Interview with Filmmaker Michael Lane (HANDS)

 HANDS was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the May 2018 Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival.

What motivated you to make this film?

My film is about diversity. I live in a city,Leicester uk, where there are a range of people from all over the world. We do mix peacefully: it can be done. I thought it right to celebrate that and send a wish that the world may move towards that. Also, I wanted something thoughtful and meditative. Short films give that opportunity in a way features cannot.

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

The film only took a day to make but about six weeks in the edit.

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

Meditative Dance.

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

Keeping my own faith that it would be as I imagined. Especially as much of the movement choices were left to the participants.

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

I was delighted that people were able to interpret its poetic drive. I was puzzled that someone thought it a parody. But I thought I should have helped an audience by credits- ” Meditation, A Dance, A Hope’ clearer at the beginning of the film.

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I wanted to experiment as most of my films are dramas , even recorded stage work. This fulfilled a different need.

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

‘Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.’

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

It’s been fine for myself. I have felt free to report to them and trusted that there would be an understandable reply.  

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

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Interview with filmmaker Linnea Ritland (VIOLET AND JUNE)

VIOLET AND JUNE was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the February 2018 ROMANCE FEEDBACK Film Festival on Valentine’s Day.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Linnea Ritland: Whenever I look up at the stars I’m flat out terrified. The idea that we’re tiny in comparison to the universe (and that we’re all gonna die one day) doesn’t bring me any comfort (yet)—so I thought I’d harness this terror to try to make people laugh. Plus, I’m extremely bisexual so I’m always interested in exploring and celebrating queer narratives, and just wanted to make a film about lesbians where they don’t die at the end.

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

From the idea, 3 years, but from the first serious draft, about 1.

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

Quirky romcom!

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

We had to re-shoot the entire last two scenes in pickups, which was not only logistically tough but hard to deal with on a personal psychological level—when you need to do pickups it usually feels like you failed, since you didn’t get it right the first time.

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

I was so glad that people seemed to really like quirkiness of it! And proud of the work my collaborators did on the film—especially the music (Patrick Fiore) and production design (Courtney Verwold)!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

It started from the visual of a girl having an existential crisis about a chocolate bar (i.e., realizing that it would rot just like everyone she’d ever known and loved), who then goes to take a bus, and a girl sits next to her and starts sobbing. I wanted to explore the idea of someone very analytical and books-based dealing with a crisis colliding with someone emotion-based also mid-crisis.

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

When I was a toddler I used to compulsively watch A Bug’s Life multiple times a day, to the point where my siblings memorized the entire film. I must have seen it more than a thousand times—I don’t even remember the plot or the characters’ names now.

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

It’s so easy and simple! Would recommend to any first-time filmmakers looking to submit to festivals.

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

You know how the old nokia ringtone is based on a Bach song? Probably that one. Or Happy Birthday.

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

I’m currently working on a comedy-drama about a young woman dealing with her father’s alcoholism, who bounces between her unstable home life and a very unstable relationship and eventually finds stability within herself. It’s called “Everything’s Great!” and should be making its festival rounds within the next year. For updates visit linnearitland.wordpress.com!

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

Interview with Filmmaker Robert Guthrie (EASY, A 3 MINUTE LOVE STORY)

EASY, A 3 MINUTE LOVE STORY played to rave reviews at the February 2018 ROMANCE FEEDBACK Film Festival on Valentine’s Day.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Robert Guthrie: So many LGBTQ films, especially coming-of-age films, focus on difficulties. Violence, unrequited love, isolation… etc. Yes, it can be difficult. But, also, yes, it can work. Some families are supportive. Some kids are strong. The folks who made the film do believe in happily-ever-after. Years ago, after a tumultuous, clandestine relationship with a fraternity brother, I started dating the guy I would marry. That was senior year of college, and we’ve been together ever since. It can be easy.

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

The first plan for EASY – a 3-minute romance was to film it north of Seattle where my partner and I lived for four years. He ended getting a job back in Boston, so we moved back home a few years earlier than we had planned. So we moved the location from a farm and small town in Washington State and relocated to an urban environment. From conception to filming was about three years.

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

Happy together

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

Adjusting my expectations – this would no longer be a small-town, rural film. I had to let go of my dreams of specific scenes we had scouted out and arranged for. The best thing I did was decide not to push it, to let it go, and accept that we wouldn’t film on the West coast before the move. I love what EASY grew into, but it took initial disappointment to get there.

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

How thrilling to watch a roomful of people paying attention to something I’d created! The characters Jonathan and David have been living in my mind for several year; it was almost overwhelming to sense that they have lives that don’t involve me.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

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

I had a favorite cafe in Edison, Washington, where I wanted to set a film. And I was intrigued by a small-town guy unabashedly himself. I believe in happily-ever-after, have been living happily-ever-after and want to share happily-ever-after.

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

In college during an internship in London, the film adaptation of E.M. Forster’s Maurice came out. I saw it every Wednesday night for three months until I flew back to that states.

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

Enormously helpful.

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

Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony is my go-to.

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

Publishing a novel. Feature film is ambitious. We’ll see how it goes.

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

Interview with director Gonzalo Cotelo (MAMMA)

MAMMA was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the January 2018 Under 5min. Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Gonzalo Cotelo: I think almost every filmmaker is lured at a certain point with the idea of making a one shot film, and so was I. I also wanted to tell a simple and yet powerful story and play with the audience almost exclusively with visual narrative and camera work.

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

It was exactly one week during a stay in a summer film campus and traveling festival in Italy.

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

unsettlingly gripping!

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

The blocking with the actors and timing of the events, as I wanted it to be intense and yet have a filmic pace.

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

It was amazing to see how people felt about the film exactly as I had planned it! the lack of subtitles, the camera work, the final reveal… it is a confirmation that all those crazy ideas weren’t that crazy after all.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I love a film called “Nine Lives” by Rodrigo García, nine short stories about female characters shot in 9 continuous long shots. And the first one features a pregnant woman, played by Robin Wright, in a supermarket. That was the first inspiration for the story, the first primordial image that I later developed into a different path when I decided that my character will be in a close up during the whole film, and the camera would never abandon her until the very last moment revealing the main piece of information that I decided to withhold from the audience. I also love an Ukranian film called “The Tribe”, acted entirely on sign language and without any subtitles, which I thought was simple and brilliant, it really forces the audience to pay attention. And I knew it would also help the public to connect with the main character and feel as lost as she feels not understanding what is going on between the two hitmen.

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

Definitely one of the original Star Wars trilogy films, I couldn’t tell you which one though (probably Return of the Jedi)

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

It is indeed very useful, particularly now with the number of films being made and film festivals being held everywhere across the world. The structure and layout of the website simplifies the whole process.

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

A Beatles song for sure, I’d go for “Lucy in the sky with Diamonds”.

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

Yeah, a new one, a bit longer than five minutes hopefully. I live and work in Kuwait at the moment but I´d like to go back to Spain in summer to write and start producing again, I miss it!
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Interview with Filmmaker Stephen Riscica (IT GETS BETTER?)

 IT GETS BETTER? was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the December 2017 LGBT FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Stephen Riscica: I started writing this film almost years ago after learning about Jamey Rodemeyer, a young gay teenager from Buffalo, NY who made an It Gets Better video only to commit suicide only a few short months after. I then started reading other stories about youth who have made these testimonials of hope but weren’t able to battle their own inner demons. It was the juxtaposition of these messages of hope from our youth on YouTube mixed with their tragic fate that inspired me to write this piece.

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

I started writing this six years ago– much of that time it was just sitting on my laptop. I went to a film festival in May of 2016 and was really inspired by what I saw there and decided it’s time to finally get this film made. I started an indiegogo campaign a month later. We had approximately two months of pre-production, two shooting days, and 3 months of post production.

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

Oh that’s a tough one…

I’ve always described my film as an examination in loneliness and a desperate plea to hang on… so maybe “Loneliness Examination” or maybe just “Got Wine?”

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

There was an actor attached initially who I cast because his life story and where he is now reflected what the character is going through in the film. A week before production I was “ghosted.” We held a casting session a few days before shooting and thankfully Gys DeVilliers came in and blew me away– he had me in tears during his audition. It was as if I was hearing my words for the very first time. I knew there was no way I could have gotten such a powerful and haunting performance from the previous actor attached.

