Interview with Director Tom Skowronski (NOVAK)

Short Film played at the June 2017 Comedy FEEDBACK Film Festival in Los Angeles

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Tom Skowronski: This script was written by Matt Wexler and was a great example of how nothing is more painful than watching really bad stand-up. That combined with the idea of capturing a common film scenario in a new way were the big motivating factors in making this project.

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

About 3 months.

How would you describe your short film in two words!

Dark comedy.

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

Mixing practical in-camera effects with VFX.

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

It was actually really nice to hear the positive feedback and we all really appreciated the experience.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the short film:

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

The idea of using stand-up as an interrogation tool was created by Matt Wexler. As a stand-up comic, he has witnessed some pretty bad sets which is how the idea was born.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Either Rapid Fire or Streets Of Fire. Definitely something with “fire” in the title.

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

Probably the Ultimate Warrior’s theme song.

What is next for you? A new film?

I don’t know.

____
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 twice a month, and every other month in Los Angeles. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.
Advertisements

Interview with director Jon James Smith (DO NOT DISTURB)

Jon James Smith’s short film “DO NOT DISTURB” played to great success at the August 2016 HORROR Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jon James Smith: My motivation for making the film boils down to two things. Firstly I had a story and ideas I desperately wanted to share with audiences. Secondly because I want to get my first feature made, and I felt this would be a good calling card for my ability and tastes as a writer and director. This is my second short as a director, and I felt my first didn’t reflect what I’m capable of doing, so wanted to make something I’d be proud of, no matter how long it took.

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

JJS: I wrote the script in one night pretty much instantly from getting the idea. Being based in the UK and having pretty much no contacts in LA, the film took about a year to get going. The actual shoot was only for three days, but I spent a year and a half on post production.

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

JJS: Audience manipulation.

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

JJS: I think the biggest obstacle is always yourself mentally. Funding a short film yourself and spending years of your life on it doesn’t make any logical sense, but you do it because you love making movies and because you have to. In terms of production, the hardest thing to deal with was trying to get a movie going on hardly any money, the other side of the world in LA with a load of people you’ve never met. If I make a movie in the UK, I’m familiar with the locations, I know people, I can pull in favors, and spend time doing things myself. Face to face you can get people excited and bring them on board emotionally so they care about the film almost as much as you do. But having to do everything via email, trusting people you’ve never met, and with an eight hour time difference, gave the process an exciting and terrifying edge. Eventually I found the right producer and everything fell into place.

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

JJS: I think most directors initial natural reaction to criticism and genuine feedback is a negative one, because you want everyone to say your movie is the best thing they’ve ever seen, so you tend to focus on the criticism and don’t take in the positives. You’re really putting yourself out there when you make a movie, so its like a piece of you that’s being put on stage and spoken about. But when you take a step back from that and realize that honest unbiased criticism is so valuable and hard to come by, you can use it to learn and grow. If someones feedback hurts its because its probably true and if you can digest that then you will improve at your craft. I found it a unique experience, seeing an audience on the other side of the world freely talk about something I created. When you attend festivals with your movie, audiences either say nice stuff to you or don’t speak. I wish I’d always get that level of honesty from screenings. The feedback gave me insight into a few of my bad habits as a writer and director, and told me some things I do well.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Film:

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

JJS: It wasn’t so much that I had an idea for a story or characters, but that I wanted to experiment with manipulating and toying with the audience. I was really just playing around, and a small story crafted itself.

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

JJS: As a kid I used to obsessively re-watch action movies I had taped onto VHS from the TV. So probably something like ‘The Last Action’. I saw it on TV the other day for the first time in at least a decade and realized I knew every word of dialogue.

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

JJS: Late last year I returned to LA and entered the Shriekfest commercial competition and somehow we won! Right now I’m focusing on trying to get my first feature made, which is an intense paranormal horror film that continues to explore the idea of audience manipulation. I’m also writing a horror short on the side. The feature film could realistically take years to get off the ground or never even happen, so I want to keep creating content and working on my craft until something bites.

do_not_disturb_3.jpg

_____

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/animator Mads Johan Øgaard (I AM DYSLEXIC)

Mads Johan Øgaard’s short film “I AM DYSLEXIC” was the winner of Best Film at the December 2016 Animation Short Film Festival.

Perhaps one of the best films to show at the festival in 2016. A film that received great acclaim from the audience

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Mads Johan Øgaard: I realized that not many talk about learning differences such as dyslexia. I wanted to share my story, I learned how to turn my struggles into an advantage, and I believed that my views and story could potentially help others. Wanted to show what it feels like being dyslexic in today’s society.

As I often say: I want to help my 10 year old self and give him the support he should have received.

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

MJØ: I had the idea in my head for a long time! But from when I really started to develop the idea at the end of second year of my animation bachelors,it took one year and 3 months to finish it.

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

MJØ: DYSLEXIA AWARENESS!

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

MJØ: Actually writing the script, I almost didn’t make the film due to struggling so much with the script, because of my dyslexic struggles which caused me great anxiety and stress.

I knew what I wanted, I just wasn’t able to get it out and down on the paper.

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

MJØ: I cried, seeing the audience express that they can relate to the feelings that I wanted to show, its truly truly amazing and very emotional for me… thank you so much! I am so proud and grateful!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Film:

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

MJØ: Continuing from point 1 – In the beginning the film was a very close addoption of my life dealing with dyslexia, in animated form with some sequences where the boy where climbing the mountain.

It evolved away from being about my life and more and more about the struggles and emotions that I felt through school, one of my biggest struggles as a kid, was homework. I spent 6 hours or more after school every day fighting homework. So the mountain of books was a huge part from the very beginning.

I always liked the film Cast Away with Tom Hanks, and it was a huge inspiration for plot, the main character and the world.

It is important to note that without my crew the film would never been this good!

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

MJØ: Hehe, ever since I was a kid I was a huge Disney fan, so the Disney classics. I know I’ve worn out a few VHS tapes.
Ranging from the shorts especially the Donald Duck ones to the feature films.

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

MJØ: Because of I AM DYSLEXIC, I decided to do a Master in special educational needs, which I currently are doing at Exeter University in England.

I also recently done illustrations for a information book about dyslexia for children, teens, in collaboration with Dyslexia Norway and Infoliten.no. The book launch will be in Eldorado book store, Oslo, the 09 of March.

And I am really considering starting a youtube channel, talking about learning differences. I AM DYSLEXIC have showed me how much I can share with the world, and receiving several emails everyday from people who have seen the film only further motivates me, so lets what the future brings! 😀

I AM DYSLEXIC have opened many opportunities for me! And for that I am truly grateful for.

If you are interested my art and what I do, please consider following me :

Mads Johan Øgaard:
Website: madsjohanogaard.com
Instagram: madsjohanogaard

Tumblr: madsjohanogaard.tumblr.com

Twitter: @MadsJohanOgaard

i_am_dyslexic_2.jpg

_____

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 Daniel Greenwald (A Few Rubber Bands More)

Daniel Greenwald directed  the short film Western/Comedy “A Few Rubber Bands More”, which was showcased at the Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival in December 2016. The film received rave reviews from the audience and was awarded “Best Cinematography” at the festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Daniel Greenwald: Film making was a passion of mine since childhood and I can remember being most impressed by movies that feature dynamic cinematography on the backdrop of natural scenery. I was eager to challenge myself by shooting something that used the cinematography as a story telling element. What I like about A Few Rubber Bands More is that it uses the over the top shots and camera movements not just for the sake of trying to impress, but to create a discrepancy between the seriousness of the visuals and the ridiculousness of what is actually taking place. This film represented an opportunity for me to grow as a film maker by shooting some action for the first time as well as attempting to create some epic shots.

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

DG: I originally had the image of a stand off with rubber bands a while back but let it sit in the back of my mind until I had the means to actually shoot it. Between actually writing the short to shooting there were about three weeks during which I wrote my shot list and found actors and crew. Filming took half a day, and then editing and scoring took another few weeks. All in all the project took about three months to produce.

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

DG: Epically quirky!

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

DG: As this film represented many firsts for me, I found it most difficult to maintain continuity once all three characters moved away from one another. Although this is rather basic, there was a moment when I was filming each character in different places, moving in different directions, and, as I had never done that before, it was hard for me to clearly conceptualize how to shoot them in a way which allows the audience to understand each of their positions in space. I had to stop and consider my shots carefully while racing the setting sun. At the end of the day I feel that I learned a lot about showing a character’s space.

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

DG: Fortunately I had the opportunity to attend the festival and experience it in person. I remember feeling both excited and nervous about what people would say. I was so relieved when I actually heard people laugh while the short was playing. The first person to speak seemed very critical of the exaggerated and extended action. Although I respected his opinion, I was nervous that the reviews would be negative. After that however, people remarked that they enjoyed the subtle humor in the action and that gave me more confidence that the nuance written into the script had come across on film. I very much enjoyed hearing people’s reactions and seeing what stood out to people, good or bad. The discussion made this an even more educational experience for me.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

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

DG: I was in my college apartment and procrastinating very successfully while listening to music from a spaghetti western by Ennio Morricone. The image of two men in a Mexican stand off shooting each other with deadly rubber bands came to mind, I am not really sure why. When I later sat down to write a script, it turned into a little bit more than just a shoot out with the short character exposition seen in the opening.

