Interview with Filmmaker Marc SAEZ (FOLLOW THE ARROW)

FOLLOW THE ARROW played to rave reviews at the February 2020 ROMANCE Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Marc SAEZ: I wanted to talk about desire, sensuality, love but also talk about appearances that can be deceiving and dive people into the cinematographic universe that I love by surprising them. I like films that open up different paths and can give way to different debates and visions at the end.

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

The film was shot in only 3 and a half days. It was a real challenge. The scenes from the beginning in the studio, when she falls in the painting and the love scenes were shot in a studio on the same day, it was a real marathon. I cannot quantify the overall completion time because the film has been finalized according to each other’s dispositions.

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

My film is a fantastic and sensual Thriller. A Romantic film in the pure sense of its definition.

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

The biggest obstacles are always the lack of resources. The film has been self-produced so it necessarily requires certain restrictions that push you to be more imaginative sometimes.

A number of things were complicated. First of all, there are places that I absolutely wanted.

I was the one who found all the sets for the film. I wanted material in the image, from the flowing pavement, to the purple curtains of the first meeting, the material, the places also had to release sensuality. The streets that I also found were not located in the same places that we have quite a lot of movement in Paris and Véronique ran a lot with shoes not really adapted, she was very brave. The love scenes were a challenge too. Finding the right partner for Véronique was important. She and Jean Marie were already romantically associated in a short film I had seen. Jean Marie became a friend it was easier to ask a friend to play these scenes there because it would be taken as a fun challenge. There was no inappropriate gesture on his part. These scenes were very technical contrary to the strong sensuality and eroticism that emerges from them. But I wanted it to be a passionate explosion and for the audience to be swept away in this torment of the senses as the character of the film is.

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

I loved your feedback because what the audience said is exactly what I wanted to achieve by making this film. Dragging them into my universe and surprising them, leaving open tracks, although all the answers are distorted in the film everywhere. The challenge was to tell this story and make you go through a lot of feelings in just 13 Minutes.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Véronique lived with a painter at one point in her life. I love painting and sculpture. I find the relationship between a creator and his muse very erotic and fascinating. The respect that creates this sensuality between the two protagonists sometimes. And what really interested me was to say: “If, as man or woman, I was seduced by someone that turned out to be an artist but who had had a very dark, tortured or disturbing universe in his creations, will I let myself be seduced and dare to have a love affair with him or her ? Take Bacon, for example.”

From there I wanted to build a love story like a thriller with all the codes of the thriller and its false leads. We believe, we seek to interpret, there is suspense… In the end it’s just a love story and two adult people running away from love because they may be afraid of it.

The real painter of the paintings in the film, Claude Duvauchelle, has a habit, for example, of recuperating bones in nature or of asking his butcher to clean the bones and modify them into sculptures.

The bloody knife of the beginning takes you without fail on a track and you believe in murder from the beginning… while he is an artist in full reflexion, he has just cleaned bones and his creative material is protected under canvas covers in his studio. That’s where the blood comes from. There are also sculptures with bones in the gallery. Véronique stops in front of one of them and looks at her for a moment. Nothing is left to chance.

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

There is not a film there are films that speak to me and touch me more than others like for example the film of Juan José Campanella «El secreto de sus ojos», Joker,

In the mood for love, Parasite, the fountain by Darren Aronofsky or even films like The wife with Glenn close which is of absolute leadership strength and intelligence for me. The power of silence, of glances… brilliant. All the films of Chaplin by Orson Wells and Alfred Hitchcock are marvels of ingenuity.

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

This platform is excellent and makes it easy to make his films travel around the world.

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

The songs of Charles Aznavour or Sinatra. Smile by Michael Jackson that touches me, “When i fall in love” by Iglesias and Dion, am an unconditional fan also of the singer “Rag’n bone man”, Whitney Houston and Barbara streisand make me cry every time.

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

I just made my second short “THE ROLE OF A LIFETIME” that captures the subject of metoo and is a shout that I wanted to launch and a fight that I absolutely wanted to lead alongside the harassed women and men around the world. The film is a success everywhere except in France where there is still an omerta and barriers that have not fallen despite the free speech. The film has so far won 87 awards around the world, including 33 awards for Véronique Picciotto.
She is remarkable in the film and her partner Olivier Hémon is also a great actor. I will try to use the dynamics of these two films to move to my feature film(s).

