Interview with Filmmaker Marvin Nuecklaus (CROSSROADS)

CROSSROADS was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the May 2018 Thriller/Suspense Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Marvin Nuecklaus: Shooting a murder scene using a tire iron.

No, just kidding. I wanted to create a story that was entertaining and
challenging to follow but also comes with a deeper meaning when
you look close enough. For me, Crossroads is about a woman who
buried a traumatic event in her childhood and therefore was never
able to process it which resulted in a psychological disorder.

And those are the people we so often label as crazy without putting
in any effort to really figure out what happened to them.

We’re confronted with headlines such as: “10 years old girl sexually
assaulted” and hands down, what are the first questions you want to
get answered? Who did this? What happened to the offender? Is he
in jail? How many years did he get?

But what about the victim in 1, 2 or 10 years down the road? My
hope is that some people who watch Crossroads can see the
intentions I had with the film.

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

It took about 1 year to write the script as I worked on other projects
simultaneously. We had 2 days of principal photography with an
additional 2 months of post production.

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

psychological rollercoaster

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

Letting it go. When making a film, as a director you’ll always find
little things you want to fix, even re-shoot. It can turn into a never
ending project. Since I also produced the film, I had nobody giving
me a deadline or put an end to it so, I had to give myself a deadline
otherwise I would still be working on it.

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

For me, the reactions of an audience while watching your film and
afterwards are more valuable than any award. It was so pleasing to
see that people were able to guess my intentions behind the film and
that they won’t just see what’s in front but also behind the curtain in
terms of the characters and their world I created. Any positive and
negative critic is valuable to me to refine my craft. I want to thank
each and everyone in the audience for their feedback. Those are the
people I’m making films for and will keep doing so!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

It really was a combination of a lot of things. First, I wanted to shoot
a psychological thriller that keeps the audience on the edge. A film
where you have to pay attention all the way through to understand
the ending. Second, I was always fascinated by mental disorders in
particular dissociative identity disorder (DID). Unfortunately,
Hollywood has used it too many times to shape the villain and
portrait it very inaccurately. So, most people have a very wrong
perception of what this disorder really is. While getting counsel from
psychologists and contacting people directly who suffer on DID and
were willing to speak to me, I started shaping my characters based
on the research and built the world around them. I was looking for 2
opposite locations that not only differ visually but also represent my
protagonists state of mind. Almost characters on its own. The desert
is wide and open without any boarders. She can run anywhere she
wants but really doesn’t get anywhere. She runs away from her past.
The interrogation room is small, claustrophobic. There’s no escape
except through the door but she has to go through Spencer the
psychologist in order to not be trapped.

Well, and this is how the story came together.

One thing I want to mention though is that the tire iron was there
from day 1. I guess it just inspired me when I had a flat tire.

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

Probably Inception by Christopher Nolan. His way of storytelling
fascinates me.

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

I really enjoy FilmFreeway and it is my favorite platform to submit to
film festivals. I enjoy how easy it is, how they categorize things,
their filters, and that I can find most information and feedback about
the festival right on their page.

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

In the End by Linkin Park

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

I recently finished working on a remake of the classic german horror
film “Nosferatu” directed by David Fischer, starring Doug Jones as
Count Orlok which was amazing as I’m from Germany myself and I
remember writing papers about this film while I studied film.
I’m currently writing a psychological horror feature script which I
plan to shoot in 2019. There has been some interest to turn
Crossroads into a feature which I’m very intrigued by as well. Time
will tell.
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Interview with Filmmaker Audrey Arkins (AMERICAN BOY)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Audrey Arkins: I had been filming juvenile offenders in Venice and Culver City as they moved in and out of the criminal justice system. Most of the kids said the same thing about how and when it all went wrong – usually in middle school when they joined a gang. Tragically and unrelated to the kids I was filming, a 12 year old boy was shot dead on the crosswalk outside his school in Santa Ana, a few blocks from where I was having coffee. Think of that. A 12 year old assassinated by a 14 year old from a rival gang on his way to school. Right in front of his younger brother. American Boy was an attempt to put a face to that in context for an audience. We see the statistics, hear the news reports, but generally I wonder if we’re all too distracted to feel and understand the tragedy of what’s going on before our eyes.

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

Am I finished? Three months from fund raiser to this edit.

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

Overly ambitious.

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

Me wearing too many hats. A first time director should just direct. I have a new respect for producers and what they go through.

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

Gob smacked. I thought I had failed. Wasn’t even able to look at the film for a few months I was so disappointed. We’re all our own worst critics I guess. Your audience got every aspect of our little film. That really helped me see the film in a better light.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

There’s a moment in some boys’ lives – between the age of 10 and 12 – when society, a friend, a teacher, a parent, a kinder/gentler member of law enforcement – could divert them away from ‘gang’ life. I wanted to capture that ‘missed’ moment for one kid. Help people see in context that these so-called ‘thugs’ are just children like any others, albeit severely traumatized for obvious reasons. There are clearcut solutions that a fair society ought to pursue. We don’t. Instead we incarcerate parents, trap families in poverty, force care givers to leave kids alone while they work multiple jobs because minimum wage couldn’t support a pet rabbit, let alone a family with children. It’s a vicious cycle perpetuated by the American political economy. Does anyone really think it’s a coincidence that black and brown communities are disenfranchised – fed into a criminal justice system – often for petty, unjust, racial profiling and entrapment. I saw it first hand with the kids I was filming in the other documentary – gang squad law enforcement following them everywhere, searching them every time I let them break for lunch. No one was searching me or my own kids who were helping out. Read Matt Taibbi’s ‘The Divide” if you want proof. We have a prison industrial complex that creates wealth from minority misery, sabotages generations who don’t fully fit the white bread all-American profile. These kids could grow up to be great. If we let them. Too many people and systems are profiting though. Or maybe the powers that be feel the rest of society can’t handle a leveled field of competition. This is just a ten minute short, but I wanted to do something that might trigger the conversation.

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

Apocalypse Now

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

FilmFreeway is helpful, streamlined. The LA Feedback festival was by far the best we attended though. They very kindly comped us 20 seats. The most we got elsewhere was two comps and if you’re bringing a lot of people that can get expensive. Our cast are very young kids. By separating out R-rated films after an intermission, this festival allowed the kids to finally see themselves on the big screen. The feedback from the audience was so affirming. People we didn’t know, talking intelligently about what we did. That was worth all the hassle.

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

Album more than song – OK Computer.

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

Up until now, I’ve made my living as a screenwriter and it’s still my dream job, but I am planning to direct another short soon to get more experience. My long term goal is to direct a feature about a Latina who terminates a pregnancy so she can go to college. She suffers a terrible public humiliation for that choice. Abortion is still taboo in film. I spent years on this script, trying to strike the right balance. It will need a brave sort of producer (if there are any reading this), but I think the landscape is shifting. If the industry is sincere about giving more women filmmakers access, they must realize we’ll show up focused on taboo issues too. Not that I’ve anything against romantic comedies, but women all over the world deserve to see their story told fairly for once. http://nastygirlfilms.com/features/

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Interview with Filmmaker Eugene Lehnert (THE OUTER BOROUGHS)

THE OUTER BOROUGHS played to rave reviews at the August 2018 COMEDY Film Festival in Toronto.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I’ve been making the series as a low budget web-series. I wanted to make something bigger to show off the concept. I tried to make an episode about a creature that lived in the toxic waters of an EPA superfund site in Brooklyn but it was too expensive. So an episode about Witches was easier to make.

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

It’ probably took about a year.

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

Supernatural hijinks

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

Working around everyone’s schedules.

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

Terrified but then relieved and happy.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:


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

My friend pitched me a witches episode after I could not raise the money for the Creature from the Gowanus Canal episode.

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

Back to the Future

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

I like Film Freeway. I find it better to use than Without A Box.

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

A toss up between Weird Al’s “It’s Christmas at Ground Zero” and “Yoda”.

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

Remastering an old film for Amazon Prime called “Armageddon for Andy”. Then writing. I’m broke and paying off this thing so it’s tough to make anything.

Interview with Filmmaker Josiah Cuneo (IN THROUGH THE NIGHT)

IN THROUGH THE NIGHT played to rave reviews at the August 2018 Under 5 Minute Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Josiah Cuneo: I really wanted a chance to write and perform some music in a different way than I usually do. I made four short films, this being one of them, and I wrote and performed the music for them in a theater as live scores to the films. It really changed my approach to making music, and introduced me to film making.

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

I wrote the music, started rehearsing, hired a camera person, secured a location, set a date. Then the camera person took another job that day, the location cancelled, and I couldn’t reschedule because the performer’s visa’s were up, and they were set to get on a plane back to Sweden. It was a close call, but somehow I pulled everything together, and we found a way. One of the benefits of living in the city. Then I edited it, rewrote all the music, recorded it, mixed it…and then…a year later, I had a film.

