Interview with Filmmaker Evgeniya Radilova (PATRIK)

PATRIK played to rave reviews at the November 2019 Female Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

What motivates me to write “Patrik” is an anonymous elderly man who caught my attention years ago. I was 18, aspiring actress, student at that time at the Film and Theater Academy in Bulgaria and while on a lunch break, I suddenly found myself starring at this man struggling to cross over a busy road. He moved very slowly, with a persistence and patience, but obviously intimidated by the fast world around him, failing in every attempt he does to cross the street. He kept on going back to the starting point, facing the semaphore and waiting for a green light. He would barely make a few steps when the light would turn red again forcing him to go back and start over. Eventually, he gave up and walked down the street.

That story became one of these seemingly unimportant memories, we are not sure why we keep, until it finally made sense, and I felt the urge to share it the moment I met Patrik Baldauff. We both performed in a production of The Cherry Orchard at The Actors Studio, alongside Ellen Burstyn, as lifelong members in the actor’s unit.

I found the perfect actor for my story and “Patrik” was born! His exceptional persona and our work together inspired me to develop a lot more the narrative and established the main topics of the movie.

The beauty and maybe just a bit of sadness aging brings, when striped from expectations and ambitions, we find joy in the little pleasure the morning sunshine brings, a memory hanging on the wall, the calming sound of ticking clock and the freedom of not putting your socks on if you don’t want to. Yet the world is changing and it’s harder and harder to keep up, but maybe the need of slowing down is a call from the universe to take a breath and let the things that matter happen to us. Often something small we would barely notice it’s what we really need at that very moment and gives a new meaning to what is important.

It is when we find a Greater sense of acceptance of and tolerance for those normally disregarded in our community that we can begin to work towards change.

“Patrik” is a story about a man of the theater, a giant of the stage and a charmer of the screen. I am honoring the long carrier Patrik Baldauff has had, and we follow the happiest day of his life when he is being honored with a life time achievement award. He needs to make one last effort and proudly walk alone all the way to the theater to receive his award. This is his Golgotha.

But the world out there is too busy and won’t stop for the old man. He misses his ceremony, but unexpectedly, he’s been given a different reward, which turns out to be even more significant – the gift of opening one’s heart. My little hope is that the young man offering a hand on the street, is you and I.

I’ve been compelled to make art that is deeply personal and accessible to a larger audience and my intend is to fill my films with the purest and honest form of storytelling to life.

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

This film took two years to make. It was my first film and I did every single possible mistake known to man. It took me a very long time to try to understand these mistakes, learn how to fix them and then fix them. But I wouldn’t change it for nothing because I have learned so much in the process!
Also, the editing took me a whole while as I was connected to every single moment. My first rough cut was 30 minutes, needless to say was incredibly long…… and after month of working on it and then letting it go for a bit I realized what is next, what needs to be cut and what I need to do.

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

Help one another!

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

The biggest obstacle was the editing! We shot gorilla style on Times Square all day long. We had Patrik Baldauff cross the street at least a 100 times.
We had prepared background actors and situations but honestly we didn’t end up using any of them. What we got to use was the real situations that happened around us. However, every time Patrik crossed the street there were different people in the frame so it was a complete mess in the editing room trying to connect the dots. But after a long battle, I think we have managed to make sense of it all! And I am so grateful for these situations that happened without much planning! They were absolutely magical and elevated the film to another level!

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

Firstly, I would like to say Thank you so much for this opportunity! I liked the idea of the Feedback video and I loved the actual video. It made me very emotional to hear other people talk about my film. What they liked, what they didn’t, what worked and what not. Even just the fact that people took the time and interest to talk about my film is all I could have ever asked for. And the critique was very helpful for my future work!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video :

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

As I mentioned above the inspirations were two- 1. The anonymous man I observed on the street and meeting the Broadway actor Mr. Patrik Baldauff.

