Interview with Jason Flakes (HEAR CONGO)

HEAR CONGO played to rave reviews at the January 2021 Under 5 Minute Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

When I was initially informed about this organization I was asked to help with creating a feature length documentary. I thought what was happening there was so interesting and what was being done to help the Congeles was amazing. So I wanted to make a short film that was separate and different from the feature. I felt that there was a story that needed to be told.

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

This project was 30 days planning 12 days filming. So 42 total.

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

Thought Provoking

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

Prioritizing the focus of the film. There were so many directions and stories to tell about this one subject so it was difficult to focus on just one.

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

It was amazing! This is my first film festival. It was very humbling to hear people speaking about something you created. To know that you designed certain sequences to have a certain emotional response and that you achieve it is a great feeling.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

This is one of those films that unfolded when I arrived in the Congo. The more I learned about what was going on there the clearer the story became.

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

Lol I hate to say it but Transformers the live action film.

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

Film freeway was simple and easy to use. The submission was flawless.

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

Lost by Coldplay

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

I am working a an experimental film currently called Rassisme.

Interview with Roderick Robinson – Curator for Attawa Clothing

ATTAWA CLOTHING produced the short film BEHIND THE MUSIC, that played at the January 2021 DOCUMENTARY Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Charles Sapp (director of film) and I bumped into one another last year at Memorial Park in Houston, TX while working out. A few years had passed since we had last seen each other and in that moment of exchanging what each of us had been up to I mentioned this idea of us collaborating on a project that would allow my clothing brand to help create awareness about his songwriting and the ability to give both of our brands exposure to a wider audience.

Recently, in 2020 I had met Trisha online via Instagram for an outdoor photoshoot. Her work was so amazing I reached out to see if she would be interested in filming for this unique project. The moment she expressed that she was open for it I knew the unit was formed. This project was labeled unique because I didn’t have a vision board but we always had an idea of what we wanted which was an artistic theme.

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

Due to Covid and a tropical storm, Charles, Trisha, and I took advantage of a shutdown weekend in Houston and on Saturday, August 29, 2020 the 3 of us met at the park to begin what we thought was a one day filming session. The weather was favorable that day as the storm took a turn to avoid Houston altogether that Saturday.

The visuals of Charles working out in the park came out very nicely. Trisha suggested we should have one more filming session to capture Charles in a different environment. Charles mentioned that he wanted the kids to be apart of this visual project so we immediately began planning for a 2nd day to film. Ultimately, to make this short-film, it took a couple of days to film and Trisha can agree that everything else happened in her editing process with Charles’ keen awareness of the overall direction.

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

Yearning, Solitude

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

The biggest obstacle was the weather. While the rain turned out to be a huge positive factor in the visual, during the actual filming we were worried that the shots captured may not work with the body of work that was previously filmed.

When getting that message from Trisha that the footage was really great and to hear that she could work with it Charles and I believed this would definitely have potential as we have all executed our parts very well.

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

A look of awe crept into our faces! Unlike any other emotion, it becomes very humbling to hear a perspective from an outside party who can offer such genuine reviews related to our film.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Charles is true to his art form of writing as well as of working out as he is a physical trainer. In conversation Charles shared that he often comes up with song ideas while working out, the idea sparked to make sure that our story followed his process true to form. With respect to the branding for Attawa, the goal was to make sure there was a subtle blend to the brand and also to Charles’ creativity. Trisha did an excellent job executing this.

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

If I could remember it would definitely be a comedy film because life is so serious. Maybe the comedy with Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy called LIFE. The film, the soundtrack, the energy behind it never gets old.

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

FilmFreeway is the future for film entertainment. We have experienced a pandemic that shifted society to rely on virtual commerce and virtual entertainment. The idea that this platform exists to help streamline projects to their destination and simplify the submission for the producers/users is such a great service! Attawa Clothing is committed to the arts and film is one format that allows us to create in such a dynamic way. FilmFreeway made that possible.

