Interview with Filmmaker Christopher Sferrazza (BEAST)

BEAST was the winner of Best Cinematography at the June 2018 Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival – best of Horror/Thriller night.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Christopher Sferrazza: It was something in the script that I latched on too. Originally the script was designed to be an episode for a series. But the gold nugget for me was the character Sophie. I thought she was a strong but lonely woman, and wanted to explore how marginalise people are forced to make decisions beyond what they expect from life. Being my first film, I wanted to shoot the situation from her perspective only. My plan was to do this for each episode for each character.

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

The script was originally written as 40 pages, it took another week to edit it down to 20.

Pre-production was about two months of looking for a location and casting.
Shooting was a bit more complicated than originally planned. It was only meant to take 3 days but we had to re-shot a couple of scenes because I wasn’t happy with some performances.

The edit took a much longer time. The first cut was only a few days, but then I sat on it, not happy with it over all, I went back and forth with the editor for a few months. Finally stripping the film down to its minimal dialogue and shots, I want to take any “director indulgences” out. Keep the film to a solid core with subtle storytelling. I didn’t want to hit the audience over the head with details. This took about 7 months.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words?
“Revealing Perspectives”

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

The edit. I was unhappy with the initial cut, discouraged I avoided working on it. Carl the writer of the film, pushed me to finish it. I’m happy I did.

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

I’m happy how so many picked up on the subtle elements. How they came to the conclusion of who or what was really the Beast. I tried to make sure there were no loose ends in the plot.

I also was happy people enjoyed the beginning and end of the film, and how it was revisited.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Carl J Sorheim was the writter, he explained to me it stemmed from a news report. How a young girl escaped from a seemingly normal mans grasp.

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

No Country for Old men and It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.

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

It’s easy once set up, but can make you lazy. I made mistakes initially and didn’t correct them for a few months after, when there could have been room for improvement on my part.

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

Talking Heads – Life During Wartime, it’s my go-to punk rock youth anthem.

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

BULLY is my next short film. I wrote the storyline and had a friend write the screenplay. It’s about the murder of a town bully by drowning via a time transporting trampoline. It revolves around the same sort of expression of character. At the end we wonder who was really the BULLY.

beast

_____

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Advertisements

Interview with Filmmaker Chang Hyun Park (BRIDGING COLOR)

BRIDGING COLOR played to rave reviews at the October 2017 STUDENT FEEDBACK Film Festival.

 What motivated you to make this film?

I got a couple of friend who got born color blind. Especially My class mate from New York film academy, Jun, didn’t have a car. so I always picked him up to go to school.

When I stopped traffic signal, He always asked me that Chang that was red? or Green? when i got the question for the first time, I really didn’t understand the question and thought that How you could not distinguish between red and green.

My friend said that he have never see the red color through my view so He doesn’t know how red color is. He just see the red color with his own view. When I heard that I’m so embarrassed and surprised. It was so shameful that I answered like that. who is right color? where is right color? is there absolutely color? My story was from there.

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

Since I wrote this story It took 6 month to complete it. For 3month to prepare pre-production, 8days shooting, 2month for post-prodution.

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

Actually I had no idea about art, especially painting. I’m sooo poor at drawing and artistic authentic of paint. so I meet many artists and art students to get some comment and recommendation. all art works in my film, are created by art student.

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

I was so glad to hear all comment for my film. All comments are so useful and helpful to improve my film career. Especially the host mentioned about the wardrobe of main character I’m so happy with that.

I really did it intentionally that his wardrobe’s color being changed gradually following his condition.
.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

I prefer to watch drama and thriller genre. I know that these twos are totally different style and the reason why I like to watch two different genre films.

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

It is really convenience and trustful to submit my film into film festival. I don’t have to search each film festival but I can see most film festival on one page.

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

sorry I don’t usually listen music. Haha. I usually listen music when I work out. Just random music.

What is next for you? A new film?

Yes I’m preparing next film which is my first debut feature film. It is about Korean Immigrant living in LA korea town.

