Interview with Actor/Director Samantha Neyland (WHEN STRANGERS TOUCH YOUR HAIR)

samanthaneyland.jpgSamantha Neyland co-directed and starred in the short film “When Strangers Touch Your Hair”, which was showcased at the Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival in December 2016. The film received rave reviews from the audience. It was an honor to chat with her about the film and what’s next for the beautiful and talented artist:

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Samantha Neyland: I made this film as a way to work through the insecurities I had always lived with but until 2016 was too afraid to talk about.

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

SN: From start to finish, it only took six weeks. The initial idea was scary and I knew if I didn’t march forward at full speed it would never get done.

MT: How would you describe your short film in two words!?

SN: Honestly Real

MT: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

SN: Casting! I ended up having to re-cast one of the roles a week before and another role the night before!

MT: What were your initial reactions when watching the Los Angeles audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

SN: I loved the comments that were made. This film was made with the intention of getting people to think and talk about something that is so often forgotten.

MT: How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

SN: This film was based on true events that had happened very recently and were still very much fresh in my mind at the time.

MT: What film have you seen the most in your life?

SN: Probably Finding Nemo. I was so obsessed with that movie as a kid and I know I’ve seen it at least 100 times.

MT: What is next for you? A new film?

SN: My roommate and I are actually working on a script right now that we hope to shoot early 2017. It’s the complete opposite of When Strangers Touch Your Hair: a comedy, 100% made up, and over-the-top characters. That’s what makes it fun!

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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 month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with director Dave Lojek (PROVERBIAL LUCK)

Dave Lojek’s film from Austria (via Germany) “PROVERBIAL LUCK” played to rave reviews at the November 2016 Under 5 Minute FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Dave Lojek: Language and film can have nice effects on audiences. But less talk and more deeds are preferrable in most films. This one needs the voice-over. As a filmmaker and linguist I know that idioms are quite hard to translate. That was a good challenge for the subtitles. The “Amelie” tinge is intended.

The writer and co-director Steffi asked me to read the script, because she had seen some of my award-winning previous movies. I liked the idea but warned her that live animals are a risk factor in shorts. She told me that she had bought all the animals and also created all props, found locations. So we looked around in the film workshop Kino Cuntra in Graz (Austria) that night after a cinema screening and found cast, crew, and equipment. Next morning the shot list was ready and we began filming. So I had about 15 minutes to really decide about making this film. I said yes, seeing the potential for wider audiences, quirky entertainment, language lessons for refugees, and some awards. Over 73 film festivals screened it so far, so my feeling was confirmed. We won the German National Film Festival with this comedy in 2016 and 13 other awards by November.

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

DL: The brainstorming and writing took Steffi Sixdorf and Peter Lutz about two weeks. Preproduction and funding was a month for Steffi. At this moment I joined the crew as director. The filming itself took two days, the edit one day and the color grading 3 days. Waiting for sound mix and music: 6 months without much progress. My composer friend Mirko in Berlin just spent 2 weeks to create soundtrack and final audio mix last summer.
Worldwide distribution is ongoing and has taken now 14 months already. I count this time also. Can we reach the 80 or even 100 festivals mark?

MT: How would you describe your short film in two words!?

DL: Oddball idioms-romcom.

MT: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

DL: Waiting 6 months for the promised soundtrack which never arrived. The guy was in a crisis and had forgotten the project. So I had to ask my main composer in Berlin to help us. A good choice, in the end. Mirko Rizzello won a BEST SOUNDTRACK AWARD in a festival for his work this spring.

MT: What were your initial reactions when watching the Los Angeles audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

DL: It’s always nice to hear opinions from culturally so remote places. (We live in central Europe.) The audience spoke about the tone, the feeling, the oddities and compared our comedy to a masterpiece. So sweet. To be the favourite film of the night also encourages further endeavours. Maybe they would enjoy some of our other works: http://vimeo.com/apeiron

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEO:

MT: How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

DL: Steffi Sixdorf had the idea of untranslateable idioms after a conversation with a foreigner. She listed a lot of idioms in German that would be fun to see in a film. She created the characters and love-story-parody, to wrap the idioms in a narrative curve. Steffi knew there would be an opportunity to get crew, cast, equipment for free ( http://www.kinokabaret.org – our filmmaking community), so she planned the project well with minimal resources. I was given the film in a ready-to-shoot-situation like a gift, so I brought my experience and did all the post-production and distribution.

MT: What film have you seen the most in your life?

