AVOIDANCE played to rave reviews at the August 2020 Dance & Music Film Festival.
Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?
Ben Needham-Wood: Director Matt McKee and I (Ben Needham-Wood, choreographer) had recently worked together on a film called ‘BaseBallet: Into the Game’ and really enjoyed the collaborative, creative process we shared. As soon as it was finished we started talking about what we could make next. We wanted to see what would happen if we assembled the most talented creatives we knew and empowered everyone equally to help us develop and produce a new film, and that led to ‘Avoidance.’
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?
It took a little more than a year from our first conversation to deliver our final cut.
3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
The biggest obstacle we faced was balancing a limited budget with a massive vision. We had one day to build our set and test our tech, then one day to film, and with those constraints had to adapt our vision when an idea wasn’t delivering fully. It’s honestly the most exciting part of the creative process – adapting to the unforeseen – but I wonder what would have been possible with one more day of filming?
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I cried. Haha. My career started as a performer in a contemporary ballet company, and one of the most rewarding pieces of that career is the post-performance exchange with audiences. It’s what I miss the most now that I’m no longer performing. Receiving this video and watching audiences describe the impact our film had on them inspired that same gratification that made me so proud to perform. I really didn’t expect to have such a heartfelt reaction to their reviews, but it truly helped me feel the importance of our art during this difficult time.
Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:
6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?
In one of our early creative conversations we identified that while everyone’s personal story is different we have all experienced loss and conflict. We may not have experienced the same loss or conflict, but in our own relative lives those experiences have been equally impactful. ‘Avoidance’ allowed each of us to bring our personal stories together to create a single narrative.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Good Will Hunting – I’ve watched the entire film multiple times, but also watch excerpts on YouTube every time they pop up on my feed.
8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?
This submission process was super easy and manageable. I really appreciate this platform because it streamlines the process and encourages me to submit films to more festivals than I otherwise would.
9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?
Eminem “Lose Yourself” – I honestly haven’t listened to this track in a long time, but years ago I listened to it almost daily.
10. What is next for you? A new film?
I am currently in the process of launching a new film project called Movement for Movement. This film project uses dance to elevate stories of those adversely impacted by recent events in order to raise awareness and support for mental health care. This initiative is far larger in scope than anything I’ve attempted, and I’m super grateful to once again be collaborating with Avoidance director Matthew McKee. You can find out more about this project through our website – http://www.movement4movement.com . If you check it out and feel inspired, we hope you’ll reach out and get involved!