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

Sade – Love Affair with Life

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

One of our target goals at Attawa Clothing is to release at minimum one visual art piece once a year that contains a message that will help push the narrative of our culture and society forward. We love this opportunity to work with creative minds to breakthrough ideas and present them in a way that can become relatable to many people in a positive way.

Interview with Filmmaker Katherine Sweetman (HIGH FLYING JADE)

HIGH FLYING JADE was the winner of BEST DOC SUBJECT at the January 2021 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

High Flying Jade is a documentary on a formerly suicidal, bipolar, American woman who joins the Vietnamese circus as an aerial performer, and in doing so, she kind of heals her need to do self-harm. Also, Jade is a friend of mine, so my initial motivation was a video I saw her post on Facebook. She was doing some aerial tricks in the center ring of this beautiful, blue, and red striped circus tent. Behind her, someone was juggling. Behind them, other performers were involved in some kind of balancing act. Behind them, kids were watching and eating noodles. Dogs were barking. People were yelling in Mongolian and Vietnamese. Everyone was bathed in this ethereal, purplish light from the tent. It was an incredible, Fellini-esque circus composition. I knew that if I didn’t go film this, I would never forgive myself.

I was also very much motivated and inspired by Jade’s backstory. I knew a little bit about her experience with bipolar disorder, and I saw that now, she was living a pretty incredible life in Vietnam. So, I kind of just jumped on a plane a few days later and found myself in Ho Chi Minh City.

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

I think it took about a year from start to finish. It’s hard to say exactly because we have had a few different versions.

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

Bipolar Power!

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

I did not know Jade was going to let me make this film when I jumped on a 20-hour flight from Los Angels to Ho Chi Minh City. She only agreed to let me document her as she joined the circus. I am not some jet-setting, wealthy documentary filmmaker. I was coming out of USC’s Film School with a mountain of debt and a pang of regret that I hadn’t made a significant film while I was there. I saw this as an opportunity to do something meaningful and jumped. It was very scary to start that conversation.

Luckily, Jade was very receptive to the idea. She was actually amazingly excited about it. When we sat down, the first night, to chat about the film, I had this written-out list of why we should do this film, how important it could be to others, and ideas to counter her concerns and objections. I didn’t even have to use my list. She agreed the very first time I ask. I was ecstatic.

Of course, there are tons of other obstacles in making films in Vietnam: regulations, heat, mosquitoes, language barrier, translators, forms, fixers, motorbikes, Malaria, Dengue Fever, and many more. But… it was all worth it.

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

I was overwhelmed. We have not had that many people provide so much positive and insightful feedback in the entire run of the film. It was very special. This year has been hard on both Jade (the star of the film) and myself (the director) it was very touching to hear the very positive feedback.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

You could make a film from each chapter of High Flying Jade’s life. She was an air traffic controller in the Navy. She was in a punk band in San Diego. She studied at Oxford, She’s married and divorced an Austrian man — when she lived in Austria. She competed in Jiu-Jitsu tournaments. She’s apprenticed at tattoo shops. She’s been a professional wrestler. She studies Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Texas, Austin. She worked at night clubs as an aerial performer. She was in a circus in Vietnam. She went to the School of the Art Institute, Chicago to study performance art. She worked as a tightrope-walking elf at Elf On a Shelf drive-through holiday experience (2020). She’s headed to Las Vegas to be a showgirl!

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

Dazed and Confused (1993). I know all the words. We didn’t have cable for a long time when I was a kid, but also it’s a great film.

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

I think it’s nice to have everything in one place. It’s helpful to keep track of everything. One used to have to manage a spreadsheet. Yuck.

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

Robert Miles, Children. And now I have to listen to it again.

