Interview with Filmmaker Thomas Gailhard (SAH MATA)

SAH MATA played to rave reviews at the June 2020 Under 5 Minute Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Thomas Gailhard : Several purposes. First I wanted to celebrate contrast, allow myself to put an aestethical base coat to contrast with all my work so far. To create a pure, wide and oppressing atmosphere. Chess is anticipation, a chess board is the same for all, only time can change. everyone has his own speed of life, when the brain is too fast, it can beat the time, but when it has to slower to an uncomfortable zone, the game is the same, but more reflexion can lead to more chances of being defeated when it takes too much time, when your clock is not right.

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

Around 6 month for shooting, and another year and a half for the post production
2 years total

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

Sah Mata

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

Financing the post production maybe, but mostly to decide to do something with it after it was edited and fresh new. I showed it to family and friends with no grade and no sound at all (it all was created in post) and I felt there was not really a reason for me to put more money in it yet because ” anyway, people will not get it”

I’m happy today with all these encouraging reactions! I finally took the time and energy to polish the concept entirely and decide it was finish at some point

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

First curiosity. First I realized when I saw appearing the first guy, oh damn, I don’t know him, I barely understand everything he said, but he saw my movie and enjoyed it, at least some parts of it;; that’s juste crazy for me :)))
That gave me tears man.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I always try to imagine a parallel from reality to simplify things, undress them in order to ask simple questions, how the reality can be translated into duality

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

probably The Big Lebowski.. Mulholland Drive if we include the time we talk about it after watching it with friends

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

It really helps ! Unless being a very deep internet researcher, you could never find these opportunities. So thanks FilmFreeway for allowing this to many film makers and producers

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

That’s a good question

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

Yes, I have found a little production in Paris with whom I will be shooting. The screenplay is in its lasts version and soon we can start pre-shooting

That was a pleasure guys,

Thanks again and long live Cinema !

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Interview with Filmmaker Vevek Paul (FEAST)

FEAST played to rave reviews at the May 2020 Under 5 Minute Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Vevek Paul: I cross this road everyday looking at these children their carefree attitude and appreciation for whatever little they have inspired me that motivated me to capture it in a film.

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

I made this movie quickly in 3 days

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

Ironical and thought provoking

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

Well not much but the fascinating part was I did not understand their language.

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

It is very fascinating to see the reactions of people. It gives you various perspectives, and a major boost as a story teller.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:
FEAST Short Film, Audience FEEDBACK from Smartphone Film Festival, Sept. 2019

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

I cross this road everyday looking at these children their carefree attitude and appreciation for whatever little they have inspired me that motivated me to capture it in a film.

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

I have grown up watching a lot of Indian Bollywood films through my childhood and as we grew up a lot of Hollywood films have been added to the list.

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

I feel these platforms are good and much required as it provides a much needed validation to the film maker and it crosses boundaries.

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

Mostly Bollywood Hindi songs

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

Yes I have made many projects for TV , and also films on a mobile, short films and a feature film after making feast .

Interview with Filmmaker Sunny Wai Yan Chan (GODSPEED)

GODSPEED played to rave reviews at the April 2020 Under 5 Minute Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Sunny Wai Yan Chan: Godspeed is a thesis film for my master’s degree program. I wanted to grasp this opportunity to make something personal to me. Eventually, I decided to dig deeper in the relationship with my family. We care about each other, but it is usually less direct and less obvious. I thought it would be interesting to describe such bonding in a visual way.

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

I started pitching the idea in October 2018. Production started officially in January 2019 and the finished product was released in May. That is a little bit more than half a year.

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

Family love

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

Rendering. There are a lot of close-ups in the film which required a lot of rendering time. Some shots took about 110 minutes to render one single frame. We did a lot of tests at the school’s render farm to get the highest quality possible under its limitation of maximum 120 minutes per frame. Huge thanks to Brian, Yuna and Aster for helping me out with the rendering.

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

I was happy that my film resonated with people all over the world. Watching and listening to them talking about it makes me even happier. To me, this is the best reward I could ever achieve.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

The film is about family and is heavily inspired by my childhood experiences. I was born and raised in a traditional Hong Kong family. Lucky enough, there were no disastrous events or moments of life and death. Just like every other kid, I lived a mundane life with ups and downs that revolved around school exams, family quarrels and summer holidays. These aspects of life may sound trivial to most people, but they were extremely important to me as a kid. When I was in elementary school, there was this robot toy that I wanted so badly but it was a bit expensive. I kept asking my mom for the toy but she never agreed to buy it. I felt as if this is end of the world. Looking back at this incident now, this is something I could only experience as a kid. I re-visited my other childhood memories and I learned things that do not matter much to adults actually matter a lot to kids. This is what I wanted to achieve in this project – a simple story that is emotionally amplified through the eyes of the child protagonist because saying goodbye to his mother matters to him a lot.

