Interview with Animator/Filmmaker Susan Shulman (PURRS AND ‘OL MAN BLUES)

 PURRS AND ‘OL MAN BLUES was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the December 2017 Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Susan Painter: I have a love of music especially the blues and it was inspired by the actual musician Jack Dappa from New York City. I heard his song and it inspired me.

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

3 months of crazy drawing and experimentation.

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

Blues Soul

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

Not having enough technical expertise.

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

I was delighted and thought what they said had merit. It was really great feedback. As artists we need that feedback to continue in our dreams. It’s very important.

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

Again, its my love of music that was the impetus for this concept. Of course I do love cats too!

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

That’s a tough answer but I think what has influenced me in the past was the classic Disney movies like Fantasia and the old black and white felix the cat.

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

I love it. It makes my life easier in submitting!

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

Too many to name but for sure Muddy Waters, I got my mojo working.

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

I just completed a new one called In Our Memories Forever. I hope to submit it to you again this year. It is 2.5 minutes long, I can’t seem to stick to 1 minute. It is about heritage and immigration to Canada in 1900 by boat. I hope you will like it.

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PURRS AND ‘OL MAN BLUES, 2min., Canada, Animation
Directed by Susan ShulmanCool alley cat meets old blues musician and they tour together

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

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Interview with Animation Filmmaker Ina Conradi (CHRYSALIS)

 CHRYSALIS was the winner of BEST ANIMATION at the December 2017 Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ina Conradi: The idea for Chrysalis started in 2014. I have followed up the abstract and surreal structure of my earlier war film Elysian Fields (2013) and continued developing the story about life and death, around the theme of perseverance, metamorphosis and immorality. I wanted Chrysalis to install hope and to reflect on many topics such as life’s purpose and the human desire to explore the inner workings of the mind. However the idea of metaphysical quickly expanded to topics such as evil, dehumanisation, totalitarian governments, and environmental disasters. The quintessence legend of a butterfly summed up all of the ideas well.

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

Two years- which is inclusive of stereoscopic 3D version of the film. The funding for the project was awarded in late 2014. The research and story board was done in January/Feb of 2015. Animation production started in 2015 March in tight collaboration with co-director and animation veteran, Mark Chavez, founder of Giant Monster- the animation/game company, and with Joshua Tan founder of CRAVEFX -the best VFX studio in Singapore. The sound effects and music were done by IMBA Interactive, led by Jeremy Goh.

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

Surreal journey

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

The biggest obstacle was time and budget. We all work full time on other commitments and the project was put on hold few times. The budget was tight to cover entire original story board for the film.

The film had 11 chapters depicting the surreal journey of a monk. (Part 1 Conscious mind, Part 2 The Descend, Part 3 The Field, Part 4 Influencing the Field, Part 5 Chaos, Part 6 Dystopia, Part 7 Dehumanization, Part 8 Nefarious, Part 9 The Ascent, Part 10 Warriors and Survivors, Part 11 Integration)

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

It was absolutely rewarding to hear the feedback and reactions of the audiences. Movie creatives on Chrysalis really want to know if their film do “wow” the audience. It is so valuable to see that the Chrysalis does sustain and build audiences’ involvement.

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

I have been living in South East Asia in Singapore for the last 12 years. I am fascinated by diversity and unity of all the cultural traditions. There are hundreds of ethnic groups with their own distinct languages and culture. Many of religions are based on the idea that spiritual and supernatural powers constitute and heal the material universe. The original idea for the film was inspired by the monk that would undertake mystical journey to the worlds inhabited by spirits.. very often film has been mistakenly identified with Buddhism. Some Buddhism references in the film are just an umbrella for all of sorcerers, magicians, and priests. The film does not adhere to one or another religion. Rather to human desire to explore the spiritual.

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

I am big fan of Rydley Scott’s movies

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

FilmFreeway is fantastic platform for submitting the films and recording the acceptance rate. There are many useful tools within the platform on how to navigate through various film categories. FilmFreeway allows for filmmaker to work independently and to take the role of publicity team allowing for as much marketing and publicity mileage as possible.

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

I can be more specific about movie scores – Interstellar by Hans Zimmer

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

Currently I am collaborating with my partner Mark Chavez, who was also co-director/producer on Chrysalis for a recently installed large scale urban media platform in Singapore called Media Art Nexus (MAN). The 2m by 15 m long led wall is installed at the Nanyang Technological University Singapore in a very public setting and seen by thousands of passers-by daily. It features real time animated works and video art by local and international artists. In addition to premiering our works in Tokyo for SGIO Tokyo last august we will be organizing two major events – one with ArtScience Museum in Singapore and another with famous Elbphilharmonie Philharmonic Hall Hamburg Germany, featuring novel experimental animation done for MAN.

