Adorably awkward IT guy finally gets a shot with the girl of his dreams - shortly after a zombie apocalypse.

This latest short on our VFF Online Series, BAD TIMING, can be watched in episodes, if you don't have the full 20 minutes to watch it in one sitting. Just head on over to Andy's YouTube Channel, Goldentusk.

Andy Goldenberg is an actor and writer, and if you peruse his imdb page, you will see he does a little bit of everything (producing, directing, editing). Not to mention he has a youtube channel with over 54,000 subscribers! So head on over there and stay awhile...wait, first finish reading this post...then you can click over.

Ready to learn some more about Andy? Here you go:  Andy Goldenberg grew up in FL and graduated from the University of Miami with a BFA in Theater, but considers himself an Angeleno.  With several commercials and tv roles under his belt, his big break came as Adam Sandler’s Acting Double and Scene Partner in Jack and Jill (2011): when Adam played Jack, Andy played Jill. His Goldentusk YouTube Channel has more than 53,000 subscribers and 50 million views, with Time Out New York film critic Keith Uhlich nicknaming him “The Theme Song Sondheim”. He was a coverboy of the Nice Jewish Guys Calendar and recently published a children’s book called Peter, the Paranoid Pumpkin. He regularly performs with the record-breaking improv team, Freedom Snatch. He wouldn’t last very long after the apocalypse, but please save him anyway.

How long have you been writing? I’ve been writing my whole life, but I took a short break around middle school to draw in cursive. My father had one of the first consumer camcorders, so I was making home movies since I was about 8 years old. I wrote for a sketch comedy group called Rebels Without Applause in high school and for National Lampoon after moving out to LA. I started filming videos for the internet back in 2004, so I’ve been playing close attention to short attention spans for a while. My sister, though, is a superior writer and we collaborated on BAD TIMING to really make it sing. While my first drafts of the script were essentially monologues, she really fleshed out the dialogue and characters to open up the story.

How many films have you written? I’ve written several short films for online consumption through my YouTube Channel. I have two finished pilots and first drafts for two feature films. Aside from that, I have hundreds of scribbles over countless scratch pieces of paper that, one day, will turn into something more.

What is your top advice for first-time writers? I love, LOVE, writing dialogue. I’m a huge fan of Kevin Smith’s wordiness (especially Clerks) and grew up in the theater performing extended monologues. Film, however, is a very visual medium and people want to see action. So, you can keep writing lots of dialogue, but audiences tend to get ahead of your speeches faster and faster. It’s better if you can say what you need to say with less words. Jokes also work better, for the most part, when they’re shorter. Be brief. Always let the audience in on the joke. Don’t keep it from them at the top. They want to know what’s going on in a scene immediately or they’ll switch away. We don’t have time for long exposition anymore.  All that being said, there are no hard and fast rules, and you should break every single one of them and make people copy your style.

Bad Timing

An adorably awkward IT guy finally gets a shot with the girl of his dreams - shortly after a zombie apocalypse.

An adorably awkward IT guy finally gets a shot with the girl of his dreams - shortly after a zombie apocalypse.

What drew you to wanting to tell this story? The initial idea for BAD TIMING stemmed from a conversation I was having with friends. “Who would you want to be stuck with on a deserted island?” A common answer for my guy friends was always the current hottest supermodel, but I always thought that the models wouldn’t want to be there with THEM. Thus, Andy and Eve together at the end of the world: He’s infatuated she doesn’t know he exists. I also wanted a project where I had written the role I played so that I was overwhelmingly proud of showcasing my talent.

What kind of camera was BAD TIMING shot on? Canon 5d Mark 3. My director’s camera and my DP’s lenses.

What were some of the challenges in getting this film made and how did you overcome them? Money, go figure. We raised donations with crowdfunding and then I took money I needed to live and funded the rest. It was the first project I had ever produced where I wanted to pay people to work on it, because I wanted it to be a professional film. We also overcame desert heat, flying bugs, and scorpions by praying at night that none of us would die.

