Interview with Filmmaker Gabriel Galand (HORLA)

HORLA played to rave reviews at the October 2018 HORROR Feedback Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Gabriel Galand: “Horla” was my thesis project for my Bachelor of Fine Arts and I wanted to make a film which had room for cinematography and production design. I remembered liking the eponym short story by Maupassant and after looking it up, I found that it was in the public domain and that I would be able to adapt me so it rejoiced me!

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

The film took about a year, 3-4 months for the writing process, from the adaptation to the shooting script. We shot in summer and post-production took 6 months as I decided to start editing from scratch after graduation to release a better version.

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

Romantic Horror

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

The post-production was tough. Flaws in the script were enhanced in the editing so I had to take creative steps to find a solution. It involved reframing, using pre-lap sounds and voiceover and FX.

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

I was happy to see that the audience had remembered the character’s names and were able to distinguish plot elements only from the sound design. I also enjoyed listening how people would compare the story and its characters to real life issues.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

See the answer from question 1: I remembered liking the eponym short story by Maupassant and after looking it up, I found that it was in the public domain and that I would be able to adapt me so it rejoiced me!

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

I have watched the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter series a lot!

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

I like the filmfreeway platform. It’s easy to use, has a great catalogue and is cheaper than the competition. I actually wrote an article about it a few years back: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/filmmakers-guide-online-film-submission-platforms-gabriel-galand/

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

There are too many to pick just one!

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

I have just directed a new film in America, untitled in true Canadian fashion “I’m Sorry”. It’s about a guilt-ridden mother who makes a grisly confession following the unexpected return of her missing son: here is the trailer. I am also writing two feature screenplays. Happy Niko is an English/Korean drama about depression and assisted suicide, and Entropy is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi which deals with consciousness and human instincts.

Advertisements

Interview with Filmmaker Danja Politis (ANIMUS PER MACHINA)

ANIMUS PER MACHINA played to rave reviews at the January 2019 Female FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Danja Politis: I always wanted to make an animation that was longer than three minutes on my own. At the time I was still at school and was given completely freedom to work on a project.

Before the first sketch of the animation I made a short loop of rotating gears in a monochrome colour scheme and that was a starting point for the factory in the short.

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

From idea till an early version of my animation it took me two months, including the rendering time but I was still unsure about the editing and order of some scenes that let me put it to the side.

It took nearly a year to pick it back up. At the time I was working on background animations for a band, that was kind of an incentive to finally make it public and send it to festivals but before that I made the final edit.

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

Monochromatic selection

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

The way of telling the story. It should be abstract with no narration but not too confusing or unclear for the audience to lose interest. The part in the story where the balls are getting split through the roundabout and where they travel through different paths was quite head wrecking. It should seem that everything is happening at the same time.

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

I really enjoyed listening to the audience and their thoughts about my short.

I liked that the audience empathized with the balls and their different fates. I gave the balls two white circles that represents eyes, to make them more relatable in comparison to if they were only plain.

I was waiting on the question: Why are some balls picked and some are not? Which I deliberately wanted to evoke with my story. We have an urge to know why something happens, we try to always find a reason to justify or explain certain events. In this short I consciously don’t give one.

One other thing I noticed that my choice of making the animation in black & white stood out. It was a conscious decision to enhance the cold atmosphere and the audience seemed to think so too.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The underlying idea was a metaphor of the process of ideas in our mind. Most of the time we have so many ideas but often only one idea is coming to fruition but how does this selection look like?

So, I started to make a visual representation in form of sketches. One important aspect was that, the selection process has to seam random and arbitrary, that’s why every ball is visually the same.

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

I think that must be the second movie of ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’. I am a real fantasy fan. One of my highlights in the movie is the battle of Helms deep, which I always anticipate when watching the movie. The next movie I have seen nearly as often is ‘A Bug’s Life’ by Pixar. I always had a fascination of 3D animation that led me to make my own.

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

It’s a really great platform to find easily and fast various film festivals and makes it easy to send the same film to festivals from one platform.

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

I cannot say for sure because through the radio I must have heard some songs a lot without me knowing. Anyhow, one song I have listened consciously on my devices the most is ‘The Nobodies’ from Marilyn Manson. Which when I am thinking about it, actually influenced me making the short. Often one specific detail or object I have seen somewhere ends up in my own work, which most of the time I notice later when I reflect on it. For example, one of my first assets I made for the animation was a conveyor belt. One can be seen in a specific clip of the music video of ‘The Nobodies’.

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

I started my own studio ‘Umbra Studio’ but I am still figuring out my business plan and working on some projects, on which I cannot share too much information yet.