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

Since lockdown, I have started some very cool remote directing projects for a couple of clients including the mobile platform Hooked (https://hooked.co/) . I have been logging in remotely to my actor’s iPhones and directing them at their homes — while I’m also safe in my home. I was featured on Stage 32 (with a detailed outline of this process (https://www.stage32.com/blog/How-to-Direct-a-Film-100-Remotely). I am also currently remotely directing a short dance film for the BlackLight Summit at the University of Maryland (https://theclarice.umd.edu/content/blacklight-summit).

AND to bring this back to High Flying Jade, I am currently co-writing the feature film, narrative version of High Flying Jade with the protagonist herself. We are both headed to a lock-down screenwriting house in Las Vegas for a few months to see if we can create a Magical Realism narrative feature film script that will attract some interested producers.

Interview with Filmmakers Toby Hayman & Paige Smith Lee (THE BIRDER)

THE BIRDER played to rave reviews at the January 2021 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival. Interview with director Toby Hayman & producer Paige Smith Lee.

What motivated you to make this film?

Toby:
This film grew out of a shorter vignette that was part of a campaign for The Nature Conservancy. Dr Lanham had been recommended for that project, and when we initially talked to him on the phone for that it became clear that his passion and eloquence would make for a good film. I was particularly interested in how he talked about how birds had influenced his world view, and showed him how we are connected with places that seem far away.

Paige:
The initial campaign only wanted digital short pieces, ideally 1-2 minutes long and we created a lovely short piece on him, but as I was working with the footage I felt strongly there was a much longer piece that needed to be made from his extraordinary interview. His personal story and passion for the subject was inspiring to me as a person and I felt that it was a message that not only would resonate to a larger audience but it would also be meaningful to many people.

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

From initial idea to finished product it was about 6 months, but the actual working time was about a month.

We spent several weeks developing stories for the initial campaign. Researching possible stories and talking to possible subjects, but we ended up with a very condensed schedule to film all the pieces. Scheduling the shoots was tricky as we had a small team, several locations and little time. This was the last shoot just before the Covid lockdown hit, and in fact Clemson University, where Dr Lanham works, began to shut down the day after we filmed him. We filmed for 2 days. Paige edited the first short pieces, and then, after those had been published, spent a few weeks creating the longer film.

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

Passionate inspiration

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

We were lucky that we had few obstacles with the shoot, but would have not been able to shoot if we had scheduled it for even a day later, because of the Covid lockdown. The biggest challenge was that there’s pressure to create films that are short, dramatic and move quickly and we wanted this to be slower, more measured, and make the viewer feel like they are on location with Dr Lanham birding.

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

I felt very moved by it, because the feedback seemed really well thought out and genuine, and it really did seem that our film touched the reviewers. To see people take an interest in something new because of our film is really gratifying.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Toby:
The initial idea came from someone else at The Nature Conservancy who knew about Dr Lanham and thought he would make a great subject for our campaign focusing on people who speak up for Nature. The idea to make it into a longer piece really came from Paige and her passion for the story from working on the short piece.

Paige:
As I finished working on the Earth Month campaign, the Covid quarantine was instated. Dr. Lanham’s story and personality were so compelling that I didn’t want to stop working on his story. I told my director, Toby Hayman that there was a great, long piece in the footage and I really wanted to bring it to life. Toby was incredibly supportive and believed in my vision for the piece. As I worked on the film, Dr. Lanham inspired me daily to get out and enjoy nature and specifically our native birds. It helped me to see my surroundings in a different way and find peace in an incredibly difficult time. I knew his message could be as powerful for other people.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Toby:
Vertigo. it was on my college Film Studies list.

Paige:
I am not a big re-watcher of films, but I have teenage children so I am revisiting all of my favorites with them-so now it is split between The Royal Tennebaums and Pulp Fiction.

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

I liked it. I found it made it much easy to apply to several festivals, and it made them feel accessible to a first time submitter.

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

Toby: (Don’t Go Back To) Rockville by R.E.M.
Paige: Midnight by Yaz

What is next for you? A new film?

