Interview with Filmmaker Julian Friedrich (01)

01 was the winner of BEST FILM at the June 2018 Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Julian Friedrich: “01” is the first film out of the Shortfilm label “Second Truth” in which Artists, film makers, musicians and journalists from all over the world are grappling with the social and political issues of our time. The resulting music videos (Melts) do not include any words and are a mixture of music clips and short films.

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

Nearly 1,5 Years. When Katharina and I decided to make a film in 2015, the refugee crisis in Europe was at its peak. Katharina is an extraordinary illustrator. Her paintings are simple, have a child-like line. But each line is exactly where it should be. It was hard to find the technique to keep the elegiac, the calmness in them.

We spent half a year researching, interviewing and viewing material. The more we were immersed in the cosmos of refugees, we understood how naive and small we had initially thought. All our first ideas were far behind reality.

Stories I’ll never forget are f.e. about a woman who could no longer open doors because after relatives visit her the relatives were killed by a bomb in front of her house. After this incident she was afraid that if she closes a door, everything will be gone behind it. I will never forget the interview with an 18-year-old boy who was the only survivor of a refugee boat full of children of his age. He was with his brother. His voice was so fragile. People are shot dead by locals on a stage in the mountains. Just like that, someone next to you falls to the floor. Dead.

We wanted to show all of it with best intentions, but we understood if we really integrated everything, people would turn off. You can’ t stand it or even worse, think it is an exaggeration. That’s why we’ve focused on the emotional world. We, as audience, may not share the experiences, but we share their feelings. And we focused on them. With the music, with the fantastic pictures of Katharina.

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

very emotional

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

Our own point of view.

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

I bit my foot (not instantly). We were very touched by this. We are amazed and delighted that people on the other side of the globe are thinking about the same questions. We really are a global village and should work together as human beings.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

There are 68 million people on the run out there. Out of poverty or danger of death. We can’t build fences around everything, it’s physically impossible. If we send them away, we just move the problem to somewhere else. The causes do not disappear. Unless we, the Western world, its way of life and ignorance, which is the origin of this escape, do not change. We have either ignored these people or exploited them economically. Our standard of living is built on poverty. That’s how our world works. No one turns his back on his home country out of fun. We have to change, not them.

If a person cannot live a life worth living in the place, then it is his human right to seek an opportunity. We’ve been all refugees once and maybe we become again sooner than we think. Think about climate change.

68 Million! In 2018, more than 1000 people drowned in the Mediterranean. In view of these numbers, there is no point in continuing to rely on an inefficient, inhumane policy of isolation. Whether more wallets are stolen or not in Berlin, New York or Tokyo is irrelevant in comparison to accepting that people lose their lives. We need institutions that control these flight movements and give people chances. Everything else is political stupidity. If we do this wisely, we all benefit.

We still have too little understanding and empathy for these processes. Art must begin to address these problems.

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

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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

good.

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

Horses don’t puke. (John Saber)

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

“Second Truth” is currently producing “02” with a wonderful Painter Alex Divisenko about the War in Ukraine and it’s fruits in the social medias. We cooperate with the national Puppet theatre of Kiev for “03” about hate. We work with a Syrian dance company “Sham” for “04” a dance through Rom. We work with a talented film maker Peter Drenzin on a half documentary about a homeless person in “05”.

The people who publish Melts (second truth Shortfilm) under “Second Truth” want to expand our horizons – to offer us an alternative. A second truth. Keep in touch about the latest news and listen or download the songs http://www.second-truth.com or support us with your friendship https://www.facebook.com/secondtruthinitiative/ . Thank you!

01
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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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Interview with Animator/Filmmaker Ran Sheng (STAR RUNNER)

STAR RUNNER played to rave reviews at the June 2018 Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ran Sheng: I am a big fan of sci-fi novels and films, and I keep thinking about those classical philosophy questions, such as who am I? Where I came from, and where am I going? This film could be seen as my answer to these questions.

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

This film belongs to the junior year film project of my college so it was in a pretty narrow time frame. I think it took me about 10 weeks.

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

Evolution + History

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

I must say it was the very narrow time frame. 10 weeks sounds not bad but I actually have other 4 classes at the same time – that means a lot of work and time management skills.

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

I was surprised by hearing how the host describes my film. It is always great to learn from other people’s perspectives. Also, I really enjoy having all the feedback from the audience. It is the first time my film been public screened, so all those feedback means a lot to me!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

It’s a long story. Basically, I was inspired by a short sci-fi novel written by famous Chinese sci-fi writer Liu Cixin. It is a story about how much human being willing to pay for the ultimate truth and answer of our universe. If you are interested, I would suggest you watch this short film about the making of Star Runner.

