Interview with Filmmaker Damien Starr (I’LL BE FINE)

I’LL BE FINE was the winner of BEST FILM at the December 2018 COMEDY Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Damien Starr: This was a student project and the restriction was to have it within 3 minutes. I wanted to challenge myself in a couple of ways, firstly to write a story featuring a woman as my main cast. This was a first for that, and secondly, making a film that required no on set audio, because of budget and limitations. Thus, I’ll Be Fine was born. The film, as you know, explores the communication of a deaf person through text. It opened my mind to everyday life of a deaf person and how they perceive themselves and the world around them.

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

1 week.

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

Struggle and acceptance.

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

Having a three person (including the actress) crew!

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

The first screening of this film didn’t go so well as she doesn’t mention at the end that she’s deaf. Rather, it’s left to the audience to make that connection. However, only 30% got it. 70% of people did not understand the film. As such, I changed the wording in the text bubble to reflect that. So while it’s now “on the nose” as someone described, it’s understood and enjoyed by many more people. As such, when I saw that many more loved this film in this round of feedback, I was moved and it gave me validation that this was a good film.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I usually make films with bigger budgets and lots of VFX, but for this, I wanted it to be simple and focus on character and story, and all of the emotion that comes with that. Along with the restrictions of no on-set audio, I wanted to have a story of communication conveyed by text graphics. A story about a deaf person fit exactly what I was looking for. I researched strongly about deaf people and their day-to-day struggles with life and was inspired to make this movie.

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

It’s a tie between Titanic and Beauty and The Beast (1991).

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

I like FilmFreeway, no complaints there.

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

Mr. Brightside.

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

I’m fundraising for a sci-fi thriller feature film about a physicist that is kidnapped in a desolate house and has to uncover the mystery of how she got there. I placed in a screenwriting competition, and received high scores from coverage services so I’m really excited for this!

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Interview with Filmmaker Premila Puri (ITSY)

ITSY was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the January 2019 Female Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Premila Puri: When my husband narrated his experience with a spider in his car, I was really moved by his simple act of kindness towards a tiny spider. It made me realise that If we can be kind and compassionate to animals, with whom we have little in common, then why is it so hard to be kind to each other and make this a world a better place. This was the inspiration behind getting my charity to commission ITSY which my production company produced pro-bono.

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

March 2016, when I first heard the story, to final delivery in June 2018! For a short film that’s a long time I realise but a story like this can go in many directions as it touches on several sub-themes. However we persevered with the original vision and the message we wanted to convey was the bond between the protagonist and the spider that has a ripple effect not he characters in the story.

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

Kindness Matters

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

I thought getting this film through financing and a tight production schedule was a challenge and a half but nothing quite prepared me for thereafter! Our fantastic VFX supervisors working with the Indian VFX company produced some amazing results but the challenges of time difference amongst other things added to a delayed schedule. We obtained constructive feedback from our test audience, and the biggest obstacle we faced was the decision to proceed with what we had or run with a one day re-shoot. Proceeding with the latter option meant delaying our festival strategy and the charity fund-raiser. In the end, we opted for the re-shoot and retrospectively, that was the best decision! ITSY’s successful run at the festival circuit is an affirmation of trusting your gut, even if it means swimming against the tide. I’m immensely thankful to our cast & crew for making this short film happen and esp to Natasha Westlake, our awesome editor, for being an all round awesome person, who journeyed with us, for what was meant to be a two week stint, and ended 12 months later with the delivery of the film.

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

Nervous at first however as people started sharing their personal interpretation of the film, we were excited and then blown away with their priceless feedback! It was fantastic to see a packed audience who each explained what they felt really stood out for them. Congrats on this fantastic scheme run by the festival to share post screening feedback with the filmmakers – very innovative. A heartfelt thanks TOFFF!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Whilst ITSY has been inspired by a true incident, I was completely drawn to the fantastic and heart-warming script written by writer, Sameer Puri, who took the one dimensional brief of a man and a spider and reimagined the story with many layers and nuances in introducing the characters of Mustafa, Fatima and Milan. So in Sameer’s version, we have a story about a lonely and anxious woman who gets befriended by a spider who helps her to see herself and the world differently and ultimately to find a friend in a stranger, her next door neighbour, who she is initially suspicious of.

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

You’ve Got Mail! The simplicity of that era pre-technology makes me cherish this film so much!

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

Really practical to upload all film content (film, trailer, press kit etc) whilst accessing information about festivals and being able to submit, all on one platform. Fantastic one stop shop!

