Interview with Filmmaker Josiah Cuneo (IN THROUGH THE NIGHT)

IN THROUGH THE NIGHT played to rave reviews at the August 2018 Under 5 Minute Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Josiah Cuneo: I really wanted a chance to write and perform some music in a different way than I usually do. I made four short films, this being one of them, and I wrote and performed the music for them in a theater as live scores to the films. It really changed my approach to making music, and introduced me to film making.

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

I wrote the music, started rehearsing, hired a camera person, secured a location, set a date. Then the camera person took another job that day, the location cancelled, and I couldn’t reschedule because the performer’s visa’s were up, and they were set to get on a plane back to Sweden. It was a close call, but somehow I pulled everything together, and we found a way. One of the benefits of living in the city. Then I edited it, rewrote all the music, recorded it, mixed it…and then…a year later, I had a film.

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

Broken Daydream

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

One of the performers called me the day after the shoot to tell me she couldn’t find her earring. It was a family heirloom, so she was rightful anxious to get it back. I went back to the location the next day and looked everywhere. Eventually I found it. It has fallen down the drain of a 19th century sink. It took an entire day to get that sink apart, and be able to pull that earring out, but we did it. I learned a lot about plumbing that day.

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

It was really encouraging seeing someone give thoughtful insight to the film.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Film:

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

I would say it was 90% music based.

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

Great question. The movie that I have made a conscious decision to watch the most times would probably be Ingmar Bergman’s Persona. When I first saw it I only saw the second part of it, so it didn’t really make sense, but it stuck with me, so I eventually went back to it. Now I find myself watching it everyone couple years because it really is a kind of perfect film, and in many ways has become the gold standard of what I hope to achieve in my own work.

On the other hand, the movie I have seen the most, regardless of wanting to or not, is Spike Lee’s Crooklyn. When I was a kid growing up my little sister has a VHS copy of it, and she would put it on at least five out of the seven days of the week. If I was ever in the living room, chances are it was on. It has such a good soundtrack and was made so well as a film, that you could watch it everyday without getting tired of it. I know that film incredibly well, but because I would always be watching it in bits and pieces, I couldn’t for the life of me tell you the plot.

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

It’s been a great experience. It’s both exciting to see how many people are holding film festivals, and a great thrill to be part of them.

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

It’s a two way tie. The Shirelles “Will You Still Love me Tomorrow” and The Crystals “Then He Kissed me”. Hands down the two greatest songs ever recorded.

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

Last year I wrote and directed my first play that was produced at Roulette Intermedium in Brooklyn. I am starting rehearsals next week for my second, The Screen Above, a play centered around my music and choreography. After that, I hope to start shooting my first feature film next year.

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Interview with Filmmaker Shetu Modi (THE PITS)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Shetu Modi: Honestly, I noticed my sweat smelled like Indian food whenever I ate a lot of it and I connected that to some of my childhood and university experiences. The story is not autobiographical but some of the details are.

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

I wrote the script in a day or two, I think in 2015 – though it went through many edits after that. We started planning the shoot in the summer of 2016, shot it in November 2016 and it was done by May 2017.

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

This is hard! Lighthearted and sincere, I guess?

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

For some reason finding an affordable Toronto gym to shoot in was difficult. We ended up using the venue where I had one of my wedding events, outside of Kitchener, and they were so happy to have us shoot there.

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

The feedback was all positive so I was relieved – and I was really happy it resonated with people.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

(Answered this in first question)

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

I’ve seen Bend It Like Beckham, Say Anything, Clueless, Shut Up & Sing and Love & Basketball many, many times. I also love Nicole Holofcener and Sofia Coppola movies.

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

I think it’s great! Submitting to a new festival takes less than three minutes because all my information is already there.

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

Ha, I don’t think I know! I love Beyonce. I was in high school when Destiny’s Child was big and Survivor was the only CD I had in my parents’ car, so I listened to that album a lot. I was completely obsessed with Tori Amos and Ryan Adams for a while, but their best songs can be really sad.

