Interview with Filmmmaker Max Westerman (MY FRIEND, THE MAYOR: SMALL-TOWN POLITICS IN THE AGE OF TRUMP)

MY FRIEND, THE MAYOR: SMALL-TOWN POLITICS IN THE AGE OF TRUMP is the winner of BEST FEATURE FILM at the Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I had just taken a course in filming with small cameras (I shot this movie with a handicam and my iphone). And I was looking for a topic to try my news skills out on. My friend Sean Strub presented me with a perfect opportunity when he told me he was running for mayor. As a TV correspondent in the U.S. I had done stories on him before (then with a professional crew). So I knew he’s good on camera and has an interesting take on things. And since he’s my oldest friend, I also knew he would forgive me if my rookie camera work wouldn’t result in a professional movie.

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

It took me several years. Which seemed forever. As a TV journalist I was used to seeing my stories on the air within a day. But making a documentary is an entirely different process. More like writing a book; drafting, editing, re-editing. Putting it aside to do other things. Coming back to it after other people have taken a look. Acting on their criticisms. Meanwhile, paying the bills. The movie cost me less than $10.000,- to make. I recouped some of it when I sold it to Dutch public television. It was aired in the Netherlands last November, just before the U.S. presidential elections.

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

Hopeful and feel-good.

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

Believing in myself. I didn’t think my material was good enough, until a friend (and his wife) looked at it and told me it had to be a movie. That friend, Roeland van der Manden, actually became the editor. We had a lot of fun putting it all together. It was quite different from my previous day-job as a correspondent; no deadlines, no stress, just pleasure. And meeting some great new talents along the way. Such as the young composer who volunteered to do the terrific sound-track: Rick Kooijman.

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

Since it was watched by half a million Dutch TV viewers, I knew the movie gave people good vibes. But the feedback video gave me more details on why. Your critics are used to watching with a keen eye; their comments are very thoughtful. The viewer at the end of the video summarized it well, when he said this documentary about politics in a small town made him reflect on what has been lost nationally, such as “respect for different opinions, cordial communication and valuable debate”. As he put it, “How can we get back to that at the national level, that’s the biggest question I felt this documentary presented.”

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

As I said, the idea fell into my lap. But I didn’t know how it was going to work out. Sean was an unlikely candidate for the job of mayor in a Trump town – being a left-wing Democrat, openly gay and HIV-positive. What if he lost? Would I still have a movie? Would I have thrown away the two months I followed him around on the campaign trail? I wonder how many documentaries are never completed because things don’t pan out the way their makers envisioned.

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

Black Orpheus – Orfeu Negro in Portuguese. Made in the year of my birth, 1958. It’s a love story set in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. It has an all-black cast; imagine that, decades before Hollywood grudgingly started including more Afro-American actors. Black Orpheus is a gorgeous movie that made me fall in love with Brazil. It won the Oscar for best foreign movie (which went to France though, the country of its director) and put the sensual sounds of Brazilian bossa nova and samba on the international map.

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

I love this platform, but found out about it only after we had pitched to several festivals individually; what a drag! In one fell swoop FilmFreeway made life so much easier for us. Making documentaries is hard enough; we really deserve this time-saving tool.

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

As, by Stevie Wonder. Songs in the Key of Life is my favorite album. To me it exemplifies the beauty, creativity and energy of America.

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

Mulling over ideas. A book, a movie, as long as it’s a good story, preferably again with a positive message.

Interview with Filmmakers Nicolas Polixene & Sylvain Loubet dit Gajol (AMERICAN DREAM)

AMERICAN DREAM was the winner of BEST SHORT FILM at the January 2021 POLITICAL Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Our motivation was born from an opportunity to make a film in the US.

Nicolas won an award with his first shortfilm “Papé” during the Chelsea Film Festival at New York and received a $5,000 voucher to rent video equipment in the U.S. Sylvain said, “Nicolas, there is only one year left to use your rental voucher. Let’s write and shoot a short film in the U.S. in less than a year” We planned to supplement the $5,000 voucher with all our savings. Very quickly, we all agreed that the theme of the film would be racism, because it’s a subject that has always touched us. In this film, we wanted to talk about misunderstanding between people and the ways in which skin color creates mental conditioning and fear on both sides. Nicolas is Black from the French Caribbean islands and Sylvain is white. We both grew up with values of tolerance and sharing. But today, in the U.S. as in France, racism is very strong. As storytellers, filmmakers and fathers, it’s our duty to talk about it. The best weapon against racism is education: in school, in our houses and in the stories. We know our movie is just a small stone in this big ocean, but with millions of small stones we can built a new house, a new city, a new world. We want to contribute to building a better world. We have to stop fighting and fearing our differences.

