Interview with Filmmaker Gretchen Bayer (THE FOREST PRINCESS)

Gretchen Bayers short film THE FOREST PRINCESS played to rave reviews at the November 2017 FEMALE FEEDBACK Film Festival. It was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the festival.

 What motivated you to make this film? 

We had this trip booked to visit my family in Indiana. Their 9.5 acre wooded property, my incredibly special and inspirational little niece AND the fact that we had just added some great Sigma Art lenses to our filmmaking arsenal was all the motivation we needed to dream up a story to capture on our trip.

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

We filmed in late September 2016 and released the film on Thanksgiving Day 2016.

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

metamorphosis & flux

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

We have day jobs and had already committed to a couple of side film/editing jobs.

Our biggest challenge was carving out time to work on The Forest Princess.

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

I thought it was VERY interesting to hear the varying interpretations…the theme of death came up a couple times…that was not where we were driving our story, but I like that there is that possibility!

I like that one of the audience members commented that she found the film therapeutic. Our intention was for it to be more of a glimpse…a meditation…not a neatly, wrapped up package.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video: 

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

I had read a brief article about this sculptor/painter in Spain that created ‘land art’…and had specifically painted all sorts of objects on the trunks of trees in a forest.

I come from a family of artists, so we are often sharing new discoveries with one another.

I shared this artist’s work with my sister, Kendra, and told her that I wanted to come up with a story about her daughter, Aerie, set in the forest on the family compound.

She and I wrote the script for Aerie to narrate and act out. We were gathering costumes and talking to Aerie about her role as The Forest Princess and she started talking about the caterpillar forming a chrysalis…my sister and I were surprised to hear these big words and ideas coming out of her 3-year old mouth and decided that we had to write the chrysalis monologue into the script.

  What film have you seen the most in your life? 

The Sound of Music was played EVERY YEAR in our house until I was 11-ish.
In my adult life…that is a hard one to pin down to one.
Here’s the top 4:
Wings of Desire
The Thomas Crown Affair (1968 – Steve McQueen)
North By Northwest
Grey Gardens (documentary)

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

It’s a great channel for getting your work out there. It’s wonderful to create something and send it down a few avenues via FilmFreeway…even if nothing comes of the submissions, it feels like I am honoring the process and effort made… breathing extra life into a project that I worked hard on and am proud of.

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

Wellll…it’s undoubtedly a Radiohead song…i just don’t know which one.
Their individual albums translate into single songs in my soul.

  What is next for you? A new film?  

We just wrapped a couple of music videos and are gearing up for another trip to see the family in Indiana…perhaps another chapter in Aerie’s metamorphosis…

the_forest_princess

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Interview with Filmmaker Chang Hyun Park (BRIDGING COLOR)

BRIDGING COLOR played to rave reviews at the October 2017 STUDENT FEEDBACK Film Festival.

 What motivated you to make this film?

I got a couple of friend who got born color blind. Especially My class mate from New York film academy, Jun, didn’t have a car. so I always picked him up to go to school.

When I stopped traffic signal, He always asked me that Chang that was red? or Green? when i got the question for the first time, I really didn’t understand the question and thought that How you could not distinguish between red and green.

My friend said that he have never see the red color through my view so He doesn’t know how red color is. He just see the red color with his own view. When I heard that I’m so embarrassed and surprised. It was so shameful that I answered like that. who is right color? where is right color? is there absolutely color? My story was from there.

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

Since I wrote this story It took 6 month to complete it. For 3month to prepare pre-production, 8days shooting, 2month for post-prodution.

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

Actually I had no idea about art, especially painting. I’m sooo poor at drawing and artistic authentic of paint. so I meet many artists and art students to get some comment and recommendation. all art works in my film, are created by art student.

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

I was so glad to hear all comment for my film. All comments are so useful and helpful to improve my film career. Especially the host mentioned about the wardrobe of main character I’m so happy with that.

I really did it intentionally that his wardrobe’s color being changed gradually following his condition.
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What film have you seen the most in your life?

