Interview with Filmmaker Zack Arch (THE CRYING CHEF)

THE CRYING CHEF played to rave reviews at the February 2018 Comedy Feedback Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Zach Arch: Our group Flambé had committed to making a new comedy sketch or short every week for about a year. This was an idea pitched by Kathy Dorn (the actress who played TCC) and we all were very excited by the chance to play out a Chef’s Table parody.

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

It took us about 2 weeks.

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

Ridiculous, Committed

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

We had no sound equipment or lights other than a couple clamp lights. All of the locations were only available for maybe one or two hours. Actually, thinking back, it was the editing process. We improvised the entire film. So when it came down to structuring the narrative, it was very much like piecing together an actual documentary where the talking heads and the content aren’t always super coherent.

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

It was mind-blowing and very inspiring. Everyone was so encouraging. It was so special to hear a room full of strangers enjoy so many different aspects of the film for so many different reasons.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

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

I don’t know how Kathy’s mind works. She has these amazing, grand ideas that need to be made. We just all came together behind it and played around.

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

Jaws

8. Besides film, what else are you passionate about?

I make wind chimes and music. Also photography and travel.

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

I feel like it has to be some top 40 song from 2002 that plays in the background of every department store and generic public space. I don’t know the name of it or the artist who made it. But society has decided that it will be included in the soundtrack of everyone.

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

Flambé is back at it. We’re going to be whipping up some new sketches. We’re also developing a web series revolving around time-travel and death and time-travel death. I also am going to begin post on a slice of life documentary I shot about a year ago following a group of four life-long female best friends as they navigate some difficult questions the summer after graduation.

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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.

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Interview with Filmmaker Gabriel Renfro (THE FUTURE RICHARD DENISONS)

THE FUTURE RICHARD DENISONS was awarded BEST PERFORMANCES at the February 2018 COMEDY FEEDBACK Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Gabriel Renfro: I thought it was a funny idea that appealed to a universal human question: what if I take a different path in life? In my career? My marriage? etc? And it had a fun visual challenge, featuring the same actor playing off of himself. This idea was something I hadn’t seen before, that I wanted to see. I also found that I could make it in one room basically for no money, which is what I needed to do as well.

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

The initial spark for the idea was given to me by my buddy Jacob Kindberg, who has a shared story-by credit on the film, and then I developed the concept further to write the script. The script was written very quickly, probably in a weekend, but then I revised according to the notes of my brother and some good friends of mine. Then the casting process involved two casting sessions, it took awhile to find the older Richard Denison. Young Richard Denison is a good friend of mine that has been in several of my films. I did two three-hour rehearsal sessions with the actors. The shoot was 4 days over two weekends, and then I spent about a month editing and three weekends on the sound.

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

Funny, mind-bending

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

The visual gag of having the same actor playing off of himself brought a number of challenges, both in production and in post.

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

So excited. It was fun to watch people talking to each other about something that I had worked so hard on and that was a creative expression of myself. It was even better that the audience seemed to really enjoy the film.

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

My friend Jacob Kindberg and I were talking about a question that exists in Christian philosophy between God’s predestination of all events and human agency (or free will). How can God predestine all of human history, and yet humans still have agency/choice? We discovered that there is actually a middle way of understanding the tension between those two positions called Molinism (from which the character in the film Molins gets his name). Molinism comes from the sixteenth century Jesuit priest Luis de Molina, who said that God foreknows every possible universe that can result from every human choice. So yes, humans do have free will that to some extent limits God’s predestination, but God foreknows all possible universes that would result from human choice, and chooses the universe He sees fit.

So that got us thinking along the lines of alternate universes, and the idea that someone could, like God, see their own possible futures that resulted from their choices. From there it was about relating a super heady idea to a universal desire, because everyone asks, “Am I taking the right path in life? What will happen in the future if I choose A rather than B?”

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

It’s a toss up between Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me if You Can and the Farrelly Brother’s Dumb and Dumber. Catch Me if You Can is one of the best examples of the type of movie I would like to make, and Dumb and Dumber is just the funniest movie ever made.

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

FilmFreeway is the best film festival submission platform that I have used. Their searching tools and festival ranking tools are super helpful.

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

Metallica’s Fuel with the San Francisco orchestra playing behind them. I play it on repeat when I go running.

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

My wife and I just had our first child a few weeks ago, so I am enjoying the magical and exhausting experience of being a new parent. I am writing the feature script for The Future Richard Denisons and writing another feature about my older brother’s year in a behavior modification camp in Western Samoa when he was 17.

