November 2018 – Read the best of Filmmaker Interviews

Interviews by Matthew Toffolo

Touch the link and read 8 different interviews with the best of new filmmakers from around the world.

Dominic McCafferty (BOONDOGGLE)
Interview with Filmmaker Dominic McCafferty (BOONDOGGLE)

Bevin Hamilton & Rachel Murphy (INCALL)
Interview with Filmmakers Bevin Hamilton, Rachael Murphy (INCALL)

Marvin Nuecklaus (CROSSROADS)
Interview with Filmmaker Marvin Nuecklaus (CROSSROADS)

Max Mortl (ISLAND)
Interview with Filmmaker Max Mörtl & Robert Löbel (ISLAND)

Nick Dolinski (CLOUD COVER)
Interview with Filmmaker Nick Dolinski (CLOUD COVER)

Interview with Filmmaker Erik Bloomquist (SHE CAME FROM THE WOODS)

Interview with Filmmaker Mark Howling (O.B.E. THE OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCE)

Andres Passoni (3:32)
Interview with Filmmaker Andres Passoni (3:32)


October 2018 – Read the best of Filmmaker Interviews

Interviews by Matthew Toffolo

Touch the link and read 28 different interviews with the best of new filmmakers from around the world.

Interview with Filmmaker Deniz Campinar (THE REVELATOR)
Interview with Filmmaker Deniz Campinar (THE REVELATOR)

Interview with Filmmaker Nesli Ozalp Tuncer (THE RETURN)
Interview with Filmmaker Nesli Ozalp Tuncer (THE RETURN)

Interview with Filmmaker Liz Lachman (PIN-UP)
Interview with Filmmaker Liz Lachman (PIN-UP)

Interview with Filmmaker Sean Janisse (LOCOMOTIVE 8 – ENCORE)
Interview with Filmmaker Sean Janisse (LOCOMOTIVE 8 – ENCORE)

Interview with Filmmaker Penny Lee (THROUGH CHINATOWNS’S EYES: APRIL 1968)
Interview with Filmmaker Penny Lee (THROUGH CHINATOWNS’S EYES: APRIL 1968)

Interview with Filmmaker Graeme Bachiu (WHY WE PUSH?)
Interview with Filmmaker Graeme Bachiu (WHY WE PUSH?)

Interview with Filmmaker Jessica Chung (SUSHI MAN)
Interview with Filmmaker Jessica Chung (SUSHI MAN)

Interview with Filmmaker Luma Oquendo (SARAVÁ)
Interview with Filmmaker Luma Oquendo (SARAVÁ)

Interview with Filmmaker Manfred Borsch (MIRRORS)
Interview with Filmmaker Manfred Borsch (MIRRORS)

Interview with Filmmaker Nancy Allison (MARMO)
Interview with Filmmaker Nancy Allison (MARMO)

Interview with Filmmaker Pablo Mengin-Lecreulx (SCANDAL)
Interview with Filmmaker Pablo Mengin-Lecreulx (SCANDAL)

Interview with Filmmakers Hope Carew & Allison O’Conor (MR. NICE GIRLS)
Interview with Filmmakers Hope Carew & Allison O’Conor (MR. NICE GIRLS)

Interview with Award Winning Filmmaker Sreejith Nair (THE COLOR OF ME)
Interview with Award Winning Filmmaker Sreejith Nair (THE COLOR OF ME)

Interview with Filmmaker Ken Clark (SNIP)
Interview with Filmmaker Ken Clark (SNIP)

Interview with Filmmaker Daniel Bergeson (UNEARTHED)
Interview with Filmmaker Daniel Bergeson (UNEARTHED)

Interview with Filmmaker Mischa Livingstone (CUBICLE)
Interview with Filmmaker Mischa Livingstone (CUBICLE)

Interview with Filmmaker Peta Milan (RIGHT TO BE FORGOTTEN)
Interview with Filmmaker Peta Milan (RIGHT TO BE FORGOTTEN)

