Interview with director Marina Meijer (CARGO)

Marina Meijer’s short film “CARGO” was the winner of “BEST FILM” at the May 2017 European Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Marina Meijer: I needed to make a film about the importance of women and love, in an environment where she is absent. So I went looking for places at sea (the birthplace of Afrodite, goddess of love), to find a small men’s microcosm, where only men live and work together, seperated from land and the women in (their) life. And then I met Frans, a rough sailor who had lost his love.

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

I did two months of research, and in this period I lived on several ships to meet different crews and men. After I found Frans, I wrote a filmplan, and then my cameraman, soundsman and me, stayed on the ship for a month to shoot. Our school gave us a 6 weeks to edit the film, and then another month for sounddesign, music and other postproductional things! So I think in total it took us half a year to make the entire film.

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

Waves, Women.

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

The fact that is was my graduation film, gave us quite some limitations in our shooting and edit period. But I learned a lot, so it’s not all that bad… And of course the fact that I did a lot of puking at sea, hehe.

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

It made me very happy..! Some things people said, really touched me. I loved it that although it’s quite a subtle story, some people do feel the emotional layer underneath it.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the short film:

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

As a woman, there are places that are almost unattainable for me, places where men are among themselves, isolated from the outside world. This film takes place in such a ‘man’s microcosm’ at sea, a place where men and women are physically separated. It’s a place that intrigues me, because it feels out of balance. It’s a small world that symbolizes the world in which we now live, where the ‘hard’ and strong often dominates, and where the soft and sensitive is still struggling to break through. For me this film is a portrayal of this struggle with feelings. About a man who lost his wife, his unexpressed feelings and loneliness within this men’s world. A small film about the importance of women and love, which becomes even bigger when she is no longer there.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Beau Travail, from Claire Denis or Three Rooms of Melancholia, from Pirjo Honkasalo.

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

‘Maggot Brain’ from Funkadelic or ‘If you want me to stay’ from Sly and the Family Stone. And I still don’t know the lyrics.. Words are not that important to me, i guess.

What is next for you? A new film?

I hope so! Working very hard on a new idea.. I’m very uncertain about a lot of things in my life, but filmmaking is the one thing I’m very sure of, that I really want and need to do.
 
 

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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 Urs Kälin (FAREWELL)

Urs Kälin’s comedy “FAREWELL” played to rave reviews at the May 2017 European Film Festival.

 Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Urs Kälin: I created the script to this film in a workshop. In my head were ideas about a road movie with dark humor. After I finished the script it wasn’t easy to find the right persons for directing and producing this idea. After a while I couldn’t wait longer for the right persons so I decided to produce the film by myself and tried to do what I learned on a set as an actor.

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

I created the script to this film in a workshop. In my head were ideas about a road movie with dark humor. After I finished the script it wasn’t easy to find the right persons for directing and producing this idea. After a while I couldn’t wait longer for the right persons so I decided to produce the film by myself and tried to do what I learned on a set as an actor.

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

I think it took almost three years from the idea in the workshop till the premiere in the cinema. It was a very long time but I learned a lot. For example, I didn’t edit any film
before. So, I had to learn to edit my film by myself and there were many try and errors.

Sometimes I’m still thinking I should have done it like this or this if I watch the film but at one point you have to finish it.

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

Dark humor

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

The work next to the set especially for the pre- and post production. I had to learn all these things like find the right locations or editing and if you don’t know the editing program for example it is hard to find the right way. It was also difficult to find the right way for this project. There are so many ways to complete a film.

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

I was very nervous to see the feedback video. I couldn’t imagen how the audience will react. But if I was watching it, it made me very happy!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the short film:

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

I was thinking about a film that is like a road movie with a dark side. I had several ideas when I wrote the script. At the end, I was trying to create dark humor with a sensitive
touch.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

I think I like drama and comedy or tragicomedy.

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

This is a difficult question. I think it has changed during my life and I listen so many different kind of music. I think it is Rock and Hard Rock and some 80’s pop.

What is next for you? A new film?

Right now, I’m on the pre production of a new short film. I try to find some sponsors for a new idea. This film would be more social critic. I would try to animate the audience to think about culture and what did it to them or not.

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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 Petretti (STATE OF EMERGENCY MOTHERF***ER!)

Sébastien Petretti’s short film “STATE OF EMERGENCY MOTHERF***ER!” was awarded “Best Overall Performances” at the May 2017 EUROPEAN Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Sebastien Petretti:

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

« State of emergency motherfucker! » is born during the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Paris and Brussels.

Everything gets out of control.

I can’t complain, I’m on the good side of things with my « angel » face. But I’ve to admit I find it difficult to stay put and do nothing as I see minorities being stigmatized (in the best all cases.)

