Interview with Filmmakers Ilana Gordon & Jaime Lyn Beatty (DESIGNATED RIDER)

DESIGNATED RIDER was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the Comedy Festival in August 2020.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ilana: Jaime Lyn and I met years ago when we both were doing comedy in Chicago. I immediately fell in love and started plotting ways to trick her into working with me on something. When we both ended up in LA, the stars aligned, and we managed to find a stretch of free time to work on this.

Jaime Lyn: “Designated Rider” was inspired by my experience as a New Yorker adjusting to life in Los Angeles. In the film, Jenny sees her inability to drive as a part of her New York identity, and she clings to it at all costs. In her mind, learning how to drive would mean giving up a part of herself. However, she lacks the confidence to admit this and instead falls victim to her need to “fit in”. In the film, Ilana and I wanted to show the lengths to which people will go to protect their identity, even if it means sometimes compromising their integrity.

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

Ilana: Almost exactly one year. We came up with the concept in July of 2019 and shot the first weekend in January 2020. Because we had such a small budget and we’re entirely self-financed, it took a while to finish post production. But it was a huge relief to have something creative to propel us through the horrors of 2020.

Jaime Lyn: Approximately 9 months…and 2.5 days.

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

Ilana: Whimsically anxious

Jaime Lyn: “A Tour de Awkward!” (oops, that’s 4)

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

Ilana: Scheduling. The problem with working with excellent people is they tend to be busy. It took us months to pin down a time when we could all film, and we had to revise the script to cut out another character because we couldn’t get everyone’s schedules to match up. If we had shot as planned, the ending would have been completely different.

Jaime Lyn: Aligning people’s schedules! Our cast and crew were very talented and therefore VERY busy. Typical LA!

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

Ilana: Delighted and proud. Completing this film was such a long process, and I second guessed a lot of the choices I made. Seeing our creative vision translating to viewers feels really validating and gives me more confidence in my artistic decision making.

Jaime Lyn: “Wow they are really kind! Are these Canadians??”

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Ilana: It was ripped from the headlines of Jaime Lyn’s real life. She is NYC born and bred, does not have a license, and her stories of trying to get around the city for auditions and rehearsals gave us a great entry point for this character.

Jaime Lyn: See above…. Ilana also did a fantastic job writing a story that incorporated all the resources we had at our disposal for free!

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

Ilana: “Mighty Ducks 2”

Jaime Lyn: Honestly, “A Christmas Story” but a *better* answer would be
“American Beauty”

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

Ilana: Big fan! We’re still baby filmmakers, so having a platform that aggregates submissions and makes everything easy to track is huge for us. We would never have known about this festival if it wasn’t for Film Freeway.

Jaime Lyn: It’s very special to see video reactions with real humans. It makes the feedback feel real and not from robots.

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

Ilana: “Copperline” by James Taylor

Jaime Lyn: Honestly, the song that’s in the opening credits of “A Christmas Story” but a *better* answer would be “Both Times Now” by Joni Mitchell

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

Ilana: Hopefully! The process is addicting, and I have a few things I’d love to shoot as soon as it’s safe to do so. I’m also juggling a bunch of writing projects that are in various stages of not done, so it would be dope to cross a few of those off.

Jaime Lyn: Something tells me there’s an avocado toast in my immediate future…I also recently made a film called “ÇA VA” about a puppet trying to find meaning in his life during the pandemic.

Interview with Filmmaker Ronald Henry (CONFESSIONS OF THE BAT)

CONFESSIONS OF THE BAT played to rave reviews at the FAN FICTION Festival in August 2020.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ronald Henry: I have developed my creative flare since middle school and I decided to combine my love of stories and the art of filmmaking in order to make amazing stories. I have been a huge Batman fan since the age of 5, and I’ve always wanted to create my very own adaptation. There have been different adaptations on Batman but I wanted to try and attempt a similar dark and gritty story but balance it with its traditional fantasy approach. Superhero films are a trending topic and I felt this would be a good opportunity to further gain depth knowledge, specific insights within the arts of filmmaking, and receive feedback from professionals, creatives, and fans.

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

I started writing in June of 2018, then I decided to put it on hold.

In 2019, I decided to revisit the script and modify it into a pilot episode, because I was considering to turn the project into a web series.

Between January and May, we began the Pre-Production stage.

By the end of June, we began Production.

In August, we began Post Production.

And finally, the film was released in February of this year.

Altogether, from the idea to the finished product, it took 17 months to make this short.

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

Pure and Observant

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

The biggest obstacle was acting. As the Writer, Director, and Producer, you are in charge of the outcome of the project. But this time, I had to try and attempt at acting which I’ve never done before. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and we couldn’t find a suitable candidate for the role of The Joker’s henchmen. I took on the role but was nervous, but luckily Stephen (The Joker) supported me throughout the process. To my surprise, I also received positive feedback on my performance.

