Interview with Filmmaker Sergey Vlasov (SOBA-CHAN’S MORNING)

SOBA-CHAN’S MORNING played to rave reviews at the April 2020 LGBT Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Sergey Vlasov: The motivation for the film was the old script I had and finally decided to make. There was a festival in Japan that I wanted to participate in, so I chose this script as it was sharp and simple.

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

From the moment my friends told about the festival and I decided to make the short to take part in the festival, to the completion of the film it took three weeks.

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

That’s a hard one…
Routine uncertainty…may be…

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

The production went so smoothly. I cannot believe I could make a film in 3 weeks. My previous films took me 6-12 months. So no obstacles whatsoever for this one. )))

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

It was soooooo heart-warming. People understand it, people enjoy it and people will remember it. I have to say this is the best reward.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I just head this idea of the triangle, and I thought what would happen if I change the lover for a girl (in original script it was a man). I did it and I liked the new vibes of the film.

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

Eeeemmm… It might sound strange but it is Robocop (1987) I saw it more than 300 times.

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

Filmfreeway is the best platform. The design, the interface… It’s just out of a competition.

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

Emmm… probably Who wants to live forever by Queen.

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

I have already filmed another 5 minutes short and now writing my first feature.

soba-chans_morning_1

Interview with Filmmaker Mehmet Tığlı (SPIZELLA)

SPIZELLA was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the January 2020 European Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Mehmet Tığli: Success of my former short films motivated me to shoot Spizella.

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

4 months

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

Sad and provoking


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

To find an old home which is suitable to story was the hardest obstacle.

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

I have been so much happy when I watched the feedback video. Because all the views were true.

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

I came up with the idea of Spizella with analysis and research about death, mourning, psychological violence and crossdressing.

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

Rear Window

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

It’s global and transparent

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

I have a new script about refugees in Turkey. I’m planning to make it in Fall.

Interview with Filmmaker Rommel Villa (TEDDY MATE)

TEDDY MATE was the winner of BEST FILM at the January 2020 LGBT Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Rommel Villa: I thought this was a special story that needed to be told because it not only served as an educational tool for the little ones but also could bring awareness in regards to the judging hand of conservative societies around the world that still discriminate and objectify underrepresented communities. I had experienced myself what it is like to be put in a labeled box (black or white, man or woman, poor or rich, gay or straight) before being able to figure out where I belong myself. So to me, the best way to address that was by making a corky film in a magical world!

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

The writing of the script and the several revisions took about a year, while production and post-production took about half a year. So in total, it took a year and a half to bring this magical story to life.

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

Fantastically corky.

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

I think the length of the film. We shot so many scenes. Marie’s growing up montage had originally 8 mini-scenes, and before the resolution, there were a few quiet and reflective scenes that didn’t make it into the film. The assembly cut was originally 27min long, and we had to cut that down to 12min as a requirement of the USC class… that was THE challenge.

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

I don’t think I’ve felt that much excitement in a long time. At first, I was nervous, biting my hand and toenails while my slow internet was loading the Youtube video. Then, when I heard how passionate people were about the story and the overall positive reactions, I could finally breathe. No joke, my cheeks still hurt for so much smiling. It is very encouraging to see that people pay attention to the story and have an emotional response to it. It makes me want to get magical teddy bears for all that lovely audience.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Back when the film was in the pre-conception stage, Lydia Lane, the writer, was engaged to her now wife, and she was thinking about the best way to explain to her nieces and nephews that true love doesn’t choose, that it is completely fine to love someone from the same sex, so she took the idea of kids loving their teddy bears as their favorite companions, wrote a couple of fantastical drafts of the film and after I read it, I fell in love with it.

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

It’s a tie between Spike Jonze’s “HER”, and Yorgos Lanthimos’ “THE LOBSTER”.

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

It is very straightforward. I think it works well and it’s definitely convenient.

