Interview with Filmmaker Davide Carlini (TRATAK 1 – ANTARS)

TRATAK 1 – ANTARS played to rave reviews at the October 2019 TV Web Series festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Davide Carlini: During the course of directing at a private school in my splendid Marche region, the Officine Mattolì Association in Tolentino, was proposed to us and offered as part of the course to make one of our short films.

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

I started to define a subject in October 2015 and then developed in the following months.

Instead, the production was only 4-5 intense days (stolen between weekends and bridges of the Easter holidays9 of April 2016.

Post-production is instead a labor that has not yet been completed. It began in June 2016 and partially ended in October 2016 with a privately projected version for the course of the school. After October 2016 I decided to take it further and divide the project into a mini series divided into 3 episodes, or rather call it phases of change of state of consciousness. So in May 2018 I completed Antars Tratak 1 and in September 2018 Reveil Tratak 2. Currently the last Tratak3 episode is still in post-production stage and I hope to be able to propose it from 2020.

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

Solicitation of doubts and questions about ourselves and others (which we are always ourselves, even if we do not recognize it in this time-space that is granted to us.)

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

The production time is limited to 4/5 days as there was no budget and the possibility of having the complete availability of help crews and cast of actors who were also trainees of the Officine Mattoli school.

The time available to prepare the actors’ parts was also very limited as they were also engaged in other work and commitments at the same time.
Then from the beginning of post-production I became aware of a real general ostracism of the Italian and regional cinema system that does not allow effective collaboration if there is not behind an economic and above all political support and the use of this media for the narration of the single dominant thought.

Unfortunately, this is one of the reasons why even Italian cinema has been practically embalmed and moldy since the 1970s. Power logic and control of cultural narration that do not favor any real and effective independence of the authors, actors and artists who as they go they become instruments of mass manipulation.

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

I was very pleased to see him and listen to the criticisms and the questions and doubts raised and the considerations of all the public that I appreciated for the qualification and the real sincerity.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

At that time I was in a phase of experience in yoga practices, including the intense practice of Tratak (fixing a candle without closing my eyes, and accompanying this with particular breathing sequences) and studies of philosophies in different Western traditions and Eastern .
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I was also fascinated and increasingly intrigued by esotericism and by Western mysticism that apparently seems less rich than the oriental one but in reality if you start looking for it you will find universes that you don’t even imagine. Unfortunately in the European Enlightenment period and first the witch hunt and the Catholic repressions against heretics (which today we would call conspiracy theorists, no?..) Gnostics and other researchers not aligned with the Zeitgeist have veiled and muddied millennia of history of the western world.

The idea of ​​this series of short films was born to unconventionally tell all this. The title can be misleading because it is not a tutorial or guide to esoteric practices, but instead it was within a set of practices, the activation focus of a whole personal experience of self-awareness and a general change of perspectives and world view, and with the related traumas and cognitive dissonances in realizing the previous state of dogmatic certainty and running programs that are behind the reality that manifests itself.

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

Like everyone here of the middle-bourgeoisie flattened under the oligarchic neoliberalism of this era, I am a child of television culture and the beginning of the multimedia era. I met the cinema with the comedies of the late 70s and early 80s, today it would be called the “trash” genre, yet it should not be so derided .. I was then fascinated by American productions of films like Blues Brothers of Landis, the insane comedies of Mel Brooks ..

In the 90s I followed a local cinema club in my city (which has not existed for 20 years now) and projected a film selected from those released during the year 1 day a week. The true love of cinema gave me Scorsese’s Raging Bull, it was love at first sight and you rekindled it for weeks and even now I see it again and again and find it always new and full of suggestions.

Surely among the films seen several times there is Doctor Strangelove by Kubrick, and Matrix saga by Wachowski (s) ..

Then the first films of Tarantino, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown. David Lynch also with Dune, Eraserhead and Blue Velvet.

I have a love for two films by French director Coline Serreau, the Crisis! and La Belle Verte, and always on this mood I find many affinities with the Italian cinema of the 60s / 70s when it was still much more genuine and bold even in narrating different critical visions, for example films like “Io, io, io. and the others “by Alessandro Blasetti, or “L’ingorgo” by Luigi Comencini, or almost all films by the fantastic Luciano Salce (director of Fantozzi, Il Federale, Coup d’état, and others ..).

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

There are many possibilities and a good selection of both festivals and works. I find it a great channel to help new filmmakers and emerging authors.

