Interview with Filmmaker Ken Clark (SNIP)

SNIP played to rave reviews at the August 2018 Young Filmmakers Film Festival i Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ken Clark: I like to tell stories that entertain but also prick the conscience of the viewer.

Due to illness I spent some time in hospital and in my ward was an old Jewish man who had come to New Zealand in the late 40s as a refugee. He told me a story which is the basis of another film idea that is lurking in my mind but, as we talked about life, experiences and the holocaust he said now they talk of numbers, only numbers, not about people. This stuck with me as many years ago I had read that three deaths is a tragedy, a thousand deaths is a statistic. When I came across Samuel and Ruth’s encounter I had my people story.

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

It was quite fast, for me. It was about 8 months. My university course required at least one finished short film by the end of the year. This time restraint galvanised me into getting a film finished.

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

Man’s inhumanity.

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

The biggest obstacle was writing the script. It is basically a monologue of an 18-19 year old girl living in Poland in the 1940s remembering her life before the Nazi invasion. These were things I had never experienced. I was never a teenage girl or lived in Europe. I looked at some of “The Diary of Ann Frank” and talked with my mother, who was a teenager in the 1940s, about female thoughts and experiences and the expectations of that time. I tried very hard to make the script read not the way a male thinks a female should or would think but an honest representation of her thoughts in that specific time and place. Once I had the script all things seemed to fall into place. I had a crew from the university film school and actors available from my wife’s drama class and my lead actress from our involvement in many theatrical productions. The set was designed and built to be used by both the film and the play my wife was producing.

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

Wow. This is the best thing of the festival. It was so good to get this honest feedback. I found the first comment about a ‘Kiwi’ accent interesting. Phoebe and I talked about accents early on and I made the decision that we use our normal speaking voice, as “Ruth” would have used her normal speaking voice. While there isn’t often an association of Jews and New Zealand, our Prime Minister from 2008 – 2016 is the son of a Jewish refugee. There are more ties that bind us than walls that divide us.

It was so gratifying to see and hear people respond to the film. The audience appeared to understand the story I was trying to tell. Ruth is a person and not just a statistic.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

While I had this holocaust, statistics not people, idea in the back of my mind, in 2012 I saw a documentary “Death Camp Treblinka – Survivor Stories”. It was about two survivors of Treblinka. Samuel Willenberg and Kalman Taigman. There was a short sequence;

(VO) “One day Samuel was ordered to work as a barber. He encountered a naked Warsaw girl fully aware of her fate.

(Samuel Willenberg) “She was about 19, maybe younger. I remember her name to this day. Ruth Dorfmann. I cut her hair. She asked me how long it would last. I said ten minutes. She looked back and said farewell…She was really saying farewell to the whole world. Then we heard the sound of the tank engine and that’s how it ended.”

From this short sequence I thought there’s the people story. All I had to do was work out what she could be thinking, what her conversation could have been while her hair was being cut and how to show the audience of her awareness of her fate.

I was also thinking of the broader historical implications. It took many years before the existence of the death camps was acknowledged. In the early years the ‘resettlement camps’ were shown as places of contentment and productivity, it was only at the end of the war that the dark truth was revealed. This progression, and the fact that modern audiences are used to seeing this time period in black and white was the main reason for the slow change from colour to black and white.

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

“King Kong” is my favourite film. I guess this is because it is a film that can allow you to escape into another world, but films that have had an emotional impact on me have been “The 400 Blows”, “Medium Cool” and ”Jacques Brel is Alive and Living in Paris”

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

I think this is a very easy and simple way to get your films into festivals and they list a great number of festivals.

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

“Only the Lonely” by Roy Orbison, I’m a sucker for a sob story.

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

There are two films I’d like to make. One is from my conversation with Mr. Bergman in hospital. I don’t have it clear in my mind yet. He came to New Zealand as a refugee in 1949, he joined a Christchurch chess club in 1978. In 1985 a German immigrant joined the club. This German chess player was not only from the same village as Mr Bergman but was part of the police force that rounded up his family for deportation.

The other is “Picnic” an exploration of responsibility. If someone is unaware that what they do is criminal are they really criminals? Michael Hurst (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys) has agreed to star but schedules and finances are always a problem.

Advertisements

Top 10 Football Movies of the 2000s (2000 to Present)

Football Movies. You wonder why Hollywood doesn’t make more of them considering the sport to so popular in comparison to the other sports. The only concern is that these movies don’t play well overseas because they only play football in North America and the rest of the world doesn’t know what the heck is going on when they watch it.

In fact, the best interpretation of football in the arts and entertainment industry has been on television. The TV version of Friday Night Lights (based on the movie, which was based on the award winning novel) is easily the best football themed portrayal of this century. But, this is the list of the top 10 football movies, and here we go.

See the full list here, including reviews of each film, plus a football movie list year by year:

http://www.wildsound-filmmaking-feedback-events.com/2000s_football_movie.html

#10 – The Game Plan, 2007

Basically a kids movie starring The Rock. It kind of works in moments. And I truly believe Dwayne Johnson as a quarterback.

