Interview with Filmmaker Tamara Hansen (TWO)

Tamara’s short film played to rave reviews at the October 2017 STUDENT FEEDBACK Film Festival. “TWO” was the winner of BEST Musical Score at the festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Tamara Hansen: I was inspired by a friendship of mine.

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

From the minute I made the moodboard to shooting it – two weeks.

The editing process took another 2-3 weeks, so in total I would say 5 weeks.

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

Love & Hate

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

The Editing process. To describe the editor what I want and to figure out for myself how I want the film to be edited. Fortunately, I got help from my dad and my boss – I’m very grateful for that.

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

I thought: this is so cool! It’s an amazing idea and I appreciate all the effort and hard work to make this happen!!

I love hearing so many different reactions and opinions – it made my day 🙂

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Moods I liked, Pictures I saw, experiences I had. Basically: Inspiration combined with Imagination.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Pulp Fiction. I LOVE that movie.

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

I think FilmFreeway is great! It makes it so easy to submit and makes your submissions organized.

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

I guess „Sounds of Silence”.

What is next for you? A new film?

Yes, a new experimental film- shooting november 18th.

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Interview with Filmmaker Navid Tavakolnia (BEAUTIFUL)

Navid’s short film played to rave reviews at the October 2017 STUDENT FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Navid Tavakolnia: The idea and message of the film itself was the biggest motivation for me to make this film happen.

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

From the idea to the finished product, it took about 4 months to make this short.

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

Reality isn’t Beautiful

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

Not having a budget and financial issues has always been the biggest obstacle for filmmakers but in the process of making Beautiful, I confronted with another obstacle which now seems fun to me. We planned everything to shoot in a school with the students in the classroom and a teacher. As we got close to the shooting day, the school canceled the promises and we had to find another location in couple days before the shoot with no students other than our character. So Literally, we asked all friends and families we knew that they have kids and asked if they were willing to have their kids to be in the film. Our kid character’s mom had a little teaching classroom and also she accepted to play the role of the teacher and all of a sudden we even had more students than we expected to have before! It was an amazing experience and I was really grateful to have all those people around me.

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

It feels wonderful to see the audience understand your message and they give their opinion about the piece you created. I feel really proud and I am really thankful to have all these opinions to make my next film better than this.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

At the beginning, the story was not supposed to be about war. It was just about a burned face kid and the blind guy and the “humanity”. After I talked to one of my friend’s who was in an army before and hearing his stories, also all the bad and sad news of the world, discrimination, war, refugees, etc. I taught that it would be a really good idea to relate the story to war and show that we are all victims, no matter what color or race we are. We are just people and war is an absolute loss for everybody except the warmongers!

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Saving Private Ryan is the film I have seen the most.

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

Filmfreeway and its platform of submission make the path really easier for filmmakers to have their films seen in festivals and promoting them. It is a great opportunity with doors open to filmmakers.

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

Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen

What is next for you? A new film?

I am working on a new script and pretty soon I am planning to make my new short film with the help of the same amazing crew.

Interview with Composer/Musician Michael Abels (GET OUT)

michaelabels.jpgMichael Abels is an African-American composer known for his orchestra works Global Warming, Delights & Dances, and Urban Legend, and choral pieces such as Be The Change and Limitless. “GET OUT” was his first foray as a composer in the film industry, and it definitely won’t be his last. It was great interviewing this extremely talented musician.

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

Michael Abels: I was born in Phoenix AZ, although I lived on a farm outside Aberdeen, SD with my grandparents from infancy through age 6. My earliest memories are of music — seriously, I can remember my grandmother’s recording of Edvard Grieg’s In The Hall Of The Mountain King terrifying me in the crib. Ironically, that’s now my job.

MT: How did you get the job composing the film “Get Out”?

MA: Writer/director Jordan Peele heard an orchestral piece of mine, Urban Legends, on YouTube. It’s a very dynamic piece in which all hell breaks loose, even though it’s also quite tonal. Jordan said this piece convinced him I could bring a fresh voice to film music. He wanted someone who could use the film harmonic language with an African-American perspective.

MT: How was your working relationship with with director Jordan Peele?

