Interview with Filmmaker Aram Atkinson (FIREFLIES)

FIREFLIES played at the August Under 5 Minute Short Film Festival in Toronto to rave reviews.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Aram Atkinson: I actually made this film for two specific reasons, firstly that I was just about to go freelance and wanted to kickstart with a narrative based passion project, and secondly for Rode Reel, the online film competition. I had just quit my full-time videographer job at the RNLI in the pursuit of moving forward with my goal to writing and directing narrative work, and I knew if I didn’t make Fireflies I would build up a fear of making any of my original work. Much to my surprise Fireflies has been exceptionally well received, winning Best Drama at Rode Reel, making the shortlist for Best film and picking up a load of other nominations here and there. I put it down mostly to the incredible performances of Ivy-Mae Harris, Ben Elder and Ellie Snow who really brought it to life, and the brilliance of Harrison Bates, Ricky Gane and Jamie Kemp who turned a sheet of material into a magical place. You can actually watch a behind the scenes film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pe_O-5UWmMA

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

I had the idea about 2 years before actually making it, just written down in a notebook, so when Rode Reel came up and I was flicking through my ideas, I instantly knew this was the one to make. Writing the voice of a 5 year old girl was a challenge and so I asked Nikki McMullen, a brilliant writer who was a colleague of mine at the RNLI, to help me pull it together. Once we had a script I then had two weeks to get the ball rolling. I was lucky to have the support of Treehouse digital in Bournemouth who let me use their loft studio space over a weekend, so on the Saturday we went about trying to make a tent, buying material and building a-frames, fairy lights and props.

This film relied heavily on set design to be believable and install the sense of magic (it was a massive relief the ‘Fireflies’ light effect actually worked)! I think too inside the box when it comes to building things however, so if it wasn’t for the ingenuity of Ricky, Harrison and Jamie when it came to building the tent, this film simply wouldn’t have happened. I then had about 10 days to edit it before the Rode Reel deadline so all in all it was about a 4-6 week process (excluding the 2 year hiatus from concept)

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

Unashamedly sentimental.

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

The biggest obstacles would be both getting the actors and the final location. The day before the shoot, the actor playing the dad pulled out, so I entered a frantic hunt for someone to fill the role and luckily my close collaborator and friend Riyadh Haque (an incredible writer/director in his own right) put me in touch with the outstanding Ben Elder. I called him and despite the fact he was 5 hours away at a family party, he learnt the script, camped overnight in his van and drove down early in the morning to help make this film possible. I’ve worked with Ben since and I think he’s a phenomenal actor, and an admirable professional.

Similarly, the hospice we were planning to use for the climactic reveal pulled out two days before, but I was sure a hospital would help once they saw most of the film, so I actually went ahead and shot Fireflies without knowing if I would be able to source that clinching shot. So after we shot the tent scene, I quickly pulled an edit together and spent the next few days asking hospitals if they would let me film one quick scene at their hospital, and Poole Hospital were heroes in letting us shoot there, so at midnight on a Thursday evening Harrison and I went and tried to replicate the tent in an unused ward…nothing like some indie filmmaking!

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

It was humbling to see such strong responses! I’ve been fortunate to see Fireflies screened twice and see an audience reaction in person, but this was the first time I’ve been able to hear such academic deconstruction of Fireflies and it’s amazing to hear a consensus I hadn’t even considered. This film is very much told through the eyes of Alice, and as said in the video and podcast, the film would be tragic beyond belief to view it through the dad’s eyes, but I had never actually realised this is what I was doing. I love moments like these, where you discover your own artistic decisions and style by listening to others’ take.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I can’t actually remember how I first came up with the idea for Fireflies, I have a tendency for nostalgic themes and bittersweet situations though. I’ve been asked a few times if it is based on a personal experience and whilst my family has been effected by cancer, thankfully never in the tragic way that it is in Fireflies.

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

You’ve got mail is probably my guilty pleasure, I love Tom Hanks and I’m a sucker for a romantic story. I have a new pen pal because of the Under 5 minute Film Festival so perhaps this will lead to my own You’ve got mail! I’ll try not to put them out of business…

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 an amazing platform, one of the few times submission systems are done right. It’s so refreshing having it all in one place and being able to determine the value of festivals by reviews, photos and detailed info!