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

Shocked, overwhelmed, and in denial.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I enjoy creating moralistic storylines in which the audience could relate to, but, with a dash of fantasy. One day, I decided to treat myself to a Batman marathon. I felt more connected with the character as an adult, and as the audience, it aims to put you in the shoes of the main character by following his journey through his past and present. We see the world through his eyes and gain his experience. I wanted to take that concept and adapt it into a script, which helped portray the humane perspective, unravels the emotional stress and journey a person must go through to seek redemption and purpose.

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

The Dark Knight

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

For a fan film project, I wasn’t sure what festivals would be interested, so I felt restricted. But it also gave me an opportunity to take my time and review what would be the best options. For this festival, I honestly wish I heard about it during my early years as a filmmaker. Not many festivals will take the time to review, analyse, share, promote, and provide feedback to your film. It’s a very welcoming and dedicated festival. I would encourage filmmakers to submit their film because they won’t be disappointed as they will go above and beyond in helping your film to be seen.

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

Missy Elliot – Back In The Day

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

Yes, I am currently and attempting to produce an animated short film. I am also considering revisiting Batman and create a web-series that will continue on from ‘The Confessions Of The Bat.’

the_confessions_of_the_bat_movie_poster

Interview with Filmmaker La’Chris Jordan (JANUARY 14TH)

JANUARY 14TH played to rave reviews at the Los Angeles Action/Crime/Thriller Festival in August 2020.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

La’Chris Jordan: JANUARY 14TH was inspired by my parent’s 35-year marriage. January 14th is the date of their wedding anniversary and I wanted to commemorate their life together. They were best friends who had been through heaven and hell together. But when my mother died, everything stopped. It was heartbreaking, especially for my father. He had lost not only a wife, but a life partner and a best friend. Everything came to standstill and piecing it all together again was a process. It still is. So, the film was my way of exploring grief and how we try to find a semblance of normalcy amidst the emptiness.

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

It took a little over a year. The earlier drafts had been written in 2018 and we were in pre-production in 2019. My producer, Toni Bullock, and I knew the shooting schedule was going to be tight so we over-prepared. I don’t like unnecessary confusion on set or off, so finding the right team was everything. This was also my first time directing, but I had been on enough sets (as an actor) to know what not to do, so I was extremely meticulous about every process. Plus, I’m not a “fix it in post” type person, so we had to get certain things right because there wasn’t enough money to reshoot. LOL We also hired a police technical consultant (Quincy Vidauri) to advise us on the authenticity of how an actual cop moves and operates, especially as it relates to traffic stops, which from a cop’s perspective, is one of the scariest situations he or she can be in.

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

Emotionally impactful.

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

It’s always time and money, isn’t it? As an independent filmmaker, you don’t have a lot time for rehearsals. So, getting the final script to the actors as early as possible was important. Because of that, we didn’t lose time on set. The actors were able to dive right in, and they came super-prepared. We shot the film in two days (with Director of Photography Brian Isom) in Los Angeles with a small, but talented crew (aka The Dream Team). The cast was made up of local actors who we selected through a rigorous audition process. Chemistry between all the actors — even above any previous experience — was what we were looking for. Even the though the budget was small (15K, including marketing), we were still able to focus on capturing the soul of the story despite the limitations.

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

It was incredible. The genuine thought, care and time the viewers took to provide feedback on our film was so humbling. It felt like what we did truly mattered. With this being my first film, their reactions and response to it meant more than they can ever know. It meant a lot and was a great motivator for me to keep striving and making more films.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

You know, when we made the film, we had absolutely no idea the story was going to be as relevant as it is today. When I wrote the script, I was simply writing a story that was on my heart as a black woman. And as you know, we’re black every day, so dealing with issues such as racism and social inequality is a way of life. It’s always present whether it’s trending in the news or not. And this is also a major point I made in the movie and one that I hope resonates with audiences. When you observe the main character (Carina), she is having to function and navigate in this new reality she finds herself in. Those on the outside of these situations (about police shootings) make it political, but we can’t understand what someone is really going through until it happens to us. We don’t see their darkest moments. We don’t see them when they are deep in the abyss and are struggling to find the light. I wanted to focus on that and still present something deep and meaningful in spite of it all.

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

Coalminer’s Daughter with Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones. It was my mom’s favorite movie and then it became one of mine. I think we saw that movie at least 7 times together.

8. You submitted to the festival via Film Freeway. What are your feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I think Film Freeway is one of the most amazing resources for filmmakers. You can submit your film very seamlessly and because of that, you’re able to navigate this vast landscape a lot better. You’re able to research film festivals, find out what they’re looking for, and market to them properly.

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

Oh, boy, that’s a tough one. Most songs from the 90s. LOL

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

Currently, we are still marketing and submitting January 14th to film festivals. It’s been a whirlwind, to say the least. So far this year, the film has been accepted by over 20 film festivals worldwide and received 12 awards and nominations. We anticipate more screenings for the film in the next couple of years. For 2021, there are two short films in the works. I’m also working on a new pilot and a feature.

january_14th_movie_poster