INSIDE THE CHAOS: Interview with Diane Carol Harder on her new short Penny Foster

by Kierston Drier

pennyfosterstilll

We live in the era of reboots, resurgences, and remakes- and while they promise excitement and nostalgia, the hidden gems of our industry are waiting to be discovered. A few weeks ago, I found one.

In a gorgeous cafe hidden at the back of Lavish and Squalor on Toronto’s trendy Queen Street, I met with Diane Carol Harder, an up-and-coming writer, and director, to talk about her new short film Penny Foster. Harder has a strong and well-earned eye when it comes to cinema. After graduating with a B.A from Columbia in film studies and creative writing, she obtained her M.F.A in writing for stage and screen from Northwestern. Harder wrote and directed several shorts throughout her studies, and when she made the decision to direct a short film after graduating, she sent out a request for shorts scripts. Former classmate and friend America Michele Palacios responded with her piece Penny Foster, a piece that Harder liked immediately.

   I had the pleasure of speaking with Harder about the piece and how it came to be. In preparation for a future in writing and directing features, Harder and producer Sarah Senior set out to put together a team for Penny Foster, a dramatic piece with comic elements about a young girl with OCD who slowly discovers her mother is having a very bad day.

   Anyone who has taken on the seemingly monumental task of producing a short film has doubtlessly faced several hurdles:  gathering a team, funding, casting, funding, tech and rental equipment- did I mention funding? Harrowingly, Harder and Senior decided to do their piece as economically as possible without sacrificing production quality. They accomplished this goal. Harder expressed enormous credit for her Director of Photography, Jordan Kennington, who did incredible work in getting beautiful shots. Harder also speaks highly of the talents of their films’ protagonist, ten-year-old Elisa Campanella. Expressive, perceptive and professional, Harder remarks fondly that Elisa was sad to be wrapped on the shoot day and wished she could stay to film longer.

Harder and Senior launched a Kickstarter early in June to help fund the piece. What is amazing about this Kickstarter campaign is that the piece is already fully shot. Unlike many Kickstarters that created in order to raise funds to begin filming,  Harder and her team have already put the work in. This Kickstarter is raising funds to finish final editing and prepare for the cost of festival submissions. The Kickstarter, which you can find Here boasts some excellent rewards, from a personalized thank-you tweets and digital downloads to personalized consultations with industry professionals, coverage of your own work from the films’ producers and IMBD credits. The Penny Foster’s Kickstarter will run until June 26th.

But why should you check out Harder and her projects? Because the cinematic scene is hungry for fresh ideas, new voices, and dynamic content creators- and that is exactly what Harder and her team represent. They have already put their resources into their work, a clear indication of the commitment they have in their project, as well as the dedication they have made to their team. This type of grit, determination and work ethic is much needed in an entertainment world that needs a jumpstart of new and innovative storytelling.

 

We must support the films we want to see more of. Supporting productions like Harders’ makes a world of impact. It directly affects the driven and talented team behind the film. It also indirectly affects the whole industry: It shines a spotlight on the stories we care about and creates changing cinematic trends. Take a peak below at the talented team! and  check out Penny Foster and keep your eye on Harder and her team for their upcoming work. You can check Penny Foster at #PennyFosterFilm, or at Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/PennyFosterFilm, and you can follow Harder on Twitter @DianeCHarder and on Instagram at dianecarolharder   .

 

 

 

 

Interview with Festival Director George Gänaeaard (Short Film Breaks)

Short Film Breaks is the only film festival taking place in private companies.

Contact

 
Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Our main goal is to promote the independent filmmakers from all around the world. We love to screen films from different cultures and different backgrounds to our audience and we love to see how they react to them. For big chunks of time we accept submissions of films under no fees and when we charge fees, it’s only to transform them into prizes for the filmmakers. All in all, our main mission is to bring the films in front of our audience as easy as we possibly can, for both the filmmakers and the audience.

What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

Short Film Breaks is a special festival, because it’s the only festival taking place in private companies. That means that we are showing films to employees of private companies, right where they are working. As we like to say it, SHORT FILM BREAKS is the only film festival taking place in private companies, for an audience formed exclusively by employees, in a bid to offer smart break opportunities while promoting the independent movie industry around the world.