Interview with Filmmaker Shinya Isobe (FOR REST)
Interview with Filmmaker Shinya Isobe (FOR REST)

Interview with Filmmaker Sam South (EAT JEREMY)
Interview with Filmmaker Sam South (EAT JEREMY)

Interview with Filmmaker Larissa Pruett (GET HOME SAFE)
Interview with Filmmaker Larissa Pruett (GET HOME SAFE)

Interview with Filmmaker Steve Socki (HALLOWSTIDE)
Interview with Filmmaker Steve Socki (HALLOWSTIDE)

Interview with Filmmaker Jessica Champneys (STAR WARS: DRESCA)
Interview with Filmmaker Jessica Champneys (STAR WARS: DRESCA)

Interview with Filmmaker Sean Wehrli (GLENDALE)
Interview with Filmmaker Sean Wehrli (GLENDALE)

Interview with Filmmaker Nora Jaenicke (WHALES)
Interview with Filmmaker Nora Jaenicke (WHALES)

Interview with Filmmaker Zena AbdelBaky (ALL THAT REMAINS)
Interview with Filmmaker Zena AbdelBaky (ALL THAT REMAINS)

Interview with Filmmaker Audrey Arkins (AMERICAN BOY)
Interview with Filmmaker Audrey Arkins (AMERICAN BOY)

Interview with Filmmaker Aaron Rudelson (NORMAN PINSKI COME HOME)
Interview with Filmmaker Aaron Rudelson (NORMAN PINSKI COME HOME)

Interview with Filmmaker Eugene Lehnert (THE OUTER BOROUGHS)
Interview with Filmmaker Eugene Lehnert (THE OUTER BOROUGHS)

Interview with Filmmaker Josiah Cuneo (IN THROUGH THE NIGHT)
Interview with Filmmaker Josiah Cuneo (IN THROUGH THE NIGHT)

Inside The Chaos: How To Make The Most of Your Time As A Freelancer

freelancerby Kierston Drier

Film and television production is a freelance industry. And freelance industries are complicated for the people they employ. In one corner, we have making your own working hours, as much free time as you desire, and the potential to make a lot of money when you do work. In the other corner we long stretches without work, the stress of a feast-or-famine work frame and FOMO when multiple jobs come our way at once. And worse still, if we are looking to advance our careers while still getting calls for the same type of work. How do we manage in the high-octane, fast-paced world that is freelance?

As a freelancer who has made a good living in an expensive city I’m here today to share a few tips with anyone is struggling or juggling to find balance in this intense industry.

The 80/20 Rule

This is my golden rule. You see it in lifestyle-diets : eat eighty percent healthy and twenty percent whatever you want. I correlate this to my working life. Eighty percent of the time I spend work that keeps my lights on. I like all the jobs I take but these jobs have a primary purpose- they pay my bills.

The other twenty percent of my working time is spent on passion projects. These passion projects fall under a number of headings- work I do on a friends’ project, work I do for free as a favor, or work I do for lower than a normal rate in order to gain a new skill of polish an old one. Some of them go on my resume and some I do just be help out a buddy. But all together- these are professional or semi-professional jobs I do, that I do purply because I want to. What has been wonderful about this twenty percent rule, is that every so often, this jobs or favors, lead me to a lucrative gig that I also enjoy doing, that can bleed over into the eighty percent of my jobs that pay my bills. That is a wonderful place to be in!

2. Utilize your weekends. Mostly.

The traditional Monday-Friday 9-5 is quickly disappearing. And while some people mourn that, freelancers may embrace it. You may not have a traditional 5 day, 40 hours work-week. You may be working 12 hour days, or you may have shifting schedules that don’t give you two days off in a row. No matter how crazy or unpredictable your schedule can be, you can still utilize these tools. I use this strategy when I’m working a standard set-based 12 hour day with two days off.