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

I’m working on writing a web series about a late bloomer, but I might turn it into a short film. I haven’t decided yet! The trailer is here, it stars Noor Dhanda, who was also in the Pits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TmUiWv4O-k

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Interview with Writer/Actor Catherine Haun (MRS MURPHY’S CONFESSION)

MRS MURPHY’S CONFESSION was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the August 2018 Female Film Festival in Toronto.

http://www.mrsmurphysconfession.com
Facebook: @playfulshortfilm.com

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

I became obsessed. That’s the best way to describe it. Totally off the
rails. I just thought I would die if I didn’t make this film.

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

Two years.

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

Awkward Journey

OMG I just thought of something so inappropriate! Painful discharge
is what popped into my head. Never mind… go with awkward journey.

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

My own ignorance of how to make a film—in particular the technical
aspects. Post production was an especially challenging time. Once
the excitement of production is over it’s a job to keep the
momentum going. From the producing point of view the challenge is
to figure out what the story needs, and then figure out who can help
you get it. You can always spend more money, but figuring out if you
really NEED something is important in a low-budget context. And in
my case I had to beg people to work for free or reduce their rates
dramatically. It’s not that easy to talk people into working for free
when you have no track record. I had a friend, Rebekah Wiggins,
who produced with me and was instrumental in pulling in many
people.

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

Awkwardness. I saw their indecision, and uncertainty about what to
say. I know there was a time frame, but I wanted to sit in the silence
for a minute to see what they would come up with. It was
suspenseful.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I was taking a 6 week short-film screenwriting class with Ashley
Serrao. On the first night of the class I took home a spring-loaded
image. A spring-loaded image is meant to be something that
catapults a narrative. The one I took home was ‘vibrator in a church
pew.’ Then I had to figure out whose life would be changed by
finding a vibrator in a church pew…

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

Maybe this won’t surprise you, but I LOVE the movie version of
Doubt. I rarely see a film more than once because there are so many
I haven’t seen yet, but I love everything about that film. Story,
performances, directorial choices. I only have to think of Viola Davis
in that one scene and I’m a f…ing mess!

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

I like Film Freeway the best because it is easiest to use. I like the
way you can see your submissions on one page and keep track of
them.

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

I take ballet classes, and it would really have to be this one CD that
a lot of the teachers use. I don’t know the name of it, and it might
not be my favorite, but that’s definitely the music I have heard the
most. It’s what runs in my head when I’m trying to concentrate!

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

Yes. I have a first draft of a TV pilot that I wrote with my partner
Eleanor Smith, and there’s a feature-length film that I’m just starting
to work on. I would like to do a web series as well.

Interview with Hans Grossman (WAITING)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

The band Copperhead are good friends of mine, and they actually approached me about doing a music video for Telus’ Storyhive Music Video Edition. This is a grant program out here in Western Canada sponsored by Telus. We won the initial round to receive the $10,000 to make the video, and then we won the second round where out of 15 videos from Alberta we took the top prize. I love Copperhead, they are great people, and an absolutely fantastic band, so I jumped on the opportunity immediately.

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

The timeline from finding out that we received the funding to having to deliver the final product was about a month and a half so that’s how much time we had to make it.

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

Highschool Drama (sorry, I kind of cheated there) 😉

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

The tight deadline was a pretty big obstacle. I’m actually a lighting technician in the local film union here, and I was working full time on Fargo season 3 when the band approached me. That show has crazy work hours, and when we wrapped, I went straight onto Heartland, so I literally produced this music video mostly by myself while being at work. I took any free minute I had to step off set and make phone calls and to arrange and plan everything. We also had a tough time finding a community centre that wasn’t completely booked up, as apparently summer is wedding season! I can’t believe how much we lucked out, finding a community centre that was also a bingo hall that happened to be available for one single day within our time frame! We really, really lucked out there, and the people that run the place were nice enough to let us use all the bingo equipment. I know you asked about the biggest challenge, but I just have to add one more thing…asking senior citizens to spend 12 hours on set, while caked in food, is a lot to ask! But the actors we got were spectacular, they were total champs, and they had a really great time, which took a lot of stress off my back! The last thing I wanted was for them to be uncomfortable!

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

This was the first time that I saw feedback from total strangers talking about something I had created, and it was really cool to see that! The feedback was really positive, so that was encouraging, and I’m stoked that you guys do this sort of thing because it’s really neat to hear other people’s opinions and also having them dissect your work to the point where you’re like – man, I made this thing, and I didn’t even see that!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

When the band approached me, they literally said: “Old folks home – food fight”. I said, perfect, let’s do it! Then I tried to figure out how we would get to that, because I’m really into story and motivation and the shaping of characters, so I came up with the rivalry idea. I’ve never lived in an old folks home obviously, but I know how my grandparents are, and that humans never really change. Sure, we get more mature, but really…we love drama! So I thought of creating that dynamic where the people in the old folks home paralleled to what we all know from high school. And bingo HAD to be the catalyst; I mean, there had to be a little bit of a cliche in there!

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

Definitely, The Big Lebowski.

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

Love it! It’s so easy! I love that you can just upload all your info and everything and then submit to everything at once. I just started pressing “apply” to so many things, that sometimes when I found out we had gotten into a certain festival, I didn’t even remember applying to it. The shotgun approach is really great sometimes!

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

Well, I edited this music video myself so, probably Waiting by Copperhead.

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

I’m still slaving away on the union shows as a lighting tech, but I am really fortunate to be able to focus on personal projects as well. Right now my friends at Two Word Productions and myself are trying to get a documentary off the ground about the music scene in Alberta, which I think is often overlooked and for weird reasons, because we have bands coming out of this city that absolutely blow me away! I’m also working on starting my own production company, and am currently editing, developing, and/or planning about 4 more music videos. I’m also working on a feature length script, but God knows when that will ever be done!

Interview with Filmmaker Michael Willer (The Volunteer)

THE VOLUNTEER was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the August 2018 FANTASY/SCI-FI Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Michael Willer: I love films that highlight a strong female perspective, usually flipping the dynamic where the woman has the power and the know-how, and she’s the one who is actively involved in the plot and making things happen. That and shooting out in the wilderness, the woods, which I love, were huge selling points.

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

The process took almost exactly 2 years, from the time that Sarah sent me the script to the time that post was finished. Part of that was a slow development process, and once we started shooting it took about 6 months to finish.

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

Dystopian romance

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

This project was strangely blessed. We kept checking ourselves, knowing that something would go horribly wrong, but no… the worst that happened was a series of locations we’d planned on weren’t available when we showed up to shoot (a bridge had been removed from the stream we wanted to cross). But that resulted in finding a new location and my favorite shot in the film (the long shot early on when he’s chasing after her trying to convince her to help him… magic hour, bugs flying in the foreground, shafts of sunlight, it just all clicked).

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

I got giddy. I was actually in the room at the screening and got to listen firsthand to people’s feedback and it blew me away. The word “perfect” was thrown around a couple times, which just wows me. I’m so proud of our little film. We were a tiny team, just 4 of us on set, and just me in post-production. I couldn’t be happier with the reception.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

From Sarah, the creator: “I was and always am into Star Wars and desperately wanted to work on something female-driven in a scifi world that had that post-apocalypse vibe. Something that featured a strong woman as the lead and the savior type, rather than a man.”

For my part helping in the development, I knew Sarah and Schoen (now married) had to star together in something. I’d just seen them in a play together and man, it just felt wasteful not to put them on screen after that.

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

Probably Inception or Fight Club. The craftmanship that went into those films is mindblowing. I could watch either on repeat and find new things to marvel at. (That’s a super limited look at my tastes, though!)

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

FilmFreeway is so easy to use. As long as the festival’s self description is clear, I have no concerns about submitting through that platform.

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

Well, I know I’ve actually counted the number of times I listened to Celine Neon’s “Vacation Time” because I shot their music video and I was really immersing myself (it’s somewhere around 100). But honestly, probably “Falling For The First Time” by Barenaked Ladies. Love that song.

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

I just wrapped a documentary shoot in South Africa and a 48 Hour Film Project shoot which was exhausting… But! The team I got together for that was amazing and I’m going to set us up as a creator collective, producing shorts in an anthology style web series.

 
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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.

Interview with Filmmaker Michelle Brand (NOT THE SAME RIVER. NOT THE SAME MAN)

 NOT THE SAME RIVER. NOT THE SAME MAN was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the August 2018 Under 5 Minute Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Michelle Brand: I am fascinated for a while now with the relationship between time, change, and movement and how they connect and exist together. As humans, we believe commonly that time does exist, because we can see change taking place, so we understand time by spatialising it into stages. This idea can be expressed really well through animation, since it plays with the idea that only through a change happening on each frame, movement, and thus time, is created altogether. So to me, this film was an exploration and thought process of this whole philosophical debate on how time can be understood and perceived.

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

It was my graduation film at University, so roughly 6 months.

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

Time and movement!

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

Finding the right visuals. I had this huge idea that I wanted to explore, that it was in fact too big to put down in any pictures. I had to find the right vehicle to transport such an abstract idea, so I found the river metaphor of Heraclitus to frame it all together.

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

I was very nervous and excited of course. When you go to festivals, it is nice knowing that there is an audience watching your film, but in actual fact it is rare to hear direct feedback. So to hear that somewhere out there are people that enjoyed it and thought about it so much, is very touching.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The main drive was that my head was filled about these thoughts about time and movement, and how philosophical concepts can relate to animation theory, which also was my dissertation theme at the time. So it was a combination about thinking about the philosophical concept behind it, exploring how it can be expressed in animation, and then finding the right metaphor to use.

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

I don’t tend to re-watch live-action films that much, so it might be animation shorts that I watch again and again for reference or see at festivals, I’m not too sure to be honest.

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

I think it’s good how easy and accessible the platform is, however that at the same time can be its disadvantage. As a filmmaker, you can fall into the hole of just submitting to everything that is out there, but a lot of those festivals don’t need to be checked up and approved. So there are a lot of festivals there, that you never hear from again and lack communication and connection with the filmmakers. It is difficult finding the right balance, I suppose…

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

Probably some song that is in my playlist of soundtrack music I listen to while working… Maybe ‘A Wild and Distant Shore’ by Michael Nyman!

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

Yes! I just finished a new film called ‘Synchronicity’ during my studies at the Royal College of Arts in London. Now I will be working on my next graduation film!

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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.

Interview with Screenwriter John McCarney (OPERATION BABYLIFT)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

John McCarney: About the heroic efforts of ordinary people, risking their lives to save discarded mix raced orphans in collapsing war torn Vietnam.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Action-Adventure

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

That we repeat history….To remember that the children that are at the center of debates we have today about immigration, are innocent victims of policies, like those before them, not well thought out resulting in potential horrible consequences for the children.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Heart-wrenching.

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

Braveheart

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Two years

7. How many stories have you written?

One…so far.

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Thunder Road- Bruce Springsteen.

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Constantly learning the craft. Staying focused to the through line of the story-(it’s about the babies). Eliminating “my darlings” so the story became the one driving engine.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Staying in shape, music and enjoying the outdoors. My rewrite sessions usually includes all these combined, via long, fast walks, listening to music and jotting down notes as clarity comes to me as I walk.

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

Absolutely the best. The ability to upload new drafts, receiving notifications that are posted from festivals and being able to submit to any festival worldwide with the click of a button makes it the easiest to use by far.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

The chance to hear actors read the word on the page is so helpful to refine dialogue. I also love feedback. So I read all the feedback and apply where I think it is appropriate.
 

Genre: Action, History

In an intertwining story based on true events, three very different men desperately save as many babies from war-torn Vietnam as they can.

CAST LIST:

Daly: Jolly Amoako
Narrator: Kat Smiley
Jenkins: Bryan Kling
Ambassador: Ted Powers

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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.