Interview with Filmmaker Ashley Gerst (THE SPIRIT SEAM)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ashley Gerst: I was motivated by my relationship between my grandfather and myself. He passed away in 2013, and I wanted to do something to honor his memory and to help me find a way through my grief regarding his death.

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

A little over 5 years! The initial outline for the story is dated at Oct 13, 2013. The final was completed January 15th!

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

Magically nostalgic.

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

Technically: the main character (Pollywog)’s hair. It was a nightmare, and took about 6 months and 3 rebuilds to finish.

Emotionally: there was one day, where I had set up a full classroom with rendering – each computer displaying a scene from the film as they rendered away overnight. I stood in the room, looking around before leaving, and realized that I was surrounded by my memories and a visualization of my relationship with my grandfather. It was a bit overwhelming.

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

I loved hearing the reaction and emotions each person had when watching my film!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I wanted to base it on my life, my memories of my grandfather, and also his memories that he was so excited to share about his childhood! The main character (Pollywog) would be about the same age as my grandfather was in 1952 in the film.

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

A very weird one: The Mouse and His Child. it was an early sanrio production (makers of hello Kitty) and is very bizarre.

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

I enjoy it overall, I find it easier than Without a Box.

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

that’s a hard one – probably Billy Idol’s Mony Mony.

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

Yes! I am currently finalizing the script and character designs for my next film: Being Pushed Down by Shadow. It’s about newly adult daughter living with her single mom. They love each other but do not see eye to eye.
This animated film will take place in 1969-1970 and will fall within the horror genre.

Interview with Filmmaker Deeptanshu Sinha (SIEGE)

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Deeptanshu Sinha: Like all my previous films my crew and I set out to make something which would push every crew member to their creative limits. We usually attempt things which we haven’t executed before or are doubtful of executing. Hence, I took the decision to make a VFX heavy film as we had never done it before. Finally after a lot of brainstorming I got the perfect story I wanted to tell. A story about a man in search for peace only to realise that it cannot be found.

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

It took me around 15 months to make this film.

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

Magnum Opus

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

Every day was an obstacle. It took us 15 months as we entered a territory we had no idea how to execute. We had just around $4800 to execute the entire project so we were short on crew. Hence, we wore multiple hats to complete the project. I was the Writer, Director, Production Designer, Sub Editor, Media Manager whereas my DOP also contributed in Production Design alongside Rotoscopy and DI Colorist. We had only two, 20 year olds who did 95% of the VFX. As nobody in our school had done a VFX project we barely got any support from the school and were on our own without any mentoring. Faculty calls to take over the project due to VFX delays was a nightmare but managing those prepared me as to become a better filmmaker for the studio environment.

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

Firstly, I was so thankful to the people who watched my film and took the effort to give feedback to us. My reactions were as anticipated. The audience completely got the things I wanted to convey to them and also left them thinking with questions which would make it a worthy second screening for them to get those questions answered. I am thankful to the festival for including the feedback section. Its a major plus.

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

I personally was going through a phase in life where I was trying really hard to find peace only to realise that it can never be found. We have to make peace with reality. Hence, I decided to extrapolate this idea and make a layered narrative to tell this story which would be relatable for many audiences worldwide.

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

I honestly don’t have a single film to answer this. As I watch the high rated films once in the cinemas and when at home I try to find the low rated films and give them one viewing.The reason for this is that the low rated films teach you things that one shouldn’t be doing when they make a film. There is a saying, how will you know what is sweet until you haven’t tasted sour.

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

FilmFreeway for filmmakers is like shopping on Amazon. Just add to cart all the festivals you want and hit go. It has made the process such easy. Will just reference THE DARK KNIGHT for this. “FilmFreeway is not the hero we deserve but the one which we need right now”.

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

I have heard Hans Zimmer’s TIME the most in my life. It falls under background scores but I think that’s the only one I can think of. Every time I play it, it emotes different feelings. The score is simply timeless.

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

I am making a feature film with a studio now. It should be done by 2020 end or by the 1st quarter of 2021.

Interview with Filmmaker Myriam Kamel (MY BROTHER)

MY BROTHER played to rave reviews at the April 2019 Los Angeles FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Myriam Kamel: I definitely wanted to show diversity on the screen. Montreal is such a cultural city, and as beautiful as it is it also comes with its issues. I wanted to portray it on the screen.

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

I thought about this film for about 3 years before writing the first version. Then from writing to the first screening it took about 8 months.

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

Cultural film

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

Casting was the biggest challenge throughout this film. There are not a lot of arabic actors in Montreal and the few I met didn’t correspond much to the characters. Casting was a very long process and I was very lucky to find Hamza and Fayçal.

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

At first I was very very VERY nervous, but after I was relieved. It’s amazing to get that kind of feedback from strangers. I loved that people who had trouble relating to the story or who didn’t understand certain things had the guts to speak out and say it. Too often it feels like people are too scared to say what they think for fear of hurting your feelings, but I know that my work is not perfect and I had an idea of what didn’t come out right with this film. This feedback helped me confirm it and think of what I could have done differently. It was very constructive and I’m very grateful for it.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I knew I wanted to make a film about culture differences. Growing up in Montreal I’ve always felt like I had to behave a certain way inside the house and another when I was out. My beliefs were often challenged and my parents didn’t always understand how it changed me. After discussing it with other people I realized that I wasn’t the only one going through this sort of dilemna where I felt I had to chose between my family and what I wanted, and so I wanted to write about it.

