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.

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Interview with Filmmaker Sari Eran Herskovitz (TRAIN)

TRAIN was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the April 2018 Under 5min. Feedback Film festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Sari Eran Herskovitz: The film is a music video for Train, the first single of Longing Songs, the debut album of Sari & Moshe, a music duo consisting of me and my husband. As an animator, I wanted to create a visual expression of the song.

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

It took about 6 months to make the film from the idea to the finished short. Most of the time was dedicated to choosing the right images and exploring the animation technique combining watercolors and cutouts.

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

The host of the conversation in the feedback video described it as liquid joy. I really like this description and would like to adopt it here.

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

I created the animation like a jazz improvisation – drawing live under the camera. This was difficult because we had very limited time for shooting the film, for budget and timing reasons.

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

It was very exciting and moving for me to hear the people in the audience talk about the animation and the music. It’s a special experience to be deeply understood by people I don’t know, who could feel the joy and the flow I felt creating the animation, and could relate to the childlike experience of morphing into the moment. I was surprised by the fact that the translation of the lyrics was not clear to some of the people, but this feedback was helpful.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The music video is based on my feelings as a mother to a small daughter.
The animation started out as a short poem I wrote describing a moment of watching my daughter play with her toy train. The lyrics were then composed by my Husband, and the song became a part of our first album.

In the animation it was important for me to express warmth and connection, and also the fluidity of time I experienced as a mother: rhythms changing, time stretching and shrinking, allowing me to discover things I would not notice otherwise. Using watercolors in a stop motion technique helped me to express this fluidity visually.

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

I am not sure which film I have watched the most. What I can say is that watching Yellow submarine as a child was a very strong experience for me, and I think it’s a part of my inspiration to combine music, colors and visual images.

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

I experienced it as a very friendly and comfortable platform.

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

I don’t know. There are many songs and styles of music I love. Today I listened to Paul Simon’s American tune.

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

My husband and I are working on some new music, there may be more music videos in the future.

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Photo by Doron Oved

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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.

Interview with Filmmaker Robert Guthrie (EASY, A 3 MINUTE LOVE STORY)

EASY, A 3 MINUTE LOVE STORY 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?

Robert Guthrie: So many LGBTQ films, especially coming-of-age films, focus on difficulties. Violence, unrequited love, isolation… etc. Yes, it can be difficult. But, also, yes, it can work. Some families are supportive. Some kids are strong. The folks who made the film do believe in happily-ever-after. Years ago, after a tumultuous, clandestine relationship with a fraternity brother, I started dating the guy I would marry. That was senior year of college, and we’ve been together ever since. It can be easy.

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

The first plan for EASY – a 3-minute romance was to film it north of Seattle where my partner and I lived for four years. He ended getting a job back in Boston, so we moved back home a few years earlier than we had planned. So we moved the location from a farm and small town in Washington State and relocated to an urban environment. From conception to filming was about three years.

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

Happy together

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

Adjusting my expectations – this would no longer be a small-town, rural film. I had to let go of my dreams of specific scenes we had scouted out and arranged for. The best thing I did was decide not to push it, to let it go, and accept that we wouldn’t film on the West coast before the move. I love what EASY grew into, but it took initial disappointment to get there.

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

How thrilling to watch a roomful of people paying attention to something I’d created! The characters Jonathan and David have been living in my mind for several year; it was almost overwhelming to sense that they have lives that don’t involve me.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

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

I had a favorite cafe in Edison, Washington, where I wanted to set a film. And I was intrigued by a small-town guy unabashedly himself. I believe in happily-ever-after, have been living happily-ever-after and want to share happily-ever-after.

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

In college during an internship in London, the film adaptation of E.M. Forster’s Maurice came out. I saw it every Wednesday night for three months until I flew back to that states.

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

Enormously helpful.

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

Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony is my go-to.

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

Publishing a novel. Feature film is ambitious. We’ll see how it goes.

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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 Zack Arch (THE CRYING CHEF)

THE CRYING CHEF played to rave reviews at the February 2018 Comedy Feedback Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Zach Arch: Our group Flambé had committed to making a new comedy sketch or short every week for about a year. This was an idea pitched by Kathy Dorn (the actress who played TCC) and we all were very excited by the chance to play out a Chef’s Table parody.

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

It took us about 2 weeks.

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

Ridiculous, Committed

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

We had no sound equipment or lights other than a couple clamp lights. All of the locations were only available for maybe one or two hours. Actually, thinking back, it was the editing process. We improvised the entire film. So when it came down to structuring the narrative, it was very much like piecing together an actual documentary where the talking heads and the content aren’t always super coherent.

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

It was mind-blowing and very inspiring. Everyone was so encouraging. It was so special to hear a room full of strangers enjoy so many different aspects of the film for so many different reasons.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

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

I don’t know how Kathy’s mind works. She has these amazing, grand ideas that need to be made. We just all came together behind it and played around.

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

Jaws

8. Besides film, what else are you passionate about?

I make wind chimes and music. Also photography and travel.

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

I feel like it has to be some top 40 song from 2002 that plays in the background of every department store and generic public space. I don’t know the name of it or the artist who made it. But society has decided that it will be included in the soundtrack of everyone.

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

Flambé is back at it. We’re going to be whipping up some new sketches. We’re also developing a web series revolving around time-travel and death and time-travel death. I also am going to begin post on a slice of life documentary I shot about a year ago following a group of four life-long female best friends as they navigate some difficult questions the summer after graduation.

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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.