Interview with Filmmaker Julia Fullerton-Batten (1814 FROST FAIR)

1814 FROST FAIR played to rave reviews at the July 2020 FEMALE Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?
How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Julia Fullerton-Batten: I am a fine art photographer shooting story-telling projects on a wide variety of themes. As part of a major project narrating the history, traditions and customs along the Thames River (‘Old Father Thames’) I decided to recreate the 1814 Frost Fair on the Thames in London. This was an occasion when the river froze over completely and Londoners used the opportunity to celebrate on the ice. Over the years, there had been a number of Frost Fairs in the shadow of the Old London Bridge. What was not known at the time was that the 1814 Frost Fair would be the last after a new bridge was built to replace the old structure. Historically, therefore this fair is of particular significance to The River Thames’ and London history. Although brief it was reported as being celebrated exuberantly even to the extent that an elephant was led across the frozen ice.

I was excited with the thought of the project and felt a curious urge to experience the fair for myself. I always endeavour to make the settings, costumes, props, etc for my photoshoots as authentic as possible and always do a lot of research beforehand. The work for this was on an even larger scale than usual. The 1814 Frost Fair occurred prior to the invention of photography so I had to rely on paintings, sketches and newspaper reports.

The cast increased to over forty and included circus performers. I had to research for entertainment tents, costumes and props relevant to the time. Sets were constructed in a large studio in London. Attention to detail was absolutely paramount for me.

I was halfway through planning this already massive, complex stills production when I realised that I just had to film it as well. It was truly the only way to give an audience a real-life experience of the electric atmosphere of what the 1814 Frost Fair must have been like. I embarked on this filming venture with no prior experience of having directed a film of any kind.

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

It took me quite a few months to plan the entire project, both stills and film. There was a lot of additional planning needed for the film. I shot everything in a large drive-in studio and required a day for setting up and preparing the lighting, a second day for shooting the stills and a third for the filming.

On the shoot and filming days over ninety people were involved – actors, circus performers, crew, etc. On our last day we were obliged to clear the studio of all props and lighting. We started very early and didn’t finish until after midnight – all in all it was a super long day of hard but rewarding work.

A fiddle player provides the background music, the tone of the music changes from more or less serious to playful depending on the scene. Everything had to be coordinated to make sense. Although there is a minimum of dialogue there are many different characters involved in shouting, exclaiming, exertions of arm wrestling, selling, gambling, etc. I introduced interactions at all levels – to the different circus performers (sword swallower, fire breather, contortionist, stilt walker, etc.), street events (stealing, prostitution, gambling, etc). I really wanted to bring the Frost Fair atmosphere alive, illustrating also the differences pervading at that time between the wealthy and the poor, beggars and street urchins.

3. How would you describe your short film!?

Fantastical.
Sensational.
Step in time incapsulation
Fun period piece

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

Never directed a short film of any kind before it was a huge learning curve from beginning to end. I am used to working with large crews but not one of nearly 100 people. However, the biggest concerns were the significant financial implications and having enough time on the day itself. I wished that I had at least two days for filming, it would have been less stressful. However, considering all those factors I’m delighted with the end result that I achieved and the resonance that the film has received worldwide since.

I was lucky to have an amazing DOP who brought a super talented crew onboard with him, as well as the support of Big Buoy in London and Eight VFX in LA for the post-production. These factors helped make a huge difference to the final result.

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

The feedback was incredible. The commentators found the settings and costumes to be convincingly authentic. Those comments made my long hours of research and months of searching and hiring activities worthwhile. In all, it seemed as though my efforts to create a vibrant, joyful atmosphere had succeeded.

There were comments that it would be a great setting for a feature film and I was flattered to be compared with the structure and composition of my film with the style of Tim Burton, a director whom I have long admired! There was also a comparison with the film ‘Orlando’, based on a novel by Virginia Woolf, directed by Sally Potter and starring Tilda Swinton and Quentin Crip, in which scenes were also set on ice. Another film that I have enjoyed for its settings and lighting.

I was surprised to learn that all admitted to not knowing about the Frost Fairs on the River Thames and that I was able to make them aware of an exciting part of London history and that even an elephant once paraded the ice from bank to bank.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

In the Mood for Love, by the Hong Kong Chinese film director Kar-Wai Wong

This is such a simple story, filmed beautifully. Each frame is atmospheric, mostly filmed at night. I get inspiration from films and especially this one. I could spend hours studying each scene, frame by frame, to enjoy the impeccable lighting.

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

I found it great. With one upload of the film it is super easy process to read about the festivals in one place and decide to submit to those most relevant and appealing to the film and the target audience. I was able to do it when travelling and it only takes a few seconds.

