Interview with Filmmaker Tony Saich (LATE)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Well, each student in my class had to come up with a concept, which followed with the class voting on which idea would be the film that gets made. Once mine was voted for, I wrote the script. My main motivation was just to finally make a short film before I left college. This was the first script and film I ever made.

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

About a month.

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

First attempt.

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

Essentially the 6 classmates assigned to be involved with the film completely bailed and I was left to do all the prep, scheduling, production design, etc. I am not an organized person so having to handle pretty much every aspect of the film other than the script and directing was very anxiety-inducing and there were quite a few moments I did not think he film would even get shot.

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

Thankfully, my DP came through and did a phenomenal job. There is no way the film would have been a success or even been completed if it wasn’t for his help.
It was very exciting to see people had seen my film! As well as it being nice that the criticisms were nothing new to my own thoughts about the film since its completion. It is always a thrill to see my attempts at screen language successfully come across to an audience.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

My mother did an unnecessary amount of preparation for the unlikely scenario when I was a child so this fear of being abducted always stuck with me. I figured the simplicity of the location and amount of characters would be an attractive attribute to the class and of course the shock value was sure to help.

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

This is hard, probably Boyhood by Richard Linklater or Faces by John Cassavetes. Those are my favorites anyways. Although I did recently just see Uncut Gems in theaters four times!

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

This is all a new world to me, but my experience with the platform has been great thus far! It is very intuitive and easy to navigate and has led to my film getting played for quite a few audiences.

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

This is even harder than the film question. My guess would be West Savannah by Isaiah Rashad.

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

I had toyed around with some ideas for my next short. Once I finally committed to one, I soon realized it would not work as a short and I was too attached to the idea to abandon it. So, to my own delusion, I am going for a feature for my second project. Wish me luck, I will need it. The tagline will go something like this: An aspiring movie director attempts to make a film about a filmmaker making a film about himself making a film.

Interview with Filmmaker Evgeniya Radilova (PATRIK)

PATRIK played to rave reviews at the November 2019 Female Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

What motivates me to write “Patrik” is an anonymous elderly man who caught my attention years ago. I was 18, aspiring actress, student at that time at the Film and Theater Academy in Bulgaria and while on a lunch break, I suddenly found myself starring at this man struggling to cross over a busy road. He moved very slowly, with a persistence and patience, but obviously intimidated by the fast world around him, failing in every attempt he does to cross the street. He kept on going back to the starting point, facing the semaphore and waiting for a green light. He would barely make a few steps when the light would turn red again forcing him to go back and start over. Eventually, he gave up and walked down the street.

That story became one of these seemingly unimportant memories, we are not sure why we keep, until it finally made sense, and I felt the urge to share it the moment I met Patrik Baldauff. We both performed in a production of The Cherry Orchard at The Actors Studio, alongside Ellen Burstyn, as lifelong members in the actor’s unit.

I found the perfect actor for my story and “Patrik” was born! His exceptional persona and our work together inspired me to develop a lot more the narrative and established the main topics of the movie.

The beauty and maybe just a bit of sadness aging brings, when striped from expectations and ambitions, we find joy in the little pleasure the morning sunshine brings, a memory hanging on the wall, the calming sound of ticking clock and the freedom of not putting your socks on if you don’t want to. Yet the world is changing and it’s harder and harder to keep up, but maybe the need of slowing down is a call from the universe to take a breath and let the things that matter happen to us. Often something small we would barely notice it’s what we really need at that very moment and gives a new meaning to what is important.

It is when we find a Greater sense of acceptance of and tolerance for those normally disregarded in our community that we can begin to work towards change.

“Patrik” is a story about a man of the theater, a giant of the stage and a charmer of the screen. I am honoring the long carrier Patrik Baldauff has had, and we follow the happiest day of his life when he is being honored with a life time achievement award. He needs to make one last effort and proudly walk alone all the way to the theater to receive his award. This is his Golgotha.

But the world out there is too busy and won’t stop for the old man. He misses his ceremony, but unexpectedly, he’s been given a different reward, which turns out to be even more significant – the gift of opening one’s heart. My little hope is that the young man offering a hand on the street, is you and I.

I’ve been compelled to make art that is deeply personal and accessible to a larger audience and my intend is to fill my films with the purest and honest form of storytelling to life.

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

This film took two years to make. It was my first film and I did every single possible mistake known to man. It took me a very long time to try to understand these mistakes, learn how to fix them and then fix them. But I wouldn’t change it for nothing because I have learned so much in the process!
Also, the editing took me a whole while as I was connected to every single moment. My first rough cut was 30 minutes, needless to say was incredibly long…… and after month of working on it and then letting it go for a bit I realized what is next, what needs to be cut and what I need to do.