 

 

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CHRYSALIS, 7min., Singapore, Animation 
Directed by Ina ConradiBased on an old legend about the butterfly’s struggles the film is the symbolic metaphor of rebirth after death and fascination with the human innate drive to survive.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Interview with Animation Filmmaker Marleia A. Alfaro (BARRY THE BLOBFISH)

BARRY THE BLOBFISH played to rave reviews at the December 2017 ANIMATION FEEDBACK Film Festival.

 
Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Marleia A. Alfaro: It’s so difficult to come up with new characters that you’ve never seen in animation before. The story of Barry the Blobfish came about and motivated me to finish because it is a 100% original story, written be myself, of a character that no one else has seen before. I love animation and storytelling so in the hardest times of making the film, this thought, the idea and the story itself and what it represents kept motivating me to make it a reality.

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

I made the screenplay in sophomore year of college, back in 2011. I conceptualized it for a children’s book, but had the drive to major in animation, which it later became and finished as my thesis film for graduate school in May 2017.

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

Different, and quirky

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

Learning throughout the process was a challenge. In school my animation skill began to grow and develop so in some shots I’ve seen my improvement where in others, it feels very stiff to me now. Also as a director I had to focus not only on animation, but getting the textures, lighting, and environment to work in rendering, which I fortunately had the help from teachers and other more talented students.

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

I was nervous in the beginning, but it made me feel great that everything was so positive. I’ve always wondered what others thought about my film watching it while I wasn’t around. It’s not polished or at any professional high standard, but I spent 3 years making it work as an animated film, so of course I want people to like it.

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

I had seen an article on the world’s ugliest animals, and the Blobfish was one of them. When I saw it I had to write a story about him. It kind of came to me with some help with ideas from my sister. We decided he’d be sad and lonely, and have only one small, seemingly insignificant friend, and turned into a simple, fun adventure with a simple message of sometimes you can try your hardest and not reach your goals by yourself.

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

I can probably recite the entire Lilo and stitch film by heart, I’ve seen it so many times. It’s a childhood favorite.

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

It’s incredibly easy to find festivals and submit to festivals via film freeway. I never would’ve thought I could be a part of so many great festivals, and meet so many people who love animation and telling stories like I do.

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

I have a very eclectic collection of music. While working on animation I love listening to instrumentals or score; songs that don’t have words in them, just because it keeps me focused and in the proper mood. When working on Barry, I would always repeat Tabula Rasa by Calum Graham. It’s just guitar, but its very uplifting.

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

I have ideas for new short films and animations. I try to think of something every day. Most of them have been about animals or underwater animals.. but I’m hoping to come up with something simple first just to keep the flow going.

 

 

BARRY THE BLOBFISH, 2min., USA, Animation
Directed by Marleia A. AlfaroBarry is a fat ugly fish that can’t swim and lives at the bottom of the ocean. He longs to live on a beautiful coral reef at the top of a tall, tall cliff.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

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Interview with Filmmaker Stephen Riscica (IT GETS BETTER?)

 IT GETS BETTER? was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the December 2017 LGBT FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Stephen Riscica: I started writing this film almost years ago after learning about Jamey Rodemeyer, a young gay teenager from Buffalo, NY who made an It Gets Better video only to commit suicide only a few short months after. I then started reading other stories about youth who have made these testimonials of hope but weren’t able to battle their own inner demons. It was the juxtaposition of these messages of hope from our youth on YouTube mixed with their tragic fate that inspired me to write this piece.

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

I started writing this six years ago– much of that time it was just sitting on my laptop. I went to a film festival in May of 2016 and was really inspired by what I saw there and decided it’s time to finally get this film made. I started an indiegogo campaign a month later. We had approximately two months of pre-production, two shooting days, and 3 months of post production.

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

Oh that’s a tough one…

I’ve always described my film as an examination in loneliness and a desperate plea to hang on… so maybe “Loneliness Examination” or maybe just “Got Wine?”

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

There was an actor attached initially who I cast because his life story and where he is now reflected what the character is going through in the film. A week before production I was “ghosted.” We held a casting session a few days before shooting and thankfully Gys DeVilliers came in and blew me away– he had me in tears during his audition. It was as if I was hearing my words for the very first time. I knew there was no way I could have gotten such a powerful and haunting performance from the previous actor attached.

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

I appreciated the honesty and candor of the audience. This is the first time I was able to hear what people thought about the film without being physically present. I think the film effects people in different ways, and everyone I’ve shown it to responds differently. I disagree, however, with the gentleman who said the film felt cliche’. I see what he’s saying about how it feels like a play, which most likely has to do with my theater background, but I think it is a film that stands out because of its uniqueness.

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

As I mentioned earlier, the story of Jamey Rodemeyer was the main catalyst in writing this piece. His story made me re-examine my own issues of loneliness and depression. I was also very much inspired by Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, a one act play in which an older man is listening to a audio tape of himself from years back reminiscing about his youth. Instead of a tape recorder we use a laptop and YouTube.

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

The one film that really changed my worldview as a young gay teenager was Pink Flamingos directed by John Waters. As someone who didn’t identify with straight culture or gay culture, this film was really a celebration of individuality for me and taught me that it’s okay not to fit into any sort of category. I would invite friends over to watch double features of Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble and I’d love to watch my friends squirm, but we’d also be laughing our asses off and quoting lines from the film. I also used to be obsessed with Elvira: Mistress of the Dark as a child and Gregg Araki’s The Doom Generation and Nowhere. Recent films I’ve been watching repeatedly lately: Ingmar Bergman’s Cries & Whispers, Jennie Livingston’s Paris is Burning, and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

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

I think it’s a great platform. I discovered a lot of festivals I never even knew existed. I like the up to date notifications of when a judging status has changed on your film.

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

Probably something by The Cure– maybe Pictures of You?

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

Still trying to figure that out! I recently helped out on the pilot episode of a new documentary series interviewing pioneering DJ’s and party promoters from the early days of gay nightlife. There is a short story written by a friend of mine I would love to adapt. I’m looking to collaborate with other LGBT screenwriters on future projects!

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IT GETS BETTER?, 11min., USA, LGBT/Experimental
Directed by Stephen RiscicaAn older gay man is inspired to record a testimonial after watching a bisexual teenager’s video, assuring him that ‘It Gets Better.’

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Interview with Filmmaker Stephanie Knöbl (PEPITA & MAX)

 Stephanie Knöbl was the producer and co-director of the short film PEPITA & MAX. It was the winner of BEST SOUND DESIGN at the September 2017 Festival for Family.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Stephanie Knöbl: For a long time we have been dealing with the topic of the representation of Living Traditions. For children, there are few stories / films in Switzerland that tell about old knowledge, which is still lived very actively. In order to make the topic easy understandable for children, we sought the essence of this old Swiss tradition and interwoven it with a fictitious story.

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

About 2 years. We did not have any templates or previous projects of a similar kind, so it took some time to go through possible variants of storytelling and design/animation, in order to finally decide on this path.

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

edutaining

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

The financing. The production of animated films in Switzerland is quite expensive and at the same time there are minimum wages of the employees – especially the artistic employees – which should be kept (which of course is to be supported).

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

It was the first adult reaction to our movie in public. We felt honored that people are focused on thinking about our work and discussing it.

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

We collaborated with a scriptwriter from Vienna who wrote the story based on our research, sketches and first ideas. The idea that the little boy Max comes from another country (Madagascar), who comes back to Switzerland and gets to know everything here with the help of his cousin is partly autobiographical.

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

Probably the german series “Sendung mit der Maus” – first as a child and now together with my own children.

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

To be honest I miss the comparison. I can only say that I find it a good platform to prepare his work for Festivals and to connect with festival organizers.

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

no idea. many many Songs. but probably not even one of my favourite Songs but something like a german childrens song.

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

We are currently working on a transmedia-project for children. Here, too, stories about different Swiss traditions are to be told. On an app, children can then get to know about the traditional peculiarities and the people who live these customs through animation short films, doku clips and games.
 

PEPITA & MAX, 6min, Family/Animation 
Directed by Rahel Ilona EisenringPepita and Max have all sorts of adventures. Monsieur Raf, Max’ toy giraffe, is always with them. When Max loses Monsieur Raf while hiking, the little boy can’t find sleep. Not even the Alpsegen, the lullaby of the mountains, which is meant to protect animals and people on the alp, helps. The peculiar tradition gives Pepita an idea: what works for Swiss alp-cows could also save a giraffe through the night.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

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Interview with Filmmaker Hendricksen Armand (COSPLAY: BEHIND THE MASK)

COSPLAY: BEHIND THE MASK played to rave reviews at the November 2017 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Hendricksen Armand: I was always aware of cosplay as a subculture from an outsiders perspective but it wasn’t until I was fully immersed in it that I began to understand the full scope of what cosplay was. It was vibrant, it was creative, it was technical, and I thought it was a story that needed to be told.

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

From conception to completion it took about 9 months to complete. Though I have footage in the film from 2014 of the first convention I ever attended. Which was Supercon in Miami.

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

Fun, Unexpected

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

I think trying to coordinate with all the different subjects on the film to tell their stories. Logistically it was a bit challenging because we all had full time jobs including myself. So we had to find a time when we were all available to shoot.

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

I was very happy to see how many people appreciated the topics that were covered in the film. I assume some these people have cosplayed or know cosplayers. That really brings me a lot of joy when cosplayers enjoy the film because essentially, I made this for them.

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

I didnt have to come up with anyting really. I discoverd an artistic, vibrant, community and wanted to share it with the world.

