Interview with Director Dan Pal (COUNTING)

Dan Pal’s short film COUNTING played at the ROMANCE FEEDBACK Film Festival in Los Angeles in September 2017. It was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Dan Pal: I am a company member of a non-for-profit organization in Chicago called Pride Films and Plays. We were looking for a short script that took place in our city and that featured an LGBT theme. The screenwriter, Kari Morris, is part of our writers network. Her script for Counting was the most beautiful and heart-wrenching I had read. It really reflected the idea that no matter how far we go with equal rights in the U.S., we must always remember those that came before that were not so fortunate. I was thrilled to be able to bring this story to life!

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

We chose the script in the winter of 2016. There were about four months of pre-production soon after that. Shooting was completed in two days at the end of July 2016. Post-production was fairly brief. We had a couple of rough cuts in August but after a few tweaks, we premiered the film at a Pride Films and Plays film festival in early November.

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

Marriage Inequality!

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

About two weeks before production, our Director of Photography dropped out of the project to work on a feature film. Fortunately, he had a replacement ready to go! Then our outdoor location fell through and we had to quickly find another spot to shoot the very key opening scene! After combing a few neighborhoods in Chicago we found a lovely park bench in front an older couple’s house. I knocked on the door and, after a little bit of negotiation, they agreed to let us film on their property!

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

I was definitely grateful for the variety of responses and perspectives! All of the feedback was very constructive and useful. I can’t wait to share this with our screenwriter and music composer!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

As I mentioned earlier, the story was the brainchild of our screenwriter Kari Morris who was inspired by an older gay man who told her he had been with the same partner for decades. Sadly that person died before they could legally wed in the 2010s. Kari adapted his story to reflect a female couple.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Probably Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. It inspired me when I was young and suggested that film doesn’t have to follow a specific structure and style.

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

I love it! It’s a great way to get your work out into the world and seen by programmers, film fans, and other filmmakers.

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

Wow! That’s a tough one! Music is a BIG part of my life! I can’t come up with just one…but maybe a Top Ten if I really think about it!

What is next for you? A new film?

I am currently working on a short script and have outlined a feature I may want to develop. Pride Films & Plays is also currently reviewing screenplays for our next short so it could be one written by someone else again.
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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.

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Interview with Director Andrew Galloway (WALLY)

 

Andrew Galloway’s short film “WALLY” was voted BEST CHARACTERS at the LGBT Documentary Film Festival in August 2017.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Andrew Galloway: I first met Wally Linebarger as an art teacher at my school. I was in 4th grade and he entered our room pushing his art cart. A man that would become the founder of the art department at our school. That would come in time. At this point however he was simply a man armed only with an artcart and an enthusiasm for teaching. In this first day he appeared a seeming madman leaping from student desk to student desk encouraging, commenting, and guiding each student. So was the introduction.

Years passed. Wally and the art department he lead grew in stature. Gone were his vagabond days where he traveled from classroom to classroom pushing his art cart. He had his own room complete with a photography studio, and his students… why they became contenders, and at time champions, in District and State art competitions. While I was a renaissance man, my extra-circular activities of athletics and Theater prevented me from having him as a teacher.

Wally was a constant figure to be seen around our school. He did not hesitate to offer his time or lend an ear. For many, Wally may have acted as confidant. Others may have sought him out for encouragement, or guidance. Regardless of what it was for, Wally would not hesitate to led an ear or share with his students. This seemed especially true with my class.

After I graduated from the University of Texas I went back to Trinity to visit some of my teachers. I was able to find them all except for one: Wally Linebarger. When I asked the front desk where Wally Linebarger was, they merely turned their heads and mumbled that he didn’t work there anymore. They wouldn’t tell me why. It was not until years later at a reunion that I found out what had happened to Wally Linebarger and his family. Shocked at the injustice of what had happened to one of my favorite teachers I began a Facebook correspondence. The relationship of Teacher and student grew into one of friends. When I began my M.F.A. in Documentary Production and Studies at the University of North Texas I knew that I had to film his story.

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

In total, my project took about four weeks to shoot and about four months to edit.

The week of Thanksgiving was when my project began. I heard that his daughters, who resided in New York City and Los Angeles, would be gathered at their Mothers house for the Holiday and I was able to interview them all. Though they only knew me as little more than an acquaintance, somehow I was able to earn their trust. Either it was that, or they had decided that it was time to give air to the pain, the joys, and the sadness that the memories contained. I say this because they admitted after their interviews that they did not talk about this topic and all were surprised by their sisters reactions. It was so good in fact that I knew that their interviews would be the core of my film. Two days later I was able to travel to Jefferson City, Missouri to do location scouting for my documentary filming that would take place in two weeks. At that time I recorded him on audio and asked him questions about his firing and his reflections on the experience for him and his family. I did not tell him nor did he know what his daughters had said. When I shot the documentary proper, I had threae weeks to shoot which consisted of about one week in Dallas and two weeks in Jefferson City.

The true labor would lie in the post production work. I had to scan and prepare photos from the past. I wrote transcripts of the interviews and wove them into a skeleton that my documentary would arise from.

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

Bittersweet life

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

Biggest obstacle? Let’s see, I had many things that could be considered obstacles during the making of this film. Beyond the limited funds and impossible dreams common to every filmmaker, I did face some unique constraints. I had shooting locations in two different states. I arrived in Jefferson City, Missouri to find that my subject hesitant to talk about the relationship between he and him and his daughters. The last day of my shooting was two days before Christmas so my crew was understandably anxious to home with their family, But with each obstacle faced, I knew that I had to continue to press forward regardless.

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

I truly enjoyed hearing the critiques of the audience members. Just like the documentary Wally, their commentary served to provoke thought at times and evoke emotion at others. One thing I found to be an excellent compliment on my editing skill was the audience member who believed that I had shown Wally commentary on his daughters interviews was prompted by his listening to their answers. This was not the case. I interviewed both Wally and his daughters separately then cut the interviews together. Not only was this comment a testament to my skill as an editor, but more importantly it revealed the sympatico relationship between a loving father and his daughters

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film:

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

The story itself was one that cried to be told. As documentary is at its base story, I felt that this was an exceptionally strong narrative.

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

I think that Filmfreeway is an exceptional platform for film makers to submit their work to festivals.

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

This would have to be a toss up between Secret World and Blood of Eden by Peter Gabriel.

What is next for you? A new film?

The next film I worked on was The Eviction, a story about the forced removal of a homeless enclave in Dallas, Texas named “Tent City.” Beyond focusing on the reality of homelessness, I also gave attention to a group that is attempting to rectify the social reality of homelessness by buiilding homes to house them. I also am working on a documentary about rural homelessness, the craft beer industry, and a story about a 74 year old man who made contact with his 95 year old birth mother who agreed to meet. After a lifetime of not knowing what happened to the other, the two meet. This has been given the working title: The Chosen Baby. Updates to all of my work can be found at http://www.andydocs.com . Any questions can be sent to andy@andydocs.com.

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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 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!

Interview with Director Jeremy Garcia (STAR WARS: TRIALS)

Played at the Fantasy/Sci-Fi FEEDBACK Film Festival – July 2017

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Erlend Bjelland: I’ve always been a huge Star Wars fan and it’s probably the films that originally got me into film making. I had recently gotten my girlfriend the lightsaber prop and thought, “I bet I could light an entire film with this lightsaber”. From there I began brainstorming and that eventually led to ‘Star Wars: Trials’.

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

I was doing nothing but working on this film for probably a solid two months. Doing several camera tests with the saber to make sure we could in fact light this whole thing with the prop. All together I spent about 40 hours rotoscoping the lightsaber effect in each shot frame by frame.

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

Dark, Lonely

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

For this project it was definitely the music. Trying to find something that wasn’t specifically Star Wars but could get you general mood of the film and the setting was tough. I went though several different versions and at one point had just a slowed down version of the Imperial March.

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

Elated! I loved being able to see everyone’s feedback and thoughts. It’s great to see people understand and figure things out about the film that I wanted them too.

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

Part of the lore of Star Wars has always been the Trials that the Padawans must do before becoming a Jedi Knight and we’ve never been able to see that. And at one point our main character was a Jedi. Then I thought that it would be a lot more interesting if the audience (because of the name and the color of the lightsaber) only thought they were seeing a Jedi but who turned out to be not only a darkside user but Vader’s new apprentice. I thought it would be a really cool reveal if we could pull it off.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

That’s a tough one! Probably Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back or one of the Indiana Jones films. (Not Crystal Skull

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

So far I have nothing but good things to say about Film Freeway. They make the process super easy and convenient.

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

Another tough one. The songs I listen too most are normally tied to a good music video. Probably Hurt by Johnny Cash.

What is next for you? A new film?

I currently do a lot of work and help out with a production company called Wages of Cine. I’m about to start production as Cinematographer on one of their short films and then later in the year will be Directing a short horror film for them as well.

STAR WARS: TRIALS, 5min, USA, Action/Adventure
Directed by Jeremy Garcia

Rowan awakes in the dark depths of a cave with nothing but her lightsaber. As she navigates the dark environment she learns she may not be alone.

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

Interview with Director Holy Fatma (PLEASE LOVE ME FOREVER)

Played at the Fantasy/Sci-Fi FEEDBACK Film Festival – July 2017

“PLEASE LOVE ME FOREVER” was the Winner of BEST FILM at the festival.

 Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Holy Fatma: My own heartbreaks. As they were repeating themselves in the same exact way, I tried to understand why.

And I discovered that my emotional obsessions were due to my difficult upbringing. And of course, my relationship to my mom.

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

Two years and a half. I really wanted the film to be a well crafted piece of art.

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

Horrific Tale

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

The coloring process took forever due to many unexpected technical issues. It was hell haha

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

A LOT of emotions. It’s incredible to hear & see people across the world commenting your film.

We really tried to deliver the best film possible and seeing how people react to it is just everything.

Thank you so much by the way. It’s an unbelievably sweet initiative.

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

It all started with one strong vision. This image of me cutting open my latest boyfriend’s heart.

I really wanted to understand why he didn’t love me. But the answer wasn’t there of course.

It was in me. The attachement inherited from my unstable childhood led to an healthy approach to love.

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

I’m hesitating between The Godfather & The Nightmare before Christmas !

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

It’s just great. Very easy & efficient.

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

It’s hard but I’d say “Smile” by Michael Jackson.

What is next for you? A new film?

I’m currently working on another short for next year & a feature for 2019.

Stay posted 😉

 

PLEASE LOVE ME FOREVER, 27min, France, Fantasy/Romance
Directed by Holy Fatma

In a surreal world, Lili, a 14-year-old albino, lives alone with her mother Claudie (50) who over-protects her from the outside world. Obsessed with her own appearance; Claudie regularly replaces aging parts of her face, alone in her operating lab, while Lili dreams of Lyesse, her 16 year-old handsome neighbor. But scared by so much love, Lyesse gently pushes her away. Devastated, she decides to operate his heart to understand why he doesn’t love her…

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