Interview with Film Creator Charles Baran (PELICAN)

PELICAN was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the November 2018 LGBT Feedback Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Charles Baran: When I first heard Bryce Kulak’s story song PELICAN – I knew right away that this song had to have a visual experience. The lyrics are just too wonderful and fantastic and seeing the images come to life was basically my motivation. The trick would be how to visually tell the story given the limitations of not using a real Pelican and a real Elephant.

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

We worked on the concept, pre-production, two days shoot, and post production for over a period of seven months.

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

Magical Journey

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

Having the animation feel like a natural part of the story and not something that comes out of the blue.

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

So delighted that they enjoyed the casting, our commitment to telling the story, the animation and the music! Seeing the smiling faces on the feedback video reaffirms my belief that whimsical entertainment can lighten our burdens a little.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I thought long and hard about how we were going to portray the “Pelican”. Once I had settled on the East Village of New York as a location, I then came up with the idea of having a Drag Queen carry a handbag with a fantastic Pelican appliqué on it and the appliqué would come to life and interact with the protagonist of the film, me.

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

John Water’s Female Trouble. I must have watched that film 100 times and know all the dialogue by heart. Divine was a real inspiration for me.

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

It think it’s great and easy to use. Plus I wouldn’t know how to contact these festivals otherwise.

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

Haha. That’s a good one. I listen to a lot of music so it’s always changing. If I had to pick one I’d say Phoebe Snow’s Poetry Man or Bette Midler’s version of Skylark. But I love new stuff too, like Cardi B, Brandi Carlile and Lana Del Rey.

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

Yes, I’m in a new Pilot called “Yes, Mistress” and I just played the Referee in the new series Godfather of Harlem. That was fun. It was a recreation of the legendary 1963 Cassius Clay and Doug Jones fight at Madison Square Garden. The series premieres in 2019 and stars Forest Whitaker and Chazz Palminteri.

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Interview with Filmmaker Mark Howling (O.B.E. THE OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCE)

O.B.E. THE OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCE played at the Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival in October 2018 to rave reviews.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Mark Howling: This is my 3rd micro budget short that I’m doing, I try to keep the execution simple with a minimal cost. It is just an hobby (..time consuming hobby…)

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

I would say one full year from writing to final render.

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

What? Really?

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

This short is a micro budget project, was done mainly with a powerful but old laptop. I had multiple hardware failures, multiple software and hardware updates to do, with only handful software and plugin able to run on that machine. (for the record the laptop blew up one month after the short was done)

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

They seems to know what the short was talking about so I guess … did it right lol

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I always read on the internet very strange stories. What did inspire this short film is maybe a multitude of them glued together.

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

Star Wars

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

I love it! Simple and easy to use.

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

Too many to list here. Sorry.

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

I’m working in the film industry so yes I’m always working on something entertainment related.

Interview with Filmmaker Sean Janisse (LOCOMOTIVE 8 – ENCORE)

LOCOMOTIVE 8 – ENCORE played to rave reviews at the September 2018 Experimental Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Sean Janisse: I’ve wanted to make my own short film for a while now, but never felt confident enough with what I’ve written. I knew I wanted to make a space romance but just couldn’t get the pieces to fall in the right place. I was planning it based on the idea that I would have to animate it alone so I knew I wanted to keep it short and simple. That’s when I was listening to my friend’s recent album when the song Encore jumped out at me and I felt like I could already picture the video. It all kind of clicked in. So I thought, I’m going to try out a music video and play with that format.

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

It all started about 4 years ago. Half a year of boarding it out then rehashing it and sitting on it, then it stayed there for around a year until I reached out to the super talented Andrés Landazábal to Art direct the short. After that it really took off and was completed, animation and compositing, within a year.

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

Space Love

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

It was definitely putting in the hours to animate it. So many nights I’d sit down at my computer after work and look at the pile of shots that haven’t even been started yet and wonder why I was doing this to myself.

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

It sounds like they enjoyed it which is a huge relief!

