Interview with Filmmaker Jesse Gotfrit (SUNLIGHT OVER WATER)

SUNLIGHT OVER WATER played to rave reviews at the December 2017 LGBT FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jesse Gotfrit: The story came from a personal place, from formative relationships and experiences of intimacy that I had in my adolescence, which I thought would resonate with others.

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

From start to finish, a period of about 5 months.

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

Character driven.

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

Probably learning about all the technical requirements and also working to get the best performance from my actors.

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

I enjoyed the mixed reviews. The criticisms were as interesting to me as the compliments.

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

I knew I wanted to make a film that was socially conscious, that had some sort of social ideas that it articulated, but I wanted to draw those ideas from my own lived experiences.

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

Probably a film in the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings series that I binged as a kid.

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

I like it. It gives you access to a broad range of festivals that you might not be aware of otherwise.

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

Honestly probably a Leonard Cohen song, maybe Suzanne because it’s the first on his first record.

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

I have many film projects underway, all related to queer experiences and ideas, as well as some music and writing projects!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

SUNLIGHT OVER WATER, 15min., Canada, LGBT/Drama
Directed by Jesse Gotfrit

High-schooler Merit discovers his sexuality through a tumultuous relationship with his friend Julien.

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

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Interview with Winning Screenplay Writer Jimmy Prosser (BETTER CALL SAUL)

What is your TV Spec screenplay about?

The logline is “Suspended lawyer Jimmy McGill endures community service at a high school where he meets an accused teen, while Mike searches for the distributor of Cheese, a popular new drug.” Going deeper, this episode provides viewers a better understanding of why Jimmy McGill cares about his clients, and particularly those over their head and in situations they did not anticipate. In a flashback, we see teen Jimmy (along with young buddy Marco) devising a clever money making scam but abandoned by older brother Chuck once caught. In present day, Jimmy identifies too closely with an accused teen as he struggles to find a way to defend him. We also learn more about the Hector/Gus rivalry as they make moves to expand from meth to a new heroin derivative that became very hot in this time frame.

How does this episode fit into the context of the TV series?

“QUESO” would be Episode 26 ½ (during Season 3 between episodes 6/7) and opens on Jimmy’s first attempt to satisfy his community service requirements following his suspension by the New Mexico Bar Association.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Achilles heal

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

The show I’ve watched repeatedly over the years is “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Each of the characters are perfectly drawn and I admire the writers’ willingness to really push boundaries. However, the show that I currently admire most is “Black Mirror.” I have been focusing on one-hour drama and, as I work on my own pilot and series bible, the tone and structure of “Black Mirror” is what keeps coming to mind. If I could write for one show, it’s “Black Mirror.”

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I will be graduating in a few months from New York University’s (NYU), Tisch School of the Arts, where I study Dramatic Writing and Producing in the Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television. I’ve written plays, screenplays and sitcoms, but this script, QUESO, is my first one hour drama spec, which I wrote over 12 weeks this past summer.

How many stories have you written?

I’ve always liked to tell stories – but mostly orally to my family and friends. About 4 years ago, I began dramatic writing in earnest so over that time I must have written 20-30 short stories, plays, screenplays, sitcoms and now television drama scripts.

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

Being a kid growing up in San Diego during the 2000s, I have to say “I Miss You” by Blink-182.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

I believe I’ve been able to capture the characters/dialogue and tone of “Better Call Saul” pretty well so the toughest part for me is to formulate the proper four act structure in a way that really communicates the right arc for the A, B and C stories.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Music, definitely. My favorite escapes are listening to music alone or grabbing instruments to play with my buddies as loudly as we can. When I write, a soundtrack always is in my head.

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

As I mentioned before, I’ve written a lot but this is my first drama spec so I was anxious to hear objective feedback. Some of the feedback I received was right on; some I think missed aspects of the script, especially when it comes to Jimmy’s motivation to help Bobby.

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

FilmFreeway has been great. My first experience with it was submitting a short screenplay, “NOTEWORTHY,” which won several festivals and is going to be shot in January. We hope to submit that completed short film to several of the best festivals next year via FilmFreeway because it is very easy to use.

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

As painful as it is, I feel that you must create a full beat sheet before trying to write the script! Once that solid outline is in place, the writing comes much easier. It is tempting to write a fun standalone scene as soon as you think of it, but if you don’t have your structure in place you may find yourself spending too much time trying to wedge that scene into the overall story.

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Genre: Crime, Drama

Suspended lawyer Jimmy McGill endures community service at a high school where he meets an accused teen, while Mike searches for the distributor of Cheese, a popular new drug.

Narrator: Val Cole
Jimmy: Noah Casey
Mike: David Schaap
Bobby/Nacho: Gabriel Darku
Talbot/Hector: Neil Bennett
Secretary: Clare Blackwood
Kim: Lauren Toffan

Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Director: Kierston Drier
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson

Camera Operator: Mary Cox

Interview with Filmmaker Gretchen Bayer (THE FOREST PRINCESS)

Gretchen Bayers short film THE FOREST PRINCESS played to rave reviews at the November 2017 FEMALE FEEDBACK Film Festival. It was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the festival.

