Interview with Filmmaker Oscar Lewis (1916)

Oscar Lewis’s amazing short film “1916” was the winner of Best Animation at the August 2016 Animation FEEDBACK Film Festival. It’s a terrific portrayal of our memories during a dramatic moment in our life. This film should be seen by everybody!

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Oscar Lewis: ‘1916’ was my first year film at the Royal College of Art. The November of 2015 – a month into my studies – London was filled with the memorial red poppies of Remembrance Day. I was quite moved by the ceremony of it all, and inside of the Royal College was a plaque dedicated to the students who enlisted during World War One and lost their lives; I’d walk past it every day to my studio and I decided then, that my next film would be about the First World War. Although instead of making a film about the war itself, I wanted to personalise the story to something I could personally relate to – something we can all relate to – the memory of someone we have lost. It also occurred to me that the year I would finish production (2016) would mark the centenary of the first time conscription was extended to married men with families in 1916. So in a way, the motivation for the film was a product of my environment at the time.

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

OL: So I suppose the initial idea struck me on rememberance day (11th November 2015), but I didn’t start animating until late January and finished around march. The turnaround for this project was very short and I was perhaps a little ambitious making a 4 minute film in this time, but I couldn’t condense the story any further and so the whole time from idea to finished film was about 4/5 months, having said that the actual animating took around 2 months which I did entirely by myself, every second of the film has 12 original drawings. So over two months I produced over 2000 drawings (so a lot of sleepless nights).

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

OL: Charcoal memory

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

OL: The music and the dialogue of the film were real concerns for me from the start, I knew I could do the drawings but the music and script seemed a little more difficult to achieve (this was my first time writing a script). I first imagined the film to be carried by a Benjamin button song called ‘Cuckoo’. It went perfectly. I tried so hard to obtain the permission but they simply would not budge on the copyright. So I gave up on that, and I befriended an excellent composer from the Royal College of Music (Markus Zierhofer) who not only wrote the score for the film, but arranged to have a live orchestra play the music. As for the script, I was waiting and waiting for my script-writer to hand me something and I eventually decided to give it a go myself. I think that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because now, writing scripts is one of my great new passions. I failed English at school and never thought I had any talent for it, but thinking of words that fit with visuals seems to come more naturally to me.

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

OL: I was very touched. I’m not sure how to properly express this, but what I appreciated above all else is the fact that it was understood – I mean really understood – more so than anything anyone had said about it before or since. I made this film because I wanted to explain how you often don’t realise when something life changing is happening. And that memory is fragmented and imperfect like a ‘bad flick book’. I thought that was a very good observation. The fact that people openly said they were moved by this film really meant a lot, I don’t have any affiliation with WWI (obviously), but I know what it’s like to feel loss as a child. The farewell which you never dreamt meant goodbye.

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

OL: In a very simple way, the idea came to me because I was moved by something going on in my surroundings. And also, I felt that during the great precessions and ceremonies in London, that we still feel and care and remember the lost lives of a hundred years ago. But what is more poignant to me, is the millions and millions (an entire generation) of fatherless children that were created by the war.

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

OL: I think this is a great question and I would love to lie and say something I think is beautiful like Eternal sunshine or Mary and Max or anything by Wes Anderson. But the fact of the matter is that when I was a child I probably watched Dumb and Dumber at least 40 or 50 times, my brother and I knew the entire script and used to watch it with one of us playing Harry and the other playing Lloyd, speaking over the top. Films have always meant a great deal to me.

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

OL: I finished my grad film at the Royal College about two months ago, called ‘The Waves’, although it was well received and I received my MA with it, I felt strangely unsatisfied. Instead of the charcoal in ‘1916’ I animated this film in oil paints, the work load was at least tripled because of this for the same length of film (4mins). It’s a film about an artist struggling with a mental illness. As he paints onto the canvas we see flashbacks of his childhood as he explains the differences between the then and the now. So what I am up to now is re-working and tweaking that film ready to send off to festivals. Hopefully you will screen it next year! And then I’m not sure. I just hope to always be making films.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of “1916”:

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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.

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Interview with director Lior Sperando (PEOPLE OF NOWHERE)

PEOPLE OF NOWHERE,  directed by Lior Sperando, was the winner of Best FILM at the July 2016 Under 5min. FEEDBACK Film Festival. It was one of the most popular films that has ever played at the festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Lior Sperando: I have heard and read different opinions about the wave of Syrian refugees who try to make their way in to the EU.