Pick two days where you can carve out free time. Even if it is only for a few hours.
On one of these days, plan to do nothing related to work. Seriously. Go out, see your friends, read a book, watch TV, take a bubble bath, go for a run. Live your life.
On the other day, divide the free time in half. Spend one half cleaning up your life, in whatever form you may need- manage your meal prep, check your emails, do your laundry. Whatever you have to do that you can’t find time for when you are working night-shoot crazy hours and have barely had time to wash the sweat off.
In the other half of the last day, do a work related thing that matters to your personal development. Work on a script you’ve been developing. Edit a reel you’ve been working on. Coordinate with creative partners on creative projects.

The bottom line here, is use maximum efficiency with the free time that you do have while still being able to live your life. If you have an off season, where you can potentially have weeks at a time free, have a plan of attack to devote more time to your creative projects.

3. Build Yourself A Float

Another vital rule I utilized early on in my career and reaped benefits from later. I did whatever I could when I had an influx of jobs to live below my means. I put aside a small stipend of liquid assets to utilize when lean months came. This helped me out by cutting down on the stress and panic that comes with the mindset of “I need a job, any job! I have to pay rent!” It allowed me to carefully weigh my options when jobs came my way, and gave me the freedom to choose to the best professional option for myself.

Understandably, this isn’t always an option everyone has access too. Sometimes jobs are scarce and you need to take whatever comes your way. Take the jobs you need, and set aside whatever you can for a rainy day. A good plan in freelance is have two to three months of basic living expenses saved up for when jobs are harder to find.

4. Find An Inspiring Side Gig.

Get a hobby for those dry spells. And make it something you love. Whether you blog about your favorite TV shows, write reviews for a local paper or online magazine, do freelance editing or script covering on the side, whatever helps keep your creative passions sharp and inspired. If it adds a little money to your pocket book as well, all the better. Freelance is all about versatility. Not just in taking on different jobs with different people, but with your ability to be hired for your many professional facets. What starts as a hobby today, can become a marketable and valuable professional skill later.

The freelance game isn’t always easy, but it can be hugely rewarding! For better or worse, our society is moving more and more towards a freelance and contract-based economy. It is a system, but with a little work and strategic planning, you can make it work for you in a very effective way.

Do you have any freelance tips? We’d love to hear about them!

Inside The Chaos: Networking: Keeping in Contact – Part 3

Jesus that was exhausting, wasn’t it? But YOU MADE IT.

It’s not as easy as it sounds!

  • You went to the Event/ Party/ Industry Night
  • You talked to People
  • You grabbed contact information

But now what? How do you bridge the gap between casual meeting and business contact? The last part can be the most tenuous, but also the most rewarding!

This secondary phase contact depends greatly on several factors

  • The context in which you met
  • The context in which you exchanged information
  • The difference in your professional status’s
  • Contextual Needs

Context in which you met:

  • Did you meet at a Party? A wrap party? A swanky professional conference?
  • Did you talk professionally or about only topics directly related to your work or the field in general, or, was your meeting more relaxed and talked about a variety of topics?

Context of exchanging your information:

  • Did you exchange your information because that was what was happening all around you (everyone passing out lots of cards)? Or did you exchange based on mutual interest?
  • Who offered to exchange first?

Professional status:

  • Is this person at the same level as you? Or do they have considerably more or less experience?
  • Are you in directly related fields, or peripherally related?

Contextual needs:
–  Do the two of you have positions that can mutually benefit each other.

What to do:
– Wait for 18-48 hours before writing.
-If they offered a preferred form of contact, use that  (Facebook, email, etc)

-Personalize your contact with thoughtful details (Ex:
(Ex: Hello (Name) is was so nice to meet you last (weekday/weekend) at (Event Name). I really enjoyed our conversation about (Topic) and (Insert comment on topic). It would be great to  (Bump into you again/ grab a coffee sometime to talk more about (insert topic) I‘d be happy to buy you a coffee sometime and hear more about (Industry Item)/ etc).
– If you have the ability to talk about something other than the industry, include that too!
-Spell check.