DL: ALIEN by Ridley Scott / BRAZIL by Terry Gilliam – It’s a bit difficult to count the re-runs, as I breathe film. I basically live in cinemas. If I don’t make a film, I watch short and long films all the time on all devices, preferrably in film festivals. Must have seen over 50.000 films in my life.

MT: What is next for you? A new film?

DL: I make between 10 and 20 films per year, but I must reduce the quantity to raise the quality. Many people urge me to make longer films. So I am constantly looking for good screenplays with my contest: http://j.mp/SCRIPTZ

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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 month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Filmmaker Steve Socki (SPARROW DUET)

Steve Socki’s short film SPARROW DUET played to rave reviews at the August 2016 Under 5 minute FEEDBACK Film Festival. It was an honor chatting with her:

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Steve Socki: INSPIRATION FROM PLAYFUL MOVEMENTS IN NATURE, ESPECIALLY IN THE TIMING & CHOREOGRAPHY. REINTERPRETING & EXPERIMENTING THOSE OBSERVATIONS INTO VISUAL THEMES & VARIATIONS.

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

SS: 2 YEARS

MT: How would you describe your short film in two words!?

SS: PLAYFUL MOVEMENT

MT: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

SS: EDITING THE PARTS INTO A COHESIVE PIECE; DISCARDING ELEMENTS I LIKED FOR THE SAKE OF CONTINUITY

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

SS: WONDERFUL INTERPRETATIONS, GREAT INSIGHTS & OBSERVATIONS; VERY UNPREDICTABLE

MT: How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

SS: DEVELOPED PASTEL SKETCHES OBSERVING THE RITUALS OF BIRDS. IMAGINED A KIND OF DANCE, BEGINNING WITH A PAS DE DEUX, THEN DEVELOPING INTO GROUPS MOVING – SOMETIMES IN UNISON, SOMETIMES UNPREDICTABLY.

MT: What film have you seen the most in your life?

SS: WORKS BY OSKAR FISCHINGER & NORMAN MCLAREN – I WOULD HAVE TO SAY “HEN HOP” IF I WERE TO PICK ONLY ONE.

MT: What is next for you? A new film?

SS: WORKING ON A NEW, NON-NARRATIVE ANIMATED FILM NOW – WORKING TITLE IS “TIDELINES.”

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

Interview with Filmmaker Mike Callaghan (HOLE)

HOLE was the winner of Best Cinematography and Best Musical Score at the April FEEDBACK Film Festival. It’s a triumph of a short film starring James Cosmo & Daniela Nardini. 

I recently chatted with director Mike Callaghan to chat about this film and his career as a director: 

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Mike Callaghan: My previous film had been a plot light chase film and it felt quite slight. Over the course of editing it I felt that I wanted to do something a bit more substantial that allowed me to do as much as I could in terms of story and character in a 20 minute thriller. I also wanted to make a film that reflected the films I love like westerns and thrillers and hopefully I was able to do that.

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

MC: Approximately 3 years

MT: How would you describe your short film in two words!?

MC: Twisty thriller

MT: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

MC: Money

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

MC: I was excited to see the what an audience made of it. You make a film for people to watch and enjoy and it was great to see that your audience responded so well to it. It’s a great idea to do these videos.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of HOLE:

MT: How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

MC: It started with a nugget of an idea which was just someone confronting another person who thought they’d killed them. I just started spitballing ideas out of that and it eventually became the film you’ve seen. It’s difficult to describe the process beyond that, it certainly didn’t come fully formed it required a lot of sweat to make it something worth making.

MT: What film have you seen the most in your life?

MC: I was a Star Wars kid, so by quite a long stretch that wins.

MT: What is next for you? A new film?

MC: I’m working on a couple of feature scripts, one of them and expansion of Hole and the other a horror which I’m quite excited about. Hopefully I can get one of those up and running soon, as it’d be great to be behind the camera again.

hole_1.jpg

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Sound Effects Editor Matt Snedecor (Revolutionary Road, The Jinx)

Starting off as an Engineer in the music industry, Matt Snedecor worked with Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson, Faith Hill, and Luther Vandross, to name a few. Since 2005, he’s one of the top  movie sound effects designers working today. It was an honor to chat with Matt about his job and career.

Matthew Toffolo: What is the main job being a sound effects editor?

Matt Snedecor: Effects editors are responsible for building the entire sonic environment for a film, everything from backgrounds to the sync effects we see on screen. The majority (90% and up) of the sounds heard in film are added by editors. But it’s more than just see car, hear car. We also need to come up with sounds that identify with characters or moods or that tell stories without the audience having to see something on screen to know what’s happening. There’s also sound design moments we need to build, tonal ideas that aren’t so much real world effects, but act more like music for setting up emotions that need to be conveyed.

