Interview with Filmmaker David Maire (CHATEAU SAUVIGNON: TERROIR)

CHATEAU SAUVIGNON: TERROIR played to rave reviews at the 2016 HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

“Chateau Sauvignon: terroir’ was my thesis film for the School of Visual Arts’s Masters in Directing program, which requires their students to complete and screen their shorts at the end of the year in order to graduate. Yet, I was motivated to complete this program because it offered me the opportunity to explore the murderous motivations of a vintner family, characters I had imagined years prior, through the creation of a strong film that could double as a prequel and video pitch for a feature film to audiences and investors, respectively.

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

The initial concept was for a feature film, and that congealed in my mind about 8 years before the completion of this short film. The short film however took about 3 years from conception to completion (production lasted about a week).

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

Savage terror!

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

Despite some stressful hiccups and kerfuflles during production, the biggest obstacle was in the writing. Getting my ideas onto the page can be an elaborate, time consuming challenge for me, but the real hurdle came from having to choose which story elements from the feature to focus on and which not to, while simultaneously down playing the violence to a justifiable and affordable level of gore. Too often did I use the feature concept as a model for the short rather than treat this project as its own entity; for a good number of drafts, the narrative was convoluted because I was trying to condense all the information from the feature into a significantly shorter script, which themselves called for scenes of unrealistic production value – for example, school buses full of senior citizens, dozens of bodies hanging upside down being eviscerated one after the next, creepy twins who lose limbs during fight sequences in industrial wine making machinery, demonic opiate addicted babies, and so forth. It was difficult to strike an acceptable level of ambiguity wherein I could leave behind enough bread crumbs for the audience to work out the answers and create their own interpretations rather than have every detail spoon fed to them. Which leads us perfectly into your next question!

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

Watching the Toronto audience feedback video was exhilarating. My initial reaction was extremely positive! It was so gratifying to hear from the audience, which is rarely the case at most film festivals even when I’m in attendance, flattery notwithstanding. The crowd picked up on so many small cues relating to the character’s motivations and back stories that I couldn’t help but feel a sense of relief. For example, they correctly picked up that the film is a teaser to a much larger project, that it felt like ‘Hostel’ and ‘Chainsaw Massacre’ which were both predominantly referenced in our visual treatments of the short, and that this is indeed a family business. I was pleased that people appreciated the story being told from the killer’s perspective rather than that of the victim, and acknowledged one’s arc as a viewer shifting from rooting for our protagonist to “want[ing] him to die too.” A conflicted audience is engaged, I like to think, so its great to create this character who you root for because you like him and feel sorry for his situation, and then reveal he’s a killer amongst killers, and a convincing one! It’s generates a nice twisty roller coaster of emotions that it seemed the WILDSound viewers jived with. I’ve consistently been told not to spoon feed the audience the way Nicolas’ mother is, and this perfectly exemplified to me how successful this short was in doing so. This unique perspective of observing audience members debate their interpretations of the story and discuss their emotional reactions to the film gifted me with a profound sense of pride, validating the notion that filmmakers should always treat their audience intelligently.Thank you for this.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Hailing from French wine country, I was always innately going to shoot a movie in this setting. I don’t recall exactly how the idea formed, but I remember having a very vivid image in my head of deep red blood splattering on green grapes. The concept was most likely cemented in high school around the time I first watched Eli Roth’s ‘Hostel’, and was penned my final undergraduate semester at NYU as part of a feature writing class. As I mentioned briefly, the feature script never fully formed, and when I enrolled at SVA a couple of years later, I decided to use the opportunity to explore the characters’ motivations and background story from the feature – why the vintners kill people, how they do it, et cetera – focusing on the point of view of the killers as opposed to that of the victims. Understanding their back story and motivations for killing was somewhat of a grey area in the feature’s outline that I absolutely wanted to flesh out more. This short film acts as a prequel to the feature, detailing the protagonist’s first kill, and shedding light on their medically reliant cannibalistic tendencies. We weren’t able to include the image of the blood on grapes because we shot in Spring (before the grapes grow), but it’ll most definitely be included in the feature!

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

Hands down Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games” (the American version specifically, but I’ve seen the German one many times as well).

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

Currently I’m busy on both ends of the production spectrum. On the one side, I’ve started developing several short video projects concepts and and forced myself to begin fleshing out (pun intended) and writing my features. Otherwise, I’ve been heavily focused on attending film festivals and networking – “Chateau Sauvignon: terroir” is about two thirds of the way through its festival run.

Otherwise, I’ve produced two other short films recently, one just wrapped a few weeks ago and is being edited, titled ‘My Daughter Yoshiko’, this story follows a Japanese mother coming to terms with her daughter’s Autism diagnosis – here is a link to our post production fundraising page. It isn’t a horror film though, any neither is the second super short “Mariposas”, a 3min story that lives in magical realism and is about a boastful father prattling on superficially about his daughter to another parent in the school pick up line. I can’t wait to share these projects with you, and look toward to what the audience has to say about ‘The Hobbyist’ with eager anticipation! Per chance, do you offer waivers or discounts to returning filmmakers?

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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 Daniel Möhle (MY BODY)

Daniel Möhle’s short film MY BODY played to rave reviews at the October 2017 HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival. It was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the festival.

What motivated you to make this film?

I wanted to make a short horror film, because I love horror films. I love to be scared by a movie and I also love when a movie has several layers. That was the starting point.

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

It took about 3 months planning and writing. In one day we shot the film and in two days I edited it. While I was planning the day with the actor the visual effects were produced. The score was composed in 2-3 weeks. All in all it took 5-6 months from the first idea to the finished product.