I have one completed but which is more intended for the American market and quite difficult to finance and a second more reasonable which is in the middle of finalization at the writing level.

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Interview with Filmmaker Mahée Merica (A SIGN)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Mahée Merica: It’s a pretty silly reason… It all happened during the exam period of my university, and I needed to get distracted. See, people at my uni were really competitive, and always stressed out during the exam period, so everyone is just studying, studying, studying and talking about the exams, creating a pretty worrisome atmosphere on campus. On the opposite, when I am under pressure, I like to do plenty different stuffs to get my mind fresh and relaxed on the actual day of the exam. So I thought it would be the perfect time for me to make a film with some of my friends. I decided to try to write a comedy, because until then I have been doing dramas and experimental, so I wanted to challenge my self and see how it would be to write and direct a comedy that would be both funny and thoughts-provoking.

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

It was very fast: I wrote this film in one afternoon, shot it the following day with my two friends Siham and Thomas who act in it, and then edited it overnight, while Siham was taking care of the music. So we basically made this film in literally two days.

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

Cheeky Fantasy.

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

I would say the cold. We shot it in December, in Montreal. So the temperature was very low, definetly hitting the two digit negative. We had to take lots of breaks during the day to be able to continue shooting in the cold. But the breaks had to be super short, because the sun sets very early in winter, and we had to finish the film before night. As we were only three, and I was simultaneously directing, DOP-ing and recording the sound, it asked a lot of reactivity and organisation from us, but we really had loads of fun!

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

I was so pleased! It’s incredible to see people process your film and debate about it. I put a lot of efforts in everything I do, and I really tried to make the best film possible with the means at my disposal at the time. But this short film was initially just meant to be a small and funny project I made with my friends to distract our selves during the exam period. So seing that people take so much interest in it, truly enjoyed it and even engage in deep discussions about it is just magical. I always aim to provoke thoughts amongst my audience, even with light films like “Un Signe”, and I am really happy to see the spectators understand and react to the themes I wanted to approach, and the questions I wanted to raise. It’s a great motivation boost, and just made me eager to make more films.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Kind of personal experience! I feel like comedy is the most efficient when it is something visual everyone can relate to. When I am a bit lost or stressed out, I tend to see signs everywhere. “If the light turns green in less than 5 seconds, he’ll call me before the end of the week”. I think a lot of people actually think this way. And I know that a lot of us create big fantasies out of small things. We all want to believe in fate. And I feel like we all tend to see our lives as more romanesque as it is, but to me it is not something sad, on the opposite, these believes bring color to our existence. So I thought it would be fun and interesting to make a film that plays with the border between reality and fantasy, and that makes the spectator think about fate and free will.

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

Hmmmm probably Pirates of the Caribbean, as it was my favorite film as a child, haha I know it by heart. But aside from that, I watch Fight Club every 6 months or so, and still discover new aspects of it each time I see it.

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

I think it is actually very user friendly. I really enjoy submitting my films through this platform. You can present your film the way you want to, and the festivals they suggest are all pretty nice.

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

Probably Numb from Linkin Park. I am a huge fan haha

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

I am currently studying at the London Film School, and should get my Masters in Filmmaking by 2021. Right now, I am editing a film I wrote, directed and produced that will be released next April. It is a drama about two friends who want to become actresses. One of them breaks through, while the other has to remain in her shadows. My film explores how the unsuccessful one is torn between her love for her friend, and the envy she resents towards her success, and how she feels guilty for being jealous. I am also writing a documentary that I hope to be able to shoot in May.

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Interview with Filmmaker Natacha Thomas (BLOSSOM)

 BLOSSOM played to rave reviews at the February 2019 ROMANCE Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Natacha Thomas: The motivation to continue to tell stories, to test pictures and especially the big desire to redo projects with a genius team that we started to create on the first film (Red Tale)

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

More or less 6 months from the idea to the finished movie (the time available to make independent film clearly dependent on the availability between personal life and “food work” )

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

toxic temptation

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

The chance to work with a creative and attentive team is that the main challenge is always to let other people really understand your vision, your idea and transcribe it into the reality of a shoot, a post-production process, and this challenge was not an obstacle thanks to them.

