Interview with Filmmaker Dazhi Huang (NIGHT LIVE)

NIGHT LIVE played to rave reviews at the April 2018 Experimental & Music FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Dazhi Huang: This film is my graduation thesis, In the month when I was brainstorming for the script, two unfortunate incidence happened: One was the Pulse shooting, the other one was a white policeman killing an unarmed black man. I was traumatized by both event, and I was also fully aware of their social effects which magnified by social media and live streaming. I had this impulse to put my takes to these two incidents into my upcoming film, but u sing a more lighthearted, entertaining way, in order to portray it authentically to myself, to make it fit for the environment that I live in.

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

It took around 3-4 months

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

Night Live

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

Finding the actors and coordinating the schedules of the crew(I didn’t actually have a producer this time so it was really tough and annoying)

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

I discovered a lot of new things that I never knew about my own film, so I was amazed.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

During the creation period of the film, I had a tough relationship with my father, so some parts of life naturally blended into fabrications

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

Week End by Jean-Luc Godard and Persona by Ingmar Bergman and Friends the sitcom

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

It’s a great platform

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

The times there are a changing by Bob Dylan

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

I wish, I’m going to grad school for film directing

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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Interview with Filmmaker Kaitlin Creadon (FOR THE LOVE OF THE CHILD)

FOR THE LOVE OF THE CHILD played to rave reviews at the March 2018 DOCUMENTARY FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Kaitlin Creadon: With the wonderful opportunity to make any type of film I desired through my schooling, I had the chance to turn this once-in-a-lifetime event into a documentary. Creating this personal documentary was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I knew it was a story I truly wanted to share with the world. A big motivation for completing this film was the hope that someone else
going through this will see it, and that the film will help them through their own journey.

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

I started working on the concept in August of 2016 and it took about a year and a half to produce and edit. Even today, I am still working on BTS as I just have a wonderful goldmine of footage still to share.

How would you describe your short film in two words?

True love.

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

The biggest obstacle I personally faced was overcoming my own fear of being on camera. It is a very personal story, so I knew right from the beginning that I would have to be on camera and talk about my experiences. It was difficult for me at the time, yet I am so glad I put that aside to become an integral part of my own documentary.

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

Excitement, yet surprisingly defensive. Nonetheless, the was extremely interesting to hear the audience’s take on the documentary!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Like I mentioned, through the MFA thesis process I had the chance to work on a film of my choosing. Ultimately, I landed on documenting this experience. Meeting my birth mother in person was something I knew I wanted to do, and this was a great way to do it. I reached out to the adoption agency The Cradle, then Tabitha (my birth mother) Collette (birth aunt), and Robbie (half-brother) and his family, to see if they would be interested in being a part of this as well. I received overwhelming support. It all started to come together, and we began filming!

Even if I hadn’t used this footage for a documentary, I feel so blessed the entire process was caught on camera as it is hard to remember everything that happened in person!

What film have you seen the most in your life?

I think it has to be Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen it on DVD, but the thirteen-year-old me saw it a record seven times in theaters!

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

The submission process for this film festival was quite easy! The Documentary Feedback Film Festival made me feel very comfortable right from the get-go.

What is next for you? A new film?

Currently no films on the docket, however I am a new Adjunct Professor at DePaul University, where I received my MFA in Directing! I am looking forward to seeing what this new journey has in store for me.
for_the_love_of_the_child.jpg

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Filmmaker Adriana Falcinelli (DYING FOR A LIVING)

DYING FOR A LIVING played to rave reviews at the March 2018 FEMALE Feedback Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Adriana Falcinelli: I decided to go back to University and do a film degree course as a mature student and one of the units was to produce a short documentary of 10 minutes or less. I managed to squeeze an extra 3 minutes into mine as my tutor thought it was good enough! We had to pitch 3 possible ideas to the class and the Shaun undertaker idea was the most popular.

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

About 10 weeks.

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

Thought-provoking, funny

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

Structuring a coherent story from all my footage, that is, condensing 8 hours down to 10-13 minutes and depicting Shaun as closely as possible and not wanting to let him down or be disappointed in the end result. I wanted to make something that he would be proud of as he had given himself freely to be in it so honestly, but you never really know and have to let people react in their own way.

