Interview with Filmmaker Tony Saich (LATE)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Well, each student in my class had to come up with a concept, which followed with the class voting on which idea would be the film that gets made. Once mine was voted for, I wrote the script. My main motivation was just to finally make a short film before I left college. This was the first script and film I ever made.

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

About a month.

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

First attempt.

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

Essentially the 6 classmates assigned to be involved with the film completely bailed and I was left to do all the prep, scheduling, production design, etc. I am not an organized person so having to handle pretty much every aspect of the film other than the script and directing was very anxiety-inducing and there were quite a few moments I did not think he film would even get shot.

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

Thankfully, my DP came through and did a phenomenal job. There is no way the film would have been a success or even been completed if it wasn’t for his help.
It was very exciting to see people had seen my film! As well as it being nice that the criticisms were nothing new to my own thoughts about the film since its completion. It is always a thrill to see my attempts at screen language successfully come across to an audience.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

My mother did an unnecessary amount of preparation for the unlikely scenario when I was a child so this fear of being abducted always stuck with me. I figured the simplicity of the location and amount of characters would be an attractive attribute to the class and of course the shock value was sure to help.

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

This is hard, probably Boyhood by Richard Linklater or Faces by John Cassavetes. Those are my favorites anyways. Although I did recently just see Uncut Gems in theaters four times!

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

This is all a new world to me, but my experience with the platform has been great thus far! It is very intuitive and easy to navigate and has led to my film getting played for quite a few audiences.

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

This is even harder than the film question. My guess would be West Savannah by Isaiah Rashad.

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

I had toyed around with some ideas for my next short. Once I finally committed to one, I soon realized it would not work as a short and I was too attached to the idea to abandon it. So, to my own delusion, I am going for a feature for my second project. Wish me luck, I will need it. The tagline will go something like this: An aspiring movie director attempts to make a film about a filmmaker making a film about himself making a film.

Interview with Filmmaker Evgeniya Radilova (PATRIK)

PATRIK played to rave reviews at the November 2019 Female Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

What motivates me to write “Patrik” is an anonymous elderly man who caught my attention years ago. I was 18, aspiring actress, student at that time at the Film and Theater Academy in Bulgaria and while on a lunch break, I suddenly found myself starring at this man struggling to cross over a busy road. He moved very slowly, with a persistence and patience, but obviously intimidated by the fast world around him, failing in every attempt he does to cross the street. He kept on going back to the starting point, facing the semaphore and waiting for a green light. He would barely make a few steps when the light would turn red again forcing him to go back and start over. Eventually, he gave up and walked down the street.

That story became one of these seemingly unimportant memories, we are not sure why we keep, until it finally made sense, and I felt the urge to share it the moment I met Patrik Baldauff. We both performed in a production of The Cherry Orchard at The Actors Studio, alongside Ellen Burstyn, as lifelong members in the actor’s unit.

I found the perfect actor for my story and “Patrik” was born! His exceptional persona and our work together inspired me to develop a lot more the narrative and established the main topics of the movie.

The beauty and maybe just a bit of sadness aging brings, when striped from expectations and ambitions, we find joy in the little pleasure the morning sunshine brings, a memory hanging on the wall, the calming sound of ticking clock and the freedom of not putting your socks on if you don’t want to. Yet the world is changing and it’s harder and harder to keep up, but maybe the need of slowing down is a call from the universe to take a breath and let the things that matter happen to us. Often something small we would barely notice it’s what we really need at that very moment and gives a new meaning to what is important.

It is when we find a Greater sense of acceptance of and tolerance for those normally disregarded in our community that we can begin to work towards change.

“Patrik” is a story about a man of the theater, a giant of the stage and a charmer of the screen. I am honoring the long carrier Patrik Baldauff has had, and we follow the happiest day of his life when he is being honored with a life time achievement award. He needs to make one last effort and proudly walk alone all the way to the theater to receive his award. This is his Golgotha.