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

It’s a song in Spanish, from an Argentinian pop/rock band called “Miranda”, the title of the song is “Uno Los Dos” or “We Two Make One” in English. It’s a breakup song that is sung with the sweetest voices and the strangest electro-pop instrumentals you can imagine. It’s weird but emotional… I love it.

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

Yes!!! A couple of months ago, I finished “Sweet Potatoes”, a historical film shot in Durango, Mexico, based on the real-life events of Luis Miramontes, the scientist who synthesized the main component of the birth control pill in 1951. I am very excited to show this historical drama to the world and to possibly expand it to something bigger and better. https://rommelvillafilms.com/sweet-potatoes/

In addition to that, I’m currently writing a couple of feature films with LGBTQ lead characters and some TV pilots. I’m excited about future opportunities to come! :).

Interview with Filmmaker Anna Fredrikke Bjerke (THE WAY THINGS END)

THE WAY THINGS END played to rave reviews at the January 2020 LGBT Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Anna Fredrikke Bjerke: In many ways, I felt like I had to make this film. The idea sprouted from wanting to explore why growing apart is so painful and our emotional response to getting let down by a friend. I had been aching to write and direct my own work for some time, and found an opportunity in Mediefabrikken’s female director initiative, which aim is to get more women behind the camera.

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

I started developing the script in January of 2018 and we shot the short in May that same year. It was developed as part of the female director initiative, which sponsored the production equipment and introduced me to the film’s cinematographer, Catharina Wandrup, whose support has been invaluable. I spent the summer in post-production with our editor Elise Olavsen at Storyline Studios in Oslo and completed the film in August 2018.

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

Intense and beautiful.

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

Beside the little fires that had to be put out throughout production, the making of The Way Things End went very smoothly. I was very fortunate to have friends who donated their time to this project and to receive some funding from Viken Ung, which really helped in completing the film.

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

I was glad to see that the film sparked something in the minds of the audience and that the language wasn’t a barrier. I think the reason for why The Way Things End resonates with people is because it’s a universal story that speaks to the way we think about our own friendships.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I wanted to tell the story of two friends who are coming to terms with the painful truth that a shift in perspective can sometimes end a friendship. It was something that I had recently experienced, and I was irking to explore how two friends who’ve grown apart or intentionally break away affect our emotions deeply on film.

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

Lost in Translation by Sofia Coppola and Frances Ha by Noah Baumbach.

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 great tool for discovering new festivals, such as the LGBT Toronto Film Festival.

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

Probably Modern Love by David Bowie.

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

I recently wrote and directed my fourth film Everyone Else, which is a short about a group of adolescents who are experiencing the growing pains of coming into their own. It was made with the support from The Norwegian Film Institute and will premiere in the 2020 festival circuit. I am also writing my first narrative feature, and in development with several short form projects.

Interview with Filmmaker Kieron O’Sullivan (Consequences of Living a Lie)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Kieron O’Sullivan: The Consequences of Living a Lie is about a young man who can’t accept that he’s gay, so he’s a lived a constant lie and after the death of his girlfriend, he finally starts to face the consequences of all the lies he’s told. This is journey where Jack finally accepts who he is after being haunted by the ghost of his heartbroken girlfriend, and he finally finds happiness with his true love, Ellis.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

This screenplay is a Coming of Age story that falls into the Drama/Dark Comedy genre.

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

I believe this screenplay should be made into a movie because I haven’t seen this kind of coming out story before. This screenplay represents a different side to the LGBT community that shows the consequences of lying to yourself and the people around you, and how painful it can be for a man to come out as gay when he’s shrouded by the guilt of being in love with a man within a straight society. On top of that, this screenplay shows the perspective of girlfriend who’s been lied to by her secretly gay boyfriend, and how it darkens the view of her seemingly perfect life as she tries to pass onto the afterlife.

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

Unique and Honest.

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

If we’re including my childhood, it would be a tie between The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast (the original animations of course). But we’re simply talking adulthood, it would probably be Christopher Nolan’s Inception – I love how complex the narrative is and I’m still dying to know what the ending means!