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

Green Mile
Dumb & Dummer

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

I find this platform an incredible way to share/help Independent filmmakers work and it is very easy to use!

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

Probably something by Michael Jackson or Sail by Awolnation

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

My big upcoming projects are 2.

My second short film I have written, produced and directors called “El Cavil”,
which is about o start it’s festival year run – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8277832/

“El Cavil” is about a man who loves his work as a shoe shiner, more than anything in this world. He believes in the old tradition, that if you have a shine on your shoes there is a melody in your heart. Unfortunately for El Cavil, people are just too busy to acknowledge him or their shoes. With this very special story we wanted to raise awareness of the struggle that homeless people go through every day and we wanted to show that may of them could be a valuable contributor to society if they only got the opportunity.

And last but not least, I am so happy to introduce to you the biggest project of my life so far, I am co-producing and staring in the film cosplay Narrative Series called “Lost Cos”.

I am proud to say that 140 people cast and crew Ce together to make this wild idea become a reality. We are already in post production and can’t wait to share this project with you soon.

Lost Cos is a crime drama/dark comedy narrative based in New York City that follows the female protagonist, “Eni” (character performed by Evgeniya Radilova), who’s faced with an abusive past that consists of traumatic events she must confront. Her rage has now come to the surface and her lover, Zoey, worries if Eni can remain in control of her life.

Central to her journey is the underground cosplay club “Lost Cos”. A place for costume culture bohemians to “lose themselves, or perhaps find themselves, behind a mask”. A sexy blend of costume artistry, thunderous jams, and burlesque style curiosities await all who can gain entry to the hidden club.

It is at Lost Cos that Eni discovers her love for performing as her cosplay character “Vampireniya”. A popular fictional comic book based vampire succubus (at least in our world). A heroine whose objective is to hunt and eliminate abusers of women. Can Eni face the internal demons inside her or will her obsession with the fictional heroine “Vampireniya” blur the line between fantasy and reality to the point of no return…?

For details please visit http://www.lostcos.com and on IG @lostcoscommunity

Interview with Screenwriter Tai-Ying Chi (You Don’t Deserve My Jelly Strips)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Tai-Ying Chi: The story is about a girl who is sexually assaulted by the boy she loves and always wants to be romantically involved with, therefore she doesn’t know how to react at first, and she’s struggled between what her heart really wants and what her heart believes to be right. It also talks about some international students, or even some young immigrants’ insecurities and anxieties they have to face when they firstly come and reside in the U.S.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama.

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

When the Me Too movement widely started in the United States in 2017, the cases that provoked most discussions surrounded what had happened on American majorities. It got me think, there must be many other newly arriving minorities, who may have encountered the same situations but had even less resources and know-how to ask for help. Plus, depending on what kind of the cultural backgrounds they were coming from, they may have been dealing with different levels of culture shocks, and feeling lost in telling what’s right or wrong in this new social conventions, and will only be able to grab some sense gradually after time proceeds. (In many stereotypical ideas American society is viewed as much open and complicated in sex and relationships. There’re people who are victimized by this believe, trying to blend in; and there’re people who take advantages on them.) Even when later Me Too became a more common topic and movement in other societies in the world, there can still be subtle and different range of violence in relationships that is hard to be categorized. Therefore, I think making this kind of stories into movies is important.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

Sad gain.

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

Jurassic Park 1993, It was one of the few VHS tapes I owned when I was a kid.

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I’ve worked on it on and off, mostly in summer vacation periods, for two years.

7. How many stories have you written?

Two short screenplays in English and many more in traditional Mandarin Chinese.

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

First of May by The Bee Gees.

