Interview with Filmmaker Vasili Manikas (ANTICA)

Vasili’s short film played to rave reviews at the October 2017 HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival.

: Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Vasili Manikas: Me and my production team really wanted to work on a film where everything was stripped down to a very basic feeling. No real plot, no tremendous character development, no dialogue, just an attempt to create a sense of dread and anxiety in audience.

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

The idea had been floating around for about a year. But it was about three months between the script being written to the editing being done.

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

Spooky, Scary.

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

It was difficult trying to figure how much information to give the audience. We wanted the film to have structure and direction, while still communicating the same confusion that the character is experiencing.

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

It was very exciting. This was the first feedback that we’ve gotten from complete strangers, so it was great to see that people really enjoyed the film, and that film successfully communicated a state of anxiety.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

It started off with the location. We knew we could shoot there for free, and we created a story to match the environment.

I suppose that’s sort of backwards, but it worked out quite well, and as young filmakers we have to always contend with the economic realities and try to stretch every dollar as much as we can.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

I used to watch Space Jam religiously as a child.

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

Pretty great. Very inviting and easy to use.

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

I’ve been bumping to Mozart’s Serenade No 10 in B flat Major almost every week at the club.

What is next for you? A new film?

Working on a few projects for the summer. Me and my brother are still in school, so we only really get a chance to film in the summertime. We’re hoping to complete at least two projects in 2018.

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Interview with Filmmaker Jean-Claude Leblanc (STUDDED NIGHTMARE)

Jean-Claude’s short film played to rave reviews at the October 2017 HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival.

 What motivated you to make this film?

I’ve been working on films since I graduated from Trebas institute in 2006 in film production. I was trying to find a film idea but a good one is hard to find. I’m always writing scripts, but with this one it was a fast process. I was really into it so I started production when the script was done. I couldnt stop until the film was completed.

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

1 year.

1 month on the script, 1 month pre-prod. We shot 10 days between June and October,

And since I had hard time with the edit it took me three months to delegate and get it done.

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

Haunted Chair

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

The editing. At first I was editing the film but as a writer/director I had hard times cutting out scenes that I loved and took time to shoot. At some point I called Geoff Klein, an amazing editor and friend, and he cut the film as we know. He won best editor at Top Shorts film fest and was nominated at 2 other festivals.

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

I was delighted to hear what people had to say about the film. Questioning the intro sequence as I questioned it myself when it was put together. It was good feedback.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

It’s based on true events. My friend was scared of a chair because of its gruesome past (the actual chair is used in the film ). I wanted to know the entire story but in the end it was just a chair. I pushed the story to make a horror film. The main idea of the film is: Would you keep something that that belonged to something you know he killed himself with it? Most people say no because it’s creepy. I thought it had a potential to scare.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Evil Dead

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

It makes it very simple to make contact with festival. I made most of the submissions myself and I enjoy the easy process.

What song have you listened to the most times in your life? Tough question?
Wow thats a hard one!

Probably a song by Iron Maiden

What is next for you? A new film?

I’m almost done with a short script and I hope to start production soon. It’s about life after death, a heroic horror film.

Interview with Filmmaker Paul Scheufler (TASTE OF LOVE)

Paul’s short film played to rave reviews at the October 2017 STUDENT FEEDBACK Film Festival. “TASTE OF LOVE” was the winner of BEST Cinematography at the festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Paul Scheufler: To tell the story about the various forms love can take on, to tell the story about and invite forms of sexual passions and the importance of a colorful and diverse world.

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

Four months in total, but we were all in high school at this moment and just graduated. So we spent every second on our free time to producing the film. We even flew to Berlin in Germany to record the right voice. A lot of effort went into it.

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

INTENSIVE COLORFUL

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

The melting and stinky fruits under the hot lighting equipment next to our actress…

No, the biggest obstacles was the camera department. We shot everything with a Macro lens so everything was really close, all lights, the actors, and the camera on a special, very heavy 3 axis tripod. That was new to us and it took us two days to improve the workflow.

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

Oh at this point I want to thank the audience for such a great feedback! – It’s absolutely fantastic and such a great full feeling when the audience feel with the story and take the main though out of the cinema!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Love and food are really important things in life or… (laughing). The thought at looking for the right sexual desires made me crazy. I did a lot of research on sexuality and “unusual” passions. After a talk with a good friend of mine, I knew I wanted to do a movie about polysexuality and tastes as a reverence where everybody can connect with.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Let me see… as a child a was obsessed with the TV show “Barbarbar’s” but thats a long time ago. Now I’m trying to watch a short film every day and see sometimes recommended features, but I do not really have a favorite film.

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

It’s super easy to reach festivals all over the world and present it to a real audience. Movies are made to be seen and these platforms helping new comers, filmmakers and the audience to see new and exciting films!

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

I really don’t have any favorite song. My mood decides if I hear classics, house, electronics or what ever combination of genres. But I wanna give a shout out to “Glass Animas” , “alt-j”, “Portugal The Man” and to “Gudrun von Laxenburg” (Austrian guys).

What is next for you? A new film?

