Interview with Filmmaker Takeshi Yashiro (GON, THE LITTLE FOX)

GON, THE LITTLE FOX was the winner of BEST SOUND & MUSIC at the June 2020 ANIMATION Feedback Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Takeshi Yashiro: I love the original story written by Niimi Nankichi but when I was a kid, I couldn’t realize how good it was.

Since the original story is a classical children’s literature, I thought most people hadn’t been able to realize the true goodness or beauty of the story like me. So I wanted to make this short film so that audiences can discover how good and beautiful the story is.

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

It took about 2 years to complete.

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

Treasured Book (I am delighted if this film would be like a treasured book of the audience.)

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

To balance the artistic aspect and the entertainment side. I wanted to include the artistic aspect that can be objectively enjoyed and also the entertainment side that makes audiences to immerse themselves in the story as well.

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

I was glad that the audience had paid close attention to the details and felt what I wanted to express.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Many ideas were coming out and piling up little by little. The most brilliant ideas were popped up in my mind right after I woke up so I tried to sleep a lot.

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

“Take Me Out To the Snowland”

This is a popular movie which represents a certain times in Japan. I watched it when I was in high school and I remembered I felt jealousy for how incredibly the movie excited the audience.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0264171/

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

It’s so helpful to submit a movie to many fabulous film festivals easily.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?
I can’t think of anything.

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

I haven’t decided anything for the next one but it would be a short film. I am always thinking to challenge a feature film someday though.

gon_the_little_fox_2

Interview with Filmmaker Mike Gallant (TERRA BEACH)

TERRA BEACH was the winner of BEST FILM at the July 2020 FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Mike Gallant: I work as an editor in Toronto and have participated in many great feature films, but ultimately I wanted to make a something myself that represented all facets of my personality – my connection to Mexico (my marriage with my wife) and my love of coming-of-age, scifi, and gangster films. I figured a feature version would be too expensive to do on my own, but I knew if I just got the right people involved/cast I could pull something together I would feel good about in Florida.

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

I wrote the feature version of “Terra Beach” on my downtime in the beginning of 2018. As time went on I got the itch to produce something of my own and I came back to Terra Beach at least as a short or proof of concept. Once I secured money, I found a producer who made it happen over 2 days in Florida in November of 2018. Post-production took about a year with the FX, music and VFX. It was probably finally finished at the end of 2019.

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

Space Riverdale

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

The VFX took a very long time to complete and went through different visual effects artists that cost a lot of money, but I would say the first day of filming met every obstacle imaginable. It rained for a few hours, we had a child actor who we ended up cutting from a scene because she was getting too upset, and then we had audio problems. It went so bad that we ended up wrapping early and picked up what we lost on a very LONG second/final day.

Ultimately, though, from a story standpoint, I was very nervous about how the film could be perceived due to the current political climate. People’s reactions to the choices we made, which didn’t have easy answers or lived inside a specific political box, especially from the feedback videos, made me happy that the film wasn’t over analyzed and the audience seemed to appreciate the story for what it was trying to say.

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

I always love/dread getting feedback because ultimately I make material for regular people/audiences. The positive feedback I received really blew me away. I didn’t expect the film to connect with people on such a widespread scale. The fact that two people said it should be a feature and one woman said she usually hates 20 minute shorts but felt completely captivated by this one, really hit home. I was humbled and super appreciative that people watched the film and took the time to voice their appreciation.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I’ve always loved coming-of-age films and I re-watched “Dazed and Confused” on Netflix one evening at a cottage…and it hit me at that time that no one had ever done that type of film as a sci-fi which takes place in the future. I also had the added angle of knowing about the Latinx community thanks to my wife and her extended family. I love sci-fi and consider that my wheel house, but it’s quite often inaccessible to a large portion of people so I thought a more stripped down Richard Linklater-style approach, where the film could almost work alone as a straightforward drama, would best suit the story.

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

I would say growing up it was either “Independence Day” or “The Fifth Element”. These days I think “Ali” by Michael Mann is probably my #1.

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 perfect platform. It’s incredibly easy to use and to search out different festivals.

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

“Sandstorm” by Darude is probably physically implanted in my brain from childhood.

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

As things open up here in Canada the film industry is going back to work. So, for the next few months I’ll be working on 2-3 features as an editor, as well as trying to get a feature version of “Terra Beach” and other projects I’ve written off the ground. A feature I cut with director Cody Callahan will also be premiering at “Fantasia” this summer.

Interview with Filmmaker Piotr Sulkowski (PLAY)

PLAY was the winner of BEST SOUND & MUSIC at the July 2020 DRAMA Feedback Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Piotr Sulkowski: I would like to connect with my subconsciousness

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

About two years I suppose

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

Mental Rollercoaster

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

Camera movements. The master shots I came up with were difficult to achieve.

