Interview with Director Kjersti Steinsbø (HEVN)

Kjersti Steinsbø’s feature film HEVN (Revenge) is a fascinating take on a classic movie plot. What happens when you seek revenge? It also tackles the subject of sexual abuse and the men who get away with it.

HEVN is currently playing at the TIFF Lightbox in downtown Toronto.

HEVN is a terrific film and it was an honor to sit down with the director.

kjestisteinsboInterview with Kjersti Steinsbø:

Matthew Toffolo: Watching the film definitely makes you want to go to Norway, especially the beautiful opening. Of course it also serves as a metaphor where dark things happen in a beautiful exterior. How was your collaboration with your cinematographer Anna Myking?

Kjersti Steinsbø: This was the first project we did together. We’ve known each other for years. In 2011, Anna became the first female to DP a feature film in Norway, which is kind of strange because our country generally has a great record for gender equality. She’s a dear friend and we love working together.

Anna has done so many documentaries and because of that she is great at capturing the mood and thinking ahead. She has a quick head.

MT: This is your first feature film. What was the most important thing you learned making this film to help you on your next feature film?

KS: It’s all about having a good team around you. To try to work within a bubble while you’re shooting. You want to create a family community on set while we all work hard to make a film.

MT: What attracted you to making this film?

KS: I like the ambivalence of the main character. She is the victim and almost turns into an offender herself. Is she doing the right thing or not? It’s not a black and white story, and these are not black and white characters. She goes a bit too far.

MT: Do you want the audience to root for her revenge?

KS: Revenge is a difficult and complex emotion. Like jealousy, it’s destructive. Revenge is interesting to discuss in terms of whether it’s good or bad, but does this revenge make her a good person in the end? I don’t think this is a happy ending.

PHOTO: Still shot from the film HEVN:


MT: She’s done bad for the sake of good.

KS: She’s a moral criminal now.

MT: How do people in Norway feel about this story?

KS: In Norway, we are quite proud of our society and how well functioned it is. But we are also aware that there are still improvements that need to be made. Sexual abuse is one of them. In Norway, we do have a discussion going on how we treat rape victims and the punishments they receive.

MT: If someone gets convicted of rape in Norway, what is there prison sentence?

KS: It can be anywhere from a couple of months to a year. It’s not that much. There are so many cases where people get a fine or just a month or two in prison. Most cases don’t even get a trial because it’s so hard to prove and the conviction rates are so low.

MT: The supporting character “Bimbo”, for me, is the moral compass of the film. He’s the one who changes the most as the other characters you kind of know where they stand. He wasn’t a character in the novel though. Is that true?

KS: Yes, I took a few characters from the novel and turned him into Bimbo. I do agree, he is the moral compass. He wants good but he’s a bit jaded by events and life.

I like the concept of having an event that occurred years ago that involved many people, then in present day having those people in a room talking about what happened. And they’ll all have a different perspective and story to tell.

Bimbo’s arc is that he doesn’t want to be a coward anymore. I very much like this character and the actor (Anders Baasmo Christiansen) who portrayed him.

MT: Yes, that actor was terrific as he really showed the conflicts of this man without saying a word.

KS: He definitely has the most interesting journey in the film.

PHOTO: Actor Anders Baasmo Christiansen in HEVN:

Anders Baasmo Christiansen.jpg

MT: Has the novelist, Ingvar Ambjørnsen, seen the film yet?

KS: Oh yes. He gave us total creative freedom for us to do whatever we wanted. He’s one of Norway’s most famous novelists. He’s had 7 of his novels made into a film.

MT: How is the film and TV scene in Norway?

KS: We are currently the little sister to Sweden and Denmark but we are really growing in the last 10 or so years. There’s more interesting projects being developed. We didn’t start having film schools in our country until recently and Sweden and Denmark have had them for years. That’s why they are ahead of the curve. Now we’re catching up.

I’m very optimistic of our future.

MT: What do people in Norway watch on television?

KS: They same as North American audiences. We binge watch American TV just like the rest of the world.

