Interview with Filmmaker Shetu Modi (THE PITS)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Shetu Modi: Honestly, I noticed my sweat smelled like Indian food whenever I ate a lot of it and I connected that to some of my childhood and university experiences. The story is not autobiographical but some of the details are.

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

I wrote the script in a day or two, I think in 2015 – though it went through many edits after that. We started planning the shoot in the summer of 2016, shot it in November 2016 and it was done by May 2017.

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

This is hard! Lighthearted and sincere, I guess?

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

For some reason finding an affordable Toronto gym to shoot in was difficult. We ended up using the venue where I had one of my wedding events, outside of Kitchener, and they were so happy to have us shoot there.

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

The feedback was all positive so I was relieved – and I was really happy it resonated with people.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

(Answered this in first question)

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

I’ve seen Bend It Like Beckham, Say Anything, Clueless, Shut Up & Sing and Love & Basketball many, many times. I also love Nicole Holofcener and Sofia Coppola movies.

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 great! Submitting to a new festival takes less than three minutes because all my information is already there.

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

Ha, I don’t think I know! I love Beyonce. I was in high school when Destiny’s Child was big and Survivor was the only CD I had in my parents’ car, so I listened to that album a lot. I was completely obsessed with Tori Amos and Ryan Adams for a while, but their best songs can be really sad.

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

I’m working on writing a web series about a late bloomer, but I might turn it into a short film. I haven’t decided yet! The trailer is here, it stars Noor Dhanda, who was also in the Pits: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TmUiWv4O-k

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Interview with Actors Stephen Tracey & Erica Anderson (PREY)

PREY played to rave reviews at the August 2018 Female Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Taking a quote from the director, Vivien Endicott- Douglas, who says it best:

“As women, we are predominantly conditioned to believe that we must sacrifice our own happiness and comfort for the sake of staying in a relationship. The relationship is paramount. It takes a great deal of will to be able to free ourselves from this reality and shift the paradigm. Prey is the beginning of one woman’s journey to come home to herself. We were inspired to document that first step, the realization that she cannot have the full life she wants, be the whole person that she knows she is capable of being if she is in attachment with either of the men she’s between.”

We wanted to show that moment of discovery, and the struggle leading up to it. Because this is a timely discussion and an important one. Especially as young women learn to navigate relationships as well as building their identity. And that sometimes the ones we feel we love the most are actually the ones holding us back from where we want to be.

We also wanted to make a film about a woman, written by a women and made by women. There’s such a need for female representation beyond the camera and we wanted to help promote young Canadian female film makers.

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

The light bulb went on sometime during February of 2017. That’s when script meetings and the team building process began. We didn’t shoot until the beginning of June 2017. Which was an incredibly long night shoot. Started at 4:00pm and went all the way until 6:00 am. Don’t worry, craft was bountiful. And then post went on until about March 2018. So just over a year.

Many of our crew (pre and post production) are young film makers, and finding the time to access these budding artists with a lower budget provides obstacles because not only are they working on other projects but they also have non industry jobs to keep food on the table. So we had to find flexibility with our timeline. Which is just the reality of establishing artists.

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

The audience at the Female Festival had such a colourful conversation/commentary about the piece that for us to pin hole it might be a disservice to the viewing experience. Part of our story telling was an emphasis on ambiguity and challenging of expectations.

But here are some themes to think about:

Personal awakening
Self discovery
Gentle empowerment

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

It for sure goes back to that earlier comment about people’s schedules. Had we a giant juicy budget, schedules would’ve made themselves more readily available but because of our circumstances there was more rigidity. And that had pushed our expected dates further.

All a learning experience as we continue to grow. The beauty is in seeing the completion of the project. From idea to product is pretty magical.

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

It was really incredible to hear the audience react and be in the theatre to experience it firsthand. It was great to hear that so many people felt compelled to speak about the film and that it brought up conflicting opinions and discussion. It was especially encouraging to hear the women in the audience who immediately recognized the internal conflict within our protagonist.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Prey was originally a full length theatrical play, written by Britney Tangedal for the 2014 graduating class of the National Theatre School of Canada. Both Erica Anderson and Stephen Tracey (the two leads) were also in that first production.

This particular scene comes near the end of the play and was always a highlight. There’s such a weight to it that is so universal and so human. It also had just the right amount of information to be a stand alone story giving it the ability to transfer from stage to screen.

