Interview with Filmmaker Adrian Ramirez Leon (ACCOMPLICE)

ACCOMPLICE was the winner of BEST FILM at the May 2019 Thriller/Suspense FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Adrian Ramirez Leon: Back then I had just finished the first draft of a bigger project I was writing on, a feature. I thought that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to first do a short film of the main themes of that feature script as a proof of concept so to say, about the feeling of paranoia and of being followed.

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

The writing was very smooth, after only two drafts I was already quite happy with the result. And for the lead actors, I already had Erwin Janke and Paula Utrilla in mind when I was writing the script. Erwin had already worked with me in our short film “Mirror Shards”. He liked our collaboration that much that he flew over to Spain for a week to shoot “Accomplice” – and sip a Mojito on the beach after the shoot. It took us three filming days and around two months of editing until it was completed.

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

Hitchcock-esque Mousetrap

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

Filming the dark alleyway scene. It was a one shot and difficult to coordinate as every time we started shooting, some people appeared in the background out of nowhere to ruin the take. In one take, a man was climbing unto a balcony in the background to retrieve a suspicious bag. That looked so surreal that I had to cut it out from the final version. I’m quite happy with the final result of that scene though.

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

It made me quite happy. It’s always nice to get some feedback for your films, more so if it’s constructive feedback. It’s interesting to see how other people perceive your film and whether you succeeded with what you wanted to convey or not.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The idea came to me after thinking about how I could turn the feature I had previously written into something slightly different, but with the same essence. Finally, I got my main inspiration from Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a train”. I experimented with that scenario and thus, “Accomplice” was born. Originally, the main character Angela would chat up Alex on the subway or on a train, like in Hitchcock’s classic. In the last minute, we changed it to a park, as that was easier to film and didn’t alter much of the rest of the storyline.

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

I think that would be the film “Hook”. It’s not the best film on earth, but for my little childhood me it was. I must have seen it about a dozen times, that and the Lion King.

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

It’s very comfortable and straightforward to use. Nowadays, it’s so easy to get your film out in the world thanks to platforms like FilmFreeway. You can now be a filmmaker and distributor at the same time.

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

Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat major, Op. 9, No. 2, so beautiful.

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

I’m currently working on another short film that takes place in a self-help group setting, but instead of anonymous alcoholics, everybody there believes that they are vampires. I’m not sure whether to shoot it in London or Málaga yet, as I’m about to move back to England’s capital this summer, but it’s going to be a lot of fun either way.

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Interview with director Ian Schiller (KONG’S)

Ian Schiller’s short film KONG’S played to rave reviews at the April 2017 Horror/Thriller Film Festival. It was an honor catching up with the very talented filmmaker.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Ian Schiller: I work in film but mostly documentary sports and commercials. I want to broaden my story telling ability. Kong’s, the market you see in the film is a block from my house. I had been thinking about a short film for a while and the story sort of presented itself walking into Kong’s one day for some beer. I guess the motivation in summary was to challenge myself to develop a short soup to nuts.

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

Script started maybe mid February 2016
Script finalized in April of 2016
Shot May 2016
Post completed August 2016

About Six months.

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

Very intense

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

My own self doubt. And an actor who I had to fire for showing up a day prior to filming drunk.

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

Initial reactions to the feedback – I like how the audience fills in some of the backstory. The criticism is great as well. The last comment, doesn’t feel like an independent film but something larger is what I was going for. So, overall, I’m happy and grateful for the comments.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the short film: 

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

We set a world/box to play in. I wanted to lead the audience with breadcrumbs. Kong’s per my mention above is close to my house. The art direction was already there for a seedy noir-ish story. The idea sort of presented itself.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Big Trouble in Little China

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

Something either by the Horrors, The Kills, or the Eagles of Death Metal

What is next for you? A new film?

After financially recovering from Kong’s, I’d like to pursue either a feature length script idea of mine or a television show. More soon hopefully.

Thanks everyone coming out to watch the films and comment. Much
appreciation

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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 month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with actress Linette Beaumont (THE PROWLER)

linette Beaumont 1.jpgLinette Beaumont was the winner of “Best Performance” in her short film THE PROWLER at the April 2017 Horror/Thriller Film Festival. It was an honor to chat with her about her role and what’s next for the talented actress:

Matthew Toffolo: Describe your character? How was the process in executing this performance?

Linette Beaumont: Eva is a tormented character, who is struggling with heart break after her husband has had an affair and left her. Eva is unable to let go and finds herself in a very dark place, manipulating her daughter into being instrumental in something that will change their lives forever.

As an actor I believe I have a responsibility to the character that I am playing, it’s my job to tell my characters story without judgement.

I tried to do that, and to be as honest to Eva (my character) as I could, and act exactly what was on the page.

How did you become attached to this project?

Tim Kent ( the director ) and I had worked together beforehand at Pinewood Studios. We discussed the possibility of doing a film together.

Tim introduced me to Daniella Gonella (our wonderful producer) at DG Productions. We then all had a meeting in Soho London with the very talented writer Matthew Arlidge, who had worked in television for many years and had written for one of my favorite BBC drama series Silent Witness. Matthew had also recently launched his bestselling crime debut Eeny Meeny. He agreed to write a short film specifically for me which I was delighted about and very flattered.

We then worked extremely hard to make it happen.