 What motivated you to make this film? 

We had this trip booked to visit my family in Indiana. Their 9.5 acre wooded property, my incredibly special and inspirational little niece AND the fact that we had just added some great Sigma Art lenses to our filmmaking arsenal was all the motivation we needed to dream up a story to capture on our trip.

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

We filmed in late September 2016 and released the film on Thanksgiving Day 2016.

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

metamorphosis & flux

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

We have day jobs and had already committed to a couple of side film/editing jobs.

Our biggest challenge was carving out time to work on The Forest Princess.

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

I thought it was VERY interesting to hear the varying interpretations…the theme of death came up a couple times…that was not where we were driving our story, but I like that there is that possibility!

I like that one of the audience members commented that she found the film therapeutic. Our intention was for it to be more of a glimpse…a meditation…not a neatly, wrapped up package.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video: 

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

I had read a brief article about this sculptor/painter in Spain that created ‘land art’…and had specifically painted all sorts of objects on the trunks of trees in a forest.

I come from a family of artists, so we are often sharing new discoveries with one another.

I shared this artist’s work with my sister, Kendra, and told her that I wanted to come up with a story about her daughter, Aerie, set in the forest on the family compound.

She and I wrote the script for Aerie to narrate and act out. We were gathering costumes and talking to Aerie about her role as The Forest Princess and she started talking about the caterpillar forming a chrysalis…my sister and I were surprised to hear these big words and ideas coming out of her 3-year old mouth and decided that we had to write the chrysalis monologue into the script.

  What film have you seen the most in your life? 

The Sound of Music was played EVERY YEAR in our house until I was 11-ish.
In my adult life…that is a hard one to pin down to one.
Here’s the top 4:
Wings of Desire
The Thomas Crown Affair (1968 – Steve McQueen)
North By Northwest
Grey Gardens (documentary)

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

It’s a great channel for getting your work out there. It’s wonderful to create something and send it down a few avenues via FilmFreeway…even if nothing comes of the submissions, it feels like I am honoring the process and effort made… breathing extra life into a project that I worked hard on and am proud of.

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

Wellll…it’s undoubtedly a Radiohead song…i just don’t know which one.
Their individual albums translate into single songs in my soul.

  What is next for you? A new film?  

We just wrapped a couple of music videos and are gearing up for another trip to see the family in Indiana…perhaps another chapter in Aerie’s metamorphosis…

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Interview with Filmmaker Nikhat Powell (THE BENEFACTION)

 

Nikhat Powell’s short film THE BENEFACTION played to rave reviews at the November 2017 FEMALE FEEDBACK Film Festival. It was the winner of BEST OVERALL PERFORMANCES at the festival.

 What motivated you to make this film? 

This was my thesis film for my MFA in Digital Cinema. When I started, I knew it was my one chance to prove to myself that I can direct. Though I’ve taught filmmaking internationally for over 20 years and made directors of many students, I’d never directed a film myself!

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

Because I had to follow a university program timeline, it took me about 15 months to complete it. My sound design and my color grading work was done abroad while I was in the US. Because of the time difference, any communication was super hard and it took more time than I’d ever imagined!

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

Heart warming!

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

Time difference! I was in the US and my film was shot in India. There is a 11.5 hour difference in time between the two countries. Something that could be easily sorted out in a day of face-to-face time often took many times that amount of time!

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

I enjoyed it very much. It was interesting to see the number of people who were in the audience, and that there were several astute and on-the-nose comments from ‘lay people’. Made my conviction firmer, that language is not a barrier in communication. Just the sub-titles wouldn’t communicate. Body language and human emotions are universal.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I’ve always believed in the concept of ‘pay it forward’. I’ve also wondered what decisions the very ‘upright’ me would take if I had to make a choice between my values and my two boys. It always had to be a drama, because I believe touching the human emotion and making a person think about life in general is very important. It seemed that these things, along with karma (which I believe is an offshoot of the pay-it-forward concept) just came together. It evolved from there into this story!

  What film have you seen the most in your life? 

The Sound of Music, closely followed by The Shawshank Redemption! There are a few Indian films that I love too!

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

I wasn’t there in the festival so I am unable to comment on how it was conduted. However, I really like the concept of the audience feedback video that was sent out. It was a beautiful feeling thinking that a lot of people in a room talked about my film, believed in it, and were touched by it.

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

Hmmm… I’ve listened to all kinds of songs, but probably Simon & Garfunkle and Queen have been the singers I’ve loved through all these years. I think Bohemian Rhapsody just might be one of the songs that I listened to hundreds of times.

  What is next for you? A new film?  