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

There’s too many to pick. Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley or Adaggio for Strings by Barber really get me though so I’ve probably those two. Although ‘Doin me’ by Mikey Mike is making a strong claim at the moment.

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

Whilst I am incredibly proud of Fireflies, even after 5 years of filmmaking, it is only now that I am preparing to make what I consider to be my first true film. I am in development of a short film that tackles some of the issues in the UK I feel passionately about and is a far bigger challenge than anything I have made before, both in what it is trying to say and the level of execution. I have a crew attached, and am rewriting the final version of the script, whilst also seeking funding, which as we all know requires a lot of perseverance and resilience. But I believe this film needs to be made, and the goal is to make it before the end of 2018, funded or not!

fireflies.jpg

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.

Advertisements

Interview with Filmmaker Eshaana Sheth (THE BUTTER KNIFE)

THE BUTTER KNIFE played to rave reviews at the July 2018 FEMALE Feedback Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Eshaana Sheth: The film is a response to the variety of people that I encountered after moving to LA as well as the nuances of dating and socializing in the modern age. In 2016, I developed a strange ailment of consistently and exclusively attracting men from the UK into my life (yes, I met the one Northern Irish guy in LA). The summer of 2016 held a strange mix of events; The EU referendum took place simultaneously to the Euro 2016 Championship. Both sort of intertwined and produced a malaise in the air especially with our own American presidential election around the corner. It felt like a paradigm shift, and that kind of uncertainty creates excellent fodder for humor. I’m always interested in capturing how topical ideas and events bleed into the way we relate to one another and how our cultural life is increasingly influenced by globalization and the advent of technology. I wanted to find a way of condensing all that into a short film. I was approached as a writer by Shalini, our producer and lead actress, and came on later as a director and producer. It was my first time directing, but I’m really happy I took the plunge. Our whole team was incredible and made the experience so nurturing.

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

I had the idea brewing, but I ended up writing it when I was sick and recovering from surgery in May of 2017, which provided some time to introspect and look to humor as a way of healing. It was completed in January 2018. So, the whole thing took about a year and a half.

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

Absurd normalcy

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

We had a small team and budget. Trying to get the best production value with logistical and monetary restraints is always difficult. You always say, I wish I could’ve done this or had more bodies in general. But working with a contained story also creates room for play, especially when you have wonderfully talented actors and cinematographers like we did. It’s important as a director to adapt and allow the characters and vision to change. My friend analogized it to the creation of a pot—when it comes out of the kiln, it’s either awful, exactly what you pictured, or not really what you intended but still pretty. Of course, I’m a horrible with ceramics, so I should be lucky for options two or three.

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

I was surprised by how hysterically everyone was laughing; I wasn’t expecting that level of enthusiasm. They were patient viewers and so invested in the work, which I appreciated. I especially loved that the film resonated with people of all ages. My favorite comedy to consume as a viewer is work like Frasier, which feel niche but also accessible and timeless. The diversity of comments made me feel like there was something in it for everyone, which is quite nice to hear.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Without ruining anything, the premise was loosely inspired by a first date I went on, that I kind of tried to make as weird as possible. I used that as a starting point and then just let my imagination snowball from there. I’m one of those people who tries to find the absurdity in banal situations like grocery shopping. I’d almost rather sit in a bit of discomfort and awkwardness than run away, because it’s more fun. I find it difficult to approach organized events like dates or meetings without analyzing how fundamentally odd it all is, like, anthropologically. Ria is probably more like me than any other character I’ve written – she’s confronting but anxious which makes her a cool blend of idiosyncratic and unpredictable.

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

I guess it would have to be either Muppet Treasure Island or Pooh’s Grand Adventure. As a kid, I rented them weekly at our local video store. It was so embarrassing; they used to have them ready for me before I even walked through the doors. If I took childhood out of the equation, it would probably be Clueless.

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

I really like FilmFreeway. It’s very streamlined and makes things simple and organized. I would definitely recommend it to other filmmakers.

