Interview with Filmmaker Isaac Elliott (A STATIC WIND)

A STATIC WIND was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the June 2018 Young Filmmaker’s FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Isaac Elliott: I had just finished uni and was left without a clear path to a career in film making. So the best way to get in is to make stuff, good or bad, just to make stuff. I turned inward and tried to find a story to tell and this came out of it.

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

It took a total of around 23 months from idea to completion. It was initially conceived in March 2014 and after a number of drafts we held a crowdfunding campaign and attempted to shoot it in January 2015. With much of the budget going to a weekend away – the rest would be in a studio – we were rained out and had countless issues without getting anything really in the can. With more than half the budget gone and no way to keep going, the film was called off.

I then started my honours year at Uni and began work on a another project but this was during a tumultuous personal time and I wasn’t able to crack the story. So i pulled A static Wind back out fo the drawer and got to work, cut it, tightened it and focussed it. The second shoot then was in November 2015 with a new crew, new cast and a uni deadline, we were able to get it done. It was then finished in February 2016.

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

Hello World

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

Weather was huge. The weather in Melbourne Australia is a fickle thing, one day it can be sunny and 35 degrees celsius and the next it can be 18, with black rain clouds. We had to gamble and go for it and fortunately it lucked out.

I would also say shooting in a pool, at night time, with daylight meant that we had around 2hrs with the youngest boys to shoot the pool and not much more with the others. It became a race to get it done and stay warm.

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

My initial reaction was ‘they get it’. I have always had mixed feeling about A Static Wind and its nice to see an audience responding so positively to it.

Although in saying that the one thing that wasn’t specifically mentioned in the script was that the other two children were foster children, which is why they are new every year. This rarely comes across, yet the tone and their effect on Silvy seems to conjure the intended response regardless. Which is nice.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The idea came through a series of lat night note writing in my phone while coming to terms with my inability to connect emotionally to people. Exploring these emotions and ideas and putting a character into that position where she is deflective of personal connection and its only through a turmoil that she can come out from behind her book, look out the window and appreciate both the people and the world around her.

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

Well i grew up in the country without television reception so during my formative years i would watch and a rewatched a series of pirated VHS tapes. And in this time i think the more i saw the most was Bowfinger with Eddie Murphy. Its a seriously underrated film and probably the best movie about making a movie ive seen.

However once deciding to become a film maker, the most influential and informative film I have seem would probably be Blue Valentine. Damn i love that movie. Hits me right the feels.

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

Film Freeway is the best out fo the numerous platforms. Its easy to use, easy to search and easy to submit.

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

I’ll list two

Eminem – Guilty Conscience when i wanted say ‘F&*k the world”

Billy Joel – You May Be right when i wanted to say ‘F&*k the world’ but quietly to myself in my room.

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

Im working on a new short at the moment, I will keep you posted how it goes.

However as a producer I have recently produced and stared in a Feature Documentary entitled FINKE:there and back about a motorcycle race in my home town of Alice Springs. It has recently had its world Premiere at the Sydney Film Festival and will be travelling through the Australian Festival circuit over the next 9 months or so before a cinema release likely early 2019 through Madman Entertainment. It was narrated by Eric Bana which was a huge boon and will hopefully allow it to open in the North American Market.

Further to this i also have a kids TV series in development which will hopefully move into pre-production early next year. This will be 15 x half hour episodes which will allow me to direct a number of episodes on a larger scale.

a_static_wind
_____

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Advertisements

Interview with Filmmaker Julian Friedrich (01)

01 was the winner of BEST FILM at the June 2018 Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Julian Friedrich: “01” is the first film out of the Shortfilm label “Second Truth” in which Artists, film makers, musicians and journalists from all over the world are grappling with the social and political issues of our time. The resulting music videos (Melts) do not include any words and are a mixture of music clips and short films.

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

Nearly 1,5 Years. When Katharina and I decided to make a film in 2015, the refugee crisis in Europe was at its peak. Katharina is an extraordinary illustrator. Her paintings are simple, have a child-like line. But each line is exactly where it should be. It was hard to find the technique to keep the elegiac, the calmness in them.

We spent half a year researching, interviewing and viewing material. The more we were immersed in the cosmos of refugees, we understood how naive and small we had initially thought. All our first ideas were far behind reality.

Stories I’ll never forget are f.e. about a woman who could no longer open doors because after relatives visit her the relatives were killed by a bomb in front of her house. After this incident she was afraid that if she closes a door, everything will be gone behind it. I will never forget the interview with an 18-year-old boy who was the only survivor of a refugee boat full of children of his age. He was with his brother. His voice was so fragile. People are shot dead by locals on a stage in the mountains. Just like that, someone next to you falls to the floor. Dead.

We wanted to show all of it with best intentions, but we understood if we really integrated everything, people would turn off. You can’ t stand it or even worse, think it is an exaggeration. That’s why we’ve focused on the emotional world. We, as audience, may not share the experiences, but we share their feelings. And we focused on them. With the music, with the fantastic pictures of Katharina.

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

very emotional

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

Our own point of view.

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

I bit my foot (not instantly). We were very touched by this. We are amazed and delighted that people on the other side of the globe are thinking about the same questions. We really are a global village and should work together as human beings.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

There are 68 million people on the run out there. Out of poverty or danger of death. We can’t build fences around everything, it’s physically impossible. If we send them away, we just move the problem to somewhere else. The causes do not disappear. Unless we, the Western world, its way of life and ignorance, which is the origin of this escape, do not change. We have either ignored these people or exploited them economically. Our standard of living is built on poverty. That’s how our world works. No one turns his back on his home country out of fun. We have to change, not them.

If a person cannot live a life worth living in the place, then it is his human right to seek an opportunity. We’ve been all refugees once and maybe we become again sooner than we think. Think about climate change.

68 Million! In 2018, more than 1000 people drowned in the Mediterranean. In view of these numbers, there is no point in continuing to rely on an inefficient, inhumane policy of isolation. Whether more wallets are stolen or not in Berlin, New York or Tokyo is irrelevant in comparison to accepting that people lose their lives. We need institutions that control these flight movements and give people chances. Everything else is political stupidity. If we do this wisely, we all benefit.

We still have too little understanding and empathy for these processes. Art must begin to address these problems.

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

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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

good.

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

Horses don’t puke. (John Saber)

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

“Second Truth” is currently producing “02” with a wonderful Painter Alex Divisenko about the War in Ukraine and it’s fruits in the social medias. We cooperate with the national Puppet theatre of Kiev for “03” about hate. We work with a Syrian dance company “Sham” for “04” a dance through Rom. We work with a talented film maker Peter Drenzin on a half documentary about a homeless person in “05”.

The people who publish Melts (second truth Shortfilm) under “Second Truth” want to expand our horizons – to offer us an alternative. A second truth. Keep in touch about the latest news and listen or download the songs http://www.second-truth.com or support us with your friendship https://www.facebook.com/secondtruthinitiative/ . Thank you!

01
_____

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Screenwriter Roberto Tomeo (HEART OF GOLD)

 HEART OF GOLD was the June 2018 Winning Comedy Festival Short Screenplay.

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Roberto Tomeo: It is a reflection on the worth of people who have a heart of gold.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Dark fairytale

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

Because it would be easily enjoyable and at the same time it could be an inspiration to an emotional audience.

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

Romantic and dark.

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

Probably The Silence of the Lambs.

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

It took me a couple of days to implement the idea which came up to my mind while half-asleep.

7. How many stories have you written?

I have written a number of stories. Please read here below a list of the most appreciated.

THE PRICE

Logline: In a near future body ageing is blocked thanks to a special elixir that regenerates cells but mass suicides have been taking place.

THE MOURNERS

Given a chance to lose weight, an unhappy young woman discovers that there’s nothing she won’t do to be thin

HEART123

Andre moves to the countryside to enjoy a quiet life. He gets a heart attack and tries and call the 911, but neither his mobile nor other electronical devices he owns seem to work: they’re all out of order. Will he ever be able to unblock them and thus save his life?

(One actor, one location. Less than that, you die. Of a heart attack, perhaps!)

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

Billie Jean

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

As I’m Italian, my main obstacle was the translation into English.

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

Theatre, dance and guiding drones.

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

Very good. I use Filmfreeway for ninety percent of my submissions.