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

Toy Story. I had a VHS tape of this film when I was in elementary school and I re-watched it countless times. Coco is the film that I watched the most in theaters. I watched it 4 times – 2 times with original voiceover and 2 times with Cantonese voiceover.

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

It is very convenient and I like it. I was worried about searching for festivals at their official websites from Google but FilmFreeway totally solved this concern. It is also great that I only needed to create the profile of the film once for submission to all festivals.

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

“I Believe I Can Fly” performed by Yolanda Adams, David Foster and the Soul Children of Chicago during the Concert for World Children’s Day in 2002.

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

Definitely a new film. This time I wanted to do it slowly. I am learning a lot as a junior animator right now in an amazing studio. Eventually, I want to incorporate the knowledge and skill I acquired into my next animation project, hopefully again with my team.

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Interview with Filmmaker Grace Wagner & Lisbet Byler (AFRAID)

AFRAID was the winner of BEST FILM at the April 2020 Under 5 Minute Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Grace Wagner: We wanted to create a film that shows the anxiety and fear we feel doing everyday tasks, like when we are walking to our car alone at night. A fear that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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

It took us about eight months from conception to final export.

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

Intrigue and fear.

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

The biggest obstacle we faced was in post production. We wanted the film to be the best it could be so we really spent a lot of time in the post process trying to pick the “perfect” shots and nail down the audio.

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

At first we were nervous about what the feedback would be, but as we were watching it we were so happy and thankful for everyone’s in-depth thoughts!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

We were at a film festival in our hometown Lancaster, PA. We had talked earlier in the day about walking back to the car garage together, which felt like a very normal thing to do. As we were walking to the garage we started talking about how scary it is when we’re walking anywhere alone especially at night. Even with the street lights there’s an inherent fear we have that someone is following us or something is going to happen. We swapped stories about what we do to protect ourselves (hold keys between fingers, have pepper spray out, holding a pocket knife in our hand, etc). By the time we were leaving the garage in our separate cars, we were on the phone talking about how this could be a short film and that was where the idea started!

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

Grace: Silence Of The Lambs
Lisbet: Pride and Prejudice

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

It’s extremely simple and easy to use and navigate.

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

Grace: Sleep On The Floor by the Lumineers
Lisbet: My Silver Lining by First Aid Kit

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

We have a few scripts we’re currently working on and are hoping to produce the scripts at some point in 2020!

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Interview with Filmmaker Luai Akl (EPIPHANY)

EPIPHANY played to rave reviews at the November 2019 Under 5 Minute Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Luai Akl: I always wanted to talk about drug addicts and the childhood, So i decided to talk about both and how everything is connected somehow

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

30-35 Days

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

Let’s say “Organized chaos”!

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

I’d say the actors, because they’re my friends not actors and that was the 1st time they stand in front of a camera.

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

Amazing to be honest, such a beautiful feeling that your film is screening in a different continent and you are listening to the audience’s feedback.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

As i said before, it was something that i wanted to talk about from a long time a go, and i had the chance.

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

Not a specific one, i am open to any kind of art and with any good story.

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

I think it was a good experience, much more easier.

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

I think Comfortably Numb – Pink Floyd

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

Yep, i am writing a new one these days.

Interview with Filmmaker Kiana Kalantar-Hormozi (LOUD and PROUD)

LOUD and PROUD played to rave reviews at the September 2019 One Minute Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Kiana Kalantar-Hormozi: I read some news online about the CEO of Doritos saying the company was planning to make crisps for women – specifically crisps that didn’t “crunch” because apparently women didn’t like making that crunch sound in public. There was a lot of backlash on this from women on social media – I also thought it was ridiculous to make gendered crisps. I’m personally not a fan of unnecessary gendered products and it got me thinking about the crazy stereotypes and standards women [and men] are sometimes forced to live with in modern day society.

There’s obviously way more serious issues like sexual violence and the glass ceiling and all that, but sometimes the small details can be just as annoying – every single cog in the patriarchy machine keeps in turning, no matter how small.

I wanted to make a film commenting on that specific Doritos comment, to ignore the patriarchal judgemental gaze and to celebrate women being LOUD and PROUD.

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

Well, in all honesty, this film came into my head all of a sudden, like the images played out in my head. I spent maybe one day in prep overall, one day shooting, and a few days in the edit. It was all dispersed and took a few months because the whole team was doing this in addition to their day jobs. Nobody got paid to make this.

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

Krunchy and free.

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

To be honest – funding. I had an amazing team and the idea was solid. Ideally I would have spent a tiny bit more time making sure the political concept of the film was clearer without explanation. But really dollar bills. I paid for all the costs myself.

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

Initially nervous, until I heard people liked it! I’m happy one audience member felt guilt free about crunching crisps after watching the film!

