Interview with Filmmaker Lina Schmeink (Löffel)

Löffel was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the Female Director’s December 2018 Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Lina Schmeink: It was my grandma who spent her last ten years in an old people´s home. It was dirty and the nurses had no time for the residents. That wa formative for me. So I tought: what if old people just break the rules, break out and just do what they like – no matter how old they are or hor realistic it is to win.

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

– I had the idea for the script in summer 2014. It was a long long time to shoot, edit and finish it. I had to reedit LÖFFEL many times because everytime I tought it would be finished now I had a new idea.

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

– donkey adventure

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

– Shooting with the donkey was a challenge. We shot the last scene – when the two guys ans Löffel walk down that path – 2 kilometers away from the barn where the donkeys lived. We had two donkeys who were inseparable. So we had to take them both to our set. We wanted to shoot while sunrise and the donkeys didn´t want to walk onto our trailer. So we walked the 2 kilometers trough Belium in the dark with the donkeys who didn´t want to walk. And when we arrived at the set and the sun position was perfect the donkeys didn´t move anymore. It took half an hour for the donkeys to move again and the sunrise was over when we shot. So the whole preparation was in vain.

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

– I was so touched, moved, happy and grateful that people I had no chance to talk to completely understood the movie and could laugh and cry while watching it.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

– As I already wrote it was the situation my grandmy lived in and it was also my father who always wanted to have donkeys at home.

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

– Life of Brian

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

– It´s a great platform. Gives a good overview, many informations and makes the submissions very easy. I will use it again.

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

– James – Getting away with it

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

– Yes, in 2018 i wrote my first long term script and I´m gonna shoot it in 2019.

Interview with Producer Lester Greene (I GOT A CALLBACK)

I GOT A CALLBACK played to rave reviews at the December 2018 COMEDY Feedback Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Lester Greene: The whole Me Too movement sparked this film, especially the Terry Crews story of him being sexually assaulted by that high powered agent.

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

It took about a week for the writer to put it together on paper, and then about a month to rehearse and then we begin filming a month after that.

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

Hilariously, thought-provoking

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

We had to battle a car alarm going off non-stop during the film shoot. Luckily, the editor was able to remove it in post production.

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

It was a proud moment. I felt like a true professional having his work reviewed and dissected. It was nice to see that many of the viewers understood our point of view. I create art so that people can gain something from it, and I can tell that your audience appreciated our film.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

We wanted to create something in the vein of the Me Too Movement with a slight twist.

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

Above the Rim, Friday, Love & Basketball

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

Dear Mama – by Tupac

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

I just wrapped on two new films, “The Last Fishing Trip” and “33rd Road” both filmed by the same cinematographer who shot “I Got a Callback,” Chris Fox. And I’m getting ready to write a new comedy series.

Interview with Filmmaker Kristy Linderholm (Murder in the Cat House)

MURDER IN THE CAT HOUSE played to rave reviews at the December 2018 COMEDY Feedback Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Kristy Linderholm: It was practice to get ready for the next one which is much bigger. I learned a ton.

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

A year. There were long stretches in between.

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

Dark surprises

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

Two things. Not asking for help. And I was suffering with extreme depression. Not a good combo.

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

Thank you!!! Thank you so so so so much. It turned me around on the outlook of my career. I knew the short was severely flawed – even though its doing well in fests – but no one would tell me. So I felt blocked up and ashamed. Since the audience didn’t know I was there, they totally ripped into it and it was the most freeing experience I’ve had – and I’ve made 5 shorts, so it’s been a minute.

Once I left I felt soooo relieved. And a George Clooney quote kept coming up. Much earlier in his career someone was giving him shit about being in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. He shrugged and said “Its all part of a career.” I was free to just let it be bad. It was just part of a career.

AND I saw a lot of ways to fix it and the audience really cleared the problems up.

Seriously a career watershed.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

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

Long story. But it was set living room. Since that’s the setting of 93% of short films I was having none of that. I’m an editor by trade and had recently cut a pilot that took place in a cat sanctuary. I thought, that’s a new and fun location. So that’s what I did.

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

Probably John Wick. I am an intense re-watcher of films, scenes, and line deliveries, so it’s really impossible to tell.

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

Loved it. Poop on Without a Box. They are kind of a pain.

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

Sleep Alone by Two Door Cinema Club. All my devices roll their eyes when I put it on. They are sick of it.

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

Two new shorts and shadowing on TV shows. I’m really, really looking forward to both.

It’s all part of a career.

Interview with Filmmaker Julia Trofimova (EULOGY FOR DENIS K)

EULOGY FOR DENIS K was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the December 2018 Female Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Julia Trofimova: I’m very intrigued by the question of the truth – how would it look like if everyone knew everything? Would this world still exist? Or a lie is a protection tool invented by God. The film is my attempt to talk about it.

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

I’ve been looking for an idea for quite a long time, but once I found the script and decided to produce and direct it, it took me 4 months.

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

Accept reality

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

It was actually pretty hard to find the fine line between comedy and drama. It’s very subtle, when you are talking about serious things like death, loss, lie, betrayal, but I needed to find the comedy edge to it. So casting and performances were the biggest challenge.

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

I was very pleased. I realized it does not even matter if the feedback is positive (though it was) but it’s just so precious and surprising to hear people talk about your own film.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I was looking for a dramedy with particular themes and I came across a wonderful script by C.J.Wells. We worked at the script a bit more together and then I was ready to direct it. Cassie is a real goddess of dramedy, I think she feels this genre very well.

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

There is a Russian film that we watch every year on Christmas Eve. It’s called “The Irony of Fate”, and it’s a dramedy as well. It was shot in 70s but it’s still somehow very modern and subtle.

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

It’s the most convenient platform I know.

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

“Smells like teen spirit” by Nirvana.
One of my kids plays this song now, so I’m sure I’ll listen to it even more:)

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

— Yes, I shot two more short films and will send them to festivals soon.

Interview with Filmmaker George A. Velez (MR. E, P I)

MR. E, P I played to rave reviews at the December 2018 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

George A. Velez: I wanted to make a film in a very fun genre that everyone is

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

From idea to finished product, I would say the project took around 10 months.

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

I would say the short is fun and heartfelt.

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

The biggest obstacle was trying to film the whole short in a day. We succeeded but what a challenge.

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

It was surreal to hear people talking about my short because the only feedback I’ve gotten was from my peers. It was great to hear the audience and their interpretations because it’s interesting to hear what people get out of the experience.

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

The short was originally part of a larger piece and I really wanted to see this world and these characters in a physical space.

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

There’s so many but possibly “Jaws”

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

Applying to FilmFreeway has been a positive influence for the most part. It’s easy to navigate and very in-depth.

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

“Purple Rain” by Prince

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

I’m currently finishing two feature film scripts and in pre-production for my next short, Eavesdroppng.

Interview with Filmmaker Paul Charisse (UNCLE GRIOT)

UNCLE GRIOT was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHER at the December 2018 Fantasy/Sci-Fi Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Paul Charisse: This short was developed from a feature we are making called “Stina & the Wolf”. It’s developed from a single scene we thought would act well as a vehicle to distill a lot of the ideas we explore in our feature script into a small and affordable format (and also function to help promote our funding of the full feature of course!)

We wanted it to capture the atmosphere and approach we intend for the final feature, as well as hint at some of the main themes the film deals with. Part of our design for the feature and short was to try and find that difficult balance between helping the audience understand ideas we want to explore, but also painting a rich enough palette that they can draw their own conclusions, some of which may not have even occurred to us as filmmakers. I’m a big believer that artists put more ideas into their work than they realise, so particularly in the editing process, we moved things around a lot to create new meanings and juxtapositions in an intuitive and reactive way that I tried not to over analyze. I think this can access deeper, more subconscious meanings, and is very much the working method of my filmmaking heroes such as David Lynch and Nicolas Roeg. I love films that use rich emotive visual and narrative elements to take you into the emotion space of a character, without being overly didactic or literal, giving the audience just enough ingredients to make sense of story elements and visual motifs so they can stitch together things from their own experiences. (This does of course require a certain amount of effort from the audience and challenges expectations, so is not to everyone’s taste!) I’m also a big fan of this magical realism approach in literature, by authors such as the fantastic Kelly Lynch, where meanings are hinted at and stories unfold full of sympathetic resonances and juxtapositions that can draw out different things from different readers.

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

The feature has been in development for 6 years. The resulting short took about one and half years to complete.

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

magical realism

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

The biggest obstacle was a technical one, getting the right level of detail and realism so that we could create the “hyper realism” we wanted for our aesthetic. The plan was that at moments it looked real and others strange and dream like, with certain visual elements idealised beyond reality. There are no shortcuts to this, and it required a lot of time and effort creating high fidelity facial animation, cloth simulation, grass and tree simulation, motion capture and animation and shader and matte painting. This is easier if you’re working on a multi million pound budget project with a crew of hundreds (I used to work as an animator in Blockbuster VFX) Most of the work on this was done by a small team of about 8 of us, and we made the film in a university with students and myself (a lecturer) Our biggest obstacle for the feature as a whole is getting it funded and finding a producer to help us with this. (Pretty much the same as every filmmaker in history I imagine!)

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

I was really excited to hear the different interpretations of the film. It’s actually a relief to hear that people are able to accept the level of ambiguity and try and use the elements in the film to make their own meanings, and they came up with so many fantastic ideas! I was really pleased, as this film was partially a test to see if we could capture a snapshot of what we want the feature to be, and see whether it would work with an audience. (although the feature has a much tighter narrative, but we aspire to give it that otherworldly ambiguity. Again another balancing act)

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The feature (and the short) is inspired by many ideas and many films. I’d say life, death and fate are its core themes, but within that the idea of using storytelling and fantasy as a way of making sense of the apparent chaos and amorality of the natural world plays a big part; also how this relates to the aging process (Stina is very much intended to be idealised youth, where as Griot is the reality of aging: wart, farts, body hair and all!). I love the idea that humans have to wrap everything in a story before they can process it, especially things that are infinite and seem to defy logic, such as death or the physical world beyond our bodies.

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

I’d say Mulholland Drive and Paris Texas have both had about the same level of obsessive re-watching. At least twice a year! Very different films, but both have been massive inspirations.

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

It’s really accessible and useful. I’d use it again.

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

I tend to listen to albums rather than individual songs. The otherworldly and ambient instrumental sides (it’s a double album) of David Sylvian “Gone to Earth” is my my most played. It transports me to another plane, a place beyond language, and I think a place I feel compelled to try and reach through filmmaking for some reason. I love that language is completely incompetent at capturing the experience of music (and film!).

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

I’ve been approached about directing an animated feature in America next year, which i can’t talk about yet unfortunately (although hopefully soon) I’ll also be continuing the process of trying to fund our magical realistic feature, which i’m absolutely determined to make. (I’m having to learn to be a producer at the moment, which is definitely not my natural skillset, if any one fancies joining the team! ) Any one interested in learning more about our feature “Stina & the Wolf” should check out: http://www.stinaandthewolf.net