Interview with documentary filmmaker Jenna Gartlan (MISSING PEACE)

MISSSING PEACE played at the November 2017 Short Film Festival to great reviews. It is by far one of the most unique films the FEEDBACK Festival showed in 2017.

 
Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

I was really shocked to learn about Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID), but I was instantly intrigued. I have always been interested in ‘fringe’ or unique aspects of people’s lives. When I read more about the condition and spoke to those who suffer from BIID, I realized that their stories weren’t being told properly. The media had been sensationalizing their plight and was more interested in criticizing than helping bring awareness and understanding. I also realized that people with BIID just want to be happy and accepted and I really relate to that and sympathize.

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

I came up with the idea in November of 2015 and we finished the film in the summer of 2016. So about 9 months.

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

Provoking acceptance.

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

The biggest obstacle was filming in two countries on a small budget for a short timeframe.

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

I liked hearing what people had to say, and at the end of the day, there are many things that I would have liked to have done differently but time, budget, and availability of our subjects were tough to navigate.

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

I came up with the idea after reading about BIID in an article.

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

Hot Fuzz (2007) or the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

8. 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 helps a lot of emerging artists by simplifying the submission process and clearly explaining what needs to be done.

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

I can Feel a Hot One by Manchester Orchestra

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

I have been working away in the industry while writing on the side. I hope to be working on a comedic web series in the next coming months.
 

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

MISSING PEACE, 17min., USA, Documentary/Drama 
Directed by Jenna Gartlan

Missing Peace follows Chloe Jennings-White and Jeremy as they struggle with Body Integrity Identity Disorder. Chloe wishes to be paraplegic, and Jeremy wants to cut off his hands.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

 

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Interview with Bartek Kmita, Kamil Krynski, Wojtek Szwed – (Directors/Screenwriters PARADIGME)

PARADIGME was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the December 2017 Sci-Fi Film Festival in Los Angeles. 

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Bartek: The main motivation to create this movie was actually pretty simple, to graduate the school. But instead of making an easy asset for the diploma, I began to think about creating something over the average. And then the idea of the movie came out, but it was almost impossible that day to make it alone. That’s how I decided to do this in cooperation with my friends.

Kami: At the beginning the main reason for creating this film was graduation project we had to make. However during the process of creation something has changed. We stopped care as much about graduation, and start thinking about this as an adventure and best possible way of learning. What is more, number of great ,kind people who helped us is really impressive. We couldn’t let them down.

Wojtek: I’ve heard about the project when it was just an idea, Kamil and Bartek wanted to do some short for graduation diploma. I’ve thought it was an interesting concept, and a way to level up my skills and trying to work as team with other creative people. So I’ve joined them.

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

B: From the first idea to the very end of the development process passed a bit over two years.

K: It took us over 2 years to make this from scratch to finished project. We spent one year on pre-production and another on post-production. It was only 3 days of shooting.

W: 2 Years. It was a lot of work for the three of us, but thanks to help of some amazing people We’ve encountered on the way We did it.

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

K: Save yourself

W: Save yourself

B: Worth creating

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

B: The biggest problem for us was definitely lack of the skill and experience. We had to learn and do almost everything from scratch. When we have been starting this project, we had almost no idea where to start, how to do certain effects, how to organize shooting and glue everything together. Despite the technical problems and lack of time, this was for sure the most difficult part.

K: The biggest obstacle was definitely time. It was pretty huge and time consuming project for us. Everyone of us had to quit the job just to finish a movie. We were already late 2 years with defense of thesis. It was a true race against time. W: Well, pretty much everything You can think of when creating project like this. Lack of time, lack of money and lack of skill/experience. It was pretty ambitious thing for a student graduation project, and sometimes We had really thought that We bit off more lettuce than We can chew.

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

B: Amazed, to be honest. 🙂 We were arguing for hours just to clarify the true story hidden in this movie, and some of the people from the audience who were talking about “Paradigme” actually hit the point perfectly! We left a big part of the film to be interpreted by yourself. Despite the initial story and the idea for the film, there is no clear path to follow in understanding it. So everyone can have a different point of view.

We are glad that there was so many interpretations. The audience’s ideas for the main character and his story are fantastic.

K: I’ve never been in the situation like this before. I was really amazed and little bit excited that someone is discussing and more important – interpreting our work.

W: It really felt amazing. Our project caused a discussion and every person interpreted the movie differently. I think it was pretty much our goal to leave certain things as a mystery and give a each viewer a chance to come up with his own unique conclusion.

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

W: It all started with a really simplified story – and after hours and hours of meetings and discussions We’ve developed a more complex one and decided to go with it. K: In the beginning we had only general idea, we wanted to create something intriguing, giving food for thought. Everyone of us put a little bit of himself into this. Then we started putting pieces together. When it comes to me, it was all about inside battle within me.