What I can say for sure that I want to make another 3D animation soon. I cannot say what it will be about, how it looks like and when it will be finished but when I do, I will probably submit it to the FEEDBACK FEMALE FILM FESTIVAL, but time will tell how long it takes.

animus_per_machina

Interview with Filmmaker Andy Brewster (A PIACERE)

A PIACERE played to rave reviews at the December 2018 Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Andy Brewster: I believe some of our best work as storytellers comes out of processing our own individual experiences. And, for me as music student at college (in addition to being a film major), I wanted to tell a story about the struggles we musicians regularly face at the conservatory level. Anyone who studies music at this caliber is already incredibly self-driven, but when you’re near others also pursuing the very same subject, it is far too easy to become competitive. We start constantly comparing ourselves to each other versus working on improving ourselves and our playing. But, really, this prideful competition and envy is a terribly relatable human emotion and I wanted to say something to the motivations that should be fueling our passion for whatever subject we’re called to.

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

From writing to the end of post-production it took about 8 weeks. Things really moved fast to be able to fit everyone’s schedules.

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

Living freely.

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

Schedules were honestly the hardest part of the project. It was a small crew, but coordinating busy music students, locations, and crew schedules in the midst of a hectic semester is always challenging, especially when everyone is generous enough to donate their time and energy for free.

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

To be honest, I was terrified to open it at first… sharing your work is the hardest and most exciting thing about being a filmmaker. But, it was so fascinating to hear how others really picked up on the film’s integral themes and key moments (like the breaking of the violin). I love this format for a festival as we indie filmmakers rarely get such vocal feedback from public audiences who have no personal connection to the people behind the lens.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The ideas and situations really stemmed from my own personal struggles, thoughts, and doubts as a musician. In high-school especially I went to a really unhealthy place where all my decisions, repertoire choices, performance choices, etc. were all clouded by a craving to be better, noticed, or get that higher chair in orchestra. Instead, I probably would have become a better musician over that time if I had been forced to wrestle with the questions I ask in this film.

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

Probably all three of The Lord of the Rings films. Those were the ones that really inspired me to pursue filmmaking.

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

I love how intuitive FilmFreeway is compared to other submission sites. From setting up your project to filtering out and searching festivals, it really streamlines and simplifies the process.

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

Oh, that’s tough. Probably some solo piece I’ve worked on for a long time. Perhaps the first two movements of Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto. Those are some of the most gorgeous works ever written for solo violin.

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

I’m currently finishing producing the feature film Rubaru by Marco Zambrana. (rubaruthemovie.com) Post-production for that should be wrapping up in May. In the meantime, I’m looking to produce or direct another short or two while continuing my film and music studies at Biola University.

Interview with Filmmaker Kayden Phoenix (PENANCE)

PENANCE played to rave reviews at the January 2019 LGBT Feedback Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Kayden Phoenix: I grew up in a Catholic church, my mom even sang choir. I’m not religious but the church has always been a powerful influence People turn away from their relatives (even their kin sometimes) and friends because of sexual preference and they use the Bible as their reason. Religion has a huge hand in conversion therapy. I’m a believer in freedom of choice- so to see others being persecuted for being themselves is unconstitutional. I made Penance to turn the tables around on the persecutors and to bring awareness about the horrors of conversion therapy. It’s sadly and oddly still allowed in 35 states. You can legally physically and emotionally hurt another to “cure” them from your rigidity.

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

30 mins to write. 2 weeks prep. 1 day shoot.

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

Dark. Twisted.

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

Not letting the church I shot in know the storyline.

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

I was so happy. I listened to the audience during the film- the gasps and shrills were the best- it means they felt it. I loved the feedback- there was a great range of confused, loved, self-interpretation as to their experience with the church, etc.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Conversion therapy has always gotten me mad, so it wasn’t hard to write the ironic justice side of it.

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

The Lion King

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 accessible.

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

Phantom of the Opera “Music of the Night”

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

I’m making a graphic novel, Jalisco, and writing a horror feature.

penance_1

Interview with Filmmaker Raghuvir Joshi (YAMAN)

YAMAN was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the Janaury 2019 LGBT Feedback Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Raghuvir Joshi: Yaman was a personal story to begin with. The struggle to separate from my soulmate after having discovered my sexuality was the most excruciating yet rewarding experience of my life . I wrote the film during this time – It was cathartic.

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

It took me about a month and a half to write it. After which I sent it to my producer, Tayyab Madni of Picture Works Australia, who came on board to produce the short. It took roughly 6 months to complete the film once the script was done.

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

Simple but complex.

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

The struggle to be objective to the script as it was immensely personal.

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

Nothing short of overwhelming! When I saw the audience echo and reiterate everything I envisioned and wanted to say through the film, It was the biggest reward 🙂

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

It was my personal journey that inspired the idea for this film.

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

Recently , I have seen ROMA – by Alfonso Cuaron a lot of times. Every frame is a story!

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

FilmFestival is a great platform for filmmakers. Easy to use and offers submissions to a large variety of International Film Festivals, which gave us the freedom to select the Festivals that suited our films theme.

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

I have listened to the Indian classical Raga – Yaman the most times in my life – the emotion that Raga generates is the emotional DNA of my short film.

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

I am in the process of writing the feature script based on my short film, Yaman .

yaman_movie_poster

Interview with Filmmaker Premila Puri (ITSY)

ITSY was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the January 2019 Female Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Premila Puri: When my husband narrated his experience with a spider in his car, I was really moved by his simple act of kindness towards a tiny spider. It made me realise that If we can be kind and compassionate to animals, with whom we have little in common, then why is it so hard to be kind to each other and make this a world a better place. This was the inspiration behind getting my charity to commission ITSY which my production company produced pro-bono.

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

March 2016, when I first heard the story, to final delivery in June 2018! For a short film that’s a long time I realise but a story like this can go in many directions as it touches on several sub-themes. However we persevered with the original vision and the message we wanted to convey was the bond between the protagonist and the spider that has a ripple effect not he characters in the story.

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

Kindness Matters

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

I thought getting this film through financing and a tight production schedule was a challenge and a half but nothing quite prepared me for thereafter! Our fantastic VFX supervisors working with the Indian VFX company produced some amazing results but the challenges of time difference amongst other things added to a delayed schedule. We obtained constructive feedback from our test audience, and the biggest obstacle we faced was the decision to proceed with what we had or run with a one day re-shoot. Proceeding with the latter option meant delaying our festival strategy and the charity fund-raiser. In the end, we opted for the re-shoot and retrospectively, that was the best decision! ITSY’s successful run at the festival circuit is an affirmation of trusting your gut, even if it means swimming against the tide. I’m immensely thankful to our cast & crew for making this short film happen and esp to Natasha Westlake, our awesome editor, for being an all round awesome person, who journeyed with us, for what was meant to be a two week stint, and ended 12 months later with the delivery of the film.

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

Nervous at first however as people started sharing their personal interpretation of the film, we were excited and then blown away with their priceless feedback! It was fantastic to see a packed audience who each explained what they felt really stood out for them. Congrats on this fantastic scheme run by the festival to share post screening feedback with the filmmakers – very innovative. A heartfelt thanks TOFFF!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Whilst ITSY has been inspired by a true incident, I was completely drawn to the fantastic and heart-warming script written by writer, Sameer Puri, who took the one dimensional brief of a man and a spider and reimagined the story with many layers and nuances in introducing the characters of Mustafa, Fatima and Milan. So in Sameer’s version, we have a story about a lonely and anxious woman who gets befriended by a spider who helps her to see herself and the world differently and ultimately to find a friend in a stranger, her next door neighbour, who she is initially suspicious of.

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

You’ve Got Mail! The simplicity of that era pre-technology makes me cherish this film so much!

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

Really practical to upload all film content (film, trailer, press kit etc) whilst accessing information about festivals and being able to submit, all on one platform. Fantastic one stop shop!

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

Fallen – Lauren wood

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

I’m drawn to true stories that speak about the human and/or social conditions we find ourselves in and how we channel our inner strength and resilience to rise above obstacles and challenges. I’m currently developing two TV series, a three part drama and an episodic drama series, both period pieces and based on true stories. We’re hoping to go to market with the pilot later this year, so watch this space 🙂

itsy

Interview with Filmmaker George A. Velez (MR. E, P I)

MR. E, P I played to rave reviews at the December 2018 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

George A. Velez: I wanted to make a film in a very fun genre that everyone is

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

From idea to finished product, I would say the project took around 10 months.

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

I would say the short is fun and heartfelt.

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

The biggest obstacle was trying to film the whole short in a day. We succeeded but what a challenge.

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

It was surreal to hear people talking about my short because the only feedback I’ve gotten was from my peers. It was great to hear the audience and their interpretations because it’s interesting to hear what people get out of the experience.

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

The short was originally part of a larger piece and I really wanted to see this world and these characters in a physical space.

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

There’s so many but possibly “Jaws”

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

Applying to FilmFreeway has been a positive influence for the most part. It’s easy to navigate and very in-depth.

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

“Purple Rain” by Prince

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

I’m currently finishing two feature film scripts and in pre-production for my next short, Eavesdroppng.