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

I didn’t….it came to me, no effort needed.

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

Hmmmm…that’s a hard one. Probably classic Disney films or Harry Potter. Beyond the popular titles, I really like the Count of Monte Cristo, which is random, but I’ve watched that quite a few times.

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

Really great platforms, certainly more accessible that other options.

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

Erm, I’ve listened to a lot of Mariah Carey. Also Dessa, my favourite rapper. And currently Jorja Smith.

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

I’m working on a lot!

Film-wise my documentary, Kiana: Stargazing and Spinraza is ongoing. Currently it’s not funded and I’m reluctant to partner with bigger organisations and platforms if they want to dilute the film – my life is extreme and it’d be dishonest to censor it.

I’m working on a new short film Across From The Dance Floor – waiting to hear back on funding for that! – it’s about Keira, a young passionate, bright woman who watches from across the dance floor, as another woman dance with the man she likes, because she’s stuck in her wheelchair and not able to descend the stairs in her way.

Music-wise, I’m working on my hip-hop EP! And getting a voicereel together as a singer. I’m re-entering the music arena after many years!

Interview with Filmmaker Travis Darkow (ELIZABETH)

ELIZABETH played to rave reviews at the September 2019 One Minute & Smartphone Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Travis Darkow: I have been writing, directing, and editing short films since the 7th grade, and had made one other no budget little short before this one. But one night I just really wanted to shoot a new little horror short, so I decided on found footage since it would be the easiest to accomplish with no money, and could be done quickly. I love something about every genre of horror, and it was my first found footage style movie so I was excited that I could create it almost entirely without leaving my house.

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

From writing the short, to filming and editing, it probably took about a week or a week and a half to complete.

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

Dark and Playful.

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

The biggest obstacle I faced was probably the bathroom/emergency exit door scenes, which I shot at my work, while I was on the clock. The other would be having to move my dog around between rooms in my house while I shot all the interiors so he was never seen.

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

I was pretty nervous when I first clicked on the video, but once one of the audience members said that three different parts of my film sent a shiver up his spine, I knew it was going to be alright. It was amazing hearing how receptive the audience was to my little horror film, and hearing what they liked about it, and that the little bits of humor were picked up on the way I intended them to be.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I initially came up with the amateur ghost hunter angle as a format that would fit the style I wanted to shoot perfectly, and then the whole backstory about Elizabeth Whitmore murdering her family just flowed pretty naturally from there.

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

As big of a horror fan as I am now, the films I have seen the most in my life would either have to be The Nightmare Before Christmas or The Sandlot. I watched them religiously when I was younger, and never just stopped.

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

I absolutely love FilmFreeway. It’s so user friendly and easy to navigate and work on, I don’t know where my filmmaking would be if I hadn’t found this platform.

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

It’s tough to say, but it would either have to be Mr. Chainsaw by Alkaline Trio, or anything by Angels and Airwaves.

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

Since I completed Elizabeth in 2017, I have written and directed 14 short films, 2 features, and 7 horror screenplays. My first feature is called Goodbye Tomorrow, and is a horror/sci-fi mindbender about a man who is being cloned and used to test mind control drugs by this shady group within the government that worships this interdimensional being that they call the Dissimulator. Yeah it’s a lot. The feature I just more recently finished is called Bunny Boy, and follows a mute as he wanders around his town that never fully recovered from a tornado, and some of the other odd residents that still call it home. It’s my fan film/love letter to a movie called Gummo that was written and directed by Harmony Korine in 1997.

Interview with Filmmaker Alberto Ferreras (LESSON #10)

LESSON #10 was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the Under 5 Minute Film Festival in July 2019.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Alberto Ferreras: “Lesson #10” is a comedy about shifting morals. We are living in a world where we are more likely to trust someone who admits to be a sinner, than someone who pretends to be a saint.

The film is meant to challenge our perception of trust and hypocrisy.

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

The short was written in a couple of days. We had a two hour rehearsal, and we shot it in four hours. It was edited in about two days.
from beginning to end, you could say that we spent 4 days working on the short. All the shorts of my “Lessons” series follow the same protocol.

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

Very honest.

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

The biggest obstacle is always climbing the three flights of stairs to my studio with the equipment.

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

I loved the reaction of the audience, and how they acknowledge the great performances of my actors. I believe that good acting starts with a good script, and a an actor who understands it.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

My dermatologist—a lovely older lady—usually asks patients about drug use with the same tone and pace as the actress in the movie. For years I’ve been trying to squeeze it into something… and voilá!

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

All that Jazz.

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

It’s a trillion times better than the dreadful Withoutabox.

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

Tough question. Maybe “The Ballad of the Sad Young Man” performed by Rickie Lee Jones.

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

Yes, I have “Lesson #9” in the can and ready for submission. “The Lessons” is an ongoing project.

