Interview with Filmmaker Nicole Berger (HOLES)

HOLES was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the September 2019 FEMALE Feedback Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Nicole Berger: Stuck in LA traffic like most Los Angelenos, I was flipping through radio stations when I caught the down beat of The Police’s Hole in my life. Finger tapping and heading bopping brought me back to the last months as a teenager in NYC, and a boyfriend playing a record of OUTLANDS AMOUR. This was my introduction to THE POLICE and to boyfriends. As traffic crawled, the song kept moving me from memory to memory of boyfriend to boyfriend… Of falling in love, of getting to intimate to fast, of being left, of leaving to soon, of being hit… and then the song ended. I heard my friend EVAN RACHEL WOOD come on the radio and share her story of abuse. See this was the time in in our short history when women publicly spoke up about their abuse. She told her story with bravery and courage and I felt guilty for not being able to tell mine. I am married with two young girls and I don’t want to go there. I was left, ironically, with a hole in my heart. This was the begining of my film Holes. It was my way of speaking up. How the abuse made me feel and I how I hoped it left him empty in the end.

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

Pre production was a month, shooting was 3 days, editing 2 months and securing the music rights 3 months. In total 6 months.

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

Sweet Sorrow

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

Lighting! Knowing that we were going to shoot on two Sony A7 iii’s, I knew i wanted to shoot at night. During location scouts I looked for places that metaphorically worked with the concept of a hole (donut shoppe, a tunnel, an empty apartment). We used all natural lighting except one key light outside of window. Other than that it was au natural.

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

They get it! I was trying to make a dance film where the dance wasn’t abstract but organic to the world we created. It seemed that the audience appreciated that feat!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

I really enjoyed the audience feedback. It was insightful and knowledgeable. What a gift!

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

Stuck in LA traffic like most Los Angelenos, I was flipping through radio stations when I caught the down beat of The Police’s Hole in my life. Finger tapping and heading bopping brought me back to the last months as a teenager in NYC and a boyfriend playing a record of OUTLANDS AMOUR. This was my introduction to THE POLICE and to boyfriends. As traffic crawled the song kept moving me from memory to memory of boyfriend to boyfriend… Of falling in love, of getting to intimate to fast, of being left, of leaving to soon, of being hit… and when the song ended I heard my friend EVAN RACHEL WOOD come on the radio and share her story of abuse. See this was the time in in our short history when women publicly spoke up about their abuse. She told her story with bravery and courage and I felt guilty for not being able to tell mine. I am married with two young girls and I don’t want to go there. I was left, ironically, with a hole in my heart. This was the begining of my film Holes. It was my way of speaking up. How the abuse made me feel and I how I hoped it left him empty in the end.

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

From my childhood…. The Goonies. From adolescence to now has been an exploration of story tellers from Kubric to Kirasawa. Barry Lyndon was always fascinating to me… the use of natural light was incredible.

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

Film Freeway was easy and user friendly.

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

Blackbird by The Beatles

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

Yes a short narrative TAPPED OUT. We are in the editing phase. A young woman going through a miscarriage looks back at a pivotal moment she shared with her mother as a young child. And there is a dance scene in there!

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Interview with Filmmaker Raphaël THIERS (ANIMAL)

ANIMAL was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the October 2019 Experimental/Dance/Music Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Raphaël THIERS: I have many dreams of film…but many of them are too big !… Here i was convinced I could do it with a short team, and a low budget. As soon as i discovered this room of a slaughterhouse, I had the intuition I should film a dancer body in it …

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

The desire : almost 6 years ago….
But when the decision has been made, about 5 months.

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

life instinct

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

Our low budget enforded us to use a camera without an inside card but with a external solid drive : not a good idea ! I let you guess what happended as soon as we had to balance or move the camera … So i was very happy to have a dslr as a rescue camera …

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

I would say truly joy .. The audience was sensible to the way i magnified the dance and the body of my dancer in this slaughterhouse. That was my purpose !…

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

At the beginning Animale was a short choreographic performance created for an Art Museum , and directed by the choreographer Lisie philip of the Antipodes Compagny . I had a profound reaction to this dance performance.and wanted to share it with others. As I said in point 1, I choosed this former room of a slaughterhouse as a cinema set because It was so …cold i had to warm it with beauty…

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

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – Sergio Leone

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

Not so bad! My film has been seen on another continent !

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

Escale of Mathieu Geghre, it was the music of a performance i have danced about 200 times ! …

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

No, just dreams !..

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Interview with Filmmaker Davide Carlini (TRATAK 1 – ANTARS)

TRATAK 1 – ANTARS played to rave reviews at the October 2019 TV Web Series festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Davide Carlini: During the course of directing at a private school in my splendid Marche region, the Officine Mattolì Association in Tolentino, was proposed to us and offered as part of the course to make one of our short films.

