An Interview With Writer/Director/Actor Shaun Rose: Toga

Written by Luke Barnes

I recently had the chance to interview Writer/ Director/Actor Shaun Rose about their new drama film Toga, which follows a videographer, also played by Rose, as his work brings him back to his home town. In this interview we discuss, home towns, sequels and the hate received from shortening a town’s name.I hope you enjoy.

Q: What was your message with this film?

SR: Overall I feel that with this film and its predecessor, “Upstate Story”, I’ve tried to show that change or personal growth continues even after our transition from childhood to adulthood. Being an adult isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination and we often find ourselves in tough spots or holes and we have to find a way out of them.

  Q: Why is returning to a home town always such an emotional significant moment?

SR: It’s largely due to the memories you have in the sense of what you were, the things you did and what has happened since. All of the changes can really make for a highly emotional experience.

Q: How would you describe the lead character’s emotional journey during this film?

SR: In the beginning he’s largely in a better place than in “Upstate Story.” It’s a very large improvement for him by comparison. He still has problems though and he’s aware of them, but doesn’t have that drive to fix them. The journey to town changes all of that. 

Q: What emotions were you hoping to illicit from your audience here?

SR: I’ve always tried to tell my stories as realistically as possible for the sake of connecting with audiences. Being able to relate to a character on deeply personal levels I feel makes for a more impactful viewing experience.

Q: What made you want to make this film?

SR: Doing an “Upstate Story” sequel was always part of the plan. Both films act as a reflection of who I am as a person and what I’ve gone through the last few years of my life. It’s tough to make a film, but I think writing what I know best has made the process a little easier. 

Q:Do you have a favorite moment and or any funny stories from the production?

SR: Some of the local hate I’ve received over the title alone has been frustrating. At times, it has also been comical if you think about how pathetic it is. Shortening the town name from Saratoga Springs to “Toga” has brought me a lot of heat from others. All other things I’ve experienced will be covered in a “behind the scenes” documentary I’ve also been chipping away at. I don’t want to spoil too much of anything.

Q: What are your future plans, do you have another film in the works?

SR: I have a few in the early writing stages. Even another film in the Ellis Martin saga. If you want to call it that. In the near future and hopefully before the end of 2023 I’ll have the documentary “Not Saratoga” finished. I’m in no big hurry though. 

Q: Do you have any words of advice for young filmmakers who might be reading? 

SR: If you want to make a film, go ahead and do it. If you’re working on a no budget film be prepared to wear a lot of hats. Do your research on those roles too. Prepare yourself for many sleepless nights. 

If you would like to check out Toga  for yourself it is currently out now on Youtube

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