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

DG: I have probably seen The Lord of the Rings more than any other movie; most likely the third one but the trilogy in general.

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

DG: I am currently studying for my PsyD in clinical psychology but I hope to make another film soon. I want to make a short using stop animation and light art photography. I also want to make a short based on true events about soldiers in the First World War.

a_few_rubber_bands_more_movie_poster

_____

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 Yama Rauf (NO WOMAN)

Yama Rauf’s film from Afghanistan “NO WOMAN” played to rave reviews at the November 2016 Under 5 Minute FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Yama Rauf: There was a women’s day film festival in my home town Mazar-i-Sharif, where I made this film for competition and it won best film prize. I am from a country where patriarchy is dominated the society, but I strongly believe in man and woman equality and I am fighting for it.

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

YR: It took around 2 weeks from idea to finished product. The most exciting part is when you see the results every single moment in post production.

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

YR: Equal unequally

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

YR: We shot it in a desert, there were awful winds and rains unexpectedly. we had to flow the mask in a way we wanted, but it wasn’t working with the normal fans we had, because we were in a desert where wind is a true rebel. Eventually we made it by dozens takes. Also, we had to leave the location before evenings for security reasons.

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

YR: I think it’s so cool to see what others think of your film. The presenter and the two other women were great at interpretation of film. It was an amazing experience to see people from other side of the globe talking about your film.

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEO:

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

YR: I thought of general obstacles for women in Islamic countries, like, there is always a way and of course there are aspirations at the very end of the way and a bad guy. So let’s put some women on this way and make it a film.

Besides, I had a feminist peom of my own. The mask part is adopted from that. It says:

For those men, whom
mocking femininity
but behaving like a lion themselves
seem to have lived like a man.

Lion is symbol of bravery, a good leadership and success in our culture. Where some men thinks they are lions, but they forget they are human not lions.

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

YR: I don’t usually see films twice, unless some of the scenes for educational reasons. I watch a lot of short films, almost daily.

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

YR: My next project is a short documentary on a young Afghan refugee in Denmark, where he suffers from the back pain with no health insurance. The DK government has denied to give him residence permit. This short doc gonna be under 10 minutes.

_____

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

_____

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 Sébastien Vanicek (MAYDAY)

Sébastien Vanicek’s short film MAYDAY played to rave reviews at the October 2016 Horror/Thriller Film Festival.

It was a pleasure to interview him about his film and what’s next:

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Sébastien Vanicek: I have a tremendous phobia of airplanes. So I started to write a movie about a guy who drinks too much to forget that he´s frightened. It started like that and I must confess that at the time I had no idea that the film would become the story of a psychopath / rapist / crazy bold guy who has sexual and degusting visions and will enjoy to see the plane crash!

I wrote the first version in two days, and we re-worked it with Mathieu Abes and Etienne Ement. From there, the film became an ode to the dark passenger we all have in ourselves, an ode to voyeurism, with an anti-hero who, instead of saving lives during a plane crash makes them… do things!!

That’s kind of motivating!

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

SV: Etienne (the Producer) and I were working on a big sci-fi project for about a year and half when we decided that the film was too big for our small production company which only was an association of friends at this time. A team of about twenty members was already involved in the project and we had about 1500€ in our pockets.

So I took two days off and wrote the first version of Mayday.

When I gave it to Etienne, we thought we had to do it really fast to keep the energy we had.

Etienne succesfully found a plane two weeks after, and after the re-writing process we immediatly started to shoot. The whole process took about 2 months.

We had one year of post-production. All of our friends who worked on the film were volunteers and worked in their free time. That’s why it took us so long.

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

SV: It’s an ode to voyeurism.

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

SV: I think it was to make the audience believe in our plane, and its crash. We had a small budget (1500€), and nothing more than a fake plane made and a few crazy people inside it. So we only had cameras and lights tricks, friends moving their bodies like possesed people, a bit of vfx and the sound to made you believe in this crash!

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

SV: It was kind of strange! We’re so far away here in France, and we made this film basically with nothing more than a strong friendship and fun! We are so honored to see it travel like this. And when I saw people I never met talking about it, have reactions, and REALLY PRECISE comments (which were all true and very pertinent), I think the first emotion, which traveled inside me was pride!

For a young director, to see people react to yout little baby made with nothing is strange, exciting, and powerful at the same time!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film:

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

SV: I think I already answered this question in the first one. My strong phobia of the plane, the energy surrounding us at this time to make a fun and powerful film. I think that deep inside of us, there was also the will of making people trust in us by making a believable film with nothing and have their confidence for the future, for bigger projets…

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

SV: I think it’s Darren Aronifsky’s Pi.

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

SV: Yes, we are working on a movie about dogs fights. Stay tuned.

mayday_movie_poster.jpg

_____

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 tohttp://www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.