Toby: The very next project is about Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska from existing footage. I’m hoping we can do more personal stories about people in nature once we can travel again.

Paige: I am working on a series that I produced and edited for WETA our local PBS station that focuses on neighborhoods in the DC area.

Interview with Filmmaker Cara Bowen (Feeding Lewisham)

“Feeding Lewisham” was the winner of BEST FILM at the January 2021 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Ray put out a call for local filmmakers to help make a documentary of the work he and Barbara were doing with We Care during the first lockdown last year. As a freelancer, all of my work was cancelled and I, along with everyone else who helped on this filmed wanted to help our community by using the skills we had and bring further awareness to such crucial work.

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

It took several months of on off work. Since we were all working on this project for free, it also took quite a lot time to find the right people willing to donate their very valuable time and skills to work on the project in their spare time.

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

Ooh, good question. Timely and necessary.

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

Probably the lack of money (zero) to be really able to fully invest in the project and pay the professionals who worked on it. We relied entirely on their kindness and willingness to give their time, equipment and skills to the project and for a good cause, and I really appreciate it. No one should have to work for free, but it helped to show that we were all in this together, that the whole community were donating their time and skills to help those in need, and it really was an honour to be part of it.

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

I was really pleased they liked it and it resonated so much with them! I really wanted to make sure we showed both sides- of those giving out the food and those receiving it and I’m glad that’s what the audience liked.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Well, Ray started it off by asking for filmmakers to help make a documentary about We Care. But as I’m sure we all know, filmmaking usually takes a lot of time and money to get to a stage of producing a film, so since we didn’t have any money and wanted to react to the immediate situation, so we initially planned to do a very short promo film to raise money for the project but once we got to the edit and coming from a more traditional observational documentary background, we wanted to include the longer exchanges between the contributors, so we made the film longer than initially expected.

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

I really would love to say something more cool, but I have a two year old who’s obsessed with Toy Story, so it’s Toy Story, which I’ve watched part of every day for the past 10 months! I have to admit I’m not yet entirely bored of it though, so that’s something!

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

I’m still getting the hang of it, it’s my first time using it. My background is in broadcast television so I’ve never really ventured into film festival submissions, but so far it’s been incredible useful.

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

Oh, again, this is a very uncool answer. It’s probably between Let It Go from Frozen or You’re Welcome from Moana, my kid loves them both. My favourite song however, is Israel kamakawiwo’ole’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

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

I hope so! I would love to develop FEEDING LEWISHAM into a longer film, but as ever, if it was a longer project we’re going to have to find some funding first. I have some other ideas too but nothing I’d like to do as much as this!

Interview with Filmmaker Derek Elliott Bagley (MEMENTO MORI)

MEMENTO MORI was the winner of BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN at the January 2021 LGBTQ+ Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I was extremely frustrated during a semester in film school, where I was told that my plot structures and characters were too complicated for the medium of short film. My professors continuously insisted that I simplify, and make my themes and subjects more universal. I thought, what is a more universal subject than death? Therefore, I began to craft the script to create a unusual telling of the archetypal deathbed scene, where the tropes were flipped on their heads.

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

It took, strangely, a year to the day (which was unplanned). I took it as an auspicious sign.

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

Satirical Melodrama

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

It was the sound design. Our initial recordings were in rough shape due to filming on location in an apartment building. There was an unavoidable amount of sound interference due to neighbors going about their day in the adjoining apartments (by no fault of their own). Therefore, there was an incredible amount of interference in our final recording, and it took 7 months to clean up, and creatively mask. In the end, these imperfections forced us to create a unique and stylized sound track that we had not anticipated before going into the editing studio. I am so proud of the work we did here specifically.

