Interview with Filmmaker Stephen Riscica (IT GETS BETTER?)

 IT GETS BETTER? was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the December 2017 LGBT FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Stephen Riscica: I started writing this film almost years ago after learning about Jamey Rodemeyer, a young gay teenager from Buffalo, NY who made an It Gets Better video only to commit suicide only a few short months after. I then started reading other stories about youth who have made these testimonials of hope but weren’t able to battle their own inner demons. It was the juxtaposition of these messages of hope from our youth on YouTube mixed with their tragic fate that inspired me to write this piece.

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

I started writing this six years ago– much of that time it was just sitting on my laptop. I went to a film festival in May of 2016 and was really inspired by what I saw there and decided it’s time to finally get this film made. I started an indiegogo campaign a month later. We had approximately two months of pre-production, two shooting days, and 3 months of post production.

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

Oh that’s a tough one…

I’ve always described my film as an examination in loneliness and a desperate plea to hang on… so maybe “Loneliness Examination” or maybe just “Got Wine?”

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

There was an actor attached initially who I cast because his life story and where he is now reflected what the character is going through in the film. A week before production I was “ghosted.” We held a casting session a few days before shooting and thankfully Gys DeVilliers came in and blew me away– he had me in tears during his audition. It was as if I was hearing my words for the very first time. I knew there was no way I could have gotten such a powerful and haunting performance from the previous actor attached.

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

I appreciated the honesty and candor of the audience. This is the first time I was able to hear what people thought about the film without being physically present. I think the film effects people in different ways, and everyone I’ve shown it to responds differently. I disagree, however, with the gentleman who said the film felt cliche’. I see what he’s saying about how it feels like a play, which most likely has to do with my theater background, but I think it is a film that stands out because of its uniqueness.

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

As I mentioned earlier, the story of Jamey Rodemeyer was the main catalyst in writing this piece. His story made me re-examine my own issues of loneliness and depression. I was also very much inspired by Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, a one act play in which an older man is listening to a audio tape of himself from years back reminiscing about his youth. Instead of a tape recorder we use a laptop and YouTube.

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

The one film that really changed my worldview as a young gay teenager was Pink Flamingos directed by John Waters. As someone who didn’t identify with straight culture or gay culture, this film was really a celebration of individuality for me and taught me that it’s okay not to fit into any sort of category. I would invite friends over to watch double features of Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble and I’d love to watch my friends squirm, but we’d also be laughing our asses off and quoting lines from the film. I also used to be obsessed with Elvira: Mistress of the Dark as a child and Gregg Araki’s The Doom Generation and Nowhere. Recent films I’ve been watching repeatedly lately: Ingmar Bergman’s Cries & Whispers, Jennie Livingston’s Paris is Burning, and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

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

I think it’s a great platform. I discovered a lot of festivals I never even knew existed. I like the up to date notifications of when a judging status has changed on your film.

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

Probably something by The Cure– maybe Pictures of You?

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

Still trying to figure that out! I recently helped out on the pilot episode of a new documentary series interviewing pioneering DJ’s and party promoters from the early days of gay nightlife. There is a short story written by a friend of mine I would love to adapt. I’m looking to collaborate with other LGBT screenwriters on future projects!

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IT GETS BETTER?, 11min., USA, LGBT/Experimental
Directed by Stephen RiscicaAn older gay man is inspired to record a testimonial after watching a bisexual teenager’s video, assuring him that ‘It Gets Better.’

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Interview with Filmmaker Stephanie Knöbl (PEPITA & MAX)

 Stephanie Knöbl was the producer and co-director of the short film PEPITA & MAX. It was the winner of BEST SOUND DESIGN at the September 2017 Festival for Family.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Stephanie Knöbl: For a long time we have been dealing with the topic of the representation of Living Traditions. For children, there are few stories / films in Switzerland that tell about old knowledge, which is still lived very actively. In order to make the topic easy understandable for children, we sought the essence of this old Swiss tradition and interwoven it with a fictitious story.

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

About 2 years. We did not have any templates or previous projects of a similar kind, so it took some time to go through possible variants of storytelling and design/animation, in order to finally decide on this path.