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

The dialogues were firstly written in traditional Chinese, but for the contest and subtitles purposes, I translated them into English. It was a bit challenging to write English lines that are used among urban youths to give more layers to their personalities, but also preserve the same essences in English as in Traditional Chinese so readers can still get the context of how they talk or behave in the world they came from. Another major challenge was that, I wanted to introduce a delightful Taiwanese dessert into the screenplay to enhance the idea that they had shared childhood memories, which was sweet and delightful just like they used to remember each other, and by what happened to them and the dessert in the end, it also symbolizes they both for the first time really have to graduate from their childhoods. I spent so much time to look for this specular dessert that can be playful, sweet, nostalgic, look pretty on screen, and will also be easy to preserve and handle as props. Finally, the Taiwanese jelly strips.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I like animals and bugs, when I discover a mystery about animals or bugs that I don’t have answer to, I will feel an urge to go online and conduct full research about it. I also like good foods and quality time with family and friends.

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

Self promotions, good strategies and management in social media accounts are more important than I thought.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

I feel networking is very essential when you want to turn pages into actions. Festival helps with the exposures for artists and builds the network. Apart from that, it is generally just an irresistible feeling of desire to be recognized and have reasons to go to events and have fun!

I look carefully into every feedback I received, but even though there are many good advices, I try to only extract core essences from the feedbacks that I feel can work on my piece without risking losing the attitudes of the project.
 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A newly arrived International student finally gets to see her high school crush in New York, but the gap between their understandings to their relationship finally forces her to choose between falling in love, or to admit the harm that would draw them apart.

CAST LIST:

Drunk Man: Charles Gordon
Yu-Chen: Wildred Lee
Narrator: Gene Abella
A-Mei: Tiffany Elefano
Lisa: Elizabeth Morriss

Interview with Filmmaker Hayley Thom (Tony McClean Nepal Trust)

TONY MCCLEAN NEPAL TRUST was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the October 2019 Female Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Hayley Thom: I was very excited to direct and shoot this film. It was Hannah McClean’s idea tell the story, the story of her brother Tony and the work he started in Nepal before he passed away. Hannah is also the Producer & talent in the film!

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

It was probably about 4-5months, including crafting the idea, travelling, filming and then coming home to edit the story together.

It was a small team, Hannah McClean and Leah Oram were the producers and I shot and edited it all together.

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

Real and hopeful.

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

Good question, it’s always a challenge to create a film in a country like Nepal – it’s hot, there’s the language barrier and you don’t have your usual comforts.

(I did manage to submerge my foot in human poo up to my calf, to the amusement of most of the village who were looking on!)

The logistics of trying to shoot a film in Nepal while finding talent when you’re there on the ground can always be a bit of a challenge. You have to build quick rapport, trust your instincts and keep your eyes open for opportunities.

Coming home at the end of the trip and having hours of footage to look through can also be full on. That initial selecting when you’re trying to work out how it will all come together. With doco style pieces you always have a plan before you go but never know exactly what you’ll be able to get.

We managed to capture everything we needed so we were happy with the outcome.

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

Hearing people over in LA talking about the film that we’re so close to, was really cool and bizarre actually! We appreciated the comments, it was awesome to be part of this festival.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Hannah McClean came up with the idea to capture the story about the work her family are doing over in Nepal following the passing of her brother Tony 10years ago. Hannah and I also worked closely on the idea and the script in the field and throughout the edit.

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

Ooh I don’t know if I have an answer for this.. I am known for being obsessed with watching trailers though!

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

I loved it actually, I thought it was awesome! So easy to use.

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

I just arrived home last week from India. I was shooting a couple of new films over in New Delhi and Kurnool. One to raise money for a school/orphanage over there and another to do with tourism. I am now getting stuck into editing both of those together.

Interview with Filmmaker Yangfang (Frances) Chen (NINA SAIZA)

NINA SAIZA played to rave reviews at the October 2019 Female FEEDBACK Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Yangfang (Frances) Chen: I remember how confused I was when I first encountered the dark side of the world after I became a teenager, so I always want to make a short film to illustrate my feelings of becoming “mature”. This short film is about innocence, violence, and perception. People are more complicated than they appear and they’re not good or bad. They’re just people.

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

It took about half month to make this short film.

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

Complicated
People.