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

I felt immensely pleased and proud that an audience in another country was watching my little film. I enjoyed the comments very much and thought they were fair and considered.

Both myself and Shaun were happy with the comments and took the feedback as positive.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I had known Shaun as a friend for about 2 years beforehand and he always had interesting stories to tell about being an undertaker and embalmer. He is a good talker about many different topics and so when they asked us on our course to make a documentary, I knew he would be a good subject, all I had to do was ask and luckily he said yes to being followed around by me and my camera for a few hours every weekend!

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

Probably Goodfellas. Though more recently I’ve been watching several documentaries non-stop on loop.

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

It’s good for me because it’s easy. I can upload stills, prizes, official selections, write my bio on the film page and it’s all there in one place. Entering festivals is straight forward and you can keep track of all your submissions.

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

That’s impossible to answer, I can like one song and play it on loop 10 times in a row depending on my mood and what I’ve bought recently.

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

Yes I’m working on an exciting new project, a feature length documentary – it’s an engaging portrait of how a charismatic 26 year old Czech-based porn actress is inspiring different women across the world to discover and embrace their sexual identities in a new and meaningful way. It’s a story about the female fans of Tracy and how they have overcome personal struggles in their lives such as depression, anxiety and low self-esteem by connecting with Tracy as a person, her work and each other online via the fanbase. Two fans have even met in real life and are getting married this year in Quebec. I want to make something showing the positive aspects of porn rather than the negative we’re so used to seeing in documentaries and reported about.

Or you can use the official 500 word version which sounds more ‘official’:

“Adult entertainer Tracy Lindsay challenges the stereotype of the ‘damaged’ porn actress with her humour, intelligence and optimism. Tracy’s professional commitment to exclusive girl/girl scenes has created a devoted fan base, making important emotional connections with fans via her work and social media interactions.”

Through fan stories we understand Tracy is a kind of therapy, how she helps them overcome personal challenges such as depression, low self-esteem and to accept their sexuality.

An uplifting and engaging story exploring women’s sexuality, their relationship with pornography and how they over-turn conventional wisdom that pornography is solitary and shameful in the internet age.

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Costume Designer Luciano Capozzi (Paul, Apostle of Christ)

In was an honor chatting with with extremely talented artist Luciano Capozzi about the craft and art of Costume Designing.

Matthew Toffolo: Where were you born and raised? Was wardrobe something you were always passionate about? Was “working in the movies” something you dreamed to doing one day?

Luciano Capozzi: I was born in Marino, a small town just outside Rome. I think that as a child, I was immediately interested in show business (laughter)…I always loved everything that had to do with dance, songs, and drawing…it’s for this reason that after my primary school I chose an institute of arts.

It was just in the 80’s (the years of the best success of the “Made in Italy”) when many young boys like me dreamed of becoming a stylist. In those years I was designing jewelry and immediately I realized that it was much more intriguing for me to design accessories thinking about the different types of people that would be wearing them. In my mind i think that my love for costumes was born in those years.

In fact, I loved studying the different social types of people, the various psychological personalities, and to understanding what kind of jewelry could best represent them.

After having completed my studies at the State Institute of Art in Rome in 1986, I took part in a Costume Design competition and from 300 applicants, I was one of 15 that were selected for the first ever design course to be given by Giulia Mafai, a famous Italian Costume Designer

Is there is film/TV show or two that you’ve worked on that you’re most proud of?

I always approach my work with the same enthusiasm and with the same passion, whether it’s a film for the cinema or a long television series … obviously there are projects that I’m particularly attached to…among these, my first international film was an Italian-Spanish co-production directed by the Spanish director Antonio Hernandez: LOS BORGIA a 2006 film that gave me a lot of satisfaction. I won several international awards thanks to it but I like to remember it especially for the synergy that was created on that set between the various departments. Perhaps for the first time, I had the feeling of how much my costumes were loved, appreciated and valued…it is something very important for a costume designer.