-Directly ask for a job, favor or professional courtesy (UNLESS they specifically told you they were looking to hire/asked you to send in your resume/offered to do favor for you in person)
-Use more than one mode of contact (email them AND text them AND add them to facebook. Do this gradually)
-Make off color humor (even if you were raunchy-humored in person, it may translate poorly through text)
-Panic if you don’t hear back. Deep breath. They may honestly be busy, they may remember you next time you bump into each other!

Inside The Chaos: Networking: Conversations Tips – Part 2

We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

You’ve finally made it to that big party/event/social and you desperately need to/want to talk to people for any number of reasons. It may be to get yourself noticed, spread an idea of yours, talk up a new accomplishment, gather opinions or simply make friends. It’s a difficult thing, and as easy as it looks in the world of television, it can be really hard to turn your brain thoughts into mouth words.

I am by no means a conversation expert– I certainly have stuffed my foot into my mouth on a handful of occasions. I have also been on the awkward end of a terribly sentence when the whole room shuts up at once and suddenly everyone important hears the Alphagetti Vs. Zoodles debate you were slightly drunkenly having with your neighbour. It’s okay. It happens.

But I can say that, on just as many (if not more) occasions, my conversation has gotten me business cards, interviews, coffee meetings, important contacts and yes, even jobs. So take this with a grain of salt, but below are my tips and tricks of how to hold a conversation with a near stranger, how to engage them, and, most important, how to get the heck out of there when it’s not going well.

PHASE ONE: Open Your Mouth

This is the hardest phase. Even for an extrovert, sometimes you open your mouth and stupid things come out and panic ensues and you suddenly find yourself running into the valley to nervous-puke into your own handbag. Relax. You’ll be fine. Probably.

At crowded Parties

  • Sidle up to a group of people who you’d like to speak to, stand to the side of them and listen to what they are saying. Notice who is dominating conversation, or if they are all having half-conversations with each other. Wait for a catching note– meaning a topic that you either a) have an opinion one b) want to learn more about.  Consider the following,
  • ” Oh sorry, where you talking about (Insert topic) I just heard about that on  (Insert place, newspaper, radio). What have you heard?”
  • “I’ve seen that (insert movie/show/play/ and (insert how you felt about it)”  OR ” I’ve heard (good/bad/mixed) reviews on that, how did you find it? Did it have a good plot”

Now, ice breaker over, move into deeper things.

  • “That’s a fascinating point, what do you think makes the best writing/photography/technical design/plot twist.  I’ve always thought (insert brief opinion)
  • “Well I don’t know much about that issue, however I always assumed (Insert general opinion on topic you may not be totally informed it. If that is the case, be honest, but acknowledge that you are unread in this area and are open to learning about it) “

Phew. At this point you’ve engaged one or more people in some kind of conversation. Congrats!

PHASE TWO: Develop Context With Your Mouth Words

You’re succeeding in talking to a person or people. You’ve connected with them on a personal basis. Great! Surprisingly, it is NOW that you ask the get-to-know-you questions. If you ask them first time you  open your mouth, you risk jarring the natural flow of the conversation. Insert them casually, and after communication is already underway.

  • So you work in /at/ worked on  (insert industry event, social event name, wrap party production name). Awesome, how long have you been doing that?”
  • *My personal favorite* “How did you get into that line of work? There are so many positions in this industry I love hearing how people  fall into which areas”
  • “I’m (Insert name) by the way!”

Big thing here is ASK QUESTIONS. It generates interest in the other person, engages them and opens up context for you. If you’re here solely to network (Which I personally don’t recommend) then you can fast track to see if this person is someone you would like to establish a business relationship with, or not.


At some point, the person will likely ask about you.  BE HONEST. Suuuuuper important here, do not lie, do not let your “mouth overload your ass” so to speak. That being said, if you are currently in between jobs or it’s off season and you’re a barista at starbucks and you don’t want them to know that, then say the most recent industry job you had.

