Interview with Filmmaker Derek Osinski JR. (PERFECT MATTRESS: A LOVE STORY)

PERFECT MATTRESS: A LOVE STORY played to rave reviews at the February 2020 ROMANCE Feedback Film Festival.

Q: What motivated you to make this film?

A: This particular film draws many parallels to my formidable years of romance – including the actual act of “mattress store hopping”. On a similar note, this was me closing that chapter of adolescence and previous relationships in which I fell deeply but knew they could never be. The film is hopeful albeit a tad dry – a love letter to a time that I still hold fondly.

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

A: I never thought of it as a film until I reached my second year of Film School – I just so happen to be a spontaneous fellow at times. Once there, it took approximately six months from script to edit.

Q: How would you describe your short film in two words!?

A: Perfect, Mattress.

Q: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

A: My roommate. I had to move out the night before the first morning of principle photography.

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

A: Inspired.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

Q: How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

A: The whole idea stemmed from a juvenile charade with “some” of my former relationships in that we would pretend we were settling down and needed to compromise a type of mattress. Of course, all things were considered – price, size, firmness, warranty, etc. Inevitably we would decide on one and just as the salesperson would fetch the paperwork from the back, we would take off with mischievous laughter as fast as we could. Seems a touch crude but I did it with good intensions, mostly.

Q: What film have you seen the most in your life?

A: For some reason, ‘Cast Away’ is relentlessly attached to every channel.

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

A: Intuitive.

Q: What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

A: “Use Ta Be My Girl” by The O’Jays – there’s something inherently classic to the heart in that one.

Q: What is next for you? A new film?

A: I was working diligently on a fifteen-minute short entitled ‘Chicken or Fish?’ before the pandemic hit, but alas I may never get the pleasure to bring it to life. It was a Twilight Zone inspired romance, drama that had many talented people going for it, but it abruptly stopped like much of the world. However, I keep persistent with the pen and one day I am hopeful it will touch a great deal of folks – and that is why we do it.

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Interview with Filmmaker Johan Stavsjö (SAY YES)

SAY YES played to rave reviews at the June 2020 ROMANCE Feedback Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Johan Stavsjö: I wanted to tell a modern love story and drew influences from my past. The film is a combination of three love stories from my personal life. The goal was to make an authentic but also relatable film.

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

About six months from deciding about what to write about to finished product. But the actual shooting was only two weeks.

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

Love hurts.

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

The hardest part was when the film was finished and we wasn’t 100% sure what to do with it. This is the final thesis project from out last year at Stockholm Film School. So when the film was done we had also graduated and therefore we were on our own. We wanted to share it with the world but didn’t exactly know how.

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

It was surreal and wonderful. When making a film, at least I, give it my everything. Therefore to hear people from the other side of the world (it’s a Swedish production) is a thrill. I think I watched the clip about ten times in a row when I got it, and wish I could have been there. The film has screened at about 20 festivals around the world, but as it all is payed from our own pocket we haven’t had the chance to go to any screening. Therefore to be able to experience it from home was amazing.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Again, the ideas for the film comes from my own experience as a prepubescent trying to find his was in this crazy world. Also greatly influenced by past generation filmmakers.

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

I don’t even know, but while writing the script I only watched romantic film and the ones I watched the most then was “(500) Days of Summer”, “The Graduate” and “When Harry Met Sally”.

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

It’s a great way to easily submit to a large quantity of festival and having it all in one place.

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

Here again, hard to say. Probably a The Beatles song. But like question 7 I answer with by saying what a listened to in repeat while writing the film “Say Yes” which was Elliott Smith. The title of the film was actually a reference from his song “Say Yes”.

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

I have since then been working in Sweden on various production. Until two days ago I worked on Sweden’s second Netflix show while I’ve been writing on two different short screenplays. One of which will be done by September 2020.

Interview with Filmmaker Sarah Schuessler (LIT)

LIT was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the June 2020 ROMANCE Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Sarah Schuessler: As an older sister, I’ve been directing my younger sister, Thia (Lit’s lead) our whole lives. Our parents have the home movies to prove this. I’ve designed the costumes for most of her short films in our adulthood and have given plenty of notes in editing/scripts over the years. I think there are a lot of costume designers who are secret, or not-so-secret, directors, so I told her I really wanted the chance to officially direct her in something where we got to dig into a little scene work.

We had a rare, free Sunday last summer where our whole crew was available. “We” being a real family affair: Thia would star, edit, write, produce; our cousin, Marisa would light and shoot it; my boyfriend, Ben, would record sound on set and compose the music; his brother, Dave, would be the boom operator and sound mixer; his girlfriend, Kacie, would be the swing and help make this all happen. Our last ingredient was Thia’s counterpart, Al, a long-time friend and frequent collaborator who I’m glad is not related to the family, given the romantic content.

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

I think we wrote and shot it in August and were finished with it the day before New Year’s Eve. (Four months, where we worked on it in between other jobs).

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

Friend chemistry

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

I think just being at the mercy of our family/crew’s schedules, asking them to work for free, and crossing our fingers that we’d be able to do all that before New Year’s Eve when we wanted to share it with friends and family. I hope I have the chance to pay them handsomely for their work in the future, instead of just begging for the best they can give me in between their other jobs.

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

Honestly, I cried a little! It was really moving to experience people connecting with our work, and giving such specific and thoughtful feedback.

