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.

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Interview with Filmmaker Anaiis Cisco (BREATHLESS)

 BREATHLESS was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the July 2018 Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Anaiis Cisco: This film was inspired by the killing of Eric Garner which was captured by Ramsey Orta.

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

I wrote the screenplay in 2015 when I began graduate school in Detroit at Wayne State University. In the Fall of 2016, when I entered in the School of Cinema at San Francisco State University I further developed the project into my first year film, Breathless. Overall it took about one year to write and develop, then another year to produce, direct, edit, and finish by May 2017.

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

Black Life.

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

Shooting the first weekend in January 2017, the coldest weekend of the year, posed some challenges but I struggled mostly with the ending of the film. Developing this true story into a film, I knew I didn’t want to re-kill a man who we already witnessed dying. I tried out many different ways of ending the film but they all felt like something was missing. I didn’t want the end to feel so abrupt. I wanted to allow the audience a moment to breathe before transitioning into the audio from Orta’s video.

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

I was overjoyed and happy to have such a large LA based audience respond to my work. I love when viewers are able to relate to the subtleties that are very specific to the New York experience. The responses made me wish I was there to respond to specific questions/comments. And while I wasn’t able to attend, the video captured moments that I would have missed otherwise. Thank you.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

It came from a class assignment that the class to write a short screenplay using a person from media and another random character to have an improbable connection. I knew that I wanted to use Eric Garner from media, and originally developed the story heavily inspired by Ramsey Orta’s brave act of capturing this killing. I used moments from the video to build the story world. For example, in Ramsey Orta’s video it’s mentioned that Eric Garner broke up a fight. In Breathless, I wanted to recreate that moment with Larry’s character breaking up a fight that we don’t get to see in Orta’s cell phone video.

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

Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing (1989)

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

FilmFreeway is an efficient way of uploading and updating film projects for festivals of all kinds. I enjoy keeping track of festivals that I have submitted to and one’s I want to keep an eye out for. One of the best features is that filmmakers are able to update a film if they have only submitted a work in progress to meet the deadline.

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

Mary J. Blige – Mary’s Joint

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

I am finishing my next short narrative, GYRL (2018) a portrait of a pre-teen African American girl struggling with an abusive father. Also entering my last year of film school, I am currently in the early stages of production my thesis film, Drip Like Coffee. This short narrative explores Black womanhood, desire, and space, while rendering the Black female body as fluid.

breathless
 

 

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 Jia Li (THE CALL)

THE CALL played to rave reviews at the July 2018 FEMALE Feedback Film Festival in July 2018 in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jia Li: I was planning to do a collection of horror films that only happened in one location and one night.

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

I came up with the story in a cafe at a nice warm afternoon in San Francisco. And I finished the rough draft of the script the next day. The whole preproduction took 3 weeks, 17 hours on set production. And one month for post production.

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

Colorful, intense.

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

We only had 17 hours for production including preset the studio. It was very tight schedule. It was a big challenge for everybody in the crew, so we need to act fast on set. But we had so much fun during the production.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I was excited to hear all different opinions from the crowd. It gave me confidence for my next project.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

We only have one living room studio we can use, and 17 hours for production, so I needed to come up with a story under these circumstance.

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

The shinning

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

I think film freeway makes the process convince for filmmaker to manage their submissions.

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

Recently I am listening film soundtrack for a goodnight sleep, but during daytime I am listening to the Chinese hip hop songs recently.

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

My next film is a zombie post apocalyptic short film, around 30 mins. Hopefully finish the whole production by the end of this year, then catch the film festivals for 2019.

the_call.jpg

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 Producer & Creative Director Julie Gardner (THE CLIMB)

THE CLIMB was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the July 2018 Female FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Lynne Davison: The Climb was Lacada’s first film after I founded the company in January 2016. After 20 years managing productions for others I wanted to branch out on my own to produce engaging screen stories with high production values. Lynne the writer/director and I had known each other for a number of years before we partnered up on The Climb. (Lynne had been a camera assistant while I co-ordinated the pilot episode of Game of Thrones).

