Directed by Mathew Tretola
Brenard finds a tasty treat in the kitchen and springs into an adventure.
Q&A with Mathew Tretola
Q1: Tell us a little about Brownies, Winner of Best Animation in the festival.
Brownies is a short animated film that attempts to visually capture the stages of progression through a spiritual journey, with a splash of comedy element added in.
Q2: Where did the idea for this film come from?
Personal experience, hahaha. I made a batch of brownies once when I was a teenager and had to lay in bed for hours just waiting for it to go away. It was intense.
Q3: What were some key challenges when making this film? How did you overcome them?
Nothing is ever easy when making films. I'm constantly learning and figuring out ways to make things I already know a little bit easier or smooth. Hard work and persistence is key. Having talented people around to help with things makes a tremendous difference as well.
Q4: Tell us a funny anecdote or a memorable moment from making this film.
I think the most memorable moment during the making of Brownies was recording and directing the voice over part for the flower character, Loki. My daughter, Melody, voiced the lines for that character and she did it so perfectly it was amazing. The "You're with us now" part of the film is probably my favorite bit.
Q5: How did you get into the film industry?
Well, I actually created the core idea for my animated shorts around seventeen years ago after watching South Park. I still have digital copies of the original sketches and scripts. Those ideas lived on a flashdrive until 2016. I was determined to finally make one of my ideas into a watchable cartoon, so I ordered a Wacom drawing tablet online. The Wacom tablet came with a free copy of Anime Studio Debut 10, so I installed that software and started watching tutorials on YouTube. I made three short episodes and stopped in 2017. Then, in 2020 I came back to it and decided I wanted to make more and get serious about improving my animation skills. I again started watching tutorials and quickly realized I needed to upgrade my software, so I purchased Moho Pro. I started researching online how people get into the film industry and came across FilmFreeway. I started submitting my shorts to festivals there and regularly worked on getting better at animating, audio recording, editing, illustrating and everything else.
All of my shorts up until Brownies were done 100% by me alone, with the exception of my cousin and my girlfriend doing the female characters voices. To this day, I still don't know anyone else that makes films. I hired a couple freelancers on Fiverr to draw a couple backgrounds, had my girlfriend do Ma and Debbys' lines, my daughter do one characters lines, and my friend, Steve, wrote one song for Brownies. Everything else was done by me. Brownies wouldn't be as good as it is without all of their creative assistance and I really hope to be able to meet other film makers to work on new projects with.
Q6: What films or filmmakers have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?
My original influence was South Park a long, long time ago. I originally had the idea for my early cartoons after watching South Park about seventeen or so years ago, when I was about twenty. I actually still have digital copies of all the original sketches and scripts. Those ideas lived on a flashdrive for many years before I finally made my first animated short with Anime Studio Debut 10 in 2016. I have a lot of other influences now like American Dad, Rick and Morty, Paradise P.D., Brickleberry, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell. I love the outrageous comedy. I do have a bunch of other really cool ideas for live action films as well, but those are going to be way down the road for a lot of reasons.
Q7: Do you have a favorite film project that you have done? Why?
Brownies is definitely my favorite project to date because I feel it is my best work. Also, because I was able to include other people on this project, which made it what it is. Even if half of them were strangers on Fiverr.
Q8: What advice would you share with a new filmmaker about filmmaking or the industry?
If I was going to give anyone advice, it would be to always be learning and practicing. Watch tutorials, read articles and blogs, join social groups and try to be involved with them. I would also say to always help others if you can. If you can help someone else with a problem they have, or give them a pointer to help them make something a little bit more appealing or whatever, do it.
Q9: Can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects?
I'm actually focused on writing for the time being. I have a lot of ideas and notes and want to get at least four to five episodes scripted that are significantly longer than anything I've done. I honestly have no idea where to go from here.
Q10: Where can people find out more about your work?
I just recently finished setting up my website and have four of my shorts posted there. There's also a few instrumental songs I made and a store with some cool merch that all ships for free and from inside the USA.
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