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

It’s really cool to hear people talking about your movie! To bring personal theories about what they saw, a film is also made to tell you about your personal ideas, your experiences, so it’s a real chance to hear people speak about one of your stories.

It’s always great to know that people have taken personal time to see your work, to talk about it.

Thank you at the festival team for this idea, especially for the directors that could not be there during the screening!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The idea for a film (short or feature) is a strange process, it is made up of many stages, sometimes unconscious and really personal…
For Blossom, most obviously, the film speaks of a sacrifice in the name of a vain and futile desire, it speaks about the temptation to metamorphose to please the other.

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

Seven probably but this is clearly not one of the movies that I used as a reference for Blossom.

For Blossom you could find “movies wink” with for example likes the mirrors scene of “The Lady from Shanghai” (https://youtu.be/F-BqDWG72iM) or the scene of the car in Titanic (https://youtu.be/wlDp2aqFhR0) or again the scene of the curse of Aurora in Sleeping Beauty (https://youtu.be/N6UYITSXjfc ),
and I will let you find the other references… 😉

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

It’s really a chance to have this kind of platform, it really simplifies festival submissions. It also allows you to discover opportunities to show your work.

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

During the process of creation of Blossom I listened mainly: Toxic (Britney Spears), the soundtrack of Lost River (especially Chromatics), the soundtrack of Neon Demon or the works of The Goblin and the soundtrack of the videogame The path (Kris Force, Jarboe)

At the moment for another project I listen mostly Loosing my religion (REM)

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

Yes I work now on a 3rd short film that will be a prequel of Blossom and Red Tale (my first two movie) SAUDADE and on other projects  

 

 

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Interview with Filmmaker Balazs Juszt (WHAT IF…?)

WHAT IF…? played to rave reviews at the February 2018 ROMANCE FEEDBACK Film Festival on Valentine’s Day.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Balazs Juszt: There were two previous parts to this short with the same couple – The Kiss Goodnight and Split Perfect – and they’re loosely related, as they all center around a couple (not the same one, just played by the same people), who each explore a different struggle in a relationship. As I got older and went through different relationships, I found different subjects that I wanted to tackle and figured I had something to say about each issue. So, primarily this and the fact that there’s not such thing as “two films”, so I had to tie it off with a trilogy.

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

Perhaps 3-4 months. The conception itself was swift and the idea laid around for a while, then came financing and we filmed the whole thing in two days with a pretty swift post process.

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

What If?

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

Financing, actually. I disagree that it’s “always the case”, because frankly, it’s not. But this one was a hassle and it dragged on for months even after the movie had already screened at a bunch of festivals.

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

It was great to see. People got it, the moderator was on top of her game and I am always humbled by and very thankful for a communicative and appreciative audience.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I don’t know about you, but I’ve gone through relationships and have seen many friends go through theirs afraid of fully and unapologetically committing because we kept thinking “Well, what if s/he is not the right one?” Then again, how would you ever know? It’s like we always say when we misplace something and and then we find it at the “last place I would have ever looked”. Well, how do you know that? If you hadn’t found it there, it wouldn’t have been the last place, now would it? Same thing with “the one”: if you find the one, you don’t know it’s “the one”. You have no way of knowing that for certain. You can believe, but… and there’s soon as there’s a but, the first part of the sentence becomes irrelevant. So as my exes kept getting married and giving birth and I’d bump into them somewhere, I kept wondering to myself: would it have worked out like that for us? Would she be happy? Would I be miserable? Would I be thinking the same exact thing about someone else with her by my side? And then the line came to me: what if I fell in love with “the one”, instead of “the right one”?

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

Cinema Paradiso.

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

It’s simple, helpful and a great way to spread the film.

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

Having directed close to a hundred music videos, this is an unfair question… But perhaps Vittorio Monti: Csardas (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yD2W2gtev-E)

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

I’ve been on the writing team of a Hungarian comedy series, I’ve also got a Cold War spy series with SKY that I’ve created and will be the showrunner of, but I hope to start filming my sophomore feature later 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.