The 1814 Frost Fair film already gained many awards internationally. It is so exciting for me to read the messages when they appear in my inbox!

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

Hallelujah by Rufus Wainwright. What a classic, beautiful rendition of this wonderful song!

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

I am hooked! I would love to direct more and already have some ideas. Following on to my contact with one of the cast of the 1814 Frost Fair I will soon be shooting a project on young female contortionists and am thinking how I can again combine moving imagery with stills.

It has suddenly become an exciting new world for me. One that I’m going to enjoy exploring!

Interview with Filmmaker Imelda O’Reilly (TUMBLING TOWARDS HOME)

TUMBLING TOWARDS HOME was the winner of BEST DOC CHARACTERS at the July 2020 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Imelda O’Reilly: I have a dear friend Malcolm Adams who is an Irish actor and we wanted to create a project together. I wasn’t sure what film we would make, and I didn’t have a huge budget. The process began by interviewing him but eventually a story within the story began to unfold as we chatted about his decision to move to New York in 1989 to pursue his dream of becoming an actor.

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

The whole process probably took a year and a half as I decided to work with an animator Damarrius Thompson to fill in Malcolm’s backstory in New York in 1989. The animator was working on many different jobs and so it took a while to create this aesthetic element within the film.

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

Escaping dreams!

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

I would say lack of funding. You need three things to make a film, time, money and imagination. Often you don’t have all three of these elements so in the process the lack of funding can delay finishing the film. Often you spend more on postproduction than on production so each stage in the filmmaking process can be costly. We also shot in Ireland and New York so that delayed the process of filming during the production stage.

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

I absolutely love that WildSOUND takes the time to film the audience’s responses to the film. WilldSound FEEDBACK is the only festival who takes the time to visually record the audience feedback and then provide it to the filmmakers.

This is a very personal story for Malcolm Adams and not an easy one to tell so having the opportunity especially during a global pandemic to hear responses to the film is amazing. It gives you the impetus to keep going, telling impactful stories and making films.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I myself am an Irish immigrant and I wanted to explore the relationship one has to leaving and returning home. In Ireland when Malcolm immigrated a lot of Irish people immigrated because there was a lack of employment for the younger generation.

As Malcolm Adams mentions he leaves home because he felt he couldn’t pursue acting in Ireland at that time because it wasn’t a place, he felt he could experiment without failing.

He had to leave in order to embrace failing in the pursuit of his dreams. The reasons one leaves a homeland are complex, a part of me wanted to explore this contradiction.

Every time you make a choice in life you lose something, and you gain something it was the contradiction of these two opposing forces that drew me to exploring this subject matter. That combined with chasing the ghosts of one’s past is always compelling to me to explore as a filmmaker.

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

My choices in film changes and I return to films for different reasons. Most recently I watched a German film titled Toni Erdman. It was about a relationship between a father and his daughter.

I’m attracted to films with interesting characters. At first this film moved slow for me but after inhabiting the lives of the characters, I kept mulling them over in my head. That is a true sign the film resonates on a deeper level.

The director was female Maren Ade. In terms of a film I’ve returned to most in my life, there is more than one. I like Sprit of the Beehive, Taxi Driver, Metropolis, Naked, The Mirror, Post Tenebras Lux because those films capture a cinema of loneliness and isolation.

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

I like Film Freeway, it is an excellent platform to submit your film as you post everything on the site and it makes the work of submitting your film much easier.

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

I have one album that I love listening to in the morning, and it’s Something Else by Cannonball Adderley. Often music reminds me of certain times in my life, and playing those songs takes me back in time.

I had three albums that I listened to while living on 8th street and Avenue B in the East Village in the late nineties. The albums were, Cat Power, The covers record, Nirvana Unplugged and Cannonball Adderley. It was a very creative time in my life, so it reminds me of all the amazing memories I had when I lived downtown in NYC. I also loved listening to The Jam, Style Council and The Cure at a different time in life.

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

I have a feature film titled We’re the Kids in America that the screenplay was an official selection for L’Atélier Cinéfondation Cannes International Film Festival in 2018. I have a US and an Irish co-producer and hopefully we will have the opportunity to shoot it at some point in the future. In addition, I am working on a short narrative film titled Love at White Rabbit.

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Interview with Filmmaker Cate Celso (KING OF THE ROAD)

KING OF THE ROAD played to rave reviews at the July 2020 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Cate Celso: After seeing Rick perform I was impressed by his energy and how he lit up his audiences. Getting to know him and all his layers I found his personal journey inspiring and wanted to share that with others.

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

It was about 9 months from start to finish. Seven in pre and production, two in post.

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

heartfelt journey

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

We definitely wanted to capture as much of Rick’s performances as we could so I would say sorting through 24 hours of footage/interviews to tell Rick’s story in 25 minutes was definitely a challenge to completing the film.

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

Smiles and gratitude. The fact that film lovers took the time to watch and comment on King of the Road was humbling. Very pleased that the film inspired the same sentiment I felt watching Rick and making the film.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I’ve always been interested in hearing people’s stories. After meeting Rick and being inspired by his resilience, his ability to juggle a day job and a passion career while overcoming such personal obstacles… living your passion as a creative while having to be in a day job that may not be creative. The balance, the strength, the focus, the inspiration to just move on through and do it – share your unique talent, your gifts- I wanted to share that inspiration with others.

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

As a filmmaker I am always watching films over and over again- one of my favorites is After the Wedding directed by Susanne Bier.

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

I find the platform easy to use as a filmmaker. You are one step removed from the festivals itself but for convenience sake it’s easy to follow and submit.

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

Too many to tally which one I’ve listened to the most- currently consistently listening to Eminence Front by The Who.

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

Yes! We are currently in a modified production schedule of A Bold Journey, my next short documentary film. Hoping to be ready by summer 2021 for the festival circuit. Following the journey of Tom Bold, a 77 year old hiker, maverick and adventurer from Sonoma, CA.

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Interview with Filmmaker Derek Osinski JR. (PERFECT MATTRESS: A LOVE STORY)

PERFECT MATTRESS: A LOVE STORY played to rave reviews at the February 2020 ROMANCE Feedback Film Festival.

Q: What motivated you to make this film?

A: This particular film draws many parallels to my formidable years of romance – including the actual act of “mattress store hopping”. On a similar note, this was me closing that chapter of adolescence and previous relationships in which I fell deeply but knew they could never be. The film is hopeful albeit a tad dry – a love letter to a time that I still hold fondly.

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

A: I never thought of it as a film until I reached my second year of Film School – I just so happen to be a spontaneous fellow at times. Once there, it took approximately six months from script to edit.

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

A: Perfect, Mattress.

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

A: My roommate. I had to move out the night before the first morning of principle photography.

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

A: Inspired.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

A: The whole idea stemmed from a juvenile charade with “some” of my former relationships in that we would pretend we were settling down and needed to compromise a type of mattress. Of course, all things were considered – price, size, firmness, warranty, etc. Inevitably we would decide on one and just as the salesperson would fetch the paperwork from the back, we would take off with mischievous laughter as fast as we could. Seems a touch crude but I did it with good intensions, mostly.

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

A: For some reason, ‘Cast Away’ is relentlessly attached to every channel.

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

A: Intuitive.

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

A: “Use Ta Be My Girl” by The O’Jays – there’s something inherently classic to the heart in that one.

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

A: I was working diligently on a fifteen-minute short entitled ‘Chicken or Fish?’ before the pandemic hit, but alas I may never get the pleasure to bring it to life. It was a Twilight Zone inspired romance, drama that had many talented people going for it, but it abruptly stopped like much of the world. However, I keep persistent with the pen and one day I am hopeful it will touch a great deal of folks – and that is why we do it.

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Interview with Filmmaker Alana de Freitas (NANCY)

NANCY played to rave reviews at the July 2020 LGBT Feedback Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Alana de Freitas: A festival deadline motivated me, but what made me want to tell this story was that the relationship between a father and son. Some men struggle with the concept that homosexuality and masculinity are not mutually exclusive. The father finds this very confusing and is forced to go on his own emotional journey where he examines his own ingrained thoughts and behaviors. I wanted to hold a mirror up to the audience. If you can recognize yourself in a character and see room for growth, that would be my hope.

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

The film was turned around pretty quickly. Probably within a month. It was a last minute submission for a festival that my acting school (at the time) was holding. I did make some tweaks to the edit after that, which didn’t take long. The longest part of the process was liaising with record companies about getting the rights to the closing track. That took a few months more, but the film was ready and waiting aside from that.

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

Honest & eye-opening. Is that cheating?

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

Financing. Finding money for short films is always difficult because recoupment opportunities are limited. Everything else was pretty seamless. I already had pre-existing relationships with the cast, so there was a familiarity that made things easy on set. We had a very small crew, so we all worked very closely together. It was a great team!

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

I love seeing people have enjoyed the film, or been emotionally affected by it. I can tell when someone really connects with it, because this is a very personal experience that many people have encountered in their life.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

It’s not a new idea. We have seen a kid coming out to his parents before. But we rarely see it from the parent’s perspective. That was what I found interesting. What’s the emotional journey that a parent goes through when they are completely blindsided by something. Especially the type of person who is not entirely woke.

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

I’m generally drawn to drama. I like to be affected by a story or a performance. I’m there for the art of it.

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

It’s very user friendly, but the best thing about it is that I can manage all my festival submissions on the one dashboard. I have all the notification dates in one place, all the festival dates. Makes it very easy to keep track of everything.

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

I have no idea. I don’t know that there would be any one song. And I listen to such a variety of music. I love music from the seventies though.

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

So many things! Unfortunately, due to COVID19, everything is on hold at the moment. But I have a horror feature screenplay I wrote that I’m ready to start pitching. I have a #metoo themed documentary in development. I have some other exciting projects that I can’t talk about just yet because I’m still finalizing contracts, but I should be able to announce very soon. Watch this space!

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Interview with Filmmaker Takeshi Yashiro (GON, THE LITTLE FOX)

GON, THE LITTLE FOX was the winner of BEST SOUND & MUSIC at the June 2020 ANIMATION Feedback Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Takeshi Yashiro: I love the original story written by Niimi Nankichi but when I was a kid, I couldn’t realize how good it was.

Since the original story is a classical children’s literature, I thought most people hadn’t been able to realize the true goodness or beauty of the story like me. So I wanted to make this short film so that audiences can discover how good and beautiful the story is.

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

It took about 2 years to complete.

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

Treasured Book (I am delighted if this film would be like a treasured book of the audience.)

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

To balance the artistic aspect and the entertainment side. I wanted to include the artistic aspect that can be objectively enjoyed and also the entertainment side that makes audiences to immerse themselves in the story as well.

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

I was glad that the audience had paid close attention to the details and felt what I wanted to express.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Many ideas were coming out and piling up little by little. The most brilliant ideas were popped up in my mind right after I woke up so I tried to sleep a lot.

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

“Take Me Out To the Snowland”

This is a popular movie which represents a certain times in Japan. I watched it when I was in high school and I remembered I felt jealousy for how incredibly the movie excited the audience.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0264171/

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

It’s so helpful to submit a movie to many fabulous film festivals easily.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?
I can’t think of anything.

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

I haven’t decided anything for the next one but it would be a short film. I am always thinking to challenge a feature film someday though.

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Interview with Filmmaker Mike Gallant (TERRA BEACH)

TERRA BEACH was the winner of BEST FILM at the July 2020 FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Mike Gallant: I work as an editor in Toronto and have participated in many great feature films, but ultimately I wanted to make a something myself that represented all facets of my personality – my connection to Mexico (my marriage with my wife) and my love of coming-of-age, scifi, and gangster films. I figured a feature version would be too expensive to do on my own, but I knew if I just got the right people involved/cast I could pull something together I would feel good about in Florida.

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

I wrote the feature version of “Terra Beach” on my downtime in the beginning of 2018. As time went on I got the itch to produce something of my own and I came back to Terra Beach at least as a short or proof of concept. Once I secured money, I found a producer who made it happen over 2 days in Florida in November of 2018. Post-production took about a year with the FX, music and VFX. It was probably finally finished at the end of 2019.

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

Space Riverdale

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

The VFX took a very long time to complete and went through different visual effects artists that cost a lot of money, but I would say the first day of filming met every obstacle imaginable. It rained for a few hours, we had a child actor who we ended up cutting from a scene because she was getting too upset, and then we had audio problems. It went so bad that we ended up wrapping early and picked up what we lost on a very LONG second/final day.

Ultimately, though, from a story standpoint, I was very nervous about how the film could be perceived due to the current political climate. People’s reactions to the choices we made, which didn’t have easy answers or lived inside a specific political box, especially from the feedback videos, made me happy that the film wasn’t over analyzed and the audience seemed to appreciate the story for what it was trying to say.

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

I always love/dread getting feedback because ultimately I make material for regular people/audiences. The positive feedback I received really blew me away. I didn’t expect the film to connect with people on such a widespread scale. The fact that two people said it should be a feature and one woman said she usually hates 20 minute shorts but felt completely captivated by this one, really hit home. I was humbled and super appreciative that people watched the film and took the time to voice their appreciation.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I’ve always loved coming-of-age films and I re-watched “Dazed and Confused” on Netflix one evening at a cottage…and it hit me at that time that no one had ever done that type of film as a sci-fi which takes place in the future. I also had the added angle of knowing about the Latinx community thanks to my wife and her extended family. I love sci-fi and consider that my wheel house, but it’s quite often inaccessible to a large portion of people so I thought a more stripped down Richard Linklater-style approach, where the film could almost work alone as a straightforward drama, would best suit the story.