Sometimes it happens that even beautiful and appropriate costumes are not valued in the right way

Another project that I love to remember is a television project: TITANIC BLOOD AND STEEL directed by Ciaran Donnely. Also in this case the right synergy between the director and the different departments gave a good result, in fact, the series was considered the best in Europe in that year. It is a clear demonstration of how important teamwork is. I like to think of my work as if it is the performance of a good first violin, in the performance of a larger orchestral work. Especially in these two works I think my style appears, with my personal use of colors and fabric textures, to talk about different characters in different eras.

What type of film (genre, setting etc..) would you love to do costumes on that you haven’t done yet?

I have so many desires…first of all I would like to go back and to tell a story set from the 40’s and 50’s … a Biopic or maybe a film based on a work by Tennesse Williams…this last one would really be one of my dreams…but also a musical, even contemporary, while at the theater I have had several opportunities to try my hand at this genre, I have not yet done with it in the cinema or on television.So…I’m ready to start!

Describe the process of a typical production. How early do you get hired in pre-production? Do you work and report to the Production Designer? Is your wardrobe budget already set in stone by the time you begin your first day?

In general I am contacted for the various proposals by my agency or directly by the producer, of which I immediately get to know some important info…synopsis, setting, duration of the film; once my availability is verified, the first contacts start with the production for a short presentation and then immediately after with the director with whom i immediately start talking about the film.Only after getting acquainted with this last one, i will go back to talk with the production about the budget, and to understand which are the parameters in which we must move our work. Generally for a medium-budget film the preparation is 5 weeks while for a 12-episode TV series it is between 8/10 weeks.

As I already mentioned, the collaboration between departments, with the DP and the Art Director is extremely important to obtain a real good result.

Usually after the first production’s meeting in which the parameters of references are defined, we regularly compare ourselves during the shot.

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What personality trait do you look for when hiring your assistants?

Without question people who are able to be as empathetic, artistically sensitive and generous at work as I am. I could never work, with people who do not live with a great passion.

I have been working with two wonderful assistants for some years, Paola Angelini and Mirjana Panovski. With them I have had the opportunity to create a real and proper team, which I jokingly refer to as a “happy war machine”.

What film have you seen the most times in your life?

Maybe Snow White and Wings of Desire, but it ‘s difficult to answer. There are so many movies from the heart that I love to see again for pleasure or because it is the source of inspiration for my work. My personal video library has more than 800 titles. So let’s say…if I have had to leave for the mo’on, I would certainly take at least another 5 titles:
Rose tatoo
Death in Venice
Blade Runner
Bread love and Fantasy
The Draughtsman’s Contract

Besides wardrobe, what else are you passionate about?

Definitely traveling…but not necessarily for exotic places or faraway destinations…I’m fascinated by the idea of ​​a journey in places different from these i use to see, and to appreciate new things…even during the journeys, however, one of the first things I look for are the markets, whether they are modern or antique…they are places where you can immediately tune in with the colors, the flavors and the locals and so naturally to perceive their costumes.

What advice do you have for high school or university students who are looking to work in the Costume Department in the movie industry?

 It is perhaps the most complex question…I would advise them to be truly receptive to everything that happens around them and to remember that our work is a job where we bring all of ourselves. I would remind them that each of us has a personal palette of ‘colors’. It is good to understand one’s own and learn how to use it

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with filmmaker Linnea Ritland (VIOLET AND JUNE)

VIOLET AND JUNE was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the February 2018 ROMANCE FEEDBACK Film Festival on Valentine’s Day.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Linnea Ritland: Whenever I look up at the stars I’m flat out terrified. The idea that we’re tiny in comparison to the universe (and that we’re all gonna die one day) doesn’t bring me any comfort (yet)—so I thought I’d harness this terror to try to make people laugh. Plus, I’m extremely bisexual so I’m always interested in exploring and celebrating queer narratives, and just wanted to make a film about lesbians where they don’t die at the end.

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

From the idea, 3 years, but from the first serious draft, about 1.

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

Quirky romcom!

