Interview with director Marina Meijer (CARGO)

Marina Meijer’s short film “CARGO” was the winner of “BEST FILM” at the May 2017 European Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Marina Meijer: I needed to make a film about the importance of women and love, in an environment where she is absent. So I went looking for places at sea (the birthplace of Afrodite, goddess of love), to find a small men’s microcosm, where only men live and work together, seperated from land and the women in (their) life. And then I met Frans, a rough sailor who had lost his love.

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

I did two months of research, and in this period I lived on several ships to meet different crews and men. After I found Frans, I wrote a filmplan, and then my cameraman, soundsman and me, stayed on the ship for a month to shoot. Our school gave us a 6 weeks to edit the film, and then another month for sounddesign, music and other postproductional things! So I think in total it took us half a year to make the entire film.

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

Waves, Women.

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

The fact that is was my graduation film, gave us quite some limitations in our shooting and edit period. But I learned a lot, so it’s not all that bad… And of course the fact that I did a lot of puking at sea, hehe.

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

It made me very happy..! Some things people said, really touched me. I loved it that although it’s quite a subtle story, some people do feel the emotional layer underneath it.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the short film:

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

As a woman, there are places that are almost unattainable for me, places where men are among themselves, isolated from the outside world. This film takes place in such a ‘man’s microcosm’ at sea, a place where men and women are physically separated. It’s a place that intrigues me, because it feels out of balance. It’s a small world that symbolizes the world in which we now live, where the ‘hard’ and strong often dominates, and where the soft and sensitive is still struggling to break through. For me this film is a portrayal of this struggle with feelings. About a man who lost his wife, his unexpressed feelings and loneliness within this men’s world. A small film about the importance of women and love, which becomes even bigger when she is no longer there.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Beau Travail, from Claire Denis or Three Rooms of Melancholia, from Pirjo Honkasalo.

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

‘Maggot Brain’ from Funkadelic or ‘If you want me to stay’ from Sly and the Family Stone. And I still don’t know the lyrics.. Words are not that important to me, i guess.

What is next for you? A new film?

I hope so! Working very hard on a new idea.. I’m very uncertain about a lot of things in my life, but filmmaking is the one thing I’m very sure of, that I really want and need to do.
 
 

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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 month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with director Urs Kälin (FAREWELL)

Urs Kälin’s comedy “FAREWELL” played to rave reviews at the May 2017 European Film Festival.

 Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Urs Kälin: I created the script to this film in a workshop. In my head were ideas about a road movie with dark humor. After I finished the script it wasn’t easy to find the right persons for directing and producing this idea. After a while I couldn’t wait longer for the right persons so I decided to produce the film by myself and tried to do what I learned on a set as an actor.

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

I created the script to this film in a workshop. In my head were ideas about a road movie with dark humor. After I finished the script it wasn’t easy to find the right persons for directing and producing this idea. After a while I couldn’t wait longer for the right persons so I decided to produce the film by myself and tried to do what I learned on a set as an actor.

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

I think it took almost three years from the idea in the workshop till the premiere in the cinema. It was a very long time but I learned a lot. For example, I didn’t edit any film
before. So, I had to learn to edit my film by myself and there were many try and errors.

Sometimes I’m still thinking I should have done it like this or this if I watch the film but at one point you have to finish it.

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

Dark humor

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

The work next to the set especially for the pre- and post production. I had to learn all these things like find the right locations or editing and if you don’t know the editing program for example it is hard to find the right way. It was also difficult to find the right way for this project. There are so many ways to complete a film.

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

I was very nervous to see the feedback video. I couldn’t imagen how the audience will react. But if I was watching it, it made me very happy!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the short film:

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

I was thinking about a film that is like a road movie with a dark side. I had several ideas when I wrote the script. At the end, I was trying to create dark humor with a sensitive
touch.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

I think I like drama and comedy or tragicomedy.

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

This is a difficult question. I think it has changed during my life and I listen so many different kind of music. I think it is Rock and Hard Rock and some 80’s pop.

What is next for you? A new film?

Right now, I’m on the pre production of a new short film. I try to find some sponsors for a new idea. This film would be more social critic. I would try to animate the audience to think about culture and what did it to them or not.

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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 month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with director Sébastien Petretti (STATE OF EMERGENCY MOTHERF***ER!)

Sébastien Petretti’s short film “STATE OF EMERGENCY MOTHERF***ER!” was awarded “Best Overall Performances” at the May 2017 EUROPEAN Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Sebastien Petretti:

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

« State of emergency motherfucker! » is born during the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Paris and Brussels.