MA: Jordan is whip-smart, unbelievable talented, and refreshingly modest. He knows what he wants, and is extremely capable of communicating what he’s hearing and feeling. At the same time, he respects his team as artists, and enjoys the collaborative process. Did I mention how funny he is? A dream to work for.

MT: What are you generally looking for in a director in terms of guidance and tone for your music?

MA: It’s helpful when a director can communicate the feelings a piece of music brings up for them, or the feelings that a character is feeling, or that they want the audience to feel. Most people who are drawn to directing are great at this, since they are storytellers.

MT: What do you think a producer/director is looking for when they bring on their composer to score the film?

MA: The director is looking for someone who can bring the music they are hearing in their imagination to life. The producer is looking for someone who can bring the director’s musical imagination to life on time and under budget. It’s great when these priorities align!

MT: What is your passion in life besides music?

MA: I appreciate home design, I’ve seen my share of home improvement shows. I also love riding my bike, and try to bike at least once a week no matter how stressful the rest of my life is.

MT: What’s next for you? Will you be composing more films?

MA: I have a wind orchestra commission that I’m working on. Yes more film is in the works.

MT: What move have you watched the most times in your life?

MA: The Sound of Music. Do Re Mi changed my life forever. “One word for every note, by mixing it up, like this…” Rogers & Hammerstein taught me that writing music is simple and fun! Been striving to make that lesson true ever since.

MT: What advice do you have for young musicians who would eventually like to compose movies for a living?

MA: Write the music that inspires you, because writing music purely for money will make you hate your creative life. Try to remove your ego from every piece you write. It’s so difficult to be inspired-yet-unattached, but it’s required to remain in a highly creative state. And you are a composer, regardless of whether you have a high profile project to your credit or not. Be the person you want others to see.

GET OUT Movie:

getoutfilm.jpg

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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 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.

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Interview with director Stephanie Jaclyn (FREEMALES)

Stephanie Jaclyn directed  the comedy web series  “FREEMALES”, which was showcased at the FEMALE FEEDBACK Film Festival in December 2016. “FREEMALES” was awarded “Best Overall Performances” at the festival. 

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Stephanie Jaclyn: I wanted to see content created by women for women and while the housemate comedy genre is nothing new I wanted to create a show that provided an honest, authentic and humorous insight into lives of young women in today’s ever shifting social landscape.

MT: From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

SJ: From the scriptwriting phase to our premiere it was 7 months.

MT: How would you describe your short film in two words!?

SJ: Funny and real (or just really funny)

MT: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

SJ: The biggest obstacle was filming on such a small budget. Luckily we had an amazing cast and crew who all volunteered their time to be part of the project.

MT: What were your initial reactions when watching the Toronto audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

SJ: I was amazed and thrilled to see that people on the other side of the world related to the themes and characters. It was great to hear reactions from people who had never heard of the show but completely understood what we were trying to convey.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film:

MT: How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

SJ: I came up with the idea while living with a girlfriend of mine – there are many aspects of the series that are inspired by real life experiences and events.

MT: What film have you seen the most in your life?

SJ: Oh god, there are so many but I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of the Harry Potter films.

MT: What is next for you? A new film?

SJ: We’re currently in post-production for the final three episodes of Freemales season 1 – online by June 2017! I’m also in pre-production for my next project, a short film about a romantic novelist going through a divorced called The Final Chapter shooting in March 2017.

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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 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.

Interview with director Vu Hoang (MARTY: A WILD WEST NEVERLAND)

Vu Hoang directed  the short film Adventure/Western “MARTY: A WILD WEST NEVERLAND”, which was showcased at the Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival in December 2016. The film was awarded “Best Film” at the festival is and easily one of the best short films made in the 2016. 

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Vu Hoang: I was first inspired to make a film about childhood after I saw the film The 400 Blows in one of my film classes. I then came across two music videos called Hoppípolla and Glósóli by Sigur Rós. It started to make me think about how fast we are all growing up. These videos really gave me such an amazing feeling of nostalgia and made me think a lot about life as a kid. I ultimately wanted to make a film that felt nostalgic while also being adventurous.  At the same time I wanted to add some seriousness and dark themes of childhood.