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

We had to re-shoot the entire last two scenes in pickups, which was not only logistically tough but hard to deal with on a personal psychological level—when you need to do pickups it usually feels like you failed, since you didn’t get it right the first time.

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

I was so glad that people seemed to really like quirkiness of it! And proud of the work my collaborators did on the film—especially the music (Patrick Fiore) and production design (Courtney Verwold)!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

It started from the visual of a girl having an existential crisis about a chocolate bar (i.e., realizing that it would rot just like everyone she’d ever known and loved), who then goes to take a bus, and a girl sits next to her and starts sobbing. I wanted to explore the idea of someone very analytical and books-based dealing with a crisis colliding with someone emotion-based also mid-crisis.

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

When I was a toddler I used to compulsively watch A Bug’s Life multiple times a day, to the point where my siblings memorized the entire film. I must have seen it more than a thousand times—I don’t even remember the plot or the characters’ names now.

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

It’s so easy and simple! Would recommend to any first-time filmmakers looking to submit to festivals.

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

You know how the old nokia ringtone is based on a Bach song? Probably that one. Or Happy Birthday.

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

I’m currently working on a comedy-drama about a young woman dealing with her father’s alcoholism, who bounces between her unstable home life and a very unstable relationship and eventually finds stability within herself. It’s called “Everything’s Great!” and should be making its festival rounds within the next year. For updates visit linnearitland.wordpress.com!

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Cinematographer Dan Stoloff (Suits, The Americans, Zoo)

Dan Stoloff is one of the top television cinematographers working today. He also DP’d the films TUMBLEWEEDS, MIRACLE and CROOKED ARROWS to name a few. It was an honor interviewing him. Check out his website and list of credits at: http://danstoloff.com/

Matthew Toffolo: Where were you born and raised? Was photography something you always wanted to do as your career?

Dan Stoloff: I was raised in Newton, Mass, just outside of boston. I knew from the time i was about 11 that I wanted to be a cinematographer. We had a Super 8 camera and I started making my own films. It was my favorite thing to do, and I decided if there was a way to make a living doing it, I would.

What has been your most proudest work of your career? Or, what has been your favorite project to date?

I would say the 2 final episodes of “The Americans”. I was so fortunate to become a part of The Americans in season 5. One of my favorite shows of all time, and to get the gig was like The Rolling Stones asking me to join the band!

You DP’d a ton of SUITS episodes. A show filmed in Toronto. How are the Toronto crews? Do you like the fast pace of shooting a series like this in comparison to feature film?

I did almost 50 episodes of suits. All shot in Toronto. Love the crews there. Very technically proficient and so polite! I love the pace of episodic TV. Everyday seems unmakeable at the outset and yet daily we rise to the challenge.

The most famous film you probably worked on was MIRACLE. How did you get involved in that project? What do you remember most about that shoot?

I had shot “Tumbleweeds” for director Gavin O’Conner and we had a wonderful collaboration. He fought hard to get the studio to agree to have me on board. I had never done a studio project before and they were justifiably cautious. After many meetings with many execs they finally agreed to give me a shot. What was most memorable about that shoot was the way the project itself mirrored the actual subject. All those kids were real hockey players. The celebration you see at the end of that film was real. The tears were real. The kids puking during drills was real.

Is there a type of film/TV show that you love to work on that you haven’t worked on yet?

I would like to do a period project before electricity existed.

What are you generally looking for in a director in order for you to do your job as best as possible?

I love a director who knows his (her) material. Knows the characters and creates an atmosphere that provides the freedom for discovery.

What do you think a producer/director is looking for when they bring on you to DP the film?

Those are 2 different questions. The answer is as different as the people themselves. All want the project executed efficiently and on schedule and budget. Some directors want visual suggestions, others not. All producers want you to make the day,

What is your passion in life besides photography and film?

I love to surf, hike, kayak, do yoga, mountain bike ride, play guitar

What movie have you watched the most times in your life (besides the ones you worked on)?

The Godfather. The Big Lebowski. The Godfather part 2

What advice do you have for young cinematographers who would eventually like to DP movies for a living one day?

Educate your mind and your body. Go to museums, read novels, see movies, and stay in shape. Often our job is as physical as it is mental. Always get to set early. Be nice to everyone.