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

The Big Lebowski. It’s the characters. They are remarkable and so funny.

MT: What do people in Norway think of the whole Donald Trump and current USA presidential race?

KS: They find it completely ridiculous. We are kind of amazed that this is really happening. Many people want him to be elected so we can sit on the sidelines and see the mockery of the whole situation. In Norway, like Canada, we vote for the party and not an individual. Money isn’t involved in Norweigan politics.


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 for more information and to submit your work to the festival.


Interview with Special Effects Supervisor Daniel Acon (Zoolander 2, Gangs of New York, Passion of the Christ)

A special effects supervisor (also referred to as a special effects coordinator or SFX Supervisor) is an individual who works on a film set creating special effect. The supervisor generally is the department head who defers to the film’s director and/or producers, and who is in charge of the entire special effects team.

What a great pleasure it was to chat with the extremely talented SFX Supervisor Daniel Acon. What talked about his career, being Italian and American, and having the honor of blowing up the orange Lamborghini in Mission Impossible III!

Matthew Toffolo: Explain the process of being a Special Effects Supervisor/Coordinator. You get hired on a film – what happens next? Do you break down the script with the director and/or producer and figure out what effects are needed on a given scene? 

Daniel Acon: The production journey of a SFX supervisor usually starts by being contacted by the production company. I am given the script by the producer with whom I will discuss the production goals and guidelines for the feature. The director will then tell me the specifics for special effects of many shots and we will discuss on how to do them.

Once having gathered all the preliminary information and broken down the script I  meet with the production designer and take on board all his input, now the script must be broken down in a cost budget. The budget will be presented to the producers and then we will have a final budget meeting where the costs are to be set.

Matthew: Are you also in charge of breaking down the special effects budget and hiring the crew needed for your department?

Daniel: One must firstly work a breakdown. It is essential for me to do a script breakdown as supervisor I have to submit a Special Effects breakdown and budget. The budget must reflect all costs for the movie, from the preparation to filming and the wrap. Crew, fabrication, materials, equipment rental, transport and the list goes on and on, all these costs must be calculated.

Matthew: You were born in Italy, parents were American, and you mainly do most of your work for Hollywood productions in Italy. Do you consider yourself being an American or Italian first? 

Daniel: I consider myself both Italian and American, it is also a great mix for my work being a very American minded practical thinker and on the other half working with very creative and innovative Italian special effects crews.

Matthew: You’ve had the pleasure to work with some top directors: Spike Lee. Martin Scorsese. JJ Abrams. Ron Howard. Woody Allen. Ridley Scott. Wes Anderson. Francis Ford Coppola (your first film). That’s quite this list. Is there a director that stands out for you in terms of your working relationship with them? 

Daniel: Every director has a specific vision for their project and gets quite involved with our department, it has been a pleasure to work with all of them. I think that the directors who

Got mostly involved in our work have been Mel Gibson, Wes Anderson and very much on my last one, Zoolander 2 with Ben Stiller.

PHOTO: Daniel Acon rigging the cross on the Passion with Mel Gison behind him:


Matthew: You’ve worked as a Special Effects Coordinator on over 25 films. What has been your favorite working experience so far? 

Daniel: I was so fortunate to have worked on so many films that I have all enjoyed. The Stallone movies were amazing first Cliffhanger shot in the Dolomites for 5 months going to set in the morning on a Huey chopper and dropped off on the mountain tops and not far after Daulight where we had to rebuild half of New York including building in full scale the Hudson tunnel and having to flood it with hot water since we were shooting in winter. Said that Gangs of New York was the most rewarding and fantastic show I have done, so much work but all worth it.

Matthew: What film, besides the films you’ve worked on, have you seen the most in your life? 

Daniel: I am a very big Fellini fan but I can re-watch any Scorsese or Tarantino movie for ever.

Matthew: How is your safety record on set? Any unfortunate major injuries?

