Interview with Filmmaker Ross Godwin (9 SECONDS)

9 SECONDS played to rave reviews and was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the May 2018 ACTION/ADVENTURE FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ross Godwin: After my friend Lindsey Sitz had written it, she almost immediately wrote it off as too complicated/expensive/difficult to produce. We were both in film school at the time, and both considering thesis films, and were always on the hunt for a good project, I asked if I could buy the rights from her, and she agreed. At the time I had begun writing another project that was family drama and all took place in roughly one house, super simple production and whatnot, but then a friend brought me onto his thesis film. His project was a hugely ambitious sci fi film that made use of all kinds of effects and production techniques that you wouldn’t expect from a student film, and all on a shoestring budget. I guess the experience made me feel more ambitious and eager to take risks, so I set out to tackle ‘9 Seconds,’ which had gun battles, animals, children, dystopian locations (basically a laundry-list of DO NOTS for film school projects). Ultimately I’m glad we took it on, as it was a fun challenge and I learned a lot from it.

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

The process took roughly two years from when Lindsey first wrote it to wrapping post production.

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

Blue Square.

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

The biggest production challenge was definitely finding locations. We needed to find multiple spaces that could feasibly look like bombed-out warzones, which it turns out are hard to find in a place that has never been a bombed out warzone. Luckily, Baltimore wasn’t far away.

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

I am always very grateful to hear feedback from anyone willing to offer it, especially from people who don’t have a personal stake in it or me. As a young filmmaker, I always want to improve and get better, and I find that the honesty of critique to be the ultimate took in achieving that goal.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film:

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

My friend Lindsey Sitz (screenwriter) and I have a mutual friend who grew up in Palestine. She has many stories from her childhood, and the premise for ‘9 Seconds’ is based on one such true story.

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

Not counting the original Star Wars trilogy, probably ‘The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou’.

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

I think its wonderful to have a streamlined means for filmmakers of all stripes to be able to submit to a broad range of festivals, and similarly for festivals of all stripes to be connected to those filmmakers. Its a beautiful thing.

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

I really couldn’t tell you.

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

Coming up next will be a feature film called ‘Red Oil,’ a dark comedy crime/heist movie that takes place in 1970s Nepal. As you can see, I haven’t been dissuaded from pursuing projects that are way too complicated. Stay tuned!



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.

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