I prefer to watch drama and thriller genre. I know that these twos are totally different style and the reason why I like to watch two different genre films.

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

It is really convenience and trustful to submit my film into film festival. I don’t have to search each film festival but I can see most film festival on one page.

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

sorry I don’t usually listen music. Haha. I usually listen music when I work out. Just random music.

What is next for you? A new film?

Yes I’m preparing next film which is my first debut feature film. It is about Korean Immigrant living in LA korea town.

I almost finish the script and production book. I have plan to pitch to get investment soon. Thnaks!

 

Interview with Filmmaker Jonathan Brooks (MILK MAN)

Jonathan’s short film was the winner of BEST FILM at the October 2017 HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival. MILK MAN is considered the best HORROR short film of the year 2017.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jonathan Brooks: I wanted to direct a short film in a one day shoot that could potentially lead to making a low budget feature. The horror/comedy genre appealed to me and I was inspired by filmmakers such as Ben Weatley and the Duplas brothers.

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

About two or three months.

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

Pasturised gore

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

Making a film on a low to no budget you are relying on lots of people to give time and skills for little or no pay and its often difficult to get people to be available at the right time so theres a balancing act there.

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

It was nice, seemed very positive and was great to know what people thought.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The idea of a Milkman as a boogeyman came about because Id read somewhere that low budget British horror films do well in Asia and at the same time Id read another article about the fact that lots of people in Asia are lactose intolerant.I have no idea if any of these facts are actually true.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Ghostbusters

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

It seems pretty intuitive and easy to use.

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

Lawyers Guns and Money by Warren Zevon

What is next for you? A new film?

I have a script for a Milk Man feature which I’ve written with co-writer Adam Davidson and is at second draft stage. Hopefully if there’s more interest in this short we can make the feature at some stage.

 

Interview with Director James Bowsher (WITHHELD)

The short film WITHHELD (directed by James Bowsher) was the overwhelming winner of BEST FILM at the THRILLER FEEDBACK Film Festival in September 2017. It arguably could be the best short film of 2017! It’s that great of a film.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Matthew Steggles: The primary motivation was that I felt like the idea was interesting and that no one would make it if I didn’t. What kept me motivated was the fact that I had an overwhelming amount of support from friends, family and the crew.

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

The idea to the shoot only took a few months, but the edit took us about a year, as there were various complicating factors. It can be summarised by us wanted to ensure we got it right and whilst there were frequent instances of it almost being ready I never felt happy putting it out into the world.

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

Cruel communication.

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

The biggest obstacle was probably staying faithful to the original concept. The film is meant to be claustrophobic, but when watching the edits you can often think that you have gone too far. In the end it was about reminding myself what my objectives were with the film and making it the most distilled version of that.

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

It’s encouraging to hear the reactions from the audience particularly in regards to how we used Stephanie’s character. Part of what I wanted to do in the film was look at the danger of male gaze and the difficult treatment of female characters in film. However, keeping his attacks on her and his treatment of her separate to the film and its perspective was tricky – especially in the limited time that we had. I think this will probably engender different reactions from different viewers, but this is why the ‘turn’ was so important to me.

 WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video: 

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

An exhibit about phone sex workers by Philip Toledo demonstrated the unexpected breadth of characters in this industry. From there it meshed with ideas I had about performance as the phone was a clear locus for suspending disbelief. I wrote a first draft and from there my friends’ positive reactions to the concept drove me to shoot it.

 What film have you seen the most in your life?

That’s an almost impossible question as I have gone through many love affairs with many films. On balance Magnolia by Paul Thomas Anderson is one that I keep coming back to.

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

My producer Matthew Steggles did most of the real legwork in regards to festival submissions. He says “The menu navigation and friendly user face is leagues beyond other online submission platforms that I have previously used. With thousands of festivals at your disposal, they’ve made it incredibly easy to organise and keep track of each submission – something that could have taken many countless hours in the past is now a pleasure to undertake. I’ve also found it to be cheaper than most of the other submission platforms.”

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

Feeling Good by Nina Simone is a song that I love and was playing in my house all the time because of my mother.