MT: From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take you to make this film?

VH: This short film was originally a concept for a music video, but the project fell through. Which for me deep down, I knew it was meant to be bigger than a music video, so I sought to make this a short film. I held onto the idea for about two years. It took us about 6 months to write, a couple months of Kickstarter, 4 days to shoot it and about 3 months of post-production. Overall, I’d say about 3 years from idea to finished production and about 1 year to make it.

MT: How would you describe your short film in two words?

VH: Kid Western

MT: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

VH: I would say we had quite a few obstacles, but here are the two big ones.

Our first obstacle was trying to raise $25,000 on Kickstarter for a bunch of unknown filmmakers. It felt like a miracle raising “almost” that amount. We fell about $4000 short, so we funded the rest of it.

The second obstacle was the overall production, we ran into so many issues. The first day our equipment truck broke down 3 hours from our location in Yucca Valley, CA. We had to have someone drive out back towards LA to pick up the camera and we were hours behind schedule. Our cars were getting stuck in the sand, which would stall some of the shoot.The heat made things much more difficult and we had about 25 kids running around the set. The list goes on, but we had an overall ambitious script with only 4 days to shoot, so most of our shots were done in 1-3 takes each. These are some of the many obstacles and I’m still surprised at how we pulled it off. Major props to the amazing cast, crew & parents.

MT: What were your initial reactions when watching the Los Angeles audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

VH: The responses of the audience were great. They really broke down the film well and it seemed to resonate with people the way I intended.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

MT: How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

VH: I would say question #1 answers this question a bit. As I said before, I was influenced by a couple amazing music videos and the classic film The 400 Blows. After familiarizing myself with more westerns, I wanted to make an epic western with all kids. The idea just flowed after the all the nostalgia that came from my influences.

MT: What film have you seen most in your life?

VH: Probably Dark Knight, Goodfellas, and/or Gladiator

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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 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.

Interview with director Frank Aron GĂĄrdsø (O)

Frank Aron Gårdsø’s short film O was the winner of BEST FILM at the October 2016 Horror/Thriller Film Festival.

It was a pleasure to interview him about his film and what’s next:

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Frank Aron Gårdsø: I wanted to see if I was capable of making a scary film in broad daylight that did not have any monster, killer, villain or beast to scare you.

MT: From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

FAG: I would say that the process moved rather fast. I think we were talking about it in the middle of summer, and we were out filming by the beginning of autumn of the same year. So from when we started to think about making the movie until we had a finish product it took us half a year or so.

MT: How would you describe your short film in two words!?

FAG: Oh, only two Words… ? What can I say…. Mysterious and Ominous

MT: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

FAG: There were a few obstacles along the way for sure. First of all I learnt that making a non budget movie is very expensive. There are always things that are needed that one did not think about. And then we had the weather. Since the whole film is shot outside, we had big challenges with the elements. One day it was perfect sun. And perfect sun is what I wanted for the movie, cause I wanted to make a scary movie in broad daylight. The next day it was foggy like crazy and then came the rain. At the end it was starting to snow..To top that up, we had to reshoot most of the film due to a lead character shaved off his hair. We had to replace him and find another actor to play his part and start all over. So enough obstacles for sure.

MT: What were your initial reactions when watching the Toronto audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

FAG: I am very happy to hear and see that there are audiences that actually like and enjoy something you make.

To see people talk about it after watching it, well thats just fantastic.

Interesting to see how the audience was trying to figure out why they end up in the hole. What the hole is? Why they get drawn to it?

It was interesting to hear that some saw the comedic elements of the story and the different references to other movies.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film:

MT: How did you come up with the idea for this short film? 

FAG: It was more of a talk with another friend of mine who also works in the film industry. We just wanted to make something so we chatted over the phone for a while and it suddenly popped out of my head. Why don’t we make a film about some friends who find a black hole in the ground in the forrest. So we went from there.

MT: What film have you seen the most in your life?

