Mike Fishman recently sat down with Alberto Caviglia to discuss the Italian filmmaker’s latest film, the comedy mockumentary Pecore in Erba, English title Burning Love. (See Mike’s review of the film HERE). Exceprts from their conversation follow.
Mike Fishman (MF): Where did the idea first come from to make a film about anti-Semitism? Has anti-Semitism been on the rise in Italy?
Alberto Caviglia (AC): The idea of Burning Love arrived after quite a long time in which I was questioning myself and looking for a new way to talk about anti-Semitism. My research began because I started to feel that the common ways of telling stories about anti-Semitism were losing their impact because prejudice is so pervasive and because I think it is a very delicate theme with many taboos. I don’t know if anti-Semitism is rising in Italy, but I think it is evolving and we need to be careful and aware to recognise its different shapes.
MF: Why did you decide to make a comedy, and at that, a mockumentary? Were there certain jokes or areas of humor that you decided not to explore during the writing or filming? Were there scenes or moments that you filmed that you decided to leave out of the finished film?
AC: I think that using a satirical point of view, it was something that could make this film different because I wanted to use comedy as a weapon to face anti-Semitism instead of using it just for laughs. I didn’t want to have limits but at the same time I was aware that I had to be very careful using satire with such a delicate theme. I cut some scenes at the end of the shooting, but only because I wasn’t happy about how they come out or because I considered them superfluous, and never because they were “too much.”
MF: What has the reaction been like? How have Jewish audience members in general reacted?
AC: Reactions were really different, including in italy at the many screenings that I attended. I was happy to see people understood the main intent (and humor) of the film abroad, in France, Russia, Sweden, and also Germany where people seemed very struck by the film. Jewish audience members have felt the most direct emotional impact but I think they also mostly enjoyed the movie. They are so involved in the topic that it is almost impossible to have an impartial discussion about the film with them.
MF: How did you fund the film? How long was the shoot? Were there particular challenges to making a mockumentary?
AC: The shooting lasted about 5 weeks. It was very intense because I had about 340 scenes in the script. It was really hard to shoot all of them and in some cases I had to give up if I wanted to repeat different takes because otherwise I would never get through all my scenes. Post-production as well was a real challange in order to finish it in time for the Venice Film Festival. I edited it with my editor Gianni Vezzosi in less than one month and a half, working day and night…I think we needed at least one more month but we did a kind of miracle finishing it on time!
MF: What is the status of the film? Has it been picked up for distribution and will it run in theaters? Do you have plans to stream it?
Synopsis: While voluntarily testing a new drug at a research facility, a lost screenwriter recruits the help of an egotistical philosopher in order to attract the girl of his dreams.
Starring Michael Stahler, Marcos Esteves, Rayne Bidder.
Written and Directed by Miguel Garzón Martínez
Produced by Miguel Garzón Martínez, Casey O’Brien and Cynthia Bravo
Synopsis: A college student named Winnerbeme loses a cellphone while approaching a woman on a NYC train platform.
About the filmmaker: Mansu Edwards is a prolific artist who continually challenges art forms with boldness and creativity. He delights in using autonomous monikers to signify a transformative experience when engaging in innovative artistic creations. In 2016, Mr. Edwards produced, wrote and directed his first short film, Texting In New York City. A work inspired from people’s responses to the street marketing of its paperback (text) edition.
LISTOPAD is a story of the spirited friendship between three teenaged boys, swept up in the ‘Velvet Revolution’ of 1989.
Petr, Jiri and Ondrej are an unlikely trio of friends. An artist, a hockey player and a music trader, the boys survive Communism by playing sports, drinking beer, chasing girls and listening to underground music. But they are bound together by their common desire for freedom and, on a cold, dark night in November, Petr, Jiri and Ondrej join the front lines of a student demonstration in the streets of Prague. Face-to-face with the riot police, the boys are forced into a momentous decision: stand up against the Communist regime or give in to a system that has silenced their families for generations.
Based upon true stories from the Velvet Revolution, LISTOPAD is a timeless story of political and artistic courage. Seen through the eyes of Petr, Jiri and Ondrej, the film brings to life the exhilarating days of November 1989 when, in spite of everything and everyone arrayed against them, students, artists and dissidents filled the streets of Prague to stand up for their hopes and dreams of freedom.
Award-Winning Indie Film, Dependent’s Day Now Available on Cable, Satellite, and coming soon to Vudu. Director Michael David Lynch lands distribution with his breakout relationship comedy feature Dependent’s Day.
Los Angeles, CA – December 5, 2016 — The breakout indie film, Dependents Day that launched in the festival circuit earlier this year to much acclaim is now available on demand everywhere and coming soon to Vudu. “I am elated that this film has resonated so well with audiences of all ages in the film festival circuit,” said director Michael David Lynch. “You never know when you are making a movie how people are going to respond to it. It was incredible to have our limited theatrical release in October and I’m thrilled that now audiences across the North America will be able to enjoy this film because it is now available everywhere!.”
