Interview with Filmmaker George A. Velez (MR. E, P I)

MR. E, P I played to rave reviews at the December 2018 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

George A. Velez: I wanted to make a film in a very fun genre that everyone is

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

From idea to finished product, I would say the project took around 10 months.

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

I would say the short is fun and heartfelt.

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

The biggest obstacle was trying to film the whole short in a day. We succeeded but what a challenge.

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

It was surreal to hear people talking about my short because the only feedback I’ve gotten was from my peers. It was great to hear the audience and their interpretations because it’s interesting to hear what people get out of the experience.

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

The short was originally part of a larger piece and I really wanted to see this world and these characters in a physical space.

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

There’s so many but possibly “Jaws”

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

Applying to FilmFreeway has been a positive influence for the most part. It’s easy to navigate and very in-depth.

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

“Purple Rain” by Prince

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

I’m currently finishing two feature film scripts and in pre-production for my next short, Eavesdroppng.

Interview with Producer David E. M. Maire (THE HOBBYIST)

THE HOBBYIST was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the November 2018 Thriller/Suspense Festival in Toronto.

  1. What motivated you to make this film?

This film was a requisite graduate thesis project for George Vatistas at the School of Visual Arts, which is quite a motivation in and of itself. This story was chosen because George’s previous short film had also been an adaption of a Fredric Brown story, and he wanted to continue working with that same source material. On my end, I found George’s passion infectious, and thought the piece had great story and aesthetic potential for the silver screen.

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

George would have started researching and writing the first drafts in the Fall of 2015. Through SVA, I was able to meet George and was brought on in December 2015. Pre-production lasted about three months, as we shot in March 2016, and completed post in the Fall of 2016. From there, it was sent off to festivals for consideration, and we started screening for audience’s world over in Winter of 2017. So about 1.5 years from concept to screening.

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

Timeless wisdom.

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

Hands down, the biggest obstacle was finding and locking an aesthetically and budgetarily appropriate location. This usurped the vast majority of our time during pre-production, and we visited dozens of tentative stores, shop fronts, basements, back rooms, but to no avail. In this time, I kept my grandparents informed of the project I was producing, and the location I was spending so much time hunting for. Slowly, I was able to get them accustomed to the idea that we may need to film in their basement. This concept was not greeted lightly at first, but after two months of reassurances, I was able to wear them down, and we got to shoot in their basement! This freed up enough funds to let us rent out a small herbalist’s boutique for an evening to double as our character’s apothecary.

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

First thing I did was share the URL with my parents hahaha It was thrilling to watch, and pinned a huge grin on my face. The audience was very kind, and I was quite happy they enjoyed the concept and positive message so much.

Watch Audience FEEDBACK Video: 

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

This is a question for Fredric Brown, as we adapted our short film from a 1961 short story of his by the same title!

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

Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games”, specifically his own Americanized remake, over 4 dozen times.

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

I appreciate the simplicity of the platform – it feels much more user friendly than WithoutABox ever did. Yet, I think there is a lot of room for improvement. The simplicity seems to allow these ‘fake’ festivals to emerge, which charge ridiculous submission fees without any proof that the projects will be considered, let alone screen to a real audience. With over 7000 festival listings, there is an argument that the filmmaker should do more research into the festival’s they’re spending their money on, but FilmFreeway is absolutely complicit in providing a platform that allows predatory behavior, especially if they do not have a system of checks and balances in place to catch swindlers and protect filmmakers (that being said, I’m not very familiar with the background checks FilmFreeway performs when new festivals are trying to sign up). Also, I think their search engine algorithms need an overhaul. With such an extensive festival library, one would also expect their search options to be well curated, but instead they are quite limited, to such as degree that I’m often unable to find results for even basic word matches. My last gripe with FilmFreeway is about peer review system, which I find more inhibitive than it is probably intended to be, and I don’t believe it should be used, let alone exist, as our business is one of art and subjectivity, rather than one in which a simple service is fulfilling a demand. This is definitely a subject I’m passionate about, and I could go on for pages, but will refrain myself. To close off this diatribe though, I must mention that WithoutABox leaving the market absolutely makes FilmFreeway the best submission tool at a filmmaker’s disposal, but there are plenty of other platforms to check out that offer competitive submission pricing, including but not limited to FestHome, ReelPort, and ClickForFestivals.