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

After a few weeks of brainstorming and writing, we had a first version of the script on March 2018. In May 2018, a courageous French woman producer, Florence Jacob, fell in love with the project. She decided to produce it with her production company, Caviar Paris. Shooting was scheduled for November 2018 in the Chicago area, but for budgetary reasons we had to change everything. The shooting date was changed to September and the location was moved to Canada. At the time of this change, we only had three weeks left to find all the sets and the North American cast. It premiered at the Chelsea Film Festival in New York in October 2019. The opportunity to make the film was born in this festival. While it was intense to present it there, the circle was complete.

It’s important to understand that in France, we don’t produce films like in the U.S. Most feature films and short films are financed by public funding from the Ministry of Culture and French TV channels. Normally, it’s a very long process because you have to make a lot of files and go through many commissions. It takes at least two years to shoot a short film and much longer for a feature film. But for this film, we wanted to make the film like real American independent filmmakers with the same energy and passion.

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

Mental conditioning

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

The main obstacle was to shoot in a foreign country with a small budget and without being able to locate the sets well in advance. We only had 4 days to shoot including two nights. The shooting was very short, very intense and hard both physically and mentally. The weather was difficult with rain, very cold temperatures at night ,etc. In spite of these difficulties, we remained focused on the essential: telling the story of our main characters. We worked a lot with our actors.We already knew the two main actors, Jean-Luc Joseph and Vincent Vermignon. They are two very talented and generous actors, great professionals. We involved them from the very beginning of the writing process. They worked ahead of their characters while we wrote the script. The two actors had never met before this project, so Sylvain and I did everything we could to create a real brotherhood between them.

A few days before shooting, in Canada, we rented a cottage near a lake to be in the conditions of the film. We cut ourselves off from the world and we took time to concentrate on the necessary emotions. From 8 a.m. until midnight, we only talked about the film and their characters because we knew that the film’s power depended on the two brothers.

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

A lot of happiness and pride. We do this work to give emotions with the public. Our passion is beautiful only if we can share it with others.

Getting good reviews from your audience is also a way to reassure us about our work. As we are French, we were afraid of not being legitimate on such a subject. Our film is set in the USA even though we don’t live in your country.

We both asked ourselves a lot of questions about the best way to approach the themes of the film.” what different point of view can we bring as French people on the topic? “ Even though we’ve visited the U.S. several times and are very interested in your country, we don’t live there. How can we be credible and true? The answer was simple: Tell a story in the U.S. with two French main characters like us.

One of the things that also inspired us is the difference between the U.S. and France – the visions, cultures and even the racism. The two brothers represent these countries. There is no bad guy or good guy, just two totally different ways of looking at the world. We French, like the little brother, are utopians. You Americans are pragmatists like the older brother.

We are really touched that the film is appreciated in the USA. We’re very proud for the whole film team

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

We spent a lot of days brainstorming on several totally different stories. The idea for the film was inspired by an anecdote that Nicolas lived through. During a stay in Los Angeles, Nicolas had asked for advice on peaceful places to stay. The interlocutor answered him, “In L.A., for a Black man, it’s the police that you should be afraid of. If you get arrested in your car, don’t move and say that you are French!

Even in France, police checks can end badly, but there is a different climate in America. In the U.S., things can tip over faster, harder and more dramatically. The gun culture is not the same, the judicial system is completely different, the prison system is more severe etc.In everyday life, for people who are unemployed or with little income, life in France is simpler. However, the United States is a paradoxical country. A country that went from segregation to Obama being president. A country where you observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day – in France, we don’t have a historical Black figure highlighted in this way, yet he exists – and Black actors and directors are recognized worldwide.

