Interview with Composer Alexei Aigui (The Young Karl Marx, I am Not Your Negro)

Alexei Aigui.jpgIt was an honor chatting with the multi-talented musician and film composer Alexei Aigui and chat about his one and only passion in life: music!

Listen to his music on Soundcloud

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

Alexei Aigui: I was born and raised in Moscow, as they say, in an artistic family. My father was a poet, and was representing the so-called unofficial art – meaning he was under control of the Soviet authorities, and his works couldn’t be published, so our life wasn’t exactly an easy ride. When I was six, mum took me to an ordinary music school near our place, to play violin. Learning to play the piano was more prestigious and cost about 15 times more, so we didn’t really have a choice in the matter. God bless, accordion didn’t cost less than violin. I don’t remember if I wanted to study music, I think I didn’t even ask myself that question – it just happened. So I studied there until I was about 15, not reflecting a lot on why I needed it. However, in my teenage years, I became a rock music fan – Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, then quite quickly became interested in more complicated stuff like King Crimson, Frank Zappa, etc. Maybe then, through rock music, I decided to become a musician, form my own band. Or maybe it was already late to think about doing something else, after all the years of exercise? Through avant-garde rock, having played in my first bands and already starting to study professionally at the conservatory, I became interested in academic avant-garde – [Anton] Webern, [Gyorgy] Ligeti, [Pierre] Boulez, [Karlheinz] Stockhausen, [Igor] Stravinsky, [Sergey] Prokofiev.

Afterwards, I took to improvisational music and minimalism. In 1994, I set up Ensemble 4’33’’ in Moscow, and we performed pieces by John Cage, Earle Brown, La Monte Young, and others in that spirit. Gradually, mainly due to the fact that there wasn’t enough sheet music available [in Russia], I started to compose music, and turned out one’s own pieces were nicer and easier to play than others’. That’s how I became a composer. The band has existed for 24 years, we play 30 concerts a year, have released a lot of CDs, the band is my foundation for film work, with either the entire band taking part in soundtrack recording, or some of the Ensemble 4’33’’ members.

What has been your most proudest work of your career?

I’m proud of many works, when it comes to non-film-related music – the cantata ‘Salut to Singing’ to my father’s poems, almost everything I do with Ensemble 4’33’’. Of course, cinema works: my very first OST, for ‘Country of the Deaf’ by Valery Todorovsky, and for ‘Wild Field’ by Mikhail Kalatozishvili, ‘The Horde’ by Andrey Proshkin. Of my latest collaborations outside of Russia — ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ and ‘The Young Karl Marx’ by Raoul Peck.

Tell us about your working relationship with director Raoul Peck on “The Young Karl Marx”?

The work took quite a long time, the film was in all stages of production for almost 10 years, with the shooting taking part in 2 or 3 countries. The company’s office was in France, editing took place in Belgium, and mix in Germany. Raoul wanted the music to be, on the one hand, relevant to the demands of period drama, orchestral and melodic, on the other hand, to feel ‘uncomfortable’ and edgy. The first draft of music was far from what you hear in the film, there were a lot of corrections. There were some temporary tracks in the first cut, the scene of police chasing Marx had a Haitian folk piece that, surprisingly enough, worked very well, it wasn’t easy for me to compose new music for that bit, in ‘Irish style’. Raoul, along with the film’s editor Frederique Broos, came to Moscow for the orchestra recording, and made a few corrections during the recording itself. Our following project, ‘I Am Not Your Negro’, was recorded without him, because Raoul was working on the final mix of ‘Marx’ in Germany. For ‘I Am Not Your Negro’, we recorded completely different music, with my band – we recorded a few semi-improvisational takes, and Raoul chose the most suitable.

What are you generally looking for in a director in terms of guidance and tone for your music?

When I was starting to work in Russian cinema, almost no one used references (temporary tracks), and you were, so to say, on your own. Director was only able to use words while describing what he wanted in terms of music, which isn’t always translatable from the director’s language to, well, human. These days the use of references is quasi-total. It makes the composer’s job easier and quicker, but also sets up some borders and limits the composer in his or her work. I’ve seen all sorts of director-composer relations – from close friendship to composing music without knowing the director, and I believe that there should certainly be personal contact, a sort of mutual tuning is supposed to happen. Often, the editor plays an important role, offering his or her opinion.

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

Often, when I see the result (not in the films, on which I had the chance to work), it seems to me that producers and directors wanted to save money. Perhaps the perfect option is to find the music that would create a unique sound for the picture, the music that would add a dimension to the film, another layer, and wouldn’t just underscore the tension or hint that we should feel sad. Music can be omnipotent, it’s like an undercurrent, sometimes we don’t even realize that it exists side-by-side with the action and tells the story, accentuating some points and adding depth to the movie.

What is your passion in life besides music?

I’m completely handicapped in that respect – only interested in music. Well, maybe also alcohol. I can’t even normally rest or travel – every time I’m at a bar and I see a stage, I go, ‘Why haven’t I played here before?’ and ask the owner is it’s possible to perform at their place.

Anyway, I’m not purely a film composer, concerts take a lot of time, and if I don’t perform for a few weeks, I get a bit crazy. I also used to paint when I was young, but now don’t have time to devote to that.

What movie have you watched the most times in your life?

Usually, I don’t want to re-watch the films that made the biggest impact on me, I kind of want that first impression to stay as it was. So it’s most likely that the films I saw most times are those you come across while watching TV, and just don’t turn off. I can’t say I’m a cinemaholic, I’m not too eager to see everything people talk about, and I skip many films. And this huge pile of ‘to-watch’ movies is growing. Thanks to my 13-year-old son, I finally saw all the Star Wars movies (never watched those before, sorry to say) and the Harry Potter series. We watched all the films in strict order, spending about a week on each series.

What advice do you have for young musicians who would eventually like to compose movies for a living?

Forget about it. Okay, if we’re being serious (although ‘forget about it’ is also me being serious), it’s best if you’re primarily a musician, and then a businessman. However, I’ve always wanted to earn my living with music. A lot of people try to become film or TV composers, having failed at performing their music on stage. This phenomenon stems from how easily available the music-making programs are. Certainly, new talents can emerge, but these programs standardize musicians, unique and interesting sound in cinema has become a rare sight, irony intended. Everybody tries to copy copies, and you wonder where the search for something new is? Last but not least, entering the tricky and rocky path of a musician, be ready to die homeless and poor, how did the best of us composers.

 Alexei Aigui2.jpg

_____

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 Gonzaga Manso (EDEN HOSTEL)

EDEN HOSTEL was the winner of BEST FILM at the January 2018 Comedy FEEDBACK Film Festival. 

Get to know the director of the film: 

  What motivated you to make this film?

I suppose it was loneliness . When I was 18 I wasn’t very sure about who I really was and often felt like I didn’t belong. In fact everything was OK, it was actually going better than what most teenagers could expect… and, nevertheless, I often felt lonely. Unconnected. Based on that feeling and on a conversation I had about the subject with my then-girlfriend, I wrote this short film.

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

It took us approximately one year. I spent the first three months writing on my own and developing the idea, then we spent about two months preproducing it, 4 days shooting it and about 7 months post-producing it. The postproduction took us way too long because we didn’t have a proper budget and we had to ask for many favors… it was not the best workflow ever.

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

I would do it badly. Just kidding, maybe: holy loneliness? I don’t know

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

Actually it was a financial obstacle: finding the way to produce it with very little money.

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

My initial reaction was to smile like a child. I enjoyed so much watching the different points of view about the short film and its characters. It was an amazing experience to see all those people talking and reflecting about our shortfilm. I loved it. Thank you so much. I always learn a lot about my own film when I talk to the audience.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Fight club

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

Actually, Ismael Martin and his team handle the distribution of our short film, so we didn’t get to do this ourselves.