About Dependent’s Day
Claimed as a ‘dependent’ by his successful breadwinning girlfriend Alice, Cam struggles to prove himself as he stumbles through different jobs and life’s obstacles in the hopes to live out his Hollywood dream and finally rise to the occasion. Dependent’s Day is a hilarious, heartfelt, authentic relationship comedy about the adventures of being in love and making it work.
The film is unlike most other Hollywood romantic comedies because it has a semblance of reality and strong female characters that are endearing throughout the movie. “I had lots of strong women in my life as I was growing up so I really couldn’t write this film without including that component,” said Lynch. “I wanted to write something that reflected my experience and see if it resonated with the audiences. Apparently, the fans enjoy intelligent funny women in roles too.”
About Director Michael David Lynch:
Growing up in Ann Arbor Michigan, Michael found his love for cinema as a projectionist, getting an inside peek at all that film had to offer. He followed this passion to Chicago IL, where he studied film at Columbia College Chicago. It was here that Lynch conceived the idea for Burden, a massive science fiction film of epic proportions that would give any big Hollywood blockbuster a run for its money. After graduating, Mike headed for Los Angeles, where he hit the ground running, working on huge Hollywood movies such as: Inception, Die Hard 4, Ironman 2, and Transformers 2. Ever determined to leave his mark on the medium, he went on to produce several successful films including: Drop, Between Us and This Thing with Sarah. Today, he makes his long-awaited feature film directorial debut with two incredible projects: Dependent’s Day and Victor Walk. Two different films that cover very different territory showing the versatility and heart of a talented director who is sure to keep telling stories. Lynch has had the privilege of collaborating with tons of amazing actors on Dependent’s Day, his debut feature narrative film where he served as Director, Writer, Producer, Cinematographer and editor. Dependent’s Day recently won the Audience Award Narrative Feature Comedy at the Cinequest Film Festival on March 12th, 2016, and Best Comedy Feature at South Dakota Film Festival on September 24th, 2016.
Three years after the death of Frank’s wife a mysterious woman appears. As their attraction grows Frank struggles with reality and his loss. He tries to start over not knowing his choices could lead him to his own downfall.
Frank Parrillo received a letter from his wife who died three years ago. With help from his nephew Frank decides he’s ready to start over. Soon after a mysterious woman appears who seems like a kindred spirit as they both battle internal issues. Still despite premonitions from a psychic and a man who Frank’s not sure is even real he chooses to move forward as he confronts the demons in his head. His choice could ultimately lead him to a darker reality.
Delusion has been picked up for distribution by Cinema Epoch and is now available to buy or rent in the US, Canada & UK at Amazon. It is free with Prime. Delusion will be released on more outlets soon.
Film synopsis: A Man, possessing only the clothes on his back and the hat on his head, travels among different settings from railroad tracks to industrial factories, to run down neighborhoods in a quest to express his inner thoughts through poetry and spoken word. While on his journey he is challenged three times by a Stranger; his own personal EGO who tempts him to question his choices forcing the Man to ponder what measures a human being.
Director’s statement: In spite of the current social and political landscape on both a statewide and national scale, my team created a short film titled prophet that confronts and diminishes the human ego and how the ego is a powerful persuader on all social and political issues/injustices. Through spoken word we’ve created a message of love through poetry in motion and our piece is greatly influenced by such incredible people such as Saul Williams, the late Maya Angelou, Eckhart Tolle, and youtube sensation Prince Ea.
This is an up lifting short film, a polarizing project that challenges the audience to think and by having the main character speak to the audience, engage them to come along his journey; a journey that through the use of poetry challenges the Ego and puts social issues into a perspective that is neither demoralizing or glorifying but instead is about BEING in the PRESENT.
Our Instagram is @prophetshortfilmseries and hash tag is #prophetshortfilm.
Logline: A series of strange occurrences disrupt the life of young and eager, LA based actress Maya Rose. Her world is finally turned upside down when one day she finds herself waking up in an unknown place in a life that isn’t hers.
Short Synopsis: Reality takes a turn for young and eager actress Maya Rose when she auditions for the role of Ava in a screenplay titled “The reflection and the mirror”. It tells the story of Ava and Scott, two lovers trying to transcend time and space by means of a mirror. Maya is thrilled. The enigmatic character of Ava mesmerizes her. The bizarre audition sets off a series of strange occurrences that lure curious Maya onto a path deep into the life of Ava and a world that holds nothing familiar to her. Maya finds herself waking up in a house where doors and windows are locked and won’t open. She can feel the eerie presence of someone else in the house, a woman, a female shadow. Paranoia and desperation soon drive her to the edge of sanity and Maya loses herself between the worlds of captivation and the realm of dreams.
Reflections of Maya Rose, a feature length film, is completed and after a successful festival career it is now available on VOD.
Mike Fishman for IndependentFilmNow: Where did the story first come from about an Irish man living with his two sons from different mothers in New York City? Can you tell us about Christian’s backstory and his inner conflict as a man who has the potential for violence while at the same time we see him complain to a friend that his youngest son’s mother was hitting her son?