All this led to this comedy.

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

Around 6 months

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

3 words : DURUM & SEX & COPS

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

Finding Police cars and uniforms to rent.

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

We really enjoy it ! Thanks a lot. It’s very interesting to see people talking about your film without being there. They can be honest without being scared to say something wrong in front of the director 😉

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the short film:

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

The Paris & Brussels terrorist attacks.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

The Big Blue from Luc Besson.

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

Bohemian Rhapsody from Queen

What is next for you? A new film?

I’m currently finishing my last short film called « Make Aliens Dance » . A 25 min drama happening in UK.

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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 writer/actor James McDougall (WALKING SUPPLY)

James’ short film “WALKING SUPPLY” was awarded “Best Cinematography” at the May 2017 CANADIAN Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

James McDougall: I was reading about Russian history in the wee hours of the morning and stumbled across some terrifying true stories. During Stalin’s regime, when two prisoners would escape a Gulag, they would sometimes bring along a third man whose sole purpose would be for meat if they began to starve. That idea both disturbed me, and made me want to delve deeper into that story. I identified with the third man, and started to think about how scary it would be to find yourself in the middle of the Siberian wilderness with two men who are stronger and faster, and finding out that you were brought along to be eaten. I not only wanted to write this story but I wanted to play the role of the unsuspecting victim. I really connected with that character and knew I needed to play him from the beginning. That, coupled with the fact that we recently did a huge gear upgrade at our company Mountain Man Media and Derek Barnes and myself were itching to shoot something with the new toys made for a perfect combo that got our idea into action. I was also really motivated by the challenge of pulling off something this ambitious. It’s a period piece set in the wilderness, in 1950 U.S.S.R., and in the dead of winter. As an actor this felt like a role of a lifetime and I wanted to do it justice.

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

Well, I started thinking about making this short about three years ago but Derek Barnes and I began writing it January 2016, we wrote multiple drafts, and went to camera soon after in March 2016. We shot 2 days, broke for a month while the seasons changed and myself and the other actors lost some weight (about 20 pounds each), and then went back to shooting our final 4 days in mid April. We submitted some rough cuts to a few festivals before but our film was officially finished in Sept. 2016.

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

Russian cannibals.

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

The biggest obstacle was probably shooting WALKING SUPPLY over 6 days in the wilderness. Lots of complications can come up when shooting outdoors, especially in the winter. We were an indie production, all out of pocket and we couldn’t afford trailers or heating tents and the cast and crew were notified in advance to dress warm and that they may have to poop in the woods. Everyone who came out totally played ball and lots of the shoot felt like an epic camping trip / hike. We had to journey up steep trails, trudge through swamps, get tied off on high cliffs, and the first 2 days were shot overnight in the blistering cold Canadian winter. It was a challenge, but tons of fun.

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

My initial reaction to the feedback was just feeling very grateful. I was really happy to hear peoples thoughts on our film and to hear that lots of people loved it and were really invested in the characters and the story was really cool and the most an actor/screenwriter could hope for. Even the constructive criticism was great to hear as we were currently developing a feature version of WALKING SUPPLY and any feedback helps immensely. I was also honoured to learn that we won best Cinematography as Derek Barnes who is my co-producer / co-writer / and the director of the short also was the director of photography and he put so much effort into the overall look of the film. He and our awesome crew really went all out in shooting this with epic drone shots, some stellar crane work, and Derek was even was tied of on a cliff standing on a ladder at one point just to grab a shot. I’m so glad Derek received some recognition for his stellar cinematography.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the short film:

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

It began when I was reading about some terrifying Russian history about how when two prisoners would escape a Gulag they would sometimes bring along a third man to kill and eat if they needed sustenance. So while the actual idea is inspired by true events, Derek Barnes and I came up with the story for WALKING SUPPLY by researching many historical facts from 1950 U.S.S.R. and coming up with fictional characters set in that world.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Good Will Hunting

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

What I Got by Sublime

What is next for you? A new film?

It’s been a good year so far. I’m an actor first and foremost and was very lucky to recently book a principal role on CONDOR, a new TV series shooting in Toronto. That has been an absolute dream to be apart of. I also booked a supporting role in the upcoming rom-com feature THE PERFECT KISS which is set to premiere in winter 2017. On the filmmaking front I just finished producing my first feature film, an experimental piece called LANGUAGE directed by Elizabeth Lazebnik. It is essentially King Lear performed by 11 actors who all speak a different language. The creative team behind it is incredible and we are very excited to hit the 2018 film festival circuit. And lastly, Derek Barnes and myself are working with an amazing and accomplished producer right now developing WALKING SUPPLY into a feature. The script is coming along quite nicely. I’m loving the character development, twists, turns, action, and suspense we are able to explore in a full length version. Once we are happy with where the script is at we’ll be shopping it around and hopefully returning to the wilderness to shoot sometime in the near future.

