24 frames per second - Toast Film

24 frames per second - Toast Film

We began to know them through the figure of Alessandro Valbonesi, interviewed some time ago about his personal experience, and now we have decided to get to know closely who are the guys who are part of Toast Film, the collective that has given life to several short films not a few awards, including the last one in December 2020 with the 100 hours of Turin. Let's get to know their experience more closely in our interview with the entire group in this new appointment with the column 24 frames per second.

How, when, where, why, who started the idea of ​​Toast Film ? Why this name?

Toast Film is a collective of six friends who share a passion for cinema. For five years Toast Film has been producing audiovisual content, mostly in the context of timed film competitions, that is, competitions in which in a set time (typically 48, 50 or 100 hours) people are asked to design, shoot and edit a short film. At the start of the tender, the binding parameters to be respected are provided, under penalty of exclusion, so that no one arrives with a pre-packaged idea. The name comes from a theory developed by Edoardo, who is present in the group as an actor: in the second competition we participated in, it seemed necessary to add an element to the scene in post-production. However, we agreed that the story already had a genuine strength of its own that required no enrichment. From there, the theory of toast: served with only a fork, you would immediately notice the absence of the knife, but served in a simple wrapping, ready to be bitten, the toast would be enjoyed for what it is.

Do you like to experiment by exploring different genres or is there a sort of fil rouge in your production, with some distinctive traits?

We measured ourselves with different genres, from horror to comedy, from dramatic to grotesque. Very often we talk about the relationship between the individual and technology, and how it is transforming the way we communicate, the way we perceive ourselves and define reality. Stylistically, however, we tend to be light, regardless of the subject matter.

Special themes? How do you choose them from time to time?

The stories we tell emerge at dinner as soon as the briefing ends. It is a real brainstorming: we discuss, we propose ideas that may have relevance even outside the festival and we choose the most seductive. The strength is in the group, thanks to which different suggestions find a common thread.

Production tops and flops: the short you liked the most and the least engaging one, net of the awards obtained.

We are very attached to The Procedure because it marked the beginning of Toast Film; is based on a simple but explosive idea and ends in an atmosphere of restlessness. Another representative short is Quasi Actori, an almost completely improvised work that brought out the best in each of us. For the flops, certainly Area 51, with a too hasty ending and whose success was undermined by a major theft during filming.

How the group has changed over time, in terms of participants and preparation: what Toast Film represented at the beginning and what it represents now.

Toast Film is the union of six people who, leaving behind university theater courses and web TV, try to give shape to their passion, in parallel with their work commitments. The group was born with great naturalness: Alessandro and Bianca initially involved Roberto and Aurora for a first 100-hour competition, and from there the group got underway, involving Edoardo immediately after and finally Laura. The group was born with a spirit of pure fun: during the weekend there are those who organize themselves to take a trip to the mountains, others to shoot a short. We haven't lost that spirit today, but we would like to tackle bolder projects. Testing yourself is still a form of fun.

The best moment lived and the one to forget in the course of your experience.

Award ceremonies and compliments fill with joy, but the most significant moments often occur on the set, between adventures, unlikely encounters and problems to be solved at the last second (a tip: if you use a sheet as a green screen, remember to iron it!). But the most satisfying moment is when we gather in front of the screen and see the finished product. A moment to forget is the realization of not having recorded a fundamental scene. When we see a pre-edited film for the first time, it may happen that we realize the absence of a scene that would have made the plot even more fluid and understandable. We know that there is no more time to shoot it, but that it would have given added value to the product.

Courses and competitions: How does it feel to enter a competition? How many have you participated, how many and which prizes have you won, and among these the most significant prize, the one obtained with the greatest effort, and the most bitter disappointment?

A timed film competition is pure adrenaline, we have a great team chemistry, because, apart from Alessandro who practically deals with directing and editing alone, everyone does everything: writing, organizing scenes and shooting, acting, audio, lights, make-up, music ... We won, among others, the special RAI Alto Adige prize, a prize for best actor at the Turin Glocal Film Festival, two prizes for best actress and best screenplay at the Viff festival in Varese, an absolute second prize at the Meet festival in Plymouth and the audience prize in the Cortinloco section of the Sedicicorto Film Festival in Forlì.