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

I cried. It is so nice as a director to hear people not only give constructive and well informed feedback, but also get the point of what you were trying to accomplish. It felt so nice that my vision as a director translated to the screen and was interpreted as I intended. It means we did our jobs successfully as filmmakers.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I have seen and experienced a lot of death since I was a child, due to having a large amount of elderly relatives. Therefore, as a young person, I spent many times next to the “deathbed”. These experiences were never what is depicted in cinema – they were less sentimental, less focused on the death itself, and more focused on the people and their reaction to the dying person. I thought, I want to make a film that is stylized yet honest – to show that sometimes, you’re in the bathroom when the person dies, doing drugs in the other room, or simply arguing with a relative in the kitchen.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

“Fanny and Alexander”, Ingmar Bergman (1982)

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

Fast and easy.

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

Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture”

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

Next will be a very complex fantasy serial – think Dante’s “Inferno” but set in a bathhouse. It will comprise 5 short episodes.

Interview with Filmmaker Victoria Negri (2 WEEKS)

2 WEEKS played to rave reviews at the January 2021 LGBTQ+ film festival in January 2021.

Site: http://victorianegri.com/

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Margarita first told me about her idea for her film while we were touring on a short film she acted in of mine called “Paralysis”. I am always moved when people have the bravery to make films that tackle personal subject matter, and Marz’s gumption to boldly investigate her own journey within asexuality spoke to me.

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

The short went through multiple phases. We shot the film and worked on a few cuts over about a year, and then shot did a pickup shoot to fine tune some of the storytelling. I always stress to my collaborators that the most important thing is to make a film that you’re proud of because at the end of the day, that’s what you have to live with. We took our time with this project, and I’m glad we did.

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

Dreamy. Self-discovery.

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

How much exposition an audience needs in the storytelling. Marz and I set out to make this film as dream-like as possible, where Tanya, her character, moves in and out of her internal and external worlds seamlessly. Sometimes audiences couldn’t follow the thread of what was happening, so it was a challenge to ground viewers in Tanya’s experience.

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

First of all, it’s so awesome that you do this! It’s an honor to hear reactions. I was so pleased hearing the specific feedback, specifically Tanya’s experience battling with sex as a huge part of society today and how isolating the experience is — lots of folks talked about the nightmare scene in the bar, which was incredibly important to the film thematically, so I’m thrilled it landed.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Margarita gets all the credit with that! I added a lot of emphasis on pushing Tanya’s interior world to the exterior along with the rest of teh creative team, namely our DP Jesse Sanchez-Strauss and editor/producer Stacey Maltin.

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

Definitely the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I was a massive nerd in high school.

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

All hail FilmFreeway.

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

Impossible to answer. I can only say right now and throughout most of the pandemic I have John Maus’ song “Hey Moon” on repeat.

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

I’m in development of my second feature ULTRA, to shoot this year, and am in post on a documentary I shot this fall about a group of runners who run a day plus relay race in Brooklyn, NY during the pandemic.

Interview with Filmmaker Evgenia Taneva (10 SECONDS)

10 SECONDS was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the January 2021 Female Directors Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

My motivation behind every project I work on is the message that I want to present. Cinema has this great power, both to preserve history and to be a conduit between reality and fiction of feelings, emotions and stories. When I create, usually the driven source is my personal experiences or thoughts. Through the story of the character I try to convey a different point of view on themes that excite me such as the subconscious mind and the changes in the character’s personality. The sensory and emotional world of a person is a depth that I explore with great interest in my work. It somehow emerges during the creative process.

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

It took us more than a year to realize this film. We were searching for different ways to fund the project. We participate in different forums, pitching sessions and competitions and for each there were different rules which we had to comply with. The main thing we had to keep untouched is the message behind the film “10 seconds”. The real painful battles are in ourselves and the answers also.

