Interview with Filmmaker Camille Liu Nock (BO & MEI)

BO & MEI was the winner of BEST FILM at the February 2019 LGBT Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Camille Liu Nock: I think standing up against any kind of prejudice is important. Supporting those who are the victims to discrimination is equally as important so I want to make a film that incorporated those two elements.

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

It took about 4 months, 1 month for each writing, preproduction, production and post.

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

Standing Up

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

Getting everything done in time, always a race with the clock

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

Wow. Absolutely overwhelmed with gratitude, really appreciate all the kind words. Cannot tell you how much it means to me. So cool to hear as well what people liked/picked up on, like the turning up of the music, the sensuality of washing the silk and the supportive sister to name a few. Seriously made me feel so happy to hear people who say they have a sister who is that person for them. Feel very connected to the people in that room and so grateful for their insights and kind words about the film.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

My Mum experienced quite a lot of racial discrimination for being Chinese as I was growing up. Later one of my best friends dealt with similar discriminations when he came out so I wanted to make a film that gave a character a chance to stand up for themselves against these prejudices. Film is such a powerful medium in helping connect people through stories and visuals. It’s an amazing change-maker for good.

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

Probably Love Actually, pretty much every Christmas! Beasts of the Southern Wild is also one I can’t watch enough.

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

I think it’s a really amazing tool and gives filmmakers a great directory of film festivals as well as a real ease with the application process.

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

Signed sealed delivered – Stevie Wonder

10. What is next for you? A new film

Hopefully a new film! I’ve made a documentary since and loved making it so I think hopefully getting into some doc filmmaking next and see where it all goes after that!
 

 

 

 

  • bo_and_mei
Advertisements

Interview with Filmmaker Daniel Montoya (HIM)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Daniel Montoya: Our original intent, when we started the process of making this film, was to show that being a transgender individual is just as normal as being cisgender. The film’s concept evolved over time to focus on Ethan’s advocacy for LGBTQ rights. We filmed at different events in Dallas and in Austin centered around the fight over SB6, aka the “Bathroom Bill” proposed by different members of the Texas House of Representatives.

Something that really motivated me, was seeing the injustice and lack of common sense in the proposed law. It’s crazy how the basic human need to use a bathroom could become so divisive and create so much controversy in Texas.

At the same time, I saw how Ethan was putting himself out there, sometimes with others but many other times, just by himself, and this is very dangerous. There are many crimes committed against transgender people every day and most of these crimes go unnoticed due to bias and hate.

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

It took me about a year to create the whole piece.

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

Reflective, absurd

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

Perhaps the most difficult part was deciding what to include and what to exclude in the editing room. Distilling all the raw footage and interviews is challenging; you have to stay on point with your message and the specific clips used in the final edit of the film.

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

Oh wow, they GOT IT! Loved the discussion! I feel that the audience was really open and I’m glad that our short film can serve as a reflection in Canada as well. Even though this is a Texas story, the issues presented are worldwide issues for the LGBTQ community. It was great that the feedback was captured, a lot of times, there isn’t much opportunity for filmmakers to see these moments. Thank you!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I reached out to Ethan, because I wanted to make a story that could create awareness about the lives of transgender people.

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

Growing up in Colombia, the tv channels we had were limited, so I watched a lot of movies on tv. One movie that played on Colombian channels many times was “Big Trouble in Little China.”

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

I think it’s great. I hope that it doesn’t go the same way as Withoutabox, because platforms like this makes it very easy for filmmakers to reach out to film festivals.

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

I really like the acoustic version of “Fell on Black Days” by Chris Cornell and “Gave Up” by NIN.

