Interview with Filmmaker Randy Kerr (BROTHERS)

BROTHERS was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the August Under 5 Minute Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Randy Kerr: While my background has been in landscape / travel still photography, I’ve been shifting more into nature documentary film work since it touches on my love of music and story as well. Any time I can embed myself in a story with people pursuing their passion, I’m always eager to capture the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of what they do. As I got to know Tim Burke (narrator, co-producer), I suspected a compelling story might come from spending time with him.

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

Nine months, though we let it simmer at times for much of that.

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

Perseverance rewarded.

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

Beyond the technical hassle of shooting in wet windy conditions, the biggest obstacle creatively was abandoning my own preconceptions of shooting a sunny, beautiful, easy day of fishing on the river. Nature delivered us just the opposite conditions, and finally we realized the backdrop was the perfect metaphor for the brothers’ struggle and perseverance story in their lives.

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

Delighted and gratified our universal message of family bonds, perseverance through adversity, and passion for the wild and a sport came through. Flattered that the footage effectively communicated the beauty and awe we feel on the river to the audience.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Tim Burke (narrator, co-producer) initially approached me to create some footage of him guiding his fishing clients, but as we became closer friends and he revealed more the backstory of what fishing has meant to him and his brothers, we realized we had a narrative possibility for a short film.

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

Lawrence of Arabia.

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

As a first-time festival-submitter, I can’t imagine doing it any other way than online through Filmfreeway. It has been quite a friction-free process of bulk-submitting to festivals I think would appreciate our film.

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

In a previous life I was a classical pianist, so it’d have to be Ballade #1 in G minor by Chopin.

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

A grizzly bear wildlife documentary in British Columbia, a thriller (narrative) shot I’m toying with, and who knows what other outdoor documentary I might bump into.

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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 Aram Atkinson (FIREFLIES)

FIREFLIES played at the August Under 5 Minute Short Film Festival in Toronto to rave reviews.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Aram Atkinson: I actually made this film for two specific reasons, firstly that I was just about to go freelance and wanted to kickstart with a narrative based passion project, and secondly for Rode Reel, the online film competition. I had just quit my full-time videographer job at the RNLI in the pursuit of moving forward with my goal to writing and directing narrative work, and I knew if I didn’t make Fireflies I would build up a fear of making any of my original work. Much to my surprise Fireflies has been exceptionally well received, winning Best Drama at Rode Reel, making the shortlist for Best film and picking up a load of other nominations here and there. I put it down mostly to the incredible performances of Ivy-Mae Harris, Ben Elder and Ellie Snow who really brought it to life, and the brilliance of Harrison Bates, Ricky Gane and Jamie Kemp who turned a sheet of material into a magical place. You can actually watch a behind the scenes film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pe_O-5UWmMA

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

I had the idea about 2 years before actually making it, just written down in a notebook, so when Rode Reel came up and I was flicking through my ideas, I instantly knew this was the one to make. Writing the voice of a 5 year old girl was a challenge and so I asked Nikki McMullen, a brilliant writer who was a colleague of mine at the RNLI, to help me pull it together. Once we had a script I then had two weeks to get the ball rolling. I was lucky to have the support of Treehouse digital in Bournemouth who let me use their loft studio space over a weekend, so on the Saturday we went about trying to make a tent, buying material and building a-frames, fairy lights and props.

This film relied heavily on set design to be believable and install the sense of magic (it was a massive relief the ‘Fireflies’ light effect actually worked)! I think too inside the box when it comes to building things however, so if it wasn’t for the ingenuity of Ricky, Harrison and Jamie when it came to building the tent, this film simply wouldn’t have happened. I then had about 10 days to edit it before the Rode Reel deadline so all in all it was about a 4-6 week process (excluding the 2 year hiatus from concept)

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

Unashamedly sentimental.