B: It is a difficult question and just like the story of this movie, there is no straight answer for this. It started as a very different and much simpler story and then it just developed over the hours of thinking and brainstorms. We were inspired by the Dante’s “Divine comedy” and the journey through the purgatory and hell, but also by movies like Alien, Matrix, etc. Mixing it all together created “Paradigme”.

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

B: I think that each one of us would point a different one, but I guess that for all of us Matrix will be in the tight top.

K: Probably Home Alone hahah

W: I think it’s definitely the first “Alien”. Not many movies made such an impression to me.

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

B: It is a great way to find an opportunity to show your work to broad audience. I think that in the near future, this will become the main way for the artists to share their work and submit to festivals.

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

B: Probably “Last Christmas” by Wham, as it is being played every single year, multiple times, in every media stream, since 1986.

K: Bon Jovi – Living on a prayer

W: Probably “Tool – Schism”, but I’m not really sure.

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

B: Something to amaze. For sure. I’m not done yet.

K: I think I’m not ready for another huge personal project yet. I need to learn a lot. Currently I’m focusing on improving my skills to become a better artist.

W: Perhaps, the time will show.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

PARADIGME, 6min, Poland, Sci-Fi/ExperimentalDirected by Kamil Krynski and Bartek Kmita

 

When you wake up in a cold and empty place. You don’t where you are and how you got here. You are paralized by fear and lonelinnes. The only way leads you to unknown direction. When you subject to curiosity and weakness. You can loose your mind…

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Carl F. Zimmermann (TOE TAG MURDERS)

1. What is your screenplay about?
Clearwater, Florida rising-star homicide detective, Mike Carol gets the chance of a lifetime when he goes to New York to work a two-year stint as a liaison in the Queens 112 precinct. But, the day he arrives bodies start showing up pitting him against the hardcore NYPD detectives he has to work with. The murder victims share two crucial clues – they were all booked for a crime they committed the day before they were murdered and they were all left posed with toe tags attached to their shoeless foot identifying that crime. Somebody doesn’t believe in the justice system. Somebody is a vigilante.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Crime, Mystery, Drama.

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

This is a delightful, suspenseful murder investigation that twists often accurately following NYPD protocol, but often in unconventional ways. You will be surprised by the reveal.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Intriguing investigation

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

Broadcast News

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I wrote it in 6 weeks

7. How many stories have you written?

4 finished features and numerous starts

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

“Suddenly I See” by KT Tunstall

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Finding several NY detectives to consult with to keep things real and authentic – and to go from start to finish in 8 weeks.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I am a teacher, a former member of the Florida House of Representaives and a used car dealer. I am passionate about doing the right thing in everything I do.

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

I love FilmFreeway. It simplifies things for everyone.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

I entered because it was tailored to my genre and it was billed as a premiere festival. The feedback was outstanding. It was very complimentary and very detailed pointing out areas I knew needed to be worked on. I have taken the advice and am currently making the changes suggested.
****

 

Interview with Winning Screenwriter JoAnn Hess (FRAMER)

1. What is your screenplay about?

Simon Webber, intelligent with a high moral compass, exists on society’s edge, mostly forgotten and ignored. When his wife and child are killed by a distracted driver, the court shows an unecpected leniency in the case. Enraged by a justice system that fails to act, Simon retaliates, using his highly technical skills to not only kill the guilty but frame another for the act. While his vengence is sated, its only temporary as he hunts among the dregs of society, where murder is the only outlet for his rage. Simon is pursued by Jack Donovan, an ex-FBI agent turned detective, dealing with his own moral crisis after failing to save a child from a serial killer. Where Simon sees a kindship in Jack who fights his own battle within a corrupt police department, Jack retains a stead-fast belief in the law. As their worlds collide, the line between morality and justice fade, causing a reckoning that neither can survive.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Thriller, Suspense, Crime

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

FRAMER’s themes of vengeance, moral justice and self-sacrifice will have strong appeal across multiple age groups and genders.

It will also garner appeal across social classes and race, especially with those that believe our political and judicial systems have failed. These are all very current and provocative social issues seen all over the news.

Women will be attracted to the struggle of both lead characters as they deal with family issues to protect or avenge children. In addition, FRAMER’s female cast covers a broad spectrum from motherly to strong policewoman exhibiting the characteristics of compassion, power and inner fortitude that audiences of today expect.

Men and older viewers are attracted to FRAMER’s action, suspense, tension and danger. The complex and intense plotline with unique twists will keep male viewers engaged.

Younger audiences will appreciate the cleverness in which Simon facilitates his crimes: the use of technology to commit, trap and frame his victims.

In addition, there is an exuberance of twenty-something characters engaging in activities that 18-30 year old audiences can relate to.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Vigilente justice

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

The Lion in Winter, the subtextual dialogue exchange between the characters is the best I’ve ever seen.