Despite the violence and fear that a Black person can feel at certain times on American soil, one has the impression, rightly or wrongly, that opportunities to achieve exist more than elsewhere. So in the film, we were interested in this aspect. The determination of a Black man who comes from abroad, frustrated by not having the opportunities to match his talent in France, yet manages to make his way in the U.S. and live his dream. But the fact that he’s Black makes him very afraid of being crushed by the American legal system. It’s an accident, but he has no confidence. This is the famous mental conditioning. Everyone would like to live the famous AMERCICAN DREAM, but what happens when the harsh reality of America wakes you up unexpectedly? Especially when you’re not white. That’s what happens to our characters. What would you do in their place? Run away to preserve your dreams or stay to save your part of humanity? That’s the question the film asks. But the answer isn’t so simple when you’re two Black men lost in the middle of Illinois.

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

Nicolas: There’s so much film. As a teenager, there are movies I’ve seen more than 100X (cinema classics or pop culture movies like Back to the Future or Terminator) .But if I had to choose one, it would be “The Killer” by John Woo. Beyond the very stylized style of the staging and the themes that I like a lot in cinema (redemption, guilt, …). This film opened me to another type of cinema. As a child, I only watched American films. After The Killer, I watched a lot of Hong Kong films and it made me want to discover everything that was done in Japan, Korea, etc… This opening towards other types of cinema is very useful for my imagination and my way of writing.
Sylvain: the first and the only trilogy (4.5.6 episodes) of Star Wars. My mom is a geek, and she introduced my brothers and I to Star Wars at a very early age. We immediately fell in love with the story and the universe. But we were also very interested in how the special effects were done.

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

It is an essential platform. It is simple to use and allows young filmmakers to register easily all over the world.
It is also a way to form an opinion on a festival thanks to all the opinions left by other directors.

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

Nicolas: “Rock with you” by Michael Jackson
Sylvain: “Stairway To heaven” by Led Zeppelin and the main theme of Princess Mononoke because it’s the song that helps my daughter fall asleep at night.

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

Yes, we have a lot of projects, both personal and a lot in common.

We almost finish to write the feature of American Dream. Moreover, if producers have seen the short and are interested in the feature film, do not hesitate to contact us. We think we’ve improved the dramaturgy by learning from our mistakes on the short. We have a lot more ambition on the long version and we put new elements to enrich this story. We know this story has enormous potential for a feature. And because of the tragic actuality, we think it’s absolutely necessary.

“American Dream” is not our only project set in the U.S. If all goes well, this year we will make a new short film in the USA. This time it’s a horror movie with a totally new hight concept idea. Big change for us, the film will be totally in English, with American actors and a producer from LA ( ADF PRODUCTIONS leaded by Alana de Freitas). We can’t wait to be on the set and show you all this. In fact, we’re so confident in our idea that we’re already preparing the feature film version.

Interview with Rhys Aaron Lewis & Valeria Luongo (UNDOCUMENTED)

UNDOCUMENTED played to rave reviews at the January 2021 Under 5 Minute Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

In 2017 Valeria and I were awarded a grant by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK to carry out research on “cross-language dynamics”, that is, communities where more than one language is present or in use. As anthropologists we had both spent many years living and working in Mexico, so we were naturally drawn to continue our work amongst a Mexican community. We looked to the US, being Mexico’s biggest neighbour and knowing that there were many communities of Mexican Americans across the country. This led us to Chicago, which has a very significant Mexcian American population despite being so far from the border. Initially we wanted to study the presence of “Chicano-English” in the city however after speaking to several people we realised that the issue of “DACA” and being “undocumented” was a much more pressing issue among the community, so our project naturally developed to focus on this important issue. There are many young people across the US who have lived their whole lives there but may not have full rights as citizens. We found that this was an issue which was not very well known in Europe and even among some Americans we spoke to, which highlighted the importance of telling the story!

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

We were awarded the grant at the end of 2017 which is when we proposed the original idea of filming a community of Mexcian Americans in Chicago. We flew to the US one year later where we spent approximately 6 weeks in Chicago. In this time we had to find a story, find participants and shoot the short film. It then took around 2 months to edit the film, which was initially a much longer piece of around 25 minutes. We then spent some months after this working on and off, fine tuning the film until we eventually arrived at this finished piece. All in all from the idea to the finished project it took around a year and a half to complete.

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

“Urgent” and “moving”

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

The biggest obstacle we faced was in the lack of funding in the production phase. We had an extremely small budget which meant we were under a lot of time pressure while in Chicago to find a story and participants. In the end we had to get by with a lot of favours – staying with friends and using public transport to save money!