Our regional screen agency, Northern Ireland Screen had organised a table read to showcase a handful of short film projects they had developed with new and emerging writer/directors. I was instantly bowled over by the raw power of The Climb’s stripped back simplicity and I knew instantly that I wanted to bring it to the screen.

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

8 months from start to finish. The table read was in February, we waited to film in summer, when we have long hours of daylight here in Northern Ireland, then the post production slotted around the editor’s other ‘big’ jobs at the post house, meaning we were done and dusted by Hallowe’en.

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

Crikey, only two?! Overcoming obstacles.

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

We had two challenges. There’s the usual financial one – how to produce something cinematic on a budget of around £10,000. The other was the physical obstacle of the mountain itself. It could only be filmed for real on a mountain, with real climbing, within the budget parameters which allowed for one single filming day. Taking a crew and cast from the city to the heart of the Mourne Mountains, without any kind of contingency was a hairy prospect. On the morning of the shoot we arrived at the location and were dismayed to find cloud enveloping the top of the mountain. Shooting the script chronologically from the foot of the mountain to the top we were able to turn that to our advantage – it became a beautiful metaphor: as Julia’s mental fog cleared the nearer she reached the summit, so the early morning cloud burnt off as the filming day progressed, finishing in a spectacular golden hour.

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

We were all thrilled to hear the individual audience members’ takes on our story. When making a film we know the story intimately as we’ve examined it from every possible angle. Hearing international audiences getting the nuances of what we’d set out to achieve, outside of our filmmaking bubble, was really heartwarming. It’s genuinely affirmed our belief in our abilities as filmmakers. To know that it hit home as powerfully for the audience was an incredible feeling.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

This idea was inspired by the true story of a climbing friend of Lynne, the writer/director.

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

There are two films, both firm joint favourites. The filmmakery answer is Jean Luc Godard’s ‘Pierrot Le Fou’ which blew my mind when I first saw it as a teenager. Poetic, astonishingly beautifully shot, by turns political and cartoonish, it’s the film that literally and figuratively exploded the artform of cinema for me. The other is Jaws. You can’t beat Jaws, it’s just the perfect entertaining film in every way.

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

FilmFreeway’s platform is an absolute gift to filmmakers. To have so many incredible international festivals reachable at the touch of a button would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. We are so lucky to have it, and I am certain that it has opened the world of festivals that would previously have been out of the reach of new and emerging filmmakers.

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

Just one? I’ve really eclectic musical tastes, so I’ve pulled up my Spotify history to check – it looks like it’s Iron Maiden’s ‘Brave New World’. People who don’t know me very well are always surprised to find that I love me some heavy metal.

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

Yes. I’m am very lucky to be able to say I’ve got films coming out my ears at the moment! Excitingly I’m currently in pre-production for a new BBC one hour drama, which will be airing around Christmas time. Continuing with the indie films I have four shorts on the slate for the autumn. Three of them have come through the same scheme as The Climb, and I’m really looking forward to working with some more exciting new writing/directing talent. The fourth, Port, is one I’ve co-written and is based on a really cool underlying short story by the Nobel prize-winning author Heinrich Boll. I’ve two feature films winding their way through the development and financing maze.

I’ve also just recently successfully crowdfunded £10k to allow me to produce and direct a rock documentary pilot, Parental Advisory, which has been a passion project for a long time. Inspired by John Olson’s 1971 LIFE Magazine photographic essay featuring rock stars at home with their parents, ‘Parental Advisory’ is a rock biopic series with a twist. Offering a candid portrait of world-famous rock musicians, and the music world, through the eyes of the person who knows them like no other – their mum or dad. It’s a celebration of talented kids who dare to succeed outside the system.