But Seeing the people behind the headlines with my own eyes, and feeling their deep struggle, broke my heart.

I wanted to show what I saw in the Greek island.

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

LS: The shootings took about a week and the post another month.
So 5 weeks all together

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

LS: Humanity first

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

LS: The shootings were very complex physically and also mentally.
Trying every day to avoid the medias circus in order to get the raw emotions was a pain but also a success

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

LS: I would never guess this film will get so popular. Hearing people from all over the world watching and sharing the film with their friends and families was. A really great surprise!

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

LS: While the world was so busy labeling this crisis from left to right. I tried to show another perspective.

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

LS: Ahh.. Probably Robbin Hood /:

Haha

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

LS: Since “People of Nowhere” –

I was able to make another short film with the same concept of
Giving a voice to a muted community, this time in Ethiopia:
http://www.liorsperandeo.com

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of PEOPLE OF NOWHERE:

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-50 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 www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with director Kyran Davies (STEPHEN THE TIME TRAVELLING DOG)

STEPHEN THE TIME TRAVELLING DOG, directed by Kyran Davies is perhaps one of the most loved films that was ever played at a WILDsound Festival. The audience attending the July 2016 Under 5 minute FEEDBACK Film Festival LOVED this film. It was a pleasure interviewing the director, especially because his answers were all funny.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Kyran Davies: People always say that you should write about what you know. I’d probably say time travel is one of my favourite past times. Next to mountain hikes and playing Tetris battle. I’m particularly fond of the 16th Century. So I’d say my main motivation came from my love of time travel and my fondness for animals. Especially cats.

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

KD: It took me about four years to convince a crew to come and shoot it with me. But once i did the shoot only took a day. It was the best day of my life.

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

KD: Gritty Realism

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

KD: I was really lucky to work with a super professional crew during the shoot of this film. Unfortunately I can’t say the same about a certain unnamed cast member, who kept barking, asking for treats and shitting on the floor. The Dog Archie was great to work with though. There was also quite a steep flight of stairs in the flat that we shot the film in which I had to walk up and down at least twice, that was quite challenging.

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

KD: When I first got sent the link, I thought it was spam mail but I watched it anyway. Initially I thought “Who the hell would make a film about a time travelling dog” but once I remembered that it was a film I’d made I was very grateful for the kind words and positive feedback. It meant a lot. I have lots of love for the Canadian Audience and for all the people at Wildsound.

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

KD: I was playing a lot of Bugs Bunny: Lost In Time for the playstation 1 at the time I came up with the idea for Stephen the time Travelling Dog. It’s a fantastic under rated game that really shows off diverse character study and complex narrative involving time travel and animals. It really was a big inspiration so I just tried to visually rip it off as much as possible.

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

KD: When I was a kid I used to have periods of time where I’d binge watch Return of the Jedi for weeks on end. But as an adult I usually wake up each morning and watch a scene from Purple Rain with Prince to start my day. Seeing Prince do something cool is my substitute for coffee.

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

KD: I’m currently working on a short comedy film set in the 90s about a video shop. I am going to release it directly online once it is complete. Hopefully towards the end of 2016. Should be a nice bit of nostalgia for all the 80s, 90s kids and anyone who remembers their local video shop.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of STEPHEN THE TIME TRAVELLING DOG:

stephen_the_time_travelling_dog_1

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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 Festival 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.

Interview with director Tim Butcher (CLEAN BREAK)

CLEAN BREAK, directed by Tim Butcher was the winner of Best Overall Performances at the July 2016 Comedy Short Film Festival. It was an honor to sit down with him to chat about his film and filmmaking career.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Tim Butcher: I wanted to make a film that was a step up from my others – that had slightly higher production standards and told a bit of a story, rather than just outlining a sketch. Ive always wanted to do something about a break up.

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

TB: I’d say about 4 months.

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

TB: Hateful breakup (is breakup one word?)

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

TB: I’d say producing, directing and acting simultaneously. Its a bit too much to do – I’ve dialled back the number of roles I’m involved with for subsequent projects.

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

TB: It’s always challenging hearing audience feedback, but I’m probably less neurotic about this these days than I have been in the past. I appreciated the kind words and found the process useful.

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

TB: I think it started with a broad brief – ‘something about a breakup’ and went from there.

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

TB: Either In Bruges or Back to the Future.

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

TB: I’ve just finished filming my next short – a 20 minute comedy about two friends who go to live in a forest despite having no survival skills.

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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 Festival 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.