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

No idea, I’m always switching between different genres.
I played on a rock band for 10 years, so probably one of our earliest songs… we were rehearsing them nonstop for years.

What is next for you? A new film?

I’m a photographer too, and right now we are developing a new series of photographies. We also have a second short-film, Fortune-teller, which I hope Ismael has submitted to your festival, or will do so when you open for submissions. We are also starting to write the script of a feature length film, that project really excites me.

 

eden_hostel

 

Interview with director CJ Colando (JAKE & JULIA)

JAKE & JULIA was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the January 2018 Comedy FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

CJ Colando: There was no motivation in the beginning; I wrote it quite passively as an exercise in short-form comedy, and thought that would be the end of it. Then I sent it around to industry friends, and enough of them suggested we make it. When it comes to the creative opinions of people more successful than me, I’m often a soft, easily-persuaded worm.

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

About a year. I sat on the script for about 6 months, and finally got enough kicks in the ass to make it, which took another 6 months.

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

Awkward fun.

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

From a content perspective, it was important that we crafted something fresh and funny out of this somewhat familiar premise. Throughout the whole process there was a constant collaborative effort to not make sure this thing didn’t come off like a second-rate, straight-to-DVD American Pie sequel.

Of course, funding was challenging too. Imagine asking people for their hard-earned money to make a film about a threesome. I’ve mastered every different way of saying ‘No, it’s not porn.”

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

It’s always a pleasant surprise when anyone says anything nice about your film. Any time there’s feedback involved in anything I do, I brace myself for the absolute worst case scenario, and it’s always a relief when that doesn’t happen. This was no exception, and I greatly appreciated the complimentary nature of our feedback.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I’ve been asked a lot if the sexual event in the film was inspired by a real experience, and I always disappoint when I admit it wasn’t. But for the sake of this question, let’s say it was. That really happened to me. Crazy sh*t, man.

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

“Jaws.” We’re in the triple digits by now. Nothing else comes close.

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

Love it. FilmFreeway not only makes submissions easy and intuitive, they do a great job at how they present the individual festival pages.

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

“Somebody’s Baby” by Jackson Browne gets a spin at least once a week for the past several years and it upsets a lot of people in my life. There’s a few Dave Matthews Band songs up there too, which I’m told is even more upsetting. I apologize.

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

Hopefully. The next one’s gotta be at least twice as good. So as soon as an idea hits me that’s good enough to stress me out for a giant chunk of a year, we’ll do it.
jake_and_julia_3.jpg

Interview with Filmmaker Stephen Riscica (IT GETS BETTER?)

 IT GETS BETTER? was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the December 2017 LGBT FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Stephen Riscica: I started writing this film almost years ago after learning about Jamey Rodemeyer, a young gay teenager from Buffalo, NY who made an It Gets Better video only to commit suicide only a few short months after. I then started reading other stories about youth who have made these testimonials of hope but weren’t able to battle their own inner demons. It was the juxtaposition of these messages of hope from our youth on YouTube mixed with their tragic fate that inspired me to write this piece.

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

I started writing this six years ago– much of that time it was just sitting on my laptop. I went to a film festival in May of 2016 and was really inspired by what I saw there and decided it’s time to finally get this film made. I started an indiegogo campaign a month later. We had approximately two months of pre-production, two shooting days, and 3 months of post production.

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

Oh that’s a tough one…

I’ve always described my film as an examination in loneliness and a desperate plea to hang on… so maybe “Loneliness Examination” or maybe just “Got Wine?”

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

There was an actor attached initially who I cast because his life story and where he is now reflected what the character is going through in the film. A week before production I was “ghosted.” We held a casting session a few days before shooting and thankfully Gys DeVilliers came in and blew me away– he had me in tears during his audition. It was as if I was hearing my words for the very first time. I knew there was no way I could have gotten such a powerful and haunting performance from the previous actor attached.