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

We were extremely pleased to see that the film resonated with so many people. Though we have screened the film here in the UK, this was the first time the film had played in front of an audience in the USA so we were quite nervous to see how people would respond!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

We came up with the idea together after speaking to Joseph, the protagonist in the film, and asking him what was important in his life at the time and what he thought was important to show in the film. We wanted the film to be representative of his experience and those around him. We later contacted a friend in Mexico to narrate the middle section of the film, when Joseph starts to talk about his memories of his birth country. We thought it was important to include this section to show that it is in fact possible for people to hold multiple allegiances, particularly for those from immigrant backgrounds.

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

Rhys – “The Incredibles”
Valeria – “Bedknobs and Broomsticks”

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

I’ve found many great festivals through FilmFreeway both big and small. It has been very helpful in getting some of my films, particularly the smaller ones, seen by other people.

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

Rhys – “The ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ Theme tune!”
Valeria – “Probably ‘Cumbia Sobre el Mar’ by Quantic and Flowering Inferno!”

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

We hope to return to Chicago to work on another short film we started while we were there in 2018!

Interview with Screenwriter Lauren Lola (AN ABSOLUTE MIND)

1. What is your screenplay about?

My screenplay, “An Absolute Mind,” is based off of my novel of the same name. It’s about a college student named Sonya Ogino who finds out she has Absolute Memory; the ability to see the memories of significant objects. There are underground gangs who hunt down people like her, and after she is outed, she is transported to a secret island for her safety. However, when she discovers who’s running the island, Sonya and her new friends take it upon themselves to take action against inaction.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s a science fiction drama.

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

I think this screenplay should be made into a movie because it tells a story that needs to be shown now more than ever before. At the time the novel came out, it was a week after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Since then, a number of the themes and occurrences have become more and more relevant overtime. Visually, it represents a future that we can and should aspire to. Thematically, it’s about recognizing wrongdoing and taking action into your own hands when no one else will – a message that, I believe, needs to be taken seriously into account in these unprecedented times.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Optimistically forward.

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

I can’t say for sure, but I have a feeling it’s probably “Spirited Away.” I grew up watching Hayao Miyazaki’s films. He’s an incredible director and brilliant storyteller. “Spirited Away” is next level in the world-building, the character development, the stakes, and everything in between. It won an Academy Award for a reason! It’s definitely one of my favorites from him, and funny enough, it actually influenced the writing of both the novel and the screenplay of “An Absolute Mind.”

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I’ve been working on this screenplay for a little over two years now, but the idea for it dates back to 2012. It’s been with me for quite some time.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have no idea. Moving on…

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

I don’t have a straight answer for this one either, but if I had to make a guess, I think it’s probably “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins and/or “Kiss” by Prince.

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

I was unemployed at the time, so finding a job definitely took some time away that could have been spent working on the script. I also was doing an internship and doing other writing projects outside of the screenplay, so it was quite a juggling act I was doing.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I love reading. I think it’s a natural answer for anyone who writes, but it’s truly a favorite pastime of mine. I also like interviewing professional creatives and learning their stories.

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

It’s so funny you ask that because I have the experience of being on both sides of the platform. My day job puts on a film festival every year and we use FilmFreeway to receive submissions. Every year, I take part in the screening committee for the short films sent our way, and so I’ve developed an eye for what to look for.

When it comes to the other way around where I’m the one submitting content through FilmFreeway, it’s an unnerving experience of waiting around for when you’re going to hear back, as well as constantly wondering of whether your script will be selected or not. For the most part, I’ve mainly experienced the latter.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

Anytime where I come across a festival or competition that’s specifically asking for scripts within that sci-f-/fantasy genre, I’m drawn towards them. It makes for a great opportunity to see how my script measures up compared to others.