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

I wanted to experiment new types of writing, such as short and happy stories and it seemed to me that your Festival was the right opportunity to put myself on a line.
 

 

Watch Reading:

Genre: Comedy

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Matt Barnes
Ricky: Jarrod Terrell
Silvia: Kyra Weichert

******

Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Director: Kierston Drier

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editor: Kimberly Villarruel

Camera Op: Mary Cox

Interview with Animator/Filmmaker Ran Sheng (STAR RUNNER)

STAR RUNNER played to rave reviews at the June 2018 Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ran Sheng: I am a big fan of sci-fi novels and films, and I keep thinking about those classical philosophy questions, such as who am I? Where I came from, and where am I going? This film could be seen as my answer to these questions.

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

This film belongs to the junior year film project of my college so it was in a pretty narrow time frame. I think it took me about 10 weeks.

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

Evolution + History

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

I must say it was the very narrow time frame. 10 weeks sounds not bad but I actually have other 4 classes at the same time – that means a lot of work and time management skills.

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

I was surprised by hearing how the host describes my film. It is always great to learn from other people’s perspectives. Also, I really enjoy having all the feedback from the audience. It is the first time my film been public screened, so all those feedback means a lot to me!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

It’s a long story. Basically, I was inspired by a short sci-fi novel written by famous Chinese sci-fi writer Liu Cixin. It is a story about how much human being willing to pay for the ultimate truth and answer of our universe. If you are interested, I would suggest you watch this short film about the making of Star Runner.

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

I wasn’t really counting them but I think probably it is Terminator 2.

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

I love it and think it is a wonderful platform for filmmakers all over the world.

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

I have a wide variety of favored music so I really couldn’t tell. But I am very sure that during the making of Star Runner, the most listened song was Human, by The Killers.

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

Definitely, I am finishing my thesis film for my Animated Arts program in PNCA. It is another short animation film. I would love to share it with FEEDBACK. It would be great if I may have a discount on submit fee as a returning filmmaker, haha!

star_runner_4
_____

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Filmmaker Christopher Sferrazza (BEAST)

BEAST was the winner of Best Cinematography at the June 2018 Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival – best of Horror/Thriller night.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Christopher Sferrazza: It was something in the script that I latched on too. Originally the script was designed to be an episode for a series. But the gold nugget for me was the character Sophie. I thought she was a strong but lonely woman, and wanted to explore how marginalise people are forced to make decisions beyond what they expect from life. Being my first film, I wanted to shoot the situation from her perspective only. My plan was to do this for each episode for each character.

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

The script was originally written as 40 pages, it took another week to edit it down to 20.

Pre-production was about two months of looking for a location and casting.
Shooting was a bit more complicated than originally planned. It was only meant to take 3 days but we had to re-shot a couple of scenes because I wasn’t happy with some performances.

The edit took a much longer time. The first cut was only a few days, but then I sat on it, not happy with it over all, I went back and forth with the editor for a few months. Finally stripping the film down to its minimal dialogue and shots, I want to take any “director indulgences” out. Keep the film to a solid core with subtle storytelling. I didn’t want to hit the audience over the head with details. This took about 7 months.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words?
“Revealing Perspectives”

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

The edit. I was unhappy with the initial cut, discouraged I avoided working on it. Carl the writer of the film, pushed me to finish it. I’m happy I did.

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

I’m happy how so many picked up on the subtle elements. How they came to the conclusion of who or what was really the Beast. I tried to make sure there were no loose ends in the plot.

I also was happy people enjoyed the beginning and end of the film, and how it was revisited.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Carl J Sorheim was the writter, he explained to me it stemmed from a news report. How a young girl escaped from a seemingly normal mans grasp.

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

No Country for Old men and It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.

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

It’s easy once set up, but can make you lazy. I made mistakes initially and didn’t correct them for a few months after, when there could have been room for improvement on my part.

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

Talking Heads – Life During Wartime, it’s my go-to punk rock youth anthem.

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

BULLY is my next short film. I wrote the storyline and had a friend write the screenplay. It’s about the murder of a town bully by drowning via a time transporting trampoline. It revolves around the same sort of expression of character. At the end we wonder who was really the BULLY.

beast

_____

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Animator/Filmmaker Tim Ballard (OH MY…)

 OH MY… played to rave reviews at the June 2018 Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Tim Ballard: My friend Michael is a San Francisco area musician who asked me to make an animated music video for one of his songs. The song made me think of a sort of dream journey, and I wanted to depict themes and images that had been in my mind for awhile – environmental apocalypse, indigenous cultures, the desert toad.

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

I worked on this in pieces over the course of a year – much longer than I anticipated. It was a sort of learn as you go process with the technical aspects of the various adobe software platforms.

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

Imaginative resurrection.

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

Mostly as I said above, the technical aspects of getting the watercolor effect to coloring, learning the ins and outs of a larger scale project than I was used to in the past. Also – time and money were tight, of course.

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

I felt disappointed that it seemed to have only elicited a bad acid flashback for most people and didn’t resonate or make sense in a dream logic sort of way as I had hoped. Many of the images were from sort of personal imagery, but I’d hoped it would make some symbolic sense to some people. If not, I hoped people enjoyed the combination of image and mousic.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Believe it or not there were no drugs involved in the conception or execution of this animation (besides coffee and whiskey).

I’ll do my best to answer below, forgive me if it is a little long!

It was a combination of the feel I got from the song itself and vignettes or motifs I’d had swirling in my mind for a long time before.
The song, for me, conjured up a sense of flying and floating and a sort of journey that climaxes in awe, but also speaks of some sadness or difficulties being transcended. I added to that the themes I’ve mentioned above: apocalypse, wastelands, the writings of Zhuangzi, an interest in indigenous cultures and ethnobotany, an interest in what I guess I’ll call “the ontology of imagination” and, (as someone in the audience correctly pointed out) the Sonoran desert toad.

Because it seemed to not translate well to the audience, I’ll summarize the narrative here: basically, the main character starts off in a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland, looking exhausted and alone. Then he finds a cave entrance with mysterious petroglyphs that leads to a subterranean lake where there is water and spirit guides in the form of three animal headed beings waiting to greet him. An elixir is given and he sinks into a dream journey/ sinks into the lake. He’s brought up from the depth to the lake surface which becomes the same wasteland desert surface. He awakens after passing over the dormant, dreaming frog in the soil. He rises and flies towards a distant city that is populated with creatures having a ceremony of some sort. I turns out it was a ceremony to coax water and life from the dead dry land. Raindrops begin to fall. Then he awakens on the lake’s edge at the same time the frog awakens under the earth. The story is bookended by the moment the water hits the soil, awakening life from the dead land.

The Sonoran desert toad fascinated me when I heard them in the desert after a rain and someone told me they are hibernating under the dry desert soil most of the year and suddenly arise when the rain comes to mate and sing in the rainwater ponds. Also in this time of year, flowers and plants you never assumed were there, burst through dry, cracked soil with a vigor that is as inspiring as it is beautiful. Obviously it seems like a sort of Lazarus-esque resurrection. In my imagination I liked to think that the toads spend more of their life in a dreaming state down under the soil than in a waking state and that the dream state was more real for them than the waking state. Then a few years later I heard that they have a hallucinogenic mucus which only added to their mystique for me. So, in my mind, the world represented in the animation is like a manifestation of the toad’s dream, and the completion of the ceremony reawakens life in the dead land in the way imagination can reawaken vitality in our personal lives.

So there are a few layers of dreams – I was inspired by Zhuangzi’s story of the butterfly dream on this part – and for better or worse I wanted it to be a little ambiguous.

Anyhow, the basic theme is in the hope that even in desperate times we can still find life and potential beneath the surface with which we might be able to manifest a rebirth or resurrection of sorts.

So, yeah, basically an acid trip.

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

Hmmm. Probably Milo and Otis or The Road Warrior.

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

It certainly makes it a lot easier and very streamlined. I appreciate it.

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

I’d like to choose one of my favorite songs but in reality it is probably the “Happy Birthday Song” or a Christmas carol like “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”

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

I am hoping to start a series of short, 3min or less, animated documentaries about food and cultural history – how a single ingredient or dish can tell the history of a culture.

oh_my_2

_____

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.