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

Sometimes people don’t understand, but this film is for me like an experimental poem. The most important in this project was to be honest with myself. Feelings even if You touch mystery…

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I was waiting for it… writing a lot of notes… allowed myself to be lost and digging deeper and deeper… and after one night It just revealed to me. I saw it in my head almost like in cinema

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

“8 and 1/2” by Federico Fellini

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

Like in Tina Turner song “Simply the best”

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

My favourite music group is “Morphine” I also like music from Sorrentino movies… and also old polish stuff like “Kryzys” and “Świetliki”

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

Yes, feature movie is one of my biggest goal… But I dream about writing with somebody with I can share my soul and work

Interview with Filmmaker Kevin Rosen-Quan (CHOICES)

CHOICES was the winner of BEST SOUND & MUSIC at the July 2020 LGBT Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Kevin Rosen-Quan: I’ve always wanted to write and direct, but found it difficult to reach all the milestones it takes to do so. Recently, I joined a volunteer organization called Assorted Kinds, which enables short filmmakers to develop and execute one short film every month. After several months of volunteering my services as a production sound mixer, I was given the opportunity to submit a script to direct.

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

One of the things that makes Assorted Kinds unique is a restricted timetable. Scripts are submitted and voted on at the beginning of each month, and the selected script must be shot at the end of that month. After shooting, because I essentially shot seven versions of the same scene, I spent another month editing each couple individually and then was finally able to make the super cut of all seven couples together.

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

Two Risottos!?

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

The edit was definitely the biggest obstacle. At first, I tried to assemble all seven couples into the final cut straightaway, and found it nearly impossible. Where to start? What to cut out? In the end, I had to cut each couple individually in order to truly understand each couple’s strengths and bring the best bits from each pair to the final cut, and have it all flow together in a way that doesn’t lose the audience to confusion. Despite the whole film being only four minutes in total, it took a whole month or so of editing to get it there.

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

I was very happy to hear that it didn’t seem to be confusing to anyone haha. It was also satisfying to see that the audience understood that weaving seven couples together was more than just a gimmick, and spoke to universality of human relationships that transcends race, gender, handicap, or sexual orientations. I always felt that it was this concept that elevated Choices above a simple comedy sketch into something more poignant and meaningful.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The original idea was born out of a simple joke that I may have seen somewhere before: a scene where couple is having a conversion, and at one point we cut to one of the characters and he/she is replaced by a completely different actor. Then we cut and cut back and they’re back to the original actor. Would the audience notice? Would it be funny? Then, as comedy writers tend to do, I tried to see how far we could push it, how many characters we could swap out, or how frequently we could swap them. That being said, the script itself was actually written at the very last second right before voting for that month’s scripts. I had the idea for how to tell the story, but no actual story or characters haha. So I quickly whipped up a stream-of-consciousness script about not being able to choose a meal at a restaurant. That quick first draft ended up being the shooting script.

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

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?

It was my first time submitting a film but it seemed pretty frictionless…

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

I listen to music pretty much every waking moment I can, and also when I sleep for that matter haha. So picking a single song would be tough. I do remember listening to Nine Inch Nails in high school and thinking, one day when I’m a director I’m going to put their music in films…and then Fincher went and did it ahead of me.

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

I have been fortunate enough to get the opportunity to direct three additional shorts with Assorted Kinds over the past year, all of which are still in post purgatory. Two of them I wrote, and one is a pilot for a sci-fi television series that I am developing. I love exploring experimental new storytelling concepts like the one that spawned Choices, and I’m always looking for the next opportunity to do so.

choices_3

Interview with Filmmaker Paula C. Frías (CHICKEN)

CHICKEN played to rave reviews at the July 2020 Female Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Paula C. Frías: My friends and I were stuck in a very tedious job that felt very “groundhog day” type. And i wanted to reflect that idea.

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

Not long since we were a very small crew (just 3), so maybe a few weeks to find the places where we wanted to shoot and edit.

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

funny and sad.

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

We had so much footage it was difficult to decide what to keep and what to let go.

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

They got the concept. And that´s a great feeling.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

When you want to live off of film you have to do random jobs and that was the start.

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

That´s such a tough question, but probably any from Spielberg or Scorsese.

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

It`s such a helpful platform for a filmmaker. At the beginning you don’t know where to start, and this platform gives you a guide to follow.

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

Oughta know (Alanis Morrisette), without any doubt in my mind

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

I’ve just finished my first feature. It`s a documentary about two cloistered nuns, one being a slave from the xviith century and the other entering the convent freely from today. Quite the change of subject from “Chicken”, uh?

Interview with Filmmaker Zhang Xinwen (NEW YEARS EVE DINNER)

NEW YEARS EVE DINNER played to rave reviews at the July 2020 Female Directors Festival.

What motivated you to make this film?

:逢年过节人类对于动物的肆无忌惮的杀戮用于庆祝,根本不会顾及动物的想法和感受,人类不会一直是地球的主人,如果用人类对待动物的方法,让动物对待人类一次,看看会是什么样子。

Humans always kill animals for celebrations in customs without considering what they think and feel. However, humans can’t always be the host of the world, let’s imagine what if our roles swapped and the animals could use the same way to treat with humans?

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

这个想法是我一直想拍的,拍摄实际上在一个要拆的老家具工厂拍摄的,只能在一天内拍完,我们拍了27个小时。

This is the idea that I always want to film, in fact we took place in an old furniture shop where was about to dismantle, it could only offer us one day to film and we made it 27 hours finally.

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

反思与觉醒

Reflect and be conscious

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

时间太短,很害怕拍不完。

Time is very limited that I was worried I couldn’t complete the filming

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

我很感动

I was touched

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

我觉得人类对动物的态度很糟。

I think the attitudes of humans to treat with the animals are really terrible

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

海上钢琴师

The legend of 1900

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

挺好的

Good??

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

国歌

National anthem

Interview with Filmmaker Emily DeBackere (LAUNDRY)

LAUNDRY played to rave reviews at the July 2020 FEMALE Directors Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What Motivated you to make this film?

Emily DeBackere: I made this the summer after my second year of school at Ryerson. The motivation behind it was purely to make a film with no budget in my parents backyard with a group of friends. And that’s what we did. It was my first project I felt like I had total creative freedom over without the worry of strict guidelines from school.

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

The pre-production/filming stages took only about a month. In post, the edit took about two months of off and on revisiting the project in order to sculpt the desired narrative.

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

Artistically Introspective.

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

Probably the toughest obstacle in this project was being able to make the vision achievable with such a limited crew and budget. I am extremely thankful for the hard work that each crew member contributed to this project. Since it was only a small group of us, most of us had to take on multiple roles. This film would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of each member.

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

It felt really good to have people reiterate the message I intended for the film without having to blatantly explain its reasoning in the actual film itself. This is the first festival to give me an outsider opinion on Laundry and I was relieved to hear such positive feedback on the symbolism and imagery I implied throughout the short.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I’m very much an image based type of person and that’s usually how I conceptualize most of my ideas. The very first thing I did was drew a picture of the opening shot which was of the laundry line in the middle of the field. From there I was able to conceptualize a story that justified the reasoning of why linen was hung out in the middle of no where and more importantly what purpose it served.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

I don’t think there is a specific film that I’ve ever really worshipped religiously. Despite being a filmmaker/film student I’m not that huge of a film buff. However, as of lately I’ve been enjoying the works of Terrence Malick. Specifically A Hidden Life and Tree of Life have definitely been on repeat for me.

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

I feel like, especially as a young amateur film maker, I’m not too aware of the variety of festivals out there. FilmFreeway really made it simple to research and send out my short to the festivals I felt would best fit my project. If anything I feel like it allows access to a wider bandwidth of filmmakers to easily put there film out there for other people to see.

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

Clair de Lune by Debussy. I’m sort of an old soul and when it comes to classical music I find it evokes the most emotion out of me. Of course this is not the type of music I listen to in the car or with friends but definitely when I’m writing or brainstorming. I’ve played this song on repeat probably one too many times when trying to get the creative juices flowing.

What is next for you? A new film?

Next year I will be going into my fourth year at Ryerson for film. In which, we are expected to create our thesis short film. As of right now, I’m in the midst of writing a script that I’m hoping to direct if it gets green lit by the school.

Interview with Filmmaker Loïc Andrieu (AGORIA – CALL OF THE WILD)

AGORIA – CALL OF THE WILD was awarded BEST MUSIC VIDEO at the July 2020 Experimental Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Loïc Andrieu: As a screenwriter I am working on my next feature film script LIFE LINE. This film introduces a new female hero high-concept. Jane, an enigmatic LAPD rookie, trapped into a scary police hazing ritual and forced to face her secret power to dive into death. The concept of this project has inspired the music video AGORIA – CALL OF THE WILD. In fact you should experience this music video as a proof of concept for the full length movie.

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

My producer Pierre Cazenave triggered it all by introducing me to the amazing electronic music artist and producer Agoria aka Sebastien Devaud. I pitched him the concept…

From there, Agoria agreed and offered me one of the most iconic tracks of his forthcoming album Drift.

The supernatural-thriller tone of the script fits perfectly the mood of the track Call Of The Wild. The fast-paced menacing vocals of Philadelphia rapper STS complements the cold and uneasy mood created by Agoria’s industrial-tinged beats.

It was an exciting experience to collaborate with Agoria as he re-worked his track through the editing process of the video by adding powerful instrumental parts. Agoria’s inputs were priceless in terms of balance between the music video and the narrative.

The whole project took us one 18 months.

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

FEMALE ORPHEUS

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

Los Angeles is not an easy area to shoot an ambitious project with a low budget. You must pay dozens of expensive permits. A single gunshot will cost you 200$ to rent the gun. 900$ to pay the weapon supervisor plus 3000$ to pay the permit to shoot by night in a suburb area. So you are not as free as you are in Europe to shoot with a small crew. Unions, casting, scouting, wardrobe, every aspect of a low budget movie production are a battle in LA. I guess all these rules are made to prevent the city from being overwhelmed by movie shootings. But even if you can’t be as picky as you would be in Europe, you will always find better props, a better car, or better locations than the one you had in mind because the volume of choice is way larger in every department.

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

My producer Pierre Cazenave from Soldats Films and I are very proud to be part of this amazing event. We never take anything for granted and we are honoured that CALL OF THE WILD will be screened this year in front of such an authentic audience.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Call Of The Wild is a female Orpheus myth. Death is the ultimate Pandora’s box. Dealing with it calls us to face inherent fears over the unknown. Jane breaks these boundaries and unveils the mysteries of the antechamber of death. Not dead yet, but no longer alive.

The concept of a female character blessed and cursed with an Orphic power came to me through personal mythological research. I created the concept of Jane as a real-life Fury. Furies are the snake-haired goddesses of vengeance, that under earth take vengeance on men, whosoever hath sworn a false oath.

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

THE DEER HUNTER

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

This is the best platform ever to expose the creations of talented directors from all over the world.

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

“What’s going on?” by Marvin Gaye

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

I Am currently focused on writing my feature film screenplay. “LIFE LINE” inspired from the concept of the short film “Agoria – CALL OF THE WILD ».

Interview with Filmmaker Tara Tusher (INNER-CRITIC)

INNER-CRITIC played to rave reviews at the July 2020 Fantasy/Sci-Fi Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Tara Tusher: It was a personal challenge. I wanted to explore all the areas of filmmaking – lighting, sound design, cinematography, set design, editing and even acting. There were hundreds of times I nearly talked myself out of it but in the end, I did it!

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

It took about two months. The shooting took two days, but there was a break in between shooting and post production, so the editing didn’t begin right away. I actually think that ended up really helping the film. It forced me to step away for a few weeks which gave a me a fresh perspective that I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

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

Dark and quirky.

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

Well, I was on screen. That was definitely the hardest part because I’m terrified of being in front of the camera.

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

Watching that video was one of the most rewarding parts of making this film. Seriously. We as filmmakers make films to connect with others, to provoke thought and even emotion. Hearing the audience feedback was so incredible because I could see that the film was working, it was connecting with people and that in itself makes it all worth it!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

It’s funny because the entire process was a little backwards. I knew I wanted to make a film about a potion maker. It was a visual that I was stuck with but I had no idea what the story was going to be about. I started shopping at thrift stores for props and built the set before I even started writing. I was basically ready to start shooting with no story, so I built a fort in my living room and tucked away until I had it written. Battling my inner-critic is something that I’m constantly doing so the premise came easy to me.

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

Oh that’s easy, and maybe slightly embarrassing. Wait, no, it’s not embarrassing…The Goonies!!!

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

I’ve had a wonderful experience on FilmFreeway. It’s a great platform for filmmakers to learn about festivals that they may have not otherwise known about, and it’s amazing for keeping submissions organized all in one place.

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

Probably, Ordinary World by Duran Duran. I wasn’t huge into the band but that particular song helped me through a hard time in my life, I mean I literally listened to it non-stop for like a year.

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

Yes! A new short film! I have several features that I’ve written but I’m really enjoying the short form right now and want to explore it. The one thing I will say is that my next short will be longer, I promise!

inner_critic_1

Interview with Filmmaker Borja Escribano (EXPLORERS)

EXPLORERS was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the July 2020 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Borja Escribano: The desire to tell a story that talks about how many times, no matter how hard we try things, is to fight against destiny when really wants something

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

3 years

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

Visual and intricate.

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

VFX

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

I felt really really excited, I think that the audience feedback is a confidence boost to keep writing scripts and telling stories.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

In a moment that I was thinking leave the cine / audiovisual world

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

Interstellar, Man Of Steel, Closer

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

I think that the platform works very well.

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

Killing me softly (Fugees) / Desafío (Malú)

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

A TV series about Explorers / A short film about the homosexuality in the Spanish post civil war (Franquismo).

explorers_1