Final comment

Thanks so much Matthew and your entire team at Wild Sound Festival! It’s been a joy to be apart of and it’s amazing what you do. Thanks for continuing to support indie filmmakers through screenings, feedback sessions, and just helping to get the word out about our films. I’ll definitely keep submitting our films your way and I encourage other filmmakers to do the same. All the best!

James McDougall – Actor/Screenwriter/Producer
Twitter and Instagram: @ActorJamesMcD
WALKING SUPPLY

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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 Editor Sarah Lucky (Grace and Frankie)

graceandfrankieIt was a pleasure having editor Sarah Lucky answer some questions on the editing process and the art of being a great editor.

 Matthew Toffolo: Tell us about the GRACE AND FRANKIE experience? How is editing the show?
 
Sarah Lucky: I can’t say enough good things about my experience on Grace and Frankie.  The crew is one of the best I’ve worked with, especially the 3 female producers at “Okay Goodnight” Marta, Robbie and Hannah.  The cast is a dream come true for me.  Obviously their careers speak for themselves.  
  

You’ve been an Assistant Editor on many high profile films. What is the typical day for an Assistant Editor on a big budget film? 
 
A typical day for an assistant, during shooting, is getting the footage ready for the editor to cut.  We ingest all of the footage and arrange it into scene bins.  tTen we usually script each scene so the editor can look at a digital copy of the script, where each line is linked to a take in the footage.  This way an editor can easily find all of the readings of each line.  This is especially helpful while working with directors and producers.  Assistant Editors also work on sound effects and temp VFS.  I have spent many days agonizing over after effects.  We also turn over the movie to sound and music so they may work their magic. 

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned doing this job to help you grow as an editor? 
 
I have to say one of the major things I’ve learned is trusting my instinct.  When I started season 1, I constantly second guessed myself.  Now I trust myself a bit more.  It’s a constant learning process.  I have always tried to learn from the editor’s I have assisted to gain their knowledge and advice, and I still do. 

What makes a great editor? What skills does he/she need?
 
I feel that most great editors are in touch with the emotions of each character and each scene.  They have an attention to detail and a good sense of rhythm. they know how to work well with others and collaborate with directors and producers. I also feel that a great editor loves what they do, no matter what the project is. I have always gotten attached to all of the projects I have worked on, even as an assistant. 

What is an editor looking for in their director? What is a director looking for in their editor?
 
I love working with a director that is willing to listen to the editor.  It is great when they are willing to work as a team to get the best possible cut.  Directors that are mindful of exits and entrances and transitions are also a big plus.  Getting enough coverage that’s interesting and has good continuity.  Continuity! Options! 

Is there a type of film that you would love to edit that you haven’t edited yet?
 
I would love to edit a feature.  I’m a movie fan and have always liked being part of the movie making process.  I would cut any genre because each one is a different experience. 

What film, besides the ones you’ve worked on, have you seen the most times in your life?
 
Casino and When Harry Met Sally.  I am not sure how many times I have seen Casino, but it’s up there.  I am a huge Scorsese fan.  Thelma Schoonmaker (Scorsese’s long time editor) is one of the reasons I wanted to be an editor.  I have watched many of his movies over and over.   As for When Harry Met Sally, well that’s just a great film. 

What suggestions would you have for people in high school and university who would like to get into the industry as an editor?
 
My advice is to PA in editorial on a feature.  Getting experience in a cutting room is priceless.  I have learned so much from watching and learning editors like Michael Tronick, Roger Barton, Mark Livolsi and Tom Costain.  Each one has shaped me as the editor I am today.  Ask questions and pay attention on each show you work on.  There is nothing like hands on experience. 

Where did you grow up? Was working in the Film Industry something you always wanted to do?
 
I grew up in Los Angeles. My dad was in the film business, so I have been around it my whole life.  Honestly I started out wanting to be a veterinarian, but my allergies made that career a bit of an issue.  I fell in love with editing in high school/college.  I really love the creative part of editing.  It’s like putting together a puzzle.  It is amazing how you can give the exact same footage to two different people and you will get completely different results.  One may not be better than the other.  Just different POVs.  That is very cool to me. 

