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 Andi Osho (AMBER)

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

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stalker mystery!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What film have you seen the most in your life?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is next for you? A new film?

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

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

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

 

Interview with Director Jana Stackhouse (THE MAN WHO DOESN’T SLEEP)

Jana’s short film THE MAN WHO DOESN’T SLEEP played to rave reviews at the August 2017 FEMALE Feedback Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

The minute writer and producer Adrian Morphy pitched the idea I knew it was a story we needed to tell together. Then he wrote this beautiful script with wonderfully complex character that were both in search of something. It’s a story of fulfillment and what it means to be alive.

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

Adrian began writing the script in August 2015, we had two months to really find the character’s voices and round out the story. We shot over four days and had the first cut within another month. We had to pause on the film as both Adrian and I were working on other projects. So we finished it in the summer of 2016.

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

Beautifully heartbreaking.

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

The whole process for us was incredibly rewarding, and most of it went quite quickly. Once our first cut of the film was finished life got in the way. We weren’t able to keep working on it because we were both so busy with other films. So thankfully we had a few weeks off in the summer of 2016 and made the commitment to finish The Man Who Doesn’t Sleep.

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

I was thrilled that people seemed to pick up on so many of the themes and metaphors. During pre-production – and even while on set – you can become obsessed with tiny details that you think no one will ever see or understand. So when an audience member mentions the female/male gaze, or repeats a line that resonated with them, it’s such a special feeling.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Adrian Morphy gets all credit here. He had the idea that if you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with all the extra time. It started as a comedy but as he began to develop the characters and the more we talked about what both of them were missing, it turned into something a little deeper. Then we brought on these two incredible actors, Ryan O’Callahan and Camille Stopps, who brought their own perspectives and experiences that truly brought these characters to life.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

It’s a Wonderful Life. I would watch that film every year with my mom. I can see a few parallels between that and my own films now. The protagonist who wants something bigger and thinks he’s in search of one thing, when in fact what brings him the most fulfillment is the very thing he’s trying to avoid – companionship.

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

I found the platform pretty user-friendly. It’s easy to see deadlines and the watchlist notifications are a great way to stay on top of submissions.

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

Well, a song I used to listen to when I was a kid and still do now is “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” performed by Willie Nelson. There’s something so haunting and beautiful about it. It’s about love, mortality and longing. I hope to capture the same emotions in the films I make.

What is next for you? A new film?

I have just completed my latest film “Away Home” which I wrote and directed. It’s a film about family, responsibility and having the chance to say goodbye. It stars Billy MacLellan (Maudie, Bellevue), Raven Stewart (Fargo, The Expanse). We’re really excited to begin the festival circuit and have audiences see these beautiful performances.

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

Interview with Director Lindsay Penn (NO STRINGS ATTACHED)

Played at the FEMALE FEEDBACK Film Festival – August 2017

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Lindsday Penn: The moment I heard the song I instantly connected to it. I didn’t share the experience as a musician, but I absolutely experienced it as a YouTuber. On YouTube there is can be a facade that it’s all about expressing your true self, but often in reality the very audience that claims to adore you only loves you if you serve their expectations of you as an entertainer. There’s a constant push-pull as an entertainer between expressing yourself and doing right by the folks who are supporting you. Listening to the song I couldn’t get the idea of presenting that visually out of my head.

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

I started developing the idea in July of 2015 and it was finally released on YouTube on January 1st 2016. I would say my life was devoted to it for about a half a year.

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

Honestly? I don’t know if this is what you’re looking for, but I gotta go with “my baby.” LOL!

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

Doing right by everyone who contributed to it. 30 people volunteered to be a part of this project. All I had to offer them in return was food, and the caterer didn’t show up! And every time someone paid money out of their pocket, I tried my best to keep track of it all so I could pay them back. I never want to have to ask people to volunteer again – I want to pay a fair rate. I want people to think, “if I work with Lindsay Penn, I’m going to be treated well.”

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

I was just stunned that people watched something I made and took it seriously enough to think about it. And I didn’t even have to be there in person to beg them to watch it!

