Interview with Animator/Filmmaker Brian Giovanni (WHEN COMES THE RAIN)

 WHEN COMES THE RAIN played to rave reviews at the May 2018 FEEDBACK Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Brian Giovanni: I was taking an online animation class taught by Bill Plympton. The assignment was to produce a short film throughout the class, and this is the film I had created. As for motivational factors, getting the film made and completed in time for the class deadlines was certainly a factor, but the larger appeal was simply having the chance to work with Bill and getting his creative input and guidance along the way. I’ve been a huge fan and admirer of his work for years, so the opportunity to do this project and see it through to completion was especially exciting.

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

The class itself was 2 months, and then I spent another month fine tuning some extra details to get it festival-ready.. So in total 3 months.

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

‘Misplaced Ambition’ seems appropriate.

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

For my animation projects, I typically do most, if not all of the work on my own. In this particular film, I did it all (story, animatics, full animation, music, editing, sound, VFX, etc..). Being a one-man-show has its challenges, and it’s certainly time-consuming, since you’re carrying all of that workload by yourself. But at the end of the day, it does have its advantages. Being responsible for every aspect of what the audience is seeing and hearing on screen – it can be quite empowering as well.

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

It was fun seeing the various impressions people received, and the artistic details that resonated with them. You never know how someone might interpret your work, and allowing others to see it in their own way and share that impression back with you can be quite insightful. Also, getting out of ‘isolated creation mode’ and into the world of actually sharing it with other people is always a welcome treat.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

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

One of my on-going animation outlets is submitting to LoopdeLoop – an Australian-based animation collective that hosts bi-monthly festivals of looping animations / GIFs, set to a given theme. They have screening cities all over the world (even here in LA!) and the loops can range from a few seconds to a few minutes, from narrative to experimental. One such theme a few years back was ‘Ritual’ and I immediately had this idea of birds doing a ritualistic rain dance to fill a birdbath. Later on, the idea became too extensive to complete in time, so I tabled it, and went with another idea instead. Then when the class with Bill Plympton came about, I brought it back, and it became the perfect fit for this assignment.

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

Probably a two-way tie between Tim Burton’s ‘Pee Wee’s Big Adventure’ and Warren Beatty’s ‘Dick Tracy’ – two childhood staples that I watched endlessly in my youth. Today, I could probably still watch them over and over…

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

It’s great! The process is incredibly streamlined to not only submit your film to a wide collection of festivals at one time, but it also helps in the overall research process. Looking for the right kind of festivals for one particular film can be fairly time consuming. Their platform makes it easy to find the right kind of setting or audience that you’re looking for.

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

Probably ‘Mack the Knife’ by Bobby Darin. It’s become my go-to song for karaoke!

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

Yes, there’s always a new film on the horizon! Giving ‘When Comes the Rain’ a pretty decent festival run seems to be turning into its own full-time job these days, but I have three other short films in various stages of production at the moment. Never short on things to do!

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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.

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Interview with Filmmaker Michael Lane (HANDS)

 HANDS was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the May 2018 Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival.

What motivated you to make this film?

My film is about diversity. I live in a city,Leicester uk, where there are a range of people from all over the world. We do mix peacefully: it can be done. I thought it right to celebrate that and send a wish that the world may move towards that. Also, I wanted something thoughtful and meditative. Short films give that opportunity in a way features cannot.

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

The film only took a day to make but about six weeks in the edit.

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

Meditative Dance.

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

Keeping my own faith that it would be as I imagined. Especially as much of the movement choices were left to the participants.

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

I was delighted that people were able to interpret its poetic drive. I was puzzled that someone thought it a parody. But I thought I should have helped an audience by credits- ” Meditation, A Dance, A Hope’ clearer at the beginning of the film.

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I wanted to experiment as most of my films are dramas , even recorded stage work. This fulfilled a different need.

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

‘Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.’

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

It’s been fine for myself. I have felt free to report to them and trusted that there would be an understandable reply.  

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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 David Maire (CHATEAU SAUVIGNON: TERROIR)

CHATEAU SAUVIGNON: TERROIR played to rave reviews at the 2016 HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

“Chateau Sauvignon: terroir’ was my thesis film for the School of Visual Arts’s Masters in Directing program, which requires their students to complete and screen their shorts at the end of the year in order to graduate. Yet, I was motivated to complete this program because it offered me the opportunity to explore the murderous motivations of a vintner family, characters I had imagined years prior, through the creation of a strong film that could double as a prequel and video pitch for a feature film to audiences and investors, respectively.

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

The initial concept was for a feature film, and that congealed in my mind about 8 years before the completion of this short film. The short film however took about 3 years from conception to completion (production lasted about a week).

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

Savage terror!

