Interview with Filmmaker Nikhat Powell (THE BENEFACTION)

 

Nikhat Powell’s short film THE BENEFACTION played to rave reviews at the November 2017 FEMALE FEEDBACK Film Festival. It was the winner of BEST OVERALL PERFORMANCES at the festival.

 What motivated you to make this film? 

This was my thesis film for my MFA in Digital Cinema. When I started, I knew it was my one chance to prove to myself that I can direct. Though I’ve taught filmmaking internationally for over 20 years and made directors of many students, I’d never directed a film myself!

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

Because I had to follow a university program timeline, it took me about 15 months to complete it. My sound design and my color grading work was done abroad while I was in the US. Because of the time difference, any communication was super hard and it took more time than I’d ever imagined!

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

Heart warming!

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

Time difference! I was in the US and my film was shot in India. There is a 11.5 hour difference in time between the two countries. Something that could be easily sorted out in a day of face-to-face time often took many times that amount of time!

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

I enjoyed it very much. It was interesting to see the number of people who were in the audience, and that there were several astute and on-the-nose comments from ‘lay people’. Made my conviction firmer, that language is not a barrier in communication. Just the sub-titles wouldn’t communicate. Body language and human emotions are universal.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I’ve always believed in the concept of ‘pay it forward’. I’ve also wondered what decisions the very ‘upright’ me would take if I had to make a choice between my values and my two boys. It always had to be a drama, because I believe touching the human emotion and making a person think about life in general is very important. It seemed that these things, along with karma (which I believe is an offshoot of the pay-it-forward concept) just came together. It evolved from there into this story!

  What film have you seen the most in your life? 

The Sound of Music, closely followed by The Shawshank Redemption! There are a few Indian films that I love too!

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

I wasn’t there in the festival so I am unable to comment on how it was conduted. However, I really like the concept of the audience feedback video that was sent out. It was a beautiful feeling thinking that a lot of people in a room talked about my film, believed in it, and were touched by it.

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

Hmmm… I’ve listened to all kinds of songs, but probably Simon & Garfunkle and Queen have been the singers I’ve loved through all these years. I think Bohemian Rhapsody just might be one of the songs that I listened to hundreds of times.

  What is next for you? A new film?  

Yup! I’ve written the story for my next film. Got through two drafts of it, got feedback from a festival for it, and have to work on it a lot more to make it tighter and smoother. I plan to shoot it in the summer of 2019 in Mississippi. It’s the story how how a young girl helps her grandfather ‘grow up’ and move on in life. Another heart-warming story, even if I do say so myself!! 😀

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Interview with Filmmaker Holly Voges (FELL)

Holly Voges’ short film FELL played to rave reviews at the November 2017 FEMALE FEEDBACK Film Festival.

What motivated you to make this film?

– My creative partner and I are currently adapting a novel. In working on that project we wanted to create something in the meantime. FELL is a story within the novel that we really gravitated towards.

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

– It took us 4 months.

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

– “Feral Fairy-tale”

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

– Finding puppies, and making sure the kids ADR was understandable.

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

– Delighted! What wonderful insights. Clearly the film is a little cryptic, so it was enlightening to hear the interpretations.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

– The film is a story told within the novel we are currently adapting that we couldn’t fit in the larger adaptation. But we really loved this powerful, little tale and we were looking to make a short film, so we pulled it out, changed a few things and made it into it’s own piece.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

– Star Wars

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

– Easy enough. Nicely streamlined.

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

– Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd

What is next for you? A new film?

– YES! We are in post on our latest short and continue to work on the feature adaptation. 

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Interview with Filmmaker Nora Jaenicke (BETWEEN SECONDS)

Nora Jaenicke’s short film BETWEEN SECONDS played to rave reviews at the November 2017 FEMALE FEEDBACK Film Festival. It was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the festival.

 What motivated you to make this film?

I had an idea for an animation, years ago, while in film school, and it was about two people struggling over the hand of a clock. One wanted to move it forward the other wanted to regain lost time from the past and go back in time, so to say, so I thought it made for an interesting concept. The idea of these people being somewhat °off sync° with the world and their inner sense of timing. When I decided to make a film later on, I reached back to my story folder on my desktop and decided to give this one a go. In order for it to be an actual narrative film, I had to create backstories for each character and develop their inner worlds. If I had more time and money, I would have made a feature. I find it a very interesting topic.

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

I had the initial idea in 2007, then I put it aside and got back to it in 2015. It took me a year to find the money to make it. Principal Photography started in 2016 and the film is currently at the end of its festival rounds. It won 33 awards. Very exciting! I never thought it would end up being this successful in the indie film festival scene.