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

Fallen – Lauren wood

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

I’m drawn to true stories that speak about the human and/or social conditions we find ourselves in and how we channel our inner strength and resilience to rise above obstacles and challenges. I’m currently developing two TV series, a three part drama and an episodic drama series, both period pieces and based on true stories. We’re hoping to go to market with the pilot later this year, so watch this space πŸ™‚

itsy

Interview with Filmmaker Alessandro Schuster (THE BOY WITH THE TEDDY)

THE BOY WITH THE TEDDY was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the January 2019 European Short Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Alessandro Schuster: Get lots of inspiration from great movies. And I wanted a child to be the key figure. I also think that the theme of the film is receiving far too little attention in our world today.

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

The first idea for the story was in November 2016. The shooting was in February 2017 and the team screening of the film was in May 2018.

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

I can’t answer this queston πŸ™‚ sorry.

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

To cut the flashbacks into the movie so that they are well placed and not overdone.

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

I was glad that there were so many different perceptions of the film. One has noticed the narrative method, the other has understood the process of color grading. That’s nice, that such things stay in the minds of the audience.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

That answers the first question a bit. But I was at a festival at the time and suddenly had the characters in my head at night after the aftershow party and wrote down the first frame story.

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

I can not say that. I only know that it will always be more!

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

In my opinion, Filmfreeway is the best platform for filmmakers to submit their own films quickly and well at countless national and international film festivals.

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

Also not countable. They’re getting more and more. But on top of my ‘Most Played Songs’ list on my phone is, among others, Manu Chao’s ‘Siberie Fleuve Amour’ and Tocotronic’s ‘Electric Guitar’. Otherwise I hear a lot of house / electro, reggae, rap and pop.

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

As an actor, I currently shoot many television and movie productions. Otherwise, I’m currently producing the music video for the title song of our movie “Teddy’s Lullaby” by Mike Shoe, which will be released soon.

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Gracious Vallarious (VIN AND JILL)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Gracious Vallarious: “Vin and Jill” is about finding acceptance in your true self, even if it means leaving behind an old life.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama-comedy.

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

To bring non-transgender people into a world that has had a limited voice. Our aim as creators is to have two emotionally empathetic characters that happen to be transgender, and to bring non-transgender viewers in to empathize as well. Everyone can relate to family, especially dysfunction.

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

Chosen family.

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

“Do the Right Thing”

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

3 years.

7. How many stories have you written?

Together as writing partners, Christopher Vallario and Grace Foster has at least one dozen executed stories.

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

Dream Lover by Bobby Darren.

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

Characterization and empathy.

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

Mental and physical geographies and cooking.

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

FilmFreeway has been a wonderful tool to gain exposure for our film projects and for our voices.

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

Some feedback we thought was dead on, as far as the working on the characterization of our protagonist, specifically his complexities. We did not agree with the lack of motive, which is Vinny’s desire to stay with his parents and the inner desire to be accepted as his true self. However we agree that this simply just needs to be clearer on the page.

Β Watch the Screenplay Reading:

After drunkenly assaulting his intolerant father, a young transgender man, Vinny Talarosa, meets a fastidious lawyer and trans woman, Jillian Hunter, who helps him out of his family predicament. Relating to his experience, she invites him to stay with her, but on two conditions: he can’t drink and must keep a job. His father’s old school Italian ways push Vin out of Staten Island, while Jill gives him the key to his new family in Brooklyn.
When Vin drops the booze he meets a number of challenges in his journey to self-discovery: adjusting to a community of hipster queers, his family’s intolerance, and his own personal insecurities.

CAST LIST:

Taylor – 4 – KATELYN VARADI
Silver – 4 – PETER NELSON
Narration – NICK DOLAN
Vinny – 23 – KYANA TERESA
Jillian – 17 – ADRIAN CARLOS CARTER

Submit exclusively via FilmFreeway:

Interview with Winning Screenwriter Farook Qais (THE PORTAL)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Farook Qais: ‘The Portal’ is about a girl becoming a woman, her relationships with people in her life and the small matter of defending earth from whatever emerges out of a mysterious portal.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s a sci-fi drama.

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

Into a television show; well there’s nothing like it out there. I believe the depth of the main characters as well as the action and adventure that comes with the portal itself lend to an exciting show full of emotions and possibilities.

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

Go Shay.

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

‘The Crow’ by Alex Proyas, written by James O’Barr

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

It took me about six weeks from thought process to pilot script completion.

7. How many stories have you written?

Far too many to recall. In my life it’s definitely in the late hundreds.

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

‘The Stone’ by Phillip Phillips.

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

There were a few work commitments and family situations that came up, but it wasn’t going to be unfinished.