That means that to be able to attend the festival you’d need to be an employee of the companies that are our partners.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Last year we only had two categories, Best International Film and Best Romanian Film and we were expecting films under 30 minutes. But starting with 2017 we’ve expanded to many more categories, for different genres, types and styles. It’s best to check the platforms we have added Short Film Breaks on. At the moment we’re present on the following:
FilmFreeway: https://filmfreeway.com/festival/ShortFilmBreaks
FestHome: https://festhome.com/f/sfb
Reelport: https://reelport.com/festivals/8575
Click For Festivals: https://www.clickforfestivals.com/short-film-breaks
Submissions for next year’s edition will start on September 18, 2017.

Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

I couldn’t answer about other festivals. I am part of a Facebook group with many other festival organizers and we all take great care of the films we receive.

At Short Film Breaks, for example, we now have two selection phases. In phase one each film is watched by three judges and only the films with top ratings advance to the second phase. In the second phase, a committee made of four judges watch them and decide who is selected for our festival. That means that before being shows in the festival a film will be watched by seven different judges. And even the ones that do not get selected have been watched by at least three.

Starting with next year we plan to introduce the Extended Deadline. This will be the final deadline, with the highest fees, but all the films that are sent to us during this deadline will receive the judging forms.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

Seeing our audience enjoy the films we bring in front of them, discovering new filmmakers and films, those are the best parts of our job.

But something that can’t be compared with anything else is the projections we organized in the remote parts of Nepal and Indonesia. Witnessing your children, or even adults, watch a film for the first time in their life is the highest motivation one could ask for.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

We totally love FilmFreeway. It’s the platform we started with, last year, when we received just a bit under 2000 submissions. This year we’ve received 2066 films on FilmFreeway alone. Even if we also joined FestHome and Reelport, we’re received over 90% of our submissions on FilmFreeway. Amazing!!

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

We’d love to have screenings in more and more companies, to reach a wider audience. And we’d also love to continue with the special events and screenings we’re organizing in remote parts of the world. We’re in discussions now to also hold screenings in the favelas in Rio.

What film have you seen the most times in your life?

Uhm… I don’t really watch the same film too often. Fight Club and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, each about 3-4 times. But I’ve watched in excess of 4000 films, many of them made before the 70’s, many from Europe, Asia, Latin America. Watching eclectic films, from different cultures and production years, that’s the goal.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A film that succeeds in conveying an emotion, or a film that succeeds in changing your perception about something you were taking for granted.

How is the film scene in your city?

We have a few film festivals in Bucharest, but not the biggest in Romania, TIFF, which is taking place in Cluj-Napoca. But we have the biggest film festival for short films here, NexT International Film Festival, a partner of ours, the festival we started our projections with, back in 2014.

There are a dozen cinemas, though not as many as we’d want them to be, especially as the most of them are multiplexes, inside the malls. For a city as big as Bucharest is, we could have more places where films are shown.
 

short film breaks 1.jpg

—-

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed

Interview with Festival Director Arilyn Martinez Cora (LATINO FILM MARKET)

The Latino Film Market 2017 (LFM) event focuses on providing community networking opportunities and creating direct tools for upcoming Latino filmmakers and industry professionals internationally. LFM takes place July 28 – 30, 2017, in collaboration with La Casa de la Herencia Cultural Puertorriqueña, a 37-year old, nonprofit, cultural organization, housed at El Barrio’s Artspace PS 109, in East Harlem, New York. LFM will engage participants from the USA, the Caribbean and other Latin American countries, with a potential participation of 500 – 600 individuals.

Interview with Festival Director Karen Ndumia (The Cump Film Festival)

CUMP is an upcoming independent documentary and film festival drawn from Colleges and Universities that offer Film and Electronic Media studies in East Africa, and the only independent film festival in Nairobi. CUMP shall screen in Nairobi -Kenya and other East African cities and shall premiere local and international films and documentaries.

Interview with Festival Director Len Gibson (Peachtree Village International Film Festival)

PVIFF is hosted by Gipp. Museums, Inc. PVIFF attracts 3,000+ people each year from around the world. PVIFF was created in 2006 under the previous name (Sweet Auburn International Film Festival) and have served as the launching pad for many successful filmmakers and other artists alike in the film & entertainment industry. This dynamic international film festival showcases feature length films, shorts, music videos, documentaries, and screenplays from around the globe. PVIFF also feature celebrity attractions, innovative workshops, panels, parties, and much more. PVIFF is one of the most celebrated film events through dynamic programming and a dedication to helping filmmakers excel in their careers. PVIFF’s brand is entrenched in the old saying “It Takes A Village.”