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

I wasn’t really counting them but I think probably it is Terminator 2.

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

I love it and think it is a wonderful platform for filmmakers all over the world.

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

I have a wide variety of favored music so I really couldn’t tell. But I am very sure that during the making of Star Runner, the most listened song was Human, by The Killers.

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

Definitely, I am finishing my thesis film for my Animated Arts program in PNCA. It is another short animation film. I would love to share it with FEEDBACK. It would be great if I may have a discount on submit fee as a returning filmmaker, haha!

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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 Sarah Gampel (THE BUS TRIP)

THE BUS TRIP was the WINNER of BEST ANIMATION at the May 2018 ANIMATION FEEDBACK Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Sarah Gampel: My motivation for making this film came after a trip I did in Israel and Palestine during the spring 2014. I went there to take part in a Film Festival Bus trip with international film students traveling around Israel showing short films. When I came home to Sweden I was overwhelmed by the experience and the emotions I felt during that trip, so I decided to make a film about it.

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

It took me about 1 and a half year to finish the film. It started out as my graduation project from film school. We had one year to make a short. But I needed 6 more months and so I was lucky to find funding to be able to finish the film, after I’ve graduated.

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

Layered experience

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

The biggest obstacle or challenge during the making the film was writing the script and finding a way to combine both political opinions and personal feelings in a comprehensive way.

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

This is one of the best feedback session I’ve ever had. People were being honest and sharing their thoughts unconstrained. It’s not too common that people share their honest opinion, and especially not when there is some sort of critic involved. And as a filmmaker it can be difficult to hear negative comments about ones film, it puts me as a filmmaker in a defensive position. But the critic I got to hear here made me feel the opposite. I could tell that the audience had really watched my film carefully and given it a lot of thought before they spoke, I could hear it in the way they talked about it. So even if some of them were criticizing parts of my film I can understand what they mean and almost agree with them. It also makes me proud and happy that my film is seen seriously and good enough to get criticized.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

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

When I came home from my trip in Israel and Palestine I wrote a travel diary, depicting what I’ve experienced during the days. The text was mostly informative and only describing my activities day by day and my political opinions about Israel and Palestine. So when I’ve written the text I felt like I still had a lot of emotions from the trip that I wanted to share, and this became the starting point for the film.

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

I usually don’t re-watch films, but I just re-watched The Never Ending Story from 1984. Think it’s amazing how relevant it still feels and that the film feels scarier the older I get.

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 and user friendly platform. Specially the feedback section where filmmakers get to review the film festivals according to how they treat their filmmakers. This helps a lot when you decide which festivals are worth the submission fee.

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

That’s a difficult question. I listen to a lot of different kinds of music and it’s a big inspiration for my filmmaking. But I remember when The Sky Was Pink by Nathan Fake in the James Holden remix-version came out and me and my friends would listen to it at least once or twice a night, either at a party or after hours. I can never get tired of this tune.

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

Two things: First of all my film ‘The Bus Trip’ just got on the streaming platform Seed&Spark. So now everyone who hasn’t seen it yet can stream it through either their website, ROKU och APPLE TV.

Here’s the link: https://www.seedandspark.com/watch/the-bus-trip

I’ve also started working on my next animation short film project. This time it’s going to be a sci-fi saga for kids.

the_bus_trip
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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 Animator/Filmmaker Brian Giovanni (WHEN COMES THE RAIN)

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

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

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

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

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

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

‘Misplaced Ambition’ seems appropriate.

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

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

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

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

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 when_comes_the_rain

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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 Animator/Filmmaker Susan Shulman (PURRS AND ‘OL MAN BLUES)

 PURRS AND ‘OL MAN BLUES was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the December 2017 Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Susan Painter: I have a love of music especially the blues and it was inspired by the actual musician Jack Dappa from New York City. I heard his song and it inspired me.

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

3 months of crazy drawing and experimentation.

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

Blues Soul

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

Not having enough technical expertise.

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

I was delighted and thought what they said had merit. It was really great feedback. As artists we need that feedback to continue in our dreams. It’s very important.

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

Again, its my love of music that was the impetus for this concept. Of course I do love cats too!

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

That’s a tough answer but I think what has influenced me in the past was the classic Disney movies like Fantasia and the old black and white felix the cat.

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

I love it. It makes my life easier in submitting!

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

Too many to name but for sure Muddy Waters, I got my mojo working.