I’m additionally impressed and thankful you’ve been able to carry out your festival during the pandemic. It’s been inspiring to see how much the world has turned to film for comfort, escapism, and entertainment. And to participate in a small part of that, connected through a virtual film festival, felt hopeful.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Thia wrote a screenplay years ago, that we’d more recently adapted into a series, about a woman looking to lose her “second virginity” after years in a long term relationship. We pulled one small set of scenes from that idea and sort of adapted it into a stand alone film. We decided to set it on New Year’s Eve so that we’d have the chance to break out the twinkle lights. I kept referring to it as Scenes for Young Actors, which was a compilation book I grew up with full of great scenes from famous plays. It was basically just the fun/charming/exciting/romantic/dramatic bits to get to roll around in as a performer. I wanted an opportunity to work with Al and Thia on a similar playground.

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

Probably Clueless over many years, and then more recently, Call Me By Your Name. I find both of these movies to be visual feasts, excellent soundtracks, and romantic and soothing in their own ways.

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

I appreciate that it’s straightforward and self-explanatory. It’s efficient to have all of your projects/info in the same place and easily accessible to every fest you submit.

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

I’ve Been Loving You Too Long by Otis Redding. It’s an excellent, moody, slow-dance-around-the-kitchen kind of tune that I’ve played while making many meals.

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

I have a beautiful hand-me-down bridal gown from a previous costume job, so Thia and I are trying to cook up a Corona virus wedding story (which I realize sounds like a Mad Lib).

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Interview with Filmmakers Fernando Perez & Suzy Stein (AT THE END OF THE WORLD)

AT THE END OF THE WORLD was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the February 2020 Romance Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Fernando & Suzy: Fernando and I were movtivated to make At the End of the World because we wanted to transition from screenwriters to filmmakers. We wanted to be able to see our work produced.

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

It took approximately 3 years from start to finish. We revised the script off and on over two years and production was 2 days. Post production took a year. It was worth the wait !

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

Our short film can be described as a Dystopian Romance.

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

The biggest obstacle we faced was money. We self-financed. We kept things in house at Fonco Studios which helped keep down costs. Fon and his crew created a dystopian world just for us!

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

We were thrilled. It was gratifying. Everybody, including Fon Davis and his team, worked so hard on the project and then to see people enjoy it is really indescribable.

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

Fernando and I believe the way to get better at writing is to write. We would enter the NYC Midnight Madness contests as often as we could. We had anywhere from 48 hours to 7 days to write a short script 3-12 pages long. For each heat, we were given a genre, object and location. During one heat, we were assigned to Romance! The location was Beach and the object was a T.V. We wound up winning that heat with a short entitled Bobo’s Appliances. Eventually, after several revisions and incredible notes from director Fon Davis, Bobo’s Appliances became At the End of the World and was ready for production.

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

Fernando and I agree on this one! Empire Strikes Back.

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

FilmFreeway is our only experience. I like being able to have a “packet” ready and submit with one click (and a credit card).

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

For Suzy: September by Earth, Wind and Fire and We Belong by Pat Benetar. For Fernando: Tron Legacy soundtrack.

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

We are working on our second comic book series and are getting ready to make a feature.

Interview with Filmmaker Lee Manansala (KHADIAH AND PAULINE)

KHADIAH AND PAULINE played to rave reviews at the February 2020 ROMANCE Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Lee Manansala: It’s weird – I love being in Paris. It’s my favorite city, and I’m content to just wander the city and meet with friends, etc. But I’m also big on being productive, not being idle. So in the November of 2018, with airfare to CDG being so low, I wrote something for my actor friend Hadia to act to in, something I could produce with former students of mine based in Paris, and once everyone was on board, we all just went for it.

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

I booked airfare to Paris and asked Hadia if she wanted to work on something before I ever started writing, and I think that was in June or July of 2018. We shot in November, and I finished post in January of 2019.

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

Parisian lovers?

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

Just the uncertainty of it all. We didn’t rehearse until the day we shot the film. I didn’t even meet Colombine, who played Pauline, until we shot the scene.

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

I loved it. I was in the audience near the front row, so I wasn’t able to see who said what. One comment was unfavorable, and it really put my “I don’t want to make movies that everyone likes” motto to the test, and honestly, I really don’t. I know that it’s a very narrow space in which I like to create things, and that means it’s not going to reach everyone. But when it does reach someone, it tends to resonate and it becomes memorable and hopefully important to the viewer. I love that idea.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I’ve always been interested in the idea of why people wear certain things, and I think the stories behind our style of dress can be rich with subtext and meaning. The conversation in Khadijah and Pauline was adapted from a feature I am working on – it was always meant to be about vulnerability and loss, but the fact that it’s a woman telling the story adds to the story the idea of coming out.

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

Probably Seven Samurai. At this point I just put that movie on as a sort of comforting white noise, even though it’s a sort of filmmaking I may never attempt.

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

I am conflicted about this, so I may have a different response tomorrow. But today I feel the proposition of a centralized site for every conceivable film festival is very fair, but it helps to look at it from this perspective – film festival programmers aren’t necessarily looking for the highest quality work, but work that will add value to their festivals. It’s not that your work isn’t good, it’s just not a fit for that particular festival. In that sense, my feelings aren’t hurt by how transactional the process feels.

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

Ma Mère l’Oye – a suite composed by Ravel based on several fables.

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

I expanded the Khadijah and Pauline into a three-part short film called “One Year of Khadijah and Pauline”. I’m mulling over the idea of premiering the film on a curated online site, but I still have romantic feelings about premiering it in a theater. I’m currently working on the script for a feature length film partially based on this story. Honestly and embarrassingly, I fell in love with these characters and I don’t want to say goodbye just yet.

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.