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

edutaining

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

The financing. The production of animated films in Switzerland is quite expensive and at the same time there are minimum wages of the employees – especially the artistic employees – which should be kept (which of course is to be supported).

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

It was the first adult reaction to our movie in public. We felt honored that people are focused on thinking about our work and discussing it.

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

We collaborated with a scriptwriter from Vienna who wrote the story based on our research, sketches and first ideas. The idea that the little boy Max comes from another country (Madagascar), who comes back to Switzerland and gets to know everything here with the help of his cousin is partly autobiographical.

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

Probably the german series “Sendung mit der Maus” – first as a child and now together with my own children.

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

To be honest I miss the comparison. I can only say that I find it a good platform to prepare his work for Festivals and to connect with festival organizers.

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

no idea. many many Songs. but probably not even one of my favourite Songs but something like a german childrens song.

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

We are currently working on a transmedia-project for children. Here, too, stories about different Swiss traditions are to be told. On an app, children can then get to know about the traditional peculiarities and the people who live these customs through animation short films, doku clips and games.
 

PEPITA & MAX, 6min, Family/Animation 
Directed by Rahel Ilona EisenringPepita and Max have all sorts of adventures. Monsieur Raf, Max’ toy giraffe, is always with them. When Max loses Monsieur Raf while hiking, the little boy can’t find sleep. Not even the Alpsegen, the lullaby of the mountains, which is meant to protect animals and people on the alp, helps. The peculiar tradition gives Pepita an idea: what works for Swiss alp-cows could also save a giraffe through the night.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

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Interview with Filmmaker Daeryun Chang (CALL COHO)

Daeryun Chang’s short film CALL COHO was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the December 2017 Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Daeryun Chang: I made “Call Coho” to have people think about how we interact with other people. I wanted to flip the spotlight away from the usual person of interest to the “supporting player.” In the case of the film, it is the surrogate driver who are often used but who hardly ever gets any attention. What is he like, what does he feel, what life background does he have? I wanted to build a story in very small but revealing pieces around him, the supposed “server,” and his clients who now have the tables turned on them since they are “serving” him at least from the storytelling standpoint.

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

From the inception of the story to the post production of the film, “Call Coho” took about 8 months. The production (the shooting excluding pick up shots) itself was undertaken basically over an intense 36 hours in countless number of locations, often with different cars on a process trailer. While it was fun, from a technical standpoint, it is a demanding shoot. The headache with a driving movie is that we have to be constantly on the move.

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

Inner Peace

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

During the year the movie was made my father fell very ill and it was obvious that he did not have many months to live. Family members had to take turns nursing him and especially going into the pre-production meeting it was touch and go as to when we could actually shoot the movie. But he regained his health for about a week or so allowing me to confidently tell the cast and crew that we could finally shoot it. Sadly he passed away as we were in post-production and he never saw the finished product. I dedicated “Call Coho” at the end of film to his memory and his love of movies, especially westerns.

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

It was quite gratifying to see that the movie resonated as strongly as it did given that “Call Coho” is about South Korea, an unfamiliar profession (being a surrogate driver) and in Korean but with subtitles. It proved to me again that some themes such as the ones that I wanted to evoke such as the banality of superficial vanity and the need for mutual respect are universal. Films, even a short one such as mine, allow different cultures to connect with each other.

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

I was watching a documentary one day about a fast-service motorcycle courier who was raising a young daughter by himself. He made just a few dollars for each delivery and sometimes he took on jobs that required him to ride in heavy rain or even snow. He said he did it because he wanted to make up for his past misdeeds to his parents and the wife who left him by taking good care of his child. He was saving money to buy her a big doll. I adapted that story into mine and converted it into a surrogate driver since I wanted the protagonist to have varied interactions with his different clients that would reveal different facades of Korean society but also through them an arc of “Coho.”

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

“Tucker, the Man and his Dream” (1988) by Francis Ford Coppola. It is one of his lesser known movies but one that I have seen at least 50 times. It revolves around the true story of an innovator like Steve Jobs. I use it to teach Marketing because there are many lessons that can be easily conveyed. But even as just a movie, it has become my favorite film because it has a star performance by Jeff Bridges as Tucker as well as great supporting roles by three of my favorite actors, Joan Allen (pre-Bourne days), Martin Landau and Federic Forrest. The movie has emboldened me to always have a dream and even to dare to make them come true -and it has as I now make movies.

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

I am very happy about the FilmFreeway as it has allowed me to submit movies in a very economic and efficient manner. Los Angeles Feedback is the 12th festival that has accepted “Call Coho,” and so as they say the proof is in the pudding. The movie has been screened world-wide not only in LA (twice) but also in NYC, Ferrara (Italy,), Copenhagen, and Sydney. Needless to say I cannot say enough good things about FilmFreeway.

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

That is a tough question. I think it might be “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor. A really close second (certainly in the last 15 years) is “The Nearness of You” cover by Norah Jones.

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

I have almost completed a romantic-comedy-horror mash up short called “The First Timer” on men’s grooming. This will be my first film to be shot entirely in English -so no subtitles needed! It will be released in the spring of 2018.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

CALL COHO, 16min, South Korea, Drama/Mystery
Directed by Daeryun Chang

Coho is a proxy driver who gets paid to drive other people’s cars so that they can freely go drinking. His clients only think they see a man who is all out of luck but what mysterious past is he actually hiding?

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

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Interview with Filmmaker Nikodem Rautszko (DE GLACE)

Nikodem Rautszko’s short film DE GLACE was the winner of BEST FILM at the December 2017 Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Nikodem Rautszko: At first, I wanted to make a film in an ice rink at night. The ice rink of my childhood inspired me. It was dark, it was gloomy. I wanted to talk about an emotion (the fear of being alone, without help, in indifference), and a hard social reality, but in a different, original way; that the public feels a emotion before understanding it.

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

This short film was prepared and shot very quickly. I wrote the script in early December 2016, prepared in two months, and shot in late January 2017. Then post production took 2 months. The film was ready in March 2017, 4 months in total.

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

cold and dark

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

We had to shot a second night because it lacked images for the logic of storytelling, and the machine that was cleaning the ice broke down. So we had to clean the entire rink by hand the second night of filming. Time management has also been very complicated.

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

The feedbacks are always very interesting on this film, because everyone brings his interpretation, and that’s what I like.

I’m always surprised and I discover new things I did not know about my own movie. This is the strength of cinema and art in general.

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

The vision of a lonely woman in the locker room of an empty ice rink at night. Then I followed the thread.

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

Fight Club by David Fincher

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

It is a very interesting platform that makes it easy to find festivals that correspond to everyone’s project. It allowed our film to travel a lot.

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

May be “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye, or “Last Dayz” by Onyx.

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

I’m working on different short videos for the web, and I’m writing my first feature film, a fantastic and social thriller.
 

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film: 

DE GLACE, 6min, France, Drama/Thriller
Directed by RautszkoAt night in an empty skating rink, a young artistic skater launches on the ice, and begins a training. After a bad fall, she finds herself in blood, alone in the middle of the track. Unable to get up, she calls for help, when the ground starts to tremble …CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

 

Interview with Filmmaker Jesse Gotfrit (SUNLIGHT OVER WATER)

SUNLIGHT OVER WATER played to rave reviews at the December 2017 LGBT FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jesse Gotfrit: The story came from a personal place, from formative relationships and experiences of intimacy that I had in my adolescence, which I thought would resonate with others.

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

From start to finish, a period of about 5 months.

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

Character driven.

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

Probably learning about all the technical requirements and also working to get the best performance from my actors.

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

I enjoyed the mixed reviews. The criticisms were as interesting to me as the compliments.

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

I knew I wanted to make a film that was socially conscious, that had some sort of social ideas that it articulated, but I wanted to draw those ideas from my own lived experiences.

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

Probably a film in the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings series that I binged as a kid.

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

I like it. It gives you access to a broad range of festivals that you might not be aware of otherwise.

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

Honestly probably a Leonard Cohen song, maybe Suzanne because it’s the first on his first record.

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

I have many film projects underway, all related to queer experiences and ideas, as well as some music and writing projects!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

SUNLIGHT OVER WATER, 15min., Canada, LGBT/Drama
Directed by Jesse Gotfrit

High-schooler Merit discovers his sexuality through a tumultuous relationship with his friend Julien.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

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