Interview with Novelist Mark Renshaw (CYBORN)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your novel about?

Mark Renshaw: A cyborg private detective Infected with a tekvirus teams up with a sexbot operated by his estranged daughter (#awakward) to solve all his cases and find a cure before he shuts down

2. What genres would you say this story is in?

Sci-Fi comedy with a bit of Noir detective mystery on the side.

3. How would you describe this story in two words?

Pure escapism.

4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?

Star Wars – A New Hope.

5. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the
most times in your life?)

The Bear Necessities

6. Do you have an all-time favorite novel?

Legend by David Gemmell and the Dark Tower Series by Stephen King.

7. What motivated you to write this story?

Cyborn began life as a three-page screenplay about an android accessing random memories during the last three minutes of his life as he runs out of power. It won a major writing competition and encouraged me to write is as a feature screenplay.

That too did well in competition, culminating in me travelling to the 50th Nashville Film Festival in which it was nominated for Best Comedy Feature Screenplay.

I had a few short stories published at this point, so it seemed adapting Cyborn into my first novel was destiny.

8. If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive), who would
that be?

Isaac Asimov,

9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

I enjoy making short films. The last short movie I produced (The Dollmaker) has over 16 million views on YouTube, and I’d love to be more involved in making TV programs or feature films going forward.

10. What influenced you to enter your story to get performed?

I think Cyborn would make an excellent audiobook and wanted to see how it sounded. I’m also querying agents and publishers at the moment, and I’m hoping an audible sample will help me secure a book deal.

11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Write as often as you can, even if it’s one hour a week. It all adds up. No writing is ever wasted.

 

Watch the Novel Transcript Reading: 

Interview with Winner Screenwriter Greg Emmerth (PALMETTO)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Greg Emmerth: On a basic level, a wayward son returns home for his mother’s birthday. On a slightly deeper level, it’s about how people allow the past, and past grievances and holding onto pain for far too long, to hobble their present lives.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

It’s primarily a family drama.

3. Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

I believe in the story, and that there is an important message in trying to move beyond the sometimes negative circumstances that bring us to where we are in life.

4. How would you describe this script in two words?

I’d call the script a ‘pleasurable burden.’ The story itself in two words I would describe as ‘vicarious dysfunction.’

5. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

I’m a bit of a nerd, so I suspect the combined Star Trek films would be it. I also really enjoy Dangerous Liaison with Glenn Close and John Malkovich and have watched it countless times since it came out in the 1980s. It’s an amazing character study in duplicity and revenge with highly nuanced performances.

6. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

On and off for over a decade. I just revisited it roughly 9 months ago after about 2 years away from it.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written 5 short films, all of which were produced, two published novels and two unproduced feature screenplays. I tend to work on several projects at once and bounce between them, so I have a novel, a short film and this project all under construction at the moment.

8. What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

At 50, with decades of music under my belt, that’s a hard one to answer. I think ‘One Moment in Time’ by Whitney Houston or ‘I’m Still Standing’ by Elton John. They’re both inspiring in their own way and have pulled me through more than one rough patch. Right now, I am enjoying the acoustic version of ‘Have it All’ by Jason Mraz.

9. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

Finding the time to work on it given the competing priorities, coupled with struggling to call it done and stop tweaking it. A word here, a couple lines there… it’s challenging me for me to not want to edit it.

10. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Depends on the season. With winter here if I’m not at work I try to be on my snowboard. It’s a great escape and way to recharge from the week. I love learning. Three degrees down and most likely going back again in a year or two. Lastly, always trying to take the road less traveled.

11. You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

I have not had any issues with them whatsoever.

12. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

For me it was the feedback and opportunity to see part of it read aloud. I enjoyed the feedback and tend to focus on festivals that provide it. Even when negative, I find value in getting a different perspective. I don’t always follow their notes, but I think I’ve been able to make some pretty significant leaps forward by incorporating feedback into the latest draft.