Everything gets out of control.

I can’t complain, I’m on the good side of things with my « angel » face. But I’ve to admit I find it difficult to stay put and do nothing as I see minorities being stigmatized (in the best all cases.)

All this led to this comedy.

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

Around 6 months

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

3 words : DURUM & SEX & COPS

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

Finding Police cars and uniforms to rent.

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

We really enjoy it ! Thanks a lot. It’s very interesting to see people talking about your film without being there. They can be honest without being scared to say something wrong in front of the director 😉

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the short film:

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

The Paris & Brussels terrorist attacks.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

The Big Blue from Luc Besson.

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

Bohemian Rhapsody from Queen

What is next for you? A new film?

I’m currently finishing my last short film called « Make Aliens Dance » . A 25 min drama happening in UK.

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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 month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with writer/actor James McDougall (WALKING SUPPLY)

James’ short film “WALKING SUPPLY” was awarded “Best Cinematography” at the May 2017 CANADIAN Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

James McDougall: I was reading about Russian history in the wee hours of the morning and stumbled across some terrifying true stories. During Stalin’s regime, when two prisoners would escape a Gulag, they would sometimes bring along a third man whose sole purpose would be for meat if they began to starve. That idea both disturbed me, and made me want to delve deeper into that story. I identified with the third man, and started to think about how scary it would be to find yourself in the middle of the Siberian wilderness with two men who are stronger and faster, and finding out that you were brought along to be eaten. I not only wanted to write this story but I wanted to play the role of the unsuspecting victim. I really connected with that character and knew I needed to play him from the beginning. That, coupled with the fact that we recently did a huge gear upgrade at our company Mountain Man Media and Derek Barnes and myself were itching to shoot something with the new toys made for a perfect combo that got our idea into action. I was also really motivated by the challenge of pulling off something this ambitious. It’s a period piece set in the wilderness, in 1950 U.S.S.R., and in the dead of winter. As an actor this felt like a role of a lifetime and I wanted to do it justice.

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

Well, I started thinking about making this short about three years ago but Derek Barnes and I began writing it January 2016, we wrote multiple drafts, and went to camera soon after in March 2016. We shot 2 days, broke for a month while the seasons changed and myself and the other actors lost some weight (about 20 pounds each), and then went back to shooting our final 4 days in mid April. We submitted some rough cuts to a few festivals before but our film was officially finished in Sept. 2016.

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

Russian cannibals.

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

The biggest obstacle was probably shooting WALKING SUPPLY over 6 days in the wilderness. Lots of complications can come up when shooting outdoors, especially in the winter. We were an indie production, all out of pocket and we couldn’t afford trailers or heating tents and the cast and crew were notified in advance to dress warm and that they may have to poop in the woods. Everyone who came out totally played ball and lots of the shoot felt like an epic camping trip / hike. We had to journey up steep trails, trudge through swamps, get tied off on high cliffs, and the first 2 days were shot overnight in the blistering cold Canadian winter. It was a challenge, but tons of fun.

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

My initial reaction to the feedback was just feeling very grateful. I was really happy to hear peoples thoughts on our film and to hear that lots of people loved it and were really invested in the characters and the story was really cool and the most an actor/screenwriter could hope for. Even the constructive criticism was great to hear as we were currently developing a feature version of WALKING SUPPLY and any feedback helps immensely. I was also honoured to learn that we won best Cinematography as Derek Barnes who is my co-producer / co-writer / and the director of the short also was the director of photography and he put so much effort into the overall look of the film. He and our awesome crew really went all out in shooting this with epic drone shots, some stellar crane work, and Derek was even was tied of on a cliff standing on a ladder at one point just to grab a shot. I’m so glad Derek received some recognition for his stellar cinematography.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the short film:

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

It began when I was reading about some terrifying Russian history about how when two prisoners would escape a Gulag they would sometimes bring along a third man to kill and eat if they needed sustenance. So while the actual idea is inspired by true events, Derek Barnes and I came up with the story for WALKING SUPPLY by researching many historical facts from 1950 U.S.S.R. and coming up with fictional characters set in that world.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Good Will Hunting

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

What I Got by Sublime

What is next for you? A new film?