Watch BAD TIMING now!

Getting to the heart of the matter with director Emma Zaiachkowski

"Marriage is often a conventional step forward in the lives of adults, but Travis and Stephanie's union is particularly exceptional. Both born with Down syndrome, they are now navigating a unique set of obstacles in their married life". Director Emma Zaiachkowski wanted to tell Travis and Stephanie's story. In her third year at the Film and Television Production program at Humber College in Toronto, Ontario, Emma directed her first documentary. We hope you have a few minutes to watch this touching, short documentary.

About Emma: Emma's interest in this field first took root in high school. In grade twelve, Emma’s short film, “Leaving” received the Critic's Choice Award at the Take Two - Young Reels Film Festival. This recognition was instrumental in forming Emma’s passion for filmmaking.

In 2012, Emma began her post-secondary studies at Humber College. Although the program is often quite grueling, she remains fiercely dedicated to both the art of filmmaking and to the creative partnerships she has formed with her classmates and teachers. Emma is enthusiastic about the future and looks forward to continuing to better herself as a filmmaker and collaborator in the years to come.

How long have you been directing? I have been directing short films for two years but this is my first attempt at documentary filmmaking. “You & I”, was the first film that I had ever directed with a larger-scale crew, a budget and executive producers. It was my first professional filmmaking endeavor.

How many films have you directed? Four films. All of these films have been in association with the educational institution I was attending at the time. “You & I”, was formulated and produced at Humber College School of Media Studies & Information Technology, in the Film & Television Production Advanced Diploma Program.

Is there any one part of the process that you enjoy more than the others? I really enjoy the collaborative process in all aspects of filmmaking. This film in particular was such a collaborative effort. The final product is really a testament to all of the hard work and dedication from the crew and faculty. I enjoy this facet of filmmaking because it allows your initial idea to grow and develop in ways you never thought possible.

You & I

Marriage is often a conventional step forward in the lives of adults, but Travis and Stephanie's union is particularly exceptional. Both born with Down syndrome, they are now navigating a unique set of obstacles in their married life and continue to prove that love transcends all barriers.

Marriage is often a conventional step forward in the lives of adults, but Travis and Stephanie's union is particularly exceptional. Both born with Down syndrome, they are now navigating a unique set of obstacles in their married life and continue to prove that love transcends all barriers.

What drew you to wanting to tell this story? Many things drew me to wanting to tell Travis and Stephanie’s story. The main reason I was drawn to make this film was because I wanted to open up a dialogue about individuals who are differently-abled. The primary objective of this film was to explore the authentic, intimate day-to-day life of a couple that may not look like everyone from the outside but express love just like everyone else. By creating this dialogue I hope to put forth the notion that love or any other emotion for that matter, should never be discounted due to one’s intellectual ability and that life is pretty magnificent when it includes individuals like Travis and Stephanie.

What kind of camera did you shoot on? Sony FS100

What were some of the challenges in getting this film made and how did you overcome them? Challenges are always part of the filmmaking process. Some of the trials that arose were of course our time limit. We only had four days to shoot four interviews and gather b-roll footage. This particular challenge was solved by a great deal of preparation on the crew’s behalf. Another challenge presented itself in the editing suite. Cutting together a great deal of footage and formulating a story was difficult to say the least. This challenge was overcome again by extremely hard work and dedication.

 

To learn more about Emma, you can check out her website here.

Watch Emma's film, You & I NOW!

 

 

The Jackal, directed by Joe Mitchell

Thanks to a meeting at a local neighborhood pub, The Jackal, was born. It goes to show you that you never know where your next project or idea will come from.

About: Joe Mitchell has directed and produced four short films. Two documentaries (including The Jackal) and two narratives.

How long have you been directing? Off and on since I was young. It just takes so long for me to get projects off the ground since I don’t really have any money. I think that’s why I like documentaries so much because most of the time they are cheap to make.

 Is there any one part of the process that you enjoy more than the others? Editing. To me the edit is the most important part of the process. It’s where the feel comes from. It takes a long time for me to edit. I need the time because that's where I can get my personality across.