Watch the Screenplay Reading:

Jack, a young, wealthy, gay man returns home to Charleston for his mother’s birthday, a few years after his father’s death, and still hasn’t resolved his anger for them both.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf
Jack (M): Geoff Mays
Jamie/Elton (M): Allan Michael Brunet
Connor/Robert (M): Steve Rizzo
Carol (F): Hannah Ehman
Liz (F): Kyana Teresa
—-

Interview with Filmmaker Chris Garcia (NEW LIFE)

NEW LIFE played to rave reviews at the May 2020 Experimental, Dance, Music Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Chris Garcia: I wanted to talk about a subject that personally touched me. I wanted to show that any kind of art (dancing, acting, drawing…) could be a therapy and take a part of a rebuilding ourselves through it.

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

It took about a year from the idea to the finished product. I wanted to take my time with pre-production especially so I can present the subject with the finest vision.

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

I would describe it as a feminist and a necessary film to watch perhaps.

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

I didn’t really have any problems or obstacles during the project. When I made it it was very clear to me from the very beginning to the end because I kind of had already pictured it inside my head and I knew how I wanted it to look visually.

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

I actually weren’t totally awake when I got to see the feedback video and I couldn’t really believe what I was hearing because it was too good to be true.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I finished class with my friend and fellow actress Melanie Bokata, and I wanted to make a short film with her. The idea was born when I was in the train on my way back home and I literally just told her that I wanted to make this short film about the violence towards women through the art of dancing and she said yes and the rest is history.

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

“Lawrence of Arabia” and “Singin’ In The Rain” are my two favorite films that i must’ve seen more than a million times in my life.

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

I think it’s the best platform for young filmmakers to find good festivals for their films.

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

“Where is my mind” by Pixies

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

I am currently in pre-production of my next film “Summer” and the subject of it will be about accepting ourselves and our sexuality.

new_life_movie_poster

Interview with Filmmaker Brian Ng (24)

24 was voted BEST FILM at the May 2020 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Brian Ng: The initial motivation to make this film was the assassination of my uncle on a highway in the Philippines. Up till then I was working on another animated film based on the Filipino Street. But after he was killed it made me question aspects about my personal motivations as an artist and animator. I felt that art and filmmaking should be used to depict an aspect of humanity that is hard to define in any other medium. I asked myself the question “If I could send a message to the world, what would I say?” The answer was 24.

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

I guess because of the content I would have to say I’ve been working on this film for most of my life. The conclusion of this film took 24 years in the making but the actual production and structuring of the content took about a year from 2018-2019. I gathered up photographs and mementos from every year of my life to structure the content that I wanted to animate from.

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

Fragmented Memories

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

The biggest obstacle was looking back at certain traumatic events of my past and trying to represent them in a way that a general audience could understand; then trying to create a written and visual vignette of each year in response.

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

I felt kind of embarrassed, it’s probably the first time that I’ve seen a recorded response to my films on video.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

24 was a film that I started to develop as a result of my mixed heritage and background growing up between Singapore and the Philippines. As a half Singaporean, half Filipino person who moved constantly, I was exposed to certain aspects of reality that formed my being. I saw humanity, corruption, terrorism, inequality, oppression and racism from many different perspectives. I turned 24 years old in 2019 and I thought that it would be cathartic to use the number 24 as a framework to put the most significant experiences of my life into perspective.

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

Synecdoche, New York by Charlie Kaufman

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

I think it’s a good medium to send ideas to a large variety of audiences around the world. It’s a good way of collecting spreading films through.

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

Do You Hear The People Sing from the Musical Les Miserables

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

At the moment I have another animated film that’s in the post production stage called Ryori, which is a stop motion animated cooking film based in Japan. I am also working on the production of another animated documentary called the Absence of Memory, which is based on the experiences of multiple individuals within their conscripted military service in Singapore.

