Interview with Filmmaker Christopher Sferrazza (BEAST)

BEAST was the winner of Best Cinematography at the June 2018 Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival – best of Horror/Thriller night.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Christopher Sferrazza: It was something in the script that I latched on too. Originally the script was designed to be an episode for a series. But the gold nugget for me was the character Sophie. I thought she was a strong but lonely woman, and wanted to explore how marginalise people are forced to make decisions beyond what they expect from life. Being my first film, I wanted to shoot the situation from her perspective only. My plan was to do this for each episode for each character.

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

The script was originally written as 40 pages, it took another week to edit it down to 20.

Pre-production was about two months of looking for a location and casting.
Shooting was a bit more complicated than originally planned. It was only meant to take 3 days but we had to re-shot a couple of scenes because I wasn’t happy with some performances.

The edit took a much longer time. The first cut was only a few days, but then I sat on it, not happy with it over all, I went back and forth with the editor for a few months. Finally stripping the film down to its minimal dialogue and shots, I want to take any “director indulgences” out. Keep the film to a solid core with subtle storytelling. I didn’t want to hit the audience over the head with details. This took about 7 months.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words?
“Revealing Perspectives”

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

The edit. I was unhappy with the initial cut, discouraged I avoided working on it. Carl the writer of the film, pushed me to finish it. I’m happy I did.

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

I’m happy how so many picked up on the subtle elements. How they came to the conclusion of who or what was really the Beast. I tried to make sure there were no loose ends in the plot.

I also was happy people enjoyed the beginning and end of the film, and how it was revisited.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Carl J Sorheim was the writter, he explained to me it stemmed from a news report. How a young girl escaped from a seemingly normal mans grasp.

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

No Country for Old men and It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.

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

It’s easy once set up, but can make you lazy. I made mistakes initially and didn’t correct them for a few months after, when there could have been room for improvement on my part.

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

Talking Heads – Life During Wartime, it’s my go-to punk rock youth anthem.

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

BULLY is my next short film. I wrote the storyline and had a friend write the screenplay. It’s about the murder of a town bully by drowning via a time transporting trampoline. It revolves around the same sort of expression of character. At the end we wonder who was really the BULLY.

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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Interview with Filmmaker Terez Koncz (THE LETTERS)

THE LETTERS was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the June 2018 Thriller/Horror FEEDBACK Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Terez Koncz: I wanted to give voice to those who are not heard due to their age, social situation or any other reason.

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

It took about two years, including all rounds to get sufficient funds, and a 6 month break (caused by an unrelated issue).

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

Teen opera.

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

I would say: time, and I mean the time we had available for shooting. We had to reduce our days with one, and we weren’t allowed any overtime, so at some points we really had to be creative on set.

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

I was very thankful and touched. It is such a great feeling to see that people on the other side of the globe were interested in the film and understood it.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film:

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

I sat down to my desk every day to write a story. For six days nothing special happened. On the seventh day I started to write and this story came out in one go, in about three hours. I didn’t expect this idea to happen, it somehow made itself happen.

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

It was probably ‘Megáll az idő’ (Time Stands Still) by director Peter Gothár and writer Géza Bereményi. Fun fact is that years after I first saw the film Mr Bereményi became my teacher in screenwriting, and Mr Gothár became my tutor in directing at the Uni.

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

Does it sound cheesy if I say that FilmFreeway was a life changer for me? But it’s true. Via FilmFreeway the world kind of opened up, which means that our wonderful crew had the chance to show their work to people from all over the world. Isn’t it the best what a filmmaker can ask for? The platform is so modern and easy to use, and it makes a filmmaker feel safe, understood and supported.

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

What a lovely question! I think it was ‘Fényes utakon’ (On shiny roads) by a Hungarian band called Republik. It’s a song about a soul who wants to ‘walk freely on bright roads’. When I was a child I really resonated with the message of this song, and I didn’t have many cassettes to play with my walkman, so I kept rewinding and listening again and again :). I still listen to this song every now and then, as I feel that it reconnects my soul with my family, especially my parents who are sadly not with us anymore.

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

I’m developing a feature right now, hoping for the best! 🙂

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Filmmaker Gabriel Galand (ABOVE THE MIST)

ABOVE THE MIST played to rave reviews at the June 2018 HORROR/THRILLER FEEDBACK Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Gabriel Galand: After having lived in Korea for a year, the societal issue of suicide became evident and I felt the need to make a film about it. My wife, Laura Katz, and I thought of a way to tackle the issue in a genre film since I am more keen on Thriller/Horror than drama.

