Interview with Filmmakers Michael Boctor & Dylan Hancook (CHEATER)

CHEATER was the winner of BEST FILM at the June 2018 Young Filmmakers FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Michael Boctor: I wanted to challenge myself creatively by making a bottle film—what I mean by that is a film that takes place entirely in one small location. Within this small space, I wanted to reveal intrigue amongst the mundane by manipulating a variety of cinematic tools such as pacing, performance, and perspective. The escalating beats intensified the pacing, our actors projected a tense performance, and our thoughtful cinematography controlled for a visceral perspective. And then… well… it turned into quite the wild scene.

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

MB: The film had a pretty quick turnaround. We had entered a 24-hour film competition, so all of production was done in less than 12 hours, and most of the post-production followed in the next 12 hours. Since the sleepless competition, Dylan Hancook has made more edits polishing it up to what it is now.

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

Unexpected Escalation

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

MB: Like I said earlier, at the start of production we only had 24 hours to complete the first version of the film. Along with battling technical issues, we had to cut a lot of shots from the storyboard due to our significant time crunch. Thankfully, we had an incredible producer/DP/editor in Dylan Hancook and an amazing crew which led us to persevere.

Dylan Hancook: Without a doubt gathering a classroom of students for free on very short notice and shooting around their schedules was the most difficult; people are busy. Also for a 24 hour film competition we were being very ambitious with shot quantity, our film has around 70 shots while the other finalists had only 3-5 long takes.

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

MB: There are few greater rewards than hearing from people who have genuinely enjoyed your hard work. I felt incredibly encouraged and loved listening to the specific things they drew from it.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

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

MB: On the first day of a college film class, we were asked to fill out an icebreaker-questionnaire. Following that, we went over the syllabus which discussed the “cheating policy.” I thought how hilarious it would be if someone tried to cheat on our previous “assessment.” Then, I did what I always do and thought, “how can I turn this into a movie?”

DH: The original script actually didn’t include the 2nd half of the film, I encouraged Michael to really flip it the drama on its head and run with it– and he did.

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

I’ve honestly lost count between “I Am Legend,” “Ex Machina,” and “The Rugrats Movie”

8. What are your thoughts on FilmFreeway?

DH: Film Freeway makes it incredibly easy to search, submit, and forget. It’s actually pretty overwhelming how many festivals there are, so any guidance to find the right fit is definitely appreciated. I think this particular festival is ideal for young filmmakers because you can enjoy the audience experience remotely, especially when traveling to each festival is often impractical.

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

“When I Ripped My Pants” – Spongebob Squarepants

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

MB: I just graduated and I am taking a GAP year in between college and… wait for it… medical school. During my GAP year I plan to continue working on both commercial and narrative filmmaking. I have plenty more ideas in my notebook and I want to work with creative people to translate them to the film screen.


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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