Interview with Filmmaker Dalton Snider-Smith (FANTASY MASTER)

FANTASY MASTER played to rave reviews at the February 2021 Female Filmmakers Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I had my first table top gaming experience in college with a group of friends: it was chaotic, loud….but beautiful. And hilarious. It was with a group of friends who I had just started spending time with, and I was shocked at how close it brought us in such a short time. The world we made together was insane, and my social anxiety and depression seemed to melt away when I played. I wrote this film to reflect that tiny piece of vivid world we had built together, and to explore the issues I had experienced when I was in highschool. Through Lisa’s journey with trying to connect to the imperfect world around her, I experienced a sort of catharsis as I watched her grow like I had to.

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

I wrote this film in three days, from draft one to the finished project. I had held the idea forever, but my lovely producer and friend pushed me to finally take the step and put it onto paper one night, and she loved it. We ended up tag teaming to get locations, find a crew, and do other aspects of pre-production in only a month. Production lasted three days (a weekend) an dit was probably the most fun I’ve ever had. There was no shortage of laughs and pranks among the crew and cast. Editing took about six months, so the whole process lasted about seven months, give or take.

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

Genuine Humans

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

The biggest obstacle was definitely funding. The entire project, since it is my debut film, was self funded. We pulled out all the stops to budget intelligently, but I didn’t want to limit it in any capacity, including crew/cast catering (fed crew is a happy crew!), production design (which was so intricate to the plot), camera gear, and editing costs. It added up, and I am a college student. I had to work extra shifts (as a production assistant for film/TV) for months to be able to continue to afford post production costs.

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

I cried happy tears.. This project meant so much to me (and the team!), so seeing what it meant to people I had never met meant the absolute world to me. Of course my family and friends have watched it, but knowing that people who don’t know me directly can connect so deeply to the film makes me feel like I’ve accomplished what I wanted to do – touch people’s hearts, and show them a world they can relate to, and a character they want to succeed. Hearing their kind words is something I will never forget. I had the dopiest smile on the whole time, and tears running down my cheeks.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. Do you remember that moment when you first realized that you wanted to make films?

There was no specific moment… I just seemed to always feel it. I was so obsessed with movies as a kid, and whenever my school offered video projects as an option I would jump at the chance to make something. One day when someone asked me what I wanted to do, directing flew out of my mouth like the most natural thing in the world.

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

The Princess Bride! That movie brings me such joy, I love movies that feel like pure magic. It warms my heart and feels like childhood.

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

Film Freeway is the BEST. It is such an easy and user friendly interface, and it introduced me to festivals I otherwise never would have heard of, as well as streamlining the process of submitting to them and offering information of the festival from other filmmaker reviews. Plus, the discounts help!

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

“Fine” by Mal Blum. It is such a happy song, and on my worst days I sing it to myself until I’m filled with the calmness of the song. It’s one of those songs that make you feel like you really will be “fine,” even if you can’t bring yourself to feel “amazing” every day.

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

I am in development for a short film I wrote, called “Gingersnaps & Fame.” Ginger, an up and coming youtube influencer, slowly begins to crumble under the pressure of maintaining her perfect image, and her perfect relationship. We have a dedicated female helmed team, hoping to film in the early spring after an upcoming fundraising campaign. This film will examine what it is like to live in today’s media obsessed world, and what it means to actually be yourself in a world fueled by perfect personas.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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