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

I started to define a subject in October 2015 and then developed in the following months.

Instead, the production was only 4-5 intense days (stolen between weekends and bridges of the Easter holidays9 of April 2016.

Post-production is instead a labor that has not yet been completed. It began in June 2016 and partially ended in October 2016 with a privately projected version for the course of the school. After October 2016 I decided to take it further and divide the project into a mini series divided into 3 episodes, or rather call it phases of change of state of consciousness. So in May 2018 I completed Antars Tratak 1 and in September 2018 Reveil Tratak 2. Currently the last Tratak3 episode is still in post-production stage and I hope to be able to propose it from 2020.

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

Solicitation of doubts and questions about ourselves and others (which we are always ourselves, even if we do not recognize it in this time-space that is granted to us.)

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

The production time is limited to 4/5 days as there was no budget and the possibility of having the complete availability of help crews and cast of actors who were also trainees of the Officine Mattoli school.

The time available to prepare the actors’ parts was also very limited as they were also engaged in other work and commitments at the same time.
Then from the beginning of post-production I became aware of a real general ostracism of the Italian and regional cinema system that does not allow effective collaboration if there is not behind an economic and above all political support and the use of this media for the narration of the single dominant thought.

Unfortunately, this is one of the reasons why even Italian cinema has been practically embalmed and moldy since the 1970s. Power logic and control of cultural narration that do not favor any real and effective independence of the authors, actors and artists who as they go they become instruments of mass manipulation.

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

I was very pleased to see him and listen to the criticisms and the questions and doubts raised and the considerations of all the public that I appreciated for the qualification and the real sincerity.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

At that time I was in a phase of experience in yoga practices, including the intense practice of Tratak (fixing a candle without closing my eyes, and accompanying this with particular breathing sequences) and studies of philosophies in different Western traditions and Eastern .
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I was also fascinated and increasingly intrigued by esotericism and by Western mysticism that apparently seems less rich than the oriental one but in reality if you start looking for it you will find universes that you don’t even imagine. Unfortunately in the European Enlightenment period and first the witch hunt and the Catholic repressions against heretics (which today we would call conspiracy theorists, no?..) Gnostics and other researchers not aligned with the Zeitgeist have veiled and muddied millennia of history of the western world.

The idea of ​​this series of short films was born to unconventionally tell all this. The title can be misleading because it is not a tutorial or guide to esoteric practices, but instead it was within a set of practices, the activation focus of a whole personal experience of self-awareness and a general change of perspectives and world view, and with the related traumas and cognitive dissonances in realizing the previous state of dogmatic certainty and running programs that are behind the reality that manifests itself.

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

Like everyone here of the middle-bourgeoisie flattened under the oligarchic neoliberalism of this era, I am a child of television culture and the beginning of the multimedia era. I met the cinema with the comedies of the late 70s and early 80s, today it would be called the “trash” genre, yet it should not be so derided .. I was then fascinated by American productions of films like Blues Brothers of Landis, the insane comedies of Mel Brooks ..

In the 90s I followed a local cinema club in my city (which has not existed for 20 years now) and projected a film selected from those released during the year 1 day a week. The true love of cinema gave me Scorsese’s Raging Bull, it was love at first sight and you rekindled it for weeks and even now I see it again and again and find it always new and full of suggestions.

Surely among the films seen several times there is Doctor Strangelove by Kubrick, and Matrix saga by Wachowski (s) ..

Then the first films of Tarantino, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown. David Lynch also with Dune, Eraserhead and Blue Velvet.

I have a love for two films by French director Coline Serreau, the Crisis! and La Belle Verte, and always on this mood I find many affinities with the Italian cinema of the 60s / 70s when it was still much more genuine and bold even in narrating different critical visions, for example films like “Io, io, io. and the others “by Alessandro Blasetti, or “L’ingorgo” by Luigi Comencini, or almost all films by the fantastic Luciano Salce (director of Fantozzi, Il Federale, Coup d’état, and others ..).

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

There are many possibilities and a good selection of both festivals and works. I find it a great channel to help new filmmakers and emerging authors.

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

Goodbye Porkpie Hat by Charles Mingus

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

I’m busy solving various personal and professional issues and the time to write or edit my stuff and define new and old projects is very little. There are in some ideas on a series of short documentaries between philosophy and metapolitics and social psychology, then I am always working at the conclusion of the Tratak project the third episode of this filmic experiment. Thank you for your interest, and I always wish you good doubts! Thanks

Interview with Filmmaker Danny Berish (RED CHEF REVIVAL TV Web Series)

RED CHEF REVIVAL was the winner of BEST FILM & BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the October 2019 TV Web Series Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Danny Berish: What motivated us to make this series was based on how embarrassingly little we knew about the indigenous culture and cuisine.

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

From conception to completion for all 6x 22min episodes it took almost 2 years.

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

Unapologetic Cuisine

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

Filming in remote communities which are difficult to get too and sometimes without power!

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

Great! We we’re thrilled the series connected with so many of the audience!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

We met Rich Francis, one of the hosts of the show on another shoot. In fact he was just doing catering on the shoot when he told us about his passion for indigenous cuisine. We knew there was more to the story and that’s where it began!

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

Indiana Jones / the original three (not the later ones).

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

It makes it easy that’s for sure. On the flip side there are so many film festivals out there and knowing which are reputable or not can be difficult.

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

A tribe called quest – can i kick it

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

We’re working on a documentary on Canada’s oldest Nudist club, a polar opposite to Indigenous food and travel!

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Interview with Screenwriter Kelly Ann Guglietti ( The Orange Chihuahua)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Kelly Ann Guglietti: “The Orange Chihuahua” is about a young chihuahua who learns that the key to knowing his self-worth is to be his true self.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It is an animated family dramedy.

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

This screenplay is written to teach children that there is no need to pretend to be what they perceive as better than what they are and that to know their true value, they must be their true selves.


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

Funny and relatable.

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

As a parent, I must say that I have seen most of Disney’s animated productions between 1992 and 2003 many times over. Currently, my husband and I seem to watch “American Sniper” and “The Help” whenever they come up on TV. We both lean towards biographies, history and historical fiction.

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

It took me about six months to write “The Orange Chihuahua.”

7. How many stories have you written?

I have written the children’s starter 8-pack of crayons worth of stories. Three are published to date: “The Green Tom,” “The Yellow Sea Lioness” and “The Orange Chihuahua.” I wrote screenplays on the latter two and am presently writing my third screenplay on a fourth book to be published sometime within the next year or so.

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

I don’t really have a favorite song. I like music of many genres. I have been a diehard fan of Cher since I was ten years old. I love to dance to the faster music of Elvis Presley, Elton John, The Beatles and Billy Joel. I also like Neil Diamond and Kenny Rogers. I currently exercise to “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, “Sugar” by Maroon 5 and “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake.

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

My only obstacle was time. I had to purposefully find time to hash out scenes out in my head and then type them.

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

My goal is to build esteem and empathy in kids with an aim to end bullying. One of the key elements in the profile of bullies is their lack of self-esteem. I support the mission of the Sandy Hook Promise to “prevent gun violence and other forms of violence and victimization BEFORE they happen by creating a culture of engaged youth and adults committed to identifying, intervening, and getting help for individuals who might be at risk of hurting themselves or others.” I believe they hit empathy right on the nose. I have seen variations of some of their suggestions in play at schools that I teach in. The atmosphere in those schools is definitely more positive and upbeat than in schools that do not exercise any of their suggestions.

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

The FilmFreeway has opened the door to contests I did not know existed. My screenplays have experienced a few honors. “The Yellow Sea Lioness” made first reading in the Southern California Screenplay Competition and placed as a quarter-finalist in the StoryPros Screenplay Contest in 2018. Through my entry at StoryPros, I was exposed to Ink Tip Magazine, so I have been marketing my screenplays through them for a year now. “The Orange Chihuahua” placed as a quarter-finalist in the Scriptapalooza Screenplay Competition in 2018 as well as a Top 10 Log Line for the month of April in storypitches.com and a Best Scene Video through your organization in 2019. These honors boosted my confidence in my work.

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

I was in a slump, wondering where to go next after I had already entered several screenplay contests. I decided to search via genre and audience population and found your Drama and Family Film Festival.

I appreciated my initial feedback. It was suggested that I create a problem for my main character, Amador (AKA Chile), perhaps having Amador getting swept up and taken to a cruise liner. I tried writing to that end, but it seemed to take me further away from my central message. As my script is now, Amador learns not to make false claims by almost getting caught three times in the story. That’s basically the story, so I am at a mental block when it comes to stretching the story further.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

After spending his days beside his owner, a chihuahua named Amador slips on his master’s enchanted slippers and transforms into bright orange Chile by night. The boisterous and outgoing Chile is the life of the party, although some of the other dogs begin to grow tired of his antics and ego. One day, Amador discovers that his master has gotten a new pair of slippers and he is no longer able to transform into Chile. He goes to his friends and tells them the truth about his charade, but they reply that, given the choice, they would prefer to spend time with him rather than Chile. Amador becomes more confident and comfortable as himself.

CAST LIST:

Alvaro: Steven Holmberg
Narrator: Cynthia Crofoot
Chile: William Poulin
Devante: Fabio Abreu