Interview with Filmmaker Samantha McDanel (PAGEANT PERFECT)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Samantha McDanel: This was my final collegiate project while in film school and I wanted to create something with my voice but different from everything I’ve created before.

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

Being a school project, this film was fairly rushed. From idea to script, pre-production, production, and post, this film took about 3 1/2 months.

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

Surreal Relationship

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

There were a few obstacles, the biggest being the time-frame to film and complete the film. We had a SAG-AFTRA actress, Michelle, as out main character, but casting her and getting paperwork in before our shooting dates was a big challenge. We had multiple young actresses on set, including our other lead actress Miriam, in which we had to really be on the ball with our shooting.

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

I loved the feedback video! It was very cool to see people who don’t know anything about me really take in the story and discuss their thoughts. People really understood the idea behind it all, the relationship between a mother and a daughter. I truly enjoyed listening to how each person interpreted the film.

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

This film originated from a separate idea circling around the concept of mothers criticizing their daughters. I think many children experience this, especially young girls because there are many expectations surrounding being a young woman. I was motivated to show this with an extreme approach. Putting this in the context of pageantry with an overly nitpicking mother actually replacing parts of her daughter, makes an audience look at how ridiculous and awful it is. But we as a society see young women change their appearances all the time, so it’s not really all that extreme…

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

This is a great question and my answer will sound funny… My most watched film is Scooby-Doo: The Movie (2002). I wrote multiple analysis papers on this film while in college and I truly enjoy watching this movie.

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

I love Film Freeway, it makes it easier to search for and find film festivals perfect for your film, as well as look at your submissions in one place. I hope festivals continue using film freeway.

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

Probably a Disney musical song, those are my jams.

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

Currently, I am working on a few projects. A new horror short that I’ve written is beginning pre-production and I am writing a feature based off of the Pageant Perfect short. Pageant Perfect is now a proof-of-concept to a much bigger story.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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