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

Erica- Under the Tuscan Sun. Guilty pleasure movie all the way. After watching it as a kid I painted a mural of sunflowers on my bedroom wall (thanks to my artistic mom for being so cool!) I think I’ve always been attracted to stories of women who do what they want. One day I’ll run away and renovate an old house surrounded by sunflowers. And also, Sandra Oh! She brings depth and humour to everything. She’s brilliant.

Stephen – Gone With The Wind. Grew up watching this movie over and over. Funny enough, it’s also about a woman caught between two men and more importantly about how this fiery woman steps outside of social norms into traditional male roles to save herself, her home and her family. In that order. It’s Scarlett O’Hara after all.

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

It’s an easy and efficient way to submit to festivals already known to you and to learn about festivals you hadn’t of before. Giving your film the optimal amount of opportunity for your project to be seen.

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

Erica- Again, in the not-so-gulty pleasures, anything Shania Twain. She practically raised me and i still break her out on a bad day. Currently though I have I Know A Place by Muna on repeat daily. I think the acoustic version is stunning.

Stephen- Unintentionally Brown Eyed Girl – because of any sort of family get together. I swear, it’s like they own nothing else. It’s their entire I tunes playlist. Intentionally, Nina Simone, all day every day.

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

Erica- Catch her on screen in upcoming seasons of The Baroness Von Sketch Show (CBC) & Murdoch Mysteries (CBC). On stage at the GCTC in Lo (or Dear Mr. Wells) by Rose Napoli. And future personal films are in the dream and scheme phase but she’s excited to lift them off the page soon.

Stephen- Can be seen on CBC’s/Netflix’s Anne With An E season 2 coming September 23rd. He’s also in the process of writing his first feature.

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Interview with Writer/Actor Catherine Haun (MRS MURPHY’S CONFESSION)

MRS MURPHY’S CONFESSION was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the August 2018 Female Film Festival in Toronto.

http://www.mrsmurphysconfession.com
Facebook: @playfulshortfilm.com

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

I became obsessed. That’s the best way to describe it. Totally off the
rails. I just thought I would die if I didn’t make this film.

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

Two years.

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

Awkward Journey

OMG I just thought of something so inappropriate! Painful discharge
is what popped into my head. Never mind… go with awkward journey.

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

My own ignorance of how to make a film—in particular the technical
aspects. Post production was an especially challenging time. Once
the excitement of production is over it’s a job to keep the
momentum going. From the producing point of view the challenge is
to figure out what the story needs, and then figure out who can help
you get it. You can always spend more money, but figuring out if you
really NEED something is important in a low-budget context. And in
my case I had to beg people to work for free or reduce their rates
dramatically. It’s not that easy to talk people into working for free
when you have no track record. I had a friend, Rebekah Wiggins,
who produced with me and was instrumental in pulling in many
people.

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

Awkwardness. I saw their indecision, and uncertainty about what to
say. I know there was a time frame, but I wanted to sit in the silence
for a minute to see what they would come up with. It was
suspenseful.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I was taking a 6 week short-film screenwriting class with Ashley
Serrao. On the first night of the class I took home a spring-loaded
image. A spring-loaded image is meant to be something that
catapults a narrative. The one I took home was ‘vibrator in a church
pew.’ Then I had to figure out whose life would be changed by
finding a vibrator in a church pew…

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

Maybe this won’t surprise you, but I LOVE the movie version of
Doubt. I rarely see a film more than once because there are so many
I haven’t seen yet, but I love everything about that film. Story,
performances, directorial choices. I only have to think of Viola Davis
in that one scene and I’m a f…ing mess!

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

I like Film Freeway the best because it is easiest to use. I like the
way you can see your submissions on one page and keep track of
them.

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

I take ballet classes, and it would really have to be this one CD that
a lot of the teachers use. I don’t know the name of it, and it might
not be my favorite, but that’s definitely the music I have heard the
most. It’s what runs in my head when I’m trying to concentrate!

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

Yes. I have a first draft of a TV pilot that I wrote with my partner
Eleanor Smith, and there’s a feature-length film that I’m just starting
to work on. I would like to do a web series as well.

Interview with Filmmaker Jessica O’Sullivan (SISTER IN ARMS)

SISTER IN ARMS played to rave reviews at the July 2018 Female Feedback Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jessica O’Sullivan: I love female centric films and I love seeing women in roles that you don’t normally see them in and seeing how things play out. I also love conflict within a plot and seeing someone who is trying to make the right decision.

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

– My producer asked to take the idea that I had for a feature length film and change it to short form and with a Pakistan backdrop (based on a video we saw of the female anti-terrorist force in Pakistan) in May 2017, we went to Pakistan in August, filmed in September and the final final editing was completed by mid-December 2017.

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

– Poignantly shocking.

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

– We had such a small budget. I had put aside £5k for it. Which is a lot of money for me. It meant that we could only shoot for 3 days. There were a lot of unknown factors and we were shooting in a tiny village about 3 hours drive from Karachi. We were a long way from anywhere and had to travel over early in the morning and late in the evening. Things inevitably go wrong and they did on this film including the camera breaking down and the actresses over heating. Strangely enough being a women in a tiny village 3 hours outside of Karachi was not one of them. The cast was predominately female as was the 1st AD, the Producer and myself. Perhaps there was strength in our numbers but also the Producer was incredibly strong. In summary the biggest obstacles were money and time. Which probably are the most common obstacles for any film.

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

– The positive feedback was great and I was delighted that the film affected people. I was surprised with some of the interpretations but could understand how an audience could read into things once it was pointed out. Those comments have perhaps been the most informative and constructive and have made me realize how more carefully I need to construct situations and scenes in the future. Both in terms of writing and directing. This is in relation to whether the male Captain had a hand in the ambush and what has been seen as overtly feminine banter between the troops.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

– This short is taken from a feature length script I wrote for a screenwriting module at film school early last year. The feature length film is based on two sisters who join the YPJ, which is a female army in Northern Syria. I came across articles and photographs of these women and girls in an area called Rojava in Syria who were part of a very effective (yet under funded) ground army who are protecting a self-governing area which puts huge emphasis on female participating on all government levels (40% of all boards have to be women). They have been effective in keeping back ISIS, the BAATh regime and several fractions within the rebel army. Yet I had heard nothing about them in this conflict until I came across these articles when I was looking to come up with 3 basic ideas one evening to pitch in class the next day. I just thought it was so interesting. In an area where women are seen as victims and are sadly incredibly oppressed that this is actually happening. The feature length however focuses on the rivalry and complicated relationship between the two sisters. Their relationship to each other and their own individual journeys is the story.

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

– Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

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

– I find it quite useful. It’s is great to be able to do all of the major work once in terms of filling out forms and uploading all the media packages. I also like how the platform looks.

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

Pink Floyd, I wish you were here.

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

– I want to make another short within the next few months. A supernatural thriller with its roots in Irish mythology and a mother trying to protect her children.

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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 Melanie Faye (PUPPETS AND PUSHPINS)

PUPPETS AND PUSHPINS was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the July 2018 FEMALE Feedback Film Festival in July 2018 in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Melanie Faye : I was in my last year of Capilano University’s film program and we received a small budget to make a few final films. I had missed music out of my life for the four years I’d been there and had to reincorporate it in my life. I can’t survive without music. I had quite a few songs written but I’d never recorded anything before so I figured I would make my first original music video. I decided to go all out because when am I going to have access to that much quality equipment for free again? The teachers accepted my pitch and we went ahead with the project.

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

About 6 months including recording the song.

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

Two words.. that is difficult. Abusive dances.

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

Directing and performing in the film at the same time was quite stressful as everyone thought I was biting off too much. Trying to keep believing in the vision and myself was very tough especially when I had all my close friends from film school working key positions on the project so I had no one to talk to. I became very isolated and kind of dark.

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

I was kind of in shock haha. This song and this video is very close to my heart and my art up until now had been a very private thing, a secret way of expressing myself. To see people critically analyzing my work as though it were legitimate art was such a privilege. I was literally sat there with my hand over my mouth in disbelief. I loved hearing everyone’s opinions and seeing what I could improve on when relaying my message and what did actually hit. Thank you so much for that!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I listened to my song over and over imagining different scenarios. I knew there was going to be a marionette ballerina. A controllable toy. The song is all about trying to shake emotional abuse and control so I needed a puppet type toy. It evolved from a marionette ballerina trying to escape her strings into the story it is now.

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

I am more of a TV girl. For films it’s between Nacho Libre, Lord of the Rings, and My Best Friend’s Wedding.

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

FilmFreeway made it so easy to apply to all the festivals that applied to my film. The filters are very helpful and the list of submissions saved a lot of time checking on statuses.

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

I don’t know that there is one song.. it changes with the times.. but She by Green Day is very close to my heart. I have a tattoo based on it.

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

I have been working on recording and putting out more music and on performing in Vancouver.

I have some songs recorded and ready to go. When I get some sufficient funding together I am going to be working on a video for each of them. They will all be somewhat connected though they sound very different.

If you liked Puppets & Pushpins you can check out more of my music on my Youtube channel. http://www.youtube.com/missyfaye

Thank you so much for this opportunity! I loved this festival the most out of all the others. Unbiased feedback is invaluable.

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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 Eshaana Sheth (THE BUTTER KNIFE)

THE BUTTER KNIFE played to rave reviews at the July 2018 FEMALE Feedback Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Eshaana Sheth: The film is a response to the variety of people that I encountered after moving to LA as well as the nuances of dating and socializing in the modern age. In 2016, I developed a strange ailment of consistently and exclusively attracting men from the UK into my life (yes, I met the one Northern Irish guy in LA). The summer of 2016 held a strange mix of events; The EU referendum took place simultaneously to the Euro 2016 Championship. Both sort of intertwined and produced a malaise in the air especially with our own American presidential election around the corner. It felt like a paradigm shift, and that kind of uncertainty creates excellent fodder for humor. I’m always interested in capturing how topical ideas and events bleed into the way we relate to one another and how our cultural life is increasingly influenced by globalization and the advent of technology. I wanted to find a way of condensing all that into a short film. I was approached as a writer by Shalini, our producer and lead actress, and came on later as a director and producer. It was my first time directing, but I’m really happy I took the plunge. Our whole team was incredible and made the experience so nurturing.

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

I had the idea brewing, but I ended up writing it when I was sick and recovering from surgery in May of 2017, which provided some time to introspect and look to humor as a way of healing. It was completed in January 2018. So, the whole thing took about a year and a half.

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

Absurd normalcy

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

We had a small team and budget. Trying to get the best production value with logistical and monetary restraints is always difficult. You always say, I wish I could’ve done this or had more bodies in general. But working with a contained story also creates room for play, especially when you have wonderfully talented actors and cinematographers like we did. It’s important as a director to adapt and allow the characters and vision to change. My friend analogized it to the creation of a pot—when it comes out of the kiln, it’s either awful, exactly what you pictured, or not really what you intended but still pretty. Of course, I’m a horrible with ceramics, so I should be lucky for options two or three.

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

I was surprised by how hysterically everyone was laughing; I wasn’t expecting that level of enthusiasm. They were patient viewers and so invested in the work, which I appreciated. I especially loved that the film resonated with people of all ages. My favorite comedy to consume as a viewer is work like Frasier, which feel niche but also accessible and timeless. The diversity of comments made me feel like there was something in it for everyone, which is quite nice to hear.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Without ruining anything, the premise was loosely inspired by a first date I went on, that I kind of tried to make as weird as possible. I used that as a starting point and then just let my imagination snowball from there. I’m one of those people who tries to find the absurdity in banal situations like grocery shopping. I’d almost rather sit in a bit of discomfort and awkwardness than run away, because it’s more fun. I find it difficult to approach organized events like dates or meetings without analyzing how fundamentally odd it all is, like, anthropologically. Ria is probably more like me than any other character I’ve written – she’s confronting but anxious which makes her a cool blend of idiosyncratic and unpredictable.

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

I guess it would have to be either Muppet Treasure Island or Pooh’s Grand Adventure. As a kid, I rented them weekly at our local video store. It was so embarrassing; they used to have them ready for me before I even walked through the doors. If I took childhood out of the equation, it would probably be Clueless.

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

I really like FilmFreeway. It’s very streamlined and makes things simple and organized. I would definitely recommend it to other filmmakers.

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

“Spiderwebs” by No Doubt! I know everyone loves the ’90s right now, but I feel like I have a special claim on the decade, having understood its character at a young age before people were talking about it as a thing. No Doubt is just so emblematic of my youth, growing up in suburban Southern California with two older brothers. As an Indian American, we were floored at the time to discover that Tony Kanal, the bassist with the frosted tips, was also Indian. There were virtually no Asians in media to the point where there was even a rumor circulating in my hometown that Brandon Boyd of Incubus was part Indian because one of his “Pardon Me”s sounded like he had an accent. People were literally reaching for straws. Kanal was the only kernel of hope for brown representation.

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

I have another short film in post-production called The Argument that’s adapted from a play I wrote in college; it’s a relationship drama set in 2012 before the Mayan Apocalypse phenomenon. I’ve also been doing some modeling and getting back into acting, which feels great! I have a few other projects in the works including a series I’m helping my brother with, which is fun because we can yell at each other and still remain related.