MT: In a typical production, how many post-production sound crew members are there? Do you usually work with the same team?

MS: I usually work with the same crew of 2-3 other people. We work on smaller features and documentaries, so it can usually be handled by only a few people. 1 Dialogue editor, 1-2 effects editors, sometimes a music and/or foley editor. In my case, Coll Anderson, the re-recording mixer is also the supervisor and does some of the effects editing as well. So it’s a small crew. When I work with other supervisors, it varies a bit depending on the size of the film, but unless it’s a large Hollywood film that can have 10, 15 editors or more, our crews are generally around 5 or less.

MT: Are some directors more hands on than others when it comes to sound design?

MS: Oh definitely. There’s some directors that go by the theory that less is more, which is nice sometimes because it’s not only a little easier on us, but depending on the film, usually works really well to make the film better. It’s not getting overblown with sound design in every spot that there’s silence. And then there’s other directors that are totally into designing cool tones and sounds and come in with a theme of how they want things to sound. That’s generally the side we love to work with since it allows us to get creative and have fun with the film once they give us their ideas. Then we just get to dive in for a few weeks to try things and come back to them to see what works.

MT: You’ve been working in the industry for the last 10 years in over 60 productions. Is there is a film or two that you’re most proud of?

MS: There’s a few I can think of. A film called “Bleed For This” that will be out later this year. It’s a boxing movie that was alot of fun to build the fight scenes and everyone was really happy with how it came out. Also HBO’s series “The Jinx” comes to mind since it was nominated for an Emmy for sound editing so I’m very proud of that. Another is a film called “Blue Ruin” which had some great gore and violent scenes I had to design and the whole film came out great and did very well critically.

MT: Is there a type of film that you haven’t worked on yet that you would love to work on?

MS: Not that I can think of. I’ve been on everything from documentaries, vampire & horror, dark violent thrillers, dramas, now a boxing film, and even a rom com or 2. I can end up finding enjoyment out of just about anything that comes my way, so I just take things as they come and I don’t really think about it until I get something I’ve never done before.

MT: How has sound design changed from a technology and creative point of view from the year you started to today?

MS: The technology has definitely changed things at a ridiculous rate since I’ve started. The amount of tools available to us in the digital domain on our computers is amazing. There’s almost too many applications available, you can go a little crazy and get sucked into black holes of playing with sounds for hours upon hours. Trying out different plugins that all do something slightly different. When I started back in the music industry in the early 2000’s, everything was still hardware effects boxes and midi and analog tape was just coming to an end. Sound design was done using alot of samplers and keyboards and pitch and time changing. Now everything is available as a plugin with a plethora of parameters that can do all of that in one program.

MT: What makes a great sound effects editor? What skills does he/she need?

MS: A good ear obviously. Anything you can do while editing that can help the re-recording mixer do their job easier is going to help you get on their good side. Choosing the right sounds that helps them mix LESS. They have an incredibly hard job to do in making everyone happy on the mix stage, there’s so much going on, so the less they have to think about making my stuff work, the more they like me. You also have to be technically savvy, know how to use your tools, and use them quickly. It’s like that in any job. Also, the more artistic you can make things, the better the final product will be. There’s actually a bit of an art in editing effects to fit in the right holes and make their own subconscious rhythm, much like they’re an instrument.

MT: How did you get started? Was this something you knew about growing up and dreamed of doing? Or did the job choose you?

MS: I actually started out in the music recording industry which is where I wanted to be. I worked at The Hit Factory in New York straight out of college, being a general assistant for minimum wage, doing food runs, coffee runs, studio roadie for the most part. As I came up through the ranks there, I started engineering just as the industry was on it’s downfall. Budgets disappeared, talent disappeared, and soon enough the big studios followed. It seemed like every studio I worked at closed down. So I decided to try out something new and get into Post. Better pay, better hours. Definitely a different type of work from music, but still creative and fun and I didn’t feel like I was completely starting over or changing careers. I met Coll Anderson and he liked my work ethic and attitude and brought me on as his assistant. I learned the Post world and have been working for him ever since.

MT: Is there a different game-plan in developing the sound when working on different genres?

MS: It goes back somewhat to your question about directors. It depends on them a bit and what they’re looking for on their particular film. No matter the genre. The film can be of a particular genre but if the director is trying to make something new, we can step outside the box of what’s supposed be “the norm” of that genre and try to make it sound different. Every film has the basic nuts and bolts we start with for sound, the foley, backgrounds, hard effects, but it’s the extra sound design and music and the way everything is mixed that really defines the direction the film goes.

MT: Besides the films you’ve worked on, what movie have you seen the most in your life?

MS: Probably “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. Mostly because I’m a huge Hunter S. Thompson fan and that film is just a lot of ridiculous fun. Always watchable….to me at least.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Cinematographer Jeff Cutter (10 Cloverfield Lane)

Chatting with Jeff Cutter about Cinematography and his career could have lasted all day. I generally like to limit the questions to about 10-15 when I do these film interviews because these are very busy people and generally less is more. With Jeff, I literally could have asked him 100s of questions as we were just scratching the surface. This is one of my favorite interviews to date. A must read for anyone working or wanting to work in the industry.

Jeff’s cinematography credits include “Gridiron Gang”, “Catch .44”, “Yellow”, “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, “Playing It Cool”, and “10 Cloverfield Lane”

Matthew Toffolo: “10 Cloverfield Lane” is set to hit the theatres this week. Can you give us a sneak peak as to what to expect? How was your experience working on the film?

Jeff Cutter: Expect a taut, tense psychological thriller with 1 or 2 big surprises. I had a great time working on the film as we had a wonderful director in Dan Trachtenberg and an extremely supportive production company in Bad Robot. It was a relatively small budget, and had challenges as a result, but since it is mostly a very contained script we could maximize the resources we had.

Matthew: Do you have a favorite experience in your work as a Director of Photography? What film are you most proud of?

Jeff: I am most proud of my latest film, 10 Cloverfield Lane, because the photography is very close to what I had hoped we could achieve, and in some scenes, better than I hoped. My favorite experience was receiving an email from JJ Abrams about 2 weeks into principal photography, telling me how great he thought everything looked.

PHOTO: Still Shot from 10 Cloverfield Lane.  Starring: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.. Director: Dan Trachtenberg

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Matthew: You have DP’d many music videos. Is this something that you’ll continue to do? Do music videos give you a lot more creative freedom to explore being it’s generally an experimental type of story being told?

Jeff: I haven’t shot a music video for almost 10 years now, which makes me feel very old! Budgets have shrunk dramatically from the heyday of music videos when I started. Back in the late 90’s and early 00’s, music videos gave you so much freedom to explore, but also the funds with which to do it. So almost any crazy idea a director came up with, you could go and do. Traditional narrative tools, like lighting continuity, or realistic lighting sources, get thrown out the window. But creative freedom doesn’t always lead to good work.

Experimenting will inevitably also lead to some very bad work as well!

Matthew: What is the key difference when working on a horror film (Orphan, Nightmare/Elm Street) in comparison to doing a straight up drama (Yellow)?

Jeff: When working on a horror film, it needs to be, first and foremost, scary. So much of the camera work and lighting is dedicated to creating/enhancing the suspense and scares. When filming a drama, you use the camera and lighting to support the narrative story.

Matthew: “Orphan” is an amazingly photographed film. It really sets the mood, tone, and themes of this film and is truly a masterful job from a cinematic level. It executes and then heightens the story to a new level. How was your collaboration with director Jaume Collet-Serra?

Jeff: Jaume was an extremely well planned and thoughtful director. For him, setting the overall mood was the number one priority of the camera and lighting. We watched many classic thriller and horror films, as well as less conventional ones, and discussed the feeling that Jaume was looking for in the movie. Then we mapped out the shots and techniques that would help create this feeling.

PHOTO: Still Shot from Orphan. Starring: Isabelle Fuhrman. Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

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Matthew: What type of film would you love to work on that you haven’t worked on yet? Is there a shot/set-up that you’ve thought of already that you love to do in a film if it fits the story?

Jeff: I am prepping a comedy right now, and it’s my first one. It’s not that I necessarily love comedies or was dying to shoot one, but I do like the challenge of trying a new genre. If you don’t constantly challenge yourself, I believe your creative juices will stop flowing and you become complacent, and no good work comes from complacency. Whenever I shoot a film, regardless of genre, my goal is to create a film that looks different from what people expect it to. I’m not looking to do the typical, predictable thing. Of course, sometimes this results in failure, but nothing great comes from playing it safe.

Matthew: What does a DP look for in its director?

Jeff: I first and foremost look to the director for a vision of the film. When I first read a script, certain broad ideas come into my head, and then when you meet with the director, you hope those basic premises line up with what the director had in mind. Then a good director will guide you into the more specific direction he wants the film to go in terms of lighting, mood and camera work. A good director will challenge you to not settle for less than great work. A good director will pull you back when you’ve gone too far and push you when you’re being too safe. A good director will also listen to you when you know you are absolutely right and they’ve gotten something wrong! These are all the things I look for in a director.

