – easy to use and great to browse festivals. With a film like TQMM where we knew finding appropriate screening platforms could be challenging, FilmFreeway made it easy to filter the search.

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

The Band, “The Weight” and Janis Joplin, “Piece of my Heart”

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

My big fish right now is my feature film Ugly Pretty. The script is ready to go and pitch deck nearly complete. Next step is to get name talent attached find a producing partner, then financing. This will be my first feature film. I am extremely proud of this screenplay. It is my best work thus far. This sexy crime thriller will be shot in rural Pennsylvania.

I have a horror short film in post-production now, Opus Incompletam. This religious cult film is going to be visually stunning and surprising. Please visit my website:

As an actress I am auditioning a lot and always searching for the next great role. I love a challenge! Contact: for booking.


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 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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