Interview with Filmmaker David Maire (CHATEAU SAUVIGNON: TERROIR)

CHATEAU SAUVIGNON: TERROIR played to rave reviews at the 2016 HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

“Chateau Sauvignon: terroir’ was my thesis film for the School of Visual Arts’s Masters in Directing program, which requires their students to complete and screen their shorts at the end of the year in order to graduate. Yet, I was motivated to complete this program because it offered me the opportunity to explore the murderous motivations of a vintner family, characters I had imagined years prior, through the creation of a strong film that could double as a prequel and video pitch for a feature film to audiences and investors, respectively.

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

The initial concept was for a feature film, and that congealed in my mind about 8 years before the completion of this short film. The short film however took about 3 years from conception to completion (production lasted about a week).

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

Savage terror!

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

Despite some stressful hiccups and kerfuflles during production, the biggest obstacle was in the writing. Getting my ideas onto the page can be an elaborate, time consuming challenge for me, but the real hurdle came from having to choose which story elements from the feature to focus on and which not to, while simultaneously down playing the violence to a justifiable and affordable level of gore. Too often did I use the feature concept as a model for the short rather than treat this project as its own entity; for a good number of drafts, the narrative was convoluted because I was trying to condense all the information from the feature into a significantly shorter script, which themselves called for scenes of unrealistic production value – for example, school buses full of senior citizens, dozens of bodies hanging upside down being eviscerated one after the next, creepy twins who lose limbs during fight sequences in industrial wine making machinery, demonic opiate addicted babies, and so forth. It was difficult to strike an acceptable level of ambiguity wherein I could leave behind enough bread crumbs for the audience to work out the answers and create their own interpretations rather than have every detail spoon fed to them. Which leads us perfectly into your next question!

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

Watching the Toronto audience feedback video was exhilarating. My initial reaction was extremely positive! It was so gratifying to hear from the audience, which is rarely the case at most film festivals even when I’m in attendance, flattery notwithstanding. The crowd picked up on so many small cues relating to the character’s motivations and back stories that I couldn’t help but feel a sense of relief. For example, they correctly picked up that the film is a teaser to a much larger project, that it felt like ‘Hostel’ and ‘Chainsaw Massacre’ which were both predominantly referenced in our visual treatments of the short, and that this is indeed a family business. I was pleased that people appreciated the story being told from the killer’s perspective rather than that of the victim, and acknowledged one’s arc as a viewer shifting from rooting for our protagonist to “want[ing] him to die too.” A conflicted audience is engaged, I like to think, so its great to create this character who you root for because you like him and feel sorry for his situation, and then reveal he’s a killer amongst killers, and a convincing one! It’s generates a nice twisty roller coaster of emotions that it seemed the WILDSound viewers jived with. I’ve consistently been told not to spoon feed the audience the way Nicolas’ mother is, and this perfectly exemplified to me how successful this short was in doing so. This unique perspective of observing audience members debate their interpretations of the story and discuss their emotional reactions to the film gifted me with a profound sense of pride, validating the notion that filmmakers should always treat their audience intelligently.Thank you for this.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Hailing from French wine country, I was always innately going to shoot a movie in this setting. I don’t recall exactly how the idea formed, but I remember having a very vivid image in my head of deep red blood splattering on green grapes. The concept was most likely cemented in high school around the time I first watched Eli Roth’s ‘Hostel’, and was penned my final undergraduate semester at NYU as part of a feature writing class. As I mentioned briefly, the feature script never fully formed, and when I enrolled at SVA a couple of years later, I decided to use the opportunity to explore the characters’ motivations and background story from the feature – why the vintners kill people, how they do it, et cetera – focusing on the point of view of the killers as opposed to that of the victims. Understanding their back story and motivations for killing was somewhat of a grey area in the feature’s outline that I absolutely wanted to flesh out more. This short film acts as a prequel to the feature, detailing the protagonist’s first kill, and shedding light on their medically reliant cannibalistic tendencies. We weren’t able to include the image of the blood on grapes because we shot in Spring (before the grapes grow), but it’ll most definitely be included in the feature!