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

I appreciated the honesty and candor of the audience. This is the first time I was able to hear what people thought about the film without being physically present. I think the film effects people in different ways, and everyone I’ve shown it to responds differently. I disagree, however, with the gentleman who said the film felt cliche’. I see what he’s saying about how it feels like a play, which most likely has to do with my theater background, but I think it is a film that stands out because of its uniqueness.

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

As I mentioned earlier, the story of Jamey Rodemeyer was the main catalyst in writing this piece. His story made me re-examine my own issues of loneliness and depression. I was also very much inspired by Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, a one act play in which an older man is listening to a audio tape of himself from years back reminiscing about his youth. Instead of a tape recorder we use a laptop and YouTube.

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

The one film that really changed my worldview as a young gay teenager was Pink Flamingos directed by John Waters. As someone who didn’t identify with straight culture or gay culture, this film was really a celebration of individuality for me and taught me that it’s okay not to fit into any sort of category. I would invite friends over to watch double features of Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble and I’d love to watch my friends squirm, but we’d also be laughing our asses off and quoting lines from the film. I also used to be obsessed with Elvira: Mistress of the Dark as a child and Gregg Araki’s The Doom Generation and Nowhere. Recent films I’ve been watching repeatedly lately: Ingmar Bergman’s Cries & Whispers, Jennie Livingston’s Paris is Burning, and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

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 it’s a great platform. I discovered a lot of festivals I never even knew existed. I like the up to date notifications of when a judging status has changed on your film.

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

Probably something by The Cure– maybe Pictures of You?

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

Still trying to figure that out! I recently helped out on the pilot episode of a new documentary series interviewing pioneering DJ’s and party promoters from the early days of gay nightlife. There is a short story written by a friend of mine I would love to adapt. I’m looking to collaborate with other LGBT screenwriters on future projects!

it_gets_better_5

IT GETS BETTER?, 11min., USA, LGBT/Experimental
Directed by Stephen RiscicaAn older gay man is inspired to record a testimonial after watching a bisexual teenager’s video, assuring him that ‘It Gets Better.’

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

Interview with Filmmaker Mike Johnson (OCEANIC ALIENS)

 OCEANIC ALIENS was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the November 2017 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Mike Johnson: A few years ago I fell in love with scuba diving and the underwater world. Being a filmmaker, my goal quickly became making underwater video a staple of my business, so I invested in dive training and underwater camera equipment. Now, I rarely dive without my camera. In the dive world Kona, Hawaii is known for the pelagic blackwater dives and this was very high on my “list”, as divers often refer to their bucket list of dive sites. In mid 2016, I booked a shoot on the big island of Hawaii and decided to stick around after the work was over to dive. Having no experience with pelagic blackwater diving I really did not know what to expect from the footage, so I went into the whole thing with no goal other than to have a good time. The experience itself, and later the research, are what ultimately inspired me to create the film.

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

Due to the logistics of pelagic blackwater diving, I did two dives while in Kona – each about an hour long. After that I spent about three months doing research on the species I had captured. This is not a topic one can simple “google” and expect to find results. It took a lot of digging and fact checking to be certain the information I had compiled was accurate. From there I spent two weeks writing and editing the film.

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

Life Changing. The information I learned during the research and discovery phase of this project absolutely changed my life, or more specifically my way of thinking. Oceanic Aliens contains a minuscule amount of information on the topic of plankton. I found it absolutely amazing how important plankton are to the entire planet, and even more so how little the public, and even science, knows about these creatures, and more importantly, the ocean.

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

With the ease of access to the internet and underwater cameras, there is a lot of misinformation to sift through online. Divers and snorkelers often encounter various species of zooplankton, posting pictures and video online to various outlets. More often than not, I found these to be mis-identified. Scientific resources often listed species by name, but included no reference images. With the goal of creating a traditional nature documentary, I knew my information had to be spot on, so I spent a lot of time cross referencing and fact checking my research.