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

Definitely! I’m focusing now on a narrative fiction film about a group of people seeking happiness in their own way.
 

him_movie_poster

Interview with Filmmaker P.J. Norton (EXPIRATION DATE)

EXPIRATION DATE played to rave reviews at the February 2019 LGBT Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

P.J. Norton: In making Expiration Date, it was important for me to tell a gay love story in which sexual orientation was part of the given circumstances and not the central conflict. I believe it’s important to portray the struggles that members of the LGBTQ+ community face because of who we are, but I also think it’s important to portray the everyday triumphs and struggles that we share with all of humankind. I also wanted to tell a story about a breakup where neither character was portrayed as a villain. I think a big part of coming of age is navigating shifting dynamics in relationships and coming to terms with the fact that sometimes circumstances trump connection.

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

I made Expiration Date as part of a class at NYU so the bulk of the process was relatively short. I spent six weeks writing and prepping, 3 days shooting, and two weeks in post. Then, almost two years later, I re-opened the cut to finalize the sound design and prep the film for festival submissions.

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

Personal. Poignant.

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

While we were shooting, we were surprised to learn that one of the apartments in the building was scheduled to get their floors redone. We had to work with the construction crew and shoot around their work schedule because the noise was insane.

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

Because I’m currently in prep for my next project, I haven’t been able to attend many screenings for this film. So it was truly so nice to hear that the audience responded to elements that we worked so hard to execute on set and in the cutting room. I’m very grateful that the LGBT Feedback Film Festival takes the time to edit and upload the audience feedback videos.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

When I was 19, I fell in love for the first time. The relationship was rewarding and amazing in so many ways, but after almost three years, it was time for it to end. We had been living in different states for over a year, and neither of us was ready to make a serious commitment. We were both young, and we wanted needed to see what else was out there. So…

One night in his apartment, we came up with a plan for the perfect break up (did I mention we were young?). We chose a date (February 17th) that made the most sense given our social commitments and travel plans, and we decided to remain a couple up until that day. And then ….it would be over. A clean break. I would get in my white Kia Spectra (may she rest in peace), hop on interstate 95, and we would no longer be a couple. It was a great plan. In theory. It was certainly a… memorable evening to say the least.

When I started grad school at NYU, I had been wanting to explore aspects of that night in a film for a long time. However, each time I attempted to write about it, I found that I was too close to the experience to see it clearly. So I waited. I made other things. Then, almost five years later, I decided I finally had enough distance to revisit the experience. And here we are.

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

When I was growing up I would watch The Wizard of Oz every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. As an adult, my go to’s for repeat viewing are Young Adult and Like Crazy.

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

I’m just old enough to remember the days when we had to make physical screeners and mail them to festivals… so from my perspective, platforms like FilmFreeway are amazing for filmmakers, especially students and artists just starting out. They make it super easy to get your film out there and even help suggest festivals that might be a good fit for your film.

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

My favorite song of all time is “Landslide”, but I actively try not to listen to it unless I really need it because I don’t want to wear it out.

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

I’m directing a web series called Assisted Living about two personal assistants in New York. We shot the pilot last year, and right now we’re in preproduction to shoot the rest of the first season.

You can watch the first episode here:

https://vimeo.com/307366442 

 

 

 

 

 

expiration_date_3

Interview with Filmmaker David Lykes Keenan (BODIES OF WATER)

BODIES OF WATER was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the February 2019 LGBT Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

David Lykes Keenan: The story is based on a pivotal moment in my life. As shown in the film, it was the moment when I found the courage and opportunity to reach out to the first person that I was ever able to come out to. In my case, he was straight (this is intentionally left open to interpretation in the film) but we developed a very close friendship that last for a couple of years before it crashed and burned.

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

Altogether is was about three years.

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

First love.

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

The completion a script that satisfied me and my closest supporters.

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

I was very impressed with how attentive the viewers were and how small details (like the old PC in the office scene) and the subtleties of Ellar’s performance were noticed.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

This is pretty much the same answer as #1. It is well known that first screenplays are very often auto-biographical.

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

Blade Runner.

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

Of the two, FilmFreeway and WithoutaBox, I much prefer FF. It seems to be better at notifying when the submission status changes and I like how it remembers payment information so I don’t have to enter it every time.