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

The film was shot in two days. We wrote after we found the location and it took six months to make it from scratch to finish, with a budget of $1000 USD, and with only five crew members. The reasons it was such a small crew were firstly that I wanted to make sure I could compensate each member for their time and also because my previous film Horla had a crew of 35 and I wanted to test my ability to make a bare-bone film. So we all shared responsibilities, I was the director, cinematographer and editor, my wife the producer, production designer and sound designer and finally our friend as assistant director and translator.

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

Dignified death?

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

The sound of the film was entirely made in post-production. You can imagine the challenge of doing ADR and using only pre-recorded and copyright free sound to make the mix but it came out beautifully!

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

I’m always worried that people will be offended since such a serious issue is tackled in a thriller/horror but every time I get the chance to see audience interacting about my film, they usually center the discussion about suicide and euthanasia which is all I’m hoping for.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film:

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

We were walking one day in Seoul, crossing a bridge on the Han River and we saw all these posts to “prevent” suicide. And it just made us realize how much suicide was anchored in the modern culture of Korea – perhaps like gun violence in the USA – with society accepting it as a fact.

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

One of my favorite films is Barry Lyndon by Kubrick. I love period movies and I think it’s one of the best ones out there!

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

It’s my favorite platform – I even wrote an article about all the existing platforms, having used a bunch of them in the past.

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

I love listening to Devendra Banhart – in particular to his song “Brindo”.

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

I’ve recently moved to Vancouver, BC and about to start graduate studies at UBC in film production. I’ve been working on a few commercials and looking forward to directing another short film around the end of the year and perhaps a few music videos.

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Filmmaker/Animator Michele Haines (SAM THE HAM)

 SAM THE HAM played to rave reviews at the May 2018 Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

It was a way of finding myself again after sinking into a low state after a series of horrible events, including my father’s death. Sam’s dad is designed after my dad, an Army Airborne Ranger, who enjoyed moonlighting as a farmer 🙂

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

Sam’s lines just came to me as I was improv’ing a character voiceover demo for a toy company in 2010. Fast forward to 2017 when I decided to make a short out of him. I found my animator accidentally while searching for my brother on LinkedIn – same name, but no relation. The composer is my close friend and favorite musician, and through him, I found my character designer. And by July 2017 – bada bing bada boom – done!

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

Dee licious

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

It was a really smooth process and I learned a lot along the way. Couldn’t have asked for a better team! The hardest part may have been trying to stay on top of things while relocating from the East to the West Coast.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
Ohmygoodness, I was really touched and encouraged by the nice things that the audience members said. I’m so happy that they enjoyed it and didn’t think (or say) I was a moron hahaha…

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

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

The initial idea was a total improv accident that stuck. The idea to animate it was a way to bring me back to life and also to start bringing the character voices I’ve created to life.

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

Shallow Grave, Run Lola Run, The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb (claymation), The Fountain, Momento (had this playing on repeat in Brooklyn before I got the cable hooked up, ha)

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

So easy! Thank you!

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

Matthew Paul Surowiec – “Girl Like You”, Thirty Seconds to Mars – “Buddha for Mary”

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

Lots of voiceover work. There are a few more shorts in the works, and maybe another episode of Sam the Ham in the near future 🙂

 

 

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Filmmaker Andy Koeger (ROSIE, OH)

ROSIE, OH was the winner of BEST FILM at the May 2018 FEEDBACK Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Andy Koeger: My co-creator Apple Xenos originally had the idea for the film. I was so drawn to her idea that I was inspired to create it with her as my Senior Thesis Film at SCAD, the Savannah College of Art and Design. We became obsessed with creating a story that took place all in one singular moment in a person’s life.

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

We had the idea the summer before our last year of art school. I made the film as a thesis project, where students were given 10 week for development, 10 weeks of preproduction and production, and 10 weeks of postproduction. All in all, it took us a year to create the film from start to finish.

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

Experiential moment.

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

There were so many obstacles in creating a one-shot short film. We troubleshooted the technical aspects so thoroughly that they became significantly less of a challenge as we figured out the best way to make the film feel seamless. My biggest fear however was in finding the right actress for the lead role, as that performance would basically become the entire film. We got really lucky when we found Maddie Dixon-Poirier, the lead actress.