The public award to Sedicicorto for Cortinloco, with La Procedure, is significant. It was our second short film, there were very good shorts competing, including the winner of that year's David di Donatello. Yet the public voted almost unanimously for ours. The moment to forget is certainly the recent exclusion from the final of the 48 hours in Bolzano. Despite the disappointment, it is an episode that made us reflect even more critically on our way of making cinema.

Toast Film and acting: what does acting and making shorts mean to you (actors)? How did you decide to take this path and how did you train to get to this point?

Each of us has a different story. No one has an academic background, but from the beginning it was natural for us to be in front of a camera. We work together to find the right rhythm for the dynamics of the scene. Those who are not on stage have the function of an external eye that helps the actors to reinforce the identity of the character and outline their intentions, especially when we improvise. The last word is that of Alessandro (director, editor's note), always gifted with a rigorous and lucid gaze. In the case of competitions, you don't have time to deepen the soul of the characters, you immerse them in a story and let them act. In view of more serious projects, the challenge will be even more demanding also in terms of acting.

How much work is behind the cameras? The most complex job and the easiest and fastest to do?

There is a lot of work. Alessandro is really good at shooting and editing scenes; his is definitely the most complex task. We work very smoothly but we would not know how to identify an easy job. As a group we work strategically efficiently, we have developed skills that are crucial for the success of projects. As we said, everyone carries out several tasks that have emerged over time and with experience. Being a troupe reduced to the bone, those who do not act and do not shoot must improvise a mastery. Then there are those who become set designers, those sound engineers, those stylists etc. At the beginning, we all consulted together on every aspect of production, and with the experience of the group we arrived at an awareness of a taste that unites us for which the responsibilities were distributed a lot. Also with regard to the creative pre-production phase, we have developed a cohesion, so if we like an idea we understand it immediately, but even if we don't like it enough.

Behind the scenes of Toast Film: the funniest and the one to forget.

The answer to this question lies in a single moment: the way indicated to us to shoot a night scene for a short turns out to be frequented by prostitutes and strange individuals. The scene we have to shoot is that of a car approaching, inviting a girl to get in. Cold, fear and tangible embarrassment made that hour of work extremely complex. Suddenly, as the car starts, we hear a thud. It turns out to be the pizza box (containing our dinner) naively placed just before the roof that takes off and lands noisily on the asphalt. Yet ... pizza intact!

An experience to be redone and one to forget.

An experience to be redone: a short film! An episode 'to forget', but which actually united us even more is the return from the Plymouth Meet festival. We broke a tire in the middle of nowhere, in Cornwall, in Dartmoor Park, and the car we hired didn't have a spare tire. We missed the return plane, spent a day desperate for a tow truck. We spent one night walking around London and took a plane at dawn the next day. Aurora fell asleep standing at check-in. We were destroyed, but today we tell ourselves that misadventure laughing heartily.

What is your goal, if you have a specific one?

Our goal is to challenge ourselves with a more ambitious project. The lockdown was a training ground for our creative exercises. In two / three days of intense work we know that we do our best, but we must mature and be more programmatic.

In a team of this type, what is the key ingredient for success?

Cohesion, determination and desire to do.

Any upcoming projects and good resolutions for this new year.

At the moment, progress with this experience, test ourselves with a feature film, a pilot for a series. It is a challenge that we feel ready to face.

A piece of advice to give to those who, like you, would like to create a team like yours and take this path.

We have often seen aesthetically very beautiful short films in which the story was however shaky or almost absent, technically very prepared filmmakers who have spent a lot of resources to tell a story that proves weak. It is true that cinema is an image, but it is a story in images. If the story does not match the images, you don't fall in love with it. The advice therefore is first of all to make a film. By any means available. If you do not do it, you are not wrong and if you are not wrong, you will not learn. The oldest story in the world, but that's how it works. Nowadays there is also a widespread tendency to favor the aesthetics of a film, often neglecting the narrative, the plot. Therefore, another piece of advice is to tell simple, linear, understandable stories, but above all good stories, even if less "glossy" than the standard imposed by the market.

If you are interested in finding out more about how to make a short, we recommend reading the book Making a short. In other words, the art of getting excited in writing, finding money, producing and shooting.

Powered by Blogger.