I almost finish the script and production book. I have plan to pitch to get investment soon. Thnaks!

 

Interview with Director James Bowsher (WITHHELD)

The short film WITHHELD (directed by James Bowsher) was the overwhelming winner of BEST FILM at the THRILLER FEEDBACK Film Festival in September 2017. It arguably could be the best short film of 2017! It’s that great of a film.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Matthew Steggles: The primary motivation was that I felt like the idea was interesting and that no one would make it if I didn’t. What kept me motivated was the fact that I had an overwhelming amount of support from friends, family and the crew.

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

The idea to the shoot only took a few months, but the edit took us about a year, as there were various complicating factors. It can be summarised by us wanted to ensure we got it right and whilst there were frequent instances of it almost being ready I never felt happy putting it out into the world.

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

Cruel communication.

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

The biggest obstacle was probably staying faithful to the original concept. The film is meant to be claustrophobic, but when watching the edits you can often think that you have gone too far. In the end it was about reminding myself what my objectives were with the film and making it the most distilled version of that.

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

It’s encouraging to hear the reactions from the audience particularly in regards to how we used Stephanie’s character. Part of what I wanted to do in the film was look at the danger of male gaze and the difficult treatment of female characters in film. However, keeping his attacks on her and his treatment of her separate to the film and its perspective was tricky – especially in the limited time that we had. I think this will probably engender different reactions from different viewers, but this is why the ‘turn’ was so important to me.

 WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video: 

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

An exhibit about phone sex workers by Philip Toledo demonstrated the unexpected breadth of characters in this industry. From there it meshed with ideas I had about performance as the phone was a clear locus for suspending disbelief. I wrote a first draft and from there my friends’ positive reactions to the concept drove me to shoot it.

 What film have you seen the most in your life?

That’s an almost impossible question as I have gone through many love affairs with many films. On balance Magnolia by Paul Thomas Anderson is one that I keep coming back to.

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

My producer Matthew Steggles did most of the real legwork in regards to festival submissions. He says “The menu navigation and friendly user face is leagues beyond other online submission platforms that I have previously used. With thousands of festivals at your disposal, they’ve made it incredibly easy to organise and keep track of each submission – something that could have taken many countless hours in the past is now a pleasure to undertake. I’ve also found it to be cheaper than most of the other submission platforms.”

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

Feeling Good by Nina Simone is a song that I love and was playing in my house all the time because of my mother.

What is next for you? A new film?

I am starting an MA in producing at the National Film and Television School in the UK this January. In regards to new projects, my collaborator Matthew and I have numerous projects we want to do next and are deciding which one would be best.

 

Interview with Director Andi Osho (AMBER)

Andi’ Osho’s short film was voted BEST MUSIC at September 2017 CRIME/THRILLER FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

I had a really inspiring conversation with a Fox executive several years ago and he told me that I need to think about what my contribution to the industry is. I’d never thought of my career in those terms. I think most people think in terms of what they can get or what they want. Relatively few creatives think about what they can pour into the pot.

Anyway, the idea gestated in me for a really long time and then it got the point where I realised that part of my contribution is storytelling. And that led me to want to direct. It was as though the desire to direct was bursting from me. I’d made shorts during a intensive film making course and various other little bits and piece but Amber was the first time I’d put together a full-on production. It was exhilarating and terrifying and thrilling all at the same time. I remember Barry Jenkins saying that when he directs, he is his best self. I feel the same.

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

Just over a year. Pre-production was relatively swift. Once I decided it was happening, the key team came together pretty quickly. I teamed up with an editor I’d worked with before who came on as exec producer too. Then my producer and DP followed shortly after.

The hardest and longest part of the process was post production. I’m sure that’s the case with most short films because unless you have a healthy budget for that part of the process, it all has to be fitted around other people’s work. We were beg, borrow and stealing favours everywhere for grades, ADR, sound mix. Everything. From wrapping on set to a finished film was about ten months.

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

Stalker mystery!

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

Not having a post production budget. That’s not as crazy as it sounds.