I’m also really looking forward to be holding the inaugural Northern Ireland Short Film Awards at the end of the month. This is something I’ve been inspired to set up as a chance for us all to celebrate the best of short films locally, as well as a fun social night to connect filmmakers and talent who, often working in isolation, form part of our vibrant filmmaking landscape here in NI.

the_climb

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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 Jamie Shannon (THE LEGEND OF RASPUTIN)

THE LEGEND OF RASPUTIN was the winner of BEST FILM at the July 2018 Family FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jamie Shannon: I have always found Rasputin fascinating character, being the first tabloid character in History. Around the time i wrote this we had our own Rasputin … “Rob Ford” Who became infamous the world round. I think it is very interesting the way people make these people out to be bigger than life examples of there worst fears, or they become huge fans. I read a book about Rasputin where there was a sign on the door saying “no talking about Rasputin!” But of course they did, like we can’t stop talking about Trump at the moment or whoever captures our projections. It is an enigmatic quality, that sort of mix of disgust and fascination and amazement that captures people imagination in times of trouble, and mine!

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

It took quite a whole just because i had my whole career going on at the same time – so between 3-4 years.

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

persnickety enterprise

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

Post sound! i will always have a greater respect for the art of sound, it is truly the other half of film making. It is the secret part of the film where all of the feeling lies and all the oversights will be paid for!!

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

I feel so proud any time anyone laughs, so that was lovely to see and feel that.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I read just five of the dozens of books, watched two of the many films and ate Raspoutine while I wrote.

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

Fantastic Mr. Fox 🙂 2. Ghostbusters

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How was your experience?

It’s good. Sure is an expensive part one should budget for in the beginning. My producers suggestion was to pay $2000 for film festival submissions.

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

Couldn’t get bored of.

the_legend_of_rasputin_1
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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 Ange-Régis HOUNKPATIN (VINDICTE)

VINDICTE was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the June 2018 European FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ange-Régis HOUNKPATIN: My motivation was to make a film that would be different from usual African movies, in terms of style, rhythm and aesthetics. But still an African subject.

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

I think it took almost one year and a half.

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

Relentless chase.

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

Honestly, the biggest obstacle was myself. I didn’t want to give a bad image of my country, so at first I restricted myself a lot. Then I thought about how South Korean directors don’t back up from the most creepy aspects of their societies, and I decided to go on.

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

It felt weird to see strangers talking about my movie without me in the room ! It’s the first time I got to witness this. I was really happy about the last intervention, the last viewer really understood the subtext about control. It is the first time I hear someone clearly explain it; I was moved. I felt my voice had a meaning.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The idea came from scenes I witnessed when I was younger, living in Benin. Growing up, I discovered these kind of behavior were also detailed in the classic movie “Fury” by Fritz Lang, and realised it could be a universal subject, a cinematic one.

i wanted to shoot a movie in my hometown, so I decided to make a movie about it. I spoke to my producers (who were then my classmates) about it, and they were really very excited.

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

Blade Runner, by Ridley Scott.

But the one I truly know by heart, by soul and by spirit, is “Hyenas” from Djibril Diop Mambety.

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

If I only say one song it wouldn’t be a honest answer, there are too many. But since I’m a child I’ve listened a lot of Michael Jackson’s songs, so let’s say “Beat it”, to stay in the theme.

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

I’ve completed a short movie just after this one: “Pantheon” and it is in the festival circuit right now.

Next is a new short film, and then a feature one.

Wish me luck ! Thank you !

vindicte

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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 Mehmet Tigli (HIGH CALORIE)

 HIGH CALORIE was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the July 2018 FAMILY FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Prejudices about different people, internet addiction in virtual world and paradoxal behaviors of parents are the basic motives to make me shoot this film.

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

It lasted for 5 months

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

Funny and emotional.

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

Budgeting problems and the bureaucracy of public institutions during shooting were the main obstacles of this film.

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

I felt very very happy. Thanks a lot for most valuable feedback from the audience.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film:

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

This film is based on a short story which I wrote it 10 years ago.

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

Life is Beautiful-La Vita e Bella

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

I am so grateful to Filmfreeway, I met this amazing festival and other precious events by means of it.

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

Michael Jackson-Billie Jean

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

I shot a short film named “A Ferry Tale” on February 2018. This film is based on a emotional true story I observed two years ago. It is about a dad with two autistic children in a ferry trip. It was officially selected 35 festivals and won 10 awards until July.

high_calorie

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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.