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Three years, this month

7. How many stories have you written?

12 scripts (8 for hire), 1-webseries (optioned), 2-TV series

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

The key was to make an anti-hero character like Simon empathetic enough so an audience would relate to him. It was important to create a character such that, while on the surface his actions are horrific, how would anyone react in a similar situation? I wanted that conversation after the movie was over. Additionally, Simon’s adversary needed to be equally strong and wounded. To do these characters justice, I had to draw from darker places than I’m used to.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
I do Voice over work which is very rewarding and fun. My work can be found on several websites and I’ve voiced several audiobooks. I scuba, play golf when the weather is nice and can be found to play a videogame now and then – I especially like RPGs. Anything with a good story.

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?
It’s really great overall. Easy to submit and find film festivals. There is a great amount of information given and I like all the submission in one place to track. It’s not very flexible though. I’d like to add festivals I entered (not realizing they were available through film freeway).

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
I liked that it was genre specific. That I was competing with like scripts and the judges were experts in the genre. When you enter, a win needs to mean something and being chosen for a read through the Thriller Festival brings credibility to the script as it moves into market.

***

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Drama

A highly-intelligent, socially-disenfranchised man seeks moral justice and eludes a former FBI agent as he manipulates others to disguise his own criminal acts.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR: Rachel Rain Packota

Jack: Isaiah Kolundzic
Walter: Julian Ford
Simon: Jason Gray
Christine: Vanessa Burns
Paula: Olivia Jon

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Robert Cox (DRAGONSONG)

  1. What is your screenplay about?

It’s the story of Tal, a young man with a magical heritage, the son of the Magician Merlin, who finds that after hiding his magic for most of his life, realizes that he must do battle with the sorceress that trapped his father and has tried throughout history to conquer England by allying herself with those who sought to invade her. Now, she has allied herself with the Nazi’s and only Tal, his friend Arthur and his RAF wing, four dragons, and his father Merlin stand in the way of an invasion.

  1. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

War/ Historical, Fantasy

  1. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

The film blends together World War II and the knights of the round table. There are scenes of war and scenes of magic, and the friendship that develops between two very different young men. It is a movie where good overcomes evil. But most of all, it is the story of a young man finding his personal strengths and the magical warrior within himself.

  1. How would you describe this script in two words?   

Historical Fantasy

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

August Rush

  1. How long have you been working on this screenplay? 

6 months

  1. How many stories have you written?

25 – 30

  1. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

“Here I Am”

  1. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Combining actual events with Urban /Rural legends that got their start in WW II, along with the Welsh Language, and combing the German war archives for battle plans.

  1. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Grower and breeder of Orchids, Roses, and Plumeria. Avid reader.

  1. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

On the whole, I have been very pleased, with their timeliness and professionalism. It also is good for keeping track of those festivals that you’ve entered.

  1. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

Have always been a fan of Sci-Fi/ Fantasy since I was a kid. After writing the script for ‘Dragonsong,’ was looking for a film festival that could appreciate it. Have found the feedback that I  received to be very informative and gave me many ideas that I have set to practice, not only in this script, but in others that I’ve written since.

***

Genre: Fantasy

A MIDWIFE carries a newborn to a forest cave. It’s 527AD. NIMUEH, the sorceress, waits there to cast a spell, encasing the child in a crystal tomb, as she did to his father, Merlin. Nimueh kills the midwife to hide her secret.

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR: Rachel Rain Packota

Carolyn: Vanessa Burns
Edward: Jason Gray
Midwife: Stephanie Haines
Nimueh: Olivia Jon

Interview with Winning TV PILOT Writer Katie Grotzinger (MINNIE NOIR)

What is your TV Pilot screenplay about?

Minnie Hughes is a hardboiled noir detective that also just so happens to also be the shortest girl in the fourth grade. When a candidate for class president’s show and tell South African ostrich egg goes missing, Minnie jumps on the case. Meanwhile, she also deals with her best friend Lincoln Park feeling under appreciated after she calls him her secretary and struggles with asking her crush, Vijay Sampat, a kind of male femme fatale, to be her dance partner for gym class.

Why should this screenplay be made into a TV show?

There are so many wonderful cartoons right now inspired by Japanese anime. They take joy in taking the viewer to strange lands and entertaining them with awesome action sequences. I think that’s great, but I also think there’s much to be mined from American genres like noir. Additionally, I think there’s room for quieter shows that embrace more what it’s like to be a kid. I think Hey Arnold and Recess both did that beautifully and I’d like to write something like that for kids growing up.

Most of all, Minnie is for every weirdo kid that finds solace into escaping into another world for one reason or another. For Minnie, it’s noir and her love of mystery comes from the fact that she never got to know her parents, so they’re the biggest mystery of all. If this show could make some kid feel less alone, that would the greatest honor.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Kid Noir

What TV show do you keep watching over and over again?

