Interview with Filmmaker Sean Janisse (LOCOMOTIVE 8 – ENCORE)

LOCOMOTIVE 8 – ENCORE played to rave reviews at the September 2018 Experimental Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Sean Janisse: I’ve wanted to make my own short film for a while now, but never felt confident enough with what I’ve written. I knew I wanted to make a space romance but just couldn’t get the pieces to fall in the right place. I was planning it based on the idea that I would have to animate it alone so I knew I wanted to keep it short and simple. That’s when I was listening to my friend’s recent album when the song Encore jumped out at me and I felt like I could already picture the video. It all kind of clicked in. So I thought, I’m going to try out a music video and play with that format.

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

It all started about 4 years ago. Half a year of boarding it out then rehashing it and sitting on it, then it stayed there for around a year until I reached out to the super talented Andrés Landazábal to Art direct the short. After that it really took off and was completed, animation and compositing, within a year.

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

Space Love

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

It was definitely putting in the hours to animate it. So many nights I’d sit down at my computer after work and look at the pile of shots that haven’t even been started yet and wonder why I was doing this to myself.

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

It sounds like they enjoyed it which is a huge relief!

Watch the Audience Feedback Video of the Short Film:

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

I’m a huge romantic comedy fan and I love the sci-fi genre so it really stemmed from that. And when I sat down to start boarding I just went off the mood and tones in the song and tried to let that dictate what happens in the story. The title “encore” also prompted the idea of doing things over again which became the core idea of the short… I don’t know French so hopefully it didn’t completely contradict the song.

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

I think When Harry Met Sally.

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

It’s super easy and straightforward. This was my first time using this service and it made it a breeze.

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

Siberian Breaks by MGMT.

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

I’m working on writing a live action short film with an old teacher and also an animated web series that I’ve been thinking about for a while. We’ll see what comes first!
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Interview with Filmmaker Penny Lee (THROUGH CHINATOWNS’S EYES: APRIL 1968)

THROUGH CHINATOWNS’S EYES: APRIL 1968 played to rave reviews and was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the October 2018 FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Penny Lee: I wanted to tell the story about a minority group that was impacted by a national tragedy during a turbulent time of civil rights history. There
have been many books, films and reports written about the Black and White experience but nothing about the Chinese American experience of that time. I felt it was necessary to produce a film to give the Chinese American voice to this subject.

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

It took about nine months from idea to finished product.

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

Identity Impact

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

The biggest obstacle that I faced in completing this film was finding free time to work on it. I am a full-time freelance film/TV editor and I could only work on the documentary in the evenings, weekends and in between projects. Although our film was funded by the 1882 Foundation and a small grant from the DC Arts & Humanities, the budget was still an obstacle. A lot of the work that was performed on this film such as the writing, shooting and editing was done on a pro bona basis. The archival and stock footage was expensive and the majority of the funds went to pay for that. Needless to say, this was a passion project and I didn’t make any money.

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

I was very impressed by the audience participation and knowledge. I can see from watching their feedback that they were paying close attention to the details especially when they were able to recollect some of the dialogue in the film. I thought that was awesome!

Watch the Audience Feedback Video of the Short Film:

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

I wanted to create an oral history documentary film that would preserve the history of Washington DC’s Chinatown. The area has been decimated with progress and the once thriving Chinese community has dwindled to a few restaurants and even fewer residents. I was searching for funding when the 1882 Foundation
approached me to help them produce a film.

So in addition to funds provided by The 1882 Foundation, we received a grant from the DC Arts & Humanities for us to produce this film but one of the requirements stated that the film had to include race relations as a theme. After brainstorming with the President of the 1882 foundation, we decided to produce a film that would focus on how the Chinatown community faced race relations in the 1960s and what impact the civil disturbance had on these people following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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

I have seen the Sound of Music the most followed by Avatar, however I do enjoy many other films such as The Joy Luck Club, The Notebook, Wonder Woman and Crazy Rich Asians. In addition, I enjoy watching Games of Thrones on HBO.

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

I enjoyed using FilmFreeway as a submission platform very much. It was easy to use and I like the many choices and selections available for filmmakers to pick and choose to submit our film. This platform made it easy for filmmakers to visit festival sites and learn more about each festival before making a selection.

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

I would say I listen to Top 40 Pop songs the most followed by oldies as my second choice in music. I enjoy Contemporary hit radio songs to keep up with the times. Other times I listen to oldies where I can actually sing along because I know the words (ex. Beatles, The Temptations, and Motown too).

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

I am currently working on a feature documentary film “A Tale of Three Chinatowns” that explores the survival and role of Chinatowns across the USA by examining how they’ve adapted to social, economic and political changes. This film will look at three Chinatowns in varying stages of contraction and expansion and the forces influencing their current states. It will also cover the history of these Chinatowns and their unique characteristics each local community has developed over time.

Interview with Filmmaker Luma Oquendo (SARAVÁ)

CLOUD COVER was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the September 2018 Experimental Feedback Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Luma Oquendo: The singer is a friend of mine. She ask me to direct the music video. And for me, it is a pleasure to talk about Brazilian culture and religion. The music cached me by the rhythm and theme. Thus I was very excited to create something together with the musicians.

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

In this specific case it took less the a month. The musicians had the idea of shooting in this place. Once I entered there, the only think I could think was How to use all this place in one single film, the place is completely connected to the music. We decided for going to an single shot or making it 360, but we think 360 could not work for the specific public. So, after that we just set up the schedule and shoot in one day.

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

Continuous faith

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

After decided for one single shot we needed to find out one way to have a cut. We couldn’t shoot the entire scene because on of the musicians change clothes and have complex make up work. It took time to decide how cut it.

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

Surprised. I had no idea that there would be an discussion about the movie. It is really very interesting. It is really amazing to see people not connected specific with Brazilian culture talk about it, and notice how it reaches each one in a different way.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Limelight – Charles Chaplin

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

Very positive. It helps a lot. In 2011 I had some movies finished to send to some festivals and the big majority of them ask copies in DVD and printed pictures. We spend lot of moneys and long days working on it. The platforms like Filmfreeway helps a lot.

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

I really cannot remember one single music but for sure the rhythm that I listen to most is Samba, a Brazilian style that comes from África.

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

Now I came to Prague to specialize in Cinematography at Prague Film School. 1-year program. But the idea is after that come back and continue the project streetartists.tv that gave me the opportunity to shot SARAVÁ.

Interview with Filmmaker Steve Socki (HALLOWSTIDE)

HALLOWSTIDE played to rave reviews at the September 2018 Under 5 Minute Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Steve Socki: Want to create moving paintings with visual interest.

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

1 year

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

Ebb Flow

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

Compositing thousands of layers in After Effects

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

Fascinating to hear variety of experiences.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Visual development developed from watercolor sketches of tidepools. Inspiration and spark from poetry of Wallace Stevens. Visual motion from teaching demonstrations I do for my animation mechanics class.

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

Norman McLaren’s “Blinkity Blank”

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

This is the best service, by far. They are the most organized, and offer the best site navigation.

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

Mozart’s “La ci darem la mano” from “The Marriage of Figaro;” at least, that is the melody most stuck in my head

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

New animation called “Enfold.” Developing visuals from studies of Baroque Masters’ treatment of clothing on figures. Motion tests of cloth blowing in the wind. Poetry of William Carlos Williams.
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Interview with Filmmaker Sean Wehrli (GLENDALE)

GLENDALE played to rave reviews at the August 2018 Experimental Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Sean Wehrli: I have a major passion for visual storytelling, with film and music videos at the top of that list. This project specifically came out of a major draw to the music and then a desire to feature our shared hometown of Detroit. We wanted to give a voice to the crime statistics of Detroit.

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

6 months. Very long, but since it was self-funded I took as long as I needed to get it right.

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

Detroit Passion

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

I’d say the most frustrating moment for me was after reviewing 1st cut of the video and seeing how much it sucked. Then trying to find a solution that kept people entertained for a full 6 minutes. The answer ended up involving me going back to Detroit and shooting insane amounts of B-Roll. Really featuring the location as a character is what brought it home.

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

Wow, thank you for doing this. Reconfirmed my suspicion that the power of my video is in the mood and that some of my story elements potentially went too far.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I started with Detroit. Then went to the fact that Detroit has ranked highest in murder for many many years. Then I made the link between crimes of passion and love.

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

I haven’t kept a tally, but Blade Runner? Or more likely one of the disney movies I watched on repeat as a kid: Toy Story or Aladdin?

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

I think it is superior to withoutabox (more user friendly), although still tons of garbage to wade through. You realize after that only about 10% of your submissions were worthwhile festivals. The reviews do help though.

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

In My Place by Coldplay?

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

I just turned my next music video to the label yesterday for the band Beta Radio.

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Interview with the Filmmaking Team of the Award Winning Short Film “HOTTER WITH THE WINDOWS OPEN”

Director Julie Haberstick. Writer John Houston. Winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the August 2018 Romance Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

John: I wanted to tell a story that wasn’t the usual romantic story but would somehow bind these two people together no matter how badly they needed to be torn apart. Or maybe vice versa. Also, this is Footprint Productions’ first film, so we wanted to showcase the talents of our team. We didn’t have a huge budget, so we were trying to make something compelling within the confines of our apartment.

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

John: I wrote the script pretty quickly, Julie and I did some re-writes and planning. We shot within a month or so, plus some reshoots. Then, because our budget was so small, we really relied on favors. So I think it took us the better part of two years to get the film finalized and ready to be seen by the world.

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

Heartbreaking Growth.

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

Julie: Halfway through filming the most emotional scene in the film, our production was shut down due to a location dispute. We had to pack up immediately, and we weren’t sure how to move forward. We chose to have an impromptu wrap party at a bar down the street (complete with karaoke), and picked up shooting a few months later. Thankfully, that pause allowed us to sink our teeth into the scene in a whole new way.

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

Julie: To see Hotter affect the audience, for the creative choices to elicit emotions in ways we intended—and even in ways we didn’t—is incredibly gratifying.

John: It felt good to hear people talking about the film, reacting to it. Sympathizing with our characters, enjoying the heightened language of love.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:


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

John: I started thinking about what sort of love is forbidden and impossible… truly impossible, when the two must remain in each other’s lives, tethered. I also wanted to love and hate both characters, to feel for them, root for and against them. I especially wanted to make the leading man appealing, flawed, heartbreaking, and heartbroken.

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

John: Remember the Titans. I think I could quote the whole thing pretty accurately.

Julie: I have to admit 10 Things I Hate About You is my guilty pleasure…

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

Submission platforms are really convenient. They could be a little more user-friendly, but I’m sure in time they will make it easier and easier for people to get their films seen.

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

John: I listened to a lot of Tina Turner as a kid. And the Beatles and Elvis. But the individual song? There were a few angsty years where a couple Coldplay songs or Johnny Cash were on repeat.

Julie: The Big Chill soundtrack, and California Dreamin’ by the Mamas and the Papas are my most listened-to albums. But “More Than a Feeling” by Boston is my number one song.

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

Footprint’s next film is almost ready for a festival run. Don’t forget the name Footprint Productions because we have some awesome things in the works.

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