Interview with Filmmakers Ilana Gordon & Jaime Lyn Beatty (DESIGNATED RIDER)

DESIGNATED RIDER was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the Comedy Festival in August 2020.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ilana: Jaime Lyn and I met years ago when we both were doing comedy in Chicago. I immediately fell in love and started plotting ways to trick her into working with me on something. When we both ended up in LA, the stars aligned, and we managed to find a stretch of free time to work on this.

Jaime Lyn: “Designated Rider” was inspired by my experience as a New Yorker adjusting to life in Los Angeles. In the film, Jenny sees her inability to drive as a part of her New York identity, and she clings to it at all costs. In her mind, learning how to drive would mean giving up a part of herself. However, she lacks the confidence to admit this and instead falls victim to her need to “fit in”. In the film, Ilana and I wanted to show the lengths to which people will go to protect their identity, even if it means sometimes compromising their integrity.

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

Ilana: Almost exactly one year. We came up with the concept in July of 2019 and shot the first weekend in January 2020. Because we had such a small budget and we’re entirely self-financed, it took a while to finish post production. But it was a huge relief to have something creative to propel us through the horrors of 2020.

Jaime Lyn: Approximately 9 months…and 2.5 days.

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

Ilana: Whimsically anxious

Jaime Lyn: “A Tour de Awkward!” (oops, that’s 4)

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

Ilana: Scheduling. The problem with working with excellent people is they tend to be busy. It took us months to pin down a time when we could all film, and we had to revise the script to cut out another character because we couldn’t get everyone’s schedules to match up. If we had shot as planned, the ending would have been completely different.

Jaime Lyn: Aligning people’s schedules! Our cast and crew were very talented and therefore VERY busy. Typical LA!

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

Ilana: Delighted and proud. Completing this film was such a long process, and I second guessed a lot of the choices I made. Seeing our creative vision translating to viewers feels really validating and gives me more confidence in my artistic decision making.

Jaime Lyn: “Wow they are really kind! Are these Canadians??”

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Ilana: It was ripped from the headlines of Jaime Lyn’s real life. She is NYC born and bred, does not have a license, and her stories of trying to get around the city for auditions and rehearsals gave us a great entry point for this character.

Jaime Lyn: See above…. Ilana also did a fantastic job writing a story that incorporated all the resources we had at our disposal for free!

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

Ilana: “Mighty Ducks 2”

Jaime Lyn: Honestly, “A Christmas Story” but a *better* answer would be
“American Beauty”

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

Ilana: Big fan! We’re still baby filmmakers, so having a platform that aggregates submissions and makes everything easy to track is huge for us. We would never have known about this festival if it wasn’t for Film Freeway.

Jaime Lyn: It’s very special to see video reactions with real humans. It makes the feedback feel real and not from robots.

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

Ilana: “Copperline” by James Taylor

Jaime Lyn: Honestly, the song that’s in the opening credits of “A Christmas Story” but a *better* answer would be “Both Times Now” by Joni Mitchell

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

Ilana: Hopefully! The process is addicting, and I have a few things I’d love to shoot as soon as it’s safe to do so. I’m also juggling a bunch of writing projects that are in various stages of not done, so it would be dope to cross a few of those off.

Jaime Lyn: Something tells me there’s an avocado toast in my immediate future…I also recently made a film called “ÇA VA” about a puppet trying to find meaning in his life during the pandemic.

Interview with Filmmaker Jeffrey John Eyamie (S0, WHAT DO YOU THINK?)

S0, WHAT DO YOU THINK? played to rave reviews at the August 2020 COMEDY Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jeffrey John Eyamie: I wrote this piece as a fun, slice-of-life kind of pop song … something short and sweet and universal. When it came time to direct it, the film became a love letter to my wife, whose artwork is featured in the film. Karen Tusa also motivated me to make this film when she said, “hey Jeff, I want to make this script you wrote and I want you to direct it!”

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

We had a draft of this script sitting in a drawer for about three years. From the time Karen pulled it out of the drawer to production was about two months. We shot it in one day. Post-production took about four months. A lot of work from a lot of people for a four-minute piece of sugar pie!

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

Cleverly.

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

Thankfully, we had just completed things when COVID hit. So the biggest obstacle is really getting the film in front of people! If a film screens in front of no one, does it exist? We are very thankful for WildSOUND and everyone involved with this festival, where our film made its world premiere.