  • “Me? I just finished up/finishing up my last contract on (Insert show)
  • “Oh, I work in (Area of the industry)  mostly, I worked on (Insert last show)”
  • “I freelance, so I’m really doing anything in the industry I can get my hands on, I haven’t found a job I don’t like yet!”
  • “I enjoy production work/office work/ post-production work and my main focus is”
  • “I work at  (insert company) and (insert title) “
  • PHASE FOUR: Continuing and Closing (or brain thoughts meet mouth words)

    The basics are covered now. You’ve made introductions, established common ground and are in a conversation. Keep it up by using the following tips.

    – Go into every meeting looking to make a FRIEND. Don’t network with anyone you wouldn’t honestly want to have a drink with. Why? Because it’s a business based on friendships. Having a high profile industry contact is well and good, but people call crew into work when they A) know them, B) Like them, C) like their attitude. Being friendly is the best way to get a feel for that. Be a genuine person, with a genuine curiosity about others, and let the pieces fall where they may.

    -Be honest. Talk about your strengths, but don’t lie  and say you are more skilled and better trained than you actually are.

    – Humble bragging is great. But use it sparingly. If you don’t talk about the things you do, people may not know, but once you’ve said it once or twice, let your accomplishments speak for themselves.

    – Wherever possible, and when the moment feels genuine, offer to help others. Ask them to link you to their website, youtube channel, twitter feed and offer to like, share or retweet them. Do this for people who share similar interests to yourself and people you’d like to support professionally. It can be worth it’s weight in gold to support the people you believe in.

    -TALK ABOUT STUFF THAT’S NOT WORK. I know it’s hard. If you actively work in the industry, then sometimes it is difficult to have non-work related things. But talk about hobbies, interests or topical issues. Allow the other person to see you are not a robot, and you have lots of opinions, thoughts and ideas about the world around you, that you engage in the world around you and that you have a LIFE outside of work!

    When you’re about to leave or exit the conversation and you would like to grab the person’s information, be careful. If the person is someone you consider to be VERY high profile, or someone with little connection to you, it may be best to simply shake their hand, thank them for their time and wish them success in future, or comment on working/seeing them around again. That’s it. Then leave. If you see and speak to them on several more occasions in a fairly short time, then maybe you can dabble with adding them to Facebook, it is very context based. Don’t rush anything.

    If it is someone less higher-profile, then a good thing to do is offer them your card, or another form of contact.

    – ” I’m heading out soon, but it was so nice to meet you. Will I see you again at the next (insert event)
    – “I’ve got to go say hi to a friend, but it was lovely bumping into you, if I don’t see you again, I’d love to grab your  (insert card, Facebook, etc. **warning— some people only use Facebook for personal reasons, and don’t add people they just met. Be prepared to offer alternate forms of contact)”
    – “I’m grabbing another drink but if I don’t see you again we should exchange  contact information. It’s always good to know  a (insert their  occupation)”


    If they are a stranger you have never met before and they’re mean, rude, not talking, not making eye contact, giving you a weird vibe, making you otherwise uncomfortable,   best bet is to get a way out. Try the following  – “I’ve just seen a friend I promised I’d say hi to, enjoy the party!”
    – “Will you just excuse me for a moment, I’m grabbing a drink/need to take a phone call/ have to leave”
    -“Hope you’re evening turns around, I really have to get going.”

    Happy mingling, my partygoers!! NEXT INSTALLMENT: Following Up with Your Contacts and How To Work That Room!

Interview with Writer/Director David Bezmozgis (Natasha)

It was a pleasure sitting down with the writer/director of the feature film “Natasha”, which is the opening film for the 24th annual Jewish Film Festival on May 5, 2016.

For tickets and information, go to:

David Bezmozgis is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. He is the author of the story collection, Natasha and Other Stories (2004), and the novels, The Free World (2011), and The Betrayers (2014). David’s stories have appeared in numerous publications including The New Yorker, Harpers,  Zoetrope All-Story, and The Walrus. “Natasha” is his 2nd feature film as a director.