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

I’ve seen a lot over the years, but what always comes to mind is The Dark Knight. I could watch that all day.

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

I’m a relatively new filmmaker in terms of the submission process so I can’t really comment on how things used to be, but I do find it very convenient to submit films on platforms like FilmFreeway. It allows filmmakers to get their work out there without mailing postage and searching thousands of websites to find festivals.

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

Wow. I can’t say I’ve been keeping track. The song I’ve been listening to the most right now is “Stay” by Hans Zimmer from the Interstellar soundtrack.

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

I am currently working on a film at the moment. It’s a project I am very excited about and could perhaps screen at this festival again next year!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film: 

COSPLAY: BEHIND THE MASK, 20min., USA, Documentary/Sci-Fi 
Directed by Hendricksen Armand

A look into the life of cosplayers who try to shatter the boundaries of reality by transforming themselves into characters from comic books, TV shows, and movies.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

 

 

Interview with Filmmaker Daeryun Chang (CALL COHO)

Daeryun Chang’s short film CALL COHO was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the December 2017 Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Daeryun Chang: I made “Call Coho” to have people think about how we interact with other people. I wanted to flip the spotlight away from the usual person of interest to the “supporting player.” In the case of the film, it is the surrogate driver who are often used but who hardly ever gets any attention. What is he like, what does he feel, what life background does he have? I wanted to build a story in very small but revealing pieces around him, the supposed “server,” and his clients who now have the tables turned on them since they are “serving” him at least from the storytelling standpoint.

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

From the inception of the story to the post production of the film, “Call Coho” took about 8 months. The production (the shooting excluding pick up shots) itself was undertaken basically over an intense 36 hours in countless number of locations, often with different cars on a process trailer. While it was fun, from a technical standpoint, it is a demanding shoot. The headache with a driving movie is that we have to be constantly on the move.

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

Inner Peace

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

During the year the movie was made my father fell very ill and it was obvious that he did not have many months to live. Family members had to take turns nursing him and especially going into the pre-production meeting it was touch and go as to when we could actually shoot the movie. But he regained his health for about a week or so allowing me to confidently tell the cast and crew that we could finally shoot it. Sadly he passed away as we were in post-production and he never saw the finished product. I dedicated “Call Coho” at the end of film to his memory and his love of movies, especially westerns.

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

It was quite gratifying to see that the movie resonated as strongly as it did given that “Call Coho” is about South Korea, an unfamiliar profession (being a surrogate driver) and in Korean but with subtitles. It proved to me again that some themes such as the ones that I wanted to evoke such as the banality of superficial vanity and the need for mutual respect are universal. Films, even a short one such as mine, allow different cultures to connect with each other.

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

I was watching a documentary one day about a fast-service motorcycle courier who was raising a young daughter by himself. He made just a few dollars for each delivery and sometimes he took on jobs that required him to ride in heavy rain or even snow. He said he did it because he wanted to make up for his past misdeeds to his parents and the wife who left him by taking good care of his child. He was saving money to buy her a big doll. I adapted that story into mine and converted it into a surrogate driver since I wanted the protagonist to have varied interactions with his different clients that would reveal different facades of Korean society but also through them an arc of “Coho.”

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

“Tucker, the Man and his Dream” (1988) by Francis Ford Coppola. It is one of his lesser known movies but one that I have seen at least 50 times. It revolves around the true story of an innovator like Steve Jobs. I use it to teach Marketing because there are many lessons that can be easily conveyed. But even as just a movie, it has become my favorite film because it has a star performance by Jeff Bridges as Tucker as well as great supporting roles by three of my favorite actors, Joan Allen (pre-Bourne days), Martin Landau and Federic Forrest. The movie has emboldened me to always have a dream and even to dare to make them come true -and it has as I now make movies.

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

I am very happy about the FilmFreeway as it has allowed me to submit movies in a very economic and efficient manner. Los Angeles Feedback is the 12th festival that has accepted “Call Coho,” and so as they say the proof is in the pudding. The movie has been screened world-wide not only in LA (twice) but also in NYC, Ferrara (Italy,), Copenhagen, and Sydney. Needless to say I cannot say enough good things about FilmFreeway.

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

That is a tough question. I think it might be “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor. A really close second (certainly in the last 15 years) is “The Nearness of You” cover by Norah Jones.

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

I have almost completed a romantic-comedy-horror mash up short called “The First Timer” on men’s grooming. This will be my first film to be shot entirely in English -so no subtitles needed! It will be released in the spring of 2018.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

CALL COHO, 16min, South Korea, Drama/Mystery
Directed by Daeryun Chang

Coho is a proxy driver who gets paid to drive other people’s cars so that they can freely go drinking. His clients only think they see a man who is all out of luck but what mysterious past is he actually hiding?

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

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