Interview with the Filmmaker Team of the short film TO HAVE & TO HOLD

TO HAVE & TO HOLD was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the May 2022 Romance & Relationships Film Festival

Writer/Producer: Ali Keller
Director: Daniel Gaymon
Actor/Producer: Lisa Purrone

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Ali – It was inspired by how I felt in the pandemic. I live alone and I love being alone, so the transition into quarantine wasn’t all that hard for me. But then, when friends started to leave, and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever see them again, I was heartbroken. I wanted to believe I would be able to give them a hug or a high five again at some point.

So, I wrote something that would help me believe that I would. That bonds can’t be broken by distance – they might morph or function differently, but they can’t break.

Plus, I have a ton of work with tragic endings and I wanted to challenge myself and prove to myself that I would write something hopeful.

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

Ali – Lisa (lead actress and co-producer) first reached out about working on something together in January of 2021 and we completed the film in November of that year. So the whole process took about nine months.

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

Ali – Bittersweet and honest

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

Ali – Originally we were going to shoot the film in august, but as we were looking at locations it just felt too rushed. So Lisa and I had a meeting and talked about how we wanted to treat our cast and crew and decided to push to give ourselves more time to do our jobs at a pace that wasn’t so stressful. It was a hard decision at the time, but then we won $10,000 in grant money a few weeks later since we continued meeting with our team we were fully prepared to adapt to the new timeline. And we were so grateful we decided to push because if we hadn’t we would’ve had to turn down the money!

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

Ali – Lisa and I cried lol. But we all thought it was such an overwhelmingly incredible feeling to hear so many people connected with our movie and felt how we felt about it. And we also so happy to hear so many people comment on our talented crew and how their specific artistry really crafted the movie.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

Ali – I realized I wanted to make films kind of as I started to work on them. I started my career in theater and I reached out to a friend who transitioned into filmmaking to learn more about it. And he hired me to produce his movie and I completely fell in love with the process more than I ever thought I would.

Lisa – It was a response to the pandemic. It was a way to collaborate but in a more controlled setting and safer because it didn’t require an audience, tickets, etc. like theater does. It was out of a need to create and collaborate but safely.

Daniel – To be honest, it wasn’t that one day I decided that I wanted to make film, it was always there, I just never knew when or how to really manifest it. Ever since I was a kid, I loved movies. But as an adult I began studying the minds behind some of my favorite films, and then sort of stumbled into the realm of creating the look and feel of a film myself. It’s one of the greatest joys I’ve discovered as an artist.

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

Ali – probably The Godfather although I spend most of my time watching horror movies

Lisa – Dead Poet Society

Daniel – The Matrix

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

It’s great – super user friendly and a great way to get your work out there!

9. What is your favorite meal?

Ali & Lisa – Breakfast!

Daniel – Ramen. No question.

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

Ali – I have two other films coming out this year: “It’s A Dog” written by David Rosenberg and directed by Eli Shapiro and When Life Gives You Lemons directed by Rafeh Mahmud and written by Rafeh Mahmud and Rouvan SIlogix. And two theatrical projects happening in June. One is an experimental musical called BLOOD/SWEAT/TEARS produced by HARP Theatricals starring Lisa! And one is a new play called Christen the Place, which was commissioned by Alt eller Ingenting, a Norwegian theatre company, which explores mental health conditions in young men. It will be in NY in June and then opens in Norway in September.

Daniel – My next project is a film I produced, co-wrote, and lead acted in called “Every Right.” It’s the story of a man searching for answers after his first heartbreak, until he begins learning life lessons from a gay therapist. It’s a journey of love, mental health, and validation.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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