Coincidentally, James Friend BSC, (director of photography) BAFTA award winning, Rillington Place, who had just shot Matthew’s episodes of Silent Witness agreed to shoot the film.
An amazing team.

How would you describe your short film in two words!

Psychological thriller!

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

Time restraints were challenging. We used very high-end cameras and lens from Movitech at Pinewood Studios. The end result is fantastic, but when you use such high-end equipment things move very slowly. It takes 3-4 people to move everything. Also the interiors were shot in a cottage, so it was very tight for space.

Also Christmas! Kate Plantin CDG (casting director) who was amazing, was phoning agents to confirm actors when they had closed for Christmas, it was crazy.

And Budget, you never have enough money!

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

Of course as an actor, I was very happy to hear they liked the acting! I smiled at the comment regarding the ‘leaves on the trees’ we shot the film during winter, just after Christmas, and we did have leaves on the trees!

Feedback is great, and it’s important. I think it is always very interesting to hear feedback from people, industry and non industry professionals.

I think film is an observer of life. Everybody loves to watch a film. But we all feel so differently about what we see when we watch a film. It was interesting listening to what they had to say, how an idea resonated, or how the film made them feel. For me film making is magic, full of twists and turns, highs and lows, to quote the film director Danny Boyle, ‘to be a filmmaker, you have to be relentless. You have to be psychotic in your desire to do something and keep working. People always like the easy route. You can’t, you have to push very hard to get something unusual, something different to stand out.’

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video of THE PROWLER:

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Very difficult question as I have films for different moods! But I would say these films are in my top ten of most watched.

The Godfather and Deer Hunter, Star Wars. Street Car Named Desire and Annie Hall, Some Like It Hot, Singing in the rain. Cinderella, and the Fox and the Hound.

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

Clair de Lune- Debussy its the first thing I learnt on the piano, and reminds me of so much. But I also love Stevie Wonder.

What is next for you? A new film?

Yes I’m working with writer-director Daniel Yost (co-writer Drugstore Cowboy) co-writing and playing the lead role in Melody’s Tune, a project where I will play both the negligent mother of a homeless nine-year-old and the girl’s imaginary good mother. “ I can’t wait!

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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 month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Filmmaker Scott Lyus (SILENTLY WITHIN YOUR SHADOW)

SILENTLY WITHIN YOUR SHADOW played to rave reviews at the WILDsound Best of Horror/Thriller Festival in February 2016.

Read interview with the director Scott Lyus:

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Scott Lyus: My main motivation was story and character. I wanted to explore the idea of love for our dreams or our love for another; all within a horror film and the tension that can cause within a relationship. And from that Silently Within Your Shadow was born. Add my ambition to make an old school horror film that didn’t rely on cheap jump scares, blood or gore and instead focused on strong characters and story.

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

SL: From inception to completion was about 5 months. Once I had the screenplay down and knew exactly where I wanted to take the story, I found my cast and crew and we were shooting within a few months. My crew mainly consisted of the same guys that made my last two films Supernova and Order of the Ram. We’ve developed a great way of working together. They know exactly what I want and how I work, and are the best team in the world at making that happen in a short amount of time.

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

SL: Retro Horror.

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

SL: It’s the struggle all indie filmmakers face, budget. We didn’t go over budget and actually came in slightly under once all was said and done, but unfortunately we only made a quarter of our budget via our Indiegogo Campaign, with another quarter coming from private investment and the remaining half from my own pocket. While I was perfectly happy fronting half the budget to ensure we completed the film, it did mean I had to push pre-production back a month or so while I saved the money we needed to complete the picture.

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

SL: Going into the video I was already aware we didn’t win any of your awards, so I was just hoping and praying the audience enjoyed it. But once the dust was settled, I was left with a giant smile on my face. Our ambition for this film was to create a horror film that caused debate. Go back to a time when horror meant something more than cheap jump scares and blood and gore. We wanted people to watch our picture and talk about the themes within the film, the hidden meanings and subtext. I was amazed to see how much everyone really dug into the heart of the film and debated all the hidden meanings. It really was a fantastic reaction.

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

SL: The main theme of the film is the choice between love for your ambitions and dreams, or your love for another and the sacrifices you have to make. It’s something that’s very close to my heart and I choice I have struggled with myself. I try to create my films with multi layers. In this case, the top layer is an old school horror film about a creepy puppet, but underneath you have strong subtext and subject matter. If you want to go in and just be creeped out, I hope we do that, but if you want a little something more, an idea you can sink your teeth in, well hopefully you’ll find that too.

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

SL: I’ve been asked this question a few times and everyone always expects my answer to be horror related. While the original Frankenstein and Texas Chainsaw Massacre come in second and third place respectively, the film I’ve seen more than any other and my favorite film of all time is Casablanca. For me its the perfect film, the best screenplay ever written and I must watch it at least twice a year.

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

SL: Right now I’m touring with Silently, having played 14 festivals to date since October 2015, while also running a solo screening tour in the UK. Project wise, I’m currently in post production on an extended cut of a short film I made for a 60 Hour Film Challenge called Holding Back. Once complete we hope to play a few festivals and maybe add it to a few dates on the Silently screening tour. However the next big project is my debut feature. I’ve just turned in the first draft of the screenplay to my producer and we’re hoping to shoot later this year. So keep your eyes open for that one.

Watch Audience FEEDBACK Video fo SILENTLY WITHIN YOUR SHADOW:

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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 Fesival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.