Interview with Writer/Director Jon Silverberg (DISAPPEARED)

Canadian Director John Silverberg’s short film played at the January 2016 FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jon Silverberg: Growing up in the 1980s, my dad had a collection of hundreds of older films and television series. I loved the science fiction stories – particularly “The Twilight Zone”. While creating Disappeared the series was on my mind – not only for its wonderfully bizarre stories, but also for its rich and often everyday characters. Sometimes it was comedy, sometimes it was drama, sometimes it was romance – but it was always science fiction. These are the stories that I love to tell!

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

JS: I wrote the film in one night, but it took 6-8 months before we had the window of opportunity to film it. Budget was very tight, and so post-production took an additional 8-9 months of tinkering – mostly with the VFX and Sound Design.

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

JS: Accidental Magic

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

JS: Definitely budget was the biggest obstacle. It’s a small film with big ideas, and we were creating it with basically zero budget. The entire film was shot in just over 4 hours – in the morning before another production.

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

JS: I was very pleased to hear people really understand the twists and turns of film, the conflict of the lead character, and the desire to see what was on ‘the other side’. As a filmmaker, you make lots of little decisions based on your instinct, and it was wonderful to hear people really connecting with the material.

MT: You made some great cinematic choice in this film with tone and style. Was this film always in your head in black & white? What about the main performance – he has a bit of a sweet edge to him?

JS: Thanks! My mantra was: “What if Billy Wilder had directed an episode of “The Twilight Zone” in the early 60s?”. I wanted to create something that felt vintage (no cell phones to the rescue), and had the eerie/sci-fi elements, but also had charming comedic and romantic elements. It was definitely an homage to “Twilight Zone”, but lead actor Mackenzie Gray really dove into the Billy Wilder-esque madcap lead character. Mackenzie often plays villains (General Zod’s right-hand-man in “Man Of Steel”), and I thought he did a lovely job of playing a gentler, more eccentric everyman in this film.

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

JS: Either “Jurassic Park”, “Back to the Future”, or Tim Burton’s “Batman”.

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

JS: I have just finished producing a new sci-fi/mockumentary funded by Telus’ Storyhive campaign, titled “Unit Bryan”. It will be on Telus Optik and YouTube on Feb 29th. I have also just finished writing my first feature film, which I am aiming to direct by the end of the year.

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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 Festival 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.

 

Interview with Storyboard Artist Stephen Forrest-Smith (Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Dark Knight)

A storyboard artist, or story artist, creates storyboards for film productions.

I had a blast sitting down with the very talented storyboard artist Stephen Forrest-Smith. Stephen has worked on some of the most popular films in the last 15 years, including “The Dark Knight,” the last three “Harry Potter” films, and last year’s “Star Wars” film.

His candor in the following interview is educational and very entertaining. Enjoy:

Matthew Toffolo: When coming aboard a project on a Hollywood film, how does the process generally work? Do you start with a preliminary chat with the director about themes etc..? How early do you arrive before production? When do you generally exit the job?

Stephen Forrest-Smith: There really is no normal to my job anymore. Every project seems to be different now and asks for a different approach. A film project could call on a storyboard artist at any stage from pre-pre production, ( when the film is trying to get funding) right the way through to post production for VFX, (after principal photography has been completed). The bulk of my work tends to be early in the pre-production taking the first pass at sequences to get the ball rolling on them. Usually I’d start with a chat with a Director, though it could be VFX supervisor or production designer and then work on from there. I used to expect to finish when filming starts but now I might stay almost to the end of shooting then be called back for reshoots and post production.

Matthew: How was your recent experience working on the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast with director Bill Condon?

Stephen: Beauty and the Beast is shaping up to be a really beautiful and wonderful production of the fairytale. I didn’t work directly with Bill Condon but instead was briefed by Tobias A. Schliessler, the director of photography. This doesn’t happen very often but I like working with the DOP as I get to see more of the technical side to the filmmaking process. The film also has many amazing musical routines that were carefully choreographed which needed storyboards added to them. This was fun as I never work on a musical before. I think this is my favourite part of the job – getting to work with and learn from such a variety of very talented people across all the departments.

Matthew: World War Z is such a visual film. How many boards did you do for that film?

Stephen: World War Z was a very troubled production, which stumbled to the finish somehow! I think that film chewed up 5 storyboard artists over its run. I had two spells on that job. The first spell I worked on the escape from Malta sequence. I returned to work with the second unit director the battle for Moscow part which was cut from the movie.

