Interview with Animator/Filmmaker Susan Shulman (PURRS AND ‘OL MAN BLUES)

 PURRS AND ‘OL MAN BLUES was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the December 2017 Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Susan Painter: I have a love of music especially the blues and it was inspired by the actual musician Jack Dappa from New York City. I heard his song and it inspired me.

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

3 months of crazy drawing and experimentation.

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

Blues Soul

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

Not having enough technical expertise.

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

I was delighted and thought what they said had merit. It was really great feedback. As artists we need that feedback to continue in our dreams. It’s very important.

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

Again, its my love of music that was the impetus for this concept. Of course I do love cats too!

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

That’s a tough answer but I think what has influenced me in the past was the classic Disney movies like Fantasia and the old black and white felix the cat.

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

I love it. It makes my life easier in submitting!

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

Too many to name but for sure Muddy Waters, I got my mojo working.

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

I just completed a new one called In Our Memories Forever. I hope to submit it to you again this year. It is 2.5 minutes long, I can’t seem to stick to 1 minute. It is about heritage and immigration to Canada in 1900 by boat. I hope you will like it.

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PURRS AND ‘OL MAN BLUES, 2min., Canada, Animation
Directed by Susan ShulmanCool alley cat meets old blues musician and they tour together

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

Interview with Animation Filmmaker Ina Conradi (CHRYSALIS)

 CHRYSALIS was the winner of BEST ANIMATION at the December 2017 Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ina Conradi: The idea for Chrysalis started in 2014. I have followed up the abstract and surreal structure of my earlier war film Elysian Fields (2013) and continued developing the story about life and death, around the theme of perseverance, metamorphosis and immorality. I wanted Chrysalis to install hope and to reflect on many topics such as life’s purpose and the human desire to explore the inner workings of the mind. However the idea of metaphysical quickly expanded to topics such as evil, dehumanisation, totalitarian governments, and environmental disasters. The quintessence legend of a butterfly summed up all of the ideas well.

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

Two years- which is inclusive of stereoscopic 3D version of the film. The funding for the project was awarded in late 2014. The research and story board was done in January/Feb of 2015. Animation production started in 2015 March in tight collaboration with co-director and animation veteran, Mark Chavez, founder of Giant Monster- the animation/game company, and with Joshua Tan founder of CRAVEFX -the best VFX studio in Singapore. The sound effects and music were done by IMBA Interactive, led by Jeremy Goh.

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

Surreal journey

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

The biggest obstacle was time and budget. We all work full time on other commitments and the project was put on hold few times. The budget was tight to cover entire original story board for the film.

The film had 11 chapters depicting the surreal journey of a monk. (Part 1 Conscious mind, Part 2 The Descend, Part 3 The Field, Part 4 Influencing the Field, Part 5 Chaos, Part 6 Dystopia, Part 7 Dehumanization, Part 8 Nefarious, Part 9 The Ascent, Part 10 Warriors and Survivors, Part 11 Integration)

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

It was absolutely rewarding to hear the feedback and reactions of the audiences. Movie creatives on Chrysalis really want to know if their film do “wow” the audience. It is so valuable to see that the Chrysalis does sustain and build audiences’ involvement.

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

I have been living in South East Asia in Singapore for the last 12 years. I am fascinated by diversity and unity of all the cultural traditions. There are hundreds of ethnic groups with their own distinct languages and culture. Many of religions are based on the idea that spiritual and supernatural powers constitute and heal the material universe. The original idea for the film was inspired by the monk that would undertake mystical journey to the worlds inhabited by spirits.. very often film has been mistakenly identified with Buddhism. Some Buddhism references in the film are just an umbrella for all of sorcerers, magicians, and priests. The film does not adhere to one or another religion. Rather to human desire to explore the spiritual.

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

I am big fan of Rydley Scott’s movies

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

FilmFreeway is fantastic platform for submitting the films and recording the acceptance rate. There are many useful tools within the platform on how to navigate through various film categories. FilmFreeway allows for filmmaker to work independently and to take the role of publicity team allowing for as much marketing and publicity mileage as possible.

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

I can be more specific about movie scores – Interstellar by Hans Zimmer

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

Currently I am collaborating with my partner Mark Chavez, who was also co-director/producer on Chrysalis for a recently installed large scale urban media platform in Singapore called Media Art Nexus (MAN). The 2m by 15 m long led wall is installed at the Nanyang Technological University Singapore in a very public setting and seen by thousands of passers-by daily. It features real time animated works and video art by local and international artists. In addition to premiering our works in Tokyo for SGIO Tokyo last august we will be organizing two major events – one with ArtScience Museum in Singapore and another with famous Elbphilharmonie Philharmonic Hall Hamburg Germany, featuring novel experimental animation done for MAN.

 

 

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CHRYSALIS, 7min., Singapore, Animation 
Directed by Ina ConradiBased on an old legend about the butterfly’s struggles the film is the symbolic metaphor of rebirth after death and fascination with the human innate drive to survive.

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

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!

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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!

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Interview with Filmmaker Hendricksen Armand (COSPLAY: BEHIND THE MASK)

COSPLAY: BEHIND THE MASK played to rave reviews at the November 2017 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Hendricksen Armand: I was always aware of cosplay as a subculture from an outsiders perspective but it wasn’t until I was fully immersed in it that I began to understand the full scope of what cosplay was. It was vibrant, it was creative, it was technical, and I thought it was a story that needed to be told.

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

From conception to completion it took about 9 months to complete. Though I have footage in the film from 2014 of the first convention I ever attended. Which was Supercon in Miami.

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

Fun, Unexpected

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

I think trying to coordinate with all the different subjects on the film to tell their stories. Logistically it was a bit challenging because we all had full time jobs including myself. So we had to find a time when we were all available to shoot.

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

I was very happy to see how many people appreciated the topics that were covered in the film. I assume some these people have cosplayed or know cosplayers. That really brings me a lot of joy when cosplayers enjoy the film because essentially, I made this for them.

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

I didnt have to come up with anyting really. I discoverd an artistic, vibrant, community and wanted to share it with the world.

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

I’ve seen a lot over the years, but what always comes to mind is The Dark Knight. I could watch that all day.

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

I’m a relatively new filmmaker in terms of the submission process so I can’t really comment on how things used to be, but I do find it very convenient to submit films on platforms like FilmFreeway. It allows filmmakers to get their work out there without mailing postage and searching thousands of websites to find festivals.

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

Wow. I can’t say I’ve been keeping track. The song I’ve been listening to the most right now is “Stay” by Hans Zimmer from the Interstellar soundtrack.

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

I am currently working on a film at the moment. It’s a project I am very excited about and could perhaps screen at this festival again next year!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film: 

COSPLAY: BEHIND THE MASK, 20min., USA, Documentary/Sci-Fi 
Directed by Hendricksen Armand

A look into the life of cosplayers who try to shatter the boundaries of reality by transforming themselves into characters from comic books, TV shows, and movies.

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