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

“Spiderwebs” by No Doubt! I know everyone loves the ’90s right now, but I feel like I have a special claim on the decade, having understood its character at a young age before people were talking about it as a thing. No Doubt is just so emblematic of my youth, growing up in suburban Southern California with two older brothers. As an Indian American, we were floored at the time to discover that Tony Kanal, the bassist with the frosted tips, was also Indian. There were virtually no Asians in media to the point where there was even a rumor circulating in my hometown that Brandon Boyd of Incubus was part Indian because one of his “Pardon Me”s sounded like he had an accent. People were literally reaching for straws. Kanal was the only kernel of hope for brown representation.

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

I have another short film in post-production called The Argument that’s adapted from a play I wrote in college; it’s a relationship drama set in 2012 before the Mayan Apocalypse phenomenon. I’ve also been doing some modeling and getting back into acting, which feels great! I have a few other projects in the works including a series I’m helping my brother with, which is fun because we can yell at each other and still remain related.

the_butter_knife.jpg

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 Sarah Gampel (THE BUS TRIP)

THE BUS TRIP was the WINNER of BEST ANIMATION at the May 2018 ANIMATION FEEDBACK Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Sarah Gampel: My motivation for making this film came after a trip I did in Israel and Palestine during the spring 2014. I went there to take part in a Film Festival Bus trip with international film students traveling around Israel showing short films. When I came home to Sweden I was overwhelmed by the experience and the emotions I felt during that trip, so I decided to make a film about it.

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

It took me about 1 and a half year to finish the film. It started out as my graduation project from film school. We had one year to make a short. But I needed 6 more months and so I was lucky to find funding to be able to finish the film, after I’ve graduated.

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

Layered experience

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

The biggest obstacle or challenge during the making the film was writing the script and finding a way to combine both political opinions and personal feelings in a comprehensive way.

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

This is one of the best feedback session I’ve ever had. People were being honest and sharing their thoughts unconstrained. It’s not too common that people share their honest opinion, and especially not when there is some sort of critic involved. And as a filmmaker it can be difficult to hear negative comments about ones film, it puts me as a filmmaker in a defensive position. But the critic I got to hear here made me feel the opposite. I could tell that the audience had really watched my film carefully and given it a lot of thought before they spoke, I could hear it in the way they talked about it. So even if some of them were criticizing parts of my film I can understand what they mean and almost agree with them. It also makes me proud and happy that my film is seen seriously and good enough to get criticized.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

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

When I came home from my trip in Israel and Palestine I wrote a travel diary, depicting what I’ve experienced during the days. The text was mostly informative and only describing my activities day by day and my political opinions about Israel and Palestine. So when I’ve written the text I felt like I still had a lot of emotions from the trip that I wanted to share, and this became the starting point for the film.

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

I usually don’t re-watch films, but I just re-watched The Never Ending Story from 1984. Think it’s amazing how relevant it still feels and that the film feels scarier the older I get.

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

It’s a great and user friendly platform. Specially the feedback section where filmmakers get to review the film festivals according to how they treat their filmmakers. This helps a lot when you decide which festivals are worth the submission fee.

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

That’s a difficult question. I listen to a lot of different kinds of music and it’s a big inspiration for my filmmaking. But I remember when The Sky Was Pink by Nathan Fake in the James Holden remix-version came out and me and my friends would listen to it at least once or twice a night, either at a party or after hours. I can never get tired of this tune.

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

Two things: First of all my film ‘The Bus Trip’ just got on the streaming platform Seed&Spark. So now everyone who hasn’t seen it yet can stream it through either their website, ROKU och APPLE TV.

Here’s the link: https://www.seedandspark.com/watch/the-bus-trip

I’ve also started working on my next animation short film project. This time it’s going to be a sci-fi saga for kids.

the_bus_trip
_____

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 Christian Arnold (CHRICKE)

CHRICKE was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the April 2018 LGBT FEEDBACK Film Festival in April 2018.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Christian Arnold: I was cut off by my father because of my sexual orientation. And the phone call in the film is the actual last phone call between me and my biological father. Being cut off is something that I’ve felt ashamed about my whole life, and felt responsible for. And I always wondered why he isn’t able to love his kid like every other parents naturally do. And I’ve come to a place in my life where I’ve realized that the problem doesn’t lie with me, and therefore I’m not ashamed anymore. So making this film is a way of owning my own situation, taking pride in who I am, making something beautiful out of something ugly and hopefully to inspire other to live their true life.