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

The biggest obstacles would be both getting the actors and the final location. The day before the shoot, the actor playing the dad pulled out, so I entered a frantic hunt for someone to fill the role and luckily my close collaborator and friend Riyadh Haque (an incredible writer/director in his own right) put me in touch with the outstanding Ben Elder. I called him and despite the fact he was 5 hours away at a family party, he learnt the script, camped overnight in his van and drove down early in the morning to help make this film possible. I’ve worked with Ben since and I think he’s a phenomenal actor, and an admirable professional.

Similarly, the hospice we were planning to use for the climactic reveal pulled out two days before, but I was sure a hospital would help once they saw most of the film, so I actually went ahead and shot Fireflies without knowing if I would be able to source that clinching shot. So after we shot the tent scene, I quickly pulled an edit together and spent the next few days asking hospitals if they would let me film one quick scene at their hospital, and Poole Hospital were heroes in letting us shoot there, so at midnight on a Thursday evening Harrison and I went and tried to replicate the tent in an unused ward…nothing like some indie filmmaking!

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

It was humbling to see such strong responses! I’ve been fortunate to see Fireflies screened twice and see an audience reaction in person, but this was the first time I’ve been able to hear such academic deconstruction of Fireflies and it’s amazing to hear a consensus I hadn’t even considered. This film is very much told through the eyes of Alice, and as said in the video and podcast, the film would be tragic beyond belief to view it through the dad’s eyes, but I had never actually realised this is what I was doing. I love moments like these, where you discover your own artistic decisions and style by listening to others’ take.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I can’t actually remember how I first came up with the idea for Fireflies, I have a tendency for nostalgic themes and bittersweet situations though. I’ve been asked a few times if it is based on a personal experience and whilst my family has been effected by cancer, thankfully never in the tragic way that it is in Fireflies.

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

You’ve got mail is probably my guilty pleasure, I love Tom Hanks and I’m a sucker for a romantic story. I have a new pen pal because of the Under 5 minute Film Festival so perhaps this will lead to my own You’ve got mail! I’ll try not to put them out of business…

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

I think it’s an amazing platform, one of the few times submission systems are done right. It’s so refreshing having it all in one place and being able to determine the value of festivals by reviews, photos and detailed info!

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

There’s too many to pick. Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley or Adaggio for Strings by Barber really get me though so I’ve probably those two. Although ‘Doin me’ by Mikey Mike is making a strong claim at the moment.

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

Whilst I am incredibly proud of Fireflies, even after 5 years of filmmaking, it is only now that I am preparing to make what I consider to be my first true film. I am in development of a short film that tackles some of the issues in the UK I feel passionately about and is a far bigger challenge than anything I have made before, both in what it is trying to say and the level of execution. I have a crew attached, and am rewriting the final version of the script, whilst also seeking funding, which as we all know requires a lot of perseverance and resilience. But I believe this film needs to be made, and the goal is to make it before the end of 2018, funded or not!

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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 Lia Williamson (DAUGHTER)

DAUGHTER was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the April 2018 Under 5 Minute Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Lia Williamson: Daughter was made for my mom. I know that she would do anything for me, no matter what the circumstances. So the film is a little bit of a thank you, and recognition to her.

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

In the end, It really only took a few months to get this film made. I had a great crew, and everyone worked very hard to make my vision come alive quickly.

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

I had faced a casting obstacle the morning of our first shoot day. My lead actress had pulled out so I scrambled to find a replacement that day, and thank god I did.

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

I was so happy to see people other than friends, or family watching my film and commenting on it! I was so pleased to hear that even though some people didn’t interpret the film the way I had originally intended…the emotion was still there, and even though it might be a little bit unclear who the character’s were, the audience still felt something, and that’s what matters to me.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of the Short Film:

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

Well I always want to make films that make audience’s feel something, as I said in my last answer. And I also knew that this film would be for my mom. I just finished a film that focused on the love between a brother and sister- that film is an ode to my siblings, and one day I’ll make one for my dad.

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

Probably Moulin Rouge, Step Brothers, and Hot Rod. Hahaha

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

I love the submission platform. It makes it easy for young aspiring filmmakers like me to have their films viewed, and talked about. That’s what any filmmaker wants. The notoriety is nice too, but a discussion about your film feels even more validating.