Interview with Filmmaker Mischa Livingstone (CUBICLE)

CUBICLE played to rave reviews at the September 2018 Under 5 Minute Film Festival in Toronto

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Mischa Livingstone: One day at work I happened to wander into an area of the third floor that I hadn’t been in before. Lo and behold, I discovered a recently abandoned office space looking like something out of the apocalypse. I had this immediate feeling of hypocrisy, sensing the gulf between what such a large workspace promises (success, money, stability), alongside the reality of a business overextending itself and making false claims.

I knew I had to make a film there. It was simply too interesting a location to pass up. The problem, though, was that all the equipment and furniture was being moved out within the next few weeks, so if I was going to shoot something it had to be quickly.

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

From walking into the location for the first time to shooting “Cubicle” was barely 2 weeks. Having discovered the location, I quickly made a round of calls to a number of people I regularly collaborate with and fortunately everyone was game to jump on board. I didn’t have an idea yet but didn’t want to wait until I did before putting together a crew. This was a rare case of figure out the logistics first, come up with the idea later.

Something about churning out a film in a short amount of time meant I couldn’t afford to be precious about the material. As such, I wasn’t agonizing over every decision or edit, which was a welcome change from other films I’ve made. It taught me a lot about being decisive and not sweating the small stuff.

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

Faking it.

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

For me, the biggest obstacles in filmmaking are always psychological. Deciding to make a film is the most significant hurdle. I’m mostly terrified of the thought and shy away from that commitment even though I know it’s what I need to do. Once I’ve made the decision, however, and fully committed to it, I barrel forward.

I am a much happier person when I am working on a film, but it’s that first decision that is always the most difficult and most frightening. Thankfully, my wife is there to push me forward and provide me with the support and encouragement I need to overcome my insecurities.

Specifically for “Cubicle”, I was facing a layoff myself at the time, and very uncertain about my future. Making the film was tied up in my own psychological state, and was a way for me to work through my fears, concerns, doubts, and anxiety.

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

Watching the feedback session was fantastic. I felt really honored by the thoughtful responses people gave, not to mention grateful to the festival for taking the time to record them.

Most surprising to me were the people who found the film motivational and inspirational. I hadn’t set out to portray the character as defying the odds. Quite the opposite, in fact. Nonetheless, if people find optimism in the piece then I’m thrilled. It is fascinating how irrelevant the director’s intent can sometimes be.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Given the limited time I had before I had to shoot at the location, my wife and I looked at the resources we had and built the idea around that. Rebecca Lincoln, who plays Becky Schyster in the film, was a good friend and had a lot of sales experience. I knew she could nail this character, and she was utterly game to play so the film coalesced around her specifically.

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

Airplane.

“Surely, you can’t be serious.

I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.”

I can’t tell if the humor in the film has withstood the test of time, or if I’m simply nostalgic for my younger self watching this and finding it so hilarious. Either way, watching this film makes me very happy.

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

I was introduced to FilmFreeway through a friend of mine who is a producer in Canada. I had not heard of the platform and he was very enthusiastic about it in comparison to the other options out there. This is the first time I’ve used FilmFreeway for a project and I will absolutely use it again. I particularly appreciate the ability to select festivals based on the cost of application. When you are making independent films, every penny counts, and FilmFreeway makes it easier to manage your festival submission budget.

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

Honestly, and I’m ashamed to admit it, it’s “Let it Be” from Frozen. This is on account of having a 3-year-old daughter who is obsessed with all things Elsa. Did you know there is a 10-hour loop of the song on YouTube?

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

I am in the throes of post-production on a new short film called “One Bedroom, One Bath”. I should be done by December 2018, at which point I’ll be submitting to festivals.

Sadly, it is over 5 minutes and won’t be eligible for the Under 5 Minute Film Festival.

Interview with Filmmaker Steve Socki (HALLOWSTIDE)

HALLOWSTIDE played to rave reviews at the September 2018 Under 5 Minute Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Steve Socki: Want to create moving paintings with visual interest.

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

1 year

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

Ebb Flow

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

Compositing thousands of layers in After Effects

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

Fascinating to hear variety of experiences.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Visual development developed from watercolor sketches of tidepools. Inspiration and spark from poetry of Wallace Stevens. Visual motion from teaching demonstrations I do for my animation mechanics class.

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

Norman McLaren’s “Blinkity Blank”

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

This is the best service, by far. They are the most organized, and offer the best site navigation.

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

Mozart’s “La ci darem la mano” from “The Marriage of Figaro;” at least, that is the melody most stuck in my head

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

New animation called “Enfold.” Developing visuals from studies of Baroque Masters’ treatment of clothing on figures. Motion tests of cloth blowing in the wind. Poetry of William Carlos Williams.
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