Interview with Filmmaker Alberto Ferreras (LESSON #10)

LESSON #10 was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the Under 5 Minute Film Festival in July 2019.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Alberto Ferreras: “Lesson #10” is a comedy about shifting morals. We are living in a world where we are more likely to trust someone who admits to be a sinner, than someone who pretends to be a saint.

The film is meant to challenge our perception of trust and hypocrisy.

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

The short was written in a couple of days. We had a two hour rehearsal, and we shot it in four hours. It was edited in about two days.
from beginning to end, you could say that we spent 4 days working on the short. All the shorts of my “Lessons” series follow the same protocol.

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

Very honest.

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

The biggest obstacle is always climbing the three flights of stairs to my studio with the equipment.

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

I loved the reaction of the audience, and how they acknowledge the great performances of my actors. I believe that good acting starts with a good script, and a an actor who understands it.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

My dermatologist—a lovely older lady—usually asks patients about drug use with the same tone and pace as the actress in the movie. For years I’ve been trying to squeeze it into something… and voilá!

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

All that Jazz.

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

It’s a trillion times better than the dreadful Withoutabox.

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

Tough question. Maybe “The Ballad of the Sad Young Man” performed by Rickie Lee Jones.

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

Yes, I have “Lesson #9” in the can and ready for submission. “The Lessons” is an ongoing project.

Advertisements

Interview with Filmmaker Vickie Rose Sampson (YOU DRIVE ME CRAZY)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Vickie Rose Sampson: The main reason is to explore what will be the eventual outcomes of society of the increase in reliance on technology to do even the simplest of things. And how we could become victims of our own inventions.

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

I think it was about 6 months from idea to finished film.

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

Helluva ride.

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

Because we hadn’t done green screen before it created a HUGE issue with both color grading and visual fxs work. We had both green screen and live action driving with sometimes 4 cameras going – a canon 5d, 2 go pros and my iPhone! The green screen was too close to the actor’s face which created a “spill” which had to be cleaned up. I actually have some screen grabs of the “before” and “after” if you want me to send them! I just gave a demo to the Los Angeles Post Production Group about what we went through to get it to look the way it does!

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

I loved that they enjoyed the ride!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

My producing partner and screenwriter, Wendy Fishman, and I were driving to a screening in Hollywood and my GPS told me to turn down this alleyway… Wendy said, “Just go up to Sunset and turn right!” I said, “No! I must obey the GPS!” So then we talked about taking it to its illogical conclusion about what would happen if we “disobeyed” her and that’s how You Drive Me Crazy was born.

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

That’s a tough one! Do you mean a film I’ve seen over and over? All the ones I have done sound editing on because i HAVE to watch them over and over as I’m working on them but I don’t think you’re talking about those! Although, I could watch On Golden Pond (which I worked on) over and over still….Meet Me In St Louis, It’s a Wonderful Life, Citizen Kane,

I rarely watch films more than once because time is so valuable. (with the exception of animated films that my grandchildren want to watch over and over –

like Coco! or Frozen!)
PS I was a Supervising Sound editor for 40 years on feature films – like Return of the Jedi, Pirates of the Caribbean , Ordinary People, Sex and the City (movies) Donnie Darko etc.

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

It makes it very easy to keep track of submissions, acceptances, and lets me find all kinds of festivals I didn’t know about! Though it is a daunting task (and sometimes expensive) to submit and then not get in. We probably need to add about $1000 to a budget just for festival submissions, not to mention any travel costs to actually attend them. I would love to attend them because I get such a kick at seeing how audiences react to my films – that’s the whole reason we do these! But it’s so costly to go. For example, my film is in a festival in Mass. this coming weekend which sounds lovely – on the waterfront, with workshops and screenings but to get there would cost JUST ME about $1500! I could put that into the budget for the next film. Plus, if you do go, there’s never any guarantee that anyone will come see the film! Maybe we’re over-saturated with screenings in LA but sometimes the only people in the audience are the other filmmakers and their friends/cast/crew/family. So I don’t want to spend $1500 to go to a festival where no one shows up! And you can’t ask the festival if they are well-attended, right!? So besides the BIG festivals, you just don’t know if you’ll have an audience!

