On the 13th episode of Lockdown Film School, Toronto-based writer-directors Sofia Bohdanowicz and Kazik Radwanski join us for a masterclass on making low-budget films independently, how to get your films into festivals, and working with people and places you know. It’s full of great practical advice for getting started with seriously making films.
Highlights from the masterclass
In this masterclass, Sofia Bohdanowicz and Kazik Radwanski talk about the Toronto filmmaking community, the important work that MDFF is doing for the Toronto film scene, and the importance of having the support and guidance of other filmmakers. They both give practical advice on how to handle small budgets without going broke, how to figure out how to prioritize what to spend money on and to pay yourself, and choosing the right collaborators for this environment.
They also go deep on the ins and outs of getting your film on the festival circuit, including how to identify what festival is right for you, how to get your film seen once it’s been submitted, and how to leverage festival premieres for distribution deals and a life for your film beyond that. They discuss the merits of learning from making short films, both technically and as far as getting the film into festivals. Both of them talk frankly and candidly about dealing with rejection, lack of budgets, and needing to be your own advocate at every stage of your film’s life.
The film festivals discussed include Toronto International Film Festival, Locarno, Berlinale, Cannes, Slamdance, Rotterdam, Sundance, Maryland, Festival du Nouveau Cinema, and Vancouver International Film Festival.
Find out more about the filmmakers and film community mentioned
Kazik founded and runs the film production company MDFF. You can visit their website here.
MDFF runs a monthly screening series at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto. It’s on hiatus for the pandemic, but you will be able to find out about future events on the TIFF website.
Kazik talked about how it was boon to have Anne at 13,000 ft screen in the Platform section at TIFF last year. Read our analysis of the 2019 Platform competition (and what it is) here. The other film that received honourable mention in last year’s Platform competition was Proxima, which was on our best films of the decade list and is our top film of 2020 so far.
Sofia mentioned her producers Calvin Thomas and Yonah Lewis, who also co-directed the recent film White Lie. Read our interview with them about their film White Lie.
We had a surprise guest visit from Cynthia Silver, the mother of filmmaker Nathan Silver who has also appeared in his work. Find out more about Nathan (and his film about his mother) here. Read a conversation between Nathan Silver and his mother, Cynthia, here.
About our guests
Who is Sofia Bohdanowicz?
Sofia Bohdanowicz is a filmmaker based in Toronto who works primarily in documentary and meta-nonfiction. In 2016, Sofia won the Emerging Canadian Director Award for her feature debut, the micro-budget fiction Never Eat Alone starring Deragh Campbell. Her Last Poems trilogy, a series of shorts about the life and death of her grandmother, were presented in a masterclass at Montreal’s Festival du Nouveau Cinéma in 2017. In 2018, the Toronto Critics Association awarded her the Jay Scott Prize, an annual film award presented to an emerging talent in the Canadian film industry. Her latest feature, MS Slavic 7, which she co-directed with Campbell, premiered at the Berlin Film Festival last year and was recently released online by Mubi.
Where can you watch Sofia Bohdanowicz’s films?
MS Slavic 7: Mubi worldwide.
Maison du Bonheur (short): Kanopy in the US and Canada.
Who is Kazik Radwanski?
Kazik Radwanski is a filmmaker based in Toronto. He has a unique method of making fiction features that is more akin to a documentary shoot, wherein he gathers his cast and crew once a week over a year or two to shoot both scripted and improvised footage. He made his first two features, Tower and How Heavy This Hammer, with nonprofessional actors; both films garnered acclaim and screened at festivals such as TIFF and the Berlinale. His latest, Anne at 13,000ft, premiered in the Platform competition at TIFF where it was awarded an honourable mention, and it was later nominated for four Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Motion Picture. Kaz also co-founded the film production and distribution company MDFF.
Where can you watch Kazik Radwanski’s films?
How Heavy This Hammer: Prime and Tubi in Canada; Tubi in the US
Cutaway (short): Criterion Channel in the US and Canada.
Tower: Tubi in Canada and the US.
Next week on Lockdown Film School
This Sunday, join us for our biggest Lockdown Film School sessions yet: a masterclass on collaboration in filmmaking with the women behind Mouthpiece (co-writers and co-stars Norah Sadava and Amy Nostbakken) and The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open (director Kathleen Hepburn and director-star Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers).
Never miss another Lockdown Film School
Sign up for Lockdown Film School, and we’ll invite you to our weekly Zoom discussions so that you can participate live and ask our guests your questions.