Matthew: Do you have a Director of Photography mentor?

Jeff: I don’t have a DP mentor as such, but I do have many cinematographers who’s work I admire and reference, and whom I hope someday to be half as good as if I am lucky. Working greats like Roger Deakins, Emanuel Lubezki and Bob Richardson along with geniuses no longer with us like Conrad Hall, Jordan Croneweth and Harris Savides.

Matthew: What do you look for when hiring your main team? Gaffer. Key Grip. Camera Operator. Etc…

Jeff: I look for guys who are confident in their abilities, unfazed by last minute changes and complications, willing to contribute ideas but not be upset when they are shot down, and last but not least, pleasant to be around. When you spend 6 and 7 days a week with someone for three or four months it’s much easier when you like them!

Matthew: Where do you see the future of camera/lighting technology in film?

Jeff: In the future cameras will continue to get smaller while packing an even larger punch. And LEDs are the future for lighting. Eventually everything will be based around LEDs as they are fully dimmable, there is access to the entire color spectrum, they are light weight, can be customized into any configuration you want, and are extremely energy efficient.

Matthew: What film, besides the ones you’ve worked on, have you seen the most times in your life?

Jeff: There are a handful of films that I have watched multiple times because the film making is of the highest order, and they are for me examples of perfect photography. These include “Apocolypse Now”, “Angel Heart”, “Jacob’s Ladder”, “Blade Runner” and “Seven” to name a few.

Matthew: What suggestions would you have for people in high school and university who would like to get into the industry as an editor?

Jeff: My suggestions to students interested in getting into cinematography: Watch and re-watch as many great-looking movies as you can, and any movies by the great cinematographers. Find what you like, then go out and shoot as much as you can as often as you can, and start experimenting. Make friends with as many people as you can and start building a reel.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Film Festival Events and Videos from May 2013 to Present

Since taking over full reins of the WILDsound Festival in mid-2013, I have been fortunate to moderate 27 film festival events. We have showcased over 200 of the best short films from around the world – 37 countries to date.

Take a look at each film festival month by month. An audience feedback video for each film presented: 

ACTORFEBRUARY 2016 Film Festival
Watch Audience Feedback Videos from February 25th event

ACTORJANUARY 2016 Film Festival
Watch Audience Feedback Videos from January 28th event

ACTORNOVEMBER 2015 Film Festival
Watch Audience Feedback Videos from November 26th event

ACTOROCTOBER 2015 Film Festival
Watch Audience Feedback Videos from Oct. 29th event

ACTORSEPTEMBER 2015 Film Festival
Watch Audience Feedback Videos from September 24th event

ACTORAUGUST 2015 Film Festival
Watch Audience Feedback Videos from August 27th event

ACTORJULY 2015 Film Festival
Watch Audience Feedback Videos from July 30th event

ACTORJUNE 2015 Film Festival
Watch Audience Feedback Videos from June 25th event

ACTORMAY 2015 Film Festival
Watch Audience Feedback Videos from May 28th event

ACTORAPRIL 2015 Film Festival
Watch Audience Feedback Videos from April 30th event

ACTORMARCH 2015 Film Festival
Watch Audience Feedback Videos from March 26th event

ACTORFEBRUARY 2015 Film Festival
Watch Audience Feedback Videos from February 26th event

ACTORNOVEMBER 2014 EVENT
WATCH Audience VIDEOS

November 27 2014 Event

ACTOROCTOBER 2014 EVENT
WATCH Audience VIDEOS

October 30 2014 Event

ACTORAUGUST 2014 EVENT
WATCH Audience VIDEOS

August 28 2014 Event

ACTORJULY 2014 EVENT
WATCH Audience VIDEOS

July 31 2014 Event

ACTORJUNE 2014 EVENT
WATCH Audience VIDEOS

June 26 2014 Event

ACTORMAY 2014 EVENT
WATCH Audience VIDEOS

May 29 2014 Event


festival posterAPRIL 2014 EVENT
WATCH Audience VIDEOS

April 24 2014 Event


festival posterMARCH 2014 EVENT
WATCH Audience VIDEOS


March 27 2014 Event


festival posterNOVEMBER 2013 EVENT
WATCH Audience VIDEOS


Nov. 28 2013 Event


festival posterOCTOBER 2013 EVENT
WATCH Audience VIDEOS


Oct. 24 2013 Event


festival posterSEPTEMBER 2013 EVENT
WATCH Audience VIDEOS


Sept. 26 2013 Event


festival posterAUGUST 2013 EVENT
WATCH Audience VIDEOS


Aug. 29 2013 Event


festival posterJULY 2013 EVENT
WATCH Audience VIDEOS


July 25 2013 Event


festival posterJUNE 2013 EVENT
WATCH Audience VIDEOS


June 27 2013 Event


festival posterMAY 2013 EVENT
WATCH Audience VIDEOS


May 30 2013 Event

Interview with Filmmaker Oliver Park (Award Winning Short VICIOUS)

VICIOUS was the winner of Best Film at the WILDsound February 2016 Best of Horror/Thriller Festival. Already is it considered one of the top films that has ever played at the festival.