As for a feelings regarding the initial feedback, I think it was informative, but not necessarily what I felt was needed for the script.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

CAST LIST:
Narrator: Geoff Mays
Sonya: Hannah Ehman
Gian: Allan Michael Brunet

Interview with Filmmaker Svetlana Cemin (SAINT CLAIR CEMIN, PSYCHE)

SAINT CLAIR CEMIN, PSYCHE was the winner of BEST FEATURE FILM at the January 2021 Experimental, Dance, Music Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

When I started the whole opus of 610Film, I wanted to show the process of creativity of various artists. I was working with seven artists at the same time during a period of almost five years. I wanted to work with an artist who used different modes of expression than the ones I had worked with previously (they were mostly performers, or painters and photographers). Saint Clair Cemin is a sculptor who is my partner of many years and whose work is well recognized around the world. I wanted to dig deeper into his working process, which also helped me discover my own artistic development.

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

We began shooting in April 2015 in Brooklyn, NY at the artist’s studio and we finished shooting in February 2018 in the Amazon region in Brazil. The post-production started in June 2019 in Belgrade, Serbia, and the project was finished in February 2020.

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

Passionate Art.

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

There were plenty: from finding the right locations, working in unpredictable circumstances, etc. The main obstacle was to find the strength to finish the project when I had to hire an entirely new crew in China due to unforeseen circumstances, just one year into the project.

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

I watched the video with my daughter Sara who appears in the film, here in Belgrade where I am currently working on a project, and with Saint Clair who is in New York. We were all overjoyed and grateful by the feedback that was given. We were so happy that people had understood the film at its core. I was deeply moved, to tell you the truth.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The original idea came on a February morning in 2015 in his Brooklyn studio when Saint Clair spoke to me and a few other friends about a dream he had of making a marble boat. When he was sharing this idea, I realized that I wanted to document this process from the beginning to the end.

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

Casablanca.

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

I am truly impressed by how good of a platform FilmFreeway is. It worked perfectly for me since my film has received over 15 awards so far and numerous nominations.

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

Boys Don’t Cry by the Cure.

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

Yes, I would love to make a feature film which touches on the theme of immigration.

Interview with Filmmaker Braden Joe (ALIVE)

ALIVE was the winner of BEST DOC SHORT at the January 2021 Experimental, Dance, Music film festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Click on the news, read a textbook, listen to a podcast—there is an overwhelming amount of issues in the world that need more attention. I always struggled with this in school, an awful sense of lost information that I felt needed to be shared. I had an idea of creating a museum of these issues and wanting share this experience with the world. That concept was a bit too ambitious on a student budget, so my friends and I found an abandoned sweatshop in Los Angeles, and got to work.

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

Alive is a concept piece for a larger project that I’ve been designing for the last six years. I came up with it after leaving a world history class in high school, and feeling absolutely helpless about the issues I was learning about.

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

Do something.

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

The biggest obstacle for creating this film was the research. I did years of research about the topics of modern day slavery and fast fashion before even considering to shoot this film. It’s not a research project, but rather a way of trying to get people to think more critically about their choices and involvement in their consumerism. I cut out fast fashion about a year before shooting, and found it to be a great case study in the subject matter.

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

Due to the international COVID-19 pandemic, this film was finished remotely. Similarly, all of our film festival participation has also been virtual. And while I am deeply grateful for the ability to enter into these festivals and win some awards, it has felt a bit sad at times, lacking human contact. This was my first film that I have ever submitted to festivals. The feedback video I received made my day. This is the first non-family/friends feedback I’ve been able to receive, and I am incredibly grateful for the kind words and time given by the audience and the festival staff.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I’m an Anthropology BA & Film Production BFA double major at Chapman University in Orange, CA, and love finding ways to create intersectional work. Often times, important social science and human rights issues can become submerged in gatekeeping levels of academia, or are presented in a light that limits the possible viewership and impact. I wanted to create a multi-modal project that was able to get my message across, while still allowing for independent thought and opinion. There is nothing more human than dance, and nothing closer to our skin than our clothing. I am incredibly grateful to the amazing team that helped me bring this concept to life. My dream is to conduct anthropological research and use my filmmaking background to share incredible stories that may not get the attention they deserve.

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

Children of Men by Alfonso Cuarón (2006) has to be my favorite. I’m a sucker for long takes, and he is the master.

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

This was my first time submitting anything on FilmFreeway! I thought the process was incredibly easy to submit, and the platform was simple to navigate. My criticism of my experiences is more the fault of COVID than FilmFreeway as a platform or any specific festival. The virtual environment is difficult—I’m a people person. I cannot wait to be able to participate in future festivals where there can be greater interaction (safely, and only when the world is ready of course). I thought that the Experimental/Dance/Music festival did one of the best jobs of any festival I’ve been in so far in creating a human connection over our computers.

