Interview with Writer/Actor Ben Green (PAPER TRAIL)

PAPER TRAIL was the winner of BEST FILM at the 1 Minute Film Festival in September 2019 in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ben Green: A friend was trying out a new incentive where he asked a group of film makers to each make a minute long film shot and edited on their iphones. The word for that week was ‘Words’ and I jotted down a few ideas and the ‘follow the trail’ one seemed the strongest. I pitched it to Emily Brown (my wife who just happens to be a multi talented director) and she connected with it straight away and knew exactly how she would direct it.

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

I wrote the script a few days before we filmed it. The filming itself took about 2-3 hours and we edited it the same day. It was all quite hassle free as everything was done on the iphone.

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

Poor schmuck

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

We wanted to do the whole thing on the iphone so it was all relatively straight forward. I put the titles on (hadn’t done that before) but it all worked out ok.

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

We were so pleased when we watched the video. It’s such a great thing to do. We’d just woken up and I showed Emily at about 6AM. A lovely start to the day! It looked like it took a bit of time as well. You’d edited bits of our film into your video. Very much appreciated.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I wanted to make a funny, film with a spiteful twist. It was important that the main character was enjoying himself only to have the real reason for the post-its come up and slap him in the face at the end.

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

I’m going to put a few down as I’m a big film fan Die Hard, Back to the Future, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Twelve Angry Men, Jaws, North by Northwest, The Longest Day

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

Great platform. Definitely going to submit to your festival again if we make something that comes up to scratch.

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

Possibly the Rumours album by Fleetwood Mac or Abbey Road by The Beatles

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

Hopefully making some more short films on the iphone and a web series (all with Emily Brown directing again). I’m also, hoping to finish writing a new sitcom and a film. I’m going to continue to make sketches for my youtube channel too.

paper_trail

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Interview with Filmmaker Scott Meyers (ENJOY?)

ENJOY? played to rave reviews at the first ever Chicago FEEDBACK Film Festival in September 2019.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Scott Meyers: My motivation for making this short was. I was in film school and
watching the youth be scammed from the American education system. Its
still bugs me that we have to put a price on education in the good old
US of A. Now I have a degree in film with a $50,000 cloud over my
head. I knew what I was getting into. I just saw 18-20 years olds,
blind to the ways of student finical. Including soldiers with PTSD
looking to get back into school. I added that part into the short
because, one of my friend who returned from Iran. All of these student
finical loans he applied for had crazy % rates. Thank God for his wife
reading over the paper work before he signed.

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

It took about a month of research before I wrote Enjoy?For the
filming part, it took about 4 hours to shoot. That’s about all the
time the school would let us film in that room.

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

Middle Finger

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

Well, the day of shooting my producer didn’t show nor my A.D. SoI
had to think of 30 different thing at once. I’m not kidding neither.
30 things. I had a couple of drinks after that shoot. The day of shoot
I was told that I lost the room.That made my heart skip a beat. But
this what you signed up for.

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

I thought the feedback was useful.


Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I came up with the idea while watching Pink Floyd’s The Wall and
Brazil. I also wanted to leave in the continuity errors in. I wanted
to have the viewer always coming back to the title. Do you really
enjoy this? Any film maker watching this is going to count the
mistakes. I wanted to mess with peoples heads on this short. It’s one
of those that you have to watch twice I feel.

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

Jaws

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

I see it as a Big casino.

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

Santana Soul Sacrifice from Woodstock.

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

We just rapped up Mic Check another comedy short. We’re in pre-
production for Death Weather and Sports which hopefully will be
shooting in Oct.

Interview with Filmmaker Christopher Mack (HOPE IS FRENCH)

HOPE IS FRENCH played to rave reviews at the Comedy Feedback Film Festival in September 2019.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Christopher Mack: Cat poop! 🙂 My cat had pooped in the hallway, and it gave me an idea.

And I wanted to have fun and make a film that explored both hope and despair in a kind of silly way.

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

I wrote it in September 2018. I got the production together and filmed it in May 2019. The edit was finished at the end of September 2019

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

Always hope

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

Time and money. And working with a cat! 🙂

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

Fascinated. It is rare and exciting to get a chance to hear what total strangers took from my film. I think it is very valuable to understand how my film is scene.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Same as answer to one: Cat poop! 🙂 My cat had pooped in the hallway, and it gave me an idea. And I think everyone has had bad days. How we react to the highs and lows is the stuff of high tragedy or great comedy.

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

That’s a hard one. The Sweet Hereafter by Atom Egoyan? Blue Velvet? Not sure. There are too many!

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

It is an expensive platform, and sometimes there is inconstancy between Filmfreeway and the various festivals, but it is great that it exists!

