Interview with director Diana Frankovic (THE SAD MONK)

Diana Frankovic’s short film played at the March 2017 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

So a couple of years ago I took a sabbatical from my job.

Actually, I’m a radio host from Berlin. I was exhausted, burned out and unhappy. I had to get away from it all, and find a way to change that, to be truly happy. So I packed my suitcase and began traveling through Asia, and finally Nepal, where I spent months meditating, exploring and visiting monasteries, and THIS is where I met Tenzin. An amazing Tibetan Buddhist monk.

Spending time together we realized we had so many things in common, like dreams and desires, like love and sex, also tenderness for friends and family. But what I was really astonished to discover was that we also share an attachment to material things!

I would have never expected a real Buddhist to also be seeking satisfaction in the latest iphone!

The other thing we have in common is, actually, sadness.

Both of us realized we just wanted to be happy, but in a way, we didn’t know how.

And as a journalist… I wanted, I needed to tell Tenzin’s story. The whole world seems to be looking for the perfect solution to the problem of happiness. Even my new friend, a Tibetan Buddhist monk was obsessed with finding it. This is a story I wanted to tell. So I decided to make a film about The Sad Monk.

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

2 ½ years, with all the ups and downs.

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

Just amazing.

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

I wrote a script and started looking for a production company, which I found.

I just had to make a few changes. But the changes were non–stop,
the script, the trailer, just everything. Suddenly my producers wanted me to make the story about myself and my feel-good journey to happiness, which was never ever my intention. And after a year together, I had made so many changes to my film,
compromised the story completely, that my vision of Tenzin was gone, the story of the sad monk was buried. Of course when it came time for my producers to pitch the film to TV-Stations, they failed. And when they failed, they dropped me. I was devastated.

I spent so much time and all of my money to get this far, and suddenly it was over.

I hit rock bottom. So I did the same thing I did two years ago: I packed my suitcase and started travelling again. To find new inspiration and strength. But I also found motivation and support. I realized I still had to tell Tenzin’s story. I just took a different path to get there. I started a kickstarter campaign which I succesfully finished, I reached my goal and then I produced the movie completely by myself, without a
prodc ution company. The way I wanted tob e my mvie. And that was just the right way to do it.

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

It was very interesting to hear some thoughts about it, I was happy taht that people liked it!

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I just happend. It was process and I let my creativity and imagination flow.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Actually it’s Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Life of Brian. Haha

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

I can’t list them, they are countless… Too many oft hem. They also change from period to period in my life.

What is next for you? A new film?

I hope! 😉

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Interview with Filmmaker Chris Hale (EVERYBODY FALLS DOWN)

Chris Hale’s short film EVERYBODY FALLS DOWN played to rave reviews at the May 2016 FEEDBACK Short Documentary Film Festival.

Interview with Chris Hale:

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

I’d previously worked out in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan for the BBC, and the place and the people really got under my skin. They were so welcoming and open despite decades of suffering and so I was always determined to return somehow to help tell their story. Everybody Falls Down itself actually came about somewhat by chance as this was always meant to be a small part of a bigger film about Kurdistan’s quest for independence, but when it quickly became apparent that these people deserved their own story.

I went to film a series of interviews the mostly Kurdish refugees from Syria of the Darashakran Refugee camp in the Kurdistan Region of Northern Iraq. When I started editing what they had to say, I was struck by how these people could have been me, or you or our families. They’re just a small percentage of the millions of refugees impacted by the war, but when you look past the politics at the people, they just want to raise their children somewhere safe that they can call home and I found that incredibly moving.

And so what was meant to be a sequence within the bigger film took on an urgency and a life of its own and became this film.

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

Well, the idea to do something in Kurdistan was with me for 5 years, but turning the idea into reality built up steam over just a couple of months, then I was out there filming for 2 weeks and in edit for about 2 months before Everybody Falls Down started to stand out as a separate film. Its hard to put an actual time on it though as its been a labour of love, edited in what little spare time I had.

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

heartfelt tragedy

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

Time. The plan was to take a month off from other projects to complete it, but the freelance life is never that easy, especially as I’d spent all of my money on the production. So I ended up editing at evenings and weekends and early in the morning, whenever I could. I was watching rushes on planes, transcribing interviews on the train. I even took a mobile edit suite with me when I went to China on another project so I could edit in my hotel room. Not ideal but I was surprised how much spare time I could find in a day if I tried hard enough.

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

I was pleasantly surprised watching the feedback video, I was glad someone noticed the use of music for instance and even the mildly negative comments were useful as a filmmaker as they were about things I’d purposely chosen to do or not include and it made me realise I was comfortable with my decisions. Also the fact that someone said they’d be more likely to help because of watching this film was fantastic as thats all I ever wanted.

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

I’d love to be able to say something profound or that had an impact on how I make film but honestly, its probably Platoon.. I used to watch that a lot as a kid.

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

A new film is underway as we speak. its the film about Kurdistan and the Kurdish struggle for independence that I was cutting before Everybody Falls Down took over. Its even more pressing now as there is talk of a Kurdish referendum taking place before the end of the year. Again time isn’t on my side and I’ll be pulling some weird edit hours but there are some incredibly powerful interviews in the film so its the least I can do.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film: 

everybody_falls_down_3

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

Interview with Filmmaker Daniele Bonarini (LIKE A STAR)

Daniele Bonarini’s short film, LIKE A STAR, played to rave reviews at the May 2016 Documentary Short Film Festival. 

Interview with Daniele Bonarini:

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Daniele Bonarini: For many years, i work primarily with people with physical and intellectual disabilities. I grew a lot as a director and film-maker and I was able, with my works, to enter the international film festival circuit. Attend a film festival no about disability, was a great achievement because I could bring Tiziano in a neutral context, and especially him to live an incredible experience like a trip in America. For this reason I decided to make a documentary of his journey, it is part of an experience that lasts for many years

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

DB: Our projects are very long. To make a short film takes several months because of the difficulty of the guys to get into the characters. As I said above, the trip to Texas is part of a journey along a few years and only now beginning to see good results

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

DB:Like a star is the opportunity of a person, cornered by the company, to express their potential and live a dream..in other words..Like a star is like a dream!

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

DB: Hard to find those who believe in our project. Or rather, many support us and believe in us but then economically hardly anyone believes that these special actors can make good cinema products. Travel expenses and for the realization of the short film were self-financed. This is one of the complicated aspects, in addition to having to still manage a person with a disability who is never simple!

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

DB: It’s really great to see people on the other side of the world who look at your work. Above all it is amazing to see how they understood and appreciated that the project is ahead of Poti Pictures. When the blonde girl points out my words (the Thin Line Film Festival) “What people can do …” I think my project is all there and it’s nice to see that people have it figured out.

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

DB: The moment we decided to accompany Tiziano in Texas was spontaneous take the camera and shoot every moment of his trip. Like a star is only one part of what he has lived in that week. He is an amazing guy and he makes show in the States!

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

DB: There are many films that I love relate to continuous, one of these is “The green mile”( but i prefer the book!)I believe there is good in all of us and I believe that everyone has a potential that can give to others..in essentially this is my job.

Try to show what a person can to to do and not what cannot to do.

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

DB: We are working on a short film with 26 children aged 9 years together with 6 of our “special actors.” So, the real project is the inclusion and fun. We have many jobs scheduled, in each one there is a guy with disabilities showing his acting skills

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film: 


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

Interview with Filmmaker Christopher H.K. Lee (The Last Tear)

Christopher’s short film, THE LAST TEAR, played at the Documentary Short Film Festival in May 2016.

Go to Website

Interview with Christopher H.K. Lee:

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Christopher H.K. Lee: I’ve heard about the topic “comfort women” many times in the news, media, books, newspapers, etc. but I never had my interest in the subject until we began our research with the students about a possibility of putting together a documentary. We traveled thousands of miles to visit the actual historical locations and had the opportunities to meet with the ladies still alive and be witnesses of the scars left on their bodies and souls. Some were supported by the political platform and some were a part of an organizational base trying to make their voice heard which is unknown to the rest of the world. They are becoming weaker day by day and we believe that such traces of painful memories and tragic stories cannot be restored but by remembering them and embracing them, we will provide them the sense of closure.

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

CHKL: This is a collaboration project with US-Korea Institute of Johns Hopkins University as an academic research. The film nearly took 18 month of research and preparation. The film and post-production took nine month.

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

CHKL: Healing and Closure

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

CHKL: The subject and issues were very sensitive politically and emotionally to many. The ladies we interviewed were in the 90s and we needed to consider for their health issues while respecting their voices and feelings.

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

CHKL: I couldn’t make out what the first lady (Korean-American) was saying. I am not sure if she understands to implication of our actor and dancer in the movie. They were the voice and expression for the lady (the survivor) in the film. What we presented to you at the film festival is a short 11 minute version. Our full version which is 53 minutes long has more facts and compelling stories with plenty of emotions of our main character that was missing in the short version.

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

CHKL: We specially edited for a short version to submitted to many film festivals as possible. Our film’s purpose is to share the emotions of the past and to connect our generations in a more personal and humanistic way. Through understanding the faults of the past, we allow them to never be erased, and prevent them from happening again.

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

CHKL: The Truman Show. This is one of the most inventive movie in memory.

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

CHKL: As part of our Fading Away documentary series I am currently working on several documentaries to preserve our culture and history. I am also writing a feature film based on the story inspired by a documentary film I did earlier.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film: 

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