Interview with Filmmaker Francis Galluppi (HIGH DESERT HELL)

HIGH DESERT HELL was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the October 2019 Horror FEEDBACK Film Festival in October.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Francis Galluppi: We actually had the location first. The house belongs to one of my best friends grandparents and I had been wanting to shoot there for a while. I always wanted to make something that looked like the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” so this was my opportunity to do so.

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

Probably a year from the time I started writing to the time I finished post production.

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

Desert Hell

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

The cars. They never worked. We were so behind schedule because we couldn’t get the cars to start 90% of the time.

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

I wish I could’ve been there to help answer some of the questions but it felt amazing to watch the audience put it together. Especially to hear people’s own interpretation of certain things.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I wrote a really short version of this story and when we went to scout the location and figure out all the blocking, there was this van parked outside of a restaurant we were eating at that said “The Apocalypse is coming. Repent or burn in hell”. That was pretty shocking and sort of inspired me to write something a little longer with more religious subtext.

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

I think I watched The Goonies everyday growing up. It was probably one of the 20 movies they had to rent for free at the library so I always would pick that one out.

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

It’s so simple. I love it.

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

Tony Sly “International You Day”. It was the song my wife and I picked for the first dance at our wedding.

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

I just finished post on another short filmed called “The Gemini Project”. That should be going through the film festival circuit next year. I’m working on a feature film now that is scheduled to shoot June 2020.

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Interview with Filmmaker Romén Rivero (NIGHT OWLS)

NIGHT OWLS was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the October 2019 HORROR Feedback Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Romén Rivero: Since my childhood, I love monster movies, so the idea of ​​making a film of this subgenre was always in my mind.

First, I wrote a lowbudget feature screenplay, but in preproduction I realized that it would be very difficult to shoot with my budget, so I decided to shoot short as a proof of concept and get some recognition that will help me to archieve a bigger budget.

Also, I always wanted to talk about the topic of the lost innocense in a symbolic way, which is in both the feature script and the short film. As a director, for this short I was deeply inspired by the tone and armosphere of the film IT FOLLOWS (2014) that I consider an stylistic tribute to John Carpenter movies, one of my favorite directors. Also, I love the neo-noir aesthetic and wanted to make something with it, so this was the perfect story.

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

Much more than I thought. About 3 months to finish the feature script and 5 months for preproduction, shooting and editing the short.

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

Urban horror.

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

Definitely, the fact of shooting it without crew. I did all by my self: writting, production, casting, production design, storyboarding, directing, cinematography, camera work, sound, lighting, practical fx design, half of the make-up, digital fx and editing. Only music wasn´t mine. Sometimes during the shooting I was really overwhelmed, It was crazy.

Also shooting all the film in night exteriors with wind, cold and street traffic, almost without budget, was very very hard. I had to put a lot of creativity on this film in order to make it works, not only in an artistc way but in production tricks.

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

I love to see people talking about something that one day I saw only in my mind. It’s magical. The feedback in this particular case was awesome. They picked up all the subtext of the story and also the fact that it was part of a bigger universe from the feature screenplay. I wanted more coments and a longer video haha.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

If I had to talk about a specific trigger for this particular story, it was a little incident. One night, I was walking alone throug a deserted avenue of the city, returnig home. No traffic, no persons, all was very quiet, when suddendly a loud noise startled behind me, it was the sound of some skateboard wheels over the paviment. They were three skateboarding teenagers crossing the avenue and they were in complete silence and hooded, so they looked quite sinister. That scare and the image I saw, gived me the idea for the story.

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

It’s hard to know. But probably it’s between Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick) and the french comedy Le Dîner de Cons (Francis Veber).

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

I used other platforms, like Festhome and Click for Festivals from Spain, but FilmFreeway is the best platform for me. It’s free, it has almost every important festival in the world, works fine and the customer support is very good.

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

I don´t know, but in the last years and during the making of Night Owls, I listened a lot to Depeches Mode’s Never Let Me Down Again.

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

I think the next thing is my first feature film. I have finished the third draft of NIGHT OWLS feature (now called NIGHT BIRDS) and tranlated it to English. This screenplay has been recently chosen to be part of the Official Selection in the screenplay competition at the New York City Horror Film Festival 2019. I’m also working with an illustrator in my first comic book project, based on another of my scripts, a horror comedy located in Tokyo, Japan.

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Interview with Filmmaker David Rawlings (SLASHED!)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

David Rawlings: I’m a huge fan of 80s horror. The cheesier, the better. I grew up on Freddy Kruger and Jason Voorhees, and always wanted to take a unique stab at that genre.

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

The general pre-production and production took about 6 months. Post Production was initially another 3. However, I wanted to really make sure the audio was as correct as possible. It took longer than I was expecting, so the finished product probably took one whole year to complete.

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

Retro Arthritis

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

The weather. We only had 2 full days to shoot everything and we got rained out for one half of those days. Considering 90% of the shoot was exterior shots, it certainly created a headache to the entire crew and cast. Not to mention that the public park – we were shooting in – closed their public bathrooms at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.

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

Really pleased. I was glad to see that audience members really enjoyed it and understood the direction. My favourite moments are when we flashback to the “80s” and it was great to see the audience to get a kick out of that. Thank you for all your kind words.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Being a fan of films such as A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, I wanted to create my own serial slasher killer… but wanted to have fun with it. Taking the idea of an ax-murderer who has aged and not at the level that he used to be, gave me some great ideas for dialogue and scenes. I’m also a fan of the likes of Monty Python and wanted to inject some of that goofy humour and ridiculousness as well.

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

It’s probably a tie between The Goonies and Jurassic Park.

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

It’s really rather simple. Once the film project has been uploaded, being able to simply and efficiently submit your film to a wealth of different festivals certainly makes things less stressful.

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

Bon Jovi – Livin on a Prayer

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

I’m currently working in the UK as a video editor. I’ve got many ideas and scripts for other shorts, and I hope to be back into pre-production very soon.

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.

Interview with Filmmaker Erik Bloomquist (SHE CAME FROM THE WOODS)

SHE CAME FROM THE WOODS was the winner of BEST FILM at the October Horror FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Erik Bloomquist: My brother Carson and I grew up watching ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?, which really woke up and shaped our sensibilities as filmmakers and horror enthusiasts. We wanted to go back to basics — something warm and nostalgic and spooky.

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

Just over three months. It was a super quick one!

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

Campfire rollercoaster.

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

We shot the whole thing with a skeleton crew in just two very fast overnights.

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

Heartwarming. Truly. We’ve been very fortunate to play all over the world with this movie to very enthusiastic audiences. But to hear such positive, organic feedback from a group of people when I wasn’t even in the room is extremely special. I just sent the link to the whole cast. I’m still smiling.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The campground where we filmed triggered a distinct mood and aesthetic for both me and Carson. The movie just sort of spilled out of us from there.

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

Probably SCREAM or TITANIC. Pretty much the same movie.

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

Super user friendly. Great customer services. Awesome interface.

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

Between Toto and now Weezer’s cover, probably “Africa”. It’s a bop, dude.

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

We’re currently in the middle of a pretty intense USA tour with my debut feature LONG LOST. We’ve been getting some amazing responses and award recognition (including Grand Jury Prize at Laughlin Film Festival, Best Feature/Audience Choice & Director to Watch at Eastern Oregon Film Festival, and a nomination for Best Debut Director at Twin Cities Film Fest). It’s a dark domestic thriller that we shot right after SCFTW. Check us out at Facebook.com/LongLostMovie.
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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.

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.