Matthew: When you watch the final product, like Star Wars for examples, and you see your visual designs on screen in live-action, how does that feel? It must be a goose-bump experience.

Stephen: It’s always a strange feeling watching the films that I’ve worked on. Its quite a long time between finishing on them and seeing them in the cinema. I might have worked on two or three films in-between seeing the finished movie. This means I tend to sit there trying to remember what i drew for which part of the movie and if anything made it! Sometimes a sequence will run out just as it was storyboarded then you get a feeling of “deja vu”. Other times its nice to sit back and watch the response of the audience to see if a moment works or not.

Matthew: You’ve been credited as being a “Conceptual Artist” in films like Speilberg’s War Horse. What does that job detail?

Stephen: Conceptual Artist is a cover all title for film illustrators / 3d artists / designers who are involved in the initial visualising of the designs of the film. It can also include producing images on the sets as they are being designed to communicate them to the director and producer.

stephen_storyboards

Matthew: What’s your ideal working experience with a director?

Stephen: For me the most satisfying part of the job is seeing the boards being used on set and being shot from. Making movies rapidly becomes an insanely complicated endeavor and a good set of storyboards is the best way of communicating to all the crew what they are all trying to achieve. A director who’s invested in the boards and wants them to be used, and sent out to the crew is my ideal.

Matthew: You also worked on The Dark Knight, which ended up being an iconic film. Did you expect it to be so popular? What part of the film did you do boards for?

Stephen: I was very excited to work on The Dark Knight, Chris Nolan was my favourite director at the time. It was clear from reading the script that he had a great take on the Joker that Heath Ledger went onto realise. My friend Jim Cornish got me the job. Jim was booked to go onto Harry Potter and the Half blood Prince so he recommended me to come and finish off for him. He had done the bulk of the work when I started so I had amendments to make on his sequences. I then drew the Jokers attack on Bruce Wayne’s apartment and Batman and Two Face’s stand off at the end of the film. Yes I did expect it to be popular as Batman Begins and had been a big hit already.

Matthew: When is does the “I’m now allowed to talk about it” statue of limitations with Star Wars end? When are you allowed to talk about your experiences working on the film and put the storyboards that you worked on for the film in your portfolio?

Stephen: I think this is the most onerous part of the job now. We have to sign NDA’s for every project and they last forever. So I shouldn’t talk to you at all!

Matthew: Do you have a storyboard mentor?

Stephen: The person who not only gave me my break but was the best mentor ever was Stephen Sommers of “The Mummy” fame – His best advice was ‘ don’t give me hundreds of angles but show how few shots I need to shoot the sequence”. I’ve kept that as my philosophy since and i love the rigour of working in this way.

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

Stephen: The Directors I return to again and again are Alfred Hitchcock, Akira Kurosawa and Sergio Leone. So probably “North by Northwest”, “Seven Samurai” and “Fistfull of Dollars”. Not a moment is wasted in their movies – they are true cinema for me.

Matthew: Do you worked on over 30 productions in the last 17 years. Do you have a favorite working experience?

Stephen: I’m sure I’ve worked on more than that!!! My jobs can vary from a days world to years so I’ve done a lot now. “The Mummy” is still by far my favourite ever film experience as every moment was exciting and new. I’d also taken a big gamble changing my career from architecture to film and the Mummy was my first chance to make the gamble work out. I started with a two week trial then worked on for 9 months storyboarding the whole film on my own. I got to travel to Marakesh and the red sahara. Got to swim in a swimming pool with Kate Winslet and rode on camels in the Sahara. Not bad for a first job.

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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 Festival 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.

Interview with Foley Artist Marko Costanzo (Silence of the Lambs, The Departed, Life of Pi)

Foley is the reproduction of everyday sound effects that are added to film. These reproduced sounds can be anything from the swishing of clothing and footsteps to squeaky doors and breaking glass.

I was very fortunate to sit down with the brilliant and under appreciated Foley Artist Mark Costanzo. Marko has worked on over 500 productions and is a 2 time Emmy winner. (If the Academy had a category for Foley, Marko would have won more than a few Oscars.)

His list of credits consist of many of the greatest films of the last 30 years. See his IMDB list: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0003401

marko_costanzoMatthew Toffolo: Out of all the amazing films you’ve worked on, is there one or two that stand out that you’re most proud of?

Marko Costanzo: Wow!!! That’s a really hard choice. I have favorite movies that were really challenging to work on and others that I love just for themselves. “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” and “Life of Pi” and “Good Fellas” and “The Birdcage” and “Boardwalk Empire” and ….