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

Time and Creativity

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

Finding the money, and putting together cast and crew. Finding the right people to create with is almost as hard as finding a partner to start a family with. Many things need to fit. There has to be the right chemistry. And the crew becomes like its own living being. It works as its own ecosystem.

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

I was intrigued. I am always interested in hearing the thoughts the film triggers in the audience. I wish I were there.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Like I said above, I thought of this image of the people fighting over the hand of a clock. Perhaps Modern Times by Charlie Chaplin planted the seed in my mind and I went from there. Aren’t we all striving for that °decisive moment° that °peak moment°. And what danger that we might get so caught up in the perfect composition, setting the perfect scene, waiting and hoping for the perfect moment, that we miss it entirely.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Lolita by Adrian Lyne, Thelma and Louise, Rainman. These are the first 3 films that come to mind.

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

Love it!

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

mmm tricky one. I hear so much music on a daily basis. I listen to it as I write, mostly soundtracks by Hanns Zimmer, to imagine my scenes and get into their atmosphere better. He is my favorite film composer.

What is next for you? A new film?

Whales. A Drama about two sisters who reconnect, after years of being separated. A homage to sisterhood. A Drama about a familys secluded world and the impact that secrets can have on our lives.

 

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Interview with Director Jana Stackhouse (THE MAN WHO DOESN’T SLEEP)

Jana’s short film THE MAN WHO DOESN’T SLEEP played to rave reviews at the August 2017 FEMALE Feedback Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

The minute writer and producer Adrian Morphy pitched the idea I knew it was a story we needed to tell together. Then he wrote this beautiful script with wonderfully complex character that were both in search of something. It’s a story of fulfillment and what it means to be alive.

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

Adrian began writing the script in August 2015, we had two months to really find the character’s voices and round out the story. We shot over four days and had the first cut within another month. We had to pause on the film as both Adrian and I were working on other projects. So we finished it in the summer of 2016.

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

Beautifully heartbreaking.

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

The whole process for us was incredibly rewarding, and most of it went quite quickly. Once our first cut of the film was finished life got in the way. We weren’t able to keep working on it because we were both so busy with other films. So thankfully we had a few weeks off in the summer of 2016 and made the commitment to finish The Man Who Doesn’t Sleep.

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

I was thrilled that people seemed to pick up on so many of the themes and metaphors. During pre-production – and even while on set – you can become obsessed with tiny details that you think no one will ever see or understand. So when an audience member mentions the female/male gaze, or repeats a line that resonated with them, it’s such a special feeling.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Adrian Morphy gets all credit here. He had the idea that if you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with all the extra time. It started as a comedy but as he began to develop the characters and the more we talked about what both of them were missing, it turned into something a little deeper. Then we brought on these two incredible actors, Ryan O’Callahan and Camille Stopps, who brought their own perspectives and experiences that truly brought these characters to life.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

It’s a Wonderful Life. I would watch that film every year with my mom. I can see a few parallels between that and my own films now. The protagonist who wants something bigger and thinks he’s in search of one thing, when in fact what brings him the most fulfillment is the very thing he’s trying to avoid – companionship.

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

I found the platform pretty user-friendly. It’s easy to see deadlines and the watchlist notifications are a great way to stay on top of submissions.

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

Well, a song I used to listen to when I was a kid and still do now is “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” performed by Willie Nelson. There’s something so haunting and beautiful about it. It’s about love, mortality and longing. I hope to capture the same emotions in the films I make.

What is next for you? A new film?

I have just completed my latest film “Away Home” which I wrote and directed. It’s a film about family, responsibility and having the chance to say goodbye. It stars Billy MacLellan (Maudie, Bellevue), Raven Stewart (Fargo, The Expanse). We’re really excited to begin the festival circuit and have audiences see these beautiful performances.

Interview with director Katie Maguire (THE SESSION)

Katie Maguire’s THE SESSION was the winner of “BEST PERFORMANCES” at the August 2017 Female Feedback Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Katie Maguire: My sister and I wanted to make a film together. We wanted the film to be funny yet have a dark side much like our own sense of humors. We also felt that there was a lack of short films showcasing females as funny. We wanted to make a film that was driven by females both in front and behind the camera.

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

6 months

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

“Therapeutically” funny

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

The biggest obstacle we faced was losing our location the day before our shoot! The location was a doctors/therapists office. Thankfully Molly, our director, is also an amazing production designer. We ended up turning my bedroom into a doctors office the night before the shoot!

