Interview with Filmmaker Martin Sofiedal (SIRI WITH A VENGEANCE)

SIRI WITH A VENGEANCE played to rave reviews at the Comedy Feedback Film Festival in September 2019.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Martin Sofiedal: I had done simpler sketches for a long while, and I really wanted to do something really cinematic, and up my game visually. But I knew I still needed a simple setting to make it more doable and affordable, I didn’t want to bit over more than I could chew. I suddenly remembered a sketch I did many years ago, it was also called “Siri with a vengeance” and had the same premise: Siri taking the protagonist hostage with a bomb while referencing the bad guy from Die Hard 3. So I got an added motivation: Can I remake my own short film? Making it better visually and story-wise? The stage was set.

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

As this really a remake the main idea was already there when I started this production, but I did a new draft, adding the whole Android vs Iphone theme which wasn’t in the original, and also beefed up and fit the dialogue to fit my actor, Samuel David, who I knew was going to act in it before I even started writing. We had a couple of days of pre-production, one long production day, and a longer post-production period. As this whole film was made on the side, myself and my crew also had paid jobs we had to do, it’s hard to say exactly how many days we spent on the film. But from the day I wrote the new draft till we had a finished film it took roughly two and a half month, but actual production time was maybe one third of that.

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

Timely absurd.

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

I would say finding the perfect location, because that was the biggest outlier, we had everything else ready, crew and equipment. And we knew we needed a location that had a unique look, had lots of room, and felt more international, since we were basically making an american film. At the same time it is kind of not entirely true that it was the biggest challenge, because we got the tip about this house pretty fast after we started asking around, and it was the first place we scouted. So with a big stroke of luck we found the perfect place very quickly, so maybe it’s more correct to say we thought it would be our biggest obstacle. Apart from that it was the usual challenges, running out of time and stuff like that, but nothing that we couldn’t handle or foresee.

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

Just smiling, I’ve never seen something like that before, and as I mentioned above it was so fun hearing thoughts around the film I hadn’t thought about myself.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I wish I could remember, but I believe I had recently watched Die Hard 3, and in that movie the bad guy, Simon, plays a sinister game of “Simon Says” with John McClane through the phone, and at some point I made a connection where I thought “what if Siri did the same thing to a person?”. And I just spun onward from there. As I mentioned earlier, in the original sketch it was only Siri and no Google Assistant (which didn’t exist yet at the time), and the whole thing was that Siri was just tired of all the verbal abuse from the protagonist. I believe the idea to implement Google Assistant in the remake came after talking with my producer Marius (who is a tech-head) who mentioned that there is a big ongoing smart phone “war” between Android and iphone loyalists. And with that I felt the film had more to say than just Siri being angry, now she had a bigger reason to be angry.

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

Probably “Shaun of the dead”. That film has shaped me as a filmmaker. I saw it when I had just started film school, and it just opened my eyes to how much style and unique humor you can have in films.

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

Great! It is so easy use and submit films, so yeah, just great!

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

Wow, impossible question! I have periods where I hear one song more than others, hear is a random small collection (out of many many more obviously):
Childish Gambino – Heartbeat
Maroon 5 – Moves Like Jagger
Timilon – Samma det (norwegian hiphop song made by a friend of mine)
Dean Martin – Heaven can wait
Henry Jackman – The Twelve Towers (Yes, that is from the Uncharted 4 soundtrack, I’m a nerd :-P)

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

I am releasing my first feature film here in Norway on November the 11th, a treasure hunt adventure film called “Benjamin Falck and the ghost dagger”. I am also prepping a new action sktech called “Gumslingers” which we’ll shoot in October, an absurd action short heavily inspired by “Kingsman” that includes lethal bubblegum, I’ll say no more 😉

Siri with a vengeance is online and can be found here: