Interview with Filmmaker Brenden Dannaher (A QUICK LOVE STORY)

A QUICK LOVE STORY was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the February 2020 ROMANCE Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Brenden Dannaher: Another short film that I was lined up to direct fell through. So I decided to produce my own short film myself. I had four different ideas in mind. This idea got the best reaction and also happened to be the cheapest to make.

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

Approximately 10 months from the initial idea to completion of the film. Six months of that was just letting the ideas gel.

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

Romantic silliness.

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

Finding the right actors. It took us a while, but it was so worth it. Andy and Nicole really lifted the script to another level.

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

I was just happy that they enjoyed it and appreciated it. I was glad that others shared my sense of humor.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Like many people, I get a lot of online surveys. I think I got one too many. Some of them started threatening to punish me in some way if I didn’t complete them. So my original idea was that a woman from the survey company would appear in this guy’s life and not go away till he completed the survey. And then the word “complete” evoked the phrase “You complete me” from the film Jerry Maguire. And then I realised that if the woman was the survey, he could literally complete her and I knew straight away that it was a romantic comedy. So then it had to adhere to the conventions of the romantic comedy genre, and I tried to make it as funny as I could.

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

Vertigo (30+ times).

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

I like it. Once you’ve supplied all the relevant info, it makes it very easy to enter festivals.

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

This is a really hard question to answer. I think there are two songs that I have chosen to listen to more than any others – Velveteen by Transvision Vamp and Blue Monday by New Order.

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

I have some feature film scripts that I am working on. – a couple of comedies and also a couple of horror films.

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Interview with Filmmaker Sarah Baptist (STARTING LINEUP)

STARTING LINEUP played to rave reviews at the February 2020 Documentary Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Sarah Baptist: I went to the overflow area of Jurassic Park for Game 1 of the Raptors playoff. I instantly became friends with the two men behind me in line. There was something really unique about the community. Strangers were friends. The next time I went back, I brought a camera and I tried to capture it.

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

It took two months.

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

Basketball community!

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

The lineup was right beside a highway. The audio really needed to be

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

It was great. I just want to keep getting better at the craft of short documentary films and hearing the audience reactions helped me learn what I should do for the next film.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I came up with the idea for the film when I was the Jurassic Park viewing area.

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

The Wizard of Oz.

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

It is a convenient way to submit films.

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

Sturgill Simpson – Breakers Roar

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

I would love to make another film. I’m really interested in telling stories from people we don’t hear from and who may be misunderstood.

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Interview with Filmmaker Shantel Hansen (HER TURF)

HER TURF played to rave reviews at the February 2020 Documentary Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Shantel Hansen: This started back in 2014 when I conceived of the idea of filming women in male dominated sports. Here in the United States, this wasn’t a topic talked about or filmed that often until recently there are more conversations over all about women in male dominated spaces in sports, professionally, and workplace. When I discovered women in football officiating, I knew that there had to be stories to uncover, document, and share. What I didn’t know was how I was going to do it. As a first time director and producer, it took over four years to make this documentary come alive. There have been a lot of ups and downs. A lot of highs and low moments. Looking back, I can’t express how grateful I am to see it all come together in a way that I could have never imagined in a million years. These three incredible women that I filmed along with an amazing film crew (Annice Canday, Tangela Mitchell and Mary Podesta) took a HUGE chance on me, as a rookie. I knew what I lacked in experience (I didn’t go to film school) I could make up with heart, passion and dedication.

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

2014-2019

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

Real and Inspiring

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

Honeslty, it wasn’t having a limited budget. It was getting access to film these incredible women. And when I did get access it was sometimes limited.

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

BLOWN AWAY. The audience feedback is priceless. I love how this documentary has a diverse audience. Anyone can watch it.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I knew that I wanted to film something/someone/topic focusing on subculture(s) that impact the larger culture(s) unknownly. Officials and refeeres do that. They are a subculture that is marginalized in that they are in-between the game, players, coaches and fans. You see them (typically when it’s a call that you don’t like or agree with) but you don’t know who they are, why they are there on the line of scrimmage or why they do it.

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

I’m a mix bag. Big time. I watch crazy pointless series to serious stuff that is at Sunday and Hot Docs.

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

This was an overall a great experience to have FilmFreeway as a portal to submit my documentary and keep track of everything.

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

I listen to everything!

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

I have several projects in pre-production and one heading into production in the summer of 2020. I’m going to build out the concept of fiming more women in male domianted sports including a bull rider, sky diver, jockey, smoke jumper, and drag car sisters. I’m also working on another series filming women that are attempting to do online dating in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s.

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Interview with Filmmaker Ignacio Lasierra Pinto (FIRST COMMUNION)

FIRST COMMUNION was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY and BEST PERFORMANCES at the January 2020 European Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ignacio Lasierra Pinto: I wanted to make a film that opened certain moral issues and did not necessarily offer an answer. I guess like everything I’ve shot, it was out of necessity. The need to tell this story.

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

I wrote the script for “First Communion” in 2011. Since then, I haven’t stopped thinking about it. For years I was rewriting to improve it. Finally, I spent a year looking for adequate financing to be able to roll it well. Since I shot the short, it was another half year in post-production. It has been a long process, but it was worth it.

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

A short film that invites you to ask questions and offers few answers. I would also say that it is a short film that can be morally uncomfortable.

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

The main obstacle was finding the truth in the eyes of a girl. Luckily, we found her in Andrea Fandos. Andrea had never acted in anything before. Now she is a young actress with a promising future. She has a lot of talent, spontaneity and freshness. And she has truth in her eyes.

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

I loved seeing how the public has appreciated our short film from so far away. Although thousands of kilometers separate us and that we culturally belong to different places, I am surprised to see how universal issues transcend borders and countries. It has been a great experience to hear the opinions. As if we had been there!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

It was after watching “The Communicants” by Ingmar Bergman. Hence the title. Although the story has nothing to do with it, the viewing of Bergman’s film questioned me in such a way that I needed to write almost in response to what the film had caused in me. It was the starting point. That and wondering what would happen in a family where two very different positions regarding God could be confronted at a time as delicate as the death of a loved one.

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

I recognize that perhaps the one that has marked me the most and that I usually visit once a year is “12 Angry Men” (Sidney Lumet, USA, 1957). Although the one I may have seen the most time, for having grown up with it, is Jurassic Park (Steven Spielberg, USA, 1993). The first time I saw it, I was 9 years old and since then it has fascinated me. I grew up with that film!

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

As a filmmaker, such a platform exists is essential. Thanks to FilmFreeway, you have the opportunity to show your work on the other side of the world. And to get that work to the public.

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

I usually listen to the same groups and I like very different music. At times I listen more to one type of music or another. I could not say which. I am quite eclectic musically and I recognize that I like almost all musical styles.

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

I am currently preparing a feature film project. The trip I’m about to start is long term, so hopefully it will be next. I do not know if before filming this film I will shoot another film or not. What I do hope is that it will be soon. For a filmmaker, there is nothing better than a shoot!

Interview with Filmmakers Madeline Graham & Christopher Whiteside (VIOLET)

VIOLET was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the January 2020 LGBT Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Madeline Graham & Christopher Whiteside: Same sex marriage has only recently become legal in Northern Ireland and we felt that it was important to give voice to the people who have overcome (or may still face) a difficult journey towards equal rights. Violet’s message is about how important it is to have self-acceptance and it’s a universal one.

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

The script was written all the way back in 2013 by our good friend Ross Johnston, who received script development from Film 4 (a UK based television channel) as a reward for a short film competition. We embarked upon the project in 2018 as the film’s context was shockingly still relevant.

The shoot took two days but the crowd funding campaign and script development took several months. None of this would have been possible without the support of our backers who raised the films budget on Indiegogo.

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

Tragic Love

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

A storm hit Northern Ireland during production so we had to reschedule a lot of outdoor scenes. Stuart Drennan, our Executive Producer and Lia Campbell, our First Assistant Director, were amazing and made sure that everything went smoothly on set.

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

Pure delight! We always appreciate hearing feedback and we see our audience as co creators of the film’s meaning. We are happy to see that Violet has relevance and has resonance with people outside Northern Ireland.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The script was written by Ross and we felt compelled to tell his story because of its powerful message. We connected with Violet and Tanya and wanted to be allies of the LGBT community, to tell a coming of age story in a different way that people won’t have seen before. The horror elements were very important in communicating that self-disgust and internal struggle and the imagery was crying out to us be brought to the screen.

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

Christopher: Jurassic Park

Madeline: Toy Story

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

It’s easy, hassle free and we appreciate the gold member incentives.

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

Christopher: Feeling Good – Muse

Madeline: Life on Mars? – David Bowie

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

Soulless corporate commercials. Just kidding, hopefully something strange and beautiful. We want to make another short this year, paving the way to feature films, that’s the dream.