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

I’m a die-hard Red Hot Chili Peppers/Muse/Green Day fan but my absolute most listed to song of all time has to be “Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen.

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

I just completely principal photography on my first feature-length documentary! It’s about an incredible team of wildlife and zoo vets who came together to help move over rescued Grizzly Bears, Black Bears, Mountain Lions, Snow Leopards, and tons more. It was the craziest shoot of my life, and I cannot wait to share this story with the world. Also! I’m graduating university this spring!

Interview with Filmmaker Rachel Trudeau (ANGELE)

ANGELE was the winner of BEST SOUND & MUSIC at the January 2021 Under 5 Minute Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

A couple of things inspired me to make this film. First of all, my mother. I have witnessed her during the entire climbing season here in Quebec, learning all the knots and outdoor climbing techniques and pushing through this sport with passion and devotion. When the season was prime, she wanted to push herself a little further by leading her first climb and setting the clips herself on the wall. It’s a pretty big step into a climber’s life. I just thought it would be very fun to document the experience. Our parents are usually those recording “our first times”. I thought it was interesting to have her daughter’s perspective on her challenge. It was also my way to show her how proud I was. Prime climbing season in Quebec rhymes with prime fall season. Autumn is just a lovely moment of the year for shooting in terms of colors and lighting. That was very inspiring too. Finally, I had recently acquired at that time my new Sony FS5. I wanted for my first film recorded with this camera to be important and meaningful to me. I wanted to set the tone for the next pieces I would create. It was like setting an intention.

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

It took me about a month. Shooting the movie took me a day and a half : one day at the crag, and a morning back home for the interview. My mother was just incredibly generous with her interview. She had alot to say and she was just… beautiful and inspiring! It was difficult to select the content and the movie could have gone in many directions. That’s why I took my time with the editing. I would work a couple of hours, then let go for a couple of days. I needed a lot of time between work sessions because it was so personal. I wanted her to shine as bright as she could, as she is. I wanted to give her the recognition and the tribute she deserves.

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

Family roots.

Family is a tricky theme… We are born with it. We don’t choose it. However, whether we care and cherish our mother, our father, our sisters and brothers, that choice is our own. Sometimes we don’t get along. Sometimes we are far away… That is the case for me and my brothers for the past few months. This project was an attempt to bring us back together.

Our roots are what ground us to our past. They kind of take us back to where we come from when we really need to go there. If there are roots, somehow it also means that something is growing, regardless of many things like age. Witnessing my mother grow as a person is a privilege I am very grateful of. It shows her opening and humility. Roots for me is also an image of the true self. No matter what grows on top, it’s kind of something unshakable. And I can see myself in my mother’s caracter of always pushing, fighting, never giving up. It’s just deep down in us.

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

I thought that the sound from the interview was not so good. I had a poor microphone for the shooting. I bought a new microphone right away when I started the edit of the movie. I struggled through tutorials and found a way to make it okay. I added sounds of wind and actually amplified the fact that it was imperfect. Turns out to be not so bad since I won Best Sound & Music – FEEDBACK Under 5 Minute Film and Smartphone Festival.

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

I was really touched to see all these people take time to do this review. They all seemed to have put their heart into their feedback. It was also very refreshing to see new faces! The actual pandemic situation is not very suitable to meet new people. I was overwhelmed with motivation and the will to keep telling stories of my own, stories that are meaningful to me and that turn out to touch others as well.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I saw an opportunity in a real life context. I am always looking for a story to tell, a “true story”. Documentary is my favorite way of expressing myself. It gives me the strength to believe I can give a voice to others. It takes me in various contexts, it brings me to meet unique and incredible humans or to reconnect with others and it nourishes my insatiable curiosity.

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

Happy Gilmore. It’s one of those “family movie” that you would watch over and over with your siblings. I recognise that it’s not the typical kid movie… I don’t think I really understood what was going on the screen. But I knew it brought us together and it’s all that really mattered then and now.

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

The platform is super user friendly. I would recommend the platform to any cineast who wants to showcase their film internationally and make new connections.

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

Actually, there is not one song but many ; the album I have listened to the most times in my life is Abbey Road by The Beatles. From a very early age, The Beatles were part of my everyday life. I remember my mother cleaning the floors with the sound playing super loud in the apartment. Or our piano nights, playing the whole Beatles partition book.

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

I am softly making a transition from graphic design et web design to cinema. My goal is to only work as a filmmaker by the end of 2021. I am currently working on a new movie “Ode au Nord”, that connects an artist from the North of Quebec to the territory. It’s a very exciting project. I am also working on the portrait of two artists from Quebec city. I always keep myself very busy and out of the comfort zone. I try, although it’s not so easy these days, to connect with refreshing and inspiring people. I am very excited about 2021 and reaching my goals.

Interview with Filmmaker Daniel Riser (THE ASSASSINATION OF A MAN)

THE ASSASSINATION OF A MAN was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the January 2021 Under 5 Minute Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

The producer and I desperately needed to make a film, after being in lockdown for so long. He’s a steadicam op so we designed a film that would be shot entirely on steadicam.

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

From concept to release, it was less than a month.

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

Domesticated Killer.

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

The music. We had a lot of trouble finding music that fit the tone. To this day I still wish we had more time to find the right sound.

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

It’s always a joy to watch an audience react. It’s such a learning lesson that I always appreciate.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

My producer and I were having drinks, discussing our need to make another film. We started talking about his steadicam experience and how fun it would be to design long takes on a steadicam. Next thing I know this idea hit me. I wrote it out on a napkin in front of him and then we developed the script over the next week.

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

Jurassic Park and ET. I could close my eyes and watch every frame.

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

I love it. I love how easy it is to submit a film (after you’ve created a profile for the film, of course) I hated withoutabox so I’m glad there’s a better alternative out there.

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

Hey Jude and Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd.

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

I actually made another film shortly after Assassination but I haven’t submitted it. It was much smaller and cheaper. I intend to make another film next month, depending on how COVID is in Los Angeles. Right now it’s pretty hard to make a no budget indie short. Assassination was made during COVID with as small a crew as possible but most of it took place outside. If I can come up with another film that takes place outside maybe we’ll be able to make something again soon.

Interview with Filmmaker Apollonia Xylouris (FATHER)

FATHER was the winner of BEST FILM at the January 2021 Under 5 Minute Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

– I had the idea for about a year, then had to come up with a project proposal for uni. In the beginning, I came up with a few new ideas but ended up going with the very first one, Father.

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

-The idea, I had in 2018, while visiting my parents in Crete. I started the pre-production phase in the early months of 2019, at my university, and had it completed by November 2019.

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

-Home & Connection.

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

-During the time I was making Father, I was studying full time as well as taking care of my grandparents. Thankfully, my lecturers allowed me to work from home for some of my classes during the second half of my course, so I had all the equipment set up at my place.

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

-Overwhelmed with excitement and moved enormously.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

-It’s based on my relationship with my father. He is a musician and I play a bit. We often communicate better with body language, music or facial expressions, rather than speech.

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

Lion King

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

I find FilmFreeway very easy to use and helpful. I had never even thought of submitting to film festivals until one of my lecturers recommended it and helped me set it up. I was amazed at how easy it was to use.

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

-TNT by AC/DC.

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

At the moment, I’ve been working on some commission portraits and album covers. My plan is to gradually set up my own stop motion studio to create more films.

Interview with Filmmaker Elizabeth Jordan (HOME BREAK IN)

HOME BREAK IN played to rave reviews at the January 2021 Under 5 Minute Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I felt ready to produce my very first short film, but with the covid-19 conditions it was hard to do something bigger. So I thought that making a one minute film would be a good exercise to evaluate my storytelling skills.

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

Approximately 2 weekends.

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

Intriguing and surprising.

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

Doing everything by myself. My boyfriend helped me with couple of things but it is hard to direct and act for the same project, one can’t be objective on the acting skills.

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

Grateful for the nice comments. It was constructive and fun.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I had the clear image of someone with black boots jumping onto a balcony. I wanted some action, mystery and fun, all in one. Then I started thinking what could be the reasons, other than killing or robbing, why someone breaks into someone else’s apartment.

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

The hidden face. Directed by Andrés Baiz

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

It is simply great. Easy to find festivals and with an friendly interface.

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

Inevitable – Shakira.

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

I am currently writing my next film and hopefully will produce it this year.