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

Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey

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

I just finished post production on my second film “Rosie”. And will hopefully shoot another one this fall!

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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 Sertac Bozkurt (WINE & EGGS)

WINE & EGGS played to rave reviews at the April 2018 Under 5 Minute Film Festival in Toronto.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

– It’s a filmmaking and directing workshop project at Istanbul Film Academy.

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

– 5 months.

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

– Wine and Eggs : )

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

– The rain effect : )

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

– I was with my friend when I got the feedback video. I was very happy and shared with my friend.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Videos of the Short Film:

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

– The idea belongs to my brother’s wife. I told her I needed a script to make a short film. A few days later she called me and told me the story. I was very impressed at the first time I listened. Then we worked on the script together.

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

– It may not be the film I seen the most but my favorite and touching film is Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “Cloud of May”.

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

– Filmfreeway is my favorite festival platform. I submitted to many festivals through this platform. Making it much easier for filmmakers.

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

– Pink Floyd’s “High Hopes” is my favorite song and video clip.

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

– It’s been 2 years since my film. I really want to make a new film. I’m working on a superhero film that’s in the idea stage.

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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 Irene Blei (A LETTER FROM LETICIA)

A LETTER FROM LETICIA played to rave reviews at the April 2018 Under 5 Minute FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

The idea of this film came at the moment we were working on an hommage, 38 years after the kidnapping of a group of school mates by military task forces in 1976/1977, seeking for pictures in which the missing students could be seen. There weren’t so many photographs in those days, so any document could be useful and I insisted in looking for and gathering old school report cards, notebooks, or drawings too.

During that search, our friend Claudia brought this letter, addressed to her by Leticia and kept, and it was really touching for me. After all that time, and aware of what had happened, every line in this letter sounded meaningful to me, and I so intended to make it visible. It was a coincidence that at the time I was then experimenting with watercolor painting.

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

It took me about five months.

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

Animated Documentary.

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

Facing sadness was the worst part of it, and also dwelling with some of our former school mates emotions, that had been contained for so long. I literally cried over the painting of each tear in the film.

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

It was highly moving to have a film done by yourself seen and understood in another country, another hemisphere, in a differet context by an audience with whom I did not share a common past or idiosyncrasy. I feel deeply grateful to the Festival for this brilliant idea of getting audience feedback.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video

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

I intended to make the real story, which affected so many people and not only Leticia Veraldi, widely visible through this letter. There have been at least 30000 victims of state terrorism in Argentina. After so many years facts are still not well known, even in my own country. Picturing it was difficult because of the lack of images, just some photos, and I felt like not showing her at all as a painted portrait. But that was impossible, so I reduced showing a drawn girl as less as possible. I thought that watercolor and transformations could help me avoid a direct, figurative approach. I also tried to place myself in that moment of Leticia’s life and youth, going back to the images that the text brings about.

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

I am a great fan of Canadian, Russian and Czech Animation. So I have seen some of these films hundreds of times, because as a teacher, I also show them.

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

FilmFreeway is really easy and friendly. I love it.

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

Maybe some by local artists: Mercedes Sosa, Leon Gieco, Charly Garcia. And also Brazillian Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso ad Raimundo Fagner.

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

I am taking part in an animation jam with other women animators. Then, a new film, and maybe a book too. Meanwhile and besides: I will be busy with some workshops or seminars. I enjoy teaching as much as filmmaking.

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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 director Gonzalo Cotelo (MAMMA)

MAMMA was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the January 2018 Under 5min. Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Gonzalo Cotelo: I think almost every filmmaker is lured at a certain point with the idea of making a one shot film, and so was I. I also wanted to tell a simple and yet powerful story and play with the audience almost exclusively with visual narrative and camera work.

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

It was exactly one week during a stay in a summer film campus and traveling festival in Italy.

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

unsettlingly gripping!

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

The blocking with the actors and timing of the events, as I wanted it to be intense and yet have a filmic pace.