Basically, our exec producer was our editor so we always knew our offline was taken care of and as I worked in post production for ten years before switching lanes, I knew that I had enough contacts to scrabble together my post production.

But because it was all favours, very generously gifted from within my network, it just meant that the whole thing took longer than if we’d had a budget.

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

I was intrigued that they drilled down into the thematic content of the project because that was what was most important to me. There were some intelligent, well-considered observations that made me feel like, ah, perhaps we did our job as film makers that our work prompted such a response. Myself and my lead actress did chuckle about the guy who didn’t feel it was plausible for a small girl to beat up an adult male. That was rather the point of the film, when a woman wants something, you need to be a powerhouse to stop her!

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

There were several factors. The initial one was a fascinating documentary about One Direction Fans. It reminded me of what I was like at that age and how intense teenage desire can be.

I started to think that there was definitely a narrative film in there somewhere and that it would be really interesting to see a stalker film with a teenage girl. I also wanted to give myself the challenge of telling the story from the girl’s perspective. Usually the stalker is the antagonist and we root for the protagonist to conquer them. With Amber, I wanted to create something more ambiguous. In addition thematically I was interested in the manufactured nature of pop music, how pop stars are equally manipulated by the industry and the intensity and power of female teenage design as a formidable force.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Aliens. I’m pretty sure I’ve watched it more than James Cameron!

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

Film Freeway is the only platform I want to use. I wish film festivals that use other platforms knew how the experience is as an end user. When you are entering multiple festivals, it is a Godsend to have a great website like Film Freeway that takes some of the grind out of the process. They care about the film maker, are less expensive and generally a better experience.

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

Another Star – Stevie Wonder. Once I’d heard Songs In The Key Of Life I couldn’t stop listening to it.

I was the same with Oasis’ What’s The Story? Album. I listened to it for six months straight. You want to know why I’m making a film about obsession, I think that’s your answer right there.

What is next for you? A new film?

Two things. I want to turn Amber into a feature film project. I’m just working on exactly what that narrative will be. I’ve thrown a few ideas about but I’m not convinced I’ve found the right one just yet. If I’m going to put my heart and soul into that project, I want to know that it’s the right thing.

The other thing I’d like to do is make a much simpler short film. Amber wasn’t huge in scale but it was big enough that it required a mid sized crew, several locations and needed quite a bit of funding to realise it.

Next, I’d like to tell a simple story deeply. One location, perhaps even one actor. I want to work with the resources I already have and simplify the whole process yet still produce a great story.

 

Interview with Directed Eric Shahinian (FOREIGN SOUNDS)

Eric Shahinian’s short film played to rave reviews at the September 2017 CRIME FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto. It definitely stirred a great conversation. This was one of those films that was made for the FEEDBACK Film Festival format.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

The film was motivated by a real situation I experienced when I was with a friend and we heard distressing sounds coming from a neighbor’s apartment. My inclination was to separate myself from it, while my friend took a very different stance and immediately wanted to help.

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

Since this was a student film made with a minimal budget, post-production took a long time, especially the sound design, because it’s such a crucial element of the story. From script to completion the film took nearly a year because I had some other projects that came up during post-production.

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

Foreign Sounds. (I wish this was better, sorry).

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

The biggest obstacle faced during the film was the sound design because it was such a crucial element of the story and I did not get all of the sound on set, so I had to set up multiple ADR sessions and really refine the details of the offscreen dispute.

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

It’s not easy to judge how well an idea is going to translate, so having the audience feedback is very grounding even if they aren’t singing your praises. It was great to see people respond to it and in some cases to see that my intentions came through. It’s always interesting to hear people having such different reactions and bringing their individual subjective viewing experiences.

Watch the AUDIENCE FEEDBACK Video of the short film:

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

The idea came from a real situation very similar to the characters except that I was with a friend. We took very different responses to hearing the sounds of our neighbor’s fighting and I thought that instinctual opposition was interesting. It was also never clear to us exactly what happened, which further complicated the question of how much we needed to involve ourselves in strangers lives. I really recreated the film very closely to how the situation unfolded in a way of processing it and exploring the conflicts that we both experienced in that moment.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

It’s a toss up between Punch Drunk Love and Ghost World.