Interview with Oliver Park: 

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Oliver Park: I was born in the 80’s and grew up with stories by M. R. James, H. P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King. Then, when I discovered horror films I quickly fell in love with films by Carpenter, Craven, Kubrick, Romero, Cronenberg, Russell, Barker and of course – Hitchcock (to name but a few). I remember being terrified by those stories and I would regret them every night as I was lying in bed unable to sleep! I missed those films and felt it was time to bring back classic, suspenseful horror.

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

Oliver: The script evolved from ideas I have been having for years. Some of my scripts have been written for years and are just waiting in the shadows, others are very fresh and just seem to be right for the time. The shoot itself was three days and post-production (including editing, score and everything else) took around 4 months. It could have been done a lot quicker but I was away shooting on another film for a few months (as an actor).

Matthew: How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Oliver: I always had in the back of my mind that if Vicious did well, I would love the quote ‘Beautifully tense’ to be used in a review. I never expected such critical acclaim and I’ve had countless reviews saying it’s terrifying and tense, and one saying it was ‘beautiful’. I am so touched by peoples responses!

Matthew: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Oliver: I have very high standards so not over-analyzing every shot, every frame, every pixel was hard for me. Having a superbly talented cast and crew helped a lot!

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

Oliver: Speechless! When I got the email my phone was nearly out of battery but I couldn’t wait to see the video so I hit play, watched about 10 seconds and then my phone died. I had to wait until I got home 3 hours later to watch the rest. Everyone was so kind and I am so glad that they loved the film. I can’t wait for everyone to see the next ideas.

Matthew: How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Oliver: I write what scares me. As a massive horror nerd, I often walk into a space and think “wouldn’t it be scary if….”. Vicious was born from wanting to tell a story that is both horribly tense yet looks beautiful – something that could happen to any of us and that the audience could take home with them afterwards. I wanted to make a short film that was in the league of all these incredible three minute scare-shorts, but one with a meaningful story behind the tension.

Matthew: What film have you seen the most in your life?

Oliver: Haha – it’s a comedy! I’ll be honest, it’s ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’. I love that film. But with regards to horror – ‘Halloween’, ‘Psycho’, ‘Saw’ and ‘Insidious’. You can’t go wrong with Carpenter, Hitchcock or James Wan and Leigh Whannell. Some of my all time favourite films are ‘The Beat My Heart Skipped’, ‘Meet Joe Black’ and ‘Leon’.

Matthew: What is next for you? A new film?

Oliver: As an actor, I’ve several films coming up and a few coming out later this year. As a writer/director, my next horror film ‘Still’ is being shot in April and will hit festivals (hopefully) Halloween 2016. If you want to get involved or help support the film, here is the link to the campaign were doing – http://www.igg.me/at/still. It’s shorter and darker than ‘Vicious’, and hopefully even more frightening. On the side of that, the feature script for ‘Vicious’ is complete along with various other horror scripts I have. ‘Vicious’ is just the beginning. If you want to know more or help with my films, please get in touch at info@oliverpark.co.uk
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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Filmmaker Scott Lyus (SILENTLY WITHIN YOUR SHADOW)

SILENTLY WITHIN YOUR SHADOW played to rave reviews at the WILDsound Best of Horror/Thriller Festival in February 2016.

Read interview with the director Scott Lyus:

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Scott Lyus: My main motivation was story and character. I wanted to explore the idea of love for our dreams or our love for another; all within a horror film and the tension that can cause within a relationship. And from that Silently Within Your Shadow was born. Add my ambition to make an old school horror film that didn’t rely on cheap jump scares, blood or gore and instead focused on strong characters and story.

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

SL: From inception to completion was about 5 months. Once I had the screenplay down and knew exactly where I wanted to take the story, I found my cast and crew and we were shooting within a few months. My crew mainly consisted of the same guys that made my last two films Supernova and Order of the Ram. We’ve developed a great way of working together. They know exactly what I want and how I work, and are the best team in the world at making that happen in a short amount of time.

