Interview with Filmmaker Dimphy van Vilsteren (SURVIVING DINNER)

SURVIVING DINNER was the winner of BEST FILM at the February 2022 BLACK & WHITE Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I moved 3 years ago from the Netherlands to Toronto to do a Film School (Toronto Film School). In this time I met a lot of new black friends and through Black lives Matter, being in a different part of the world and a lot of talking I got to know more about their experiences and the different worlds we are still living in. I wanted to write a story that deflects the privileges of white people, their behavior and the struggles of black people and how they deal with this all wrapped in a short story and one arena. I right away wanted to show the story in Black and White to emphasize the theme. I did need the blood and tomato to be red to make the story come to screen and let the audience understand right away what was going on.

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

It took me about 6 to 7 months and that was mostly due to the fact that everybody on this movie has been doing it next to their job and for free. We filmed the short in two days in July 2021 and we finished the film in january 2022.

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

Black vs white

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

I am blessed with a lot of great learning people around me that could help me and advise me along the way. At the end it took a little bit more time due to the choices we already made to use red for the tomato and the stain. Except when we colored it in post, there was still a black and white shadow. As I usually dont want to fix things in post we needed to fix this. Next to that we needed to fix one more thing (which i won’t mention), that was a mistake on my side. My toughest decision was to use no music or background music during the story. I think it makes the tension bigger, but I hoped people would not miss it. That is why I did want to go out with a bang at the end and choose a song that was suitable with that.

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

I loved to see the reactions and that people understood the story and seemed genuinely touched by it. It gives a purpose and right away a satisfying feeling. Also I loved that they mentioned all the different departments that we needed to make this film. I was also able to send it to all the crew. It was a real team effort and I am very proud of us all. Most importantly the story was listened to and we made people feel something.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

A long time ago, I loved watching films and then writing stories. I want to bring human stories to the screen.

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

Top gun and Pretty in pink when i was still very young. Movies I like now are The Favourite, Untouchable (french film), Druk (Danish film / Drunk).

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

Next to what you are already doing, I hope I can get the movie to a bigger audience and get the opportunity to work on bigger projects that cost more money. As a starting filmmaker you might make it on your own cost and with the help of a lot of people, but to make a longer story and be able to pay those talented people as they deserve it, is my next step or dream.

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

It has been a good and easy experience. I have not got any issues and a very smooth way of getting your film to festivals.

10. What is your favorite meal?


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

I have co written a feature movie with Babatunde Agonloye, who worked also on Surviving Dinner. I produced and I am producing several projects with him at We want to get funding for this script and bring it into a first feature film. I think it is a great story about immigrants coming to Canada, but written in a light way even though every hard subject is touched up on. Also I will do some small projects to keep me on set and looking for some more work to make some money so we can do more of these short films again.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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