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

It was cool to hear from the audience without me having to be involved in the discussion! I heard a couple new things from audience members, which was cool. The film has been circulating film festivals for about a year and a half, so I had heard lots and lots of opinions, concerns, questions, and praise throughout it’s distribution process. The film generally garners extreme opinions, and this audience was no different in that.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film:

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

Apple came up with the idea, then together we decided to create the film in one single shot, which really transformed the way we told the story.

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

Pulp Fiction is my favorite film. I’m drawn to it’s iconography, vibes, and how it gets you to think outside the box about what film is and what it can be.

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

I love it! FilmFreeway makes learning about and submitting to festivals super easy. I appreciate how the contact info is readily available for the festivals so I can reach out to them directly.

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

Super unrelated to my filmmaking but probably Xtal by Aphex Twin. That kinda early 90’s electronic music relates more to my next film I guess : )

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

Yes! I’ve made two other shorts since Rosie, Oh, and I also direct lots of commercials and music videos. I live in LA but travel frequently for my shoots. I’m currently writing a feature screenplay with my film school dream-team Dan Frantz and Clayton McCracken, which we aim to bring to the big screen in the next couple years. I’m not going to give away too many deets about the film, but it’s an aggressive and drug-fueled journey of a group of rag-tag kids who run a pirate-radio station in the early 90’s. It’s going to be super weird, vibey, and a lot of fun.

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Screenwriter Bo Liebman ((A) UTOMATED (I)IRRITATION)

 (A) UTOMATED (I)IRRITATION played to great reviews at the May 2018 Comedy Feedbaack Film Festival in Los Angeles.

 1. What motivated you to make this film?

A friend had asked me to contribute a short for an anthology series he wanted to do about artificial intelligence. Knowing that most people take a dark, dramatic approach to AI, looking at the world-changing ramifications it could have (ie: Terminator), I wanted to take a different approach and see how it would effect smaller, mundane aspects of life in a comedic setting. The script I wrote was a little too far off from my friend’s vision for his series, so I decided to move forward with the script and get it made myself.

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

Overall the film took around a year to complete – 1 day for filming, and then the rest of the year for editing, voice overs and VFX.

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

Satirical Sci-Fi

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

Getting it edited – we didn’t have a lot of money for post, and our original editor took forever and eventually had an accident with his equipment, so we needed to start over with a new editor.

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

It was exciting to hear such positive responses from people who I had never met. It showed me that the film really spoke to people and that the themes came across (and that some people found nuances in it that I didn’t notice myself).

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

As mentioned above in question 1, I had wanted to take a completely alternative look at what kind of future artificial intelligence may bring us, and see how it could complicate even the simplest of daily tasks (like making breakfast). I’m sure I had the animated film The Brave Little Toaster in the back of my mind as well!

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

The Truman Show. My all-time favorite.

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

FilmFreeway is very user-friendly, and does a great job of making the submission process quick and easy. I love that it has a laurel generator, and makes it simple to keep track of the festivals you’ve entered (since we entered a lot).

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

Probably The Mighty Mighty Bosstone’s “The Impression That I Get”. I’m unashamed to say I am a big fan the 90’s ska-punk music.

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

With the director of (A)UTOMATED (I)RRITATION, we will be developing an anthology-style series in the same world as this short. For the web at first, but eventually a broadcast version. I’m also editing a second collection of short stories I hope to have out this year.

 

 

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Filmmaker Robert Nazar Arjoyan (I PROMISED HER LIFE)

I PROMISED HER LIFE was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the April 2018 FEEDBACK Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Robert Nazar Arjoyan: First, I just wanted to get out there again and make something new. It had been a while since my previous short film and felt the time was now. Second, the whole ritual of washing hands after a funeral was something I grew up with and wanted to explore further.

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

About 8 months, all told.

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

Wash away.

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

To be honest, the entire process was pretty smooth. The biggest obstacle, as I’m sure is the case with many filmmakers, was raising the money for the budget. With the help and generosity of an angelic handful of folks, we were able to meet our goal.

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

It’s a mixed bag – everyone takes away what they want to from anything in life, including a short film.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

As I mentioned, the ritual of washing hands post funeral was something I grew up with. Well, one day I came home after a funeral and forgot to wash. After an initial self-reprimand, I thought “what if the dead could actually come back because one doesn’t wash their hands?” That was it.

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

Either ET, GoodFellas, or Back to the Future. They vie for the top spot always.

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

I love FilmFreeway. Simple, intuitive, and straightforward.

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

I don’t have an answer for that one, I don’t think.

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

A new short, possibly. Music videos for some wonderful musicians. A feature is still in the distance, but we venture ever closer.

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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 single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.