What is next for you? A new film?

I am starting an MA in producing at the National Film and Television School in the UK this January. In regards to new projects, my collaborator Matthew and I have numerous projects we want to do next and are deciding which one would be best.

 

Interview with Director Andi Osho (AMBER)

Andi’ Osho’s short film was voted BEST MUSIC at September 2017 CRIME/THRILLER FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

I had a really inspiring conversation with a Fox executive several years ago and he told me that I need to think about what my contribution to the industry is. I’d never thought of my career in those terms. I think most people think in terms of what they can get or what they want. Relatively few creatives think about what they can pour into the pot.

Anyway, the idea gestated in me for a really long time and then it got the point where I realised that part of my contribution is storytelling. And that led me to want to direct. It was as though the desire to direct was bursting from me. I’d made shorts during a intensive film making course and various other little bits and piece but Amber was the first time I’d put together a full-on production. It was exhilarating and terrifying and thrilling all at the same time. I remember Barry Jenkins saying that when he directs, he is his best self. I feel the same.

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

Just over a year. Pre-production was relatively swift. Once I decided it was happening, the key team came together pretty quickly. I teamed up with an editor I’d worked with before who came on as exec producer too. Then my producer and DP followed shortly after.

The hardest and longest part of the process was post production. I’m sure that’s the case with most short films because unless you have a healthy budget for that part of the process, it all has to be fitted around other people’s work. We were beg, borrow and stealing favours everywhere for grades, ADR, sound mix. Everything. From wrapping on set to a finished film was about ten months.

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

Stalker mystery!

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

Not having a post production budget. That’s not as crazy as it sounds.

Basically, our exec producer was our editor so we always knew our offline was taken care of and as I worked in post production for ten years before switching lanes, I knew that I had enough contacts to scrabble together my post production.

But because it was all favours, very generously gifted from within my network, it just meant that the whole thing took longer than if we’d had a budget.

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

I was intrigued that they drilled down into the thematic content of the project because that was what was most important to me. There were some intelligent, well-considered observations that made me feel like, ah, perhaps we did our job as film makers that our work prompted such a response. Myself and my lead actress did chuckle about the guy who didn’t feel it was plausible for a small girl to beat up an adult male. That was rather the point of the film, when a woman wants something, you need to be a powerhouse to stop her!

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

There were several factors. The initial one was a fascinating documentary about One Direction Fans. It reminded me of what I was like at that age and how intense teenage desire can be.

I started to think that there was definitely a narrative film in there somewhere and that it would be really interesting to see a stalker film with a teenage girl. I also wanted to give myself the challenge of telling the story from the girl’s perspective. Usually the stalker is the antagonist and we root for the protagonist to conquer them. With Amber, I wanted to create something more ambiguous. In addition thematically I was interested in the manufactured nature of pop music, how pop stars are equally manipulated by the industry and the intensity and power of female teenage design as a formidable force.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Aliens. I’m pretty sure I’ve watched it more than James Cameron!

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

Film Freeway is the only platform I want to use. I wish film festivals that use other platforms knew how the experience is as an end user. When you are entering multiple festivals, it is a Godsend to have a great website like Film Freeway that takes some of the grind out of the process. They care about the film maker, are less expensive and generally a better experience.

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

Another Star – Stevie Wonder. Once I’d heard Songs In The Key Of Life I couldn’t stop listening to it.

I was the same with Oasis’ What’s The Story? Album. I listened to it for six months straight. You want to know why I’m making a film about obsession, I think that’s your answer right there.

What is next for you? A new film?

Two things. I want to turn Amber into a feature film project. I’m just working on exactly what that narrative will be. I’ve thrown a few ideas about but I’m not convinced I’ve found the right one just yet. If I’m going to put my heart and soul into that project, I want to know that it’s the right thing.

The other thing I’d like to do is make a much simpler short film. Amber wasn’t huge in scale but it was big enough that it required a mid sized crew, several locations and needed quite a bit of funding to realise it.

Next, I’d like to tell a simple story deeply. One location, perhaps even one actor. I want to work with the resources I already have and simplify the whole process yet still produce a great story.