24_movie_poster

Interview with Filmmaker Selket Kaufman (A VOICE FOR WHALES)

A VOICE FOR WHALES was voted BEST SOUND & MUSIC at the May 2020 Documentary Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Selket Kaufman: This film has been long overdue. It’s a story that needed to be told and I am honored that I have the opportunity to do so. I am very passionate about this project because it’s close to my heart (Greg Kaufman is my late husband). I feel it’s a work in progress still, but I was happy that I created something I wanted to share for the World Whale Film Festival in Maui, Hawaii 2020. This is also the year Pacific Whale Foundation, celebrates its’ 40th anniversary.

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

I know a similar story needed to be told about Greg’s work and the foundation he started, but once he passed away, I know I had to create something to honor his legacy, it took approximately 2 years.

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

Inspirational Legacy

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

There were many obstacles, I was dealing with the grief of my husband while holding down a full-time job. I have to conduct a lot of research, go through so many archives, hunt down people that knew him best. It took time to acquire all the permits needed to get necessary footage. To take on this film was a challenge within itself because it had to be done right, but it was also a blessing in disguise because I learned so much more about someone I looked up to and it did help me heal.

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

I was blown away, because these are all people I have never met and they had no idea who Greg was, to hear them relay the message I was trying to relay in the film made me know that I did it right. I teared up because it meant so much to hear how it touched so many people.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

It was a story that needed to be told, there are so many people out there fighting the good fight and it was an honor to be able to tell Greg’s story.

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

I have a lot, I love all kinds of films… Shawshank Redemption, Donnie Darko, Romancing the Stone, The Shinning just to name a few.

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

I like this platform; it’s organized informative and they keep you up to date. It’s an effective tool to find the right venues to share your film.

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

Oh boy, I have a longer list than films for this one. I grew up with classical music, but I love almost all music. Beck’s new album is one of my favorites right now.

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

Storytelling is defiantly my passion, but for now I am taking a break and reassessing what I want to do next, until the next great story comes along.

a_voice_for_whales_movie_poster

Interview with Filmmaker Tim Owens (NO FILTER)

NO FILTER played to rave reviews at the May 2020 COMEDY Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Tim Owens: This was an exercise to me as a filmmaker, expand on a funny or interesting idea and see if we can make it into a complete idea. The motivation really came from instagram – everyone posting #NoFilter pics – I could’t help but think that we’ve always had filters in real life when we drink too much.

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

On that plane ride (about 5 hrs) I wrote the story, thought about locations, and used the wifi to text 2 comedian friends of mine. We landed in NY around 11a, stopped by a prop shop for the HMU, called a local bar (that knows me way too well), and secured the actors. We shot it in my hotel room, and a bar that was on the corner of the street. We spent about 4 hrs shooting the entire film and edited it within a week.

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

Beer Goggles.

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

We were in NY for an unrelated project, so the biggest obstacle was fitting in the one day shoot into our one day pre-pro – that was suppose to be the same day.


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

Love this. It was amazing to hear and see the feedback. That they got the simple joke and it made them laugh or smile. That’s all I really want with anything I make — to see that the audience was moved in some way. This was may favorite part of the entire process.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I was on a flight to NYC and laughing with one of my producers. We were headed there for an un-related project. We were talking about beer goggles and how funny It would be to make a short film about the after math of meeting someone in a bar. (We were way off topic to what we were suppose to be discussing). Quickly thereafter, No Filter was born.

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

Randomly enough – Breakfast at Tiffany’s haha (not joking)

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

I really like the process, its simple and easy to understand, easy to update and edit. I’m a fan.

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

Just one?? Well Spotify tells me my most played is Low-Fi Hip Hop, apparently I have too much stress in my life and need more chill music.

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

We’re going to continue making more short comedies here is our latest. It’s Therapeutic. But we are working on a feature length documentary following up and coming comedians in the Village (NYC).

no_filter_movie_poster