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

I wrote, shot and edited the film in a weekend. Then I kind of hit a wall. Making this film was a really therapeutic process, since it is so personal. And this was the first time I ever delt with my experience of being abandonned. So I paused from the film for a couple of months to gather focus and strength again and finalized it with sound and final touches. So physical work, not so long. Mental work, a lot longer.

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

Honest. Bare.

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

Processing my own experience. Daring to be totally honest. And then to show my film that is so personal, and being prepared to get response on something so personal.

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

I actually cried. I was the first time I saw a reaction from someone who is not personally connected or related to me. And it was quite overwhelming that people who don’t know me understands my film and my vision. And gets invested in my story.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I had this phone call with my father, that became our last one. And I felt that I wanted to do something with it, turn my shame into pride. One day I visited an art installation in Stockholm that had this “all white”-room. EVERYTHING was painted white. That resonated with me and how I felt throughout the years of trying to please my father. Washing out and cover up everything that I am, to suit his image of who he wants me to be. I talked to the owner, went home and called my DOP. The next day I was back and shooting my film.

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

Probably the “Breakfast Club”. I saw that once a day almost, growing up.

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 efficient and easy. I never stumbled upon any problems with the platform!

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

A legit guess would be “Dancing On My Own – Robyn”

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

I’m working on a new film, it’s being edited. I’m also involved in a tv-series project as an actor. And hopefully I’m going back to Stockholm University of Dramatic Arts to complete my mastes degree in ”Screen acting”

 

chrickle_1.jpg

_____

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 Cinematographer Christophe Graillot (A Bag of Marbles, La Garde)

Christophe Graillot is a true artistic talent. Just watch the recent film A BAG OF MARBLES to see how he conveys a story through light and shadows. It was on honor interviewing him:

Matthew Toffolo: Where were you born and raised? Was photography something you always wanted to do as your career?

Christophe Graillot: I was born in a suburb of Paris and raised in Paris. As long as I can remember I always wanted to be photographer. I have a background in graphic arts and I taught myself the trade of Director of Photography.

What has been your most proudest work of your career? Or, what has been your favorite project to date?

I don’t know. Every project I’m proud of. Every job I learn something new and unique. My favorite project is the next one.

Right now you’re working in Praque. What’s the film? And are you having an okay time in the Czech Republic?

I’m shooting a TV movie, A Christmas love story. We’re in a beautiful location called Mala Upa, which is close to Poland. All is good as I’m lucky working with a Czech crew. I’m working with an amazing Focus Puller.

Tell us about working on the film A BAR OF MARBLES. How does this film differentiate from other WWII films?

A special project for me. I was lucky to work for the second time with director Christian Duguay. Christian also an amazing Steady-cam operator. One of my most beautiful movie encounters. This film has the particularity of seeing the second World War from the point of view of two children.

Is there a type of film/TV show that you love to work on that you haven’t worked on yet?

I’d like to do a musical comedy and a boxing film. Two types of stylistic exercises.

What are you generally looking for in a director in order for you to do your job as best as possible?

A good story and their desire to find the best way to tell it. And their madness…!

What do you think a producer/director is looking for when they bring on you to DP the film?

Don’t know. Availability 😀

What is your passion in life besides photography and film?

My family. I take the opportunity now to thank my wife because it’s not always easy to follow the life of a DOP.

What movie have you watched the most times in your life (besides the ones you worked on?

When I was young, I watched a french movie « La Grande Vadrouille » at least 30 times.

What advice do you have for young cinematographers who would eventually like to DP movies for a living one day?

Simple advice: Speak well to everyone, be on time and never forget how lucky you are to do this job!

christoher.jpg
_____

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 Supervising Sound Editor Donald Sylvester (Logan, Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma)

Donald Sylvester has worked on over 100 films in the last 25 years and is considered one of the top people working in the craft of Post-Production Sound today. I asked him a few simple questions via email and he countered with some really insightful and meaningful answers. Enjoy it:

Where were you born and raised? When was working in the film industry start to become a career pursuit for you?