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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 Jake Gutwillig (SHELTERED)

 SHELTERED was awarded “BEST MUSIC” at the April 2017 Horror/Thriller FEEDBACK Film Festival

 Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jake Gutwillig: A lot of different things motivated me to make this film, for example thematically telling a story about how challenging parents and authority truths is important. Though the biggest factor is that as much as I enjoy watching films, there’s nothing I love more than making films. The various phases of production, the hard work and teamwork that is being on set, and the satisfaction that comes with creating strong collaborative relationships while completing a hopefully strong short that a whole team can be proud of. I also really want to and plan to make a feature film and this short, among others I have made was one of the biggest stepping stones for me as a director, writer, producer with all that occurred and the big production with a low budget mentality that it had.

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

From start to finish we got this project done in about 7 months. I started writing it in August, it was shot in November and finished in post around the middle of March.

How would you describe your short film in two words?

Claustrophobic, Untrustworthy

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

The biggest obstacle facing the film was actually finding the location to shoot the shelter. We didn’t have enough money to rent studio space and didn’t actually lock our location until a week and a half before we had to shoot. We found a large basement space below some industrial buildings, and I exchanged doing photography for a business for free use of the location’s basement. For three straight days, which is all we were given before we were to shoot there, our art department was working non-stop building our set up in the homemade style sound stage we created in that basement.

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

Watching the feedback was really incredible, as so many people understood so much of what I was trying to do, and some of the theories and metaphorical meaning put behind some of their thoughts after the showing was exactly what I was going for and hoping the audience would take away. It also seemed like my theme was clear, and a few things I was worried that other audiences didn’t get right away this audience did.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I came up with this idea based off of a theme I really wanted to explore, but once I had that down it really came to what I could do logistically for this short. I knew I needed to make a short where everything essentially took place in one location, so I started writing random ideas for one location shorts with the theme of trust parents, and that idea that to learn truth we have to find it for ourselves and not just rely on what others tell us. I tried to make the location something different than your average in-house setting, which led me to the shelter. I began to like the treatments I would come up with around a kid being stuck in a storm shelter, and I started to dive more into this character I kept creating who was stuck in this shelter, and through various versions and various experiences for this main character it kind of turned into what it did. Though the theme was there every step of the way and shaped the story more than trying to restrain myself around the logistical limitations.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

The film I’ve seen the most in my life is probably ‘The Wizard of Oz’, though that’s because when I was a lot younger I’d watch it essentially everyday. As of more recently, the film I can’t stop watching is ‘Brazil’.

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

I don’t know if there’s one song I’ve listened to the most in my life, as I always bounced around genres, but ‘Wino Junko’ by the Wings and ‘Sunny Afternoon’ by the Kinks are two songs I seem to never get enough of.

What is next for you? A new film?

I’m currently working on making a very low budget feature this summer in the psychological thriller genre. The script is written, and some of the elements are falling into place putting us close to pre-production. I’m taking a lot of what I learned from making ‘Sheltered’ in terms of the feature story also having a central setting and small cast, though thematically and visually it’ll be a very different project. I’m hoping to continue writing features and directing short and long form videos, whether it be my videography work or my hopeful jump into feature filmmaking.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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Interview with director Cibele Santa Cruz (THE MAN FROM THE SWIM LANE ASIDE)

THE MAN FROM THE SWIM LAND ASIDE was the winner of “Best Performances” and “Best Cinematography” at the April 2017 Female Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Cibele Santa Cruz: I received an email from a great friend with just a text, that ended up being used in the last scene of the movie, after he swimmed in the middle swimming lane. It was my inspiration to write the whole script. To tell the path of a man in search of love.

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

It took me about 6 years.

How would you describe your short film in two words?

Love and Search

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

The biggest obstacle was the the fanancial. The whole filmming, I did with what I was able to get from a crowdfunding and with the whole crew and cast that did it for free. The post production I did with my own resource that I was able to put together.

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

I was totally thrilled to see that the film had touched an audience in a different country. Listening to them talkinf about the movie, the details of what marked them was excellent. Thank you so much for this experience!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I really wanted to direct a movie, but it had to have something to do with me. And after writing the script, I read it to my best friend, and she started to alter the script with me. We appointed the text we wanted for each scene, but we thought that they needed to be less common, they needed to be more like the text from the last scene, which was the text that lead me to write the whole script. We wanted it to be kind of weird. So, I asked my poet friend to work with me in the dialogues, and in one afternoon, they were ready. He took the colloquial out and brought the poetry to them, without losing the female point of view.

Then I had the courage to read the script to a group of friends that also work in the movie industry, and all of them thought that I had to do the film. That motivated me, because they are professionals that I admire. A lot of them ended up being a part of the crew in the movie.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

In the mood for love by Wong Kar-wai

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

I listened to a lot of Caetano Veloso.

What is next for you? A new film?

I am formatting a project for a documentary that I created, and I am also starting to write a TV fiction series, both of the projects I want to direct. In parallel, I continue to work as a Casting Director, and at the moment I am working in two TV series and a 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.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed