Interview with Filmmaker Diana Losen (PRIEST TO PRIEST)

 PRIEST TO PRIEST was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the July 2018 FAMILY Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Diana Losen: I received a grant as part of my graduate program at Northwestern and I wanted to use it to make this short film with the hopes of eventually making the feature length version.

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

I first had the idea as an undergrad in college so counting that initial spark it took four years.

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

Holy humor

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

Time and money. I had the grant but it was small and I was living in Los Angeles at the time and the actors and cinematographer I worked with lived in Chicago.

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

I was a little nervous to watch the reactions and then I felt so heartened and re-invigorated while listening to the feedback.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I wrote a short story in a spiritual writing class at Pepperdine called “The Brief and Brilliant Reign of Billy Tread” about a nine year old priest who battles a middle school bully and I’d written a separate short play about a vigilante priest and a year or so later, I realized that these characters needed each other so I wrote a feature-length film about them. I chose a few of my favorite scenes from the screenplay that I believed could also work as a stand-alone short film and that’s what I chose to make.

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

Princess Bride

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

FilmFreeway makes things very easy. No complaints.

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

“Sigh No More” by Mumford & Sons. Can’t beat those lyrics: “Love, it will not betray you, dismay or enslave you – it will set you free/There is a design, an alignment, a cry of my heart to see the beauty of love as it was made to be.”
But also “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.

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

I would love to film the feature length version of “Priest to Priest” which is entitled “The Brief and Brilliant Reign of Billy Tread” but that project is probably a couple of years away. I’m writing a coming of age novel right now about three best friends who grew up in foster care together and who run away to join an alien circus.

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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 Emily Eaglin (SWEETER)

SWEETER played to rave reviews at the July 2018 FAMILY Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Emily Eaglin: A combination of babysitting & wanting to take on a true challenge as a director (hence a child-filled cast)!

I also wanted to create a role for myself Samira, who was far enough away from my experiences & reality, but who’s values & passions were close to my own.

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

Half a year from the early summer (writing) to mid-winter (post).

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

Bittersweet Lessons

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

Committing myself to quality in terms, from Pre-production to Post-production. For example, I had never had a Celtx Premium account for pre-production, done ADR, created foley, used a RED camera etc. I wanted the quality of this work to be knit-picky & was past fulfilled by this obstacle’s outcome.

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

I was AMAZED! It’s seriously some of the most engaged, critical, and most of all ON POINT discourse Sweeter has received. More than anything I felt gratitude that you all not only took the time to talk, but also took the time to edit together this video. Am looking forward to sharing such beautiful words & thoughts. Wow!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

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

Originally I was thinking of making an adult comedy about a precocious little girl obsessed with non-little-girl themes (especially after doing summer camps, babysitting, etc. & learning what kids are ‘into these days’). I was thinking of Willy as someone who wanted to probe her mom on timely things like America’s gun problem, when she can try Marijuana like her friends’ older cousins, impeachment & Scandal Episodes. I decided to dial it way back for the sake of accessibility & time. I moved the focus to specific issues that directly effect me & wrote the screenplay to be being family friendly (so that kids Willy’s age could get something real out of it). I also (as was mentioned in the audience discussion) wanted to present a world from the eyes of someone much younger than me, hopefully giving older viewers a perspective we often lose touch with.

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

Possibly The Wizard of Oz, or maybe Elmo in Grouchland, they both still hold up tbh!

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

Aside from festival fees, it was pretty painless.

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

According to Spotify it’s (recently) Sick Beat by Kero Kero Bonito. It’s a song with solid Sweeter-like themes & singing along with it/their music helps me practice my spoken Japanese (an area in which I need all the help I can get).

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

In addition to acting, I’m currently hustling a bunch of music videos this summer & am so excited about it! This is something that I love to do and want to do more of. Much like shorts music videos are accessible to folks in terms of time-commitment & viewing. I’m always mad passionate about the music & musicians I work with (Fun fact: Sweeter had its whole film scored by local artists including Actress Joy Postell).

Currently finishing up a music video for a band called Raw Silk, filming/directing one for rapper JPEGMAFIA & in pre-production for a video with a band called Sneaks.

Since Sweeter I’ve also done a short film for Red Bull (Baltimore DIY), was a booking producer on a local talk show (BMORE Lifestyle), & sold books at a radical, co-owned worker collective (Red Emma’s).

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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 Jamie Shannon (THE LEGEND OF RASPUTIN)

THE LEGEND OF RASPUTIN was the winner of BEST FILM at the July 2018 Family FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jamie Shannon: I have always found Rasputin fascinating character, being the first tabloid character in History. Around the time i wrote this we had our own Rasputin … “Rob Ford” Who became infamous the world round. I think it is very interesting the way people make these people out to be bigger than life examples of there worst fears, or they become huge fans. I read a book about Rasputin where there was a sign on the door saying “no talking about Rasputin!” But of course they did, like we can’t stop talking about Trump at the moment or whoever captures our projections. It is an enigmatic quality, that sort of mix of disgust and fascination and amazement that captures people imagination in times of trouble, and mine!

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

It took quite a whole just because i had my whole career going on at the same time – so between 3-4 years.

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

persnickety enterprise

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

Post sound! i will always have a greater respect for the art of sound, it is truly the other half of film making. It is the secret part of the film where all of the feeling lies and all the oversights will be paid for!!

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

I feel so proud any time anyone laughs, so that was lovely to see and feel that.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I read just five of the dozens of books, watched two of the many films and ate Raspoutine while I wrote.

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

Fantastic Mr. Fox 🙂 2. Ghostbusters

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How was your experience?

It’s good. Sure is an expensive part one should budget for in the beginning. My producers suggestion was to pay $2000 for film festival submissions.

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

Couldn’t get bored of.

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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 Mehmet Tigli (HIGH CALORIE)

 HIGH CALORIE was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the July 2018 FAMILY FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Prejudices about different people, internet addiction in virtual world and paradoxal behaviors of parents are the basic motives to make me shoot this film.

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

It lasted for 5 months

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

Funny and emotional.

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

Budgeting problems and the bureaucracy of public institutions during shooting were the main obstacles of this film.

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

I felt very very happy. Thanks a lot for most valuable feedback from the audience.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film:

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

This film is based on a short story which I wrote it 10 years ago.

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

Life is Beautiful-La Vita e Bella

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

I am so grateful to Filmfreeway, I met this amazing festival and other precious events by means of it.

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

Michael Jackson-Billie Jean

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

I shot a short film named “A Ferry Tale” on February 2018. This film is based on a emotional true story I observed two years ago. It is about a dad with two autistic children in a ferry trip. It was officially selected 35 festivals and won 10 awards until July.

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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 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.