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

I was really inspired by a Japanese pop singer named Ayumi Hamasaki. She is hugely influential in Japan and has made many music videos that make commentary about her objectification as a performer. I wanted to make a video that captured the same kind of feeling.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Easy. In 5th grade I used to watch Terminator 2 every single day when I came home from school. It got to the point that my mom had to ask me politely to make it every OTHER day instead. I can still recite every word John Connor says. “You can’t just go around killing people!”

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

It is a dream come true. So simple to find out where festivals are, when they are, and which festivals are looking for a film like yours.

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

According to my iTunes, “Rise and Shine” by Bonnie Pink. Hugely recommended if you’ve never heard it!

What is next for you? A new film?

I’ve recently revitalized my YouTube channel, youtube.com/linzerdinzertv. I’ve recently switched to an animated format so I don’t have to stress about lighting and shooting and dolling myself up. Hopefully people will choose to support me there and have some interest in my more ambitious projects. I want to keep those projects a secret for now! Tune into my YouTube channel to stay up to date!

 

NO STRINGS ATTACHED, 5min, USA, Music Video
Directed by Lindsay PennFans or dollars? A surreal exploration of the inner conflict of the independent artist.

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

Interview with Director Richard Paris Wilson (A MONSTER CALLED CHARLES)

Played at the Fantasy/Sci-Fi FEEDBACK Film Festival – July 2017

“A MONSTER CALLED CHARLES” was the Winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the festival.

 Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Richard Paris Wilson: I’m fascinated by monsters and magic and I was just drawn to the idea of a beautiful fantasy that was born out of a very dark reality. The bleaker the boy’s home life became the more his visions of the monster crystallised. That felt like a very rich clash to explore.

The idea of actually making it into a film started because I was teaching 14 and 15 year old kids the importance of media at the time, in a council-run centre in South London. I thought if we could get these kids involved in making an actual film together, I could spark a bit of creativity in them, and perhaps demystify a lot of the scary things about filmmaking. All of the dozen or so students involved had big responsibilities, whether they were a camera trainee handling the lenses or our 14-year old first AD running the set. It was the funnest and most chaotic media lesson ever.

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

It took awhile; too long. I think I wrote the script in early 2014, got approved for funding in the summer, shot in the winter, and then worked on post-production on-and-off for 12 months. We ran out of money at the end and we started to rely a lot on people working on post on the weekends. And I started to have new ideas and we started to layer music and VFX on top, and it just kept growing and growing, but at a very slow pace. I think it premiered in its first festival in Spring 2016, and it’s still playing at festivals into the second-half of 2017.

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

Dark Fantasy

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

Money was probably the biggest issue since many of the ideas – namely the monster – were going to be expensive, but we cracked that so early in the process it wasn’t something we battled with for long.

I do remember our first day of shooting. We had a 10-year old lead actor who we were pushing to the brink. It was midnight and we’d been shooting all day and we needed one more scene. We had a baby on set and a man in a monster costume on stilts in the mud, a crew full of students who were due home hours ago and, then it started raining. Thankfully everybody turned up to the second day.

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

Pure joy. It was a real thrill to hear people talking so thoughtfully about many of the issues and themes of the story. I am very thankful for seeing some of the discussion.

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

The idea was born out of a writing group I used to go to, where you’d have to present a new idea every fortnight. Two of the people in the group, Tommy Nagle and David Balfe, get a credit since they were integral in the story’s infancy. The actual screenplay grew very organically from the basic premise. I think the key was figuring out the monster had to eat the family dog – that created a very specific kind of tone.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Probably Hook as a kid, Batman as a teenager and Donnie Darko as a 20-something. Now I’ve just turned 30 I’m rewatching Hook again

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 user-friendly. It’s very easy to search, submit and then keep track of all your entries. It’s the best system I’ve used.

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

How to Disappear Completely by Radiohead, because it captures melancholy so perfectly.

What is next for you? A new film?

For short films, it’ll either be a fantasy set entirely inside a laundrette or a drama set on an island in Phuket. It depends on funding.

Otherwise I’m making a short video for the John Muir Trust as I try and get more into commercials.

 

A MONSTER CALLED CHARLES, 15min, UK, Fantasy/Drama
Directed by Richard Paris WilsonThe story of a Boy who lives in a caravan park with his Mother, and a Monster who lives in a nearby woods…

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