Interview with Producer/Writer Dan Dark (SPEECHLESS)

Dan Dark’s short film SPEECHLESS played to rave reviews at the October 2017 HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival.

 What motivated you to make this film?  

I have loved horror movies since I was a child. I lived within walking distance of a rental store that didn’t have any age restrictions for R-rated movies, so much of my young life was gathering a few dollars in change from around the house and walking to the Mr. Video down the street. I’d rent the movie with the scariest box art and watch it when everyone else at home was asleep. I had wanted to be involved in the making of a horror film as long as I could remember.

When the time came to finally achieve this dream, I was also motivated by the number of great filmmakers, artists, musicians and writers who were willing to help on the project. It was easy to stay motivated when I knew I had some truly talented people working on the film because, like me, they all wanted to work on a fun little short horror film too.

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

A lot of things fell into place pretty quickly. From my first meeting with Bayonet Media, the film production company that made SPEECHLESS happen, where I was told that yes, this was possible to make and to make right, it was maybe 4 months until we had our finished film.

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

This is a tough one. I would say that the words I would want people to feel or experience are “creepy fun.”

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

Dustin Demoret, the director and editor of SPEECHLESS works at Bayonet and kept us from hitting many obstacles. Lauren Harper, another producer on the film, provided a ton of support and let us film in her home over two evenings and really made sure we got the most out of the limited $10,000 budget.

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

I am a bit of a perfectionist and so I was a little nervous about the feedback part. I didn’t want them to notice all the tiny things that bother me after watching it 100 times. But, seeing film fans give honest feedback was really fun because that’s what movie making is about! You go and have an experience with a piece of work another group of people made and you get to interact with it. Watching movies shouldn’t be passive, it should be something that inspires a conversation and seeing the feedback video really drove home that feeling.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film:

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

Funny story, actually. I have a friend whose son accidentally locked himself in the basement of their hom. The son wrote SOS on a piece of paper and slid it under the door. My friend took a photo of the paper by the door and posted it to Instagram. I loved the idea of something communicating through a series of notes and initially the story was going to follow a boy who kept receiving notes first from the basement then directly into his room as the evil gets closer and closer. I had to pare down the story to the most basic elements for this short, but that is where the idea came from.

  What film have you seen the most in your life?  

I love this question! It’s so hard to say because I was a very obsessive compulsive kid and teen. If I liked a movie I would watch it over and over again, sometimes three times in a day. So what movie have I watched the most? Maybe Little Giants with Ed O’Neill and Rick Moranis or Homeward Bound with the dogs and cat that get lost. Since this was a horror film festival, I should probably include the horror film I have watched the most which would either be Jaws or Return of the Living Dead.

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

Again, I love love love this question. I would have to guess Bohemian Rhapsody since it has been around forever and I have listened to it my entire life.

  What is next for you? A new film?  

I have several short film scripts in the works which are mostly in the horror/thriller genre, but I would eventually love to try my hand at some comedic work too.

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Interview with director Oliver Park (STILL)

Oliver Park’s short film STILL was the winner of “Best Film” at the April 2017 Horror/Thriller Festival. It was a joy to chat with him about the film and his future:

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Oliver Park: I had a dream that inspired the feature idea for STILL and wanted to make a short to raise awareness for it.

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

It took about nine months as I had to spend time working on a crowdfunding campaign for it before filming. After we had the money, we moved very quickly as we had festival deadlines to hit.

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

Sweet dreams.

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

The biggest obstacle with many short horrors is shooting at night. When you’re using a friends house as a location and the sun starts to come up, you’re out of time. We were lucky enough to be able to go back to pick up the shots we were unable to get but t’s never easy when you’re against massive time constraints.

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

Joy! I was so happy that people liked it. You make horror to scare you and just hope it will scare others. I was glad that small things were picked up on like “finish your wine” for example. I agree with the fact that one probably wouldn’t have a shower under those circumstances and I don’t think it’s an excuse that ‘it’s a horror so it’s fine’. If I could go back, I would have put more effort into giving her a reason to get into the shower (she gets dirty from the greasy boiler suit, for example).

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEO from the April 2017 Film Festival:

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

I had a dream about a masked figure arriving at my front door…

What film that you’ve watched in the last 5 years has inspired you the most?

There are FAR too many! Great modern horror is hard to find but I am a huge fan of the recent ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night’.

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

I love to listen to film soundtracks and classical. Anything by Glass, Newman, Zimmer or Einaudi works and I adore Chris Young (composer of Sinister).

What is next for you? A new film?