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

Impossible to make an educated guess, so instead I’ll say that the album I’ve listened to the most times in my life is probably Linkin Park’s “Hybrid Theory”.

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

Following “The Hobbyist”, I produced “Mariposas” for director Adrian Carey (who happened to have edited ‘The Hobbyist”) which shot in the Summer of 2016, and hit the festival circuit about a year later, where it is still making the rounds, having accumulating over 70 Official Selections so far, including from Dances With Films, Orlando Film Festival, and The Art of Brooklyn Film Festival. This 3minute super short film is also an adaptation, this time from Argentinean author Samanta Shweblin’s short story by the same title. The story lives in magic realism, following a boastful father who prattles on superficially about his daughter to another parent in the school pick up line, but is unable to perceive her when it matters most.

The most recent short film I’ve produced is ‘My Daughter Yoshiko‘, which follows a Japanese mother coming to terms with her daughter’s Autism diagnosis. This story is based on true events, and we successfully crowdfunded the majority of the budget. Writer + Director Brian Blum’s last film “Blood & Water” was BAFTA nominated, so we have high hopes for this short film on the festival circuit, and are actively waiting to hear back from top tier festivals as to where we will hold our World and International Premieres!

 

Interview with Filmmaker Liz Lachman (PIN-UP)

PIN-UP played at the October 2018 Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival to rave reviews.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Liz Lachman: This film was motivated by my own experiences and artist friends experiences of feeling never good enough and emotionally “empty,” always searching for perfection in our work, ourselves, everything outside of ourselves. On closer examination I realized that the feeling of being loved was actually the thing we were all in search of.

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

The short was actually taken from my feature film script- so not including the writing of that, I would say from writing to final mix was probably a year.

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

Psychological, haunting

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

The biggest obstacle was not enough money to shoot for more days. We had to cram probably too much into the 4 days we could afford and that meant some artistry suffered. We couldn’t take the time to set up the shots we had planned so all of a sudden lots more handheld camera… stuff like that. It still works, but I would have liked to see what we actually had planned to shoot!

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

Initially, when the MC asked what people thought about my film – there was dead silence. My stomach and heart sank. But then she shared her own feelings and it seemed to open everyone up and then they started talking about their reactions. And it was SO OVERWHELMINGLY POSITIVE that I was thrilled!

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

The idea for the short was based on my feature script- but instrumental in the idea for that was that I became physically attracted to a painting of a pin-up calendar girl. I was so blown away over what triggered that in me- how that could happen, that I began to examine what was behind it all. And then … down the rabbit hole!

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

If you’re asking which film I’ve seen the most times- the answer- no question- is GROUNDHOG DAY. In the guise of comedy, that film examines some very deep and wonderful themes! And it’s hilarious.

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

FilmFreeway is SO EASY! They keep track of things, remind you if you’ve already submitted, let you know what festivals are upcoming- it’s easy to see what you’ve submitted to with results, it’s a user friendly platform. Really like it.

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

As a former singer/songwriter- I’ve probably listened the most to MY OWN songs- RUMBLE is probably my favorite (you can hear it on my website http://www.lizlachman.com). When I couldn’t get the rights to the song I wanted for Pin-Up I decided to put one of my own songs, RELENTLESS, in there and it worked great! BUT barring my own work- my all-time favorite that I never get tired of hearing- and a brilliant song, probably a perfect song: “WHY” by Annie Lennox. OMG -sheer poetry.