It’s been a good year so far. I’m an actor first and foremost and was very lucky to recently book a principal role on CONDOR, a new TV series shooting in Toronto. That has been an absolute dream to be apart of. I also booked a supporting role in the upcoming rom-com feature THE PERFECT KISS which is set to premiere in winter 2017. On the filmmaking front I just finished producing my first feature film, an experimental piece called LANGUAGE directed by Elizabeth Lazebnik. It is essentially King Lear performed by 11 actors who all speak a different language. The creative team behind it is incredible and we are very excited to hit the 2018 film festival circuit. And lastly, Derek Barnes and myself are working with an amazing and accomplished producer right now developing WALKING SUPPLY into a feature. The script is coming along quite nicely. I’m loving the character development, twists, turns, action, and suspense we are able to explore in a full length version. Once we are happy with where the script is at we’ll be shopping it around and hopefully returning to the wilderness to shoot sometime in the near future.

Final comment

Thanks so much Matthew and your entire team at Wild Sound Festival! It’s been a joy to be apart of and it’s amazing what you do. Thanks for continuing to support indie filmmakers through screenings, feedback sessions, and just helping to get the word out about our films. I’ll definitely keep submitting our films your way and I encourage other filmmakers to do the same. All the best!

James McDougall – Actor/Screenwriter/Producer
Twitter and Instagram: @ActorJamesMcD
WALKING SUPPLY

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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 month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Editor Tod Modisett (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Bachelor)

crazy ex girlfriend.jpgIt was a privilege to chat with the talented editor Tod Modisett on the art of editing.

Matthew Toffolo: You have edited many television shows. Do you have a favorite experience?

Tod Modisett: The best experience is when you understand the show you’re working on. You get the director or the producer, and he or she gets you. Then interesting things can happen pretty quickly. Some editors can talk articulately when they’re working. I usually can’t.

Sometimes I mumble. It’s great when a director can hear me mumble something and he or she knows what I’m saying. It reminds me of how some dentists can understand you even when you have all kinds of crap in your mouth. Jeff Schaffer, the creator of “The League,” was like that. Once I mumbled something as I hit command-Z to put the edit back to what it was before I started messing with it and he said, “It’s okay. I know what you were going for.”

I have to ask about the “Bachelor” experience as there are tons of fans out there who want to know. What was the process like editing an episode together? Was the episode already written and you simply needed to piece together the story with the hours of footage you had? How much footage did you (or your assistant) have to go through?

I had to look this up on my calendar program. I stopped working on “The Bachelor” in December of 2008 and my last “Bachelorette” was July of 2009. So it’s been a while! Back when I was there, the story side of the show was run by Martin Hilton, who is certainly one of the smartest people I’ve met in Los Angeles. Martin always had a strong point of view about how the storylines should unfold, and he wouldn’t let the actual footage stand in the way. I learned a lot from him about how to shape the footage to achieve the desired result.

More importantly, he helped me realize that an editor needed to have a perspective when cutting a scene. There’s no point in being passive.

Martin started as an editor at Next Entertainment, so he empowered editors there to work the stories out themselves and pitch him their ideas. The story producers were there to help the editors find the interview bites the editors wanted. Not every reality company worked that way.

There was, of course, a lot of footage on those shows. But usually I didn’t watch everything. If something amazing happened in the house during a down period, a field producer would note it for us. You can’t watch every frame on that kind of schedule.

Did the TV show “Redneck Island” actually happen?

Yes! But I wasn’t on it for very long. I think I only cut one or two episodes. I don’t know why they put me down as having worked on all of them in IMDB. I left that show to cut
“Burning Love” for Ken Marino.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned working as an assistant editor early in your career that helped you grow as an editor?

Every show ends. No matter how bad it gets, it’ll be over sooner than you realize.

What makes a great editor? What skills does he/she need?

First, you need all the stuff people talk about in seminars, like sensitivity to performance, a sense of pace, etc. A lot of editors I know are former musicians, so they feel rhythm and dynamics better than other people. But that’s only half the battle. You also should understand how you come across in a room and how you’re best able to work with other people. You need to know how you can personally convince others of your ideas without being overly combative. It’s different for everyone, because what works for one guy might not work for another. In the beginning, I was too much of a push-over. I’d say, well, it’s your show, do what you want to it. I’m just the editor. But what happens is, after a couple of years directors and producers have a way of forgetting what it was they insisted on in the cutting room, and they blame the editor if the show is bad. So now I try harder to push back if I think someone is making a real mistake. I don’t always prevail.

What is an editor looking for in their director? What is a director looking for in their editor?

Just to be on the same wave-length. With comedies, we have to think the same general stuff is funny, otherwise it just won’t work.