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

Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd

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

I hope so. I have been working on a feature screenplay (your festival table read part of it awhile back). I also have a new short that would like to make soon.

Thanks for your support.
bodies_of_water_3

Interview with Filmmaker Michael Davis (HINDSIGHT)

HINDSIGHT was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the February 2019 ROMANCE Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Michael Davis: What motivated me was getting the opportunity to tell a story that plays backward. I also thought it was a really interesting character study on people and relationships. It seemed like a unique and exciting challenge. I had never done anything like it before, and I hadn’t seen many things like it.

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

It was a long process from when the idea first came up to its completion.
I pitched this idea to my film school, but it was rejected. Several months passed and after my production team wrapped the second season of our web series, TGC, I decided I wanted to make it on my own. Once that decision was made production and post-production were wrapped up in about a month.

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

Reverse, and revealing.

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

The most significant obstacle was figuring out the technical aspects of the film playing in reverse. I knew that was happening going in, so I had to break the story down backward as well as forwards. We had to plan the fighting very carefully knowing it would play backward. It was like constructing a dance, and I wanted to make sure the story and motives were slowly revealed.
Then in post-production, I had to edit the film forwards to make sure it played out in real time, then reverse it. It was an odd challenge and a completely unique experience.

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

I was a bit anxious before I pressed play, but it is also a really enthralling experience and a privilege. There is so much you can learn with audience reaction and interaction.

I loved watching the reactions and hearing the feedback. It’s exciting and gratifying when you spend a long time trying to highlight certain points, and the audience and announcer pick up on them.

It was also great that people liked the credits with the balloons. That was a late idea I came up with while editing.

This was certainly one of the best parts of this experience.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I had a random idea of a couple fighting in reverse. I thought it would create a weird hypnotic dance. My initial premise was about an engagement gone wrong. But once Meganne Kocher got involved we started talking about a lot of things we could do with the premise.

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

That is a tough question to answer. I’m a huge film geek and own way too many movies. But a film I have seen several times and know I will keep watching forever is Park Chan-wook’s Stoker.

The cinematography is breathtaking. Every single shot is like an oil painting come to life. The story is filled with symbolism and every time I watch it I pick up on a new layer I hadn’t noticed before. It’s such a sinister and beautifully constructed film.

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

FilmFreeway is a fantastic platform for independent filmmakers. The whole trajectory of my career changed with FilmFreeway, and it allows me access to so many great opportunities. During our three days of principal photography, I would have never imagined that I would be answering questions, getting feedback, or even dreamed that the film would win awards. I highly recommend fellow filmmakers check it out.

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

I love music, but I don’t think it would be a song, and it wouldn’t just be one. I have an extreme amount of trailer tracks on my iPod. If a trailer I like comes out, I will download the track and listen to it on repeat all day long. Listening to trailer tracks have helped inspire me and sometimes help me come up with ideas for films or plots. I also listen to a lot of film scores.

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

I have been working on several new exciting projects.

For the last year, our team has been working on the third season of our anthology web series “The Grimoire Chapters”. Season 3 is subtitled Rem and is focused on nightmares and sleep disorders. It has two timelines in the 1960’s and 1980s. This season has won over 50 awards, we are all incredibly proud of our success. Episodes 1 – 5 of TGC:Rem are now online, the final episodes are in production.

Watch Here: https://www.thegrimoirechapters.com/

I also just finished a single person crew horror short called “Identity Theft”. I wanted to see what I could accomplish with just myself and my camera. The film has been submitted to two festivals so far and won Best Short Film from both, which has been extremely exciting.

If you enjoyed “Hindsight”, “Lock Your Doors” is an award-winning horror short that was finished a few months after Hindsight. It also stars Meganne Kocher and Ronnie Daily.

And Hindsight 2 (working title) is still in the works.

hindsight_3

Interview with Filmmaker Katie Garibaldi (STAR IN THE EAST)

STAR IN THE EAST played to rave reviews at the February 2019 Experimental Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Katie Garibaldi: “Star in the East” is a song I wrote about the Biblical story of the three kings who follow a star to welcome the newborn baby Jesus. After recording it for my album Home Sweet Christmas, I got the idea of doing a claymation film as a music video for the song, somewhat as an homage to old-school Christmas movies. I love how those stop motion children’s movies put you in the warm and fuzzy holiday spirit, and I thought that idea paired so great with this song.

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

I had the idea for a few months and then through researching animators, I hooked up with artist Marc Morgan for the project and he spent just over a month making the film.

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

Christmastime nostalgia.

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

The only obstacle was time constraints since I wanted to premiere the video before Christmas since it’s a Christmastime story. Marc had limited time to pull off the art, and I’m so impressed with all that he was able to do in such a short window of time.

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

I was nervous at first since you never know how people will receive your art, but after watching “Star in the East” play on the big screen, I was so proud of it and felt that the audience received it well.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Home Sweet Christmas is my latest album, but I actually wrote the song “Star in the East” when I was a kid and tucked the song away for that ‘someday’ when I make my own Christmas album. So the song has somewhat of a childlike vibe to it, and I wanted to make the production really magical and majestic sounding. All those things combined reminded me of the joys of Christmas through a child’s eyes, and I loved combining the true meaning of Christmas as I see it with such a quirky medium like claymation.

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

Probably my favorite Disney movie, The Little Mermaid. I loved it as a kid and I love it now.

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

I really like FilmFreeway because you can research a bunch of different festivals and opportunities all in one place. You can get a good idea of each event with their submission rules and people’s reviews succinct on one webpage, and then you can always do more research on the festival’s site and social media. It’s a great way to organize festivals you’d like to submit to and keep an eye on for future projects.

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

That’s so difficult to truly know! I can think of a few top contenders, but I’ll say my favorite all-timer: Huey Lewis’ “The Heart of Rock & Roll.”

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

I’m currently writing my next album and also formulating plans for my next music video, to be made later this year. I have one foot in the music world and one in the film world, screenwriting for TV as well.

star_in_the_east_3

Interview with Writer/Actor/Producer Judith Eisenberg (THE SECRET LIVES OF TEACHERS)

THE SECRET LIVES OF TEACHERS played to rave reviews at the February 2019 ROMANCE Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Steve Anderson: I was a high school history teacher and I wanted to make a short film about my years of teaching. I was lucky enough to retire early because of a teacher buyout the district was offering but there were a few older teachers who didn’t want to leave. The school was their domain and life. The teacher who worked next door to me was a civil war enthusiast and she spent 3/4th of the US history curriculum on the civil war and summarized all the rest of the wars and historical events into one month. She also loved loved men in uniform and went to the civil war re-enactment at Gettysburg every year. I also knew so many older single women who had given up on ever having a partner and/or romantic relationship.

My co-writer and co-producer Aaron Seever and I had made a number of short films but never had the chance to work on one together. So Secret Lives was our collaboration. We had taken years of acting classes and workshops together in Phoenix and Los Angeles.

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

It took almost two years

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

Quirky and romantic

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

Our budget was the biggest obstacle. It was always ready to explode and we had to keep reining it back.

Also finding locations within our budget.

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

I loved how the audience clued in to middle-aged people falling in love. Bodies get old but the spirit in the bodies remains the same and despite outside appearances to young people always retains the desire to be cherished, seen and loved.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

From my years of teaching high school history and from my teacher friend who loved the civil war and men in uniform and from my own desire to find romance and love despite my
quirky nature.

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

Wizard of Oz

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

I really like FilmFreeway. They have been so cooperative. A couple of times I prematurely sent in a submission only to discover my film did not qualify because of geographical location or date it was made and they reimbursed my money.

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

Stay with me
Tupelo Honey
Hey Ho

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

Always a new film!!! Or the seeds of a new film.

Or if anyone wants to cast me as an actor in a film playing a blue collar character that would be great!!!!!

the_secret_lives_of_teachers_2