Through the struggle on the way towards the goal. Why some plans could end broken but “the Dream” must keep pulsating.
I’m actually really happy to be asked from Stage 32 to write another article, trying to share something good and offering the opportunity to recognize, together, our common humanity and vulnerability as filmmakers. And maybe as human beings.
Rather than pretending to be an expert in anything, or introducing myself in a way that doesn’t interest anybody in here, it’s important for me to let you know that I don’t know anything. And if there’s one thing that I can talk to you about, and share with you, is my way to keep feeding “the Dream”.
First and foremost I’d like to admit that I always feel weird calling myself a filmmaker although it might be considered true. At least technically speaking. When I was young I really wanted that label. I wanted to be something. I wanted to be a director. But beside the dreams, there’s also the real life and you’re not a director if you don’t make Academy winning films or if millions don’t know them. Is it really the truth, from a deeper perspective?
These are certainly uncertain times. As we know, the movie industry is kind of stuck due to the Covid pandemic and it will probably take some time to recover. The only way for us to get back on track is to start working even harder than before.
From the last time I have been asked to write an article here, some things are changed. For better or worse. And this is how the ball bounces. No one is immune from that, thanks to Covid. If you work 9-to-5 at a post office, you go to work for 8 hours, then you get back home once you’re done and every month you have your “petty cash” safely transferred to your bank account. That’s why most people get a normal job - but filmmaking is not a "normal job". And we need to understand it.
So, back to my recent personal story: let’s just say that something that should have happened, did not; instead, something else unexpected came along. I’ve been happy for 2 weeks in a row, then sad for 14 days in a row. Gigs for reasonable payments for 6 months, then bottom on the ground for half a year. Meanwhile I was growing. It means I was getting older. Ok, let’s say just... wiser. Hopefully.
As I said, from 2015 to 2018 I went through times of intense activity, followed by stretches of relative quiet. And sometimes, that quiet period started to weigh me down. Deeply. Yes, this is what happened – and I’m not ashamed of it. At all. First: because anyone could end up facing that same situation, and as much as we love the statement “misery loves company”, in my opinion it is just a sore loser law that won’t necessarily bring you any relief. Second: because as a famous Italian artist of the past used to say: “nothing is born from diamonds: flowers are born from manure”. And last, but not least, even if we tend to believe that “if there’s anything that can go wrong it certainly will”, I’m also aware that the unexpected turn of things in life, those missed chances, are the best obstacles to learn from. That’s part of the deal to become… adults.
So, since I was being a little stuck, in 2018 I started thinking of something I had always wanted to do. Something I would have never done otherwise: no time for it, no money for it, too much energy to be spent for that and a bunch of stupid excuses (yes, excuses!) that have taken me far away from that. And then, I finally made it all: a documentary written, directed and produced by myself, about the old and new generation of fishermen in my hometown in Italy and a book of poems, written in my regional dialect that I really I love and which was done for charity since all the proceeds have been given to a national association that helps children with cancer.
And you know what? I’ve scored twice. Yes, the movie has neither been produced by Dreamworks nor distributed by Universal. I did not become rich. At all. Also, I have less hair, here above. And, yeah, maybe nobody cares too much about that small film. But I do care. And that’s the important thing. It was something I really needed to tell. To myself, first. The fact that the documentary is also getting attention and accolades from some international film festivals, online platforms, TV Stations etc, has made me think I hit the target, somehow. And the target was not being famous and getting recognition from the outside, but enriching my inner self a little more and discovering new values.
The generational tradition, the respect for the sea, the fear and the challenge of man's adventure, the survival to eat and trade. I think nothing is created, nothing is destroyed, everything is transformed. The ports of small towns, just like the one of my hometown, are today different. They have changed, over the years. Deeply changed. Yet, their richness hasn't changed. They are rich in mankind, so varied and bursting, noisy and tireless.
It's wrong to claim that something, once change occurs, should be considered "dead". Traditions won't. It was a journey into myself and a few but crucial concepts are at the core of this work: remembering is necessary. Legitimizing is important. Hoping is human. And dreaming is never childish. As said, I've been willing to make this documentary for years, meant as a sign of affection for my roots, but above all for the connection that every human being should maintain with traditions.
The fishermen: their many small gestures, in their huge world. Their boundless passion for the sea. That same sea that the nobody of them would never give in. Despite the strain, the cold, the early rising. Even when time flies, and the days passing by seem to call them back for a break. The sea is afraid of no one, a fisherman instead has many reasons to be scared every time he leaves the mainland.