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

Its great to see people learning something new, that they never thought existed. From a filmmaking standpoint, I had a few goals in mind with this film. I wanted to create a traditional wildlife/nature documentary, and knowing I had limited resources and footage to work with I wanted to leave the audience wanting to know more – to whet their appetite and hopefully inspire a few to learn more. Hearing this feedback from the audience helps me to know those goals were accomplished.

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

Growing up I always wanted to be an astronaut. Scuba diving is as close to space exploration as one can get on this planet. In fact, NASA trains astronauts to work in microgravity by submerging them in a giant pool. Being just three miles off-shore and 30 feet deep, I really felt I was on another planet while filming Oceanic Aliens. After the dives when I would show people photos of the creatures I captured, few people believed they were real until I showed them the video. Nearly everyone’s reaction was related to alien life.

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

Wow, hard to narrow this down to one. There are three film series that stick out – Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, and Star Wars. I watched each many times growing up, and now that I have kids of my own have introduced them to these films as well. The adventure into the unknown I think is what really draws me in. More recently, I discovered The Lost World of Z.

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 FilmFreeway. Its easy to use and provides access to a massive volume of festivals. Definitely a platform I will come back to with future films.

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

Another hard question! I don’t know about one specific song, but the most listened to artist would probably be Fleetwood Mac. My parents often listened to Fleetwood Mac on cassette tape when I was growing up, and there are a lot of good memories tied to those songs.

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

There was a discussion in the audience feedback about how the film left viewers wanting more. It has left me wanting more as well. My goal for 2018 is to begin production for a feature length version that will highlight zooplankton and explore their importance to the planet.

 

OCEANIC ALIENS, 6min., USA, Documentary/Wildlife
Directed by Mike Johnson

Oceanic Aliens is an internationally award winning short documentary that explores one aspect of how little we truly know about planet earth. More is known about outer space than our very own oceans. This short documentary illustrates just one example of a little known class of marine species and their amazing attributes.

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

oceanic_aliens_2

Interview with Filmmaker Parry Majmudar (LOSING CLAIRE)

LOSING CLAIRE played to rave reviews at the Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival in December 2017.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Parry Majmudar: I’ve observed and read certain incidents regarding still born child and also have closely witnessed where there was a high possibility that a girl child couldn’t have survived… SHE was kept on LIFE SUPPORT and after a couple of days, She was removed from it and everyone present there were hoping and praying that she could survive the deadline given by the doctors. FORTUNATELY, God’s grace, SHE DID SURVIVE and SHE IS DOING QUIET WELL NOW. Few months back her family celebrated her fifth birthday. Hence, I got the motivation to make this film this year as a part of final project at the film school . I was present there with the family while all of this was occurring and it somehow got stamped into my heart as I had seen it firsthand and all I could do was to give them hope and observe their emotions and reactions towards the same. I was 22 then.

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

I was doing a research on the mothers who lost their child during the birth and also after that. (We’re told at the film school from the very beginning that we’ll have to make a short film at the end of the course as our graduation project, but like most of the student I was enjoying the course and London city. We had a Christmas break after attending 45 odd days of school and before parting for the break we’re reminded by our mentors to start working on the final project. As it was Christmas time and everyone’s on a festive mood so, I couldn’t think of any idea then – throughout the break.)
It had also to do with me being completely new to this field therefore I wasn’t able focus or reflect on the ideas for the final project. I started working on the idea in the end of January 2017. We were given a deadline that everyone must be ready with their scripts by the first week of March 2017. So, for me It was like do or die… and to be honest I took up the challenge and in-fact, I was happy that I have a deadline set and a target to achieve. I did submit my script in time and also requested my course leader to shift my date of production to the very top. We began shooting on the 21st of March 2017. It was a two days shoot. The post production activities took couple of months as I took a bit of time while editing the film and completing the other activities.