#9 – Two For the Money, 2005

Total disappointment in relation to the potential this movie had. We still need a solid movie about football gambling. Pretend you can’t gamble on football games as the fine would be assassination if you’re caught. Football would cease to exist in 5 years. Gambling is what holds the game together. People can argue that point all they want but it’s true.

#8 – Radio, 2003

“Cuba Gooding Jr. went full retard” (quote from Tropic Thunder) and the movie still works because Ed Harris playing the coach is so good. This is a realistic sports movie. You can argue a little wonky at times, but we need movies like this more than most that come out of Hollywood.

#7 – The Replacements, 2000

A fun movie to watch in the cinema if you’re on a date or hanging with friends when it came out. A little silly but Gene Hackman as the coach is terrific and we all love rooting for the underdog, who is Keanu Reeves in this film!

#6 – Gridiron Gang, 2006

The Rock stars in two football films that make this list. Youth Prison guard teaches teenagers how to play football and they become better men. The NFL probably LOVES this film. Okay message delivered on the “based on a true story” film but a lot of this film seems made up.

#5 – Friday Night Lights, 2004

You need this film first to get the TV show, so that’s why it’s so high on the list. I personally felt that director Peter Berg moved the camera way too much, but what do I know? People liked it.

#4 – Remember The Titans, 2000

Two solid, if not spectacular performances by Denzel Washington and Will Patton as two coaches trying to find the middle ground in a trying Civil Rights era. This film really works.

#3 – Big Fan, 2009

Perhaps one of the most underrated sports movies of all-time. Independent film about a guy who loves the New York Giants so much, he can’t see the forest through the trees even after the star player on the team beats him up for no apparent reason. It’s message is a metaphor for politics: Why do we vote for certain politicians even after they keep beating us up? Watch this great film if you haven’t already.

#2 – The Blind Side, 2009

I cried like a little puppy during and after this film. It got to me how this mother would do anything for this man-child. I wished she was my mom!

#1 – We Are Marshall, 2006

How do you get over mass death? That’s what this film is really about. You need to keep going no matter how much you just want to roll up into a ball and let the world pass you by. And this film tries to tell us how to get back up even after all is lost.

That’s my list. Enjoy

Matthew Toffolo

WILDsound’s Top 100 Comedy Movies of All-Time

“I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.” — Ron Burgundy

Late last year the WILDsound organizers came out with the list of the 100 Greatest Comedy Movies of All-Time. And to make things even funner, there is a link review to each page on the site as well:

http://www.wildsound-filmmaking-feedback-events.com/comedy_movies.html

    Of course, any list like this is going to stir up a little debate. But the equation for coming up with the list is simple:

    1) Movie stands the test of time. Is funny when it came out. It’s funny now. And it’s going to be funny in 50 years.

    2) Has the best story within the guidelines of it being funny.

    3) Trendsetting. Movie that shook up the genre and set it on a different course. Future films have “borrowed” the plot points and situation-al comedy.

    4) Pop-Culture influence. When you keep hearing quotes from the film years after it came out, you know you can call is a masterpiece.

    5) Emotional moments. The film is funny of course, but there are also moments that make you feel deeply as well.

Put it all together and ANCHORMAN is the greatest comedy movie of all-time. And DR. STRANGELOVE is a very close second.

But take a look at the list and see if you agree or disagree. I’m sure many of your favorites are on the list, but many are not. There are 1000s of great comedies made, but we only could list 100.

Enjoy.

Thanks

Matthew

Doctor, you mentioned the ratio of ten women to each man. Now, wouldn’t that necessitate the abandonment of the so-called monogamous sexual relationship, I mean, as far as men were concerned? – General “Buck” Turgidson

WILDsound’s 25 Top Animation Movies of the millennium (2000 to present)

To watch Spirited Away feels like a special gift. It is a film of such startling imagination, originality, intelligence, and emotion that I feel inexplicable joy when the opening title card fades in.

Christopher Runyon, Movie Mezzanine

Animation movies are so much fun to watch as most of them attempt to tell a story that crosses generations. It’s the art of showing a kid and their parents the same film and each loving it for something different when the lights go up. Easier said than done.

In this era, animation films have gone to a whole new level. I’ve been fortunate enough to screen many animated short films at our WILDsound Festival through the years from many different countries and I’m amazed each time by the brilliance. Many of those filmmakers go on to work for major animation studios where there seems to be an ongoing assemble line of creative people working on any given film.

Here is the Top 25 Animation Movies from 2000s to present:
http://www.wildsound-filmmaking-feedback-events.com/2000s_animation_movies.html

And the debate begins. We have Spirited Away (2001) as our top film. It’s actually one of the best movies of this era no matter what genre we’re talking about. The French film Les Triplettes de Bellville (2003) comes in a close second.

Have no fear as there are many mainstream films on the list including Frozen, Wall-E, Toy Story 3, and Ratatouille to name a few.

Enjoy

Matthew Toffolo