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

I would think it would be a Johnny Cash song

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

Working on several short films! Have a couple of feature film scripts I wrote and I’d love to explore, but I am no good at getting financing!
I am trying to film on a smartphone with an anamorphic lens. Fingers crossed it works.

hope_is_french

Interview with Filmmaker Martin Sofiedal (SIRI WITH A VENGEANCE)

SIRI WITH A VENGEANCE played to rave reviews at the Comedy Feedback Film Festival in September 2019.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Martin Sofiedal: I had done simpler sketches for a long while, and I really wanted to do something really cinematic, and up my game visually. But I knew I still needed a simple setting to make it more doable and affordable, I didn’t want to bit over more than I could chew. I suddenly remembered a sketch I did many years ago, it was also called “Siri with a vengeance” and had the same premise: Siri taking the protagonist hostage with a bomb while referencing the bad guy from Die Hard 3. So I got an added motivation: Can I remake my own short film? Making it better visually and story-wise? The stage was set.

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

As this really a remake the main idea was already there when I started this production, but I did a new draft, adding the whole Android vs Iphone theme which wasn’t in the original, and also beefed up and fit the dialogue to fit my actor, Samuel David, who I knew was going to act in it before I even started writing. We had a couple of days of pre-production, one long production day, and a longer post-production period. As this whole film was made on the side, myself and my crew also had paid jobs we had to do, it’s hard to say exactly how many days we spent on the film. But from the day I wrote the new draft till we had a finished film it took roughly two and a half month, but actual production time was maybe one third of that.

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

Timely absurd.

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

I would say finding the perfect location, because that was the biggest outlier, we had everything else ready, crew and equipment. And we knew we needed a location that had a unique look, had lots of room, and felt more international, since we were basically making an american film. At the same time it is kind of not entirely true that it was the biggest challenge, because we got the tip about this house pretty fast after we started asking around, and it was the first place we scouted. So with a big stroke of luck we found the perfect place very quickly, so maybe it’s more correct to say we thought it would be our biggest obstacle. Apart from that it was the usual challenges, running out of time and stuff like that, but nothing that we couldn’t handle or foresee.

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

Just smiling, I’ve never seen something like that before, and as I mentioned above it was so fun hearing thoughts around the film I hadn’t thought about myself.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I wish I could remember, but I believe I had recently watched Die Hard 3, and in that movie the bad guy, Simon, plays a sinister game of “Simon Says” with John McClane through the phone, and at some point I made a connection where I thought “what if Siri did the same thing to a person?”. And I just spun onward from there. As I mentioned earlier, in the original sketch it was only Siri and no Google Assistant (which didn’t exist yet at the time), and the whole thing was that Siri was just tired of all the verbal abuse from the protagonist. I believe the idea to implement Google Assistant in the remake came after talking with my producer Marius (who is a tech-head) who mentioned that there is a big ongoing smart phone “war” between Android and iphone loyalists. And with that I felt the film had more to say than just Siri being angry, now she had a bigger reason to be angry.

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

Probably “Shaun of the dead”. That film has shaped me as a filmmaker. I saw it when I had just started film school, and it just opened my eyes to how much style and unique humor you can have in films.

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

Great! It is so easy use and submit films, so yeah, just great!

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

Wow, impossible question! I have periods where I hear one song more than others, hear is a random small collection (out of many many more obviously):
Childish Gambino – Heartbeat
Maroon 5 – Moves Like Jagger
Timilon – Samma det (norwegian hiphop song made by a friend of mine)
Dean Martin – Heaven can wait
Henry Jackman – The Twelve Towers (Yes, that is from the Uncharted 4 soundtrack, I’m a nerd :-P)

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

I am releasing my first feature film here in Norway on November the 11th, a treasure hunt adventure film called “Benjamin Falck and the ghost dagger”. I am also prepping a new action sktech called “Gumslingers” which we’ll shoot in October, an absurd action short heavily inspired by “Kingsman” that includes lethal bubblegum, I’ll say no more 😉

Siri with a vengeance is online and can be found here:

siri_with_a_vengeance.jpg

Interview with Filmmaker Ralph Klisiewicz (COLLIDE)

COLLIDE was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the September 2019 Chicago FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ralph Klisiewicz: I have made a few short films and by this point I was addicted to the process of filmmaking. I saw a series of short plays written by Mark Chrisler that have really impressed me and I wanted him to write my next short film. In addition, we wanted to make a film that would play to the acting strengths of Heather Chrisler, who is a Jeff Award nominated stage actor in Chicago. Up to this point I have worked with her on few short roles and a music video. However, we wanted to create something dramatic and a character driven.

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

Once the script was written it took about a year before we could get everyone’s schedule aligned. I remember Heather had a very busy stage schedule. She called me saying she has two weeks free at the end of August to film a project. We rushed through all the prep and got the project ready to film in about a week. Jalen (Lover) and Heather just finished a play at Victory Gardens so it was a smooth transition for them to the film set. Luke (Tim) had worked with me on my previous short film, so I was comfortable with him and he with me. We had three major shooting days at three locations, and a few short pickups. The editing process was rather smooth. At the artist’s loft, where we filmmed the sex scene, we build a quick studio where we recorded the score in three days. In summary, filming and all the post-production was about a 2 month process.