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

Sports. I watch a lot of it. I enjoy video games and I’m passionate about the people that are important to me too.

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

It’s been OK, although I haven’t quite been “discovered” as yet. Wildsound Fest has been a great start.

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

I was taken aback, but happy. Every new set of eyes that reads my work can only be a positive thing. To hear my characters come to life is an extra bonus for which I’m grateful.

Β Watch the Screenplay Reading:

CAST LIST:

Shay – 8 – Brittany Clough
NARRATION – Jen Daniels
Laura – 12 – Anne McMaster
Terry – 13 – Ron Boyd

A FilmFreeway preferred festival:

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Interview with Winning Screenwriter Robert Tartell (Hard-Hearted Hannah & Funny Boneyard)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Robert Tartell: Hard-Hearted Hannah: A rookie detective, sent on a routine hotel skip case, find himself instead up against a diabolical serial killer with a grudge against the Eight Air Force, holding their 25th reunion there. Can he stop him before he kills again…and again?

Funny Boneyard: A young entrepreneur, fresh out of a job but full of ideas, turns an overgrown hill property he has inherited into a Cemetery of the Absurd. To everyone’s surprise, he makes a killing- but then things go horribly wrong.
2. Genres: Hard-Hearted Hannah: Drama, War, Historical.
Funny Boneyard: Comedy

3.Why should these be made into movies?

a. Each is uniquely original, thought-provoking, well-written, and of appeal to a broad audience.

4. How would you describe your scripts in two words?

Hard-Hearted Hannah: War’s cost.
Funny Boneyard: Funereally Funny

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

The Third Man

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

Hannah 6 months, Boneyard 3 months.

7. How many stories have you written?

Four feature-length screenplays, Five short screenplays, several short stories.

8. What is your favorite song?

Desafinado (and Bossa Nova in general)

9. What obstacles did you face in finishing this screenplay?

For Hard-hearted Hannah, researching WWII and Eighth Air Force military/historical details . For Funny Boneyard, none- once the original idea hit, the screenplay naturally flowed.

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

I enjoy photography, especially abstract subjects, and a variety of crafts, lately jewelry making. I have always loved aviation, flew ultralights, and have an aircraft design I’d like to make (if my wife wouldn’t leave me.)

11. Re Film Freeway what has been your experience working with the submission platform site?

It seems user-friendly- no complaints so far.

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

I am interested in anything that will help bring my work to the screen. Feedback, positive or negative is always welcome.
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Β Watch the Screenplay Reading:

A rookie detective, assigned to a routine hotel skip case, instead finds himself pitted against a diabolical serial killer with a grudge against the Eighth Air Force. Can he stop him before he kills again…and again?

Genre: Thriller, Crime

CAST LIST:

Smith (f) – 7 – Jen Daniels
Lewis – 9 – Ron Boyd
NARRATION – Brittany Clough
Brown – 22 – Hugh Ritchie
Jill – 10 – Anne McMaster
Cole – 2 – Rhys Harrison

A FilmFreeway preferred festival:

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Interview with Winning Screenwriter Gregory N. Ranky (GECKO ON-SIGHT)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Gregory N. Ranky: In a world like ours, where conscious robots are commonplace, a courageous female android enters a futuristic martial arts tournament to save her old neighborhood from developers.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Action, Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi, Sports (these last 2 primarily).

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

Because I want to see settings where conscious A.I.s are commonplace, and story conflict derives from nonviolent causes; and I’m tired of the predominant android/robot/A.I. stories from Hollywood being a variant of Frankenstein, Pinocchio, Pygmalion, or a slave uprising.

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

Android MMA.

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

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

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

5 months on this draft.

7. How many stories have you written?

4 Feature Films and 1 Short Film as of January 2019.

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

‘The Remedy’ by Jason Mraz.

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

I had to research OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) and 4 martial arts styles for their movesets, develop convincing supporting characters, determine an engaging and valid motivation for my protagonist, and keep the pacing steady.

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

Advances in conscious A.I., alternative approaches to nuclear fusion.

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

Positive so far, I highly recommend it to other screenwriters.

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

Positive reaction to my submitted logline. I found the initial feedback useful and accurate, and plan to incorporate it into future drafts.Β 

Watch the Screenplay Reading:Β 

Logline: To save her old neighborhood from developers, a courageous female android enters a futuristic martial arts tournament.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi, Sports

CAST LIST:

Umar – 8 – Ron Boyd
NARRATION – Hugh Ritchie
Liz – 217 – 16 – Jen Daniels
Tia – NG – 10 – Anne McMaster

A FilmFreeway preferred festival:

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