Matthew: I just watched “Spotlight”, a film you were the Foley Artist on. There is a theme of “silence” in the sound design: What is not heard/What is not said. Was working on that film the definition of “less is more” when creating the sound effects?

Marko: Spotlight was indeed a wonderful film. There were many times where subtlety was more necessary than the normal amount of noise we add to the sound tracks. A tense moment can be emphasized with the nervous creak of leather or a sweaty brow wipe. Of course music is a key component to creating the mood for a scene, and the mixer was able to capture those moments with music and effects. A sprinkling of foley can enhance those times. We pretty much do what is required and “less is more” was indeed the intention for some moments.

Matthew: What makes a great foley artist? What skills does he/she need?

Marko: There are many great foley artist out there. I have worked with truly talented individuals that have amazed me with their abilities. To be a great foley artist I believe one must have relatively good reflexes. Eye-hand coordination is key to making a sound believable. Many times a sound can be perceived as correct if the sync is perfect.

You need to have some common sense and an imagination that can take you to the limits of an effect. Choosing what prop to use for the sound you want to make is essential. Like a chef, you look to see what sound you need to make, then chose the ingredients (props) and mix them together.

You need to be a good listener. We work for editors. Editors have different criterion for each show we work on. Some like it big and over the top. some like it subtle and more realistic. Each time a different foley editor would come into the room to supervise the recording, I would walk away with a better understanding about how things should sound. It’s important to gain the trust of your editors and listen to what they have to say. When they want something heavier you need to understand what they mean. Does heavier mean louder? Bigger? It’s a subjective art with lots of possible variations. It’s important to do things the way the client intends for it to be heard.

It helps to be a dancer or a mime or an athlete. This is a physical job that requires strength and coordination. I’m a 6 foot tall male weighing about 180 pounds trained in the marshal arts, acting and also a student of prestidigitation. I’ve trained myself to sound like a construction worker or an executive or a mobster or a messenger. Those are just some of the roles for men. I can also sound like a little child running on a playground or a sexy model clomping across a runway in stiletto heels. ( I have many pairs of 13-Wide woman’s shoes). You need to be able to portray, (through the body language of the actor) what emotion they are presenting. If an actor is acting drunk, those footsteps had better sound like they are coming from a drunken person, and not the straight forward footsteps of a business man on the way to work.

Matthew: How did you get started as a foley artist? Was it something you knew about growing up and dreamed of doing? Or did the job choose you?

Marko: At age 15 i was a practicing magician performing tricks for aunts and uncles and friends and local children. I wanted to be a Magician when I grew up. I was also involved with the drama department throughout high school and college. My major was business management, but I took as many film and television courses as possible. I wanted to be in front of the camera for all those years.

When I graduated I immediately started working on low budget feature films being shot in NYC. The was fun and I thought I would be working on sets as a grip or anything. I started to think I wanted to direct as well. It wasn’t until a friend introduced me to a post production studio in Manhattan did I even realize that Foley existed. I got involved in editing and one day they said I should go to the foley stage and watch what was going on. Elisha Birmbaum was the Foley Artist working on Sophie’s Choice. I watched as he moved in sync with the characters on screen. At one point they needed a pull chain light bulb sound and Elisha was not able to find a prop suitable prop for this effect. I immediately said I had one in my father’s workshop and would bring it to them the following day. I was permitted to make the foley sound for this. Afterwards I was told Elisha (NYC’s premier Foley Artist for 30 or so years) was looking for a replacement. I applied for the position and I have never looked back.

Matthew: Many of the movies you work on (including working with Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, and Woody Allen) are based in New York City. I’m assuming that’s where you were born and raised and are an expert at understanding the “pulse” of the city?

Marko: My entire working career has always been in NYC. From stand-up Comedy Clubs to working on the streets on low-budget films to landing the Foley Artist position at Sound One. It was always very exciting to be around the directors and actors that would come into sound stages and replace their voices or work on the editing of the film. I actually lived in Fort Lee, New Jersey for most of my career, which gave me easy access into Manhattan. Being a commuter into the city was a time consuming process and when given the opportunity to work on a Foley stage in New Jersey, I chose to give up the NYC life. C5 the Post Production Sound Facility I have been working with for the past 27 years build the largest facility for foley recording in the USA. It was 20 minutes from my house in a very quiet neighborhood. We have the capability to record huge sounds with our “LIVE” sound reflecting walls and more storage space for props than anyone could have imagined.

Matthew: How long does is generally take to do the foley for a feature film?

Marko: Foley recording for feature films vary tremendously from film to film. It usually boils down to the budget of the film. Nowadays, there is a surge of feature films and television shows that all require some Foley recording. Here is a general breakdown for Film and Television.

Low-budget films will allow 2-5 days of recording with some editing to tighten up the loose sync.

Most 1/2 hour or 1 hour televisions series will use 1-2 days
Medium budget films will get almost 2 weeks, depending on whether it is an action film or other type of sound intensive show.

Big Budgets will usually take 3-5 weeks. These films expect every nuance of sound imaginable.

Matthew: Is there a different game-plan in developing the sound when working on different genres (drama, comedy, action, comic book)? Or working on period pieces (like Boardwalk Empire) in comparison to a modern film?

Marko: I find that everyone we work with follow their own set of rules as to how a film is prepared for the final mix. Sometimes the sound supervisor will create lots of library sounds for as many scenes as they are capable of preparing. When they have exhausted their library of effects or their time for preparation, then the foley team will be given a list of what is still needed to be recorded.

Sometimes we go through the entire film and put Foley Sounds in for every possible moment. It really depends on how fast a project needs to get completed and how much money is available for post production. Foley is the fastest method for getting great sounds in sync with the actions on screen, but certainly not the cheapest. The Sound Supervisor needs to balance his budget and make sure the project get completed properly, in a timely manner and to the liking of the director.

Matthew: Besides the films you’ve worked on, what film have you seen the most in your life?

Marko: Brazil, Planet of the Apes, Star Trek, Caddy Shack, Pulp Fiction. I love comedies, science fiction and quirky films. And for as many years that I have been in the film industry, I seldom just listen to the sound tracks of a film. I tend to get involved in the actors and what they have to say. Everything else in the film is usually just background. I want to hear what the writer is trying to say. I just recently viewed “The Reverant”. This film was beautifully shot, with music guiding the emotion of each scene. The effects tracks and foley was pristine and captivating. It is truly one of the best films I have seen.

Matthew: Who is/was your sound/foley artist mentor?

Marko: In the beginning Elisha Birmbaum of Sound One gave me my first opportunity in being a Foley Artist. Working at Sound One for the first five years of my career enabled me to meet and understand the many different people and ideas from all the different editors milling about in the Brill Building (the center of the NYC film industry for many years). All the editors and directors that came into the studio helped mold my tastes and judgements. When I joined C5, there was a different mind-set used in the creation of Foley Sound’s. The intention was to create foley sounds that blended with the production tracks by using reflective walls and various surfaces. I was fortunate to be invited to work with some of the best sound people in the business.

Matthew: You’ve worked on some of the greatest films made in the last 30 years, with basically all of the greatest filmmakers of our time. Is there someone you would like to work with that you haven’t worked with yet? Or, is there a film subject/genre that you like to work on?

Marko: I have been blessed with being in a position that offers so many unique projects to work on. I never know where the next interesting show is coming from. For years I wanted to work with Ray Romano, whom I had performed with during his comedy years. I was pleased to see him in HBO’s upcoming series “Vinyl”.

I recently was asked to make Foley sounds for a Neuro-science project with David Byrne.

The Coen Brothers and Charlie Kaufman asked me to perform Foley live on stage for “Theater of the New Ear”. This was a sound play performed here in NYC, England and Los Angeles.

Last year I flew out to L.A. to put Foley Sounds to Charlie Kaufman’s “Anomalisa”, (one of the sound plays I did live for “Theater of the New Ear”). I never know what direction this craft will take me.

Matthew: People are reading your interview and are now fascinated about your job. I’m sure the next film/TV show they watch, they are going to pay more attention to the foley. What film(s) of yours should they watch, learn and take in the artistry of what you do?

Marko: I always kid with people about waiting to see the credits. Everyone I know now waits to see if i worked on the film they just saw. It’s flattering, but I work on about 20 movies a year. there are close to 300 major feature films released each year. There is a big chance that the movie they are watching in not bearing my name… but they still wait and look and comment of the way the foley sounded to them. The greatest compliments I receive are when the listener can’t detect there is any foley at all. It means the foley blended with the production perfectly and we did our job properly.

In any event, if you’d like to see my credit roll up the screen, be sure to watch Spotlight, Queen of Katwee, The Free State of Jones, Vinyl, Chiraq, The Knick… AW SHUCKS!!! here’s my IMDB link:
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0003401/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

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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.