Contact
  • Email
  • Website
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

    Len Gibson: We succeed at connecting filmmakers with the resources they need to advance their careers. Over the years we have garnered numerous international relationships to include financiers, distributors, executives and more. We succeed at pairing our filmmakers with these relationships in a non threatening manner.

    What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

    You can expect to meet some really cool exciting people that are doing great things in film, television and technology. You can also expect to experience some great films, panels and workshops.

    What are the qualifications for the selected films?

    The films just have to speak to our audience. Our audience is multi-cultural with diverse backgrounds. We attempt to select quality films with great themes that speak to a broad audience.

    Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

    In some cases I do. In some cases you can see the talent in a young filmmaker that may not be there yet but they have all the tools to be successful. We try to give young filmmakers an opportunity to share their work if we feel that they are the tools to become a solid filmmaker. Not all festivals do this and I can understand why but we try to because you never know who is going to blossom into a great filmmaker.

    What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

    Helping young artists succeed.

    How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

    Our process with Film Freeway has been great.

    Where do you see the festival by 2020?

    By 2020 we expect to be about 3 times the size we are now. We are focused on infusing more music and more technology into what we offer at our festival.

    What film have you seen the most times in your life?

    Probably Shawshank Redemption.

    In one sentence, what makes a great film?

    A great story that makes a broad impact on the viewers that see it told with believable acting and solid cinematic value.

    How is the film scene in your city?

    The film scene is great is Atlanta. This city has truly become the place to shoot film and television. Atlanta has the look of many places around the U.S. and the weather is good here so shooting in this city is great.

     

    peachtree2.jpg

    —-

    Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

    SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
    Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
    Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
    FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed

Interview with Festival Director Gregory Kelly (SIMPLY SHORTS)

Simply Shorts was designed to encourage more regular screenings of both local and international short form content in Brisbane, Australia. Since 2015, we have held Simply Shorts 2-3 times a year, changing genres or themes every edition and opening the door to many different areas of filmmaking. Our screenings go for one night only. The editions of Simply Shorts so far have been: The Queensland Edition, Halloween Special, Skits & Giggles, World Cinema, Women in Film and coming in July we’ll have Sci-Fi or Die.

Simply Shorts was created by Gregory Kelly. Greg’s background in the film industry started in 2009 when he entered film school at the Queensland School of Film & Television. Graduating in 2011, Greg co-founded the Brisbane Backyard Film Festival with Morgan MacKay in 2012, which this year celebrated it’s 6th edition. Pernell Marsden joined Simply Shorts full time in 2016 as festival director and was instrumental in making the Women in Film screening one of the most successful editions yet.

Contact

 

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Gregory Kelly: We hope that Simply Shorts is providing another valuable screen for filmmakers to screen their work. Especially our local filmmakers in Brisbane who don’t get much of a chance to have their work screened locally because of the lack of festivals and screenings.

What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

We’ve had one edition of Simply Shorts already in 2017 which was our Women in Film screening. We screened short form content from Australian female filmmakers which was great. A fantastic mix of drama, thriller, animation and comedy. In July we’ll be having our Sci-Fi or Die edition which will focus on local and international sci-fi short films, as well as music videos & trailers.

What are the qualifications for the selected films?

Audience enjoyment and technical merit. We have a pre-screening with a group who give us feedback on what films they enjoyed and why. Technical competency usually also falls into the enjoyment side of things as well, because if you can’t hear or see the film properly you wouldn’t enjoy it.

Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

That’s a hard question. Each film festival is different. There are a lot of film festivals now, and a lot of them cater for different things. Putting together a program for a festival is extremely hard. We’ve had to leave out good films just to keep our lineup varied.

What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

We love film. We love bringing people together through film.

How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?

Since we’ve been using FilmFreeway it has been extremely easy. There’s an abundance of films out there.

Where do you see the festival by 2020?

We don’t see Simply Shorts getting much bigger than what it is. We enjoy the small and relaxed feel.

What film have you seen the most times in your life?