But the world out there is too busy and won’t stop for the old man. He misses his ceremony, but unexpectedly, he’s been given a different reward, which turns out to be even more significant – the gift of opening one’s heart. My little hope is that the young man offering a hand on the street, is you and I.

I’ve been compelled to make art that is deeply personal and accessible to a larger audience and my intend is to fill my films with the purest and honest form of storytelling to life.

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

This film took two years to make. It was my first film and I did every single possible mistake known to man. It took me a very long time to try to understand these mistakes, learn how to fix them and then fix them. But I wouldn’t change it for nothing because I have learned so much in the process!
Also, the editing took me a whole while as I was connected to every single moment. My first rough cut was 30 minutes, needless to say was incredibly long…… and after month of working on it and then letting it go for a bit I realized what is next, what needs to be cut and what I need to do.

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

Help one another!

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

The biggest obstacle was the editing! We shot gorilla style on Times Square all day long. We had Patrik Baldauff cross the street at least a 100 times.
We had prepared background actors and situations but honestly we didn’t end up using any of them. What we got to use was the real situations that happened around us. However, every time Patrik crossed the street there were different people in the frame so it was a complete mess in the editing room trying to connect the dots. But after a long battle, I think we have managed to make sense of it all! And I am so grateful for these situations that happened without much planning! They were absolutely magical and elevated the film to another level!

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

Firstly, I would like to say Thank you so much for this opportunity! I liked the idea of the Feedback video and I loved the actual video. It made me very emotional to hear other people talk about my film. What they liked, what they didn’t, what worked and what not. Even just the fact that people took the time and interest to talk about my film is all I could have ever asked for. And the critique was very helpful for my future work!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video :

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

As I mentioned above the inspirations were two- 1. The anonymous man I observed on the street and meeting the Broadway actor Mr. Patrik Baldauff.

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

Green Mile
Dumb & Dummer

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

I find this platform an incredible way to share/help Independent filmmakers work and it is very easy to use!

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

Probably something by Michael Jackson or Sail by Awolnation

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

My big upcoming projects are 2.

My second short film I have written, produced and directors called “El Cavil”,
which is about o start it’s festival year run – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8277832/

“El Cavil” is about a man who loves his work as a shoe shiner, more than anything in this world. He believes in the old tradition, that if you have a shine on your shoes there is a melody in your heart. Unfortunately for El Cavil, people are just too busy to acknowledge him or their shoes. With this very special story we wanted to raise awareness of the struggle that homeless people go through every day and we wanted to show that may of them could be a valuable contributor to society if they only got the opportunity.

And last but not least, I am so happy to introduce to you the biggest project of my life so far, I am co-producing and staring in the film cosplay Narrative Series called “Lost Cos”.

I am proud to say that 140 people cast and crew Ce together to make this wild idea become a reality. We are already in post production and can’t wait to share this project with you soon.

Lost Cos is a crime drama/dark comedy narrative based in New York City that follows the female protagonist, “Eni” (character performed by Evgeniya Radilova), who’s faced with an abusive past that consists of traumatic events she must confront. Her rage has now come to the surface and her lover, Zoey, worries if Eni can remain in control of her life.

Central to her journey is the underground cosplay club “Lost Cos”. A place for costume culture bohemians to “lose themselves, or perhaps find themselves, behind a mask”. A sexy blend of costume artistry, thunderous jams, and burlesque style curiosities await all who can gain entry to the hidden club.

It is at Lost Cos that Eni discovers her love for performing as her cosplay character “Vampireniya”. A popular fictional comic book based vampire succubus (at least in our world). A heroine whose objective is to hunt and eliminate abusers of women. Can Eni face the internal demons inside her or will her obsession with the fictional heroine “Vampireniya” blur the line between fantasy and reality to the point of no return…?

For details please visit http://www.lostcos.com and on IG @lostcoscommunity

Interview with Writer Keith Brandon (I WAS THERE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your short story about?

Keith Brandon: A young girl re experiencing her past existence.

2. What genres would you say this story is in?

Supernatural-thriller

3. How would you describe this story in two words?

Frightening past.