Interview with David Bezmozgis:

Matthew Toffolo: The tagline on the film’s poster is “It is the opposite that is good for us.”…

David Bezmozgis: Yes, that’s HERACLITUS. That’s the quote from the novel that’s the basis of the film.

MT: What does it mean?

DB: It’s a contradictory statement. Everyone wants the opposite. The overall theme of the film.

MT: From directing your first film “Victoria Day” to now directing “Natasha”. What is the biggest thing you learned?

DB: I’ve loosened up. I think “Natasha” is a much looser film in the way we shot it. My approach on set was better. The first film was heavily storyboarded. This film was planned out with Guy Godfree (Cinematographer), but we gave ourselves more freedom to create on set. I was much more open on the day. Some decisions are hard to change because we’ve planned out so much in prep, but we can change the blocking and some wardrobe changes for example on the day. It made for a better film.

MT: Did you rehearse before production began?

DB: Oh yeah. Just a couple of days, but it’s so important. The biggest thing is that the actors can get to know each other and form a bond before we begin filming.

MT: The female lead, Sasha K. Gordon, is very new to acting…

DB: Her first time on set. Her first film.

MT: She’s really good. A lot of depth and emotion to her character. There’s a darkness to her. How did you find her?

DB: We looked and looked and looked. She found us more than we found her. She really pulled off this performance. She’s tremendous.

MT: Most of this film is shot on a hand-held camera.

DB: There was some tri-pod blocking, but as the film progresses the film is definitely much looser.

MT: You mentioned your cinematographer Guy Godfree. How was your collaboration together?

DB: Terrific. This is a small film. Low budget. So everyone needs to be on board. From Guy to all of his keys and their crew. They need to believe in the project because there are a lot of productions happening in Toronto and they can definitely be working on higher paying projects. So they have to believe and it starts with Guy.

You come up with a look and come up with an idea and everyone has to believe in the process and the project. It worked.

MT: Was the entire film shot on location?

DB: Every single frame. We couldn’t afford a studio.

MT: Did the Production Design team do a lot of changes to the location, or was most of it shot close to the location you shot?

DB: Some locations we didn’t dress much, as others we re-did everything from scratch, like the basement scene. Other places, like Natasha’s apartment, the main house, is as is. This is a Russian neighborhood and a Russian character driven film, so a lot is what it is.

MT: Who is the audience for “Natasha”? Most of the film is in Russian? How are Russians reacting to this film?

DB: It’s played at some festivals where Russians were in the audience and they were thrilled. They’ve never seen their world portrayed before. I hope this is a film for everyone as most cultures can relate to this story and situation.

MT: In very generic terms, this is a coming of age story, like your last film “Victoria Day”. Is this a theme in a lot of your novels and writings?

DB: When making a coming of age story, family is mostly involved. I wanted to tell a story about this culture and the family within this culture of a boy hitting a crossroads in his teenage life.

The character Natasha is a twist to this story as she enters an English world but speaks only Russian. The character Mark is drawn back to his culture as she draws him back. And there are many twists and turns with him doing that. So it’s “coming of age”, but it’s a 2nd generation story about a boy coming back to the 1st generation.

MT: In the synopsis, it describes Mark as a slacker. I really don’t see him that way. I see a boy who’s really trying to figure out who he is in the strange world that he lives in.

DB: I really don’t see him as a slacker either, but people need shorthand.

MT: This is also a tale of sexuality. Mark is inexperienced. As Natasha, even though she’s still the same age, is much more worldly.

DB: She’s more mature. She is more worldly. Yet she’s still a kid. There are a lot of things that she sets in motion in the story where she’s too young to handle it all.

MT: It’s also about power.

DB: Well you can say that the major theme of this film is power. Family power. Generational power. There’s a major power struggle between the mother and sister, and it takes everyone down with them.

PHOTO: Actors Alex Ozerov, and Sasha K. Gordon in “Natasha”



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 for more information and to submit your work to the festival.