Interview with Filmmaker Bill Neil (ROLE PLAY)

ROLE PLAY, 8min., USA, Horror
Directed by Bill Neil
A one-night stand goes horribly wrong

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Dan Asma, the producer, had been working with Alex Henes and Matt Merenda, on some feature ideas as well as some short film scripts. He sent me a few of their scripts to read. Dan and I have been friends/ film aficionados/ co-workers for decades – and he’s always encouraged me to direct. When I read Role Play, the whole set-up and slow-burn vibe really spoke to me. I loved the creepy note passing scene – that’s what sold me. That weird suspense of hooking up with a stranger in a strange place that seems crazy – but you’re horny so you ignore the weird signs.

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

We actually shot this a couple weeks before the pandemic! The pandemic hit and really kind of threw everything out of whack. I’m a trailer editor, and even though the industry shut down and then stayed slowed down, we ended up having a lot of work to do – and my creative focus shifted away from the short – and I didn’t start editing it for another 3 months. And then in terms of visual effects and color timing etc, we were at the mercy of the availability of our resources at Buddha Jones (Cousin Jones parent company). They were very busy and we could only squeeze in Role Play when a hole in the schedule permitted – so it took a long time to finish…. but eventually we did – and here we are. The crazily elongated timeline actually helped since I was able to go back and pick up a couple shots for the ending to help round out the film.

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


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

I kind of covered this in the earlier timeline question – but the main obstacle was getting some of the post production resources. We had to fit our needs in with the needs of a large trailer company.

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

How could I not love the feedback video?? I mean personally I have a hard time getting praise. God knows why. I guess I need to work that out with my therapist! I get very shy watching the feedback, but it was all positive. I love that they appreciated and understood what I was trying to do!! I want to hug them 🙂

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

I think when I saw Halloween on VHS for the first time when I was 11 years old I got the filmmaking “bug”. I was obsessed with that movie – and horror in general. I started reading Fangoria magazine as well as watching Sneak Previews (the first iteration of Siskel and Ebert) and became fascinated with directors etc. Maybe it was the ability to affect an audience – make them FEEL something/ communicate through images that got me interested.

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

Halloween. Probably followed by RUN LOLA RUN

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

I think the audience feedback in this festival is fantastic. I think written reviews would be helpful too! Even if it’s not praise – but instead thoughtful criticism – could help make us all better (or at least more informed) filmmakers.

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

Film Freeway has been a fantastic tool!

10. What is your favorite meal?

Any kind of Mexican breakfast bowl!

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

I’m continuing in my career as a trailer editor. That keeps me very busy – but YES I am currently figuring out what my next short will be! Can’t wait to do it again!


By matthewtoffolo

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

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