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

Hands down Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games” (the American version specifically, but I’ve seen the German one many times as well).

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

Currently I’m busy on both ends of the production spectrum. On the one side, I’ve started developing several short video projects concepts and and forced myself to begin fleshing out (pun intended) and writing my features. Otherwise, I’ve been heavily focused on attending film festivals and networking – “Chateau Sauvignon: terroir” is about two thirds of the way through its festival run.

Otherwise, I’ve produced two other short films recently, one just wrapped a few weeks ago and is being edited, titled ‘My Daughter Yoshiko’, this story follows a Japanese mother coming to terms with her daughter’s Autism diagnosis – here is a link to our post production fundraising page. It isn’t a horror film though, any neither is the second super short “Mariposas”, a 3min story that lives in magical realism and is about a boastful father prattling on superficially about his daughter to another parent in the school pick up line. I can’t wait to share these projects with you, and look toward to what the audience has to say about ‘The Hobbyist’ with eager anticipation! Per chance, do you offer waivers or discounts to returning filmmakers?

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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 Andy Fortenbacher (ORNAMENT OF BEAUTY)

 ORNAMENT OF BEAUTY played to rave reviews at the Under 5 Minute FEEDBACK Film Festival in April 2018.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Andy Fortenbacher: My producing partner, Stephanie, and I were interested in extracting a fantasy/horror from Shakespeare’s Sonnet #70, which is ultimately about slander. It seemed like a challenging opportunity to tell a story very different from my other work.

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

On and off, it took us about 2 months to complete this project.

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

Overcoming oppressors

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

A single day shoot that was consumed by a tropical storm.

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

It was a rare pleasure to receive video feedback from a film festival. Probably one of the coolest things I’ve received in a while. Nobody else does this! As a filmmaker, it’s always good to hear what the audience thinks about the work, especially when you’re not able to attend the festival and hear firsthand. My hat is off to you!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Many elements of the sonnet were used as inspiration, but I took ample artistic liberty when working through the surreal visual approach, story and characters.

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

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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

I’ve been pretty happy with Filmfreeway. When withoutabox was years outdated, Filmfreeway came in with a fresh, cheap, and simple approach to getting my films to festivals.

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

Grateful Dead: China Cat Sunflower

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

I’m currently developing three feature films and always writing.
 

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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 Shaun Wright (A GOOD BLINDER)

Co-Director Shaun Wright’s short film A GOOD BLINDER played at the April 2018 Documentary FEEDBACK Film Festival in Los Angeles. It was the overwhelming winner of BEST FILM at the festival.
 
Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Shaun Wright: After having a conversation with Dan, we knew he would be be a really unique subject for a documentary. Plus, he seemed really excited to to tell his story.

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

It took about 2 years total.

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

Poetic, Funny

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

Finding the right story, because there was so much rich material.

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

It was really rewarding to see how the audience reacted to Dan’s story and his relationship with his wife. In particular, when the one woman said the that film touched her heart, honestly it doesn’t get any better then that as a filmmaker.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

We heard about Dan through a friend (who’s in the film) who had their piano tuned by him for over 15 years. She thought he would be a great topic for a documentary and she was right!

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

Probably this documentary! Raising Arizona.

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

Really like the platform a lot, easy and quick to use.

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

The Clash-London Calling

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

Continue teaching film production and I’m currently working on a documentary about the attempt to unionize a poultry processing plant in the university town where I live.

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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 Robert Nazar Arjoyan (I PROMISED HER LIFE)

I PROMISED HER LIFE was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the April 2018 FEEDBACK Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Robert Nazar Arjoyan: First, I just wanted to get out there again and make something new. It had been a while since my previous short film and felt the time was now. Second, the whole ritual of washing hands after a funeral was something I grew up with and wanted to explore further.

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

About 8 months, all told.

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

Wash away.