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

Honestly, it is very humbling to hear kind words about something you created. I am very proud to have been part of the team that forged this piece and helped me execute a vision. The whole point of living is to connect. When you hear someone say you have successfully made something they felt connected to, it couldn’t be more satisfying. It makes me want to make more stuff!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

It came straight out of my id. Who hasn’t done that dance, where you want to be supportive but you know your mouth is going to get you in trouble? Oh, it’s just me? Shit.

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

After going through four months of post-production on this film, it would be this film. However, I have seen the Planet of the Apes sequels from the 60s an obscene number of times. Apocalypse Now. A Clockwork Orange. Clearly I didn’t get past the A section of Blockbuster.

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

What an amazing service. FilmFreeway takes care of so much legwork for filmmakers and connects the filmmaker to the world. Couldn’t be happier with FilmFreeway.

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

Well, The King of Wishful Thinking by Mr. Mister and I Think We’re Alone Now by Tiffany were played daily on the musak at the restaurant where I worked as a teen … Spotify tells me my most listened-to artists are Underworld, Kendrick Lamar, Tool and Mastodon.

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

Watch for my next novel, Still Me, coming out this fall across Canada with Turnstone Press! It takes place entirely on golf courses. Filmwise I am working on a horror comedy about killer dad jokes, in collaboration with my teenage daughter. More info about me? http://www.eyamie.com

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Interview with Filmmaker/Musician Wendy Lenhart (6 FEET CLOSER TO YOU)

6 FEET CLOSER TO YOU was the winner of BEST SOUND & MUSIC at the August 2020 Comedy Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Wendy Lenhart: Our bass player, Ryan, had the idea for the song and wrote it. Once he shared it with all of us, we knew we needed to record it and turn it into a music video because this is a song that people would really relate to.

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

Ryan wrote the song over a few days. It took us a couple of weeks to figure out how to record it together remotely. During that time we were talking about the video, but to actually make the video we recorded it all in a 40 minute Zoom call. We did two takes and the call literally ended the second we finished our last take. The timing was amazing.

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

Quarantine Love

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

Probably recording the music. We all had a lot of technical difficulties. I ended up having to sing the song entirely in my closet to block out all of the ambient noises. I live on a busy street in South Philadelphia and when something like a garbage truck goes by, you know it!

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

Oh I was so nervous! I didn’t want to watch- I already don’t like watching myself on screen! But all the feedback was so great and so positive that I’ve shared it a lot since the initial show. And people’s reactions were exactly what we were going for and that’s really satisfying- especially right now.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

We had a lot of different ideas for what the video would look like. Performing in PPE. Shooting a more literal version of the song. Stitch together a lot of people dancing. I think all of those ideas were great, but at the end of the day we felt that the video had to be relatable the way the song was relatable. And what’s more relatable than a Zoom call right now?

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

Oh that’s a good question. I’m not sure, I want to say it probably has Muppets in it. Maybe Muppets Take Manhattan?

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

It was very easy. It’s a great set-up. We may be a little atypical as far as users go because we are submitting sketch comedy music videos.

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

It would definitely be a song by the Beatles. I listened to the White Album a lot during Junior High, but I think I’ve lapped it now with the megasong on the second side of Abbey Road.

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

Right now we’re trying to figure out the logistics for doing a virtual concert in the next few months. We just started practicing outdoors in person, but I need to buy a canopy for my backyard in case it rains. We’re also working on recording some more songs and maybe putting together our second album.

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Interview with Filmmaker Victor McGowan (POGONOPHOBIA)

POGONOPHOBIA was awarded BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the August 2020 COMEDY Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Victor McGowan: After meeting the writer at a funeral (of all places) I was immediately taken by his elevator pitch for his script; “A young man who is afraid of beards”. That’s all it took to pique my interest and once I read it, I knew it was a winner.

Also, having Tom Ryan come on board as director was such a privilege for me as I am a fan of his work and was eager to find a project for the two of us. His vision and leadership on set was instrumental to the film being what it is.
Victor McGowan

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

Nearly two years!

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

Quirky, sweet

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

The stars aligned for us during the production so the only obstacle was the usual issues you have with low budget films e.g finite shooting schedule, long hours etc.

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

I was very taken by everyone’s connection to it. We hoped that it would stand out amongst other shorts shown at festivals and that was evident in the reaction video!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

It was the brainchild of the writer, Damian Ryan who is an up and coming star.

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

Probably Pulp Fiction, I know the film by heart.

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

I love it! Their filters are very efficient and it’s reassuring that you’re not submitting to a scam!

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

I think, ‘Without Me’ by Eminem.

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

I have another short, ‘Stacey’s Place’ that’s currently doing the festival route. I am also in development with another producer, Dominic Wright of Ripple World Pictures, for a political satire set in Ireland during the Cold War!

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Interview with Filmmaker Katrina Cebreiro (FEDERAL APPROVED PARENT)

FEDERAL APPROVED PARENT was awarded BEST FILM at the August 2020 COMEDY Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Katrina Cebreiro: The time that we live in motivated me to make the film. It’s crazy times! Also the idea of who is really qualified to become a parent? It’s kind of weird to think that anyone, legally can become a parent if they wish, yet the government screens us if we want to buy a gun or we are interviewed if we want a job. But there are no qualifications to become a parent! Even if the government was to regulate on that aspect it would feel a bit too much like a tyranny.

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

I had this idea for awhile. I really wanted to shoot something, but we were in quarantine. So I looked through all my old ideas and picked the one that was easiest and safest to shoot quarantine style. It took 6 hours to shoot and about a week or two in post production.

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

Approved parenthood.

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

When editing, it’s hard to decide what take to use when it comes to comedic storytelling. Initially it seems funny, but after hearing it over and over again, you start to question if it’s actually funny. So I’d go back and forth, replacing takes.

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

Scared! And then relieved because they had a lot of great comments!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I was having trouble getting pregnant and when I finally did four years later, I lost the baby. So I felt it unfair that it’s so easy for other people to have babies, but not myself. And then I thought if I am even qualified? What if we all had to be approved by the government for parenthood. Who would actually make the cut?

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

Thirteen and It’s a Beautiful Life!

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

Really easy to use!

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

Let it Be by the Beatles.

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

Yes. My first feature film!

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Interview with Filmmaker Patrick Stagg (THE BIG PICTURE)

THE BIG PICTURE played to rave reviews at the May 2020 Comedy Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Patrick Stagg: We wanted to make something funny that was short and to the point while trying to convey something I’m sure a lot of filmmakers can relate to.

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

Surprisingly this is just the opening scene of a much longer film we made that unfortunately never got finished. But a year later we decided to release the contained clip on its own.

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

Relatable schlock.

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

The heat definitely. Gets pretty hot during Wisconsin summers.

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

It was somewhat surreal. Like “wow somebody actually watched our stuff?”

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The actor portraying the kid walking was obviously untrained and would take direction really oddly while trying to “act natural.” So we made fun of him for it until the idea popped into my head one day to shoot it.

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

Probably M. Night Shama-lama-ding-dong’s 2002 movie Signs. Great film.

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

I think it makes it really easy for up and coming filmmakers to get the layout of how festivals work. It’s just awesome.


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

Hmm. I think maybe Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin.

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

Yes. We are currently in production for our new film PROBED. It is a sci-if romantic comedy that should release later this year! You’ll be able to find it at Waterhousefilms on YouTube.

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Interview with Filmmaker Jonathan Levy (UNLEASHED)

UNLEASHED played to rave reviews at the WILDsound Comedy Festival in May 2020.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jonathan Levy: This was my first, so part of it was just wanting to make a film. I’m surrounded by great actors many of whom are also friends and wanted to make something with them.

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

It took 9 months.

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

dog man

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

Believing I could actually get a crew and production in order in New York City, where everything is complicated!

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

I actually found it really uplifting and strangely encouraging, and incredibly diverse. Everyone highlighted different moments, but there were also so agreed upon favorite parts which is actually really helpful for my future work and things to keep leaning into.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I was hanging out at Nick(the actor who plays Nate) and he had to leave me and some friends at his apartment while he went on a wild tour of NYC for a night of dog sitting, feeding and walking and I thought it would make for a fun story.

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

Raising Arizona

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

Very easy to use and I would imagine saves days if not weeks of my life in a more manual method or on a less organized site. A little expensive, but otherwise I like it.