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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 Producer & Creative Director Julie Gardner (THE CLIMB)

THE CLIMB was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the July 2018 Female FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Lynne Davison: The Climb was Lacada’s first film after I founded the company in January 2016. After 20 years managing productions for others I wanted to branch out on my own to produce engaging screen stories with high production values. Lynne the writer/director and I had known each other for a number of years before we partnered up on The Climb. (Lynne had been a camera assistant while I co-ordinated the pilot episode of Game of Thrones).

Our regional screen agency, Northern Ireland Screen had organised a table read to showcase a handful of short film projects they had developed with new and emerging writer/directors. I was instantly bowled over by the raw power of The Climb’s stripped back simplicity and I knew instantly that I wanted to bring it to the screen.

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

8 months from start to finish. The table read was in February, we waited to film in summer, when we have long hours of daylight here in Northern Ireland, then the post production slotted around the editor’s other ‘big’ jobs at the post house, meaning we were done and dusted by Hallowe’en.

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

Crikey, only two?! Overcoming obstacles.

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

We had two challenges. There’s the usual financial one – how to produce something cinematic on a budget of around £10,000. The other was the physical obstacle of the mountain itself. It could only be filmed for real on a mountain, with real climbing, within the budget parameters which allowed for one single filming day. Taking a crew and cast from the city to the heart of the Mourne Mountains, without any kind of contingency was a hairy prospect. On the morning of the shoot we arrived at the location and were dismayed to find cloud enveloping the top of the mountain. Shooting the script chronologically from the foot of the mountain to the top we were able to turn that to our advantage – it became a beautiful metaphor: as Julia’s mental fog cleared the nearer she reached the summit, so the early morning cloud burnt off as the filming day progressed, finishing in a spectacular golden hour.

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

We were all thrilled to hear the individual audience members’ takes on our story. When making a film we know the story intimately as we’ve examined it from every possible angle. Hearing international audiences getting the nuances of what we’d set out to achieve, outside of our filmmaking bubble, was really heartwarming. It’s genuinely affirmed our belief in our abilities as filmmakers. To know that it hit home as powerfully for the audience was an incredible feeling.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

This idea was inspired by the true story of a climbing friend of Lynne, the writer/director.

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

There are two films, both firm joint favourites. The filmmakery answer is Jean Luc Godard’s ‘Pierrot Le Fou’ which blew my mind when I first saw it as a teenager. Poetic, astonishingly beautifully shot, by turns political and cartoonish, it’s the film that literally and figuratively exploded the artform of cinema for me. The other is Jaws. You can’t beat Jaws, it’s just the perfect entertaining film in every way.

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

FilmFreeway’s platform is an absolute gift to filmmakers. To have so many incredible international festivals reachable at the touch of a button would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. We are so lucky to have it, and I am certain that it has opened the world of festivals that would previously have been out of the reach of new and emerging filmmakers.

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

Just one? I’ve really eclectic musical tastes, so I’ve pulled up my Spotify history to check – it looks like it’s Iron Maiden’s ‘Brave New World’. People who don’t know me very well are always surprised to find that I love me some heavy metal.

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

Yes. I’m am very lucky to be able to say I’ve got films coming out my ears at the moment! Excitingly I’m currently in pre-production for a new BBC one hour drama, which will be airing around Christmas time. Continuing with the indie films I have four shorts on the slate for the autumn. Three of them have come through the same scheme as The Climb, and I’m really looking forward to working with some more exciting new writing/directing talent. The fourth, Port, is one I’ve co-written and is based on a really cool underlying short story by the Nobel prize-winning author Heinrich Boll. I’ve two feature films winding their way through the development and financing maze.

I’ve also just recently successfully crowdfunded £10k to allow me to produce and direct a rock documentary pilot, Parental Advisory, which has been a passion project for a long time. Inspired by John Olson’s 1971 LIFE Magazine photographic essay featuring rock stars at home with their parents, ‘Parental Advisory’ is a rock biopic series with a twist. Offering a candid portrait of world-famous rock musicians, and the music world, through the eyes of the person who knows them like no other – their mum or dad. It’s a celebration of talented kids who dare to succeed outside the system.

I’m also really looking forward to be holding the inaugural Northern Ireland Short Film Awards at the end of the month. This is something I’ve been inspired to set up as a chance for us all to celebrate the best of short films locally, as well as a fun social night to connect filmmakers and talent who, often working in isolation, form part of our vibrant filmmaking landscape here in NI.

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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.