Interview with Filmmaker Christopher Mack (HOPE IS FRENCH)

HOPE IS FRENCH played to rave reviews at the Comedy Feedback Film Festival in September 2019.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Christopher Mack: Cat poop! 🙂 My cat had pooped in the hallway, and it gave me an idea.

And I wanted to have fun and make a film that explored both hope and despair in a kind of silly way.

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

I wrote it in September 2018. I got the production together and filmed it in May 2019. The edit was finished at the end of September 2019

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

Always hope

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

Time and money. And working with a cat! 🙂

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

Fascinated. It is rare and exciting to get a chance to hear what total strangers took from my film. I think it is very valuable to understand how my film is scene.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Same as answer to one: Cat poop! 🙂 My cat had pooped in the hallway, and it gave me an idea. And I think everyone has had bad days. How we react to the highs and lows is the stuff of high tragedy or great comedy.

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

That’s a hard one. The Sweet Hereafter by Atom Egoyan? Blue Velvet? Not sure. There are too many!

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

It is an expensive platform, and sometimes there is inconstancy between Filmfreeway and the various festivals, but it is great that it exists!

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

I would think it would be a Johnny Cash song

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

Working on several short films! Have a couple of feature film scripts I wrote and I’d love to explore, but I am no good at getting financing!
I am trying to film on a smartphone with an anamorphic lens. Fingers crossed it works.

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Interview with Filmmaker Martin Sofiedal (SIRI WITH A VENGEANCE)

SIRI WITH A VENGEANCE played to rave reviews at the Comedy Feedback Film Festival in September 2019.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Martin Sofiedal: I had done simpler sketches for a long while, and I really wanted to do something really cinematic, and up my game visually. But I knew I still needed a simple setting to make it more doable and affordable, I didn’t want to bit over more than I could chew. I suddenly remembered a sketch I did many years ago, it was also called “Siri with a vengeance” and had the same premise: Siri taking the protagonist hostage with a bomb while referencing the bad guy from Die Hard 3. So I got an added motivation: Can I remake my own short film? Making it better visually and story-wise? The stage was set.

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

As this really a remake the main idea was already there when I started this production, but I did a new draft, adding the whole Android vs Iphone theme which wasn’t in the original, and also beefed up and fit the dialogue to fit my actor, Samuel David, who I knew was going to act in it before I even started writing. We had a couple of days of pre-production, one long production day, and a longer post-production period. As this whole film was made on the side, myself and my crew also had paid jobs we had to do, it’s hard to say exactly how many days we spent on the film. But from the day I wrote the new draft till we had a finished film it took roughly two and a half month, but actual production time was maybe one third of that.

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

Timely absurd.

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

I would say finding the perfect location, because that was the biggest outlier, we had everything else ready, crew and equipment. And we knew we needed a location that had a unique look, had lots of room, and felt more international, since we were basically making an american film. At the same time it is kind of not entirely true that it was the biggest challenge, because we got the tip about this house pretty fast after we started asking around, and it was the first place we scouted. So with a big stroke of luck we found the perfect place very quickly, so maybe it’s more correct to say we thought it would be our biggest obstacle. Apart from that it was the usual challenges, running out of time and stuff like that, but nothing that we couldn’t handle or foresee.

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

Just smiling, I’ve never seen something like that before, and as I mentioned above it was so fun hearing thoughts around the film I hadn’t thought about myself.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I wish I could remember, but I believe I had recently watched Die Hard 3, and in that movie the bad guy, Simon, plays a sinister game of “Simon Says” with John McClane through the phone, and at some point I made a connection where I thought “what if Siri did the same thing to a person?”. And I just spun onward from there. As I mentioned earlier, in the original sketch it was only Siri and no Google Assistant (which didn’t exist yet at the time), and the whole thing was that Siri was just tired of all the verbal abuse from the protagonist. I believe the idea to implement Google Assistant in the remake came after talking with my producer Marius (who is a tech-head) who mentioned that there is a big ongoing smart phone “war” between Android and iphone loyalists. And with that I felt the film had more to say than just Siri being angry, now she had a bigger reason to be angry.

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

Probably “Shaun of the dead”. That film has shaped me as a filmmaker. I saw it when I had just started film school, and it just opened my eyes to how much style and unique humor you can have in films.

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

Great! It is so easy use and submit films, so yeah, just great!

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

Wow, impossible question! I have periods where I hear one song more than others, hear is a random small collection (out of many many more obviously):
Childish Gambino – Heartbeat
Maroon 5 – Moves Like Jagger
Timilon – Samma det (norwegian hiphop song made by a friend of mine)
Dean Martin – Heaven can wait
Henry Jackman – The Twelve Towers (Yes, that is from the Uncharted 4 soundtrack, I’m a nerd :-P)

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

I am releasing my first feature film here in Norway on November the 11th, a treasure hunt adventure film called “Benjamin Falck and the ghost dagger”. I am also prepping a new action sktech called “Gumslingers” which we’ll shoot in October, an absurd action short heavily inspired by “Kingsman” that includes lethal bubblegum, I’ll say no more 😉

Siri with a vengeance is online and can be found here:

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Interview with Filmmaker Ralph Klisiewicz (COLLIDE)

COLLIDE was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the September 2019 Chicago FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ralph Klisiewicz: I have made a few short films and by this point I was addicted to the process of filmmaking. I saw a series of short plays written by Mark Chrisler that have really impressed me and I wanted him to write my next short film. In addition, we wanted to make a film that would play to the acting strengths of Heather Chrisler, who is a Jeff Award nominated stage actor in Chicago. Up to this point I have worked with her on few short roles and a music video. However, we wanted to create something dramatic and a character driven.

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

Once the script was written it took about a year before we could get everyone’s schedule aligned. I remember Heather had a very busy stage schedule. She called me saying she has two weeks free at the end of August to film a project. We rushed through all the prep and got the project ready to film in about a week. Jalen (Lover) and Heather just finished a play at Victory Gardens so it was a smooth transition for them to the film set. Luke (Tim) had worked with me on my previous short film, so I was comfortable with him and he with me. We had three major shooting days at three locations, and a few short pickups. The editing process was rather smooth. At the artist’s loft, where we filmmed the sex scene, we build a quick studio where we recorded the score in three days. In summary, filming and all the post-production was about a 2 month process.

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

Truth Colliding.

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

As always, scheduling! We all have our own projects, jobs, and other commitments so getting everyone on the same page is always difficult.

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

The comments focused mainly on the motives of the main character, Salie. I have gained an appreciation on the diversity of conclusions made about the film’s protagonist. The feedback clearly illustrated that each viewer has a distinct psychology that colors his/her perception of the film. Moreover, the responses also illustrate that our film has layers that speak differently to each viewer.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Mark Chrilser wrote the script. The themes of his plays and other work often deal with interplay of truth and lie.

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

I can’t point to a specific film. However, there are a few filmmakers whose work I have watched repeatedly. The filmmakers that inspire me the most are, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, Danny Boyle, and Denis Villeneuve

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

I think the FilmFreeway platform is great. The process is smooth and straightforward.

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

I go through phases where I listen to one particular artist more than others. The range is wide, anything between Chopin, Deamau5, Bjork to Metalica. However, I have likely listen to Nine Inch Nails and Pink Floyd more than anything else.


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

I am making a short sci-fi thriller “The Artifact”. This film will be based on themes of technology, psychology and philosophy. Minds will be literally and figuratively be blown.

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