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

Paranoid guilt

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

Getting everything ready for the day of shooting. The actor came in from another city and I didn’t want to shoot any longer than one day. The planning was tight. During shooting the main problem was that it was an incredible hot day in September and the fabric that we glue to the windows in order to keep the house dark didn’t stand the heat. It fell down several times during filming so that the sun would come in – and that was not the atmosphere that I had in mind for the story.

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

Pure joy and happiness!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I thought about making a horror film about guilt and hypochondria. The next puzzle piece was the location. From thereon everything took its course more or less autonomously.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

I remember buying the Ace Ventura 2 VHS as a child and watching it over and over again.

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

It is a black hole because you don’t know what to expect. But it can be a good way to get the film to audiences worldwide.

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

It has to be a song by Die Ärzte or The Cure – but I don’t know which one.

What is next for you? A new film?

At the moment I am writing a sic-fi-horror short.

Interview with Producer/Writer Dan Dark (SPEECHLESS)

Dan Dark’s short film SPEECHLESS played to rave reviews at the October 2017 HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival.

 What motivated you to make this film?  

I have loved horror movies since I was a child. I lived within walking distance of a rental store that didn’t have any age restrictions for R-rated movies, so much of my young life was gathering a few dollars in change from around the house and walking to the Mr. Video down the street. I’d rent the movie with the scariest box art and watch it when everyone else at home was asleep. I had wanted to be involved in the making of a horror film as long as I could remember.

When the time came to finally achieve this dream, I was also motivated by the number of great filmmakers, artists, musicians and writers who were willing to help on the project. It was easy to stay motivated when I knew I had some truly talented people working on the film because, like me, they all wanted to work on a fun little short horror film too.

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

A lot of things fell into place pretty quickly. From my first meeting with Bayonet Media, the film production company that made SPEECHLESS happen, where I was told that yes, this was possible to make and to make right, it was maybe 4 months until we had our finished film.

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

This is a tough one. I would say that the words I would want people to feel or experience are “creepy fun.”

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

Dustin Demoret, the director and editor of SPEECHLESS works at Bayonet and kept us from hitting many obstacles. Lauren Harper, another producer on the film, provided a ton of support and let us film in her home over two evenings and really made sure we got the most out of the limited $10,000 budget.

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

I am a bit of a perfectionist and so I was a little nervous about the feedback part. I didn’t want them to notice all the tiny things that bother me after watching it 100 times. But, seeing film fans give honest feedback was really fun because that’s what movie making is about! You go and have an experience with a piece of work another group of people made and you get to interact with it. Watching movies shouldn’t be passive, it should be something that inspires a conversation and seeing the feedback video really drove home that feeling.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film:

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

Funny story, actually. I have a friend whose son accidentally locked himself in the basement of their hom. The son wrote SOS on a piece of paper and slid it under the door. My friend took a photo of the paper by the door and posted it to Instagram. I loved the idea of something communicating through a series of notes and initially the story was going to follow a boy who kept receiving notes first from the basement then directly into his room as the evil gets closer and closer. I had to pare down the story to the most basic elements for this short, but that is where the idea came from.

  What film have you seen the most in your life?  

I love this question! It’s so hard to say because I was a very obsessive compulsive kid and teen. If I liked a movie I would watch it over and over again, sometimes three times in a day. So what movie have I watched the most? Maybe Little Giants with Ed O’Neill and Rick Moranis or Homeward Bound with the dogs and cat that get lost. Since this was a horror film festival, I should probably include the horror film I have watched the most which would either be Jaws or Return of the Living Dead.

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

Again, I love love love this question. I would have to guess Bohemian Rhapsody since it has been around forever and I have listened to it my entire life.

  What is next for you? A new film?  

I have several short film scripts in the works which are mostly in the horror/thriller genre, but I would eventually love to try my hand at some comedic work too.

Interview with Filmmaker Jean-Claude Leblanc (STUDDED NIGHTMARE)

Jean-Claude’s short film played to rave reviews at the October 2017 HORROR FEEDBACK Film Festival.

 What motivated you to make this film?

I’ve been working on films since I graduated from Trebas institute in 2006 in film production. I was trying to find a film idea but a good one is hard to find. I’m always writing scripts, but with this one it was a fast process. I was really into it so I started production when the script was done. I couldnt stop until the film was completed.

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

1 year.

1 month on the script, 1 month pre-prod. We shot 10 days between June and October,

And since I had hard time with the edit it took me three months to delegate and get it done.

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

Haunted Chair

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

The editing. At first I was editing the film but as a writer/director I had hard times cutting out scenes that I loved and took time to shoot. At some point I called Geoff Klein, an amazing editor and friend, and he cut the film as we know. He won best editor at Top Shorts film fest and was nominated at 2 other festivals.

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

I was delighted to hear what people had to say about the film. Questioning the intro sequence as I questioned it myself when it was put together. It was good feedback.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

It’s based on true events. My friend was scared of a chair because of its gruesome past (the actual chair is used in the film ). I wanted to know the entire story but in the end it was just a chair. I pushed the story to make a horror film. The main idea of the film is: Would you keep something that that belonged to something you know he killed himself with it? Most people say no because it’s creepy. I thought it had a potential to scare.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Evil Dead

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

It makes it very simple to make contact with festival. I made most of the submissions myself and I enjoy the easy process.

What song have you listened to the most times in your life? Tough question?
Wow thats a hard one!

Probably a song by Iron Maiden

What is next for you? A new film?

I’m almost done with a short script and I hope to start production soon. It’s about life after death, a heroic horror film.