There are many things going on right now, mainly feature development, so I certainly plan to make many many more films very soon and rest assured, I will stay in horror for now!

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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 Jon James Smith (DO NOT DISTURB)

Jon James Smith’s short film “DO NOT DISTURB” played to great success at the August 2016 HORROR Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jon James Smith: My motivation for making the film boils down to two things. Firstly I had a story and ideas I desperately wanted to share with audiences. Secondly because I want to get my first feature made, and I felt this would be a good calling card for my ability and tastes as a writer and director. This is my second short as a director, and I felt my first didn’t reflect what I’m capable of doing, so wanted to make something I’d be proud of, no matter how long it took.

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

JJS: I wrote the script in one night pretty much instantly from getting the idea. Being based in the UK and having pretty much no contacts in LA, the film took about a year to get going. The actual shoot was only for three days, but I spent a year and a half on post production.

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

JJS: Audience manipulation.

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

JJS: I think the biggest obstacle is always yourself mentally. Funding a short film yourself and spending years of your life on it doesn’t make any logical sense, but you do it because you love making movies and because you have to. In terms of production, the hardest thing to deal with was trying to get a movie going on hardly any money, the other side of the world in LA with a load of people you’ve never met. If I make a movie in the UK, I’m familiar with the locations, I know people, I can pull in favors, and spend time doing things myself. Face to face you can get people excited and bring them on board emotionally so they care about the film almost as much as you do. But having to do everything via email, trusting people you’ve never met, and with an eight hour time difference, gave the process an exciting and terrifying edge. Eventually I found the right producer and everything fell into place.

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

JJS: I think most directors initial natural reaction to criticism and genuine feedback is a negative one, because you want everyone to say your movie is the best thing they’ve ever seen, so you tend to focus on the criticism and don’t take in the positives. You’re really putting yourself out there when you make a movie, so its like a piece of you that’s being put on stage and spoken about. But when you take a step back from that and realize that honest unbiased criticism is so valuable and hard to come by, you can use it to learn and grow. If someones feedback hurts its because its probably true and if you can digest that then you will improve at your craft. I found it a unique experience, seeing an audience on the other side of the world freely talk about something I created. When you attend festivals with your movie, audiences either say nice stuff to you or don’t speak. I wish I’d always get that level of honesty from screenings. The feedback gave me insight into a few of my bad habits as a writer and director, and told me some things I do well.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Film:

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

JJS: It wasn’t so much that I had an idea for a story or characters, but that I wanted to experiment with manipulating and toying with the audience. I was really just playing around, and a small story crafted itself.

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

JJS: As a kid I used to obsessively re-watch action movies I had taped onto VHS from the TV. So probably something like ‘The Last Action’. I saw it on TV the other day for the first time in at least a decade and realized I knew every word of dialogue.

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

JJS: Late last year I returned to LA and entered the Shriekfest commercial competition and somehow we won! Right now I’m focusing on trying to get my first feature made, which is an intense paranormal horror film that continues to explore the idea of audience manipulation. I’m also writing a horror short on the side. The feature film could realistically take years to get off the ground or never even happen, so I want to keep creating content and working on my craft until something bites.

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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 Sébastien Vanicek (MAYDAY)

Sébastien Vanicek’s short film MAYDAY played to rave reviews 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?

Sébastien Vanicek: I have a tremendous phobia of airplanes. So I started to write a movie about a guy who drinks too much to forget that he´s frightened. It started like that and I must confess that at the time I had no idea that the film would become the story of a psychopath / rapist / crazy bold guy who has sexual and degusting visions and will enjoy to see the plane crash!

I wrote the first version in two days, and we re-worked it with Mathieu Abes and Etienne Ement. From there, the film became an ode to the dark passenger we all have in ourselves, an ode to voyeurism, with an anti-hero who, instead of saving lives during a plane crash makes them… do things!!

That’s kind of motivating!

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

SV: Etienne (the Producer) and I were working on a big sci-fi project for about a year and half when we decided that the film was too big for our small production company which only was an association of friends at this time. A team of about twenty members was already involved in the project and we had about 1500€ in our pockets.

So I took two days off and wrote the first version of Mayday.

When I gave it to Etienne, we thought we had to do it really fast to keep the energy we had.

Etienne succesfully found a plane two weeks after, and after the re-writing process we immediatly started to shoot. The whole process took about 2 months.

We had one year of post-production. All of our friends who worked on the film were volunteers and worked in their free time. That’s why it took us so long.

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

SV: It’s an ode to voyeurism.