Pulp Fiction.

In one sentence, what makes a great film?

A great story.

How is the film scene in your city?

Unfortunately we don’t have the film scene in Brisbane that we should have for a first world city. There’s a lot of potential here but a lot of it is unrealised. It’s both social and political.

simplyshorts.jpg

—-

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed

Interview with Lindsey Paricio (Lights, Camera, Take Action Film Festival)

A film festival highlighting food insecurity and poverty in the Fort Collins community. Sponsored by the FoCo Cafe and The Downtown Fort Collins Business Association (DBA), the festival is intended to bring together the network of food insecurity organizations that span the Fort Collins community. Additionally, the festival aims to raise awareness about food insecurity, food justice, poverty, homelessness, food equality, access to healthy eating, etc. There will be a panel discussion following the showing of the films featuring representatives from local hunger and poverty prevention organizations.

Contact
  • Email
  • 225 Maple Street
    Fort Collins, CO 80521
    United States
  • Website
  • Facebook
  •  
    Matthew Tofolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

    This festival is providing an opportunity for filmmakers to explore a range of issues surrounding food insecurity. These problems – homelessness, hunger, nutrition, food access, etc- are often hard to describe and put into words, but this festival is allowing filmmakers to be able to capture the issues in a real way. We are helping to celebrate the creativity and artistry of film makers in their expressions of little documented issues, and we are allowing them a chance to share any of their personal experiences with food insecurity in a way that can and will actively be viewed and discussed by others in an attempt to help.

    What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?

    Attendees may expect the unveiling and premier of the winning film in each category – youth, college, community, and photography. Following this, a screening of the feature documentary ‘The Starfish Throwers’ will occur, and then the community in attendance will have the opportunity to ask panelists from local food security organizations and the filmmakers questions about food insecurity and the surrounding issues. This will help create a discussion about the issue and steps to alleviate it, and all attendees are encouraged to participate!

    What are the qualifications for the selected films?

    Films (and photos) must be shorter than 8 minutes in length, and must represent some issue surrounding food insecurity. The filmmaker must identify in one of four categories: youth, college, community, or photo.

    Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?

    Many films that address unpleasant issues, or even just issues that are currently popular to showcase, don’t get a fair chance at film festivals. Food Insecurity is one of those issues that is not easy to showcase and not in style to talk about. Thus, our festival is hoping to provide a platform for these films to receive a chance at recognition.

    What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

    My team and I are very passionate about addressing food security ikn our local communities. All of us are interns at the FoCo café, the first non-profit café located in Fort Collins, Colorado. Because of our experiences working at the café and seeing the impacts of hunger and the power a good meal and welcoming community on a daily basis, we know that every person has the ability to contribute to solving this issue. One of the first steps to do this is to educate people about food insecurity.

    People learn in different ways and have different skillsets to contribute, and so we are motivated to instigate this festival because it is a way for people to learn and contribute in a new way.

    How has your Film Freeway submission process been?

    FilmFreeway has been a wonderful tool for this process, though we did have an issue with artists submitting videos that had nothing to do with out topic. It has taken quite a bit of sorting to narrow down the entries to applicable films for our judges to evaluate.

    Where do you see the festival by 2020?

    This is the first year of Lights, Camera, Take Action, and we definitely hope to make this an annual event. By 2020 we hope to have expanded this festival to include both a larger audience and a larger entry pool. We also hope to have developed partnership with community organizations to be able to use the films and photos created to help educate the community in a scope that goes beyond the festival.

    What film have you seen the most times in your life?

    I have seen Lord of the Rings the most in my life time (all of them!). They were my favorite books when I was younger, and the beauty in them keeps me watching!

    In one sentence, what makes a great film?

    A great film is one that captures the heart of the audience and inspires them to stand up and do something.

    How is the film scene in your city?

    Fort Collins is a great city for an aspiring film maker. There are many film festivals, at both large and small platforms, throughout the year, often sponsored by local theaters or
    brewery’s.

    Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

    SUBMIT your TV PILOT Screenplay or TV SPEC Script
    Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
    Screenplay CONTESTSUBMIT your Short Screenplay or FEATURE Script
    FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed
    Screenplay CONTESTFIRST SCENE (first 10pgs) Screenplay CONTEST
    Submit the first stages of your film an