Daniel: Safety is paramount on set, I can gladly say for me and all my crews that we have never experienced any unfortunate experiences. When working with explosives, steam, fire, heavy mechanics and hydraulics one must be vigilant and highly trained. There are moments when one can be rushed to get the shot but safety is first,

Matthew: I chatted with 1st Assistant Director Mathew Dunne about Mission Impossible III, a film you also worked on. He mentioned the stunt driving scenes being some of the hardest scenes he’s ever worked on. What are your experiences doing those scenes in Italy and adding your special effects to the shots? 

Daniel: On Mission Impossible lll we had the delightful task of blowing up that beautiful orange Lamborghini. I must say that has become a culty classic.

PHOTO: On set shot when the Lamborghini blows up: daniel_acon_blow_up.jpg

Matthew: Do you have a special effects mentor? 

Daniel: I must say that I have had the great opportunity to work with so many amazing people but one of the greats was Joe Lombardi a real gentle man and special effects giant of the times when CGI was not invented, he signed movies like the Godfather 1 & 2 and Apocalypse Now.

Matthew: What is the future of special effects in film? 

Daniel:  I think that practical special effects will always be required for many situations in movies but there is a fast growing technology which allows many practical fx to be recreated in post production by the visual effects team. From explosions to squibs, there are many

visuals that now can replace to a good degree our practical fx. There will always be challenges but also innovations with new technologies, practical special effects are developing with them and are always sharing more with visual effects.

Matthew: What advice do you have for people currently in high school or university who would like to work in special effects for Hollywood productions? 

Daniel: The best advice would be to have as much training as possible, in knowing what equipment, technologies and materials are out there. Trying to be always innovative and have some visual effects knowledge. Obviously, the best school is the set, many times it is good to start on small productions where you learn the ropes. The main thing in this business is to get your foot in the door and with a lot of hard work build your way up. It is a learning experience that never ends.


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 for more information and to submit your work to the festival.









How to Write a Screenplay. Tips for everyone



When writing a SCREENPLAY, it’s all about CHARACTER, PLOT, and THEME – the three cornerstones to telling a great story.

Below is Part One of NOTES you need to think about when writing a script. Whether you’re a seasoned script writer or just a beginner, these notes should be insightful for all – and it beats reading those long drawn-out books on the subject.

“A good film script should be able to do completely without dialogue.”-David Mamet


1. THE STORY CONCEPT – A single sentence telling who the hero of the story is and what he/she wants to accomplish
2. THE CHARACTERS – The people who populate the story
3. PLOT STRUCTURE – The events of the story and the relationship of the characters; determines what happens in the story and when it happens
4. THE INDIVIDUAL SCENES – The way the words are laid out on the page – the format, and how one writes action, description and dialogue to increase emotional involvement.
What if this happened?
What if that happened

IT IS STORY ABOUT A _____________ WHO _____________

Every movie needs THRILLS, LAUGHS and TEARS

Who is your main character?
What is he/she trying to accomplish?
Who is trying to stop him/her?
What happens if he/she fails?

Whose story is it?

Who do I care about, identify with, follow in this film?To what extent do I see the story through a specific person’s point of view?

Where do I start the scene/end the scene?

What is the point of the scene?Why include the scene at all?

What’s the most important information the audience needs to get from the scene?

What is the scene’s focus?

Where is the scene heading?

Does the scene move the story further?

Does the scene have a direction? A sense of going somewhere? A point to make?

Do I get out of the scene after the point is made?

Have I remembered that scenes are about images?

Have I remembered to play the image, to play the conflict, to play the emotions, rather than simply play the information?

Is the relationship of my scenes interesting?

Are my scenes repetitive? Flat? Boring? Or is there something dramatic and fascinating happening?

Will the audience be entertained?

1) Marketability
2) Creativity
3) Script structure




Research of MEMORY
-Explore my own past, relive the memories and then write them down.

-The creativity of your own inner thoughts and feelings. What do you dream?

Research of FACT-Research the setting and character you’re writing about.


“I steal from every movie ever made.”-Quentin Tarantino

* * * * 

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 for more information and to submit your work to the festival.