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

inner battles

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

The biggest obstacle standing between the vision and the created film has always been money, and that was no different in our case. The whole team worked on the project entirely of goodwill and trust in the idea. They gave their time, energy, sleep and mostly their talent for the realization of the film, for which I am so grateful. Good ideas are nothing if they are not created into realities. Everyone can have an idea, but the hard work is to keep it until you find trustworthy people with whom to make it happen. However, we still had to find ways to get the equipment that is needed to build this new world of the film. The search was long and some times even discourageable. Thankfully, the opportunity came. We were one of the three screenplays selected in 355 FILM AWARDS – a competition created by Art foundation “Stoyan Kambarev” in Bulgaria. They gave us equipment in order to shoot the film. The rules were to finalize it in five days – shoot, edit, make the sound design and compose the music for that short of time. That was another provocative obstacle that we had to overcome. But it all worth it.

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

I was thrilled to hear their thoughts and the way the film made them felt. The audience feedback gave me better understanding about what impact the film has on the viewer. They had been with the main character though her inner journey and were able to connect with her – that was our main goal and I am happy that “10 seconds” received such reactions.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

When the co-writer – Victor Paskov, suggested a story that looks into the emotional, subconscious world of a human and to explore the boxing metaphor connected to the inner struggles of a person – I was so capture with this idea. That is how all started.

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

I believe Jojo Rabbit is the movie I watched almost every day for quite a long time. For me, this movie is an honest, emotional and moving masterpiece.

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

The platform really helps the filmmaker to find festivals all around the world. It creates a fast and easy connection between the artist and the festivals and in such a way gives more opportunities for the movies to reach different and wider audiences.

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

That is a really hard question to answer. Тhere is such a large and varied palette of valuable music that just one song will be difficult to separate.

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

Now I am working with a colleague of mine – Stan Stefanov on a script for my diploma film. I won’t tell more, because hopefully the audience will have the chance to see it. I’m just going to reveal a bite. This time you will see something very different from “10 seconds” and my other movies. The genre we work in is comedy. I always try to provoke myself and decided that the comedy genre is a field I want to explore.

Interview with Filmmaker Carolina Neves (ALVORADA)

ALVORADA was the winner of BEST FILM at the January 2021 LGBTQ+ Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

My motivation came from my personal experience when I was photographing music events of the Metal genre for web magazines. Although I had a connection with this subculture during my teen years, the discrimination in this environment is loud and clear. There were times when radical homophobic speeches by some members culminated in severed ties with LGBTQ+ members of the same circle.

The film’s main objective is to denounce the intolerance imposed on certain social groups. The theme’s exposure seeks a reaction from the audience, in order to cultivate reflection and debate about discrimination which is still so real in today’s society. It’s intended that the audience, when confronted with this important issue, gains a new type of awareness and change in mentality.

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

Alvorada’s concept was on my mind for a long time and I decided it should come to life as my master’s degree final project. It took approximately 9 months to complete, from writing the script to the last editing details, as the deadline was before the end of the school year.

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

Stand tall.

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

A film depends a lot on teamwork as interpersonal relationships and respect for others influence the quality of the film. The director’s role is decisive, to direct all team members to the idea that exists in their mind in order to transform it into a product. The fact that it is an academic project meant that, in an initial phase, the project was viewed less seriously than intended which was one of the greatest challenges I faced as a first-time filmmaker. Nevertheless, communicating the concept with maximum clarity and assertiveness guaranteed the needed credibility and gained the participants’ trust.

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

I felt this wave of joy and understanding! The audience’s feedback was very professional and it’s amazing how they understood the film so well from just one session, it means that its’ message gets through. They also praised the concept, creativity and quality of the project which made us very happy for this recognition. And the music! We wrote and produced the Black Metal song ourselves, it’s great that it’s being talked about and leaves people curious about what’s gonna happen next.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Our society’s full of stereotypes that encourage hatred. I wanted to work on these issues by demonstrating how worrying they still are today. Witnessing them happening in my own friend circle increased my curiosity to better understand all their dimensions and to carry out theoretical and scientific research that would allow a greater knowledge for a civic intervention through fiction.