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

Anything by Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, CSNY… yes I’m from that era! I can’t think of one particular song I’ve listened to over and over! Maybe Scarborough Faire? Suzanne? Suite Judy Blue Eyes

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

Yes! Wendy and I are producing another short called REFLECTIONS – 1 woman – 1 room – 1 transformation. We are doing it as a “pilot” for a possible series. A young woman questions her identity just as she’s about to be married and how her decision affects the whole family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

you_drive_me_crazy

Interview with Filmmaker David Lykes Keenan (BODIES OF WATER)

BODIES OF WATER was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the February 2019 LGBT Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

David Lykes Keenan: The story is based on a pivotal moment in my life. As shown in the film, it was the moment when I found the courage and opportunity to reach out to the first person that I was ever able to come out to. In my case, he was straight (this is intentionally left open to interpretation in the film) but we developed a very close friendship that last for a couple of years before it crashed and burned.

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

Altogether is was about three years.

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

First love.

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

The completion a script that satisfied me and my closest supporters.

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

I was very impressed with how attentive the viewers were and how small details (like the old PC in the office scene) and the subtleties of Ellar’s performance were noticed.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

This is pretty much the same answer as #1. It is well known that first screenplays are very often auto-biographical.

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

Blade Runner.

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

Of the two, FilmFreeway and WithoutaBox, I much prefer FF. It seems to be better at notifying when the submission status changes and I like how it remembers payment information so I don’t have to enter it every time.

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

Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd

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

I hope so. I have been working on a feature screenplay (your festival table read part of it awhile back). I also have a new short that would like to make soon.

Thanks for your support.
bodies_of_water_3

Interview with Filmmaker Michael Davis (HINDSIGHT)

HINDSIGHT was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the February 2019 ROMANCE Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Michael Davis: What motivated me was getting the opportunity to tell a story that plays backward. I also thought it was a really interesting character study on people and relationships. It seemed like a unique and exciting challenge. I had never done anything like it before, and I hadn’t seen many things like it.

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

It was a long process from when the idea first came up to its completion.
I pitched this idea to my film school, but it was rejected. Several months passed and after my production team wrapped the second season of our web series, TGC, I decided I wanted to make it on my own. Once that decision was made production and post-production were wrapped up in about a month.

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

Reverse, and revealing.

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

The most significant obstacle was figuring out the technical aspects of the film playing in reverse. I knew that was happening going in, so I had to break the story down backward as well as forwards. We had to plan the fighting very carefully knowing it would play backward. It was like constructing a dance, and I wanted to make sure the story and motives were slowly revealed.
Then in post-production, I had to edit the film forwards to make sure it played out in real time, then reverse it. It was an odd challenge and a completely unique experience.

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

I was a bit anxious before I pressed play, but it is also a really enthralling experience and a privilege. There is so much you can learn with audience reaction and interaction.

I loved watching the reactions and hearing the feedback. It’s exciting and gratifying when you spend a long time trying to highlight certain points, and the audience and announcer pick up on them.

It was also great that people liked the credits with the balloons. That was a late idea I came up with while editing.

This was certainly one of the best parts of this experience.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I had a random idea of a couple fighting in reverse. I thought it would create a weird hypnotic dance. My initial premise was about an engagement gone wrong. But once Meganne Kocher got involved we started talking about a lot of things we could do with the premise.

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

That is a tough question to answer. I’m a huge film geek and own way too many movies. But a film I have seen several times and know I will keep watching forever is Park Chan-wook’s Stoker.

The cinematography is breathtaking. Every single shot is like an oil painting come to life. The story is filled with symbolism and every time I watch it I pick up on a new layer I hadn’t noticed before. It’s such a sinister and beautifully constructed film.

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

FilmFreeway is a fantastic platform for independent filmmakers. The whole trajectory of my career changed with FilmFreeway, and it allows me access to so many great opportunities. During our three days of principal photography, I would have never imagined that I would be answering questions, getting feedback, or even dreamed that the film would win awards. I highly recommend fellow filmmakers check it out.

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

I love music, but I don’t think it would be a song, and it wouldn’t just be one. I have an extreme amount of trailer tracks on my iPod. If a trailer I like comes out, I will download the track and listen to it on repeat all day long. Listening to trailer tracks have helped inspire me and sometimes help me come up with ideas for films or plots. I also listen to a lot of film scores.

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

I have been working on several new exciting projects.

For the last year, our team has been working on the third season of our anthology web series “The Grimoire Chapters”. Season 3 is subtitled Rem and is focused on nightmares and sleep disorders. It has two timelines in the 1960’s and 1980s. This season has won over 50 awards, we are all incredibly proud of our success. Episodes 1 – 5 of TGC:Rem are now online, the final episodes are in production.

Watch Here: https://www.thegrimoirechapters.com/

I also just finished a single person crew horror short called “Identity Theft”. I wanted to see what I could accomplish with just myself and my camera. The film has been submitted to two festivals so far and won Best Short Film from both, which has been extremely exciting.

If you enjoyed “Hindsight”, “Lock Your Doors” is an award-winning horror short that was finished a few months after Hindsight. It also stars Meganne Kocher and Ronnie Daily.

And Hindsight 2 (working title) is still in the works.

hindsight_3

Interview with Writer/Actor/Producer Judith Eisenberg (THE SECRET LIVES OF TEACHERS)

THE SECRET LIVES OF TEACHERS played to rave reviews at the February 2019 ROMANCE Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Steve Anderson: I was a high school history teacher and I wanted to make a short film about my years of teaching. I was lucky enough to retire early because of a teacher buyout the district was offering but there were a few older teachers who didn’t want to leave. The school was their domain and life. The teacher who worked next door to me was a civil war enthusiast and she spent 3/4th of the US history curriculum on the civil war and summarized all the rest of the wars and historical events into one month. She also loved loved men in uniform and went to the civil war re-enactment at Gettysburg every year. I also knew so many older single women who had given up on ever having a partner and/or romantic relationship.

My co-writer and co-producer Aaron Seever and I had made a number of short films but never had the chance to work on one together. So Secret Lives was our collaboration. We had taken years of acting classes and workshops together in Phoenix and Los Angeles.

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

It took almost two years

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

Quirky and romantic

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

Our budget was the biggest obstacle. It was always ready to explode and we had to keep reining it back.

Also finding locations within our budget.

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

I loved how the audience clued in to middle-aged people falling in love. Bodies get old but the spirit in the bodies remains the same and despite outside appearances to young people always retains the desire to be cherished, seen and loved.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

From my years of teaching high school history and from my teacher friend who loved the civil war and men in uniform and from my own desire to find romance and love despite my
quirky nature.

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

Wizard of Oz

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. They have been so cooperative. A couple of times I prematurely sent in a submission only to discover my film did not qualify because of geographical location or date it was made and they reimbursed my money.

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

Stay with me
Tupelo Honey
Hey Ho

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

Always a new film!!! Or the seeds of a new film.

Or if anyone wants to cast me as an actor in a film playing a blue collar character that would be great!!!!!

the_secret_lives_of_teachers_2

Interview with Filmmaker Cameron Kostopoulos (PERSON(A))

PERSON(A) was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the February 2019 Experimental FEEDBACK Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Cameron Kostopoulos: I was fascinated by the idea of the persona, and the separation of the persona from the body. I wanted to portray the human identity as one that is understood through action and repetition, a daily set of behaviors and mannerisms that create what we believe ourselves to be.

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

The entire process spanned just over 6 months.

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

Playfully introspective.

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

Believe it or not, the biggest obstacle was in working with those damn mannequins. They were constantly crashing, falling apart, limbs breaking; it was a nightmare.

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

Appreciative, both for the time that the audience took in seeing my film and responding, and for the opportunity to screen my film in such a venue.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

PERSON(a) came to me while stumbling across Jackson Pollock’s “The Mask”, a work centered around his Jungian approach to art and psychology. Wanting to translate this portrayal of philosophy into a contemporary medium, I decided to use similar tropes and aesthetics as Pollock to create a story out of the paint.

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

Life of Pi, without a doubt.

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

It is a very useful tool for organizing projects, submitting, and receiving responses, even for different films, on the same platform.

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

Svefn-g-englar by Sigur Ros.

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

I just wrapped an experimental piece entitled “Requiem”; Currently, however, I am in development for a VR experience to be premiered in an installation later in 2019.

persona_movie_poster

Interview with Producer Lester Greene (I GOT A CALLBACK)

I GOT A CALLBACK played to rave reviews at the December 2018 COMEDY Feedback Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Lester Greene: The whole Me Too movement sparked this film, especially the Terry Crews story of him being sexually assaulted by that high powered agent.

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

It took about a week for the writer to put it together on paper, and then about a month to rehearse and then we begin filming a month after that.

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

Hilariously, thought-provoking

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

We had to battle a car alarm going off non-stop during the film shoot. Luckily, the editor was able to remove it in post production.

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

It was a proud moment. I felt like a true professional having his work reviewed and dissected. It was nice to see that many of the viewers understood our point of view. I create art so that people can gain something from it, and I can tell that your audience appreciated our film.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

We wanted to create something in the vein of the Me Too Movement with a slight twist.

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

Above the Rim, Friday, Love & Basketball

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

Dear Mama – by Tupac

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

I just wrapped on two new films, “The Last Fishing Trip” and “33rd Road” both filmed by the same cinematographer who shot “I Got a Callback,” Chris Fox. And I’m getting ready to write a new comedy series.