South Park!

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

Good question! This was actually my thesis project for my Screenwriting MFA at DePaul University in Chicago. I worked on this for a few semesters and now continue to tinker with it off and on.

How many stories have you written?

Quite a few! I try to write every day and have accumulated hundreds of false starts over the years. I have a handful of scripts I’m truly proud of.

What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

I’d say right now it’s “Something Beautiful” by Pansy Division.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

I had a clear idea of the A story in mind from the get go, but my MFA thesis professor and classmates really challenged me to flesh out the B and C stories and I think the pilot is much stronger for it.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I’m a total true crime geek. I regularly follow two true crime podcasts – The Last Podcast on the Left and My Favorite Murder. Both are absolutely fantastic. If I can’t think of anything to watch, I’ll turn on a cheesy serial killer documentary. Also, my favorite true crime book right now is The Yoga Store Murder: The Shocking True Account of the Lululemon Athletica Killing by Dan Morse.

Believe or not, my fascination with The Zodiac Killer actually made its way into an episode of Minnie Noir I’ve been writing – the Christmas special to boot! Nothing violent though, of course. Minnie just struggles to crack a mysterious, intensely complicated code from letters she’s received. (The code, naturally, is composed from stickers.)

What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

Despite working and reworking on this pilot as much as I have, I still recognize that it could always be better. I have a big place in my heart for this story and I want to do anything I can to make it the best it can be, so feedback is a must.

And it’s funny! See, originally, I had two characters named Connor. This was for a couple of reasons. For one, when I was growing up, there was a year where we had three Connors to one class, all spelled the same way, only to be identified by the first initial of their last name. I also have a common name and there’s usually another Katie, so I empathized. It seems like such a staple of childhood. It was also a shoutout to shows I loved growing up like Ed, Edd n’ Eddy and the Ashleys from Recess where the same names are part of the camaraderie and comedy.

But I had gotten the note before that having two Connors was confusing. I finally made the change when I got the note from you guys! Thank you for finally getting me to change it.

You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

It’s been stellar! I’ve submitted a bunch of stuff through FilmFreeway and appreciate how easy it is to find specific contests for certain projects.

Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

I have difficulty finishing scripts unless I have someone to bounce ideas off of. Having a community of writers, or even just one friend, to get feedback from makes scripts come together so much easier and better than they would be in just the isolated writer bubble we all sometimes fall into. Also, watch episodes or read scripts similar to what you’re going for. It’s not only fun, but it’ll give you some inspiration.

****

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR: Becky Shrimpton
Minnie: Kate Varadi
Nick: Scott Beaudin
Dash: Merlin Simard
Ms. Kirkpatrick: Mahtab Sabet
Connor: Allan Brunet
Lincoln: Anthony Tran

Interview with Winning TV Pilot Writer Ed Vela (PSI-COM)

What is your TV Pilot screenplay about?

At a secret government facility, young psychics are being trained and their psychic gifts developed but when one group: Psi-Com 5, finds out about an enhancement program that is killing and maiming some of the younger less powerful psychics, while at the same time discovering a powerful young psychic on the outside being used as a pawn, they decide to try to escape the confines of the Clinic.

Why should this screenplay be made into a TV show?

Psi-Com 5 has at its core a few elements that make it very appealing for episodic television or platform viewing: it has well drawn characters relatable for who they are and who they aren’t, it has a basic “chase” plot element as PC5 works to stay hidden from society at large while staying one step ahead of the Clinic as they relentlessly pursue them, and it combines both a sci-fi and thriller element as it deals with both psychic powers and the danger of the pursuit.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Super Psychics.

What TV show do you keep watching over and over again?

Game of Thrones.

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

A few years.

How many stories have you written?

About 60, if you count stage plays, screenplays and teleplays.

What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

The Longest Time by Billy Joel.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Firstly, the framing device, it seemed natural once I realized that Lynx is such a acerbic character that if you didn’t know what he was thinking he wouldn’t be near as likeable as he ended up being, so I told it thru his eyes. Secondly, the age old dilemma in a pilot: making sure ask more questions than you answer.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I love producing, directing and acting in my own short films, and web series. It offers me a creative smorgasbord.

What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

As a TV pilot there aren’t that many festivals to enter a script like: Psi-Com 5, and this is the 1st contest I have entered it. I found the feedback thorough and helpful.

You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

I find FilmFreeway a fantastic way to search, find and enter festivals all over the country and the world.

Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

If its not a story that you feel you have to write… Don’t write it. If you think it’s interesting… The audience will too.

****

 

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR: Becky Shrimpton
Lynx: Merlin Simard
Lucien: Allan Brunet
Joselyn: Mahtab Sabet
Liticia: Kate Varadi
Titansor: Anthony Tran
Hadley: Scott Beaudin
Cho: Salma Dharsee