Interview with Filmmaker Ted Thomas (Velcro A Study In Polyvagal Equine)

“Velcro A Study In Polyvagal Equine” played to rave reviews at the January 2022 WILDsound Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I’ve loved horses ever since I was a kid (what kid doesn’t?). I’ve also dealt with depression and anxiety as an adult, and I wanted to highlight a treatment that is often under the radar. I was fortunate enough to have a brief session with Velcro, and just in that short amount of time, it was life-changing to be in the arena with her.

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

Principal photography was shot over 4 days, but from concept to finished product was about 8 months. I spent a good deal of time getting to know Velcro, Rebecca and Margie (all three are now good friends). I also spent time researching many of the concepts behind equine therapy. From there I created my storyboard, and while it doesn’t always turn out this way, our final edit was very close to the original storyboard. I want to give a BIG shoutout to my sound engineer, Chris Chappell, who wrote the song Velcro Fire specifically for this documentary. He’s an extremely talented musician. Also my editor, Rob Villanueva, who was very patient with me!

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

A peek.

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

Haha, Velcro! Horses don’t do retakes. She’s a wild, independent spirit, so I needed to be on my toes and ready to capture, and also be very patient.

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

Thankful that people would take the time to do that. It’s motivating to see complete strangers talk about my work. It’s what makes filmmaking so rewarding.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I come from a still photography background. I’ve been a commercial photographer for the past 25+ years. Even so, my interest and imagination was sparked in college while taking a number of Super 8 filmmaking classes. As I became more established as a photographer, it gave me the freedom to go back to that side of expressing myself.

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

Oh man, where to start? One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to wake up early and watch classic movies with my dad. I’ve seen all of the greats so many times I can’t even count. Citizen Kane, Maltese Falcon, Touch of Evil, Sunset Blvd. I’ve also spent many Saturday mornings on my own watching Jaws, Dr. Strangleove, and any Hitchcock movie I can find. I think Spike Lee is a genius, and I’d love to have dinner with Francis Ford Coppola.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

To be honest, I was hoping for more negative feedback, along with the positive. I think the best way to grow as artists is when we realize the cracks in our works. It’s great to hear the accolades, but we learn from our mistakes.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

Easy. Too easy. It’s hard not to submit to every festival I see! I decided to be very selective in my approach to festivals.

10. What is your favorite meal?

In California (where I live): Burritos
In New Jersey (where I’m from): Pizza
I’m also a frustrated chef, so I love to cook a world class meal for my family or a group of friends.

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

Yes! Absolutely. I want to explore depression, the treatments, and most of all, the people who deal with it. But I’ll try to keep it uplifting!


By matthewtoffolo

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

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