MT: How would you describe your short film in two words!?

SL: Retro Horror.

MT: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

SL: It’s the struggle all indie filmmakers face, budget. We didn’t go over budget and actually came in slightly under once all was said and done, but unfortunately we only made a quarter of our budget via our Indiegogo Campaign, with another quarter coming from private investment and the remaining half from my own pocket. While I was perfectly happy fronting half the budget to ensure we completed the film, it did mean I had to push pre-production back a month or so while I saved the money we needed to complete the picture.

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

SL: Going into the video I was already aware we didn’t win any of your awards, so I was just hoping and praying the audience enjoyed it. But once the dust was settled, I was left with a giant smile on my face. Our ambition for this film was to create a horror film that caused debate. Go back to a time when horror meant something more than cheap jump scares and blood and gore. We wanted people to watch our picture and talk about the themes within the film, the hidden meanings and subtext. I was amazed to see how much everyone really dug into the heart of the film and debated all the hidden meanings. It really was a fantastic reaction.

MT: How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

SL: The main theme of the film is the choice between love for your ambitions and dreams, or your love for another and the sacrifices you have to make. It’s something that’s very close to my heart and I choice I have struggled with myself. I try to create my films with multi layers. In this case, the top layer is an old school horror film about a creepy puppet, but underneath you have strong subtext and subject matter. If you want to go in and just be creeped out, I hope we do that, but if you want a little something more, an idea you can sink your teeth in, well hopefully you’ll find that too.

MT: What film have you seen the most in your life?

SL: I’ve been asked this question a few times and everyone always expects my answer to be horror related. While the original Frankenstein and Texas Chainsaw Massacre come in second and third place respectively, the film I’ve seen more than any other and my favorite film of all time is Casablanca. For me its the perfect film, the best screenplay ever written and I must watch it at least twice a year.

MT: What is next for you? A new film?

SL: Right now I’m touring with Silently, having played 14 festivals to date since October 2015, while also running a solo screening tour in the UK. Project wise, I’m currently in post production on an extended cut of a short film I made for a 60 Hour Film Challenge called Holding Back. Once complete we hope to play a few festivals and maybe add it to a few dates on the Silently screening tour. However the next big project is my debut feature. I’ve just turned in the first draft of the screenplay to my producer and we’re hoping to shoot later this year. So keep your eyes open for that one.

Watch Audience FEEDBACK Video fo SILENTLY WITHIN YOUR SHADOW:

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Filmmaker Luke Guidici (TIME TO EAT)

TIME TO EAT played to rave reviews at the WILDsound Best of Horror/Thriller Festival in February 2016.

Interview with the director Luke Guidici:

1. What motivated you to make this film? 

When I was a kid, the basement was a scary place. It was dark and foreboding and there was something just plain scary about it. And to make matters worse, my own bedroom was in the basement! I had a pretty active imagination, so it was easy for me to envision the horrors that lay hidden in the shadows just out of sight… With TIME TO EAT I wanted to explore the question “What if the monster in the basement wasn’t imaginary and there really WAS something down there?” Even though I wanted to make a creepy and intense horror film, I wanted to stay true to my filmmaking goals. One of which is that the protagonists in my films aren’t victims… I wanted them (and the audience) to recognize the strength they have, and use that power to succeed. And of course, I hoped the audience would get a scare and a laugh out of the film.

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

With independent film, especially shorts  – the timetable on completing projects can be a little misleading. In the case of TIME TO EAT, if you go from when I wrote the script, to when I finished the color correction it was over a year and a half. But did the film really take that long to make the film? Not really… for example, we only shot for one day. The edit took a couple of days. Color correction was done in an afternoon. Each part of the process wasn’t very long – but when you are working on a low budget, you have to wait for people to become available.

There’s an old saying “Better, faster, cheaper – pick two.” Well, for this film – I didn’t have a lot of money, and I wanted the quality to be amazing, so that meant I had to sacrifice the speed of the film. The crew that helped make this film were all working professionals. They make their living as cinematographers, composers, sound mixers, producers, etc. and they have bills to pay, so when they agree to work on a lower budget project like this – there’s an understanding that the full playing work will take precedent. Working with professionals in the manner means you get a film of amazing quality… but you have to be patient and understanding of people’s schedules.

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

Delightfully twisted.

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

There were two main stumbling blocks. First, we needed a house with a basement, a rare thing in Los Angeles. Second, we needed a tentacle puppet, an even rarer item in Los Angeles.