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

Truth Colliding.

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

As always, scheduling! We all have our own projects, jobs, and other commitments so getting everyone on the same page is always difficult.

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

The comments focused mainly on the motives of the main character, Salie. I have gained an appreciation on the diversity of conclusions made about the film’s protagonist. The feedback clearly illustrated that each viewer has a distinct psychology that colors his/her perception of the film. Moreover, the responses also illustrate that our film has layers that speak differently to each viewer.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Mark Chrilser wrote the script. The themes of his plays and other work often deal with interplay of truth and lie.

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

I can’t point to a specific film. However, there are a few filmmakers whose work I have watched repeatedly. The filmmakers that inspire me the most are, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, Danny Boyle, and Denis Villeneuve

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

I think the FilmFreeway platform is great. The process is smooth and straightforward.

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

I go through phases where I listen to one particular artist more than others. The range is wide, anything between Chopin, Deamau5, Bjork to Metalica. However, I have likely listen to Nine Inch Nails and Pink Floyd more than anything else.


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

I am making a short sci-fi thriller “The Artifact”. This film will be based on themes of technology, psychology and philosophy. Minds will be literally and figuratively be blown.

collide_movie_poster

Interview with Screenwriter Sam Tracton (OPERATIVE D)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Operative D is a story about the correlation between nature and choice, as James’ earnest desire to be a good person clashes with his dark past and brutal nature.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

The script falls under the thriller and crime genres

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

This screenplay should be made into a television series because its theme of choosing to be a good person and the rigors of actually doing such a thing are always engaging and entertaining to watch play out.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Precisely ruthless.

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

Star Wars, Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

This screenplay has been a work in progress for over a year now, with the idea itself having be ruminating in my head for over three.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have written one feature-length fantasy screenplay called Dragonsteel, which will be appearing in the Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film & Screenplay Festival, as well as the first four episodes of a series I hope to make called Brianna the Devourer.

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

‘Race You to the Top of the Morning’ from The Secret Garden. My dad used to sing it to me as a lullaby.

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

The biggest obstacle in writing this script was finding a way to segway into James’ introduction without losing the tension of the Teaser.

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

Stories, in general, are my greatest joys, with superheroes and fantasy being my favorite, along with Shonen Manga like One Piece, Fairy Tail, and My Hero Academia.

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your
experiences working with the submission platform site?

I submitted to quite a few festivals through FilmFreeway at the being of the summer and I must say it made the process far simpler than I had feared it would be.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings
on the initial feedback you received?

I decided to enter the festival because I am currently a junior in college and I am afraid whether my stories and my writing will be strong enough to survive and thrive in the market of the real world. When I received the initial feedback from the festival, it was honestly a moment of triumph, validation that I was capable of succeeding in this, my dream career. I know I must not look to others for the sake of judging my success but, hey, if no one likes my writing, I can’t get paid for it.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

After a bloody and seemingly impossible assassination, NYPD Detective James MacIntyre starts to see clues tying the murders to his past.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Elizabeth Rose Morriss

Hadden: Ron Boyd
Blake: Peter Nelson
Benny: Bill Poulin
Delia/Sara: Lyndsay Clarkson
James: David Jackson

Interview with Screenwriter Mila Johansen (THE MANIFEST (THE ARTIST))

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Mila Johansen: Manifest (The Artist) is about Kate who paints her dream home in art class. Not only a talented artist, Kate is an experienced dreamer. This script was written to remind everyone to keep on daydreaming. May all your good dreams come true.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama?

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

To inspire others to make their dreams into reality. I actually have a full length version with an artist, composer and an actor who all help Dr. Spence realize his own dreams.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Manifest Dreams

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

The Wizard of OZ

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I wrote it in one hour after daydreaming it the day before. But it took 8 hours to clean it up.

7. How many stories have you written?

100s

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

Color my World by Chicago

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

None. It just flowed onto the page.

10. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your
experiences working with the submission platform site?

I think it is very organized and makes it easy to submit our screenplays. It is very comprehensive.

11. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings
on the initial feedback you received?

I was intrigued by the idea of having it read out loud or performed.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

As Kate paints her dream home, room by room—page by page in art class, her reality begins to shift. Kate’s therapist praises her art and encourages her aspirations of becoming a famous artist and someday teaching art herself. One day, Kate returns to her humble cottage to find the key fitting into a new front door—her dream home!

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Carina Cojeen
Dr. Spence: Kaleb Alexander
Mother: Natalie Morgan
Kate: Barb Scheffler