 

Interview with Directed Eric Shahinian (FOREIGN SOUNDS)

Eric Shahinian’s short film played to rave reviews at the September 2017 CRIME FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto. It definitely stirred a great conversation. This was one of those films that was made for the FEEDBACK Film Festival format.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

The film was motivated by a real situation I experienced when I was with a friend and we heard distressing sounds coming from a neighbor’s apartment. My inclination was to separate myself from it, while my friend took a very different stance and immediately wanted to help.

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

Since this was a student film made with a minimal budget, post-production took a long time, especially the sound design, because it’s such a crucial element of the story. From script to completion the film took nearly a year because I had some other projects that came up during post-production.

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

Foreign Sounds. (I wish this was better, sorry).

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

The biggest obstacle faced during the film was the sound design because it was such a crucial element of the story and I did not get all of the sound on set, so I had to set up multiple ADR sessions and really refine the details of the offscreen dispute.

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

It’s not easy to judge how well an idea is going to translate, so having the audience feedback is very grounding even if they aren’t singing your praises. It was great to see people respond to it and in some cases to see that my intentions came through. It’s always interesting to hear people having such different reactions and bringing their individual subjective viewing experiences.

Watch the AUDIENCE FEEDBACK Video of the short film:

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

The idea came from a real situation very similar to the characters except that I was with a friend. We took very different responses to hearing the sounds of our neighbor’s fighting and I thought that instinctual opposition was interesting. It was also never clear to us exactly what happened, which further complicated the question of how much we needed to involve ourselves in strangers lives. I really recreated the film very closely to how the situation unfolded in a way of processing it and exploring the conflicts that we both experienced in that moment.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

It’s a toss up between Punch Drunk Love and Ghost World.

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

I love filmfreeway, it’s so much easier to navigate than withoutabox in terms of the layout and the search functions. I love being able to include a vimeo link as an online screener. I’m a fan.

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

I’m not sure, I go through periods where I obsessively listen to certain songs until I can’t stand it anymore and then find a new obsession. Recently I’ve been listening to the Silversun Pickups, they have a song called “The Go Inbetweens” that feels tonally similar to a feature I’m writing so that ones been on loop.

What is next for you? A new film?

I made two more shorts after Foreign Sounds. The first was a dark comedy about an emotionally codependent sister who breaks down when her younger sister gets the chance to move out. It’s a weird movie and hasn’t been accepted to many festivals but it was fun to try something new. My thesis short film is currently on the festival circuit and has been screening globally. It was influenced by the relationship between my grandparents and is about a caretaker who is forced to confront his limitations. I am currently torn between two feature scripts that I’m trying to decide to move forward with as a first feature.

Interview with Directed Elaine Chu (MANEKI-NEKO)

Elaine Chu’s short film was the winner of “Best Performances” at the September 2017 ROMANCE FEEDBACK Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Elaine Chu: A recent break-up (at the time) which my cat helped me get over.

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

4 months.

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

Love again.

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

The film had an extremely low-budget, so trying to find people who were good at their job but also willing to work at a lower professional rate was a challenge.

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

I was honored that they had taken the time to really think about the film and come up with their own theories. It felt great knowing that people could relate to the themes of rejection/loss, and gained some solace. This festival was the first time anyone had described my film as “quirky”, and it really is the best word to describe it. The moderator did a great job of keeping everyone on topic and generating more food for thought.

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

After my break-up I spent an inordinate amount of time cuddling and talking to my cat. She tolerated it to a point but eventually wandered off … and then came back. This film explores what she may have done during that disappearance.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Stephen King’s “The Shining”

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

I find it very efficient and much easier to use than WithoutABox.

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

Rilo Kiley’s “Portions for Foxes”

What is next for you? A new film?

I just directed a commercial for Disney which should be coming out soon. I also have another short film called Be Your Beautiful which is currently doing a festival run. Hopefully I’ll find time to finish my 2nd horror screenplay and direct my sophomore feature. I’d also really like to visit Canada if I ever get break from the Hollywood grind.