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

Despite some stressful hiccups and kerfuflles during production, the biggest obstacle was in the writing. Getting my ideas onto the page can be an elaborate, time consuming challenge for me, but the real hurdle came from having to choose which story elements from the feature to focus on and which not to, while simultaneously down playing the violence to a justifiable and affordable level of gore. Too often did I use the feature concept as a model for the short rather than treat this project as its own entity; for a good number of drafts, the narrative was convoluted because I was trying to condense all the information from the feature into a significantly shorter script, which themselves called for scenes of unrealistic production value – for example, school buses full of senior citizens, dozens of bodies hanging upside down being eviscerated one after the next, creepy twins who lose limbs during fight sequences in industrial wine making machinery, demonic opiate addicted babies, and so forth. It was difficult to strike an acceptable level of ambiguity wherein I could leave behind enough bread crumbs for the audience to work out the answers and create their own interpretations rather than have every detail spoon fed to them. Which leads us perfectly into your next question!

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

Watching the Toronto audience feedback video was exhilarating. My initial reaction was extremely positive! It was so gratifying to hear from the audience, which is rarely the case at most film festivals even when I’m in attendance, flattery notwithstanding. The crowd picked up on so many small cues relating to the character’s motivations and back stories that I couldn’t help but feel a sense of relief. For example, they correctly picked up that the film is a teaser to a much larger project, that it felt like ‘Hostel’ and ‘Chainsaw Massacre’ which were both predominantly referenced in our visual treatments of the short, and that this is indeed a family business. I was pleased that people appreciated the story being told from the killer’s perspective rather than that of the victim, and acknowledged one’s arc as a viewer shifting from rooting for our protagonist to “want[ing] him to die too.” A conflicted audience is engaged, I like to think, so its great to create this character who you root for because you like him and feel sorry for his situation, and then reveal he’s a killer amongst killers, and a convincing one! It’s generates a nice twisty roller coaster of emotions that it seemed the WILDSound viewers jived with. I’ve consistently been told not to spoon feed the audience the way Nicolas’ mother is, and this perfectly exemplified to me how successful this short was in doing so. This unique perspective of observing audience members debate their interpretations of the story and discuss their emotional reactions to the film gifted me with a profound sense of pride, validating the notion that filmmakers should always treat their audience intelligently.Thank you for this.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Hailing from French wine country, I was always innately going to shoot a movie in this setting. I don’t recall exactly how the idea formed, but I remember having a very vivid image in my head of deep red blood splattering on green grapes. The concept was most likely cemented in high school around the time I first watched Eli Roth’s ‘Hostel’, and was penned my final undergraduate semester at NYU as part of a feature writing class. As I mentioned briefly, the feature script never fully formed, and when I enrolled at SVA a couple of years later, I decided to use the opportunity to explore the characters’ motivations and background story from the feature – why the vintners kill people, how they do it, et cetera – focusing on the point of view of the killers as opposed to that of the victims. Understanding their back story and motivations for killing was somewhat of a grey area in the feature’s outline that I absolutely wanted to flesh out more. This short film acts as a prequel to the feature, detailing the protagonist’s first kill, and shedding light on their medically reliant cannibalistic tendencies. We weren’t able to include the image of the blood on grapes because we shot in Spring (before the grapes grow), but it’ll most definitely be included in the feature!

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

Hands down Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games” (the American version specifically, but I’ve seen the German one many times as well).

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

Currently I’m busy on both ends of the production spectrum. On the one side, I’ve started developing several short video projects concepts and and forced myself to begin fleshing out (pun intended) and writing my features. Otherwise, I’ve been heavily focused on attending film festivals and networking – “Chateau Sauvignon: terroir” is about two thirds of the way through its festival run.

Otherwise, I’ve produced two other short films recently, one just wrapped a few weeks ago and is being edited, titled ‘My Daughter Yoshiko’, this story follows a Japanese mother coming to terms with her daughter’s Autism diagnosis – here is a link to our post production fundraising page. It isn’t a horror film though, any neither is the second super short “Mariposas”, a 3min story that lives in magical realism and is about a boastful father prattling on superficially about his daughter to another parent in the school pick up line. I can’t wait to share these projects with you, and look toward to what the audience has to say about ‘The Hobbyist’ with eager anticipation! Per chance, do you offer waivers or discounts to returning filmmakers?

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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 Irene Blei (A LETTER FROM LETICIA)

A LETTER FROM LETICIA played to rave reviews at the April 2018 Under 5 Minute FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

The idea of this film came at the moment we were working on an hommage, 38 years after the kidnapping of a group of school mates by military task forces in 1976/1977, seeking for pictures in which the missing students could be seen. There weren’t so many photographs in those days, so any document could be useful and I insisted in looking for and gathering old school report cards, notebooks, or drawings too.

During that search, our friend Claudia brought this letter, addressed to her by Leticia and kept, and it was really touching for me. After all that time, and aware of what had happened, every line in this letter sounded meaningful to me, and I so intended to make it visible. It was a coincidence that at the time I was then experimenting with watercolor painting.

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

It took me about five months.

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

Animated Documentary.