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

The biggest obstacle I faced was filming the abuse scene. It was difficult because I have never actually seen someone abused, so I worked with all of my actors to build a mood and choreographed violence in order to build up the scene that made it into the final cut of the film.

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

My initial reaction was happy. I was glad that my 6-minute short film made my audience have such strong emotional reaction, and they all understood what I am trying to say in this story.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I always want to make a short film about teenagers’ confusion over the world. When I was a little kid, I did not undertand adults at all. The piano teacher in the story is responsible to teach the girl to play piano but ends up teaching her a life lesson about adulthood. I thought it would be interesting to use teacher/student dynamic to show the complexity of humans and the loss of innocence.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

I like drama movies. Dog Day Afternoon is the film I have seen the most in my life.

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

I really like FilmFreeway. I think it makes the submission process easier for filmmakers to submit their work to festivals.

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

Imagine Dragons’s Believer. I love Imagine Dragons.

What is next for you? A new film?

I am currently studying at a film school. I will be involved in short film productions possibly next year. This year, I want to mainly focus on my education.

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Interview with Filmmaker Yalan Hu (DOLL IT UP)

DOLL IT UP played to rave reviews at the August 2019 Female FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Yalan Hu: Doll It Up was one of the projects I directed when I was in film school. I’m always fascinated by human relations, especially what people become in romantic relationships. The need to possess, conquer and destroy is what I like to discuss. The dolls in the film symbolize how a large population of women have been treated in unhealthy relationships, where they were seen as properties, don’t have a voice in the house. Of course, this problem goes both ways, but to this day, on a global scale, women still haven’t been given the same account of respect as their male partners. Victimizing women is not the message for this film, objectification of one’s partner is.

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

It was a 5-page script, from version one to final version 12 it took me about three months to finalize, on and off. I had one full week for pre-production and two days to shoot. Post-production took about 10 days.

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

Realistic, poignant.

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

The search for the perfect lead actor and “actresses”, the dolls, was pretty challenging, but the biggest obstacle was coming up with a shooting plan to fit in the extremely tight schedule. As simple as this film may look, it had about 10 light builds which was very difficult to implement in two days for a crew consisted of film students, some of which had only one year of experience in filmmaking. Thus, as a director, I didn’t have the luxury to try multiple coverage for my scenes, but had to really calculate the exact and most needed shots and stick to them.

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

My heart was beating so fast even before I hit play. I was nervous about how the audience would interpret it, whether they had doubts about the world I created. Amazingly, their comments were exactly what I try to say with this film, – about isolation, objectification of your partner, and how instant modern relationships are. It was truly rewarding to see my film connect with people from different parts of the world, which is exactly the reason I chose to become a writer/director.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The story idea of Doll It Up came to me when I was taking a shower one day. I live by myself, the isolation of urban dwellers got me thinking, would human beings develop companionships with non-living objects? Would it be perfect, or as problematic as normal human relations? Ultimately, it transforms to a satire about relationship issues between the two sexes.

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

La Grande Vadrouille (1966)

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

I found it user friendly, very easy to navigate.

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

Hotel California

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

In the past August, I finished another short film, A Separation, as writer and director. It’s a 15-minute short drama about a Chinese couple in the 90s reunited in the states after a four-year separation, only to find their marriage going through a dramatic change. Meanwhile, another drama short I wrote and directed, produced in Sri Lanka, is in post-production. Both films will be entering festivals this year. Right now, I’m producing a documentary in Florida, U.S., while writing my first feature script on off days.

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Interview with Filmmaker Nesli ERGÜN (KOYUN)

KOYUN played to rave reviews at the August 2019 Female Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Nesli ERGÜN: It seems a fair share of moral confusion is pervading the world today about women who wear the Islamic head scarf. This confusion is no accident. It’s easy to get away with oppressing women if the general public, and even women underneath the veil, can’t rally behind a unifying consensus that compulsory veiling is wrong. George Orwell said once that the prime responsibility lay in being able to tell people what they did not wish to hear.

