Interview with Filmmaker Lola Rùi (THE DOOR)

THE DOOR was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the November 2018 Thriller/Suspense Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Lola Rùi: Show the story you want to tell is always the main engine to make a film. The starting point was to think about experiences of conflict that someone could face in this complex world, in this case leading to the feelings of the character that James Augustus Lee plays in the film, situation with which we could feel identified sometime in our lives.

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

It took around two months. A few days after a phone conversation sharing the idea with the other writer (James Augustus Lee), I took a plane from Madrid to New York, and I was there for two weeks to finish the script, make rehearsals and finding the team for shooting. Then I went back to Madrid for the post- production, which took us a month and a half
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3. How you would describe your Short Film in two words!?

Uncertainly and conflict.

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

Well, one of the biggest obstacles was the language. Not long ago I started learning to speak English , so communication with the rest of the team was one of the challenges I had to overcome. And of course, directing and acting at the same time required a lot of energy and concentration. However, when you put passion in what you do barriers disappear, and so it was.

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

It was an interesting experience to see how the audience receive the message of the film in different ways depending on their own vision or circumstances, showing that the art is always alive. I love this.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The idea came from a phone conversation between James Augustus lee and I. We was speaking about how sometimes people are unable to face their own fears so the fear take over then all their lives. So we decided to make a film of it.

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

The Godfather

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

It is a platform that really works good. They are very professional offering the filmmakers all the information about Film Festivals for submission and the timeliness of communication is fine. In addition, the platform interface is intuitive and friendly.

It is my first short film as a director and therefore the first time I have to manage with a platform like this and It has been quite easy with FilmFreeway.

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

The songs of Camarón de la Isla, Legend of Flamenco.

I don’t have an specific song that I listen continuosly… but if I have to choose one, I would go to Nana del Caballo Grande (big horse lullaby)

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

A new Short Film that is planned to be shot very soon in Madrid.

 

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Interview with Filmmaker Andy Hourahine (BREAK ROOM)

BREAK ROOM was the winner of BEST FILM at the May 2018 ACTION/THRILLER FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

What motivated you to make this film?

I love fight films, strong female protagonists, and fantasize about a world where people might actually have to back up their opinions with physicality in general so it was an easy decision to make the film.

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

We went through a few drafts of writing, then casting, rehearsal, shooting, and post. The actual shoot was over two, break neck days, but probably four months of work in total.

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

Chick fight

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

Trying to complete an enjoyable short with a VERY limited budget. Cast and crew were all volunteers.

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

Twofold. A film fan, I think the idea of the audience being able to participate is great. In fact, debating films is one of the joys of movie-going. On the other hand, as a filmmaker, you learn to consider the source and be very selective on what criticisms to listen to. Otherwise, you’d never put anything out there ☺. All in all, I thought the curator very intelligent and understood the film well.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film:

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

The initial idea came from a real life experience where during a martial arts training session, two of the participants showed up injured. Both happened to be teachers and the light bulb went off in my head.

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

I’m actually not a fan of watching a movie too many times. I like to enjoy the initial feelings I get from the early experience and hold onto those. If a movie inspires me, I’ll then break it down scene by scene to learn. If I HAD to choose, I’ve probably watch Jesus Christ Superstar the most since childhood.

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

Our producer actually took care of festival submissions and I’ve only heard good things!

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

Depends on my mood, I’m a pretty wired individual so I like mellow music during my downtime. Again, if I have to say what’s been on repeat most lately during my working hours is House of the Rising Sun remake by Five Finger Death Punch.

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

We are currently finishing a feature length documentary so the narrative work is on hold. However, we have three fight films roughed out and awaiting attention ☺

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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 James Miller (PREY)

 PREY played to great reviews at the May 2018 Action/Crime/Thriller FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

 1. What motivated you to make this film?

The motivation for this film was mostly based on us not having made anything that was truly ours in a long while! We had spent a lot of time creating music videos and commercial projects for clients and just felt like we had an itch that needed to be scratched.

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

A long time… Well a lot longer than planned!, The initial idea came to me in 2015 which also happened to be the same year I turned 30 and the same year I got married. Both these events along with a huge new client prevented us from actually going out and making the film. So nearly a whole year after coming up with the idea we finally got to go out and shoot something!.

But after filming the bulk of the film we realised the story wasn’t working and this prompted us to shoot a lot more footage to fill in the gaps which did affect continuity, in particular the changing shape of the wrapped up baby.
Filming actually wrapped around the beginning of 2017 but we didn’t finish working on the film in its current form until just recently with its conversion to 4k and new grade.