Could we fake a basement by shooting on a sound stage? Would it work to build stairs and combine with VFX to create a staircase where none existed? could the story be changed from a basement to an empty room in a one level home? There were a lot of potential solutions, each problematic in their own way. But we didn’t have to decide yet, because we didn’t have a tentacle.

If you’re making a monster movie, the monster is kind of an important element. So without it, there was no rush to decide our location question. Part of the complication of this was that I wanted the tentacle to be a practical effect. That is to say, I didn’t want to create it entirely in a computer. the Initial drafts of script had the tentacle interacting with the protagonist. It brushed his foot, loomed over his shoulders, and so on. Because the boy was going to be acting “with” it, I wanted something physical on set. Through a friend we talked to a model builder that might be able to build a tentacle puppet for us. I was pretty excited. Then we got the quote. the price for the tentacle was more than the entire budget of the film.

We were going to have to find another way to make the film. John asked around and found a friend who had shot a movie that had a similar monster. the design wasn’t exactly what I’d envisioned, but the prop already existed. I decided it was better to be flexible then to never make the film – so I told John we should go for it.

While we wait for the tentacle to arrive from England (yes, England) I continued the search for a location. As if by a twist of fate, the producer of the animated film I was editing had a house with a large basement. Honestly, I was a little hesitant to ask my boss if I could use her home for my short film. The idea of having a film crew in your home sounds like “fun” yet rarely is. Plus, I was nervous that we could break something expensive or worse, sentimental.

But, I really wanted to make this film. so after work one day, my producer, John Wynn and I went and looked at the space and what can I say… it was pretty much perfect. not only did it have a great basement, but it also had a kitchen and living room that were amazing. Being able to shoot the entire film at one location would save a ton of time and money.

Now that we had the tentacle and the location we could start coordinating everyone’s schedule to actually shoot the film, which was its own struggle in itself!

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

It was so very cool to see! One of the most rewarding aspects of filmmaking is getting to sit in a theatre and experience an audience react to your work. Since I wasn’t able to be in Toronto for the screening, getting to hear the audience talk about it was the next best thing.

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

It had been several years since my last film CERTIFIED (www.certifiedtheshort.com) finished up its festival run and I was itching to make a new project. I wasn’t sure exactly what sort of film I wanted to make, but I knew I wanted to push my boundaries as a filmmaker.

I’m fascinated by unlikely heroes, strong dilemmas, and altered realities – so whatever story I came up with, the film needed to have those themes. Additionally, in order to expand my skills, it needed a strong visual effects component. Since my budget wasn’t unlimited, I’d have to be crafty about how the story incorporated those. Lastly, I wanted to make a short that didn’t need dialogue. My last two films, CERTIFIED and SKYDANCERS were very much dependent on the audience understanding English and I wanted this one to be free of that constraint.

With those three criteria in mind, I brainstormed a few different concepts. Out of those, two had the most promise so I pitched them both to John. After discussing we both agreed that TIME TO EAT was the most produceable. It had a small cast, one location, and just a few key visual effects shots.

Now, as to how I came up with the actual idea that became TIME TO EAT… well, that’s a bit of the mystery of creativity. I can’t exactly say how I come up with any of my ideas exactly. I try and create a space for my mind, then I just let it wander. A bit of inspiration will lead to a character or a setting, then that will lead me to the a plot moment or a twist, and then as the idea continues to bounce around the space it picks up more and more details. Eventually there’s enough there that I can turn on the more analytic side of my brain and start pounding out the mechanics of the story.

Specifically with TIME TO EAT the room I created to wander in was made up of the criteria listed above. From there I started to think about the people I knew, locations I might have access to, and stories I’d always wanted to tell. One element that jumped out to me was my friends’ five year old son. I’ve been amazed by his imagination and creativity and I’ve often thought about what sort of story I could tell with him as the lead character. Plus they had a dark and creepy basement…

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

It’s a tossup between “The Maltese Falcon”, “The Empire Strikes Back”, and “Dumb & Dumber.”

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

I just released my first animated short, HAWKWARD (https://vimeo.com/151551810). It was a lot of fun to direct a cartoon and I’m looking forward to doing more. I’m also in the process of developing the feature length version and TV series versions of TIME TO EAT. I talk about current project fairly often on my blog http://www.lukeasa.com/scruffy-nerf-filmmaker/ and on twitter, https://twitter.com/lukeguidici/.

 

 

  MOVIE POSTERTIME TO EAT, 4min, USA, Horror/Comedy
Directed by Luke Guidici

After being sent to timeout, a mischievous boy’s trip to the basement leads to a monstrous revelation.

WEBSITES

www.timetoeatfilm.com
www.facebook.com/timetoeatfilm/
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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.