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

I would say growing up it was either “Independence Day” or “The Fifth Element”. These days I think “Ali” by Michael Mann is probably my #1.

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

I think it’s a perfect platform. It’s incredibly easy to use and to search out different festivals.

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

“Sandstorm” by Darude is probably physically implanted in my brain from childhood.

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

As things open up here in Canada the film industry is going back to work. So, for the next few months I’ll be working on 2-3 features as an editor, as well as trying to get a feature version of “Terra Beach” and other projects I’ve written off the ground. A feature I cut with director Cody Callahan will also be premiering at “Fantasia” this summer.

Interview with Filmmaker Piotr Sulkowski (PLAY)

PLAY was the winner of BEST SOUND & MUSIC at the July 2020 DRAMA Feedback Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Piotr Sulkowski: I would like to connect with my subconsciousness

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

About two years I suppose

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

Mental Rollercoaster

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

Camera movements. The master shots I came up with were difficult to achieve.

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

Sometimes people don’t understand, but this film is for me like an experimental poem. The most important in this project was to be honest with myself. Feelings even if You touch mystery…

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I was waiting for it… writing a lot of notes… allowed myself to be lost and digging deeper and deeper… and after one night It just revealed to me. I saw it in my head almost like in cinema

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

“8 and 1/2” by Federico Fellini

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

Like in Tina Turner song “Simply the best”

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

My favourite music group is “Morphine” I also like music from Sorrentino movies… and also old polish stuff like “Kryzys” and “Świetliki”

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

Yes, feature movie is one of my biggest goal… But I dream about writing with somebody with I can share my soul and work

Interview with Filmmaker Kevin Rosen-Quan (CHOICES)

CHOICES was the winner of BEST SOUND & MUSIC at the July 2020 LGBT Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Kevin Rosen-Quan: I’ve always wanted to write and direct, but found it difficult to reach all the milestones it takes to do so. Recently, I joined a volunteer organization called Assorted Kinds, which enables short filmmakers to develop and execute one short film every month. After several months of volunteering my services as a production sound mixer, I was given the opportunity to submit a script to direct.

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

One of the things that makes Assorted Kinds unique is a restricted timetable. Scripts are submitted and voted on at the beginning of each month, and the selected script must be shot at the end of that month. After shooting, because I essentially shot seven versions of the same scene, I spent another month editing each couple individually and then was finally able to make the super cut of all seven couples together.

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

Two Risottos!?

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

The edit was definitely the biggest obstacle. At first, I tried to assemble all seven couples into the final cut straightaway, and found it nearly impossible. Where to start? What to cut out? In the end, I had to cut each couple individually in order to truly understand each couple’s strengths and bring the best bits from each pair to the final cut, and have it all flow together in a way that doesn’t lose the audience to confusion. Despite the whole film being only four minutes in total, it took a whole month or so of editing to get it there.

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

I was very happy to hear that it didn’t seem to be confusing to anyone haha. It was also satisfying to see that the audience understood that weaving seven couples together was more than just a gimmick, and spoke to universality of human relationships that transcends race, gender, handicap, or sexual orientations. I always felt that it was this concept that elevated Choices above a simple comedy sketch into something more poignant and meaningful.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The original idea was born out of a simple joke that I may have seen somewhere before: a scene where couple is having a conversion, and at one point we cut to one of the characters and he/she is replaced by a completely different actor. Then we cut and cut back and they’re back to the original actor. Would the audience notice? Would it be funny? Then, as comedy writers tend to do, I tried to see how far we could push it, how many characters we could swap out, or how frequently we could swap them. That being said, the script itself was actually written at the very last second right before voting for that month’s scripts. I had the idea for how to tell the story, but no actual story or characters haha. So I quickly whipped up a stream-of-consciousness script about not being able to choose a meal at a restaurant. That quick first draft ended up being the shooting script.

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

Big Trouble In Little China

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

It was my first time submitting a film but it seemed pretty frictionless…

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

I listen to music pretty much every waking moment I can, and also when I sleep for that matter haha. So picking a single song would be tough. I do remember listening to Nine Inch Nails in high school and thinking, one day when I’m a director I’m going to put their music in films…and then Fincher went and did it ahead of me.

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

I have been fortunate enough to get the opportunity to direct three additional shorts with Assorted Kinds over the past year, all of which are still in post purgatory. Two of them I wrote, and one is a pilot for a sci-fi television series that I am developing. I love exploring experimental new storytelling concepts like the one that spawned Choices, and I’m always looking for the next opportunity to do so.

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