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

“Burned” by Buffalo Springfield

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

Yes, I’m working on a weed horror film.

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Interview with Filmmaker Tim Owens (NO FILTER)

NO FILTER played to rave reviews at the May 2020 COMEDY Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Tim Owens: This was an exercise to me as a filmmaker, expand on a funny or interesting idea and see if we can make it into a complete idea. The motivation really came from instagram – everyone posting #NoFilter pics – I could’t help but think that we’ve always had filters in real life when we drink too much.

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

On that plane ride (about 5 hrs) I wrote the story, thought about locations, and used the wifi to text 2 comedian friends of mine. We landed in NY around 11a, stopped by a prop shop for the HMU, called a local bar (that knows me way too well), and secured the actors. We shot it in my hotel room, and a bar that was on the corner of the street. We spent about 4 hrs shooting the entire film and edited it within a week.

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

Beer Goggles.

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

We were in NY for an unrelated project, so the biggest obstacle was fitting in the one day shoot into our one day pre-pro – that was suppose to be the same day.


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

Love this. It was amazing to hear and see the feedback. That they got the simple joke and it made them laugh or smile. That’s all I really want with anything I make — to see that the audience was moved in some way. This was may favorite part of the entire process.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I was on a flight to NYC and laughing with one of my producers. We were headed there for an un-related project. We were talking about beer goggles and how funny It would be to make a short film about the after math of meeting someone in a bar. (We were way off topic to what we were suppose to be discussing). Quickly thereafter, No Filter was born.

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

Randomly enough – Breakfast at Tiffany’s haha (not joking)

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

I really like the process, its simple and easy to understand, easy to update and edit. I’m a fan.

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

Just one?? Well Spotify tells me my most played is Low-Fi Hip Hop, apparently I have too much stress in my life and need more chill music.

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

We’re going to continue making more short comedies here is our latest. It’s Therapeutic. But we are working on a feature length documentary following up and coming comedians in the Village (NYC).

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Interview with Filmmaker Anders Teig (RUBBISH ROBBERS)

RUBBISH ROBBERS was the winner of BEST FILM at the May 2020 Comedy Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Anders Teig: I wanted to give myself a challenge. Make a film that is fun, full of action and holds the audience attention. And to do it in just one location.

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

It took quite a few years. After a couple of years I read through my computer and looked at all my unproduced scripts and I found I had forgotten much of it, and thought it was quite funny. So I hooked up with the producing company DUOfilm, and they jumped on board straight away. We finished it in may 2019, and that was seven years after the first draft. Getting lost in the hard drive took two years, and the rest was getting it fully funded.

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

Bloody crazy

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

Apart from getting enough money to be able to pay everyone it was to get the haze from the hole through the floor and exhaust pipe. We had one smoke machine, and it worked perfectly every day until it was supposed to be used in the production. We had to create much of it in post. Luckily, the guy who trained the fly for our film is also a great VFX guy. Who would have thought?

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

I wanted to reach out through the screen and give them all a bear hug.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I am a big fan of Calle, our main protagonist, who is Norways premier comedian. As soon as I had figured out the setting, I imagined him being part of a gang of robbers, and how that would turn out. I always hoped he would take the part if we were going to shoot it, and we were really lucky to have him.

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

Groundhog Day.

..

Groundhog Day.

..

Groundhog Day.

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

I think this is by far the best way for sure, although it has some shortcomings. To find festivals that have comedy categories is hard work, but finding comedy themed festivals is easy. Also the submissions are not very personal, it all becomes much more personal as soon as the festivals get in contact. I am also missing a feature where I can see which festivals has seen the screening copy. But all in all, a good way to get a film to festivals.

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

Penny Lane by the Beatles

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

I have a lot in the pipeline, but the first things I am doing is directing two shorts. One is a part of a mentorship workshop where teenagers who are either in film education or who are into filmmaking gets to be part of a professional film shoot. There will be up and coming actors in front of the camera, and the script is written by a young screenwriter. Im thrilled to be asked to be a director on this, its such a great project, and the film will be sent around to film festivals when we finish.

And later in the summer I am shooting a 25 minute period short, that has been eight years in the making. I wrote it in 2012, and in march 2020 we got the final funding for it. So I’m very excited to finally getting behind the camera on that project.

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