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”

 

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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 Julia Campanelli (116)

 116 played to rave reviews at the February 2018 ROMANCE FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto on Valentine’s Day.
 
Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Julia Campanelli: I made my film, “116”, because of the dearth of interesting roles on screen for women over the age of 45 years. As an actress, generally the roles available to me are “grannie” roles. “116’ is not your grannie film. It features a powerful, sexually vibrant woman in a complicated relationship with a younger man. I see the reverse of this dynamic, an older man and a younger woman, all the time in film, the male gaze. As a filmmaker I am doing my part to change the narrative and represent complex female protagonists and intersectionality in my productions.

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

A very long time for a very short film! The process took two years due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control. After we established our location and shot a day of footage, in a boutique luxury hotel in midtown Manhattan, the hotel closed suddenly and indefinitely. It took a year to try and schedule more time in the hotel (NYC hotels operate at 98% capacity on any given day), but in the interim I lost my lead actor due to scheduling conflicts. It then took much longer to re-cast the role, as I was trying to match physical type to the original actor, so that I could use some of the original footage I shot (shots of the actor from behind, not revealing his face). It was quite challenging, but I ended up with a fantastic actor for completion.

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

Power struggle is primary, and role play is backstory.

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

For indie filmmakers, budget is always a huge obstacle. And as a first-time filmmaker losing my location was heart-stopping experience! It was so unexpected, like an act of god. There was no way to foresee it.

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

What a wonderfully engaged and astute audience! I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there for the Q&A. I intentionally left the film’s ending ambiguous. I feel on the subject of intimate relationships, people bring their own experiences, prejudices and judgements when viewing it on screen. It was my intention to make the audience voyeurs into this couple’s relationship. If I made the audience a little uncomfortable or a little unsure, then I feel I succeeded in raising the question of perceptions and role reversals. If I made the audience question their own perceptions, I did my job.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

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

This piece was originally intended to be an immersive theatre piece. I also have a theatre company, Shelter Theatre Group, in NYC. I was approached by a producer and asked to choose a Shakespeare sonnet and a location to mount it. I immediately wanted to use 116, as it’s my favorite sonnet. I also knew right away it had to be placed in an hotel room. Hotel rooms fascinate me. They give the appearance of privacy, that hotel guests adopt readily, which is a type of role play, when in fact, hotel rooms have very little privacy. Housekeepers, bell hops, waiters, and the couple in the next room are all very present, yet a guest will ignore them for a false sense of privacy.

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

The Wizard of Oz. Complex female protagonist.

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

I think FilmFreeway is great, very user–friendly and very convenient.

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

I listen to such a variety of music, I can’t say there’s one song I listen to the most. I listen to movie soundtracks a lot. Sophia Coppola’s film soundtracks are a favorite. The music in her film is like an additional character.

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

I’m currently developing a feature, an historical drama, about a witch hunt in the 17th century. My source materials are transcripts from the trial, clergy sermons, and eye witness accounts of the bewitching, the trial, and the executions. The film has an innate horror aspect to it, given the subject matter, and will feature a female-centric cast. I plan to use a female-majority crew as well through my film production company Shelter Film NY.
 

116

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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 directors Natalie Neagle & Sally Samad (TOO SOON?)

TOO SOON? played to rave reviews at the January 2018 COMEDY FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?/ 6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Natalie Neagle & Sally Samad: We’re big fans of satirical comedy and after discussing various ridiculous predicaments, the idea of political correctness in this situation felt worth exploring from a comic perspective.

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

It took very little time to write the script itself. Filming took a couple of hours, but editing took longer as we wanted to make sure the timing was right, and we had to email the cameraman back and forth regarding the frames we wanted to use and the cuts we wanted made. We also needed to schedule times which worked for both of us individually and the cameraman, so it it took about 6 weeks.

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

Imperialistic satire.

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

The cameraman’s availability and the editing process being via email.

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

We were really grateful to be included in the line-up and delighted that the feedback was so generous. We were really pleased that the audience seemed very much to interpret the film from the perspective from which it was written.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Sally’s answer: The Little Mermaid, because I was obsessed with is as a child and apparently watched it every day for about a year. Bet my parents LOVED that.

Natalie is unable to answer because she is too busy laughing at Sally’s answer to be able to respond.

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

We released our first filmed sketch at the end of 2016, so we felt pretty spoilt to be able to instantly use this platform. It’s a fast and easy way to enter international film festivals and we only have positive feedback for, and experiences with, FilmFreeway.

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

Sally’s answer: Don’t Play That Song by Aretha Franklin, because firstly she is the queen, and secondly, I needed to learn it so it was on constant autoplay in my house.

Natalie’s answer: Any song that isn’t, Don’t Play That Song after hearing it on constant autoplay…

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

We have 4/5 sketches which we will be filming over the next 6 months, and then the plan is to focus on developing a sitcom pilot.

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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.

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:

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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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