Is there a type of film or TV series that you would love to edit that you haven’t edited yet?

So many! I like a lot of stuff.

What film, besides the ones you’ve worked on, have you seen the most times in your life?

Through no design or intention, I’ve probably watched “The Godfather,” “Alien” and “Blackhawk Down” the most. The first two are kind of obvious. I don’t know why I find “Blackhawk Down” so watchable, but I’ve seen it five or six times.

What suggestions would you have for people in high school and university who would like to get into the industry as an editor?

I don’t know those people. Most kids want to write and direct. Or act. Usually if they’re in high school and they’re talking about wanting to edit, it just means that they lack the confidence to say they want to direct, because very few teen-agers know what editing is all about. So my suggestion is, don’t say you want to be editor. Just go make short films of your own. Write them, shoot them and edit them. And see how you feel after doing all of that. Maybe during that process you’ll find you have a comparative advantage in one area.

Where did you grow up? Was working in the Film Industry something you always wanted to do?

I grew up in San Pedro, which is the harbor of Los Angeles. I lived with my Dad. Every Friday night, he would take me to pizza and then afterwards we’d go to the Wherehouse and he’d let me pick out a VHS movie to rent. I was maybe 12 or 13 then. He never looked at what I picked, so I got all kinds of inappropriate stuff. After watching Scorcese’s “Taxi Driver,” I thought, wow, that seems like a cool job; I’d like to do that.

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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 month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with director Eugenio Villani (OTHERS LIKE YOU)

Eugenio’s short film “OTHERS LIKE YOU” was awarded “Best Cinematography” at the April 2017 Horror/Thriller Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Eugenio Villani: After our first short film “Haselwurm” we took a break because of several businnes issues. Then we felt the urge to write a new story. We love horror movies and every kind of queer and odd story.

Through this years we saw a lot of films expecially from Europe. We wrote a screenplay wich is not fully into the horror genre but is more in tune with an European concept of film ( Fabrice Du weltz and Ben Wheatley jus to to name a couple of example)

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

We worked very hard on the screenplay.It took us six months for the script and about three months for the pre production.

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

A weird shriek.

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

The biggest issue was to find the actress who fit the role of the evil doctor. The location also was a big deal because we needed a very special place to set the women in the cabe scene.

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

We really love when the audience comes up with a lot of questions because we think that movies are built for that. We would have liked to be there to answer all the questions: especially the cat one.

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEO from the April 2017 Film Festival:

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

We started from an imagine I had in my mind. A woman who finds an umbilical cord. Everything started from that.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

My favourite is The Locatarie by Roman Polanski

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

Bohemian Rapsody (Eugenio)
Dammi una lametta (Raffaele)

What is next for you? A new film?

We are working on a script inspired by The white People, a novel by Arthur Machen.

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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 month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with director Oliver Park (STILL)

Oliver Park’s short film STILL was the winner of “Best Film” at the April 2017 Horror/Thriller Festival. It was a joy to chat with him about the film and his future:

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Oliver Park: I had a dream that inspired the feature idea for STILL and wanted to make a short to raise awareness for it.

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

It took about nine months as I had to spend time working on a crowdfunding campaign for it before filming. After we had the money, we moved very quickly as we had festival deadlines to hit.

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

Sweet dreams.

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

The biggest obstacle with many short horrors is shooting at night. When you’re using a friends house as a location and the sun starts to come up, you’re out of time. We were lucky enough to be able to go back to pick up the shots we were unable to get but t’s never easy when you’re against massive time constraints.

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

Joy! I was so happy that people liked it. You make horror to scare you and just hope it will scare others. I was glad that small things were picked up on like “finish your wine” for example. I agree with the fact that one probably wouldn’t have a shower under those circumstances and I don’t think it’s an excuse that ‘it’s a horror so it’s fine’. If I could go back, I would have put more effort into giving her a reason to get into the shower (she gets dirty from the greasy boiler suit, for example).

AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEO from the April 2017 Film Festival:

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

I had a dream about a masked figure arriving at my front door…

What film that you’ve watched in the last 5 years has inspired you the most?

There are FAR too many! Great modern horror is hard to find but I am a huge fan of the recent ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night’.

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

I love to listen to film soundtracks and classical. Anything by Glass, Newman, Zimmer or Einaudi works and I adore Chris Young (composer of Sinister).

What is next for you? A new film?

There are many things going on right now, mainly feature development, so I certainly plan to make many many more films very soon and rest assured, I will stay in horror for now!

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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 month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.