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
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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

Interview with Filmmaker Anders Teig (RUBBISH ROBBERS)

RUBBISH ROBBERS was the winner of BEST FILM at the May 2020 Comedy Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Anders Teig: I wanted to give myself a challenge. Make a film that is fun, full of action and holds the audience attention. And to do it in just one location.

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

It took quite a few years. After a couple of years I read through my computer and looked at all my unproduced scripts and I found I had forgotten much of it, and thought it was quite funny. So I hooked up with the producing company DUOfilm, and they jumped on board straight away. We finished it in may 2019, and that was seven years after the first draft. Getting lost in the hard drive took two years, and the rest was getting it fully funded.

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

Bloody crazy

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

Apart from getting enough money to be able to pay everyone it was to get the haze from the hole through the floor and exhaust pipe. We had one smoke machine, and it worked perfectly every day until it was supposed to be used in the production. We had to create much of it in post. Luckily, the guy who trained the fly for our film is also a great VFX guy. Who would have thought?

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

I wanted to reach out through the screen and give them all a bear hug.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I am a big fan of Calle, our main protagonist, who is Norways premier comedian. As soon as I had figured out the setting, I imagined him being part of a gang of robbers, and how that would turn out. I always hoped he would take the part if we were going to shoot it, and we were really lucky to have him.

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

Groundhog Day.

..

Groundhog Day.

..

Groundhog Day.

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

I think this is by far the best way for sure, although it has some shortcomings. To find festivals that have comedy categories is hard work, but finding comedy themed festivals is easy. Also the submissions are not very personal, it all becomes much more personal as soon as the festivals get in contact. I am also missing a feature where I can see which festivals has seen the screening copy. But all in all, a good way to get a film to festivals.

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

Penny Lane by the Beatles

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

I have a lot in the pipeline, but the first things I am doing is directing two shorts. One is a part of a mentorship workshop where teenagers who are either in film education or who are into filmmaking gets to be part of a professional film shoot. There will be up and coming actors in front of the camera, and the script is written by a young screenwriter. Im thrilled to be asked to be a director on this, its such a great project, and the film will be sent around to film festivals when we finish.

And later in the summer I am shooting a 25 minute period short, that has been eight years in the making. I wrote it in 2012, and in march 2020 we got the final funding for it. So I’m very excited to finally getting behind the camera on that project.

rubbish_robbers_movie_poster

Interview with Screenwriter Federico Vicino (Karl Reagan: The Capitalist-Communist)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Federico Vicino: Karl Reagan: The Capitalist-Communist is about a dark horse candidate running for a seat in Missouri’s House of Representatives. Set on the heels of a near-apocalyptic nuclear winter, his platform is to fuse the best characteristics of capitalism and socialism to help the common person realize the struggling American Dream. His pitch to the electorate is a devotion to standing up to corporate greed.

Karl’s unconventional strategies has led to great notoriety in that area. For instance, he wants to allocate funds towards the essentials; money for food, medicine, a cleaned-up ecosystem…and for everyone to get the latest iPhone. He hosts bottomless brunches at soup kitchens. He composes songs that will be the anthem to his revolution and hopes one day he can sell those songs for big bucks to a car commercial. Karl seems to be his own enigma, but always has the voters’ best interest at heart. His opponent, a politically established contender named Tom Baker, uses conventional and tiresome tactics to label Karl’s candidacy as ludicrous and too idealistic. Their rivalry will come to a head come election day.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Dark Comedy.

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

Political satire has long been ingrained in American pop culture and I feel this screenplay comes at a perfect time given the tumultuous political climate. Even with the current instability, this script can cut across the political aisle and reach a broad audience.

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

Organized Chaos.

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

It is a tie between Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas and Taxi Driver.

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

I came up with the idea for this character a couple of years ago, but I worked on this screenplay for about nine months.


7. How many stories have you written?

I have written five completed screenplays, including this screenplay.

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

If I had to choose, my favorite song is “Rocks Off” by The Rolling Stones. It’s confluence of disorganization and harmony makes it the perfect song to me. It is organized chaos.

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

An Obstacle I faced to finish this screenplay, at first, was writing a feature-length script to this story. I was stumped on how I could make this story more than 80 pages. However, as I kept coming up with more situations and how I envisioned Karl’s journey panning out, I found myself not being able to stop writing. Up to this point, this is the longest screenplay I have written at 116 pages.

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

Apart from writing, my passion is my daytime job, which is being a Licensed Social Worker. I feel that my career is really fulfilling and I have worked with various populations, such as adults, middle schoolers, alcohol/drug users and undocumented immigrants.

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

I LOVE FilmFreeway. It such an accessible platform to get your work out to many different festivals, along with finding festivals that I have never heard of before. I would recommend this site to anyone who wants to promote their screenplay.

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

I was drawn to this festival as I read the information about this festival and the great reviews it got. I was really touched seeing a portion of my table read, as I never had one of my screenplays had a table read before. The feedback was great as it was encouraging, while at the same time gave great pointers as to how to enhance and improve certain areas of the story.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Karl Reagan is an underdog candidate running for a seat in Missouri’s House of Representatives. Set on the heels of a near-apocalyptic nuclear winter, his platform is to fuse the best characteristics of capitalism and socialism to help the common person realize the struggling American Dream. Mr. Reagan’s pitch to the electorate is a devotion to standing up to corporate greed, especially to a company called NuTech who has not fulfilled their promise of cleaning up the environment after the catastrophe. His unorthodox approach to stumping on the trail leaves voters enthused, angered, and baffled. His rival, a politically established contender named Tom Baker, uses conventional and tiresome tactics to label Karl’s candidacy as ludicrous and too idealistic. As his campaign progresses, Karl Reagan gets a slice of American values, fortitude, hardships, and inconsistencies. The electorate get a front row seat of his as well.

CAST LIST:

Eric: Matt Schichter
Karl/Randy: Ted Powers
Narration: Elizabeth Rose Morriss
Marcus: Gabriel Darku
Jeff: Sean Ballantyne
Serena: Katelyn Varadi

Interview with Screenwriter Danica Edelbrock (SHADOW DANCE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Danica Edelbrock: Shadow Dance is about a young woman finding her way in a fast city. She slows down to enjoy the subtle beauty of nature around her, transforming her life moving forward.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Shadow Dance is a drama.

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

I believe after college many young adults struggle to find what it is they are truly passionate about, who they are and may lack the confidence to pursue their passion. They find themselves drinking and partying to fill the void until something captivates and inspires them! In this film Jules experiences nature’s beauty while being reminded of the family and friends that love and support her. She doesn’t want to waste anymore of the precious time in her life.

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

Loving oneself.

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

Almost Famous by Cameron Crowe

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

I had the idea for this screenplay a few months ago and began to write it last month.


7. How many stories have you written?

I have worked in healthcare for the last 20 years so this is my first creative writing piece. I am now working on a sitcom and have written 5 episodes so far!

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

Pictures of You by The Cure

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

The biggest obstacle was overcoming my fear of writing. I never thought of myself as writer so actually putting my thoughts down to share with others was very intimidating. I first had my daughter read it and then my husband. He is an incredible writer; my biggest fan and critic. He doesn’t sugar coat anything. So far he likes all my work!

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

I am passionate about my career as an exercise physiologist! I have been blessed to work with incredible people over the years, guiding them toward health and a better quality of life through exercise and yoga.

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

It was very easy to use.

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

I wrote the script and then had no idea what to do so I decided to enter it into some contests and festivals. I choose this festival because I liked the idea of getting feedback. It’s difficult for me to receive feedback but I am getting better at it as I get older, more mature and confident.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A young woman finds herself through the simplistic, natural beauty around her.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Allison Kampf