Interview with Filmmaker Rachel Econ (WIDOW)

WIDOW was the winner of BEST ACTION FILM at the May 2019 Action Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Rachel Econ: I grew up in Southern Arizona so it’s hard not to make a western when you have all that history in your backyard. My goal as a filmmaker has always been to create narratives with strong female characters at the helm, ready to face down whatever fate throws at them. I’ve always felt women in action/adventure movies always get the short of end of the stick. Our arcs are always learning to how to hold gun or learning to stand up for ourselves, when in reality those characters are already stronger and braver than they are given credit for. I figured what better place to start than with the male dominated western, a genre based on an era where you had to be pretty tough to survive.

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

It took about a year and a half from inception to finished product. It was about 6 months with writing and pre-production, then six days of shooting, and then another 6 months or so of post.

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

Brutal Romance

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

I’d say the biggest obstacle was getting the coverage we needed with only a few key crew members. We shot in Arizona but most of us we’re from Los Angeles. It gets expensive and complicated the more people you have travel so we had to be selective about who we brought and how many we could realistically needed. I’ve always felt that if we had a bigger crew we would have been able to really give the scenes the proper coverage that they needed.

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

I always get nervous whenever my film screens. I have so many things that I notice that I wish could’ve changed or done differently but that comes from watching the film a million times. It was great seeing people watching it with fresh eyes and just seeming to really enjoy it. It really gives you the warm and fuzzies knowing you’ve made something people enjoyed.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

“Widow” is actually a proof of concept short for a feature I’ve been developing for some time. I’ve always been in love with The Dollars Trilogy by Sergio Leone. I thought it might be interesting to depict the life of a ‘Woman of No Name’, a female outlaw trying to survive and navigate a world that’s not friendly to her. What would her life be like? Would she fall in love and with who? Would she ever be able to leave that life behind? The story just sorta flowed from there.

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

Probably Kill Bill, both Volume 1 and 2! I’m a huge Tarantino fan.

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

It’s nice! It makes the whole process easy and gives you access to a lot of festivals you may not know about! You can also see reviews which really helps you find out what festivals are really worth submitting to!

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

Love Me Two Times by The Doors. My dad is a big Classic Rock buff so I grew up with the Doors playing on the way to school. I still love just about everything they ever made.

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

I’m working on developing my next project, which is another proof of concept for a horror feature I’ve written! As well as trying to get the feature version of “Widow” off the ground. I’m hoping to start production in late 2020!

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Interview with Director Michelle Bailey (DON’T LET THE BASTARDS GRIND YOU DOWN)

Short Film played at the first ever EXPERIMENTAL/MUSIC VIDEO FEEDBACK Film Festival in July 2017.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Michelle Bailey: I really struggle with my mental health and my own perspective of myself. After I made my first film “Dad” which was so honest and emotionally draining for me, I promised I wouldn’t do that to myself again. But when I made Dad I made it for myself and no- one else and after going through so many script ideas i had written I kept asking myself who am i making this film for? Am i connected to this story? When I decided that I needed to make a film for myself again it gave me that freedom just to do it. I had been through a bad relationship where these horrible things were said to me and they were forming my idea of myself and I wanted to manifest it from my head into film so I could hopefully break the cycle. My films are my therapy and I say I make them for myself but I also make them so if anyone else has been through what I’ve been through they can relate and not feel as alone and for me that is important.

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

When I finally made a decision to go with this idea it took a couple of months pre-production. I did a lot of work with Ellie and Karl Herbert before the shoot. Karl is the wonderful choreographer and used to be my dancing teacher when I was Ellie’s age and the two together made such a beautiful passionate dance. The shoot took two days but the post production was where the struggle began. Mostly in sound design as it was really hard to have re live the things being said to me. I actually couldn’t be in the room when it was recorded by Mason Le Long who did the sound design and whose band Batsch was the soundtrack. I gave him a script and left him to it and then would give him notes after listening to it. This emotional struggle i was facing meant that it wasn’t ready for about 8 months after the last shoot day.

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

This has strangely been the hardest question. The two words that come to mind is building resilience. For me them two words are about the film itself, the film making process and my own personal journey as well.

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

Myself, definitely myself . I struggle with my self worth and confidence a lot not just in day to day life but mostly in my film making. It took me 5 years to make a second film and it was because I kept talking myself out of it or that I didn’t think I was good enough. I had to fight myself and if i’m honest I’m still in that battle especially trying to make my third film. There would be days when I couldn’t face editing it because I couldn’t listen to the abuse and relive it so i would avoid it but thankfully I had Mason and the camera crew Brian Harley and Ben Cook to tell me to get on with it. This is why I made the film, to remind myself that i can do it and not that let the bastards grind me down. That and the annoyingly unhelpful security guard of the high rise car park that said we couldn’t film there and refused to give me and the producer, Rachel Carter, contact details to ask someone more higher up. We thankfully got to film there because of Rachel not giving up. We didn’t let that bastard grind us down either.

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

It was surreal. I actually had a bit of a cry because to hear people understanding the film and to truly see what I’m doing means the world to me. I loved that the woman in the audience got the Handmaid’s Tale reference too. I read that book in school and ever since “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum” became my manta of life and as a feminist film maker too.

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

I actually used to do what Ellie, the amazing dancer does in the film. When I was in a bad time in my life and would find myself sobbing uncontrollably and i thought about giving up on life, I would pick myself up and dance. It wouldn’t be on top of a car park but in my living room and it would usually be to The Black Keys Lonely Boy video. That dancing dude in the video got me through a lot. Thanks dancing dude!

What film have you seen the most in your life?