Yup! I’ve written the story for my next film. Got through two drafts of it, got feedback from a festival for it, and have to work on it a lot more to make it tighter and smoother. I plan to shoot it in the summer of 2019 in Mississippi. It’s the story how how a young girl helps her grandfather ‘grow up’ and move on in life. Another heart-warming story, even if I do say so myself!! 😀

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Interview with Filmmaker Holly Voges (FELL)

Holly Voges’ short film FELL played to rave reviews at the November 2017 FEMALE FEEDBACK Film Festival.

What motivated you to make this film?

– My creative partner and I are currently adapting a novel. In working on that project we wanted to create something in the meantime. FELL is a story within the novel that we really gravitated towards.

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

– It took us 4 months.

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

– “Feral Fairy-tale”

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

– Finding puppies, and making sure the kids ADR was understandable.

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

– Delighted! What wonderful insights. Clearly the film is a little cryptic, so it was enlightening to hear the interpretations.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

– The film is a story told within the novel we are currently adapting that we couldn’t fit in the larger adaptation. But we really loved this powerful, little tale and we were looking to make a short film, so we pulled it out, changed a few things and made it into it’s own piece.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

– Star Wars

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

– Easy enough. Nicely streamlined.

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

– Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd

What is next for you? A new film?

– YES! We are in post on our latest short and continue to work on the feature adaptation. 

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Interview with Filmmaker Nora Jaenicke (BETWEEN SECONDS)

Nora Jaenicke’s short film BETWEEN SECONDS played to rave reviews at the November 2017 FEMALE FEEDBACK Film Festival. It was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the festival.

 What motivated you to make this film?

I had an idea for an animation, years ago, while in film school, and it was about two people struggling over the hand of a clock. One wanted to move it forward the other wanted to regain lost time from the past and go back in time, so to say, so I thought it made for an interesting concept. The idea of these people being somewhat °off sync° with the world and their inner sense of timing. When I decided to make a film later on, I reached back to my story folder on my desktop and decided to give this one a go. In order for it to be an actual narrative film, I had to create backstories for each character and develop their inner worlds. If I had more time and money, I would have made a feature. I find it a very interesting topic.

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

I had the initial idea in 2007, then I put it aside and got back to it in 2015. It took me a year to find the money to make it. Principal Photography started in 2016 and the film is currently at the end of its festival rounds. It won 33 awards. Very exciting! I never thought it would end up being this successful in the indie film festival scene.

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

Time and Creativity

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

Finding the money, and putting together cast and crew. Finding the right people to create with is almost as hard as finding a partner to start a family with. Many things need to fit. There has to be the right chemistry. And the crew becomes like its own living being. It works as its own ecosystem.

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

I was intrigued. I am always interested in hearing the thoughts the film triggers in the audience. I wish I were there.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Like I said above, I thought of this image of the people fighting over the hand of a clock. Perhaps Modern Times by Charlie Chaplin planted the seed in my mind and I went from there. Aren’t we all striving for that °decisive moment° that °peak moment°. And what danger that we might get so caught up in the perfect composition, setting the perfect scene, waiting and hoping for the perfect moment, that we miss it entirely.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Lolita by Adrian Lyne, Thelma and Louise, Rainman. These are the first 3 films that come to mind.

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

Love it!

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

mmm tricky one. I hear so much music on a daily basis. I listen to it as I write, mostly soundtracks by Hanns Zimmer, to imagine my scenes and get into their atmosphere better. He is my favorite film composer.

What is next for you? A new film?

Whales. A Drama about two sisters who reconnect, after years of being separated. A homage to sisterhood. A Drama about a familys secluded world and the impact that secrets can have on our lives.

 

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Interview with Filmmaker Daniel Möhle (MY BODY)

Daniel Möhle’s short film MY BODY played to rave reviews at the October 2017 HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival. It was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the festival.

What motivated you to make this film?

I wanted to make a short horror film, because I love horror films. I love to be scared by a movie and I also love when a movie has several layers. That was the starting point.

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

It took about 3 months planning and writing. In one day we shot the film and in two days I edited it. While I was planning the day with the actor the visual effects were produced. The score was composed in 2-3 weeks. All in all it took 5-6 months from the first idea to the finished product.

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

Paranoid guilt

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

Getting everything ready for the day of shooting. The actor came in from another city and I didn’t want to shoot any longer than one day. The planning was tight. During shooting the main problem was that it was an incredible hot day in September and the fabric that we glue to the windows in order to keep the house dark didn’t stand the heat. It fell down several times during filming so that the sun would come in – and that was not the atmosphere that I had in mind for the story.

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

Pure joy and happiness!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I thought about making a horror film about guilt and hypochondria. The next puzzle piece was the location. From thereon everything took its course more or less autonomously.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

I remember buying the Ace Ventura 2 VHS as a child and watching it over and over again.

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

It is a black hole because you don’t know what to expect. But it can be a good way to get the film to audiences worldwide.

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

It has to be a song by Die Ärzte or The Cure – but I don’t know which one.

What is next for you? A new film?

At the moment I am writing a sic-fi-horror short.