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

Facing sadness was the worst part of it, and also dwelling with some of our former school mates emotions, that had been contained for so long. I literally cried over the painting of each tear in the film.

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

It was highly moving to have a film done by yourself seen and understood in another country, another hemisphere, in a differet context by an audience with whom I did not share a common past or idiosyncrasy. I feel deeply grateful to the Festival for this brilliant idea of getting audience feedback.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video

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

I intended to make the real story, which affected so many people and not only Leticia Veraldi, widely visible through this letter. There have been at least 30000 victims of state terrorism in Argentina. After so many years facts are still not well known, even in my own country. Picturing it was difficult because of the lack of images, just some photos, and I felt like not showing her at all as a painted portrait. But that was impossible, so I reduced showing a drawn girl as less as possible. I thought that watercolor and transformations could help me avoid a direct, figurative approach. I also tried to place myself in that moment of Leticia’s life and youth, going back to the images that the text brings about.

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

I am a great fan of Canadian, Russian and Czech Animation. So I have seen some of these films hundreds of times, because as a teacher, I also show them.

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

FilmFreeway is really easy and friendly. I love it.

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

Maybe some by local artists: Mercedes Sosa, Leon Gieco, Charly Garcia. And also Brazillian Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso ad Raimundo Fagner.

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

I am taking part in an animation jam with other women animators. Then, a new film, and maybe a book too. Meanwhile and besides: I will be busy with some workshops or seminars. I enjoy teaching as much as filmmaking.

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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 Andy Fortenbacher (ORNAMENT OF BEAUTY)

 ORNAMENT OF BEAUTY played to rave reviews at the Under 5 Minute FEEDBACK Film Festival in April 2018.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Andy Fortenbacher: My producing partner, Stephanie, and I were interested in extracting a fantasy/horror from Shakespeare’s Sonnet #70, which is ultimately about slander. It seemed like a challenging opportunity to tell a story very different from my other work.

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

On and off, it took us about 2 months to complete this project.

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

Overcoming oppressors

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

A single day shoot that was consumed by a tropical storm.

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

It was a rare pleasure to receive video feedback from a film festival. Probably one of the coolest things I’ve received in a while. Nobody else does this! As a filmmaker, it’s always good to hear what the audience thinks about the work, especially when you’re not able to attend the festival and hear firsthand. My hat is off to you!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Many elements of the sonnet were used as inspiration, but I took ample artistic liberty when working through the surreal visual approach, story and characters.

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

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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

I’ve been pretty happy with Filmfreeway. When withoutabox was years outdated, Filmfreeway came in with a fresh, cheap, and simple approach to getting my films to festivals.

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

Grateful Dead: China Cat Sunflower

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

I’m currently developing three feature films and always writing.
 

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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 Christian Arnold (CHRICKE)

CHRICKE was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the April 2018 LGBT FEEDBACK Film Festival in April 2018.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Christian Arnold: I was cut off by my father because of my sexual orientation. And the phone call in the film is the actual last phone call between me and my biological father. Being cut off is something that I’ve felt ashamed about my whole life, and felt responsible for. And I always wondered why he isn’t able to love his kid like every other parents naturally do. And I’ve come to a place in my life where I’ve realized that the problem doesn’t lie with me, and therefore I’m not ashamed anymore. So making this film is a way of owning my own situation, taking pride in who I am, making something beautiful out of something ugly and hopefully to inspire other to live their true life.

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

I wrote, shot and edited the film in a weekend. Then I kind of hit a wall. Making this film was a really therapeutic process, since it is so personal. And this was the first time I ever delt with my experience of being abandonned. So I paused from the film for a couple of months to gather focus and strength again and finalized it with sound and final touches. So physical work, not so long. Mental work, a lot longer.

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

Honest. Bare.

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

Processing my own experience. Daring to be totally honest. And then to show my film that is so personal, and being prepared to get response on something so personal.

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

I actually cried. I was the first time I saw a reaction from someone who is not personally connected or related to me. And it was quite overwhelming that people who don’t know me understands my film and my vision. And gets invested in my story.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I had this phone call with my father, that became our last one. And I felt that I wanted to do something with it, turn my shame into pride. One day I visited an art installation in Stockholm that had this “all white”-room. EVERYTHING was painted white. That resonated with me and how I felt throughout the years of trying to please my father. Washing out and cover up everything that I am, to suit his image of who he wants me to be. I talked to the owner, went home and called my DOP. The next day I was back and shooting my film.

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

Probably the “Breakfast Club”. I saw that once a day almost, growing up.

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

I think it’s efficient and easy. I never stumbled upon any problems with the platform!

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

A legit guess would be “Dancing On My Own – Robyn”

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

I’m working on a new film, it’s being edited. I’m also involved in a tv-series project as an actor. And hopefully I’m going back to Stockholm University of Dramatic Arts to complete my mastes degree in ”Screen acting”

 

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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.