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

SV: I think it was to make the audience believe in our plane, and its crash. We had a small budget (1500€), and nothing more than a fake plane made and a few crazy people inside it. So we only had cameras and lights tricks, friends moving their bodies like possesed people, a bit of vfx and the sound to made you believe in this crash!

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

SV: It was kind of strange! We’re so far away here in France, and we made this film basically with nothing more than a strong friendship and fun! We are so honored to see it travel like this. And when I saw people I never met talking about it, have reactions, and REALLY PRECISE comments (which were all true and very pertinent), I think the first emotion, which traveled inside me was pride!

For a young director, to see people react to yout little baby made with nothing is strange, exciting, and powerful at the same time!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film:

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

SV: I think I already answered this question in the first one. My strong phobia of the plane, the energy surrounding us at this time to make a fun and powerful film. I think that deep inside of us, there was also the will of making people trust in us by making a believable film with nothing and have their confidence for the future, for bigger projets…

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

SV: I think it’s Darren Aronifsky’s Pi.

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

SV: Yes, we are working on a movie about dogs fights. Stay tuned.

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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 director Margarethe Baillou (LE PARDON)

Margarethe Baillou’s short film LE PARDON played to rave reviews at the October 2016 Horror/Thriller Film Festival.

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

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Margarethe Baillou: I love short stories so, naturally, I love short films. Unfortunately, people tend to think of short stories as little exercises, mostly done by students. That is not at all the case. As a filmmaker, collecting stories is a passion, and some stories are simply shorter than others. Le Pardon is a good example. It is a short story, an audio-visual poem, a moving picture and a love letter to New Orleans which I visited in 2007, not long after Hurricane Katrina when the city was still hurting. At that point, the story had already been written, but I was still looking for the right setting. Experiencing how warmly New Orleans welcomed artists even after the nightmare it had been through was very touching, and I decided to shoot there. So, the location became a major motivator for telling the story.

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

MB: I wrote Le Pardon in Toronto in 2006, my team and I found the right location in 2007, shot it in 2008 and edited it the same year. Then I put it aside for a while when I had my first child before going back to it, editing more and adding the music in 2013. We completed post-production in 2014.

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

MB: Eerie serenade.

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

MB: I kept trying to add on to its story, but it always felt like wearing too many pieces of jewelry. I finally gave up and accepted its length which turned out to be the right decision.

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

MB: I was very impressed by the audience’s insightfulness and imagination. How inspiring for me to have people think that earnestly about such a short story! Thank you!

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

MB: It literally told itself to me one day while I was in Toronto in 2006. I wrote it in one sitting, and it was as though that male voice was telling me his story. Only when I had finished it did I realize I had written it in French. Of course I had to make a few fixes and add stage directions, but it was very eerie in itself.

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

MB: One I admire tremendously and have probably watched the most is Babette’s Feast. It has quite literally all the secret ingredients of an audiovisual feast.

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

MB: My team and I at M.Y.R.A. Entertainment in New York just celebrated the world premiere of our theatrical feature film Drawing Home (www.DrawingHomeMovie.com) at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in Alberta on November 2. The U.S. premiere is going to take place at the St. Louis International Film Fest on November 10. Drawing Home is a 1920s feature film about Canadian artist couple Peter and Catharine Whyte and their life in the Canadian Rockies. Headed by Canadian leads, Juan Riedinger (Narcos, The Romeo Section) and newcomer Julie Lynn Mortensen, it furthermore stars Kate Mulgrew (Orange is the new Black, Star Trek Voyager), Rutger Hauer (Batman Begins, Blade Runner, True Blood), Torrance Coombs (The Tudors, Reign) and Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride, Toy Story, Gossip Girl). Legendary Judy Collins sings the theme song “Stars in My Eyes.” What makes it stand out for Canadian audiences is the fact that it is an American production celebrating Canada. At last, Canadian locations aren’t “stand-ins” for American stories, but we’re really saying this is Alberta. Also, we purposely chose Canadian leads. It is a true love letter to Canada which I love dearly.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the SHORT FILM:

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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 to http://www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.
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Interview with Cinematographer Jeff Cutter (10 Cloverfield Lane)

Chatting with Jeff Cutter about Cinematography and his career could have lasted all day. I generally like to limit the questions to about 10-15 when I do these film interviews because these are very busy people and generally less is more. With Jeff, I literally could have asked him 100s of questions as we were just scratching the surface. This is one of my favorite interviews to date. A must read for anyone working or wanting to work in the industry.