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

From coming up with the idea to actually executing the screenplay, it took me 3 months to finish the current draft of the screenplay.


7. How many stories have you written?

I currently work in the Story Team of one of the biggest Soap Opera’s in England, and we broadcast 322 episodes a year, so I’ve written hundreds of stories for that. In terms of my own work, I’ve written 4 screenplays so far with another in progress.

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

Probably Jolene by Dolly Parton.

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

One of the biggest obstacles I faced in finishing this screenplay was trying to fit in writing time around my job. The story came to me quite quickly but it took a lot of perseverance to sit down and write after work and on my free weekends.


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

Apart from writing, I’m passionate about spending time with my husband and my family. I love watching films and binge watching TV series but I’ve recently started to learn pole dancing – it began as a joke with my boss but I quickly fell in love with it and haven’t looked back since – and it’s nice being one of the only men in the class.

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

My experience has been extremely positive it was easy to use and easy to keep track of my progress.

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

I wanted to enter this festival because I believed my screenplay would be in safe hands within an LGBT competition – it’s nice to know that my screenplay was read by people who really care about LGBT stories. The feedback I received was incredibly helpful, encouraging and it inspired some great ideas to help improve my screenplay.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

This is a story about one’s boys journey out of the closest, and the consequences of the lies he’s to everyone in his life, especially his girlfriend.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Val Cole
Jack: Biden Hall
Daisy: Aliya Hamid

Interview with Screenwriter Christopher Willis (CAMOUFLAGE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Christopher Willis: This script is about a unit of mostly gay soldiers in France during WWII. The mission of the unit is to deceive the Nazis using inflatable tanks and phony artillery barrages. Their compassion is realized through helping a gay war orphan realize his dream of attending art school in Paris.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

This is essentially a war movie.

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

There are few movies that depict the contribution of gay soldiers to the war in France. This story is based on real men and actual events.

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

Camouflaged truth.

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

Probably a toss up between Apocalypse Now and Jaws.

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

Nine months.

7. How many stories have you written?

20+

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

For What It’s Worth by Stephen Stills

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

Effective blending of the story line of the courage of the soldiers in combat and their compassion helping the war orphan.

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

My job as a psychologist.

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

Happy so far.

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

I wanted feedback from an LGBT perspective. The initial feedback fostered a significant rewrite and re-submission.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

A top-secret American unit uses inflatable tanks and phony artillery barrages to divert German resources away from actual Allied forces. Many in the unit are well suited to their mission of deception having lived in the shadows of homosexuality all their lives. Inspired by real men.

CAST LIST:

SS Major: Ted Powers
Henri: Gene Abella
Narrator: Laura Kyswaty
Pierre: Sean Ballatyne
Monique: Caroline Concordia

Interview with Screenwriter Nick Perlman (A PORTRAIT)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Nick Perlman: A Portrait is about, Ian, a reclusive artist working at a plant nursery who struggles to find inspiration and Joseph who is a drifter searching for his estranged mother. When Joseph shows up at Ian’s door, both of their lives are irrevocably changed.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Romance, Drama, Queer Cinema

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

We need more films featuring queer characters whose stories don’t solely revolve around their queerness, and who don’t fall into stereotyped tropes. With this film, I hope to do just that: tell a universal story about finding love and acceptance from a queer perspective without having the entire story hinge on their queerness while illustrating their three-dimensionality.

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

“You matter.”

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

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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

The initial pass was about a month long process but subsequent rewrites and fine-tuning have taken about a year.

7. How many stories have you written?

This is my third complete feature, but I’ve written and am writing numerous others which are at various stages of development.

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

This is an enormously difficult question. So I’ll tell you what I’ve been listening to while writing this story: All Flowers In Time Bend Towards The Sun – Elizabeth Fraser and Jeff Buckley, Moon River – Frank Ocean, The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore – The Walker Brothers, and The Exhibition – Kaki King

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

For me, it’s been knowing when to stop! Recieving feedback has allowed the story to grow in so many ways but the further in I get the less changes are needed – which should be a signal that it’s nearing completion. At this point I keep looking for things to “fix” but have to acknowledge that at this point, the story is what what it is and ask myself the important question of: “Did I succeed in my intent?” and “Is this the story?”

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

I’ve played music since a young age, but much more relavantly, like the character of Ian, I also paint and draw, myself. It’s a world I’m very intimately familiar with.

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

It’s been great! Easy to submit, make changes, and communicate with festivals!

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

I was absolutely touched by the initial feedback. The reader seemed to have a very personal connection with the material which is why I do what I do! 

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Ian is a reclusive artist working at a plant nursery and struggling to find inspiration. Joseph is a drifter searching for his estranged mother. When Joseph shows up at Ian’s door, both of their lives are irrevocably changed.

CAST LIST:

Joseph: Neil Bennett
Narrator: Shawn Devlin
Elizabeth: Carina Cojeen
Ian: Colin Sandquist

Submit via FilmFreeway:

Interview with Screenwriter Kristina Rezek (YOUR ROARING TWENTIES)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Kristina Rezek:Your Roaring Twenties offers a fun and original take on a classic story of someone finding themselves after suffering a devastating breakup.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Romantic Comedy (Yay Rom-coms!)

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

I believe Your Roaring Twenties should be made into a film because of its universal message of allowing yourself to be okay with falling in love. Whether it’s your first time falling in love, or your twentieth, it’s always a beautiful thing.

Also, as noted above, yay for romantic comedies :)! It is my (unofficial) mission to get more rom-coms onto the big screen.

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

Lighthearted & Relatable

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

She’s the Man starring Amanda Bynes & Channing Tatum

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

Approximately 8 months

7. How many stories have you written?

Your Roaring Twenties is my first full-length spec script 🙂

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

Currently, you can find me jamming out to “That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars

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

Initially, I had trouble omitting scenes that were irrelevant to the story’s plot. They were fun to write, but ultimately, those omitted scenes were interfering with the pacing of the story, so I had to “kill my darlings”.

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

Playing (and winning in) Monopoly, or any other board/card game
Environmental Issues/Veganism
Sports (Go Cleveland Browns)
Reading
Music
Sudoku

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

FilmFreeway is extremely user-friendly. I’m not too tech savvy, but FilmFreeway is pretty straight forward with the submission process. I enjoy the platform.

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

I entered the festival because I appreciated the festival’s aim in showcasing LGBTQ+ stories and increasing media representation for diverse communities.
I was extremely pleased with the encouraging and well-thought-out feedback I received. Everyone involved with the feedback process was professional, friendly and highly supportive.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Life, love, and insurmountable student debt. Welcome to your twenties, folks!

CAST LIST:

Tyler – SARAH-HAZEN BASK
NARRATION – STEPHEN SANDQUIST
Jada – JESSICA BOWMER
Bianca – KAT SMILEY

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Interview with Screenwriter Gregory Allen (HE IS GONE)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Gregory Allen: He is Gone is about a college professor who deals with the fact that his husband goes missing in the blink of an eye while they are at a high school reunion. He soon realizes that everything is not always as it seems and he sets out on a journey for answers.

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Part mystery, part drama.

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

Many gay films are all about boy looking for boy or coming out of the closet. I feel this would be a very different type of gay film as it deals with older gay men (sometimes overlooked). I think the multi-genre aspect would also be fascinating as a film since it’s Gone Girl meets Leaving Las Vegas.

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

beautiful heartache

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

I am a sucker for Somewhere in Time.

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

I wrote it first as a novel in 2012 and a few years after that started on the screenplay when a director had some interest. I shelved it for a while and only recently came back to it the past year while working on the LGBT short film Hiding In Daylight (on the festival circuit now).