FAG: I think I have to say it’s not only one. After giving it a little bit of thought I end up with 3 movies. And it’s kinda funny cause one of them is totally different from the other two. The first one is The Exorcist. I remember watching this for the first time sitting on my mother’s lap. Intense childhood for sure. Growing up watching exorcism on tv. Loved it. Second one is A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. I am laughing just thinking about it. Freddy is fantastic in that one. Talking about it now make me want to see it again. The last one is Grease. It has this amazing good vibe. Great music and great cast which is fantastic to watch.

MT: What is next for you? A new film?

FAG: I am currently working for Fremantle Media on a new groundbreaking TV gameshow as a game developer.

But I am also in the middle of the editing my new short film. This time it’s not in the horror genre. It’s more of a drama with some dark comedic elements. Hopefully I will have it finished by the end of this year.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go tohttp://www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Story Artist Chris Paluszek (Robot Chicken, The LEGO Movies)

the_lego_movie.jpgWhat fun it was to sit down with the extraordinarily talented artist Chris Paluszek. In many ways his career is just getting started as he’ll be helping create all of the upcoming LEGO Movies in the next few years.

Enjoy!

Matthew Toffolo: What job has been your most valuable experience so far?

Chris Paluszek: I think the first film I ever worked on, “The LEGO Movie.” The crew was relatively small and I had a lot of opportunity to work with really smart, talented people who were very patient and answered a lot of questions I had about storyboarding, storytelling, and the film industry.

MT: How is the LEGO MOVIE experience? It seems to be a franchise in the making and you’re on board for the creative experience.

CP: The first LEGO film was a bit of an outlier. The franchise hadn’t been established, so there weren’t many boundaries on what we could or couldn’t do. So, we had a ton of fun trying lots of crazy ideas that you just don’t usually have the freedom to try on other films. Definitely a highlight of my career.

MT: Is there a type of film that you haven’t worked on yet that you would love to work on?

CP: I would love to work on a short film, like the Pixar shorts that precede an animated feature. Small, self-contained narratives like that are great opportunities for artists to push themselves and experiment.

MT: What is the typical job storyboarding animation movies?

CP: It can depend, but usually there’s a working script that is constantly evolving in conversations between the writer and the director, and a story artist “boards out” a scene from the latest draft. The story artist draws whatever the scene calls for, whether it’s a high speed car chase, or two characters talking in a coffee shop. Whatever case, it’s up to the storyboard artist to depict the action and decide on what shot language best tells the story.

MT: What’s the general working relationship and process between a storyboard artist and the director?

CP: The director has a vision for their movie, and as a story artist you’re there to support that vision. When you’re given an assignment you meet with the director, who lays out how they imagine the scene. You ask lots of questions and at the end of the meeting you should hopefully have a clear idea of what the director wants to see. Within that framework, you can bring some of yourself into the scene, whether it’s acting choices, or maybe a really cool composition that frames the action, or even a small comedic beat (if it suits the tone of the scene).

MT: What film, besides the ones you’ve working on, have you watched the most times in your life?

CP: I’m always awed by Hayao Miyazaki’s “Kiki’s Delivery Service.” It’s fantastical, yet down to earth. It’s lighthearted and also deeply emotional. Everytime I watch it I see something new.

MT: Do you have a storyboard mentor?

CP: My first story position was an internship on a TV show, and the Story Lead for that crew really helped me out. He was patient and helped me with the basics, like maintaining shot continuity as you “cut” (draw a new shot) around the action.

MT: Where do you see the future of storyboards in the motion pictures?

CP: Most story jobs are within a tight crew of artists that work intimately with the director, so they can nimbly address major story changes in time for deadlines. However, some studios have made whole films by sending work out to freelancers, working from home. While I can’t say I love my commute, working alongside incredible talent has been the chief way I’ve improved as an artist and storyteller.

MT: Where did you grow up? How did you get into working in the film industry?

CP: I grew up in Virginia, and always loved art as a way of telling stories. I went to school for animation, and moved out to Los Angeles thinking I could be an animator. Unfortunately my animation skills weren’t very good! But I was lucky to bump into someone at the right time, who took a chance and offered me a production internship at a small TV animation studio. While there I crossed paths with the Storyboard department, who were looking for extra help. I was able to become a full-time Story intern, which eventually led to an official job as a Story Artist! It was a strange path, threaded with a lot of luck and kindness.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca

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