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

It was amazing to see how people felt about the film exactly as I had planned it! the lack of subtitles, the camera work, the final reveal… it is a confirmation that all those crazy ideas weren’t that crazy after all.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I love a film called “Nine Lives” by Rodrigo García, nine short stories about female characters shot in 9 continuous long shots. And the first one features a pregnant woman, played by Robin Wright, in a supermarket. That was the first inspiration for the story, the first primordial image that I later developed into a different path when I decided that my character will be in a close up during the whole film, and the camera would never abandon her until the very last moment revealing the main piece of information that I decided to withhold from the audience. I also love an Ukranian film called “The Tribe”, acted entirely on sign language and without any subtitles, which I thought was simple and brilliant, it really forces the audience to pay attention. And I knew it would also help the public to connect with the main character and feel as lost as she feels not understanding what is going on between the two hitmen.

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

Definitely one of the original Star Wars trilogy films, I couldn’t tell you which one though (probably Return of the Jedi)

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

It is indeed very useful, particularly now with the number of films being made and film festivals being held everywhere across the world. The structure and layout of the website simplifies the whole process.

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

A Beatles song for sure, I’d go for “Lucy in the sky with Diamonds”.

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

Yeah, a new one, a bit longer than five minutes hopefully. I live and work in Kuwait at the moment but I´d like to go back to Spain in summer to write and start producing again, I miss it!
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Interview with director Jelle Bleyenbergh (THE FLOW)

THE FLOW was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the January 2018 Under 5min. Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jelle Bleyenbergh: Being active as an editor and cameraman in the advertising industry, I had longed to make something of my very own again for a while. The last time I had made a film was in graduation year at film school. Going on holiday to the amazing country of Iceland with fellow filmmakers, was the ideal spark to create a film from start to finish. Plus, my new life experiences gave me something cinematic to tell.

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

I came up with a screenplay around January 2017, which later on, I drastically changed into something shorter and more recognisable. The original idea was far too artsy and long, I felt like I needed something easier to watch for this particular feeling I wanted to convey. So around March, I had written my definitive little screenplay; I successfully contacted Stefán, a local actor and vlogger in Iceland, who was enthusiastic about the idea and willing and able to play the part. We shot environment shots of ‘The Flow’ in the course of a small week, and all the shots with Stefán were shot in one long day. When we got back home in Belgium, postproduction took no less than a month, because I could only edit in my spare time and because I wanted to get the film just right. So all in all, from the original idea to finished product, it took five months.

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

Let go.

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

You’re not gonna believe it, but it was finding the right compass. The compass was an essential prop to tell my story, but I figured it would be easy to find somewhere so I postponed looking for it. Two weeks before we went to Iceland, I found out it wasn’t easy at all. No one I knew had a compass that was small enough; I nearly bought a good one second hand for which I would have had to drive hours to pick up. Then I decided to simply buy one I found online in an international shop… and it nearly didn’t make it in time through the post. I received it a few days before we travelled to Iceland. I never thought a compass would be my biggest source of stress through making the whole film. It now rests on my shelf as a good reminder to always be prepared in time for the simplest of things.

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

I smiled. And I was happy to hear a woman recognised one of the locations, and that the film gave her the feeling she had when she was there. Job well done, it seems!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

My experience in life these past years, taught me that it’s good sometimes to let go of everything I know and take an unfamiliar but more liberating path. The analogy with driving through the landscapes in Iceland and leaving the car, that was a nice little setup of a story waiting to happen.

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

Probably ‘Inception’ by Christopher Nolan. Watched it twice in cinemas and countless times at home. That film is the holy grail of spectacular editing to me, from story to music.

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

It’s such a handy platform, with an easy search function and a clear overview of your film details. I can’t think of a better nor faster way to spread your work across the globe.

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

Big cliché, but probably ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen. ‘Full Circle’ by Half Moon Run is my current favorite song to daydream to, and has been for many years now.

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

Not sure yet, but I will at least write a new screenplay this year for a short film. And I will definitely direct one again in the not so distant future, even though my heart is truly drawn to editing.

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