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

I appreciated the honesty and candor of the audience. This is the first time I was able to hear what people thought about the film without being physically present. I think the film effects people in different ways, and everyone I’ve shown it to responds differently. I disagree, however, with the gentleman who said the film felt cliche’. I see what he’s saying about how it feels like a play, which most likely has to do with my theater background, but I think it is a film that stands out because of its uniqueness.

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

As I mentioned earlier, the story of Jamey Rodemeyer was the main catalyst in writing this piece. His story made me re-examine my own issues of loneliness and depression. I was also very much inspired by Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, a one act play in which an older man is listening to a audio tape of himself from years back reminiscing about his youth. Instead of a tape recorder we use a laptop and YouTube.

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

The one film that really changed my worldview as a young gay teenager was Pink Flamingos directed by John Waters. As someone who didn’t identify with straight culture or gay culture, this film was really a celebration of individuality for me and taught me that it’s okay not to fit into any sort of category. I would invite friends over to watch double features of Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble and I’d love to watch my friends squirm, but we’d also be laughing our asses off and quoting lines from the film. I also used to be obsessed with Elvira: Mistress of the Dark as a child and Gregg Araki’s The Doom Generation and Nowhere. Recent films I’ve been watching repeatedly lately: Ingmar Bergman’s Cries & Whispers, Jennie Livingston’s Paris is Burning, and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

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

I think it’s a great platform. I discovered a lot of festivals I never even knew existed. I like the up to date notifications of when a judging status has changed on your film.

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

Probably something by The Cure– maybe Pictures of You?

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

Still trying to figure that out! I recently helped out on the pilot episode of a new documentary series interviewing pioneering DJ’s and party promoters from the early days of gay nightlife. There is a short story written by a friend of mine I would love to adapt. I’m looking to collaborate with other LGBT screenwriters on future projects!

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IT GETS BETTER?, 11min., USA, LGBT/Experimental
Directed by Stephen RiscicaAn older gay man is inspired to record a testimonial after watching a bisexual teenager’s video, assuring him that ‘It Gets Better.’

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

Interview with Filmmaker Stephanie Knöbl (PEPITA & MAX)

 Stephanie Knöbl was the producer and co-director of the short film PEPITA & MAX. It was the winner of BEST SOUND DESIGN at the September 2017 Festival for Family.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Stephanie Knöbl: For a long time we have been dealing with the topic of the representation of Living Traditions. For children, there are few stories / films in Switzerland that tell about old knowledge, which is still lived very actively. In order to make the topic easy understandable for children, we sought the essence of this old Swiss tradition and interwoven it with a fictitious story.

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

About 2 years. We did not have any templates or previous projects of a similar kind, so it took some time to go through possible variants of storytelling and design/animation, in order to finally decide on this path.

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

edutaining

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

The financing. The production of animated films in Switzerland is quite expensive and at the same time there are minimum wages of the employees – especially the artistic employees – which should be kept (which of course is to be supported).

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

It was the first adult reaction to our movie in public. We felt honored that people are focused on thinking about our work and discussing it.

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

We collaborated with a scriptwriter from Vienna who wrote the story based on our research, sketches and first ideas. The idea that the little boy Max comes from another country (Madagascar), who comes back to Switzerland and gets to know everything here with the help of his cousin is partly autobiographical.

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

Probably the german series “Sendung mit der Maus” – first as a child and now together with my own children.

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

To be honest I miss the comparison. I can only say that I find it a good platform to prepare his work for Festivals and to connect with festival organizers.

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

no idea. many many Songs. but probably not even one of my favourite Songs but something like a german childrens song.

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

We are currently working on a transmedia-project for children. Here, too, stories about different Swiss traditions are to be told. On an app, children can then get to know about the traditional peculiarities and the people who live these customs through animation short films, doku clips and games.
 

PEPITA & MAX, 6min, Family/Animation 
Directed by Rahel Ilona EisenringPepita and Max have all sorts of adventures. Monsieur Raf, Max’ toy giraffe, is always with them. When Max loses Monsieur Raf while hiking, the little boy can’t find sleep. Not even the Alpsegen, the lullaby of the mountains, which is meant to protect animals and people on the alp, helps. The peculiar tradition gives Pepita an idea: what works for Swiss alp-cows could also save a giraffe through the night.

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

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