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

I love filmfreeway, it’s so much easier to navigate than withoutabox in terms of the layout and the search functions. I love being able to include a vimeo link as an online screener. I’m a fan.

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

I’m not sure, I go through periods where I obsessively listen to certain songs until I can’t stand it anymore and then find a new obsession. Recently I’ve been listening to the Silversun Pickups, they have a song called “The Go Inbetweens” that feels tonally similar to a feature I’m writing so that ones been on loop.

What is next for you? A new film?

I made two more shorts after Foreign Sounds. The first was a dark comedy about an emotionally codependent sister who breaks down when her younger sister gets the chance to move out. It’s a weird movie and hasn’t been accepted to many festivals but it was fun to try something new. My thesis short film is currently on the festival circuit and has been screening globally. It was influenced by the relationship between my grandparents and is about a caretaker who is forced to confront his limitations. I am currently torn between two feature scripts that I’m trying to decide to move forward with as a first feature.

Interview with Directed Elaine Chu (MANEKI-NEKO)

Elaine Chu’s short film was the winner of “Best Performances” at the September 2017 ROMANCE FEEDBACK Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Elaine Chu: A recent break-up (at the time) which my cat helped me get over.

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

4 months.

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

Love again.

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

The film had an extremely low-budget, so trying to find people who were good at their job but also willing to work at a lower professional rate was a challenge.

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

I was honored that they had taken the time to really think about the film and come up with their own theories. It felt great knowing that people could relate to the themes of rejection/loss, and gained some solace. This festival was the first time anyone had described my film as “quirky”, and it really is the best word to describe it. The moderator did a great job of keeping everyone on topic and generating more food for thought.

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

After my break-up I spent an inordinate amount of time cuddling and talking to my cat. She tolerated it to a point but eventually wandered off … and then came back. This film explores what she may have done during that disappearance.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Stephen King’s “The Shining”

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

I find it very efficient and much easier to use than WithoutABox.

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

Rilo Kiley’s “Portions for Foxes”

What is next for you? A new film?

I just directed a commercial for Disney which should be coming out soon. I also have another short film called Be Your Beautiful which is currently doing a festival run. Hopefully I’ll find time to finish my 2nd horror screenplay and direct my sophomore feature. I’d also really like to visit Canada if I ever get break from the Hollywood grind.

 

Interview with Director Igor Gavva (SUITCASE)

Igor Gavva’s short film “SUITCASE” was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the COMEDY FEEDBACK Film Festival in Los Angeles in September 2017.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Igor Gavva: The motivation was to try myself in a new art.

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

The most of time I have spent to write the script. After, everything was fast. How I remember, from the beginning till the end product was about 4 month.

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

Lets say: The art unites

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

Misunderstanding and conflict between me and the director of picture. Two different perceptions and opinions for one story.

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

The reaction was ambiguous. When audience talk about the film, it’s like they talk about me, but at the same time, it’s like it’s not your movie anymore, this film these people, who are watching and discussing it. It lives his own life.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film:

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

As I am a circus artist and most of my life I have spent at the stage, I had many times the same dream: Before performance I have to go to stage, but I am not ready. No make up, no costume, no props. It is terrible dream. So, it was idea for the film, what is the personage will do, if he is not ready for the perfomance.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

I am trying to watch everyday a new film. So, I can’t remember, if I watch same film, what I really like more than 3 times.

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

My opinion it’s very comfortable and easy platform to send the film to the festivals. I always recommend to my friends.

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

One time I was listen one song more than 6 month. But I am not going to tell which one, it is my little secret 🙂

What is next for you? A new film?

Soon will be ready my second short comedy film and I am going to send it to the Comedy Film & Screenplay Festival.

____
Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto twice a month, and every other month in Los Angeles. Go to http://www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.