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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Interview with Filmmaker Michael Willer (The Volunteer)

THE VOLUNTEER was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the August 2018 FANTASY/SCI-FI Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Michael Willer: I love films that highlight a strong female perspective, usually flipping the dynamic where the woman has the power and the know-how, and she’s the one who is actively involved in the plot and making things happen. That and shooting out in the wilderness, the woods, which I love, were huge selling points.

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

The process took almost exactly 2 years, from the time that Sarah sent me the script to the time that post was finished. Part of that was a slow development process, and once we started shooting it took about 6 months to finish.

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

Dystopian romance

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

This project was strangely blessed. We kept checking ourselves, knowing that something would go horribly wrong, but no… the worst that happened was a series of locations we’d planned on weren’t available when we showed up to shoot (a bridge had been removed from the stream we wanted to cross). But that resulted in finding a new location and my favorite shot in the film (the long shot early on when he’s chasing after her trying to convince her to help him… magic hour, bugs flying in the foreground, shafts of sunlight, it just all clicked).

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

I got giddy. I was actually in the room at the screening and got to listen firsthand to people’s feedback and it blew me away. The word “perfect” was thrown around a couple times, which just wows me. I’m so proud of our little film. We were a tiny team, just 4 of us on set, and just me in post-production. I couldn’t be happier with the reception.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

From Sarah, the creator: “I was and always am into Star Wars and desperately wanted to work on something female-driven in a scifi world that had that post-apocalypse vibe. Something that featured a strong woman as the lead and the savior type, rather than a man.”

For my part helping in the development, I knew Sarah and Schoen (now married) had to star together in something. I’d just seen them in a play together and man, it just felt wasteful not to put them on screen after that.

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

Probably Inception or Fight Club. The craftmanship that went into those films is mindblowing. I could watch either on repeat and find new things to marvel at. (That’s a super limited look at my tastes, though!)

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

FilmFreeway is so easy to use. As long as the festival’s self description is clear, I have no concerns about submitting through that platform.

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

Well, I know I’ve actually counted the number of times I listened to Celine Neon’s “Vacation Time” because I shot their music video and I was really immersing myself (it’s somewhere around 100). But honestly, probably “Falling For The First Time” by Barenaked Ladies. Love that song.

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

I just wrapped a documentary shoot in South Africa and a 48 Hour Film Project shoot which was exhausting… But! The team I got together for that was amazing and I’m going to set us up as a creator collective, producing shorts in an anthology style web series.

 
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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Filmmaker Michelle Brand (NOT THE SAME RIVER. NOT THE SAME MAN)

 NOT THE SAME RIVER. NOT THE SAME MAN was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the August 2018 Under 5 Minute Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Michelle Brand: I am fascinated for a while now with the relationship between time, change, and movement and how they connect and exist together. As humans, we believe commonly that time does exist, because we can see change taking place, so we understand time by spatialising it into stages. This idea can be expressed really well through animation, since it plays with the idea that only through a change happening on each frame, movement, and thus time, is created altogether. So to me, this film was an exploration and thought process of this whole philosophical debate on how time can be understood and perceived.

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

It was my graduation film at University, so roughly 6 months.

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

Time and movement!

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

Finding the right visuals. I had this huge idea that I wanted to explore, that it was in fact too big to put down in any pictures. I had to find the right vehicle to transport such an abstract idea, so I found the river metaphor of Heraclitus to frame it all together.

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

I was very nervous and excited of course. When you go to festivals, it is nice knowing that there is an audience watching your film, but in actual fact it is rare to hear direct feedback. So to hear that somewhere out there are people that enjoyed it and thought about it so much, is very touching.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The main drive was that my head was filled about these thoughts about time and movement, and how philosophical concepts can relate to animation theory, which also was my dissertation theme at the time. So it was a combination about thinking about the philosophical concept behind it, exploring how it can be expressed in animation, and then finding the right metaphor to use.

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

I don’t tend to re-watch live-action films that much, so it might be animation shorts that I watch again and again for reference or see at festivals, I’m not too sure to be honest.

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

I think it’s good how easy and accessible the platform is, however that at the same time can be its disadvantage. As a filmmaker, you can fall into the hole of just submitting to everything that is out there, but a lot of those festivals don’t need to be checked up and approved. So there are a lot of festivals there, that you never hear from again and lack communication and connection with the filmmakers. It is difficult finding the right balance, I suppose…

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

Probably some song that is in my playlist of soundtrack music I listen to while working… Maybe ‘A Wild and Distant Shore’ by Michael Nyman!

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

Yes! I just finished a new film called ‘Synchronicity’ during my studies at the Royal College of Arts in London. Now I will be working on my next graduation film!

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Filmmaker Catherine L. Allard (THE CORD)

THE CORD played to rave reviews at the August 2018 Under 5 Minute Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Catherine L. Allard: I had this short script written for a while and I wanted to improve technical settings and crew for my next long script. So I asked everyone if they would do this film first and they did!

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

I would precise that the script was already in place. I just rewrite some quotes, shoot and edit in 2 months.

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

Social Schizophrenia

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

To make believe that the 6 friends were real and the Man unreal or awkward.

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

I was pleased and impressed to see how easily they understood the idea. Also glad to see the young age of the crowd.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I was talking with my partner about Schizophrenia and joking about what would be the most troubled situation and we made a link that social media and cellphones obsession become some kind of disease and social illusion, as schizophrenia can affect brain reality. It’s was a long process but I just tried to put it down in a critic and a suspense with a punch but not too serious!

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Top 3

La belle verte, Coline Serreau

Starwars (original trilogy)

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

Great platform , very usefull and interactive.

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

I really have no idea, funny question though.

What is next for you? A new film?

Writing a long motion picture, 2 actually, trying to go in prod next year. working on different projects also.

 

 
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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Filmmakers Nate Lavey, Stephen Vider (A PLACE IN THE CITY)

A PLACE IN THE CITY was the winner of BEST FILM at the July 2018 LGBT FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

SV: The film was originally produced for an exhibition I curated at the Museum of the City of New York, “AIDS at Home: Art and Everyday Activism,” which looked at the ways activists and artists mobilized home and family in response to HIV/AIDS. From the start, it was important to me that the exhibition extended to the present, to show how HIV/AIDS continues to impact people today and how the themes of the exhibition (caretaking, housing, and family) continue to resonate. Each part of the film looks at one of those themes, through an individual artist/activist and their larger social world: Ted Kerr and What Would an HIV Doula Do?; Wanda Hernandez-Parks and VOCAL NY; and Kia LaBeija and the house ballroom scene.

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

It was about four months from proposal to color corrections.

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

SV: Holding space (a phrase I borrow from What Would an HIV Doula Do? collective member Tamara Oyala-Santiago)

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

Making sure our final cuts of the interviews did justice to activists and artists in the film, who shared so much of themselves and their work with us. And also, keeping Nate from getting run over when he was shooting the long Steadicam takes on the street.

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

I was very moved to hear how the film resonated for audiences outside of New York City, where the film is based and where it was first shown. I was especially grateful for the comments from people working in AIDS services that the film was “warm, welcoming, and energetic,” and that it represented the lives of people impacted by HIV/AIDS in all their complexity, since that was a major goal for us in making the film.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

In terms of form, one source of inspiration for me was Astra Taylor’s 2008 film Examined Life: I really admired how Taylor animated complex ideas simply by walking and talking with philosophers. At the same time, we wanted the film not just to represent individuals but also the larger worlds they traveled in, since community and family are such important parts of both art and activism. The film actually moves very quickly and frequently between interviews and community meetings, protests, and balls, to show how activists and artists move from ideas to action.

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

SV: I think that would have to be Back to the Future, which I watched endlessly as a child on VHS and many more times as an adult. Looking back, I think it may explain how I came to be interested in American history.

NL: Sans Soleil by Chris Marker

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

NL: I have mixed feelings about the platform: it is convenient, fairly straightforward, and—importantly—streamlined. Often administrative work in filmmaking means doing lots of slightly different variations on grants, proposals, pitches and FilmFreeway standardizes some of that for festivals. Unfortunately, it sometimes feels like you’re sending off an application into the unknown and it can be difficult to feel like you’re really making a connection with the folks on the other end.

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

SV: I’ll show my love for Canadian music and say a song that’s been permanently on my playlist for the last eight years: Owen Pallett’s “The Dream of Win and Regine.”

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

SV: I am finishing a book, Queer Belongings: Gender, Sexuality, and the American Home After World War II, for University of Chicago Press, looking at the politics of LGBT home life from 1945 to the present. The exhibition AIDS at Home was based on a chapter of the book looking at HIV/AIDS domestic activism in the 1980s and 90s. I am also a visiting assistant professor in history, museum studies, and gender and sexuality studies at Bryn Mawr College, which has been a wonderful place to keep thinking about public history, social activism, and the politics of everyday life.

NL: I still work for the Museum of the City of New York, but in my free time I’m working on a film project that connects the experiences of recent refugees in a small Quebec City to the experiences of an older group of refugees (Jews fleeing Nazi oppression) who were imprisoned in the same city in the 1940s.

 
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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.