Jeff’s cinematography credits include “Gridiron Gang”, “Catch .44”, “Yellow”, “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, “Playing It Cool”, and “10 Cloverfield Lane”

Matthew Toffolo: “10 Cloverfield Lane” is set to hit the theatres this week. Can you give us a sneak peak as to what to expect? How was your experience working on the film?

Jeff Cutter: Expect a taut, tense psychological thriller with 1 or 2 big surprises. I had a great time working on the film as we had a wonderful director in Dan Trachtenberg and an extremely supportive production company in Bad Robot. It was a relatively small budget, and had challenges as a result, but since it is mostly a very contained script we could maximize the resources we had.

Matthew: Do you have a favorite experience in your work as a Director of Photography? What film are you most proud of?

Jeff: I am most proud of my latest film, 10 Cloverfield Lane, because the photography is very close to what I had hoped we could achieve, and in some scenes, better than I hoped. My favorite experience was receiving an email from JJ Abrams about 2 weeks into principal photography, telling me how great he thought everything looked.

PHOTO: Still Shot from 10 Cloverfield Lane.  Starring: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.. Director: Dan Trachtenberg

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Matthew: You have DP’d many music videos. Is this something that you’ll continue to do? Do music videos give you a lot more creative freedom to explore being it’s generally an experimental type of story being told?

Jeff: I haven’t shot a music video for almost 10 years now, which makes me feel very old! Budgets have shrunk dramatically from the heyday of music videos when I started. Back in the late 90’s and early 00’s, music videos gave you so much freedom to explore, but also the funds with which to do it. So almost any crazy idea a director came up with, you could go and do. Traditional narrative tools, like lighting continuity, or realistic lighting sources, get thrown out the window. But creative freedom doesn’t always lead to good work.

Experimenting will inevitably also lead to some very bad work as well!

Matthew: What is the key difference when working on a horror film (Orphan, Nightmare/Elm Street) in comparison to doing a straight up drama (Yellow)?

Jeff: When working on a horror film, it needs to be, first and foremost, scary. So much of the camera work and lighting is dedicated to creating/enhancing the suspense and scares. When filming a drama, you use the camera and lighting to support the narrative story.

Matthew: “Orphan” is an amazingly photographed film. It really sets the mood, tone, and themes of this film and is truly a masterful job from a cinematic level. It executes and then heightens the story to a new level. How was your collaboration with director Jaume Collet-Serra?

Jeff: Jaume was an extremely well planned and thoughtful director. For him, setting the overall mood was the number one priority of the camera and lighting. We watched many classic thriller and horror films, as well as less conventional ones, and discussed the feeling that Jaume was looking for in the movie. Then we mapped out the shots and techniques that would help create this feeling.

PHOTO: Still Shot from Orphan. Starring: Isabelle Fuhrman. Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

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Matthew: What type of film would you love to work on that you haven’t worked on yet? Is there a shot/set-up that you’ve thought of already that you love to do in a film if it fits the story?

Jeff: I am prepping a comedy right now, and it’s my first one. It’s not that I necessarily love comedies or was dying to shoot one, but I do like the challenge of trying a new genre. If you don’t constantly challenge yourself, I believe your creative juices will stop flowing and you become complacent, and no good work comes from complacency. Whenever I shoot a film, regardless of genre, my goal is to create a film that looks different from what people expect it to. I’m not looking to do the typical, predictable thing. Of course, sometimes this results in failure, but nothing great comes from playing it safe.

Matthew: What does a DP look for in its director?

Jeff: I first and foremost look to the director for a vision of the film. When I first read a script, certain broad ideas come into my head, and then when you meet with the director, you hope those basic premises line up with what the director had in mind. Then a good director will guide you into the more specific direction he wants the film to go in terms of lighting, mood and camera work. A good director will challenge you to not settle for less than great work. A good director will pull you back when you’ve gone too far and push you when you’re being too safe. A good director will also listen to you when you know you are absolutely right and they’ve gotten something wrong! These are all the things I look for in a director.

Matthew: Do you have a Director of Photography mentor?

Jeff: I don’t have a DP mentor as such, but I do have many cinematographers who’s work I admire and reference, and whom I hope someday to be half as good as if I am lucky. Working greats like Roger Deakins, Emanuel Lubezki and Bob Richardson along with geniuses no longer with us like Conrad Hall, Jordan Croneweth and Harris Savides.