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

Intense and claustrophobic

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

Time! And lack of it, with only 2 of us doing the bulk of the work on the film barring the music and Foley it was an uphill struggle to find time to just sit down and work on the movie especially when you throw in the fact that we both have full time work commitments and families and of course friends social engagements etc.

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

Mostly intrigue, it was fascinating to hear other people’s honest opinions about something we’ve effectively been working on in isolation, not many people have seen this film at all so for us to get feedback at this stage it’s actually very helpful.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

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

The idea and concept itself came to me while I was on a flight home from a short holiday in ROME. I had wanted to create a ‘chase’ type film for a while and originally the protagonist was actually a werewolf.

After some basic research into different mythological creatures we stumbled across the Tik Tik or Aswang, which is essentially a Filipino folklore usually possessing a combination of the traits of either a vampire, a ghoul, a warlock/witch.

These traits worked perfectly for our film and it meant we weren’t treading the usual vampire route like many other people.

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

I want to say the 1989 Batman movie but it’s most likely Star Wars.

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 pretty good it’s nice to get at least a little something for entering like the feedback etc that you guys have provided as it makes parting with your money a little easier.

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

Eminem – Loose Yourself

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

We have a few projects up and running mainly music video based, as well as our daily 9-5 projects which are for a major car company.

Film wise we have a lot of project ideas and hopefully we get to start one of them this summer called ‘Terminal’ which is just a working title, it’s much more sci-fi than horror/thriller and is something we can’t wait to start.

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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 Director James Bowsher (WITHHELD)

The short film WITHHELD (directed by James Bowsher) was the overwhelming winner of BEST FILM at the THRILLER FEEDBACK Film Festival in September 2017. It arguably could be the best short film of 2017! It’s that great of a film.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Matthew Steggles: The primary motivation was that I felt like the idea was interesting and that no one would make it if I didn’t. What kept me motivated was the fact that I had an overwhelming amount of support from friends, family and the crew.

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

The idea to the shoot only took a few months, but the edit took us about a year, as there were various complicating factors. It can be summarised by us wanted to ensure we got it right and whilst there were frequent instances of it almost being ready I never felt happy putting it out into the world.

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

Cruel communication.

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

The biggest obstacle was probably staying faithful to the original concept. The film is meant to be claustrophobic, but when watching the edits you can often think that you have gone too far. In the end it was about reminding myself what my objectives were with the film and making it the most distilled version of that.

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

It’s encouraging to hear the reactions from the audience particularly in regards to how we used Stephanie’s character. Part of what I wanted to do in the film was look at the danger of male gaze and the difficult treatment of female characters in film. However, keeping his attacks on her and his treatment of her separate to the film and its perspective was tricky – especially in the limited time that we had. I think this will probably engender different reactions from different viewers, but this is why the ‘turn’ was so important to me.

 WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video: 

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

An exhibit about phone sex workers by Philip Toledo demonstrated the unexpected breadth of characters in this industry. From there it meshed with ideas I had about performance as the phone was a clear locus for suspending disbelief. I wrote a first draft and from there my friends’ positive reactions to the concept drove me to shoot it.

 What film have you seen the most in your life?

That’s an almost impossible question as I have gone through many love affairs with many films. On balance Magnolia by Paul Thomas Anderson is one that I keep coming back to.

 You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the new(ish) submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

My producer Matthew Steggles did most of the real legwork in regards to festival submissions. He says “The menu navigation and friendly user face is leagues beyond other online submission platforms that I have previously used. With thousands of festivals at your disposal, they’ve made it incredibly easy to organise and keep track of each submission – something that could have taken many countless hours in the past is now a pleasure to undertake. I’ve also found it to be cheaper than most of the other submission platforms.”

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

Feeling Good by Nina Simone is a song that I love and was playing in my house all the time because of my mother.

What is next for you? A new film?

I am starting an MA in producing at the National Film and Television School in the UK this January. In regards to new projects, my collaborator Matthew and I have numerous projects we want to do next and are deciding which one would be best.

 

Interview with Director Andi Osho (AMBER)

Andi’ Osho’s short film was voted BEST MUSIC at September 2017 CRIME/THRILLER FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

I had a really inspiring conversation with a Fox executive several years ago and he told me that I need to think about what my contribution to the industry is. I’d never thought of my career in those terms. I think most people think in terms of what they can get or what they want. Relatively few creatives think about what they can pour into the pot.

Anyway, the idea gestated in me for a really long time and then it got the point where I realised that part of my contribution is storytelling. And that led me to want to direct. It was as though the desire to direct was bursting from me. I’d made shorts during a intensive film making course and various other little bits and piece but Amber was the first time I’d put together a full-on production. It was exhilarating and terrifying and thrilling all at the same time. I remember Barry Jenkins saying that when he directs, he is his best self. I feel the same.

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

Just over a year. Pre-production was relatively swift. Once I decided it was happening, the key team came together pretty quickly. I teamed up with an editor I’d worked with before who came on as exec producer too. Then my producer and DP followed shortly after.

The hardest and longest part of the process was post production. I’m sure that’s the case with most short films because unless you have a healthy budget for that part of the process, it all has to be fitted around other people’s work. We were beg, borrow and stealing favours everywhere for grades, ADR, sound mix. Everything. From wrapping on set to a finished film was about ten months.

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

Stalker mystery!

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

Not having a post production budget. That’s not as crazy as it sounds.

Basically, our exec producer was our editor so we always knew our offline was taken care of and as I worked in post production for ten years before switching lanes, I knew that I had enough contacts to scrabble together my post production.

But because it was all favours, very generously gifted from within my network, it just meant that the whole thing took longer than if we’d had a budget.

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

I was intrigued that they drilled down into the thematic content of the project because that was what was most important to me. There were some intelligent, well-considered observations that made me feel like, ah, perhaps we did our job as film makers that our work prompted such a response. Myself and my lead actress did chuckle about the guy who didn’t feel it was plausible for a small girl to beat up an adult male. That was rather the point of the film, when a woman wants something, you need to be a powerhouse to stop her!

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

There were several factors. The initial one was a fascinating documentary about One Direction Fans. It reminded me of what I was like at that age and how intense teenage desire can be.

I started to think that there was definitely a narrative film in there somewhere and that it would be really interesting to see a stalker film with a teenage girl. I also wanted to give myself the challenge of telling the story from the girl’s perspective. Usually the stalker is the antagonist and we root for the protagonist to conquer them. With Amber, I wanted to create something more ambiguous. In addition thematically I was interested in the manufactured nature of pop music, how pop stars are equally manipulated by the industry and the intensity and power of female teenage design as a formidable force.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Aliens. I’m pretty sure I’ve watched it more than James Cameron!

You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the new(ish) submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

Film Freeway is the only platform I want to use. I wish film festivals that use other platforms knew how the experience is as an end user. When you are entering multiple festivals, it is a Godsend to have a great website like Film Freeway that takes some of the grind out of the process. They care about the film maker, are less expensive and generally a better experience.

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

Another Star – Stevie Wonder. Once I’d heard Songs In The Key Of Life I couldn’t stop listening to it.

I was the same with Oasis’ What’s The Story? Album. I listened to it for six months straight. You want to know why I’m making a film about obsession, I think that’s your answer right there.

What is next for you? A new film?

Two things. I want to turn Amber into a feature film project. I’m just working on exactly what that narrative will be. I’ve thrown a few ideas about but I’m not convinced I’ve found the right one just yet. If I’m going to put my heart and soul into that project, I want to know that it’s the right thing.

The other thing I’d like to do is make a much simpler short film. Amber wasn’t huge in scale but it was big enough that it required a mid sized crew, several locations and needed quite a bit of funding to realise it.

Next, I’d like to tell a simple story deeply. One location, perhaps even one actor. I want to work with the resources I already have and simplify the whole process yet still produce a great story.

 

Interview with director Brendon Rathbone (MARAUDER)

Brendon Rathbone’s short film “MARAUDER” was the winner of “Best Musical Score” at the Action/Thriller Festival in February 2017.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Brandon Rathbone: A lot of the shorts that I had made before Marauder had been thrown together for 48 hour film fests and even though I’m happy with how they turned out, I was looking for a project where I could apply some craft to it and challenge myself. So the idea for Marauder came about during a road trip from Calgary to San Francisco. On the way home, after 5 days in the car the podcasts, albums, and conversation ran dry and my producing partner and I started kicking around an idea for a road movie. Driving through Alberta’s badlands, it’s hard not to think of the post-apocalypse.

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

We first had the idea in the October 2013, but the film didn’t screen until 2016. The script came together really quickly, and we were very lucky to get a substantial amount of the budget covered through provincial arts grants. The difficulty was trying to shoot a road movie where almost 100% of the film takes place outdoors in a country with wildly unpredictable weather and a depressingly short summer. We had planned to shoot in September of 2014, but had to push an entire year when a key location fell through.

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

Mad Maxine

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

We knew that doing a post-apocalyptic film on a shoestring budget would be tough… but…. The most difficult thing was trying to do justice to the world-building aspects of the story while also making sure we stayed within the budget we had. Clothes, vehicles, and props all had to be very carefully considered and crafted to fit into the world. That meant that a big part of our budget had to go into those things and consequently we didn’t have a lot of money for post-production – which ended up taking much longer than expected because we were desperately calling in as many favors as possible.

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

I thought it was great that they were engaged and we didn’t screw up our big reveal with the Marauder character.

Getting feedback is such an integral part to growing as an artist and storyteller. I love getting people’s reactions and hearing what bits went over well and where I may have missed the mark. Also, by now I’ve seen the film about 2 hundred times, so I can’t be objective. I was really happy to hear what the audience thought of it, how they interpreted the world we’d laid out. I thought all the comments were on point and it definitely gave me some stuff to think about for my next go around as a director.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

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

I’ve always liked the idea of lawlessness and the chaos that emerges when society has fallen apart.So with that as a starting point, we started talking about this broken world and what kinds of things we’d like to see happen. The big thing that we kept coming back to was this idea of frontier justice, revenge, and taking back what is yours.

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

Cast Away or the Big Lebowski. Oddly, our film is nothing like either of those films. Maybe a slacker detective stranded on an island film will be our next thing.

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

My producing partner and I are applying for arts funding for our next short that will focus on obsession but with a bit of an experimental and comedic feel. We also have a couple of television and feature pitches that we’re hoping to develop further in the next year.

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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.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
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Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
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Interview with director James Peaty (APPRAISAL)

James Peaty’s short film “APPRAISAL” was the winner of “Best Performances” at the Action/Thriller Festival in February 2017.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

James Peaty: My main motivation for making the film was to test myself in relation to how I work with actors. In the main, I hadn’t worked with the cast before, which was exciting, but quite scary. I also threw away a lot of what I’d relied on in other shorts I’d made – rehearsal, over planning etc – and just let the performances emerge as we did them. I was also keen on directing the long dialogue scene which is the centrepiece of the film, to try and give it shape and momentum. It was longer on the page and we moved some bits around in the edit, but I think we managed to achieve what we set out to do.

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

Well, the idea is one i’ve had for a few years and I’ve been working on a feature version for a few years on and off, so the script was in place v quickly. But going from when we committed to making the film to finishing it in post was 5 months. We shot it in two days. All the dialogue/sound stuff done in one, all the inserts/cutaways done on the other.

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

Slow burn.

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

Nothing really. I sort of planned post as we prepped the film and everyone committed up front to doing what we needed to do, so it was a pain free process and pretty smooth all the way through.

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

I laughed! But that’s mainly ‘cos it’s funny to me to have a group of people talking about something I made. When I look at the film I’m thinking about what we did on the day, who was grumpy, who wanted sugar in their tea etc etc. But that isn’t what the audience is thinking. They’re reacting completely subjectively and spontaneously to the story and to see it working with a group of people who owe you nothing is both gratifying and instructive. And yet it’s something as filmmakers – especially with shorts – that we really get the chance to do. So, after laughing, my other major reaction was relief. The films works. Thank God for that!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

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

I’m not sure really. As I said, a lot of it was driven by working with actors, but the other idea was: how to build a world with no money. And so the notion of a conversation between two people working for a global company meant that what they’d be talking about had a sort of wider scale and scope to it, which is what it needed. Then, how do you then make that conversation interesting and gives the actors something to play with? Well, what they’re talking about has to have some stakes, so that immediately leads you into thriller territory. So I guess it’s the whole: one idea leads to another. But it starts with two people in a room and then working out why they’re in the room, what the room is and why they’re doing what they’re doing. The sort of pseudo-political/corporate angle is just me making use of the fact I taught Politics and International Relations for ten years. I guess they always say ‘write what you know’ and I suppose this is a good example of that.

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

Probably Jaws or the original Star Wars, but mostly that’s because I watched them on a loop as a kid in the early years of VHS. I’d imagine it must be Jaws. Beyond that, I must have seen Annie Hall 25 times. Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, the same. Ditto for Superman 1 and 2, Back To The Future. Probably the same for Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Blue Velvet, Vertigo, Psycho, Apocalypse Now, Reservoir Dogs…the list goes on!

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

Well, the plan is to make the feature version of Appraisal and that’s starting to gain some traction now because of the short. So, fingers crossed we’ll get to do that later this year.

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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.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed
Screenplay CONTESTFIRST SCENE (first 10pgs) Screenplay CONTEST
Submit the first stages of your film and get full feedback!