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

A silent despair.

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

When I was streaming through various ideas and when I finally decided to make a film on the aforementioned subject, I was deeply concerned about my confidence, because for a first timer like me plus preparing to make a short on such a sensitive subject was a real test for me. Also, when there is money involved, one has to carefully take each step a time. I don’t know how, during the pre-production, inspite of all the questions hovering in my mind about making this film, there was no negativity around me and that thing took me all ahead with this film. Slowly, I gathered confidence and since then there’s no turning back. Being this my debut film, the whole journey was fantastic. On the set or during the post production activities there wasn’t such obstacle with completing the film. Only that my visa my getting over on the last day of my course and I had fly back to India where I did my post activities which was a bit tedious.

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

I was thrilled…. Absolutely thrilled. I did not at all expect such feedback from the audience. I literally feel delighted for my cast and crew who worked hard for the film and made my dream come true. Cheers to the audiences who were kind enough to give the feedback and all the others for watching the film.

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

While in London, I got to meet the family in January 2017 and I was really happy to see them with the little one and there we’re sitting on the dinner table talking about the child with all that she had been through and the emotional journey of her parents at the time of her birth. So there I got the potential idea of creating it into a short film. Than I started my research.
The reason, I thought of making it from a male’s perspective was that The impact of pregnancy loss on male partners has been largely overlooked. When a baby dies before birth the loss can be devastating for fathers yet, very often, the world that surrounds them tends to discount their loss and emotional support. Whereas grief is assumed to be a predominantly maternal domain.

It is the perception that men have only a supportive role in pregnancy loss is unjustified, as it ignores the actual life experiences of the men, and the meanings they attach to their loss, in what may be a very personal emotional tragedy for them where they have limited support available. There is consideration of the need for the wider community to acknowledge the male partner’s grief as being a valid response to the bereavement suffered.
When men do express their grief, they tend to do so in culturally prescribed ‘masculine’ ways. As they are more reluctant to express their grief openly and hide it in order not to overburden their partner. Men exert more control over their emotional expressiveness and intellectualize their grief, whereas women are more expressive in their grief.

Men have few opportunities to express their emotions cathartically because they respond in a manner they feel that culture demands. It is important to ensure, therefore, that failure to identify the particular nature of the father’s grieving process, does not generate conclusions regarding the intellectualisation of feeling on the basis of stereotypical concepts of emotional expression.

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

Revolutionary Road (2008) and Kabhi Kabhie (Hindi Film, 1976

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

It is an indeed a great platform which helps the filmmakers in showcasing their films to various esteemed festivals around the globe. An interesting and easy submission platform where filmmakers get an array of choosing the festivals and also can apply to many of the free festivals in the world. The website is simple to understand and it caters to the need of an individual filmmaker. It is an emerging submission platform with all the the necessary changes and innovations film freeway does time to time.

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

Well, to be honest it all depends on my mood. But I do like listening to soft songs like You’re beautiful by James Blunt and Perfect Duet by Ed Sheeran and Beyonce.

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

Next for me is getting a job here in India or abroad as an assistant to the director. Like the 3rd or the 4th A.D as you know one has start from the grass root and climb the ladder. But its really difficult to get an entry into the industry because of cut throat competition. Also, I’m developing an idea for a short.
 

LOSING CLAIRE, 6min, India, Drama/Relationship
Directed by Parry Majmudar 

A story about psychological anguish from a male’s perspective on having a stillborn child. The main characters are Emily and Perry who are finding it difficult to cope with the devastating loss of their stillborn daughter – Claire and this is having a detrimental impact on their relationship which is becoming strained.

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

losing_claire

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!

sunlight_over_water_movie_poster

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.

****

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…

the_forest_princess

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!! 😀

the_benefaction