Interview with Filmmaker Aaron Seever (TEMPORARY)

TEMPORARY played to rave reviews at the August 2018 Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Aaron Seever: I wanted to write something for me and my friend Shelly (actress) to work on together as well as share this gorgeous setting with the world.

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

18 months for the first edit, 4 years til the current one screened here.

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

Kindred spirits.

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

Shooting on location with a very small budget and crew.

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

I felt pride with how the audience related to the story and the characters. It touched my heart.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I wanted to write a love story that didnt last forever. Just one that was unbelievably good but fleeting. I think that is more realistic to life.

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

Good Will Hunting

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

Its very easy to submit to many festivals. I actually think it might be better if it was a little more involved to submit films to festivals.

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

I have a short comedy in the festival circuit now called The Secret Lives of Teachers as well as another film way out of my comfort zone still in production. A gore/romance called Finally, You.

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 Eshaana Sheth (THE BUTTER KNIFE)

THE BUTTER KNIFE played to rave reviews at the July 2018 FEMALE Feedback Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Eshaana Sheth: The film is a response to the variety of people that I encountered after moving to LA as well as the nuances of dating and socializing in the modern age. In 2016, I developed a strange ailment of consistently and exclusively attracting men from the UK into my life (yes, I met the one Northern Irish guy in LA). The summer of 2016 held a strange mix of events; The EU referendum took place simultaneously to the Euro 2016 Championship. Both sort of intertwined and produced a malaise in the air especially with our own American presidential election around the corner. It felt like a paradigm shift, and that kind of uncertainty creates excellent fodder for humor. I’m always interested in capturing how topical ideas and events bleed into the way we relate to one another and how our cultural life is increasingly influenced by globalization and the advent of technology. I wanted to find a way of condensing all that into a short film. I was approached as a writer by Shalini, our producer and lead actress, and came on later as a director and producer. It was my first time directing, but I’m really happy I took the plunge. Our whole team was incredible and made the experience so nurturing.

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

I had the idea brewing, but I ended up writing it when I was sick and recovering from surgery in May of 2017, which provided some time to introspect and look to humor as a way of healing. It was completed in January 2018. So, the whole thing took about a year and a half.

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

Absurd normalcy

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

We had a small team and budget. Trying to get the best production value with logistical and monetary restraints is always difficult. You always say, I wish I could’ve done this or had more bodies in general. But working with a contained story also creates room for play, especially when you have wonderfully talented actors and cinematographers like we did. It’s important as a director to adapt and allow the characters and vision to change. My friend analogized it to the creation of a pot—when it comes out of the kiln, it’s either awful, exactly what you pictured, or not really what you intended but still pretty. Of course, I’m a horrible with ceramics, so I should be lucky for options two or three.

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

I was surprised by how hysterically everyone was laughing; I wasn’t expecting that level of enthusiasm. They were patient viewers and so invested in the work, which I appreciated. I especially loved that the film resonated with people of all ages. My favorite comedy to consume as a viewer is work like Frasier, which feel niche but also accessible and timeless. The diversity of comments made me feel like there was something in it for everyone, which is quite nice to hear.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Without ruining anything, the premise was loosely inspired by a first date I went on, that I kind of tried to make as weird as possible. I used that as a starting point and then just let my imagination snowball from there. I’m one of those people who tries to find the absurdity in banal situations like grocery shopping. I’d almost rather sit in a bit of discomfort and awkwardness than run away, because it’s more fun. I find it difficult to approach organized events like dates or meetings without analyzing how fundamentally odd it all is, like, anthropologically. Ria is probably more like me than any other character I’ve written – she’s confronting but anxious which makes her a cool blend of idiosyncratic and unpredictable.

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

I guess it would have to be either Muppet Treasure Island or Pooh’s Grand Adventure. As a kid, I rented them weekly at our local video store. It was so embarrassing; they used to have them ready for me before I even walked through the doors. If I took childhood out of the equation, it would probably be Clueless.

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

I really like FilmFreeway. It’s very streamlined and makes things simple and organized. I would definitely recommend it to other filmmakers.

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

“Spiderwebs” by No Doubt! I know everyone loves the ’90s right now, but I feel like I have a special claim on the decade, having understood its character at a young age before people were talking about it as a thing. No Doubt is just so emblematic of my youth, growing up in suburban Southern California with two older brothers. As an Indian American, we were floored at the time to discover that Tony Kanal, the bassist with the frosted tips, was also Indian. There were virtually no Asians in media to the point where there was even a rumor circulating in my hometown that Brandon Boyd of Incubus was part Indian because one of his “Pardon Me”s sounded like he had an accent. People were literally reaching for straws. Kanal was the only kernel of hope for brown representation.

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

I have another short film in post-production called The Argument that’s adapted from a play I wrote in college; it’s a relationship drama set in 2012 before the Mayan Apocalypse phenomenon. I’ve also been doing some modeling and getting back into acting, which feels great! I have a few other projects in the works including a series I’m helping my brother with, which is fun because we can yell at each other and still remain related.

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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 Anaiis Cisco (BREATHLESS)

 BREATHLESS was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the July 2018 Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Anaiis Cisco: This film was inspired by the killing of Eric Garner which was captured by Ramsey Orta.

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

I wrote the screenplay in 2015 when I began graduate school in Detroit at Wayne State University. In the Fall of 2016, when I entered in the School of Cinema at San Francisco State University I further developed the project into my first year film, Breathless. Overall it took about one year to write and develop, then another year to produce, direct, edit, and finish by May 2017.

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

Black Life.

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

Shooting the first weekend in January 2017, the coldest weekend of the year, posed some challenges but I struggled mostly with the ending of the film. Developing this true story into a film, I knew I didn’t want to re-kill a man who we already witnessed dying. I tried out many different ways of ending the film but they all felt like something was missing. I didn’t want the end to feel so abrupt. I wanted to allow the audience a moment to breathe before transitioning into the audio from Orta’s video.

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

I was overjoyed and happy to have such a large LA based audience respond to my work. I love when viewers are able to relate to the subtleties that are very specific to the New York experience. The responses made me wish I was there to respond to specific questions/comments. And while I wasn’t able to attend, the video captured moments that I would have missed otherwise. Thank you.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

It came from a class assignment that the class to write a short screenplay using a person from media and another random character to have an improbable connection. I knew that I wanted to use Eric Garner from media, and originally developed the story heavily inspired by Ramsey Orta’s brave act of capturing this killing. I used moments from the video to build the story world. For example, in Ramsey Orta’s video it’s mentioned that Eric Garner broke up a fight. In Breathless, I wanted to recreate that moment with Larry’s character breaking up a fight that we don’t get to see in Orta’s cell phone video.

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

Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing (1989)

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

FilmFreeway is an efficient way of uploading and updating film projects for festivals of all kinds. I enjoy keeping track of festivals that I have submitted to and one’s I want to keep an eye out for. One of the best features is that filmmakers are able to update a film if they have only submitted a work in progress to meet the deadline.

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

Mary J. Blige – Mary’s Joint

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

I am finishing my next short narrative, GYRL (2018) a portrait of a pre-teen African American girl struggling with an abusive father. Also entering my last year of film school, I am currently in the early stages of production my thesis film, Drip Like Coffee. This short narrative explores Black womanhood, desire, and space, while rendering the Black female body as fluid.

breathless
 

 

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 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.

beast

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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 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! 🙂

the_letters
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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.