I grew up in the Garden State of New Jersey, where all my core principles were established. My father moved us to Atlanta when I was 11, and it was a wonderful experience during that period – both for Atlanta and for me. It was an unprecedented period of great growth for the city and the awakening of a progressive South – and growth for me personally as well. I dabbled in a lot of stuff, but always gravitated toward music. Frankly the film business didn’t come calling for me until a long, long time later after I moved to California. I reached some level of success before I realized that the music business was a bad idea. My wife, who was a film editor, suggested that motion pictures and I would be a good fit. My skills and instincts fit right in. She was right.

What has been your most proudest work of your career? Or, what has been your favorite project?

For a lot of my years I worked on other people’s films as a sound editor. I learned a lot and loved the people and the work, but I never really thought of those projects as “mine.” I didn’t start supervising in earnest until 2001. I could write a book about each one of those shows (and maybe one day I will!). I did two “Garfields” which were not great movies but working with Bill Murray was really unforgettable. And I supervised and mixed “The Fault In Our Stars,” and that was a wonderful and meaningful experience.

But the film I like the best is “310 to Yuma,” and I like it for so many reasons. I like it primarily because it’s a Western and it’s got guns and horses and spurs and all that good stuff that Westerns must have, but also because it is the kind of movie where every single sound is totally plot- or character driven. As simple as that may sound, it resulted in a very satisfying experience. Plus, it’s a good movie.

In your words, what exactly does a Supervising Sound Editor do?

A director once told me that he really wanted to do everything on his film himself, but now, as a director, he was only allowed to tell everybody else what to do. I’m very sympathetic to that and I try to help the director achieve his goals. I try to get to know him and what he needs and understand the vision of his film. Simply put, I see myself as the sound extension of the director. I make sure he hears what he wants to hear, communicates the story he wants to tell, as well as faithfully executing the sonic challenges he wants to express.

I often like to imagine I’m the creative force behind the soundtrack of these films, but honestly I am only a trussed-up worker-bee, taking directions and challenging myself to deliver something I think is perhaps better than what was requested, as well as hitting the target set forth by the director precisely on the head. There’s also a lot of management duties and schedule-making, but I seldom write about that.

Give us a breakdown of a big budget film like LOGAN. How many people are
working in the sound department in post-production? How long do you and your team have to complete your end of the film? Do you generally work with the same
team?

I am fortunate to work a lot at Fox, where we’ve established an enlightened work flow for me. Our method seems to get results and head off post sound problems as well. I start early on the show during principle photography and as the scenes are cut together by the picture editors, I fancy them up with sound effects and cleaned-up dialogue. Later, when the post editorial is in full swing, I’ll expand my crew to include dialogue editors and sound effects editors. A film like Logan had a healthy budget but didn’t have a long post schedule, so we were asked to work weekends and long hours. In the end, I had two sound designers, two sound effects editors, two foley editors, and four dialogue and ADR editors, not to mention two assistants. This is actually a small crew to bring this kind of film to the mix stage. Much of the work gets finessed at the mix, which is the battlefield trenches for getting all the ideas to gel and finished in time. There’s always a big chunk of the budget for looping, which can be extensive, as well as temp mixing and audience previews. Yes, I like to work with the same people whenever I can, but schedules often don’t permit that luxury.

Is there a type of project that you like to work on that you haven’t worked on yet?

As I’ve worked on more and more films over the years, my goals have changed. There was a time I thought I’d like to do a big science fiction thriller, but I’ve actually learned that genres alone don’t make the most satisfying films. What tickles my fancy are films rich on character development with some insight into the human condition. Now, no one goes out and says, “I’m gonna make the greatest human condition film this town’s ever seen!” But if they’re relying on car chases or space battles and they’ve neglected depth of character, then I’m not gonna get too excited about it no matter how “special” the special effects are.

To be honest, I wouldn’t mind doing a war movie (mostly WWII for my taste) or even a musical. But musicals don’t spend any time on sound effects, so let’s scratch that one off the list and just say WWII. With characters!

What is your passion in life besides sound?