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

About 4 months.

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

Critical, Unashamed

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

Whether or not to put my name on it.

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

I was deeply moved. I have never seen anyone (apart from my friends and family) react to my work before. I have not shown this film in Turkey. This film was not selected to be screened in the festivals where I thought it would be most relevant (the Islamic world). I honestly had no idea what people actually thought about what I made before watching the clip you sent. This exchange, what we are doing here in this moment, is maybe the most powerful engagement a filmmaker could ask for. A festival centered on the idea of giving and receiving feedback allows filmmakers to reflect in ways most standard interactions fall short from allowing. As a result, FEEDBACK Female Film Festival is the most valuable festival I have ever had the honor to be a part of.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I don’t know. I’m never good at remembering these things. The only thing I do remember is that I drew the thumbnail storyboard on my dining room table in about 15 minutes.

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

I don’t think I watch films over and over again so I think I’m going to skip this question 🙂

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

If an interaction like the one I’ve been talking about with you guys is possible, then I’ve got to love the platform that made it possible for me to meet you in the first place, right?

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

I sure did listen to Color Him Country by Linda Martell a whole lot.

Also Lhasa, Slowdive, Nina Simone – I mean there are so many to list.

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

I’m building a community center in Istanbul. I want to make a positive impact on the trajectory of the Turkish nation-state by injecting a spirit of hope and wonder in a traumatized, undervalued, economically depressed & culturally polarized population. By creating value in gatherings outside of religious, governmental & educational institutions, I want to enable a much needed critical look at our Turkish experience as community members. Filmmaking will very much be a part of this center. In other words, I’ve just begun.

Interview with Filmmakers Lucy Joan Barnes & Ali Causon (FOR WANT OF A NAIL)

FOR WANT OF A NAIL played to rave reviews at the April 2019 Female Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Lucy (director): The script and it’s message, it was not trying to “sugarcoat” what having OCD is really like.. it was showing how intense it can be for the person who suffers from it.

Ali (producer): Although I was not looking for a script that specifically focused on mental health, after reading FWOAN just a couple of times, it felt like a natural follow up to my previous short about PTSD.

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

Lucy: I believe it was about a year…

Ali: Writer Nick and I had been working together for a few months before mainly to find a director we wanted to work with. Lucy, Nick and I then ran a development workshop with volunteers from OCD Action and Actors to learn more about the condition.

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

Lucy: Frank and Eye Opening

Ali: Honest

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

Lucy:Finding Marty and a shower to film in 🙂

Ali:Definitely finding a shower! Our Actor Clark is quite tall

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

Lucy: I may not have agreed with all the feedback, but I can see where people came from, I learnt a lot , I will take on what has been said and it use it to evolve as a director

Ali: Excited! We had some really interesting feedback and although not everyone enjoyed the film, it certainly had them talking! For me that is the best result, the only way to raise awareness for mental health conditions, like OCD, is to talk about it. ‘For Want Of A Nail’ has been lucky enough to have full support and endorsement from OCD Action, the charity were very much involved in production from development to final film. It has always been important to me to show an honest portrayal of OCD.

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

Lucy: Nick had already written the script but the idea of adding animation was the first thing that came to mind when I read it..

Ali: Nick, our writer, suffers with OCD. He was inspired to write the script as a cathartic experience to try and get to grips with his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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

Lucy: Old Boy

Ali: Star Wars!

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

Lucy: I think it’s great

Ali: Very user friendly system.

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

Lucy: Oh that’s a hard one.. probably Bohemian Rhapsody

Ali: Same as Lu!

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

Lucy: I’m adapting a Shakespeare for a modern audience looking at the mental health of the character and hopefully get people to connect with Shakespeare more

Ali: I’m in the process of pitching the ‘For Want Of A Nail’ TV series and have just completed post for a feature film called ‘The Hidden Track’ which is due for release later this year.

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