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

It was great to hear and watch what people took away from the film. How different people digested the film. All of them were spot on when talking about the films message. I was lovely to see people understand what Molly and I were trying to convey.

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the short film: 

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

My sister and I had taken a producing course together. We decided that we wanted to make a film that was simple and funny. We started talking about one of our favorite films “House Of Yes”. It’s a great indy film originally a play. It’s hilarious but very dark and twisted. We wanted to make a film along the same lines. We started writing dialogue between two characters and came up with the idea for The Session.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

A tie between “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “House of Yes”

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! I was using without a box before joining filmfreeway. I find filmfreeway to be much easier to navigate and have had much more success submitting my films and finding the appropriate festivals for my work.

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

“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure

What is next for you? A new film

I’m currently wrapping up Season 2 of my Webseries LI Divas http://www.lidivas.com
and writing my first feature film.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto twice a month, and every other month in Los Angeles. Go to http://www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Director’s Blair Bomar & Olivia Applegate (GRACE & GRIT)

Blair & Olivia’s short film “GRACE & GRIT” played to rave reviews at the August 2017 FEMALE FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Blair & Olivia: We wanted to experiment with the parts of ourselves that are in and out of alignment with the concepts of grace and grit and gain a deeper understanding of the personal impact that arises from marriage of these two ideals. We were also interested in co-directing a project.

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

One month — that was our goal.

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

Experiential discovery

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

Finding clarity in the story

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

Moved by how opinionated/invested the audience was and how our original intention for the message of the story did actually come through/translate/prevail– which was rewarding to see..

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film: 

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

We were both reared in the South and have had interesting journeys, to say the least, in regard to exploring the expectations we grew up trying to fulfill both consciously and unconsciously.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

First Wives Club

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

I’m a fan.

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

The Cranberries- Linger
Run baby run – Sheryl Crow No More I love yous- Annie Lennox Hush Hush – ‘Til Tuesday Aimee Mann

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto twice a month, and every other month in Los Angeles. Go to http://www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Director Lindsay Penn (NO STRINGS ATTACHED)

Played at the FEMALE FEEDBACK Film Festival – August 2017

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Lindsday Penn: The moment I heard the song I instantly connected to it. I didn’t share the experience as a musician, but I absolutely experienced it as a YouTuber. On YouTube there is can be a facade that it’s all about expressing your true self, but often in reality the very audience that claims to adore you only loves you if you serve their expectations of you as an entertainer. There’s a constant push-pull as an entertainer between expressing yourself and doing right by the folks who are supporting you. Listening to the song I couldn’t get the idea of presenting that visually out of my head.

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

I started developing the idea in July of 2015 and it was finally released on YouTube on January 1st 2016. I would say my life was devoted to it for about a half a year.

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

Honestly? I don’t know if this is what you’re looking for, but I gotta go with “my baby.” LOL!

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

Doing right by everyone who contributed to it. 30 people volunteered to be a part of this project. All I had to offer them in return was food, and the caterer didn’t show up! And every time someone paid money out of their pocket, I tried my best to keep track of it all so I could pay them back. I never want to have to ask people to volunteer again – I want to pay a fair rate. I want people to think, “if I work with Lindsay Penn, I’m going to be treated well.”

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

I was just stunned that people watched something I made and took it seriously enough to think about it. And I didn’t even have to be there in person to beg them to watch it!

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

I was really inspired by a Japanese pop singer named Ayumi Hamasaki. She is hugely influential in Japan and has made many music videos that make commentary about her objectification as a performer. I wanted to make a video that captured the same kind of feeling.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Easy. In 5th grade I used to watch Terminator 2 every single day when I came home from school. It got to the point that my mom had to ask me politely to make it every OTHER day instead. I can still recite every word John Connor says. “You can’t just go around killing people!”

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

It is a dream come true. So simple to find out where festivals are, when they are, and which festivals are looking for a film like yours.

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

According to my iTunes, “Rise and Shine” by Bonnie Pink. Hugely recommended if you’ve never heard it!

What is next for you? A new film?

I’ve recently revitalized my YouTube channel, youtube.com/linzerdinzertv. I’ve recently switched to an animated format so I don’t have to stress about lighting and shooting and dolling myself up. Hopefully people will choose to support me there and have some interest in my more ambitious projects. I want to keep those projects a secret for now! Tune into my YouTube channel to stay up to date!

 

NO STRINGS ATTACHED, 5min, USA, Music Video
Directed by Lindsay PennFans or dollars? A surreal exploration of the inner conflict of the independent artist.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!