Sound is my passion, but if you take sound away there’s my great interest in music – but that’s sound too. I’ve often imagined going back into radio (I ran the college radio station WUOG in Athens, Georgia during my college years) but I would only do that if I could DJ a radio show that would blend music and sounds into a cohesive story – but that’s what I do now. So, what I probably like after all that is to travel, because over the years I’ve really enjoyed travelling and recording sounds and sound effects in interesting and distant locations. But … that’s sound again.

What movie have you watched the most times in your life?

I assume you mean what movie have I voluntarily watched most often that I haven’t worked on? Because when you work on a film you actually watch it hundreds of times until you memorize every frame of it. And that concept prevents me from watching most movies more than once or twice. However, my favorite movie would have to be “Withnail and I,” which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but ticks all the boxes for me.

What advice do you have for people who would like to do what you do for a living one day?

I would suggest that if you want to get into theatrical movie sound then you should make sure you’re ready for the long hours and hard work, and then you should find people who are currently making films (or shorts or TV shows or documentaries) and offer to work for them for FREE. Just get your foot in the door and do anything and everything you can to get familiar with the process and begin to focus on the area where you want to work. And one day (if you still like it and it likes you back), somebody will say, “Hey, you should be getting paid for this stuff.” Then you’re on your way.

donald sylvester
_____

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 Cinematographer Jon Aguirresarobe

jonaguirz.jpgAfter completing his postgraduate studies at the prestigious American Film Institute (AFI), Jon has been part of the team in great productions of the likes of Twilight, Eclipse or Fright Night, among others. He currently works as a cinematographer for several fiction and publicity projects in both the United States and Latin America. It was a true honor to interview this extremely talented DOP.

http://jonaguirresarobe.com

Matthew Toffolo: Where were you born and raised? Was being a cinematographer something you always wanted to do?

Jon Aguirresarobe: I was born and raised in San Sebastian, in the north of Spain. But I moved to Madrid when I was 18 years old. I always wanted to be a painter and I pursued that dream for a bit. When I was 26 I used to work for commercials and a little pic into a narrative project make me decide to become a cinematographer. Something that was close to me, thanks to my dad, for my entire life.

What film that you DP’d are you most proud of to date?

“Hunter Gatherer” is the film that I am the most proud of. We shot it with a minimal crew and lots of love and I believe you can feel that while watching the movie. Its an incredible honest movie and it gave us so many rewards.

 PHOTO of the film “Hunter Gatherer”:

huntergatherer

What was the biggest thing you learned working on the many short films you DP’d? Is there a place where we can watch some of them online?

I publish some of them on my website: http://jonaguirresarobe.com/. I´d rather be on set working on set than home so I have done many shorts before starting on the feature world. I got a lot out of them. On shorts you have the chance to try things, get hours on set and you never know, maybe meet someone that you can keep working with. In my case I met Director Eric Kissack who is one of the responsables of my careers growth.

What are you generally looking for in a director to make sure you do the best job possible?

I like to see the Directors passion and commitment with the story they want to tell. See if they know what they want and if they are clear and realistic about it. I like to understand what they like and sometimes even more important, what they don´t like. I do love directors that challenge me and push me out of the comfort zone. Then, in the perfect world, I like to see that the way the director is dreaming the story is the same way I am dreaming it.

What do you think a director is looking for in their cinematographer?

I believe they are looking for a person that is capable of putting into the image the vision they have in their mind. Someone that can add a unique point of view as well. I feel like today is also important, to be fast and resolutive. I think something they also look into that.

What is your passion in life besides cinematography?

I enjoy art, photography, family, friends and my bicycles.

What cinematographers (dead or alive) would you love to have dinner with?

Rodrigo Prieto, his work is impeccable and he is capable to adapt and fit any kind of story with the most elegant and fine style. He can shoot Beautiful and Passengers and adapt himself to completely different styles. He is incredible.

What movie have you watched the most times in your life (besides your own)?

It may be “Magnolia” from Paul Thomas Anderson. That movie motivated me to became a cinematographer.

What advice do you have for young photographers who would eventually like to be a cinematographer in the movies?

Always work towards the story you are telling. The cinematography is not always about pretty images, cinematography has to fit the script and the concept you are trying to tell the audience.

Work hard, take any opportunity to be on set and be nice, you never know who you have in front of you.

____

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 month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.