Watch the Audience Feedback Video of the Short Film:

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

I’m a huge romantic comedy fan and I love the sci-fi genre so it really stemmed from that. And when I sat down to start boarding I just went off the mood and tones in the song and tried to let that dictate what happens in the story. The title “encore” also prompted the idea of doing things over again which became the core idea of the short… I don’t know French so hopefully it didn’t completely contradict the song.

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

I think When Harry Met Sally.

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

It’s super easy and straightforward. This was my first time using this service and it made it a breeze.

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

Siberian Breaks by MGMT.

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

I’m working on writing a live action short film with an old teacher and also an animated web series that I’ve been thinking about for a while. We’ll see what comes first!
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Interview with Filmmaker Luma Oquendo (SARAVÁ)

CLOUD COVER was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the September 2018 Experimental Feedback Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Luma Oquendo: The singer is a friend of mine. She ask me to direct the music video. And for me, it is a pleasure to talk about Brazilian culture and religion. The music cached me by the rhythm and theme. Thus I was very excited to create something together with the musicians.

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

In this specific case it took less the a month. The musicians had the idea of shooting in this place. Once I entered there, the only think I could think was How to use all this place in one single film, the place is completely connected to the music. We decided for going to an single shot or making it 360, but we think 360 could not work for the specific public. So, after that we just set up the schedule and shoot in one day.

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

Continuous faith

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

After decided for one single shot we needed to find out one way to have a cut. We couldn’t shoot the entire scene because on of the musicians change clothes and have complex make up work. It took time to decide how cut it.

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

Surprised. I had no idea that there would be an discussion about the movie. It is really very interesting. It is really amazing to see people not connected specific with Brazilian culture talk about it, and notice how it reaches each one in a different way.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Limelight – Charles Chaplin

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

Very positive. It helps a lot. In 2011 I had some movies finished to send to some festivals and the big majority of them ask copies in DVD and printed pictures. We spend lot of moneys and long days working on it. The platforms like Filmfreeway helps a lot.

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

I really cannot remember one single music but for sure the rhythm that I listen to most is Samba, a Brazilian style that comes from África.

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

Now I came to Prague to specialize in Cinematography at Prague Film School. 1-year program. But the idea is after that come back and continue the project streetartists.tv that gave me the opportunity to shot SARAVÁ.

Interview with Award Winning Filmmaker Sreejith Nair (THE COLOR OF ME)

THE COLOR OF ME was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the September 2018 LA FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Sreejith Nair: This approach to the topic of racism and insecurity really came from the fact that I am Indian, but I am born and raised in America. Here in America, people look at me like I am a foreigner, but I don’t feel like one. In India, I don’t look like a foreigner, but I feel like one. I face a lot of judgment from other Indians when they find out I don’t speak Hindi, or I don’t watch Bollywood films that often, or that I have limited knowledge of Indian customs or traditions. Throughout my whole life, it seemed like I was a part of two worlds, but never completely belonged in either of them. I often questioned “how Indian” I really am. Some of my friends joke around with me by saying “I fail as an Indian.” Are there certain things I’m supposed to be doing just because I’m Indian? I have often questioned, “What if I was a black person” or “What if I was white?”, would my life be so different? Could I still be the same person if I wasn’t Indian? What if my skin could change color? So I wanted to write a story that asked, “If I am a person of a different race or ethnicity, how much is my race supposed to define me? If I am a person of color, can I still have the freedom to be whoever I want without worrying about representing my ethnicity?” I want this story to show that you can be anyone, no matter what color you are.

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

1 year of writing
2 months of pre-production
6 days of shooting
1 year of editing
5 months of post-sound

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

Racist fairytale

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

Directing 5 actresses to play the same role, and directing one actor to act along aside 5 different woman as if she was the same person. I don’t know of any other film that uses this technique of having multiple actresses play the same role, so it was my chance to come up with new directorial skills.

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

The comments that I really loved was when an audience member said, “I can relate to this movie”. That comment really showed me that this movie accomplished it’s mission of addressing the issue of racism while still being a fantasy film about a girl with a curse. And just listening to the audience talk about scenes in the film and connecting it to their actual life really raised my spirits and made me believe we did a film that is important.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

When the idea became about a girl who changes skin color, I immediately wanted to do a fairytale. She grew up with this curse and believes that not having white skin is considered ugly. When you have a character who is experiencing something supernatural, you have to have a regular person to serve as the entry point to introducing the supernatural element, otherwise the audience may not be able to follow it. I didn’t want the main character to be Indian like me, I wanted to step out of my own box for this film, I decided to make him an adopted African-American. Having my main character, Lewis, be adopted was a reflection of how I’m an Indian man raised in America, so we both have the insecurity of being raised in a community outside our skin color. With that, you have a story of two characters, with two different upbringings expressing their views of the world, and in this case, how your skin color is perceived.

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

The entire Godzilla franchise, is my favorite movie franchise of all time.

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

I love FilmFreeway, I use it all the time. It’s a very quick and easy way to find festivals and submit to them. I recommend it for all filmmakers.

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

I don’t necessarily have a favorite song.

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

My ultimate goal is to get this in front of as many producers as possible and hopefully make The Color of Me feature film.

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 Filmmaker Nora Jaenicke (WHALES)

WHALES played to rave reviews at the September 2018 Female FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Nora Jaenicke: I wrote the screenplay for the feature version of Whales, the short film, over ten years ago. The idea didn’t let me go, so I decided to make a short film version in order to find the funding for the feature. It is a story that feels very close to me for various reasons. I like films that deal with family issues and psychological thrillers. In writing Whales I wanted to blend these elements into a cohesive story and build a lot of tension into it. I have also always wanted to make a film back home where I grew up in Italy and with Whales it was my goal to develop dimensional characters with interesting inner lives and construct realistic and extremely tense relationships between them. The gorgeous setting of the Italian island stands in great contrast with the dark themes that the story tackles.

Separated by the passing of time and different upbringings, the two sisters unexpectedly find their lives linked back together by the forces of remembrance and forgiveness. How do we forgive and forget, are the main themes that the audience is left with at the end. Is it actually possible to forgive?

Margot and Louise also mark two complementary behaviours, two destinies that start from the sensitive core of family ignorance, while they are censured by the inability to communicate, but also by the somewhat social and religious taboos of the need not to disturb the gruesome and commemorative silence of their mother’s recent death.

The film is a journey into their past, not necessarily a new beginning. Perhaps the realisation that the past can’t be changed and that the most one can do in the present, is to decide, for oneself, whether forgiving or forgetting is even possible.

Each one of the film’s characters has his own version of the truth. The colliding of all these truths is what I find the most fascinating.
The fact that each one of these family members, has a completely different perspective upon what happened.

Although there is (almost) never any visible sex or violence, I wanted the film to feel extreme, as well dressed, well behaved people try to colonize one another with a tenacity that borders on the savage.

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

I was able to make this film thanks to my amazing Producer Darren Cole, who helped raise the initial funds and a very small team. Out on the island it was only me, the Director of Photography, a dear friend who helped assist the production, the actors and the Sound Mixer. We spent two weeks at a very generous friend’s house on the gorgeous Island of Elba in Italy and we shot the film in less than a week. The first week we were busy with organising everything, from the location scouting to rehearsing with the actors.

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

Forgetting and Forgiving.

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

The obstacles were a creative challenge that ended up enriching the experience while allowing me to come up with resourceful ideas. Hunger makes the good cook, is my motto…

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

I found it very refreshing and interesting. Some of the comments I never heard before. All in all it was an honor to hear that my film triggered such an interesting discussion.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I wrote the feature version of this short over ten years ago, and I always had a fascination with psychological dramas that border into thrillers. I like character driven films and strong women with interesting inner lives. I have a sister myself so in a way Whales is also a homage to sisterhood.

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

Volver by Almodovar, Thelma and Louise by Ridley Scott, Lolita by Adrian Lyne.

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

I like filmfreeway. Lots of fun festivals out there. The site is very easy to navigate.

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

Maybe “Baby Can I hold you” by Tracy Chapman. But this was in pre spotify times, when there wasn’t such a vast amount of music out there and at ones fingertip.

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

The feature version of Whales which I am developing with my Producers Kim Muenster and Darren Cole.

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