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

To be honest, the entire process was pretty smooth. The biggest obstacle, as I’m sure is the case with many filmmakers, was raising the money for the budget. With the help and generosity of an angelic handful of folks, we were able to meet our goal.

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

It’s a mixed bag – everyone takes away what they want to from anything in life, including a short film.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

As I mentioned, the ritual of washing hands post funeral was something I grew up with. Well, one day I came home after a funeral and forgot to wash. After an initial self-reprimand, I thought “what if the dead could actually come back because one doesn’t wash their hands?” That was it.

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

Either ET, GoodFellas, or Back to the Future. They vie for the top spot always.

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

I love FilmFreeway. Simple, intuitive, and straightforward.

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

I don’t have an answer for that one, I don’t think.

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

A new short, possibly. Music videos for some wonderful musicians. A feature is still in the distance, but we venture ever closer.

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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 Kaitlin Creadon (FOR THE LOVE OF THE CHILD)

FOR THE LOVE OF THE CHILD played to rave reviews at the March 2018 DOCUMENTARY FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Kaitlin Creadon: With the wonderful opportunity to make any type of film I desired through my schooling, I had the chance to turn this once-in-a-lifetime event into a documentary. Creating this personal documentary was definitely out of my comfort zone, but I knew it was a story I truly wanted to share with the world. A big motivation for completing this film was the hope that someone else
going through this will see it, and that the film will help them through their own journey.

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

I started working on the concept in August of 2016 and it took about a year and a half to produce and edit. Even today, I am still working on BTS as I just have a wonderful goldmine of footage still to share.

How would you describe your short film in two words?

True love.

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

The biggest obstacle I personally faced was overcoming my own fear of being on camera. It is a very personal story, so I knew right from the beginning that I would have to be on camera and talk about my experiences. It was difficult for me at the time, yet I am so glad I put that aside to become an integral part of my own documentary.

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

Excitement, yet surprisingly defensive. Nonetheless, the was extremely interesting to hear the audience’s take on the documentary!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Like I mentioned, through the MFA thesis process I had the chance to work on a film of my choosing. Ultimately, I landed on documenting this experience. Meeting my birth mother in person was something I knew I wanted to do, and this was a great way to do it. I reached out to the adoption agency The Cradle, then Tabitha (my birth mother) Collette (birth aunt), and Robbie (half-brother) and his family, to see if they would be interested in being a part of this as well. I received overwhelming support. It all started to come together, and we began filming!

Even if I hadn’t used this footage for a documentary, I feel so blessed the entire process was caught on camera as it is hard to remember everything that happened in person!

What film have you seen the most in your life?

I think it has to be Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen it on DVD, but the thirteen-year-old me saw it a record seven times in theaters!

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

The submission process for this film festival was quite easy! The Documentary Feedback Film Festival made me feel very comfortable right from the get-go.

What is next for you? A new film?

Currently no films on the docket, however I am a new Adjunct Professor at DePaul University, where I received my MFA in Directing! I am looking forward to seeing what this new journey has in store for me.
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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 Director Leslie Aldana (THE WRITER’S WOMAN)

THE WRITER’S WOMAN was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the Romance FEEDBACK Film Festival in February 2018.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Leslie Aldana: I was thinking about love and the structures around it. About the think that are socially permitted an not in this topic. I realized love is free and love has many manners. Love is not only that we see an fairy tales and I want to talk about all of this.

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

To make this from the initial idea to the final product we took nine months.

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

Breaking Structures

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

The biggest obstacle I faced was abandon my old structures about what love is.

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

I was so exited that we can share emotions in other country.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film

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

The ideas always come to me, all the time.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

The film I have seen the most is “Midnight in Paris”.

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

Is an easy to use platform and very complet.

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

The song I have listen the most is “Air” from Bach” and “Moon over Bourbon Street” from Sting.

What is next for you? A new film?

My next project is Mû’bû, a film about a child that dead apparently without a reason. A story about love and detachment.

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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.