The idea for the film was to have the opposite worlds of intolerance and social inclusion experienced by a single character. Intolerance would be evidenced by the character’s forced insertion in a hostile environment, while their nature would take them to a different environment of acceptance and inclusion. From the character’s experience, it was possible to convey a sense of their world and address the themes of intolerance and self-acceptance.

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

Though question! I have watched “Donnie Darko” a lot as it feels like it was catered to my tastes in almost every aspect, from the 80’s post-punk soundtrack to the satiric religious representation through characters. The film’s mainly characterised by its brutal criticism of social conformism and the lack of critical spirit, the main moral lesson being the importance of critical analysis capability in the face of what life presents us, alerting to the dangers of social conformism that translates into a general anesthesia of most of its individuals towards the claim of their civic and humanistic duties. Donnie stands out for his unique way of being, whether one can interpret his personality as an anti-hero who saved the world or as a troubled boy in a strange situation.

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

The platform presents endless options for film submissions. It can be a bit overwhelming at first but, knowing your film and with plenty of research, filmmakers can find good festival matches for their own pieces of work. It’s also good that you can keep track of your project’s submissions and updates in a single place.

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

Maybe not “the most times in my life” but these past two months I’ve been constantly listening to “Say Less” by the band Nothing, it’s one of their heavier songs from the new album. It conveys a gloomy feeling of uncertainty and isolation, that I’m sure we can all relate to during these strange times, but also the need of silence when life feels chaotic. Definitely worth a listen!

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

Yes, I’m already working on the script for the next one. I have it all outlined but the project’s in need of funding in order to have the best quality.

Interview with Producer/Writer/Actor Jeremy Glazer (ON THE RIDE)

ON THE RIDE – Winner of Best CINEMATOGRAPHY at the January 2021 LGBTQ+ Film Festival.
http://www.ontheridefilm.com
Facebook: @ontheridefilm
Instagram: @ontheridefilm
Twitter: @ontheridefilm

1. What motivated you to make this film?

As an actor for the past 20 years, I wanted to tell my own story. I was ready to learn the process of filmmaking from A-Z and take on writing and producing in order to move people not only with my acting, but my creative ideas, words and storytelling. Basically, create my own film school, but just jumping right in and making a film. As an actor, you are at the whim of seeing if you fit into someone else’s story, but this time I wanted to take my power back and write and create for myself. Challenge myself in many ways. Also, I wanted find my crew and the people I admire to collaborate with when it comes to making films. I wanted to learn from them and see their processes. It’s fascinating to see how each position on a crew has their own way of operating and seeing how their work folds into bringing the film together and to life. I am excited to work with them all again.

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

I started writing it around October of 2018 and we locked picture in August of 2019, so just over a year.

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

Heartwarmingly heartbreaking.

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

I’d say getting all of the exterior biking, with stunts all shot in one day. Many locations, tight schedule and many types of cameras and rigging, but we made it all work!

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

Gratification. To hear how each element they touched on, whether it be the storytelling, the performances or their favorite line, I felt like they got what I wanted to create. I appreciate how positive they all were too.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

SPOILER ALERT: I wanted to make my own film for a while and I knew I wanted to emotionally draw people in and move them, but I didn’t know what exact story I wanted to tell yet. I was on Facebook one day, and I saw someone post a news clip about a man who rode his bike over 1,400 miles to meet the man who now obtains his daughter’s heart. The bike rider’s daughter died who in an accident at a young age, donated her organs so others could continue their lives. It moved me so much, that I thought, I can take what moved me with this story and make it my own.

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

Back to the Future

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

I like it. It is very helpful and easy to use.

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

“Higher Love” by Kygo and Whitney Houston

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

As a filmmaker, I am currently in the re-write phase of a feature film and looking to get it in pre-production later this year. As an actor, I have a couple of roles on television that will air later this year, I’m in TikTok’s first scripted series called Hidden Canyons (@1minutegaysoap) and also currently in a film called “Rust Creek” (also directed by “On the Ride” director, Jen McGowan), that was recently in the Top 10 on Netflix!