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

Goodbye Porkpie Hat by Charles Mingus

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

I’m busy solving various personal and professional issues and the time to write or edit my stuff and define new and old projects is very little. There are in some ideas on a series of short documentaries between philosophy and metapolitics and social psychology, then I am always working at the conclusion of the Tratak project the third episode of this filmic experiment. Thank you for your interest, and I always wish you good doubts! Thanks

Interview with Filmmaker Vickie Rose Sampson (YOU DRIVE ME CRAZY)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Vickie Rose Sampson: The main reason is to explore what will be the eventual outcomes of society of the increase in reliance on technology to do even the simplest of things. And how we could become victims of our own inventions.

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

I think it was about 6 months from idea to finished film.

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

Helluva ride.

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

Because we hadn’t done green screen before it created a HUGE issue with both color grading and visual fxs work. We had both green screen and live action driving with sometimes 4 cameras going – a canon 5d, 2 go pros and my iPhone! The green screen was too close to the actor’s face which created a “spill” which had to be cleaned up. I actually have some screen grabs of the “before” and “after” if you want me to send them! I just gave a demo to the Los Angeles Post Production Group about what we went through to get it to look the way it does!

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

I loved that they enjoyed the ride!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

My producing partner and screenwriter, Wendy Fishman, and I were driving to a screening in Hollywood and my GPS told me to turn down this alleyway… Wendy said, “Just go up to Sunset and turn right!” I said, “No! I must obey the GPS!” So then we talked about taking it to its illogical conclusion about what would happen if we “disobeyed” her and that’s how You Drive Me Crazy was born.

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

That’s a tough one! Do you mean a film I’ve seen over and over? All the ones I have done sound editing on because i HAVE to watch them over and over as I’m working on them but I don’t think you’re talking about those! Although, I could watch On Golden Pond (which I worked on) over and over still….Meet Me In St Louis, It’s a Wonderful Life, Citizen Kane,

I rarely watch films more than once because time is so valuable. (with the exception of animated films that my grandchildren want to watch over and over –

like Coco! or Frozen!)
PS I was a Supervising Sound editor for 40 years on feature films – like Return of the Jedi, Pirates of the Caribbean , Ordinary People, Sex and the City (movies) Donnie Darko etc.

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

It makes it very easy to keep track of submissions, acceptances, and lets me find all kinds of festivals I didn’t know about! Though it is a daunting task (and sometimes expensive) to submit and then not get in. We probably need to add about $1000 to a budget just for festival submissions, not to mention any travel costs to actually attend them. I would love to attend them because I get such a kick at seeing how audiences react to my films – that’s the whole reason we do these! But it’s so costly to go. For example, my film is in a festival in Mass. this coming weekend which sounds lovely – on the waterfront, with workshops and screenings but to get there would cost JUST ME about $1500! I could put that into the budget for the next film. Plus, if you do go, there’s never any guarantee that anyone will come see the film! Maybe we’re over-saturated with screenings in LA but sometimes the only people in the audience are the other filmmakers and their friends/cast/crew/family. So I don’t want to spend $1500 to go to a festival where no one shows up! And you can’t ask the festival if they are well-attended, right!? So besides the BIG festivals, you just don’t know if you’ll have an audience!

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

Anything by Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, CSNY… yes I’m from that era! I can’t think of one particular song I’ve listened to over and over! Maybe Scarborough Faire? Suzanne? Suite Judy Blue Eyes

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

Yes! Wendy and I are producing another short called REFLECTIONS – 1 woman – 1 room – 1 transformation. We are doing it as a “pilot” for a possible series. A young woman questions her identity just as she’s about to be married and how her decision affects the whole family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Interview with Filmmaker Ciaran R. Maidwell (THERE’S STILL GOOD)

THERE’S STILL GOOD was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the LGBT Toronto Film Festival in May 2019.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ciaran R. Maidwell: There’s Still Good was inspired by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDTalk “The danger of a single story”. In it, she says “the single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

The social landscape of South Africa is littered with stereotypes, and it keeps us from making meaningful personal connections. Before someone has even opened their mouth, we have already assumed everything about them.We wanted to create a new story, a story that encouraged people to see beyond their single story of other people.

We also wanted to normalize the queer relationship by treating it as incidental, as a non-event.

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

Roughly 6 months.

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

Faux pas

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

We had to re-shoot both the beginning and the ending of the film once we’d figured out where the focus really should be. It was difficult to plan and execute this on our tight schedule, and to co-ordinate with the actor’s schedules. In the end, this obstacle was our greatest opportunity, because it allowed us to deliver a stronger film with a more unified theme.

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

I was surprised at the varying interpretations that the film received. It was interesting to hear how people who are not familar with South African culture and South African history experienced the events of the film.

I particularly noticed how each character meant something different to each person – for me, this highlighted the theme of the film itself. The way you experience the world and the way you experience other people is informed by the stories you’ve heard about them, or about people like them.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The story itself is based on the lived experience of my university roommate: She was from Rwanda, and because of this people in South Africa expected certain things of her (that she speak an African language, that she have an African name etc.) People were surprised, even upset, when she did not meet these expectations. She hadn’t known there was anything wrong with her until other people tried to apply their story of Africa to her.

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

Mistress America (2015) directed by Noah Baumbach

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

FilmFreeway is a great platform for independent filmmakers. It helps put the filmmaker in control of their film and its screenings in an intuitive way, and breaks down the submission process so that both the filmmaker and the festival can easily communicate their expectations to each other. It’s been an invaluable resource for There’s Still Good.

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

Manhattan – Gallant

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

Television! TV series have become part of our everyday lives. TV series allow much more room for character exploration and development. So we get to live with these characters. I’m interested in how this can be used to expose people to different lives, to new ideas, to stories they hadn’t even considered.

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Interview with Filmmaker Robbie Lemieux (THE WOODS)

THE WOODS played to rave reviews at the May 2019 Thriller/Suspense FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Robbie Lemieux: This short film is a proof-of-concept for a feature film that I’m developing. Although the short is about different characters in slightly different circumstances than the feature, the intention was to create a short and scary piece that conveys the tone and explores the world of the feature.

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

I was about a year into writing the feature when I decided to make a proof-of-concept short. Once I made that decision, it took approximately four months to complete the short — from writing, through pre-production and production, to final cut and delivery.

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

Atmospheric and scary.

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

Budget is always a big obstacle. The challenge was to create something that felt professional, on an extremely low budget with a small crew. Most of our budget had to go to location and transportation – so we needed to be creative with the remaining resources we had to make the film look good and work.

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

I was pleased to hear that the audience found the film compelling, and that they each had different reactions; that the film called up different memories or feelings for each of them.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

It was based on the feature film screenplay, which is all about how people handle an unknown threat that they cannot understand. The short took elements from the feature film, to create a standalone piece.

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

Definitely “Jurassic Park” – the film that inspired me to become a filmmaker when I saw it at age five!

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

It’s amazing to have a platform that helps me discover festivals, and easily submit to them. The filmmaking process will always be a long and hard struggle — but at least FilmFreeway makes the festival process more straightforward and painless once your movie is complete.

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

Everything by Fleetwood Mac.

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

The feature film for “The Woods” is in development, and I am also writing another horror feature — with a new short film set to shoot in Fall 2019.

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Interview with Filmmaker Erika Kramer (SHE’S MARRYING STEVE)

SHE’S MARRYING STEVE was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES & MUSIC at the February 2019 LGBT Film Festival in February.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Erika Kramer: I’ve always wanted to make films that shine light on lesbian characters and on the lesbian experience – I feel that visibility in film/tv is one of the most important methods for progress and acceptance. For this film specifically, I was processing a breakup and trying to understand if I could remain friends with my ex or not. I wanted to explore the larger question of if you can stay friends after a breakup and if being queer adds any complexity to that.

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

I wrote the script very quickly. Then spent a good amount of time cleaning it up and getting smart editors to take a look at it for me. The pre-production was a few weeks then we shot over 5 days – 4 in Connecticut and 1 half day in New York City. I started editing right away and finished that within a few weeks. It was a quick rush to get it out into the world!

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

It’s about love and relationships and how we earn closure on relationships. It’s also about understanding that the world isn’t black and white – there’s a lot that’s gray!

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

Filmmaking is a constant challenge – there’s never enough time, money, people, etc. I think the hardest thing for me, as a first-time director, was remaining confident and in control. I think I did a great job of this, but it was a new experience and it takes a special level of faith in yourself to run a crew. I’m eager to do it again though, so it can’t have been all that tough! 🙂

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

It’s terrifying and humbling and exciting. I just want as many people to see the film as possible. To hear that people not only watched it but were invested in the story and had smart and enthusiastic responses was sooo rewarding. I’m very grateful.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I broke up with my first serious girlfriend and it felt like everyone i knew was settling down and getting married. I really just wanted to explore those feelings and that specific time in life.

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

Such a tough question! There are soooo many. I love Sarah Polley’s work – Take this Waltz is an incredible film. As is Stories We Tell. I might have to say Clueless. Amy Heckerling is a genius and that was such a formative film. That’s a nearly perfect film!

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

FilmFreeway is wonderful!

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

I think Sound & Color by the Alabama Shakes – It’s a perfect album and the song’s beautiful.

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

Working on a feature film! In the writing phase now. Hope to be back at the festival soon 😀 

 

 

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