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 🙂

itsy

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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 🙂 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 Filmmaker Kaue Nunes Melo (MAXWELL’S DEMON)

MAXWELL’S DEMON was the winner BEST FILM at the December 2018 Female FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Kaue Nunes Melo: I read an article about a girl that suffered from hipersexuality that discovered that she was abused by her father when she was young, but suppressed that memory growing up. The article was about the long lasting effects of child molestation and was an interesting subject, as a lot of the people that was molested as child became sexual predators themselves. That was a spark for me. Tell a story about people making the same mistakes as their parents.

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

about 6/7 months.

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

Shockiling depressing!

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

Money! The whole movie was self financed. In order to get good actors and a good crew i had to have a second job for 6 months to pay the short film.

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

I was nervous that my original message could’t be transmitted properly. Turns out, a lot of people got it.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I answer that in the question 01

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

Not one.. several. From the usual suspects: Tarantino, Spielberg, Scorcese, Coppola, Pta, Kubrick, Linch, Fincher, Coeh brothers, Wes Anderson, Nolan. etc

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

Is probably the best platform for submission. Is easy to use and very intuitive

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

Not sure, I listen several song, depending on the mood. I like film scores when Im writing my short films.

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

Yes. Working in a couple projects that i would love to produce in the upcoming year.

maxwells_demon_movie_poster

Interview with Filmmaker Lina Schmeink (Löffel)

Löffel was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the Female Director’s December 2018 Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Lina Schmeink: It was my grandma who spent her last ten years in an old people´s home. It was dirty and the nurses had no time for the residents. That wa formative for me. So I tought: what if old people just break the rules, break out and just do what they like – no matter how old they are or hor realistic it is to win.

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

– I had the idea for the script in summer 2014. It was a long long time to shoot, edit and finish it. I had to reedit LÖFFEL many times because everytime I tought it would be finished now I had a new idea.

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

– donkey adventure

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

– Shooting with the donkey was a challenge. We shot the last scene – when the two guys ans Löffel walk down that path – 2 kilometers away from the barn where the donkeys lived. We had two donkeys who were inseparable. So we had to take them both to our set. We wanted to shoot while sunrise and the donkeys didn´t want to walk onto our trailer. So we walked the 2 kilometers trough Belium in the dark with the donkeys who didn´t want to walk. And when we arrived at the set and the sun position was perfect the donkeys didn´t move anymore. It took half an hour for the donkeys to move again and the sunrise was over when we shot. So the whole preparation was in vain.

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

– I was so touched, moved, happy and grateful that people I had no chance to talk to completely understood the movie and could laugh and cry while watching it.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

– As I already wrote it was the situation my grandmy lived in and it was also my father who always wanted to have donkeys at home.

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

– Life of Brian

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

– It´s a great platform. Gives a good overview, many informations and makes the submissions very easy. I will use it again.

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

– James – Getting away with it

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

– Yes, in 2018 i wrote my first long term script and I´m gonna shoot it in 2019.

Interview with Producer Lester Greene (I GOT A CALLBACK)

I GOT A CALLBACK played to rave reviews at the December 2018 COMEDY Feedback Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Lester Greene: The whole Me Too movement sparked this film, especially the Terry Crews story of him being sexually assaulted by that high powered agent.

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

It took about a week for the writer to put it together on paper, and then about a month to rehearse and then we begin filming a month after that.

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

Hilariously, thought-provoking

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

We had to battle a car alarm going off non-stop during the film shoot. Luckily, the editor was able to remove it in post production.

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

It was a proud moment. I felt like a true professional having his work reviewed and dissected. It was nice to see that many of the viewers understood our point of view. I create art so that people can gain something from it, and I can tell that your audience appreciated our film.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

We wanted to create something in the vein of the Me Too Movement with a slight twist.

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

Above the Rim, Friday, Love & Basketball

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

Dear Mama – by Tupac

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

I just wrapped on two new films, “The Last Fishing Trip” and “33rd Road” both filmed by the same cinematographer who shot “I Got a Callback,” Chris Fox. And I’m getting ready to write a new comedy series.

Interview with Filmmaker Kristy Linderholm (Murder in the Cat House)

MURDER IN THE CAT HOUSE played to rave reviews at the December 2018 COMEDY Feedback Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Kristy Linderholm: It was practice to get ready for the next one which is much bigger. I learned a ton.

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

A year. There were long stretches in between.

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

Dark surprises

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

Two things. Not asking for help. And I was suffering with extreme depression. Not a good combo.

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

Thank you!!! Thank you so so so so much. It turned me around on the outlook of my career. I knew the short was severely flawed – even though its doing well in fests – but no one would tell me. So I felt blocked up and ashamed. Since the audience didn’t know I was there, they totally ripped into it and it was the most freeing experience I’ve had – and I’ve made 5 shorts, so it’s been a minute.

Once I left I felt soooo relieved. And a George Clooney quote kept coming up. Much earlier in his career someone was giving him shit about being in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. He shrugged and said “Its all part of a career.” I was free to just let it be bad. It was just part of a career.

AND I saw a lot of ways to fix it and the audience really cleared the problems up.

Seriously a career watershed.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

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

Long story. But it was set living room. Since that’s the setting of 93% of short films I was having none of that. I’m an editor by trade and had recently cut a pilot that took place in a cat sanctuary. I thought, that’s a new and fun location. So that’s what I did.

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

Probably John Wick. I am an intense re-watcher of films, scenes, and line deliveries, so it’s really impossible to tell.

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

Loved it. Poop on Without a Box. They are kind of a pain.

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

Sleep Alone by Two Door Cinema Club. All my devices roll their eyes when I put it on. They are sick of it.

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

Two new shorts and shadowing on TV shows. I’m really, really looking forward to both.

It’s all part of a career.