4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?

SW and LOTR

5. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

Nessun Dorma-Puccini, This song saved my life- Simple Plan

6. Do you have an all-time favorite novel?

Terry Godkind’s Sword of The Truth series, Asimov’s Foundation

7. What motivated you to write this story?

A friend of mine asked me to write to her for her acting

8. If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would that be?

Dead-Pavarotti, Live-Terry Goodkind

9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Quite a few things in life, but playing the violin most

10. What influenced you to enter your story to get performed?

It is always good to get your story promoted and exposed to broader audience

11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Keep on writing and use every opportunity promote yourself.

 

Watch the Short Story Reading:

Performed by Hannah Ehman

Interview with Writer Maureen Kellar-Kirby (Jiminy Cricket Has Jumped The Wicket)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your short story about?

Maureen Kellar-Kirby: This story includes alleged communication from the spirit of Jimi Hendrix after a seance was held in 1972 (two years after he died) although it is only a part of the whole story which includes other material that has been condensed into a movie script. The communication is a poem called “The Marshmallow Box” and has been retitled “Jimmy Cricket Has Jumped the Wicket”. This material has been kept secret for 47 years and is now being made public – the motive being to reveal Jimi’s message – “Oh baby, no body ever dies and other mysteries of the afterlife. I will consider it being made into a movie, although the script itself tells more of the whole story.

2. What genres would you say this story is in?

This genres is Paranormal.

3. How would you describe this story in two words?

Spirit Communication

4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?

“Brother How Art Thou”.

5. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

Belly Button Window – Jimi Hendrix

6. Do you have an all-time favorite novel?

Green Darkness

7. What motivated you to write this story?

It is time to tell this story and let Jimi’s fans decide for themselves what they think about it.

8. If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would that be?

Jimi Hendrix of course – to dinner.

9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Passionate about – the paranormal and contact with the deceased, unsolved mysteries and music.

10. What influenced you to enter your story to get performed?

My publisher mentioned this contest to me.

11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Publish now while you are here to tell the tale

Watch the Short Story Reading:

A woman, haunted by the events of a seance that took place two years after the death of Jimi Hendrix in 1972 is still not able to explain the contents of a poem, alleged supernatural communication from the rock star – until now, forty-seven years later.

Performed by Carina Cojeen

 

Interview with Filmmaker Ashley Gerst (THE SPIRIT SEAM)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ashley Gerst: I was motivated by my relationship between my grandfather and myself. He passed away in 2013, and I wanted to do something to honor his memory and to help me find a way through my grief regarding his death.

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

A little over 5 years! The initial outline for the story is dated at Oct 13, 2013. The final was completed January 15th!

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

Magically nostalgic.

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

Technically: the main character (Pollywog)’s hair. It was a nightmare, and took about 6 months and 3 rebuilds to finish.

Emotionally: there was one day, where I had set up a full classroom with rendering – each computer displaying a scene from the film as they rendered away overnight. I stood in the room, looking around before leaving, and realized that I was surrounded by my memories and a visualization of my relationship with my grandfather. It was a bit overwhelming.

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

I loved hearing the reaction and emotions each person had when watching my film!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I wanted to base it on my life, my memories of my grandfather, and also his memories that he was so excited to share about his childhood! The main character (Pollywog) would be about the same age as my grandfather was in 1952 in the film.

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

A very weird one: The Mouse and His Child. it was an early sanrio production (makers of hello Kitty) and is very bizarre.

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

I enjoy it overall, I find it easier than Without a Box.

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

that’s a hard one – probably Billy Idol’s Mony Mony.

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

Yes! I am currently finalizing the script and character designs for my next film: Being Pushed Down by Shadow. It’s about newly adult daughter living with her single mom. They love each other but do not see eye to eye.
This animated film will take place in 1969-1970 and will fall within the horror genre.