At the moment I’m living in New York City, I’m working for the Austrian American Film Festival in New York and doing commercials and writing for next short movies. I’m planning to go back to Vienna, Austria in Summer 2018 and preparing for applications for Film Academies in Austria or Germany. But you know… everything can change so quickly. I’m not the guy who is planning my next 5 years. My passion of telling stories and connecting with people and issues is driving me, and I will see where this passion is going to take me.

Interview with Filmmaker/Animator Amr Kamel (PROMETHEUS INDUSTRIES)

Amr’ short film played to rave reviews at the October 2017 STUDENT FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo:. What motivated you to make this film?

Amr Kamel: We wanted to emulate a small 3D studio environment to get a feel for how things might work for us later on after graduation. Our group was called Project: Animate! and our mission was to go from concept to finished film, and to see what it was like to work with a team on a project of this scale. We were all also interested in the learn by doing approach, and for us, the opportunity to learn and experiment with both story telling and the technical aspects of 3D animation is what drove us the most.

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

It took us about 8-9 months from our very first meeting till we put out the final cut.

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

Delightfully Dark.

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

The biggest problem was working over the summer break, after the semester was done and everyone wanted to go on vacation, and no one was around, it was hard to stay motivated and keep the ball rolling. Making the switch between in-person and online collaboration meant that it was much more difficult to keep the communication lines open and people motivated to pull through, but we were somehow able to manage.

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

I felt elated and relieved, it’s easy when working on a project to be hyper aware of all the flaws and all the things that could’ve gone better. It somehow always surprises me to get positive reactions, because as artists we have these perfectionist tendencies.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

At the very beginning of our project, we wanted to make a 3D short, and we had everyone in our group come up with an idea and present it to the rest of us, we picked the best 3 and developed them a little more, then we pitched them again, and we stuck with what we all liked the best.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Conan the Barbarian (1982)

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

FilmFreeway is alright and convenient. But I guess it’s always nice to have alternatives and competition.

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

Probably Fairies Wear Boots by Black Sabbath

What is next for you? A new film?

I’m currently working with a couple of my teammates from this film on a new project. 3D animated teaser trailers for a post apocalyptic sci-fi webseries I wrote as my bachelor project, which we then hope to use to pitch the concept and crowdfund the first season.

Interview with Filmmaker Navid Tavakolnia (BEAUTIFUL)

Navid’s short film played to rave reviews at the October 2017 STUDENT FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Navid Tavakolnia: The idea and message of the film itself was the biggest motivation for me to make this film happen.

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

From the idea to the finished product, it took about 4 months to make this short.

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

Reality isn’t Beautiful

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

Not having a budget and financial issues has always been the biggest obstacle for filmmakers but in the process of making Beautiful, I confronted with another obstacle which now seems fun to me. We planned everything to shoot in a school with the students in the classroom and a teacher. As we got close to the shooting day, the school canceled the promises and we had to find another location in couple days before the shoot with no students other than our character. So Literally, we asked all friends and families we knew that they have kids and asked if they were willing to have their kids to be in the film. Our kid character’s mom had a little teaching classroom and also she accepted to play the role of the teacher and all of a sudden we even had more students than we expected to have before! It was an amazing experience and I was really grateful to have all those people around me.

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

It feels wonderful to see the audience understand your message and they give their opinion about the piece you created. I feel really proud and I am really thankful to have all these opinions to make my next film better than this.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

At the beginning, the story was not supposed to be about war. It was just about a burned face kid and the blind guy and the “humanity”. After I talked to one of my friend’s who was in an army before and hearing his stories, also all the bad and sad news of the world, discrimination, war, refugees, etc. I taught that it would be a really good idea to relate the story to war and show that we are all victims, no matter what color or race we are. We are just people and war is an absolute loss for everybody except the warmongers!

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Saving Private Ryan is the film I have seen the most.

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

Filmfreeway and its platform of submission make the path really easier for filmmakers to have their films seen in festivals and promoting them. It is a great opportunity with doors open to filmmakers.

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

Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen

What is next for you? A new film?

I am working on a new script and pretty soon I am planning to make my new short film with the help of the same amazing crew.

Interview with Director Steve Hally (TWISTED SOBRIETY)

Steve Hally’s short film was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the September 2017 THRILLER FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Steve Hally: We wanted to make something thought provoking something that stirred. Something that pushed people into an uncomfortable environment and asked them, if the world continues in the way it’s going what will happen? People get poorer and poorer without concern and people get richer and richer to the point of futility. When will this break the human condition and the human spirit, will it? Capitalism is a great system it’s done beautiful, amazing things but it’s being devastatingly and needlessly abused.

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

We took around a year to get the final product. We went through several processes and as an indie short you need to be patient to get the quality you desire. We first cast talent and then searched for crew for around two months to get the right pros for the job. We then shot over a hectic eight days, over various locations in London. Because of the complexities of our future scape and VFX post-production was the most patient part of our film. Waiting for rotoscoping, matte designs and computer designs was totally rewarding but very time consuming however to get quality of this standard takes patience. Our editor is Rebecca Lloyd who was the first editor ever to win the Break Through Brit award at the 2016 BAFTA awards. To ensure we had this power talent of editing a great amount of respect and understanding needed to be placed. Editing is the most important part of post-production, for the emotion and the direction. This can never be, taken for granted or ignored for speed or lesser abilities. You must have an editor that understands film emotion and not just the technical learning. Editing is a post production pillar that should always be the strongest. We then went on to colour grading which was done at the world renowned and respected colour studio Molinare. Again favours and patience played its massive part in this success. Film making is tough but if it was easy no one or everyone would do it. Only the mad few continue on.