 

 

 

 

The Jackal

Life and times of former Canadian Kickboxing Champion Ian "The Jackal" Jacklin.

What drew you to wanting to tell this story? I train Muay Thai. It’s really a great form of exercise and it does help me mentally, it keeps me sharp. One night I was drinking at the bar next to my house where I met Ian (The Jackal). He lives next to me, we are both neighborhood pub guys. So we struck up a conversation about kickboxing. He began to explain his life to me. I was intrigued to say the least. But then he told me that he basically had all his fights, movies, and interviews on VHS. As a filmmaker that is what inspired me. I had access to all this great B-roll, so all I had to do was film the interview. It was a no-brainer. And Ian was down with the idea, so we starting shooting a week after.

What kind of camera did you shoot on? 5D. It proves you don’t need an Alexa or a Red to make something decent. It's what's on the other side of the lens that counts.

What were some of the challenges in getting this film made and how did you overcome them? Going through hours upon hours of VHS tape and converting it. Then putting some sort of story together. It really came together quite easily though, in terms of the subject. Ian is a great guy and gave me all the time I needed.

If you'd like to learn more about Ian (The Jackal), click here.

To see more of Joe's work, you can check out his Vimeo page.

Watch THE JACKAL now!

 

Film Noir with Ben Chapins

Writer, director and editor Ben Chapins' recent short, Yin Dragon, is a nod to the 60's & 70's noir films.  VFF attendees may remember Ben from his feature mokumentary, Racewalkers, that played at the 2010 festival.

About:  Ben graduated from Iowa State University in 2007 and moved to New York to pursue a career in video production.  He's currently a Senior Editor at TV Land, and enjoys writing, illustrating, and collaborating on independent films in his spare time.

How long have you been directing/writing?  I have been seriously writing and directing films in New York for 7 years.

How many short films have you directed?  This is the 3rd short film I have directed since college. My good friend, Christian Wilfong, and I take turns each year: I’ll write and direct a film that he will shoot, and I’ll edit a film he writes and directs. It’s a process that has helped us motivate and support each other’s projects.

What is your top advice for first-time directors? The biggest advice I have for first-time filmmakers is to always ask yourself “why” when making a decision; if you can’t answer it then maybe there is a better way to accomplish the task. This gives your project purpose, and helps your crew understand the bigger picture of what you want.

Another piece of advice is to always welcome ideas from the people in your crew. You’re not obligated to use them, but sometimes someone comes up with a better way to do something and it will only hurt your project if you reject their ideas for the sake of preserving your own. Films are a collaborative process for a reason, because it makes them better!

My last piece of advice would be - if all else fails - try to convey emotion in your films. Some people may argue with me, but I like to think about what I want my viewers to feel during each scene. It doesn’t matter if the feeling is humor, or sadness, or anger, or all of these; as long as a film makes its viewers feel something, it has accomplished its goal of connecting to its audience. I think that’s far more important than a viewer remembering a certain character’s name, or anything else along those lines. You could have the most original, most mind-bendingly-clever plot, but if your audience doesn’t feel something while watching it then it doesn’t matter.

Is there any one part of the process that you enjoy more than the others? I really love the writing and editing phases. There’s something really exciting about having no boundaries for your imagination, and I get that feeling most when I’m conceptualizing an idea or putting it together in edit; there are just so many possibilities to telling a story and I think those areas allow you that freedom the most.

Yin Dragon

Sam Mullins is a private detective in NYC. His code is simple: snoop for money, but never get directly involved. Following this rule has rewarded him with a simple life, that is, until he decides to figure out a little more about his girlfriend, Yin.

Sam Mullins is a private detective in NYC. His code is simple: snoop for money, but never get directly involved. Following this rule has rewarded him with a simple life, that is, until he decides to figure out a little more about his girlfriend, Yin.

What drew you to wanting to tell this story? I love noir films, especially those made in the ‘60s and‘70s and even the ‘80s. Films like “Chinatown” and “Blade Runner” were inspirations for me in terms of storytelling and tone. I love the whole private investigator character archetype: guys who are down on their luck, then things go from bad to worse, and in the end when all is said and done, and things go back to normal… “normal” still isn’t all that great.

I personally find courage in those stories, in the way that life sucks for these people but they’ll survive -- and they’ll look cool doing it. You end up wanting to be them, regardless of the hardships they go through.

What kind of camera did you shoot on? We shot it with an Aaton XTR Prod Super16 camera (with Fuji Eterna 500T 16mm film)

What were some of the challenges in getting this film made and how did you overcome them? Many of the challenges we faced had to do with budget and location.  Thankfully we had great supporters on our Kickstarter campaign who funded $2000 or our $3000 budget. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to use film as opposed to a completely digital workflow, which meant we would have to be very conservative with our budget.

This forced us to plan the project around our budgetary limitations: with six 400ft rolls of film we could make a 15 minute finished edit as long as we kept to a strict 2:1 shooting ratio (that is, two takes for every shot) for scenes without dialogue, and a 3:1 ratio for scenes with dialogue because they are a little more complicated. I kept dialogue to a minimum in the script to help with this.

Also, shooting in New York is always a challenge, sets are small and expensive, and exteriors are difficult to control what goes on in the frame. We wanted Yin Dragon to be a very atmospheric film, so we decided to make these traits of NYC work to our advantage as opposed to combating them: incorporating the hustle and bustle of Chinatown, the cramped apartments, and the uneasy feeling that “you’re never alone” into the fabric of the film.

Watch Ben's film NOW!

To learn more about Ben, check out his site.

 


 


Solo, Piano - NYC with Anthony Sherin

SOLO, PIANO – NYC, by director Anthony Sherin has played at festivals around the world and has won many awards. Thanks to Anthony's astute eye and creative spirit, this unplanned short doc, unfolded before his eyes one winter's day in New York City.  This short feels like an ode to NYC.  From his home in Washington Heights, Anthony shared one of those special stories it feels you can only capture in New York.

About:  Anthony’s short film, SOLO, PIANO – NYC, was selected as one of the outstanding photo projects of today by the 2013 Look3 Festival of the Photograph and was featured in the New York Times’ Op-Docs Series. SOLO, PIANO – NYC, winner of eleven awards, is screening at festivals around the world.

His documentary, ORIGINAL INTENT: The Battle for America, aired on PBS.

Anthony trained with several Academy Award winning film editors and is himself an accomplished editor. His editing credits include THE CURE (Universal), A SOLDIER’S SWEETHEART (Paramount/Showtime), and FIRST TIME FELON (HBO). He edited ONE YEAR LEASE, winner of the best short documentary award at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.

How long have you been directing/writing?  8 years

How many films have you directed? 2 short films

What is your top advice for first-time directors? Read a lot and watch films.  Learn a skill. For me, editing made the transition to directing an easier one.

Is there any one part of the process that you enjoy more than the others? I enjoy prepping projects – research and thinking. I love editing.

Solo, Piano - NYC

Solo, Piano – NYC is a 5-minute film of the last 24 hours of a once-wanted piano.

Solo, Piano – NYC is a 5-minute film of the last 24 hours of a once-wanted piano.

What kind of camera did you shoot on? Solo, Piano – NYC is made with stills.  I used a Panasonic ZS7. I now use a Panasonic GH4.


What drew you to wanting to tell this story?  Making this film was pure serendipity. After a snowstorm in New York City, I decided to do some work on another film, in my home in Washington Heights. But as I approached my desk, I thought I heard a piano plinking. I looked out the window and saw a piano on the curb below. I eventually started snapping stills and thought I would end up with just that — a lot of stills. To my surprise, I discovered after 24 hours that I had captured a story with a beginning, middle, and end. My friend Art Labriola created an original piano score, and I had a film.


To learn more about Anthony, check out his site here.

Watch Solo, Piano - NYC NOW!