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

Next for me is working on getting the feature version of PIN-UP made. As I mentioned, the script is written and I’ve had a budget put together on how much it will cost to make- that turns out to be 2.8 million. (Not a huge sum but more than I have in my pocket!) Now I need either the money- OR to attract an actress or executive producer who loves the material and can help draw that money. I also have 2 screenplays under option being shopped to major directors and talent, so my fingers are crossed on those as well. So that’s what’s next!

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Interview with Filmmaker Jessica Chung (SUSHI MAN)

SUSHI MAN played to rave reviews at the September 2018 Under 5 Minute Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jessica Chung: This was my thesis to get my animation bachelors diploma.

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

It took me about 10 months.

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

Unexpected and playful.

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

Because I wanted to work on the story so much, I didn’t have much time to focus on the animation. So for me, the biggest obstacle was to move on from animation to start the rendering process.

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

I love how there were so many different opinions ans views about the story. Thank you so much you guys!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

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

I wanted the story to be very interesting and to have two main opposite characters that would somehow work together out in the end. I went through a couple of different options until I thought about a man that cuts fish for a living. At this point, I thought: “Oh, ok. Let me do a fish vs. man type of story” But, I ended up thinking of evolving the fish into a mermaid to add a romantic element.

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

I think it is between “Lilo and Stitch” by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, or “Modern Times” by Charlie Chaplin. xD

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 very convenient and easy to use.

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

Phew! This one is a hard one.. I would say it is “Let’s Groove” by Earth Wind and Fire. It was my alarm for probably two whole years in High School.

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

Working on a couple of exciting new projects that include music videos and animation in a feature film.

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Interview with the Filmmaking Team of the Award Winning Short Film “HOTTER WITH THE WINDOWS OPEN”

Director Julie Haberstick. Writer John Houston. Winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the August 2018 Romance Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

John: I wanted to tell a story that wasn’t the usual romantic story but would somehow bind these two people together no matter how badly they needed to be torn apart. Or maybe vice versa. Also, this is Footprint Productions’ first film, so we wanted to showcase the talents of our team. We didn’t have a huge budget, so we were trying to make something compelling within the confines of our apartment.

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

John: I wrote the script pretty quickly, Julie and I did some re-writes and planning. We shot within a month or so, plus some reshoots. Then, because our budget was so small, we really relied on favors. So I think it took us the better part of two years to get the film finalized and ready to be seen by the world.

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

Heartbreaking Growth.

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

Julie: Halfway through filming the most emotional scene in the film, our production was shut down due to a location dispute. We had to pack up immediately, and we weren’t sure how to move forward. We chose to have an impromptu wrap party at a bar down the street (complete with karaoke), and picked up shooting a few months later. Thankfully, that pause allowed us to sink our teeth into the scene in a whole new way.

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

Julie: To see Hotter affect the audience, for the creative choices to elicit emotions in ways we intended—and even in ways we didn’t—is incredibly gratifying.

John: It felt good to hear people talking about the film, reacting to it. Sympathizing with our characters, enjoying the heightened language of love.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:


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

John: I started thinking about what sort of love is forbidden and impossible… truly impossible, when the two must remain in each other’s lives, tethered. I also wanted to love and hate both characters, to feel for them, root for and against them. I especially wanted to make the leading man appealing, flawed, heartbreaking, and heartbroken.

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

John: Remember the Titans. I think I could quote the whole thing pretty accurately.

Julie: I have to admit 10 Things I Hate About You is my guilty pleasure…

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

Submission platforms are really convenient. They could be a little more user-friendly, but I’m sure in time they will make it easier and easier for people to get their films seen.

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

John: I listened to a lot of Tina Turner as a kid. And the Beatles and Elvis. But the individual song? There were a few angsty years where a couple Coldplay songs or Johnny Cash were on repeat.

Julie: The Big Chill soundtrack, and California Dreamin’ by the Mamas and the Papas are my most listened-to albums. But “More Than a Feeling” by Boston is my number one song.

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

Footprint’s next film is almost ready for a festival run. Don’t forget the name Footprint Productions because we have some awesome things in the works.

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