Matthew: What do you look for when hiring your main team? Gaffer. Key Grip. Camera Operator. Etc…

Jeff: I look for guys who are confident in their abilities, unfazed by last minute changes and complications, willing to contribute ideas but not be upset when they are shot down, and last but not least, pleasant to be around. When you spend 6 and 7 days a week with someone for three or four months it’s much easier when you like them!

Matthew: Where do you see the future of camera/lighting technology in film?

Jeff: In the future cameras will continue to get smaller while packing an even larger punch. And LEDs are the future for lighting. Eventually everything will be based around LEDs as they are fully dimmable, there is access to the entire color spectrum, they are light weight, can be customized into any configuration you want, and are extremely energy efficient.

Matthew: What film, besides the ones you’ve worked on, have you seen the most times in your life?

Jeff: There are a handful of films that I have watched multiple times because the film making is of the highest order, and they are for me examples of perfect photography. These include “Apocolypse Now”, “Angel Heart”, “Jacob’s Ladder”, “Blade Runner” and “Seven” to name a few.

Matthew: What suggestions would you have for people in high school and university who would like to get into the industry as an editor?

Jeff: My suggestions to students interested in getting into cinematography: Watch and re-watch as many great-looking movies as you can, and any movies by the great cinematographers. Find what you like, then go out and shoot as much as you can as often as you can, and start experimenting. Make friends with as many people as you can and start building a reel.

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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 to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Filmmaker Scott Lyus (SILENTLY WITHIN YOUR SHADOW)

SILENTLY WITHIN YOUR SHADOW played to rave reviews at the WILDsound Best of Horror/Thriller Festival in February 2016.

Read interview with the director Scott Lyus:

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Scott Lyus: My main motivation was story and character. I wanted to explore the idea of love for our dreams or our love for another; all within a horror film and the tension that can cause within a relationship. And from that Silently Within Your Shadow was born. Add my ambition to make an old school horror film that didn’t rely on cheap jump scares, blood or gore and instead focused on strong characters and story.

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

SL: From inception to completion was about 5 months. Once I had the screenplay down and knew exactly where I wanted to take the story, I found my cast and crew and we were shooting within a few months. My crew mainly consisted of the same guys that made my last two films Supernova and Order of the Ram. We’ve developed a great way of working together. They know exactly what I want and how I work, and are the best team in the world at making that happen in a short amount of time.

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

SL: Retro Horror.

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

SL: It’s the struggle all indie filmmakers face, budget. We didn’t go over budget and actually came in slightly under once all was said and done, but unfortunately we only made a quarter of our budget via our Indiegogo Campaign, with another quarter coming from private investment and the remaining half from my own pocket. While I was perfectly happy fronting half the budget to ensure we completed the film, it did mean I had to push pre-production back a month or so while I saved the money we needed to complete the picture.

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

SL: Going into the video I was already aware we didn’t win any of your awards, so I was just hoping and praying the audience enjoyed it. But once the dust was settled, I was left with a giant smile on my face. Our ambition for this film was to create a horror film that caused debate. Go back to a time when horror meant something more than cheap jump scares and blood and gore. We wanted people to watch our picture and talk about the themes within the film, the hidden meanings and subtext. I was amazed to see how much everyone really dug into the heart of the film and debated all the hidden meanings. It really was a fantastic reaction.

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

SL: The main theme of the film is the choice between love for your ambitions and dreams, or your love for another and the sacrifices you have to make. It’s something that’s very close to my heart and I choice I have struggled with myself. I try to create my films with multi layers. In this case, the top layer is an old school horror film about a creepy puppet, but underneath you have strong subtext and subject matter. If you want to go in and just be creeped out, I hope we do that, but if you want a little something more, an idea you can sink your teeth in, well hopefully you’ll find that too.

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

SL: I’ve been asked this question a few times and everyone always expects my answer to be horror related. While the original Frankenstein and Texas Chainsaw Massacre come in second and third place respectively, the film I’ve seen more than any other and my favorite film of all time is Casablanca. For me its the perfect film, the best screenplay ever written and I must watch it at least twice a year.

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

SL: Right now I’m touring with Silently, having played 14 festivals to date since October 2015, while also running a solo screening tour in the UK. Project wise, I’m currently in post production on an extended cut of a short film I made for a 60 Hour Film Challenge called Holding Back. Once complete we hope to play a few festivals and maybe add it to a few dates on the Silently screening tour. However the next big project is my debut feature. I’ve just turned in the first draft of the screenplay to my producer and we’re hoping to shoot later this year. So keep your eyes open for that one.

Watch Audience FEEDBACK Video fo SILENTLY WITHIN YOUR SHADOW:

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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 Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.