Interview with Filmmaker Freya Billington (TERMINATED: TEETH & TINDER)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Freya Billington: It was a reflection on a very tough time in my life nearly 10 years ago when my husband left and my front tooth fell out at the same time. I couldn’t believe having suddenly and unexpectedly become single again I was ‘back on the market’ as an older woman which is hard enough to feel attractive as it is without not even being able to smile properly. Life moves on but as it did I have found myself having conversations with so many women who ended up in very similar situations and I wanted to make something about that.
In truth I HAD TO MAKE THIS FILM – I am nearly 50 and am not going to apologise for talking about difficult, embarrassing, truthful things anymore.

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

A couple of years but thats mainly because I am a single parent, work full time as a Uni Lecturer and do freelance consulting/ teaching on the side, so my time is very limited. I shot the interviews on the train and got ‘little freya’ made a year before I managed to get enough money to actually shoot more and pull it all together.

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

Personal Obnoxious

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

Sharing such personal information.

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

Its both great and hard. Always lovely to have positive feedback but never easy to hear people not getting it or enjoying it BUT ultimately to know people watched it in a cinema in Toronto, completely out of any context I know or without any prior knowledge is rather wonderful. It is an AMAZING thing you are doing.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Talking to students about whether I should go on Tinder or not!

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

Wonderboys or Bombay Beach

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

It’s fine – always hard to gauge if you are targeting the right festival.

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

IN YOUR EYES Peter Gabriel

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

I am in development a new more traditional narrative film called SERVICES and in conversation with a couple of different people about a possible podcast or radio drama along the lines of older women talking about Tinder.

Interview with Filmmaker Deeptanshu Sinha (SIEGE)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Deeptanshu Sinha: Like all my previous films my crew and I set out to make something which would push every crew member to their creative limits. We usually attempt things which we haven’t executed before or are doubtful of executing. Hence, I took the decision to make a VFX heavy film as we had never done it before. Finally after a lot of brainstorming I got the perfect story I wanted to tell. A story about a man in search for peace only to realise that it cannot be found.

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

It took me around 15 months to make this film.

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

Magnum Opus

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

Every day was an obstacle. It took us 15 months as we entered a territory we had no idea how to execute. We had just around $4800 to execute the entire project so we were short on crew. Hence, we wore multiple hats to complete the project. I was the Writer, Director, Production Designer, Sub Editor, Media Manager whereas my DOP also contributed in Production Design alongside Rotoscopy and DI Colorist. We had only two, 20 year olds who did 95% of the VFX. As nobody in our school had done a VFX project we barely got any support from the school and were on our own without any mentoring. Faculty calls to take over the project due to VFX delays was a nightmare but managing those prepared me as to become a better filmmaker for the studio environment.

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

Firstly, I was so thankful to the people who watched my film and took the effort to give feedback to us. My reactions were as anticipated. The audience completely got the things I wanted to convey to them and also left them thinking with questions which would make it a worthy second screening for them to get those questions answered. I am thankful to the festival for including the feedback section. Its a major plus.

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

I personally was going through a phase in life where I was trying really hard to find peace only to realise that it can never be found. We have to make peace with reality. Hence, I decided to extrapolate this idea and make a layered narrative to tell this story which would be relatable for many audiences worldwide.

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

I honestly don’t have a single film to answer this. As I watch the high rated films once in the cinemas and when at home I try to find the low rated films and give them one viewing.The reason for this is that the low rated films teach you things that one shouldn’t be doing when they make a film. There is a saying, how will you know what is sweet until you haven’t tasted sour.

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

FilmFreeway for filmmakers is like shopping on Amazon. Just add to cart all the festivals you want and hit go. It has made the process such easy. Will just reference THE DARK KNIGHT for this. “FilmFreeway is not the hero we deserve but the one which we need right now”.

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

I have heard Hans Zimmer’s TIME the most in my life. It falls under background scores but I think that’s the only one I can think of. Every time I play it, it emotes different feelings. The score is simply timeless.

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

I am making a feature film with a studio now. It should be done by 2020 end or by the 1st quarter of 2021.