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PHOTO from the TV Show “SUITS”
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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Cinematographer Tristan Oliver (Isle of Dogs, ParaNorman, Fantastic Mr. Fox)

It was a true honor interviewing the extremely talented Director of Photographer Tristan Oliver. Every single film he’s worked on has turned out great. And there’s not many people you can say that statement about! If you don’t believe, simply go to his website and watch some of the short films he’s worked on and see his list of feature credits: https://www.tristanoliver.co.uk/

Matthew Toffolo: Where were you born and raised? Was cinematography something you always wanted to do as your career?

Tristan Oliver: I was born and raised in Gravesend in Kent. An unlovely and somewhat godforsaken town on the Thames estuary.

I knew nothing about films or photography as a child. My main passion was the theatre. I wanted to act (or be a doctor or something) My first real contact with the camera dept came when I was acting in a movie. It was something of a Damascene moment and I really threw myself into trying to get into that environment immediately afterwards. I didn’t even own a stills camera when that movie started!

What has been your most proudest work of your career? Or, what has been your favorite project to date?

In terms of feature films I would say ParaNorman. I had a fantastic time at Laika for two years and a very close, creative and rewarding relationship with the directors of that movie. I’m exceptionally proud of how it looks (even if no-one has seen it.)

Can you explain to us what an Animation Director of Photography does?

There is really no difference in being a DOP for stop frame or live action. The ultimate aim is to create something beautiful for the camera. To light and frame according to what you consider to be visually special. I wouldn’t want to make concessions to the medium of animation. That is by the by.

In practical terms, there are a few differences. We typically run a 50+ unit shooting environment which is an enormous amount of stuff to keep tabs on. That’s 50 sets, 50 cameras all running together. I need to ensure continuity and quality of look across that huge mess of stuff.

Other than that the main difference is working into the macro end of the lenses which can severely compromise the depth of field. We tend to work at very tight stops (16, 22) to compensate for this.

You just finished working on ISLE OF DOGS. Can you give us a sneak peak of what do expect?

Unique. Many of his tropes will be familiar to audiences. The flat lighting. The highly symmetrical framing. The art direction and propping. This particular movie is very busy and visually complicated. Compared with Fantastic Mr Fox for example it is really intense viewing. There’s an awful lot going on up there!

Is there a type of film/TV show that you love to work on that you haven’t worked on yet?

I’d love to get my teeth into some American TV drama. The quality of work coming out of the States is astonishing. There’s so much of it and it’s nearly all really good. Well written, well plotted and edited. Everything.

In terms of movies, more live action please. I need a rest from the puppets!

What are you generally looking for in a director in order for you to do your job as best as possible?

All directors are different and as such, what they require from the DOP varies. Wes wants me to exactly put up on the screen what he has in his head. It is totally his vision so my role is very much reactive. With some other directors there is more of a creative collaboration, the role is proactive if you will. Neither is necessarily better than the other as long as you trust the director to bring the movie in.

What do you think a producer/director is looking for when they bring on you to DP the film?

I’d like to think that I’m the best at what I do. I have a huge amount of experience. I’m very professional and I bring on the best, most user friendly crews but essentially what a director needs is someone they can trust.

What is your passion in life besides cinematography and film?

So many. My daughters, my partner, beautiful Swiss wristwatches, restoring my 17th century house, good food, good wine , good company.

What movie have you watched the most times in your life (besides the ones you worked on?

There are lots but probably Kind Hearts and Coronets, the first Matrix and Ferris Beuler’s Day Off. That’s just for fun. In terms of cinematography, I think Conrad Hall was a genius and I can watch Road To Perdition any day of the week.

What advice do you have for young cinematographers who would eventually like to DP movies for a living one day?

Keep learning. Watch movies, read about movies. Who do you like? Why? Think about how stuff has been made. Don’t rely on your innate talent but keep building your technical knowledge, the two together will be very useful to you. And never ever send out a CV for a camera trainee position with your name followed by the letters DOP. It goes in the bin.

tristan olivier 2
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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.