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

Help one another!

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

The biggest obstacle was the editing! We shot gorilla style on Times Square all day long. We had Patrik Baldauff cross the street at least a 100 times.
We had prepared background actors and situations but honestly we didn’t end up using any of them. What we got to use was the real situations that happened around us. However, every time Patrik crossed the street there were different people in the frame so it was a complete mess in the editing room trying to connect the dots. But after a long battle, I think we have managed to make sense of it all! And I am so grateful for these situations that happened without much planning! They were absolutely magical and elevated the film to another level!

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

Firstly, I would like to say Thank you so much for this opportunity! I liked the idea of the Feedback video and I loved the actual video. It made me very emotional to hear other people talk about my film. What they liked, what they didn’t, what worked and what not. Even just the fact that people took the time and interest to talk about my film is all I could have ever asked for. And the critique was very helpful for my future work!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video :

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

As I mentioned above the inspirations were two- 1. The anonymous man I observed on the street and meeting the Broadway actor Mr. Patrik Baldauff.

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

Green Mile
Dumb & Dummer

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

I find this platform an incredible way to share/help Independent filmmakers work and it is very easy to use!

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

Probably something by Michael Jackson or Sail by Awolnation

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

My big upcoming projects are 2.

My second short film I have written, produced and directors called “El Cavil”,
which is about o start it’s festival year run – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8277832/

“El Cavil” is about a man who loves his work as a shoe shiner, more than anything in this world. He believes in the old tradition, that if you have a shine on your shoes there is a melody in your heart. Unfortunately for El Cavil, people are just too busy to acknowledge him or their shoes. With this very special story we wanted to raise awareness of the struggle that homeless people go through every day and we wanted to show that may of them could be a valuable contributor to society if they only got the opportunity.

And last but not least, I am so happy to introduce to you the biggest project of my life so far, I am co-producing and staring in the film cosplay Narrative Series called “Lost Cos”.

I am proud to say that 140 people cast and crew Ce together to make this wild idea become a reality. We are already in post production and can’t wait to share this project with you soon.

Lost Cos is a crime drama/dark comedy narrative based in New York City that follows the female protagonist, “Eni” (character performed by Evgeniya Radilova), who’s faced with an abusive past that consists of traumatic events she must confront. Her rage has now come to the surface and her lover, Zoey, worries if Eni can remain in control of her life.

Central to her journey is the underground cosplay club “Lost Cos”. A place for costume culture bohemians to “lose themselves, or perhaps find themselves, behind a mask”. A sexy blend of costume artistry, thunderous jams, and burlesque style curiosities await all who can gain entry to the hidden club.

It is at Lost Cos that Eni discovers her love for performing as her cosplay character “Vampireniya”. A popular fictional comic book based vampire succubus (at least in our world). A heroine whose objective is to hunt and eliminate abusers of women. Can Eni face the internal demons inside her or will her obsession with the fictional heroine “Vampireniya” blur the line between fantasy and reality to the point of no return…?

For details please visit http://www.lostcos.com and on IG @lostcoscommunity

Interview with Filmmaker Freya Billington (TERMINATED: TEETH & TINDER)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Freya Billington: It was a reflection on a very tough time in my life nearly 10 years ago when my husband left and my front tooth fell out at the same time. I couldn’t believe having suddenly and unexpectedly become single again I was ‘back on the market’ as an older woman which is hard enough to feel attractive as it is without not even being able to smile properly. Life moves on but as it did I have found myself having conversations with so many women who ended up in very similar situations and I wanted to make something about that.
In truth I HAD TO MAKE THIS FILM – I am nearly 50 and am not going to apologise for talking about difficult, embarrassing, truthful things anymore.

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

A couple of years but thats mainly because I am a single parent, work full time as a Uni Lecturer and do freelance consulting/ teaching on the side, so my time is very limited. I shot the interviews on the train and got ‘little freya’ made a year before I managed to get enough money to actually shoot more and pull it all together.

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

Personal Obnoxious

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

Sharing such personal information.

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

Its both great and hard. Always lovely to have positive feedback but never easy to hear people not getting it or enjoying it BUT ultimately to know people watched it in a cinema in Toronto, completely out of any context I know or without any prior knowledge is rather wonderful. It is an AMAZING thing you are doing.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Talking to students about whether I should go on Tinder or not!

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

Wonderboys or Bombay Beach

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

It’s fine – always hard to gauge if you are targeting the right festival.

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

IN YOUR EYES Peter Gabriel

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

I am in development a new more traditional narrative film called SERVICES and in conversation with a couple of different people about a possible podcast or radio drama along the lines of older women talking about Tinder.

Interview with Filmmaker Deeptanshu Sinha (SIEGE)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Deeptanshu Sinha: Like all my previous films my crew and I set out to make something which would push every crew member to their creative limits. We usually attempt things which we haven’t executed before or are doubtful of executing. Hence, I took the decision to make a VFX heavy film as we had never done it before. Finally after a lot of brainstorming I got the perfect story I wanted to tell. A story about a man in search for peace only to realise that it cannot be found.

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

It took me around 15 months to make this film.

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

Magnum Opus

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

Every day was an obstacle. It took us 15 months as we entered a territory we had no idea how to execute. We had just around $4800 to execute the entire project so we were short on crew. Hence, we wore multiple hats to complete the project. I was the Writer, Director, Production Designer, Sub Editor, Media Manager whereas my DOP also contributed in Production Design alongside Rotoscopy and DI Colorist. We had only two, 20 year olds who did 95% of the VFX. As nobody in our school had done a VFX project we barely got any support from the school and were on our own without any mentoring. Faculty calls to take over the project due to VFX delays was a nightmare but managing those prepared me as to become a better filmmaker for the studio environment.

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

Firstly, I was so thankful to the people who watched my film and took the effort to give feedback to us. My reactions were as anticipated. The audience completely got the things I wanted to convey to them and also left them thinking with questions which would make it a worthy second screening for them to get those questions answered. I am thankful to the festival for including the feedback section. Its a major plus.

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

I personally was going through a phase in life where I was trying really hard to find peace only to realise that it can never be found. We have to make peace with reality. Hence, I decided to extrapolate this idea and make a layered narrative to tell this story which would be relatable for many audiences worldwide.

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

I honestly don’t have a single film to answer this. As I watch the high rated films once in the cinemas and when at home I try to find the low rated films and give them one viewing.The reason for this is that the low rated films teach you things that one shouldn’t be doing when they make a film. There is a saying, how will you know what is sweet until you haven’t tasted sour.

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

FilmFreeway for filmmakers is like shopping on Amazon. Just add to cart all the festivals you want and hit go. It has made the process such easy. Will just reference THE DARK KNIGHT for this. “FilmFreeway is not the hero we deserve but the one which we need right now”.

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

I have heard Hans Zimmer’s TIME the most in my life. It falls under background scores but I think that’s the only one I can think of. Every time I play it, it emotes different feelings. The score is simply timeless.

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

I am making a feature film with a studio now. It should be done by 2020 end or by the 1st quarter of 2021.

Interview with Filmmaker Alejandro Cabrera (THE SLEEP OF THE RIGHTEOUS)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Alejandro Cabrera: Initially I wanted to try new things (for me) in terms of film language, blocking, camera movement and the use of subtle imagery that allow the viewer to find new readings in a second view. It was going to be just an exercise. But then while writing the script I found how deep the distrust of the Mexicans is in their authorities, how great was the temptation to take justice on your own hands and the great danger that that entailed. I came across the huge dilemma that was hiding behind all this: If a vigilante, in his desire to find justice, made a mistake, would he really be willing to submit himself to justice? Or would he look for ways to justify his mistake by claiming that he was basically doing the right thing?

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

About a year and a half, but most of that time was spent waiting for some funding to arrive -that never arrived-. Once we decided to wait no more it was a pretty fast process.

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

I wouldn’t dare to do that. I wouldn’t know how to do that without sounding awfully pretentious.

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

Money. It’s always the money, isn’t it? The budget was almost zero, so we had to settle for borrowed equipment, a hit-and-run Guerrilla filmmaking style, shooting almost exclusively with available light, having practically no rehearsals,… None of these are really my thing.

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

That was amazing. Fellow filmmakers only comment on the technical aspects of the film, while the audience were all about the theme and the nuances… And they mentioned things that made me feel that -despite the lack of resources- the story touched some strings on them.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Actually the idea came to me while re-watching Steven Spielberg’s Munich. There is a scene in the film were the protagonists have to kill an alleged responsible of the Munich 1972 Summer Olympic Massacre, but you can see their hesitation because there is no way they can be certain that this sweet Arabic Literature teacher is actually a mass murderer. So they kill him but they -and the viewer- have to remain in doubt if they did not actually kill an innocent man.

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

Difficult question. Quite possibly Raiders of the Lost Ark,… but it could be Alien, Jaws, Blade Runner, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Untouchables, Taxi Driver, The Shinning, Trainspotting, Seven, The Matrix, Fight Club… There are dozens of movies that I re-watch every year. But I must admit that most recently I find myself often watching and re-watching all of David Fincher’s filmography.

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

It’s great. It simplifies the process, enormously. I like things clean and clear. I don’t like to waste time and energy with tiresome submission paperwork.

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

Another difficult question. I don’t know. Surely something by Queen, Dire Straits or Pink Floyd, but for some reason The Animals’ The House of Rising Sun is the first song that comes to my mind.

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

I have just finished the first draft of what I expect to be my first feature, an Action Crime Thriller in the vein of Cape Fear. I’m also working on the pilot of a female-led Crime Thriller mini-series, and I’ve been asked to write/direct an Action short film. So it seems that 2020 is going to be a pretty busy year.

Interview with Filmmaker Paola Bernardini (SOLITAIRE)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Paola Bernardini: I visited the Italian Embassy in Brazil and had the opportunity to shoot something there. I didn’t know for how long that opportunity would last for so I had to act quickly. I was craving to tell a story there, I was motivated by the challenge of making something on the spot, without a crew, just Wayland Bell and I, brainstorming ideas, shooting, acting, and editing together. Wayland is an incredible filmmaker and the only person I could think of that would to be crazy enough to do this with me.

We were optimistic that we could pull off making a short film that looks and feels as if a full production team was involved by ourselves.

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

We worked on it on and off for about a year. Everything took us longer since we were only two and doing this on our free time.

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

cute and psycho

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

Pulling off a film like this was itself an obstacle but I decided to look at it more as a challenge I was giving myself as filmmaker. That was what kept me going, the stubbornness that it had to be done and it had to work.

The first big challenge was in post, we were still kind of rewriting the film while trying to finish within a deadline. It should also be said that many emotions come into play when you edit yourself in a film you’re not sure is going to work. Towards the end, we were so sleep deprived and got cabin fever. In some ways we mirrored the film and Wayland ended up quitting. After that, my second biggest challenge was finishing the film without him.

Showing the film to an audience and seeing their reactions like at this festival, really makes it all worth it.

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

I flew to Toronto from NY to attend the festival so I was there to hear the audience’s feedback about my film. This was the first time I was able to sit in a room while people give their honest opinion, especially since Matthew insisted that no one knew I was sitting in the audience. I was nervous the whole time but it was very interesting and I wish I could experience that more often. I would absolutely do this again.

It’s definitely a treat that everything is filmed and I can look back at feedback afterwards. Thank you for that.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

We arrived at the Embassy without an idea, we had a few scenes we wanted to create but they weren’t attached to a story. Very untraditional way of doing things.

We thought that the moment we both walked the grounds of the Embassy, a genius idea would strike. Unfortunately, we bounced off too many ideas for a couple of days. I blame the Embassy, for being so massive and every room being a place you just must shoot in.

“Can you imagine living here by yourself?”. This was a question that was asked a lot and how we ended up with this idea. I think in the end we followed the initial feelings the location gave us. We felt luxurious, spooked, and deserted. I think all those elements made it in the film.

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

Probably films by Totó, an old Italian comedian.

Then Scorsese, Spielberg, Hitchcock and anything with Roberto Benigni I’ve rewatched a lot. It’s too hard to pick just one!

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

I love how easy the platform is and that it includes reviews.

When I am planning where I will be submitting, I really have to look into what the festival is about, what they have shown in the past, just to see if your film fits that festival. All the information is right there for filmmakers to view.

The reviews are great when you encounter a festivals you never heard of before.

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

Anything by Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner.

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

I am working on a short documentary called “What Were You Wearing”. The film is about victim blaming from the point of view of real people who have experienced sexual assault. Those accounts will be intercut with a fashion show where models will wear the recreated outfits that people wore the day of the assault.

The film seeks to deconstruct the widespread misconception that survivors are somehow responsible for their assault. By showcasing the multiplicity of outfits we hope to demonstrate that sexual assault is only the result of the violent actions of the assaulter.

The goal is also to send a clear message to those who might not think that questions like these are detrimental and insinuate blame on the victim.

This documentary is fiscally sponsored by the New York Women in Film and Television. Donations for the making of this film can be made here: https://www.nywift.org/what-were-you-wearing/

We are looking to interview people who have experience with sexual violence. If you’d like to part of this project or simply learn more about it, please email me directly at wwywfilm@gmail.com