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

I just completed a new one called In Our Memories Forever. I hope to submit it to you again this year. It is 2.5 minutes long, I can’t seem to stick to 1 minute. It is about heritage and immigration to Canada in 1900 by boat. I hope you will like it.

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PURRS AND ‘OL MAN BLUES, 2min., Canada, Animation
Directed by Susan ShulmanCool alley cat meets old blues musician and they tour together

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Interview with Animation Filmmaker Marleia A. Alfaro (BARRY THE BLOBFISH)

BARRY THE BLOBFISH played to rave reviews at the December 2017 ANIMATION FEEDBACK Film Festival.

 
Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Marleia A. Alfaro: It’s so difficult to come up with new characters that you’ve never seen in animation before. The story of Barry the Blobfish came about and motivated me to finish because it is a 100% original story, written be myself, of a character that no one else has seen before. I love animation and storytelling so in the hardest times of making the film, this thought, the idea and the story itself and what it represents kept motivating me to make it a reality.

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

I made the screenplay in sophomore year of college, back in 2011. I conceptualized it for a children’s book, but had the drive to major in animation, which it later became and finished as my thesis film for graduate school in May 2017.

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

Different, and quirky

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

Learning throughout the process was a challenge. In school my animation skill began to grow and develop so in some shots I’ve seen my improvement where in others, it feels very stiff to me now. Also as a director I had to focus not only on animation, but getting the textures, lighting, and environment to work in rendering, which I fortunately had the help from teachers and other more talented students.

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

I was nervous in the beginning, but it made me feel great that everything was so positive. I’ve always wondered what others thought about my film watching it while I wasn’t around. It’s not polished or at any professional high standard, but I spent 3 years making it work as an animated film, so of course I want people to like it.

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

I had seen an article on the world’s ugliest animals, and the Blobfish was one of them. When I saw it I had to write a story about him. It kind of came to me with some help with ideas from my sister. We decided he’d be sad and lonely, and have only one small, seemingly insignificant friend, and turned into a simple, fun adventure with a simple message of sometimes you can try your hardest and not reach your goals by yourself.

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

I can probably recite the entire Lilo and stitch film by heart, I’ve seen it so many times. It’s a childhood favorite.

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

It’s incredibly easy to find festivals and submit to festivals via film freeway. I never would’ve thought I could be a part of so many great festivals, and meet so many people who love animation and telling stories like I do.

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

I have a very eclectic collection of music. While working on animation I love listening to instrumentals or score; songs that don’t have words in them, just because it keeps me focused and in the proper mood. When working on Barry, I would always repeat Tabula Rasa by Calum Graham. It’s just guitar, but its very uplifting.

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

I have ideas for new short films and animations. I try to think of something every day. Most of them have been about animals or underwater animals.. but I’m hoping to come up with something simple first just to keep the flow going.

 

 

BARRY THE BLOBFISH, 2min., USA, Animation
Directed by Marleia A. AlfaroBarry is a fat ugly fish that can’t swim and lives at the bottom of the ocean. He longs to live on a beautiful coral reef at the top of a tall, tall cliff.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

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Interview with director Anthony Bennett (MY LITTLE BROTHER)

Anthony’s short film MY LITTLE BROTHER was the winner of BEST FILM at the September 2017 FAMILY FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Anthony Bennett: The film was originally made for Tropfest NZ and the theme for 2017 was ‘flame’ – I interpreted this through merging two ideas; the danger of fire to children and cyberthreats spreading like fire around the world. I decided to have my eldest son narrate the film as he’s a greater reader and tell the story of his little brother, who also had the easiest role in the film with no acting required!

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

About two months

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

Today’s generation

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

Time to polish the narration soundtrack – we were away on holiday with another family in a large shared house and for several days leading up to the submission deadline, the only way I could work on it was to get up at 3am to finish the audio mix (when I was guaranteed total silence)

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

Really surprised and delighted! To hear the detailed comments was very inspiring and it means a lot more knowing how knowledgable your audiences are. It was very humbling indeed and also helped be more outspoken when reviewing other films

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

What film have you seen the most in your life?

It’s close call between Star Wars (the original) and Jaws….probably seen them at least 7 or 8 times over the years through childhood

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

I discovered it by chance as my last film used Withoutabox…..I really like FilmFreeway and so definitely was a great discovery!

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

Probably anything by Boards of Canada…..they have an incredible talent of putting together tracks that are timeless which you can play a hundred times, have a break then go back to it with the same joy of a new track and never grow tired of…….I edited a special video to their track SixtyTen as a personal tribute to the World Trade Center so that track I’ve probably played back over 100 times

What is next for you? A new film?

I’m working on writing a short film and also the outline for a feature film