O’Reilly: The inspiration for Eggs and Soldiers came from wanting to capture a silent explosion in the life of a teenage boy when finds himself in a moment of crisis where he has to make a difficult decision. Another inspiring image I had was of a teenage boy who couldn’t afford a tree on Christmas Eve. The third was stories I remember hearing as a child growing up in Ireland about people drinking too much at Christmas time causing family feuds to break out. The character of Christian is full of contradictions. I wanted to create a character that despite his flaws he still made the right moral decision when it came to being a father for his children. Christian has a violent rage that alternates with him playing the victim of his given circumstances and in rare moments he tries to be a loving father despite his failures. Yet his character also has this dark sense of humor. I also wanted to play around with the notion of an unreliable narrator, so when we hear Christian speak in the pub to his friend Mick the audience are unsure as to trust what he is saying about his younger son Marco’s mother. Christian is deeply wounded from his past and like a hungry wolf he searches the night for companionship or friends who will listen to his sob story. It is clear that Christian came from a broken home, and his deepest struggle is not to repeat the past and repeat the sins of his own father.
IndependentFilmNow: Color is obviously important to you. The palette of the film is muted favoring brown and grey until Ned, the older son, trades the gift he was going to give his girlfriend for a Christmas tree and things start to lift emotionally for Ned and we see Christmas lights, the tree seller sporting a red Santa cap, and even a red blanket draped over Christian, Ned’s father, asleep on a sofa at home. Can you tell us about your use of color and how that informs the viewer, on a conscious or subconscious level, about the emotional state of the characters?
Imelda O’Reilly: I wanted a gritty aesthetic for my film; Christian, the Dad, is scraping by a living ducking and diving social services, employment and also his apartment crisis. I wanted muted colors to show how their world is bleak, but also through the dialogue some humor is added intentionally which helps them pull through. The slow introduction of color as you artfully mention comes when Ned’s character manages to get a tree for the family toward the end of the film. By having the characters dress in muted colors helps give the film a visceral dimension to the characters making them more three dimensional as opposed to one dimensional. I am referencing the cinema of moral discontent and also the melodramatic tropes of realism. The internal world of the characters is communicated through the use of the camera as narrator.
IndependentFilmNow: Tell us about your choice of lenses and hand-held camera versus a mounted camera to give different scenes their urgency or a more observational feel.
O’Reilly: In filming Eggs & Soldiers I wanted to be able to create two different visual styles for the film that would correspond to the two contrasting worlds that Ned, the main character, is caught between. I have a long working relationship with my cinematographer Joe Foley so we discussed at length the world of the characters. The film depicts Ned with an easy and amiable relationship with his younger brother Marco and also in a more contentious relationship with his father Christian. In order to have the audience have a better understanding of how Ned is feeling we used longer lenses with a more stable camera to portray the stability and ease with which Ned and Marco relate to each other.
I choreographed with the cinematographer longer panning shots of Ned as he moves along the street or Marco within the apartment to indicate the mostly pleasant and congenial world that they have created together. In contrast to that we used a handheld camera and wider lenses to show the less stable environment that is created when the father Christian is in the scene. At the beginning of the film when the three of them are riding in the car and then unpacking all the Christmas presents the camera is always moving following Christian’s sometimes erratic actions. This was done to illustrate the unease and instability that Christian’s personality is creating for his sons. They are not brought into their apartment and cared for, instead they are dropped off on the street corner and left-holding bags full of unwrapped presents and headed into an apartment with an empty refrigerator.
Later in the film I discussed with the cinematographer the choice of using a handheld camera during the confrontation scene between Christian and Ned. We used a shutter effect that was set to 45 degrees in order to give the scene a more jarring, disturbing feel. This ‘Private Ryan‘ effect and the handheld camera help the audience feel more of Ned’s shock and terror at his father’s anger and violent outburst.
IndependentFilmNow: How long was the shot and how did you get the locations?
O’Reilly: The shoot was seven days. It was difficult enough to find the locations. However I decided to focus my locations around Inwood in Manhattan. Christian’s character is a super in a church but as he mentions briefly in the film he is being kicked out because the pastor is moving his daughter into his apartment. Again Christian’s character tends to play the victim. There is a Church on 181st on Bennet Avenue, which was a perfect location. At the time Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance had their offices there so I had to transform the space to look like an apartment where a family lived. I got a vanload of furniture through a connection that worked at Saturday Night Live, which was amazing. They gave us curtains, pictures and all the necessary pieces to build the set. Thank goodness for the New York community when it comes to indie filmmaking. The Christmas tree location was kindly given to us for free and they were very cordial in helping us make our film.
IndependentFilmNow: The film is set on Christmas Eve and unfolds over a few hours of time. How did you decide on the time frame and Christmas Eve?
O’Reilly: I wanted to use one central action to reveal character what Aristotle calls a “simple plot.” In Jaws the one central action is killing the shark and through this one central action the characters within the film are revealed. I wanted to depict a nuanced slice of life within a non-traditional family and this structure seemed to fit well for the film. I choose Christmas Eve because that is a time in Ireland when tension is high; there are a lot of expectations and usually a time when agro within the home or family feuds tend to break out. It seemed a good day to set the story of my film.