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

Bold provocateur

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

Time, you always want things to move as fast as possible but as indie film makers patience and waiting can be a difficult game, you must learn this game. You’re on your own and things are never handed to you. You have to work hard and fight for it and be willing to wait.

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

I loved that people had something to say. Positive or negative, critical or complimentary an opinion was being made. That is a truly beautiful thing. Everyone has the right to an opinion and it should be embraced at all times. The worst thing would be no opinion at all, from anyone. As that means nothing has effected, nothing has played a part, nothing can grow or progress. I love positive and negative opinions as it means it has made an impact. I love at the end of an auditorium performance having the whole theatre chatting, that buzz of communication that used to fill the end of every film performance, that’s missing in places. People that chat about film in great praise or bad criticism is what drives film and makes film last and improves it. No one has the answers to film but everyone has an opinion, they are all most welcomed, everyone.

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video: 

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

There is a cumbrous unbalance of wealth in this world. It’s becoming very hollow.

I wanted to show that in general we treat the homeless, the poor, the down trodden, the less wealthy, the less financially fortunate with such nothingness, with such an obtuse view that I started to think, what if they fought back. What if enough was enough and they were no longer sitting back taking the disregarded, blind-eye, blinkered abuse.

What if the very people the world dismisses and forgets turned and stole the very thing the world doesn’t allow them to have.

We wouldn’t see it coming.

 What film have you seen the most in your life?

That’s a big question, what genre? Lol

I watch a lot of films. I don’t repeat watch that much anymore as there are too many titles that I have not seen to fit into my life time.

12 Angry men is the best film I have ever seen. I could watch it on repeat.

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

It’s actually the best one. I have never missed a notification or been left hanging. I promote it highly.

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

Another big question. I go through phases of genres then jump around music. The last song on my iPod was Victor Ganna – Mibanga but I’m heavily pulling on my classic Aphex Twin and Richie Hawtin tapes. But usually I push shuffle and see what pops up.

  What is next for you? A new film?

We are in discussion about either another short or perhaps a feature. But I’m still waiting for that gut reaction to kick in, so I can follow it.
twisted_sobriety_4

Interview with Director Jana Stackhouse (THE MAN WHO DOESN’T SLEEP)

Jana’s short film THE MAN WHO DOESN’T SLEEP played to rave reviews at the August 2017 FEMALE Feedback Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

The minute writer and producer Adrian Morphy pitched the idea I knew it was a story we needed to tell together. Then he wrote this beautiful script with wonderfully complex character that were both in search of something. It’s a story of fulfillment and what it means to be alive.

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

Adrian began writing the script in August 2015, we had two months to really find the character’s voices and round out the story. We shot over four days and had the first cut within another month. We had to pause on the film as both Adrian and I were working on other projects. So we finished it in the summer of 2016.

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

Beautifully heartbreaking.

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

The whole process for us was incredibly rewarding, and most of it went quite quickly. Once our first cut of the film was finished life got in the way. We weren’t able to keep working on it because we were both so busy with other films. So thankfully we had a few weeks off in the summer of 2016 and made the commitment to finish The Man Who Doesn’t Sleep.

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

I was thrilled that people seemed to pick up on so many of the themes and metaphors. During pre-production – and even while on set – you can become obsessed with tiny details that you think no one will ever see or understand. So when an audience member mentions the female/male gaze, or repeats a line that resonated with them, it’s such a special feeling.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Adrian Morphy gets all credit here. He had the idea that if you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with all the extra time. It started as a comedy but as he began to develop the characters and the more we talked about what both of them were missing, it turned into something a little deeper. Then we brought on these two incredible actors, Ryan O’Callahan and Camille Stopps, who brought their own perspectives and experiences that truly brought these characters to life.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

It’s a Wonderful Life. I would watch that film every year with my mom. I can see a few parallels between that and my own films now. The protagonist who wants something bigger and thinks he’s in search of one thing, when in fact what brings him the most fulfillment is the very thing he’s trying to avoid – companionship.

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

I found the platform pretty user-friendly. It’s easy to see deadlines and the watchlist notifications are a great way to stay on top of submissions.

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

Well, a song I used to listen to when I was a kid and still do now is “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” performed by Willie Nelson. There’s something so haunting and beautiful about it. It’s about love, mortality and longing. I hope to capture the same emotions in the films I make.

What is next for you? A new film?

I have just completed my latest film “Away Home” which I wrote and directed. It’s a film about family, responsibility and having the chance to say goodbye. It stars Billy MacLellan (Maudie, Bellevue), Raven Stewart (Fargo, The Expanse). We’re really excited to begin the festival circuit and have audiences see these beautiful performances.