Best Documentary Short – “MADI – Balance and Arts” (USA)

Title: MADI – Balance and Arts
Runtime: 10 min
Country: USA
Director: Silas Tolles
Placement: Best Documentary Short
Competition: June, 2021

Synopsis: A documentary short on Madi Boewe’s pursuit of becoming a better artist. With a tenacious, almost addictive drive to improve and create, Madi explores the importance of creating boundaries in one’s work habits. 

With a past of almost manic tendencies and alcohol abuse, Madi has flipped her life to become a healthier, happier, and grateful human. Madi stresses the importance of trusting your intuition and pursuing your crazy dreams in life.

Director’s statement:

The film is an ode to all creators, artists, and craftsman that work tirelessly at their craft. The process of creating from scratch takes energy, emotion, and a willingness to face rejection. Art is much more than a pleasantry. Art is a necessity, it’s just as selfless as it is selfish. Life is short so use your voice while you have it.

– Silas

FILMMAKER Q&A – Silas Tolles – Director

OR: What was the inspiration for your film?

ST: My inspiration for the film was to showcase the grit, emotions, and hard work required to become a great artist. Many believe that natural talent is what makes artists great, where I was more interested in showing the realities of consistent practice in one’s craft to achieve success. I wanted to make a film that revealed the loneliness and emotional rollercoaster of not quitting on one’s intuitions to create.

OR: When did you conceive the idea for your film and how long did it take before it was realized?

ST: I’m always looking for artists, athletes, or really anyone with a passion to tell their story. I’ve known Madi for many years but didn’t consider making a film on her work until November, 2020. We filmed bits and pieces, usually in the evenings after work, and wrapped a final interview in May of 2021. It was a small crew of just myself, Madi, and my sound guy/friend Eli.

It was definitely a passion project so we would film after long days of work and edit at night.

OR: What was the most challenging aspect of working in a short film format?

ST: The most challenging aspect of working in a short film format for me is telling a satisfying and complete story. It can be difficult to have a successful beginning, middle, and end with such a short time frame. We had up to 3 hours of interview footage that we had to narrow down to a 10 minute film. Personally, I love short films as they’re usually entertaining throughout and cut straight to the point.

OR: What was the most challenging aspect of your production?

ST: The most challenging aspect of production was how to make the film exciting. The idea of watching someone paint or make jewelry doesn’t seem like it would be very exciting to watch; Which is why I primarily focused on the psychology of why Madi creates and how she schedules her days.

OR: Do you have any advice for first-time filmmakers?

ST: My advice for first-time filmmakers is to just keep making things. The best way to improve at filmmaking is to make films. You can watch a million tutorials and buy all the fancy gear, but if you aren’t getting out in the field and making mistakes it’s hard to improve. Also, be yourself and don’t feel like you have to make films like other people do.