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

Broken Daydream

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

One of the performers called me the day after the shoot to tell me she couldn’t find her earring. It was a family heirloom, so she was rightful anxious to get it back. I went back to the location the next day and looked everywhere. Eventually I found it. It has fallen down the drain of a 19th century sink. It took an entire day to get that sink apart, and be able to pull that earring out, but we did it. I learned a lot about plumbing that day.

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

It was really encouraging seeing someone give thoughtful insight to the film.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Film:

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

I would say it was 90% music based.

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

Great question. The movie that I have made a conscious decision to watch the most times would probably be Ingmar Bergman’s Persona. When I first saw it I only saw the second part of it, so it didn’t really make sense, but it stuck with me, so I eventually went back to it. Now I find myself watching it everyone couple years because it really is a kind of perfect film, and in many ways has become the gold standard of what I hope to achieve in my own work.

On the other hand, the movie I have seen the most, regardless of wanting to or not, is Spike Lee’s Crooklyn. When I was a kid growing up my little sister has a VHS copy of it, and she would put it on at least five out of the seven days of the week. If I was ever in the living room, chances are it was on. It has such a good soundtrack and was made so well as a film, that you could watch it everyday without getting tired of it. I know that film incredibly well, but because I would always be watching it in bits and pieces, I couldn’t for the life of me tell you the plot.

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

It’s been a great experience. It’s both exciting to see how many people are holding film festivals, and a great thrill to be part of them.

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

It’s a two way tie. The Shirelles “Will You Still Love me Tomorrow” and The Crystals “Then He Kissed me”. Hands down the two greatest songs ever recorded.

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

Last year I wrote and directed my first play that was produced at Roulette Intermedium in Brooklyn. I am starting rehearsals next week for my second, The Screen Above, a play centered around my music and choreography. After that, I hope to start shooting my first feature film next year.

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Interview with the Creative Team of THE POET Short Film

Christopher Redman (Writer/Performer), Adam Cushman (Director) and David J. Phillips (Producer)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Chris Redman came to the set of our feature ‘The Maestro” with this incredible piece and we knew that it should be seen in its entirety.

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

About a year from start to finish.

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

David: Raw Talent.
Chris: Oscar bait.
Adam: Mostly Canadian.

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

Chris: performing/keeping track of the poem which always morphed into a stream of consciousness multiple times.

Adam: Semi-trucks

David: Probably getting the people doing the post on our feature – especially our awesome sound mixer Scott Jennings – to find the time to help us with the short as well.

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

Chris: Happy it provoked some talk about the relevance of the politics in the poem vs today.

David: Yeah, and I loved that an audience member thought it was a bit on the nose in regards to current politics – which was funny because we shot it before The 2016 election. I was impressed by the turnout, and that people seemed engaged. Wish we could’ve made it.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

David: Chris had came in with this amazing poem for our feature and we’d shot so much of it – it seemed like a waste to only use the 30 seconds in the film, so I suggested to Adam we make a short with it, and he was really on board to do it.

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

Chris: Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
Adam: Cuckoos Nest, or Empire Strikes Back, not sure.
David: Raising Arizona

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

We think its a great platform, and easy to navigate and discover new festivals.

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

Chris: ‘O Canada’
Adam: “Dollars and Cents’ by Radiohead
David: ‘Let Down’ by Radiohead

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

Chris: God Friended Me on CBS this September and hoping Reverie on NBC gets picked up for another season. Also can be seen on ‘Workin Moms’. Always tinkering on my own writing and performing.

David: Adam and I are releasing The Maestro, from which the Poet comes from, later this year. I shot another feature recently that we just are starting post on, and Adam and me are also very close to getting another feature off the ground very soon.

 

 

 

 

Interview with Filmmaker Farman Abdalrahman Karim (ISIS WAS HERE)

 ISIS WAS HERE was the winner of BEST FILM at the August 2018 Documentary Short Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Farman Abdalrahman Karim: My motivation was focus the human rights and I wanted to document the ISIS crimes.

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

I needed about three months.

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

Tragedy is continuous.

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

The big challenges for me was threats from ISIS because ISIS in the beginning until now…..they want to kill me. Now I left my country.

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

This was a big for me. I feel that I’m on my way to became a global documentary filmmaker.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I visited the city and I saw they destroyed it. So I decided to document that story.

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

The Pianist and the documentary Fahrenheit 9/11.

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

Filmfreeway is easy, great and an amazing website to help filmmakers participate and find good festival for their films.

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

Bezhan Kamgar. He is a Kurdish signer.

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

My new project is documentary film about the Ezidy girls who were raped from ISIS.

 

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.