Fishermen swear devotion to the sea and indeed they devote most of their time to it. Like modern Peter Pans unable to grow old, despite the wrinkles furrowed by sea salt. During the shooting and the editing I have tried more times to imagine what the life of fishermen would be from the other side: water beings that leave to come to their beloved ones and then going back immediately after towards an endless space that swallows them up again, everything in a permanent generational life cycle. No more men on the foreshore contemplating the sea in front of them, but rather unsteady sailors wishing for the land to embrace them.
Yes, the film tells about me, somehow, about my new key-point in living. I had started the discovery of myself, of something I really needed, something important to me. So, feeling stronger and empowered, my way of thinking and looking at things changed deeply. Without any external pressure, anxiety, or deadlines.
The new projects I’m trying to develop are, more than ever, a sort of deep exploration. As a filmmaker what I have to offer is myself and I’m pretty sure that if you are authentic, people around are going to be touched. Sharing means exactly that. I feel I’m growing along with my projects. Are they going to be released? I don’t know. Who knows. And who cares. But I discover things as I work.
More than once I told myself I should change approach and trying to be personally and emotionally less involved, because perhaps sometimes I’ve put too much of myself into it. But in the end neither I’ve simplified things, nor I will be going to. I don’t want to be worried about what this script, this story, this concept is looking like. I’m not scared of failures. Not anymore. If you don’t take that risk, you’re not doing anything different than what you’ve already done – much or little it was.
Here’s what I’ve done and what you could try:
Somebody said that sometimes it can start as a game, a little secret and almost childish game that only you know. It's a game. It's an easy game and it’s for free. It has no rules - and of course this makes it attractive. Stand up and just leave… just walk around, for example on Saturdays. Saturday is an ideal day with all those people walking bored on the streets, sitting in cafés.
Maybe small groups of old friends telling each other stories, young men who are flirting with waiters, old women who say that in the past everything was different and now the world seems to have gone mad. Just focus on a sentence and stay with it. Just one, grabbed up from that universe. You decide which one. Choose that, and extract it from the original speech like a surgeon. Isolate it. What a beautiful sentence to start your game: cut it with your mental scissors and just repeat the sentence inside yourself a couple of times. And more. And more. And again. And again. Who knows what you will build tonight!
In the evening it’s always nice to write an absurd piece that strangers have given to you. Yes, because I think a filmmaker has a clear purpose: to use his or her talents to bring a vision into concretion. I'm also passionate about food and cooking and I’m sure that inside a kitchen something very similar happens: the key is mixing the elements. To be an artist in the kitchen, an individual must take all of the fundamental techniques, and combine those with a progressive mindset and with everything he or she has learned from the past, for example grandma’s recipes.
While painting appeals to sight, and music appears to the sense of sound, food, when created at its highest form, appeals to all five senses at once. Textures, aromas, flavors: an immortal dish or a complete failure. It’s just on you. Crossing sentences, situations, items. Cutting, pasting and also mixing them, blending all of this together with your personal life stories and the things you are familiar with: this is the job. Everything will turn into something else, weird, freaky, improbable, impossible but somehow true, real.
Storytelling is a mission and a responsibility at once, and also a physiological need: creating new worlds to hopefully understand the one we have been called to live in. Moreover, let your fantasy fly away is the best cure to estrange yourself from an environment that sounds indifferent at best but, to tell the truth, it is often quite hostile.
So... come on: roll up your sleeves, now.
The very last thing today, then I’ll stop bothering you all: last year I’ve been invited from Malta Film Foundation to show my documentary and to hold a lecture about filmmaking in Malta. A lot of young filmmakers asked me for advice. Well, truth to be told in my life I read lots of articles, tutorials, books about how to become a filmmaker and being part of the industry and I ended up with a simple lesson: don’t rely too much on advice and listen to yourself carefully instead.
Thanks for your time and attention, folks.
I wish you all the very best for your lives and career.
Andrea Lodovichetti was born in Italy and currently lives between Europe and the US. Graduated as a Film Director at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia - National School of Film in Italy, he has been working since 2001 as a director, screenwriter and producer. He has been 2AD for the Academy award winning director Paolo Sorrentino for two of his movies, the Cannes favorite "Il Divo" (aka "The Celebrity") and "The family friend". Andrea's works have received over 50 prizes and awards worldwide. His last feature “Pescamare”, a documentary about the fishermen in the Adriatic sea, will be internationally distribuited soon. He is also developing two full features (fiction) and a documentary called "Neighbors - Coming back from hell".
Check out Andrea's Website here
Follow Andrea on Instagram here
***B/N Pictures by Wilson Santinelli
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