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

In my whole life it would be La Haine by Mathieu Kassovitz, but recently I’ve just watched Divines by Uda Benyamina and I’m in love with it. It’s a sad film, but it’s beautiful, very well-made. I love french cinema.

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

I like that there is such a platform, it definitely eases the submission process and it’s great to have access to so many festivals in one place, but sometimes it does feel like your film is only one in a million. It’s also hard to figure out which festivals are active on FilmFreeway.

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

Like Ships in the Night – Mat Kearney

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

Working on my next short 🙂

Interview with Filmmaker Damien Starr (I’LL BE FINE)

I’LL BE FINE was the winner of BEST FILM at the December 2018 COMEDY Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Damien Starr: This was a student project and the restriction was to have it within 3 minutes. I wanted to challenge myself in a couple of ways, firstly to write a story featuring a woman as my main cast. This was a first for that, and secondly, making a film that required no on set audio, because of budget and limitations. Thus, I’ll Be Fine was born. The film, as you know, explores the communication of a deaf person through text. It opened my mind to everyday life of a deaf person and how they perceive themselves and the world around them.

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

1 week.

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

Struggle and acceptance.

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

Having a three person (including the actress) crew!

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

The first screening of this film didn’t go so well as she doesn’t mention at the end that she’s deaf. Rather, it’s left to the audience to make that connection. However, only 30% got it. 70% of people did not understand the film. As such, I changed the wording in the text bubble to reflect that. So while it’s now “on the nose” as someone described, it’s understood and enjoyed by many more people. As such, when I saw that many more loved this film in this round of feedback, I was moved and it gave me validation that this was a good film.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I usually make films with bigger budgets and lots of VFX, but for this, I wanted it to be simple and focus on character and story, and all of the emotion that comes with that. Along with the restrictions of no on-set audio, I wanted to have a story of communication conveyed by text graphics. A story about a deaf person fit exactly what I was looking for. I researched strongly about deaf people and their day-to-day struggles with life and was inspired to make this movie.

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

It’s a tie between Titanic and Beauty and The Beast (1991).

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

I like FilmFreeway, no complaints there.

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

Mr. Brightside.

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

I’m fundraising for a sci-fi thriller feature film about a physicist that is kidnapped in a desolate house and has to uncover the mystery of how she got there. I placed in a screenwriting competition, and received high scores from coverage services so I’m really excited for this!

Interview with Filmmaker Alessandro Schuster (THE BOY WITH THE TEDDY)

THE BOY WITH THE TEDDY was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the January 2019 European Short Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Alessandro Schuster: Get lots of inspiration from great movies. And I wanted a child to be the key figure. I also think that the theme of the film is receiving far too little attention in our world today.

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

The first idea for the story was in November 2016. The shooting was in February 2017 and the team screening of the film was in May 2018.

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

I can’t answer this queston 🙂 sorry.

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

To cut the flashbacks into the movie so that they are well placed and not overdone.

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

I was glad that there were so many different perceptions of the film. One has noticed the narrative method, the other has understood the process of color grading. That’s nice, that such things stay in the minds of the audience.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

That answers the first question a bit. But I was at a festival at the time and suddenly had the characters in my head at night after the aftershow party and wrote down the first frame story.

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

I can not say that. I only know that it will always be more!

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

In my opinion, Filmfreeway is the best platform for filmmakers to submit their own films quickly and well at countless national and international film festivals.

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

Also not countable. They’re getting more and more. But on top of my ‘Most Played Songs’ list on my phone is, among others, Manu Chao’s ‘Siberie Fleuve Amour’ and Tocotronic’s ‘Electric Guitar’. Otherwise I hear a lot of house / electro, reggae, rap and pop.

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

As an actor, I currently shoot many television and movie productions. Otherwise, I’m currently producing the music video for the title song of our movie “Teddy’s Lullaby” by Mike Shoe, which will be released soon.

Interview with Filmmaker William Mussini (F**KING WORLD)

The short film F**KING WORLD is a must see 1 minute blast. It hits on a lot of emotions that many of us are feelings, plus it’s really funny. William Mussini’s film played to rave reviews at the WILDsound FEEDBACK January 2016 Film Festival.

Interview with William Mussini:

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

William Mussini: I wanted to depict the fleeting scenes of everyday life, through the eyes of an ordinary man, in one and half minute at most, bringing out his thoughts, his pains, his actions and his disasters.

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

William: It took me two days to make this short movie after finding the inspiration.

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

William: A sudden awareness.

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

William: Looking for a fitting location.

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

William: I felt curious and amused.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video from the Festival:

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

William: In a moment of anger, I wanted to shout to the world why there was so much useless evil affecting us.

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

William: The Thin Red Line, directed by Terrence Malick.

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

William: Oh yeah! Even four movies per…….month! Waiting for the inspiration…..

 

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to http://www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.