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Interview with the Filmmaking team of the short film WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN

WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN was awarded BEST FILM at the March 2017 Comedy Short Film Festival in Toronto.

The filmmaking team was nice enough to answer some questions for us.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Hans Lucas (Producer): The opportunity to produce a film for an award winning and Scottish BAFTA nominated writer and director team and further develop an established professional relationship.

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

Hans: Production took almost one year. The early stages were lightning quick but due to Pinewood Studios’ other commitments we had to remain patient when it came to designing and mixing the soundtrack.

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

Hans: Elegant. Parody.

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

Charlie Francis (Director): The flat we filmed in was three storeys up. Ideally our DOP Mark Boggis would have preferred something on the ground-floor, as it’s easier to control the daylight coming in by setting up screens or lights outside. We also couldn’t go wild with dressing the flat, and as such there are maybe one or two bare walls which production designer Jo Brunwin would liked to have covered, but we couldn’t hang anything on them.

Time is money and we had no money. Our actors came in very well prepared after only one rehearsal, and the whole crew were true pros. The extreme generosity from several areas helped make the film possible; Scottish Screenwriters helped cover essential food and travel costs; a local hotel gave us use of two rooms for filming for a day; we were given a huge discount on renting camera gear; and a very, very understanding boyfriend.

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

Katie White (Writer): We have been extremely lucky to have this, and our previous film, travelling to festivals around the globe, but unless we attend the festivals we don’t really get audience feedback. So for me, I felt absolutely delighted and such pride that team WAMLAW’s work was so well received. If I could send everyone in Toronto who said such fantastic, constructive comments – including the host – a thank you card, I would. But since I can’t, I’m sending our gratitude and much Scottish love from the whole team!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Katie: I woke up, or maybe I was still awake at 6.30am, the morning after we had won Best British Short Film at the Iris Prize Festival, with our film Middle Man, and we had a £14.000 post production at Pinewood Studio award to use so we needed a new script asap. Two ideas wandered into my head; WAMLAW was one of them. (The second one is about to start its crowd-funding.) I read out my notes from my phone to Charlie the director, in the car on the long drive from Wales to Scotland, and he just turned to me and said, “Write that fucking script!” So I did….

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Katie: Field of Dreams – kinda apt since we as a team keep trying to build our films in the hope of ‘they’ coming along and financing our features.

Hans: The Empire Strikes Back

Charlie: Star Wars Episode 5

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

Charlie: Probably ‘New Gold Dream’

What is next for you? A new film?

Another LGBT short drama, feature plans (non-LGBT), plus a pile of shorts we’d love to all make.

Interview with director Tim Butcher (CLEAN BREAK)

CLEAN BREAK, directed by Tim Butcher was the winner of Best Overall Performances at the July 2016 Comedy Short Film Festival. It was an honor to sit down with him to chat about his film and filmmaking career.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Tim Butcher: I wanted to make a film that was a step up from my others – that had slightly higher production standards and told a bit of a story, rather than just outlining a sketch. Ive always wanted to do something about a break up.

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

TB: I’d say about 4 months.

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

TB: Hateful breakup (is breakup one word?)

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

TB: I’d say producing, directing and acting simultaneously. Its a bit too much to do – I’ve dialled back the number of roles I’m involved with for subsequent projects.

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

TB: It’s always challenging hearing audience feedback, but I’m probably less neurotic about this these days than I have been in the past. I appreciated the kind words and found the process useful.

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

TB: I think it started with a broad brief – ‘something about a breakup’ and went from there.

MT: What film have you seen the most in your life?

TB: Either In Bruges or Back to the Future.

MT: What is next for you? A new film?

TB: I’ve just finished filming my next short – a 20 minute comedy about two friends who go to live in a forest despite having no survival skills.

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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 on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with filmmaker Jordan Inconstant (YO SOY PEDRO)

Jordan Inconstant’s award winning comedy/sci-fi YO SOY PEDRO played to rave reviews at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival in January 2016. The film was also the winner of Best Musical Score at the festival.

I recently sat down with the French film-maker to talk more about his career:

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jordan Inconstant: Yo Soy Pedro, is the first film I’ve done with an original script. I had already made short films before (fanfilm, adaptation …) but I wanted to try to create a universe and original characters as something really very exciting. (Makeup design, costume etc …)

I tried to make a film that looks like me, both offbeat and funny.

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

Jordan: I wrote the film for 2 months. There were 5 months of preparation for the shooting and 1 week of shooting. Subsequently There were six months of post-production. We will say that the film was produced on approximately 1 year.

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

Jordan: Strange and crazy

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

Jordan: The most complicated part was filming! We were shooting mostly at night in the forest. Sadly for us it did not stop raining during the shoot, the generators for projectors, toasted. And makeup was struggling to endure the rain. We also broke a wheel of the truck containing the equipment … On the other hand we had to take into account the time to make up for the shoot. There was 7h makeup for the blue alien and 3h for Pedro. That had to be taken into account when organizing the shooting. But we had a great time on this shoot, there was a very good atmosphere!

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

Jordan: I was very surprised! There is no other festival that offers this, it’s great! To see the public reaction and to take part in the festival. There was a little debate about the fact that the film was shot in French while the atmosphere is American, it was interesting. This has pleased all the film crew, Sylvain Ott, composer joins me in thanking you for the price of the best music.

Matthew: Your closing credits are terrific. How long did it take you to do that portion? Who did the animation? It’s almost like you made an entirely different film.

Jordan: Thank you ! We spent 6 months on this generic, for parallel to the Post-production of the film, it was directed by Damien Bracciotti. The idea was really to make the sequel as a small cartoon. I find it funny to see what happens to the characters, this could make a sequel somehow .

Matthew: What film have you seen the most in your life?

Jordan: It is difficult to answer this question, there are so many movies that I watch very often. Of course all the classics, but in general I’m attracted to movies with universal appeal, that is or arthouse films or blockbuster.

Matthew: What is next for you? A new film?

Jordan: I have 2 short films in post production right now!

The first is a fanfilm Star Wars (I had already done a Pirates of the Caribbean before Yo Soy Pedro).

This is an episode from the episode 3 and 4 when Obiwan watches over Luke on Tatooine. We shot with a real fan, possessing replica costumes. The advantage of fanfilm is that they get good visibility … It will be online in spring.

The second is “Super-Vieillots” ( The Old-Men in English) is an original movie with an old superhero (about 70 years) who wants to resume service! The film will be in festivals this Autumn.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of YO SOY PEDRO:

Interview with Adam Beal, filmmaker of the Horror/Comedy short THE LITTLE MISSUS

Adam Beal’s short film THE LITTLE MISSUS played at the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2015; part of the best of Horror/Thriller short films of the year event.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of THE LITTLE MISSUS:

I chatted with Adam Beal recently and talked about his very funny and very scary short film:

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Adam Beal: THE LITTLE MISSUS was made for a horror filmmaking contest; contestants were tasked to choose one word and make an under-3-minute short film based around. I went with Magnet,” and came up with a few variations on the concept that ends this short. The script I wrote for this version turned out the best, so that’s the one we went with.

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

It was late August when the idea struck me and the contest deadline was an appropriate October 31, so about two months. Plus a little bit of tweaking here and there after the contest deadline for the festival version.

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

Matronly vengeance.

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

We had an elaborate rig that we’d built to shoot wide shots of the climax, with hot glue and springs and ripcords and more, to show the metal bits popping out of the husband’s body and hovering there under his shirt. But it just didn’t work on camera. So the editor and I went back a week later to do some extreme closeup pickups of the metal bits popping out using a far simpler method. A ton of time and effort and ingenuity tossed aside for something basic — that’s filmmaking for you.

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

As with anything I make, I went into the feedback cringing, but as soon as people started talking, I became overjoyed. It was really positive and really appreciated! I’d have been way harder on it myself, but then I tend to be hypercritical of anything I make…

The film was called by the audience as a live-action Road Runner cartoon. Was that you intention when making the film?

100%. That’s another thing I really appreciated about the feedback — the specific things everyone said really nailed what I was going for (and was never quite sure if I pulled off). Hearing the Looney Tunes and Sam Raimi comparisons was very reassuring, as those were absolutely two of the biggest guides I looked to when putting THE LITTLE MISSUS together.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Probably Ghostbusters. Of all the movies I watched on perpetual loop when I was a kid with my family’s first VCR, Ghostbusters is the one I still watch fairly regularly as an adult.

What is next for you? A new film?

Right now I’m focussing on writing. I’ve already written a dozen or so feature screenplays and I’m always working on the next one. Right now I’m balancing two of them, one about werewolves and the other a traditional slasher. Neither has quite the goofy, Looney Tunes tone of THE LITTLE MISSUS, but both are aiming for fun. Beyond that, I’m working with some of the LITTLE MISSUS team on a comedy webseries.