I’m probably supposed to say some fancy Italian film here but actually its probably “Mean Girls”. It came out during that flood of terrible American teen films where the “nerdy” girl was actually beautiful and popular if you take her glasses off and can get the jock. Mean girls took that formula and put a good strong feminist message in there which was so needed at its time or what I needed at the time at least. I also loved “Return to Oz” since I was a little girl, its dystopian 80’s take on Oz was fascinating to me and I could listen to the sound of Tick Tock walking for hours.

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

I think its great and give filmmakers easy access to the film festivals. I wouldn’t have found out about this festival if it wasn’t for it and I’m very grateful for that.

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

Tough one. Like everyone different songs get me through different times in my life. I love Billie Holiday. She puts everything into her songs, you can hear her pain and her joy. “Lady sings the blues” and “Summertime” are two of my favorites. And if i’m honest probably anything by Spice Girls (I listened to them on repeat when I was 10 – 12 to the annoyance of my neighbours)

What is next for you? A new film?

I’m currently writing a feature script which looks at similar themes of “Don’t Let The Bastards Grind you Down” and I’m in the middle of shooting a horror short film about depression which I’m having a love/hate relationship with. Hopefully I won’t talk myself out finishing it!

DON’T LET THE BASTARDS GRIND YOU DOWN, 4min, UK, Experimental
Directed by Michelle Bailey

A young girl girl searches for a safe haven in an urban landscape and finds solace in her own creative expression.

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

 

 

Interview with director Ian Schiller (KONG’S)

Ian Schiller’s short film KONG’S played to rave reviews at the April 2017 Horror/Thriller Film Festival. It was an honor catching up with the very talented filmmaker.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ian Schiller: I work in film but mostly documentary sports and commercials. I want to broaden my story telling ability. Kong’s, the market you see in the film is a block from my house. I had been thinking about a short film for a while and the story sort of presented itself walking into Kong’s one day for some beer. I guess the motivation in summary was to challenge myself to develop a short soup to nuts.

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

Script started maybe mid February 2016
Script finalized in April of 2016
Shot May 2016
Post completed August 2016

About Six months.

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

Very intense

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

My own self doubt. And an actor who I had to fire for showing up a day prior to filming drunk.

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

Initial reactions to the feedback – I like how the audience fills in some of the backstory. The criticism is great as well. The last comment, doesn’t feel like an independent film but something larger is what I was going for. So, overall, I’m happy and grateful for the comments.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the short film: 

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

We set a world/box to play in. I wanted to lead the audience with breadcrumbs. Kong’s per my mention above is close to my house. The art direction was already there for a seedy noir-ish story. The idea sort of presented itself.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Big Trouble in Little China

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

Something either by the Horrors, The Kills, or the Eagles of Death Metal

What is next for you? A new film?

After financially recovering from Kong’s, I’d like to pursue either a feature length script idea of mine or a television show. More soon hopefully.

Thanks everyone coming out to watch the films and comment. Much
appreciation

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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 month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Filmmaker Dan Robinette (DRAWN TO FEAR)

Dan Robinette’s short film DRAWN TO FEAR was voted “Scariest Film” at the August 2016 Horror FEEDBACK Film Festival. Quite the achievement when you look at all of the other excellent and scary films that were also showcased. It was an honor to interview Mr. Robinette and chat about his film and what’s next!

Matthew Tofolo What motivated you to make this film?

Dan Robinette: I was a child of 80’s horror / sci-fi / fantasy movies. I’m sure I was watching them at an insanely inappropriate age but loved films like Halloween, Friday the 13th, Alien, etc. When I jumped into directing short films a couple of years ago, I knew I wanted to tell a horror story – part of me was itching to create my own vision inspired by an array of clichés and stereotypes. Our group, 4 Leagues Media, brainstormed on concepts / ideas for months before this one clicked.

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

DR: Probably about 6 months.

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

DR: Eerie and dark

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

DR: There are a few, but I would point out the difficulty of packing in content into a short amount of time. It’s important to understand the book’s progression in the film and there is so much more to the story than the short medium can convey sometimes.

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

DR: Happy and excited – it’s always the best to see and hear reactions from people separate or unassociated with our film.

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

DR: This was tough – we wanted an artifact to be involved (something other than a person that carried an air of mystery / unknown), and we wanted the base to be a classic horror tale. We bounced around an array of concepts and clamped down on this one when we decided how the book would work.

MT: What film have you seen the most in your life?

DR: The Goonies

MT: What is next for you? A new film?

DR: We’re working on developing Drawn to Fear into a feature length screenplay and wrapping up on post-production for our latest short film (drama / thriller) The Time Will Come.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of DRAWN TO FEAR:

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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 Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

WILDsound’s 25 Top Animation Movies of the millennium (2000 to present)

To watch Spirited Away feels like a special gift. It is a film of such startling imagination, originality, intelligence, and emotion that I feel inexplicable joy when the opening title card fades in.

Christopher Runyon, Movie Mezzanine

Animation movies are so much fun to watch as most of them attempt to tell a story that crosses generations. It’s the art of showing a kid and their parents the same film and each loving it for something different when the lights go up. Easier said than done.

In this era, animation films have gone to a whole new level. I’ve been fortunate enough to screen many animated short films at our WILDsound Festival through the years from many different countries and I’m amazed each time by the brilliance. Many of those filmmakers go on to work for major animation studios where there seems to be an ongoing assemble line of creative people working on any given film.

Here is the Top 25 Animation Movies from 2000s to present:
http://www.wildsound-filmmaking-feedback-events.com/2000s_animation_movies.html

And the debate begins. We have Spirited Away (2001) as our top film. It’s actually one of the best movies of this era no matter what genre we’re talking about. The French film Les Triplettes de Bellville (2003) comes in a close second.

Have no fear as there are many mainstream films on the list including Frozen, Wall-E, Toy Story 3, and Ratatouille to name a few.

Enjoy

Matthew Toffolo