7. How many stories have you written?

Four novels, one nonfiction memoir, two shorts, three children’s books, three screenplays

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

These questions are always hard as I can’t ever pick favorites: but the song that was my soundtrack while writing this story was “Going Wrong” by Armin Van Buuren

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

Adapting a novel into a screenplay can be a challenge when you are deciding what parts of the novel need to be cut for the film. I guess in that perspective, I was my largest obstacle.

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

I love theater -both seeing it and occasionally performing in shows. Also this past year I’ve gone on a fitness journey and at almost 50 years old, I’ve become someone who is passionate about going to the gym – especially my spin class!

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

I find FilmFreeway to be a very easy platform to use. I love how it will also suggest other festivals to you.

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

I have never considered submitting a screenplay to a festival. I’m used to waiting until the film is completed. While working on our short LGBT film, I was thinking about my next project and decided to just put out this screenplay to get some feedback. I love that your festival not only gave feedback, but also offered the reading of the Best Of scene. That was a very smart thing as writers need to hear their work come off the page.

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

What do you do when the entire world you thought you knew crumbles around you? How do you piece it all back together? While attending a 20th high school reunion in Alabama, New Jersey transplant Blain Harrington has lost the love of his life in the blink of an eye. He soon realizes that everything is not always as it seems as he sets out on a journey for answers dealing with themes of addiction, letting go, and rebuilding one’s life.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Val Cole
Blaine: Peter-Mark Raphael
Grayson: Christian Vargas

***

Interview with Screenwriter Tayler Carter (FLUIDITY)

Matthew Toffolo: What is your screenplay about?

Tayler Carter: This screenplay is set in a society where children are free to explore their gender, but must choose one of the extreme binaries upon their 13th birthday, and live in that extreme binary for the rest of their lives. Our story follows Sam Conley, whose 13th birthday is only weeks away, and they have no idea which gender to choose. In fact, they increasingly wonder: ‘Why can I just be myself?’

2. What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Science-fiction, Drama, Coming-of-Age

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

This is the type of story I needed going into my teenage years. With so little non-binary representation in media, I am attempting to aid in that growth, whether the screenplay is produced or unproduced.

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

non-conforming (Is this one word or two?)

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

Probably Stand By Me, with other 80s/90s coming-of-age films such as The Goonies and The Sandlot coming closely behind.

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

Fluidity’s story inception was around October 2017.

7. How many stories have you written?

I’ve been making up stories since I could talk, but I began my screenwriting education and career during my college years.

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

At the moment, it is Primavera by Ludovico Einaudi.

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

I initially wrote Fluidity as a short screenplay (20 pages) for school, but quickly realized that the story was much larger that 20 minutes could provide. So it was reimagined as a limited run television series. I am still working the story, and am unsure if it will stay as a 30-minute per episode series or a 60-minute per episode series.

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

I really love animation and graphic novels, particularly aimed at children, and am very passionate about LGBTQ+ representation in children’s media. I also enjoy drawing and illustration, but need to practice that more often.

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

Film Freeway has been a great platform for me to enter my screenplays into competitions. I had not known much about screenwriting competitions before a year ago, and Film Freeway has been very fluid introduction to the world of festivals.

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

I was searching for LGBTQ+ themed festivals to enter Fluidity in, given its content and themes. The LGBT Toronto Film Festival has been wonderful with their feedback and correspondence, and I am very grateful to be involved!

Watch the Screenplay Reading: 

Synopsis:

This high-concept speculative fiction piece takes place in a world where children are raised gender-neutral until they are 13, when they are required to choose their gender. While gender neutral behaviour (example playing with all kinds of toys, sports, etc) is acceptable in childhood, 13 represents a right of passage into proto-adulthood, and gender becomes clearly divided.

CAST LIST:

Allison – 4 – Vanessa Burns
Rita (40s) – 3 – Pip Dwyer
Narration – Russell Batcher
Sam (m)- 12 – Alex Clay
Jackson (f) – 12 – Sydney Addison-Rudat
Nathan – 2 – Luke Robinson

Submit exclusively via FilmFreeway: