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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Interview with director Rob Sprackling (MAN’S BEST FRIEND)

MAN’S BEST FRIEND was a huge audience winner at the December 2016 Family/Animation Film Festival. A film about a boy who loses his beloved soccer ball and how he reconnects with his mother in the search for it.

It was a pleasure chatting with the filmmaker about the film and what’s next:

 Get to know the writer:

Matthew ToffolO: What motivated you to make this film?

Rob Sprackling: Having made two shorts before and having really enjoyed the process, I was keen to do another. A friend (Damian Curran) suggested we make something together – and I had this idea kicking around in the back of my mind – so we put some money in – along with my old school pal George Grant – and made the film.

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

RS: It had been fermenting in the back of my mind for a year or so before I committed it to paper. From the moment I wrote the script to the moment we locked the film – I’d say about a year.

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

RS: Ball Quest

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

RS: Completing the animation/vfx. We initially had a company who were going to animate the ball for us – but they were very busy and as this was a no-fee/favour type gig, it kept getting bumped back. After three or four months – and despite their best efforts – they were just unable to find the time to do it. We decided to move on and use a young guy Oliver Abbott, who, though less experienced, was very talented and keen to get into it. Once he was on board – it only took a few weeks to get the film finished. If he hadn’t – we might still be waiting!

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

RS: It was nice to hear their thoughts. Perhaps would have been good to hear from a few others as well (there were only two people who shared their thoughts plus the host). However, those that spoke made good sound points and I’m glad they took out of the film what I had intended – in particular finding it funny, moving, engaging and sweet.

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

RS: As mentioned this story had been in my head for a year or two having worked on a Nike ad for the World Cup 2014 (which was very different indeed). I got the idea of a Nike swoosh being a mouth – which led to the concept of a ball having an animated face. After that I came up with the story of a boy and his mum searching for a beloved lost ball, like looking for a lost dog, which seemed to fit a short film length narrative. Finally, as a screenwriter my previous two shorts were both quite wordy, so I wanted to set myself the challenge of telling a story purely through pictures and music.

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

RS: ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. Probably around 30 times. Can’t resist it. After that probably ‘Withnail and I’ and ‘Miller’s Crossing’ which for me, compete for the best dialogue ever.

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

RS: I’m a professional screenwriter so I am often working on a range of movies – even if I am not directing them myself. I have an animated feature called ‘The Queen’s Corgi’ currently in production which will come out in cinemas next year. I also finished the fourth draft of my original screenplay ‘Village Idiot’ for Aardman Animation in December, which I’m hoping will be green lit this Spring. As for films for me to direct, I have a feature screenplay of my award winning short ‘Rise of the Appliances’ which I am hoping to shoot this year (once we close the finance) with Christian Parton, the producer of Man’s Best Friend.

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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 month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with director Oliver McMillan (WHAT’S WEARING MUMMY)

Oliver McMillan’s short film “WHAT’S WEARING MUMMY” played to rave reviews at the December 2016 FAMILY Short Film Festival.

Tt was an honor to interview the director:

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Oliver McMillan: My motivation to create What’s Wearing Mummy stemmed from how the script resembled aspects of my own childhood. This nostalgic element along with Matti (Rebecca Strang) and Sofia’s (Annabelle Tavener) obsession with science-fiction was what initially hooked me but the opportunity to explore the dynamic of a young family was where I saw the heft.

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

OM: Around 7 months I think. We had our script locked down quite early which was a huge advantage for our child actors. A vast part of pre-production was dedicated to rehearsing with Rebecca and Sofia as it was their first onscreen performance! They did a fantastic job though. Their attitude onset and the improvisation they have definitely had us chuckling between takes.

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

OM: Two words? Sweet fun.

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

OM: Our biggest obstacle as a team was getting everything we needed in a very limited amount of time. The entire shoot was catered around the working hours of the children. Ben Murray (Director of Photography) did a great job of streamlining our shot list so when the time came, we knew every shot was essential.

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

OM: Totally constructive and positive. It is always great to hear thoughts from those who have no prior knowledge of your work. It’s fresh, honest and crucial to listen to. I’m glad that people saw the film as a portraiture of modern family life as well as the entertaining aspect.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Film:

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

OM: Our writer Lexy Anderson was the genius who came up with this story. We haven’t seen many short live action films that fit into the family genre so the opportunity to do something different was too good to refuse. I remember visiting Lexy before starting the project and we both had the same desire of telling a story about a family coming together, plus I had worked with child actors before so I knew it was always something I wanted to do again.

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

OM: Most watched film? That’s a tough one! I think the last film I remember watching over and over was probably Inside Out (2015, Dir. Pete Docter). It resonated with me on so many levels and I see a film since that’s had such an impact on me. I’ll probably watch it tonight!

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

OM: What’s next? Another short film. A black comedy thriller about a hotel critic staying in the worst hotel in England. Complete tonal shift from my last film, I know! I can’t wait to get it made.

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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 month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.