It was forty seven degrees during the day and something not too far off it that evening. I was strolling around my new accommodation wondering how to cope with the heat when I met the most interesting individual that I encountered during my time in Italy - Denis Nazzari. Denis is a producer. The most intriguing producer I have ever seen work. He introduced himself as an actor, which he also is. Denis' main interest in the films that he makes is having high production value and everything to be set in the 70's. I quickly discovered during my first encounter with Denis that he can talk people into anything, the main and most important trait of a producer. By the end of the week my simple idea for a film had developed from a short quirky love story into a badly written 80's musical. I blame and thank Denis for this.
It always started with a bus. The bus had taken eight hours. I had only been conscious for a few seconds of it to see the most beautiful isolated countyside before falling back into a deep sleep. We had arrived in Reggio Calebria at nine in the morning. Our accommodation for this week was a school that was vacant for the summer. We were told to go see the city while the festival staff organised the school. Roughly seventy sleepy film makers unfolded from a bus onto the market located beside our new home. Falling asleep in the mountains and waking up to the sounds of a busy market was nothing short of surreal.
Reggio Calabria is a small city on the south coast of Italy. Famous for the Riace bronzes. Divided strongly between shanty town style huts and high street shops. Rubbish fills the streets with no such thing as a tidy town scheme which leads to patches of horribleness which subsequently didnt seem to be an issue around the high street shops. Being at the very south of Italy in August meant the weather was slightly different to my usual summer temperatures. My first day was spent sleeping and swimming. One of the nicest things that I had discovered in college is that motivation levels are always high by simply just being around creative people. Just to be submerged in people who create anything is something I am constantly looking for and something I found by the bucket load in Italy. Conversations of upcoming projects were flowing healthily. There was a production meeting that evening where we were welcomed to the town and the new people of the festival introduced themselves. Due to the intense heat the first night was a sleepless one, filled with random conversations with the other sleep deprived film makers while new participants turned up to the school at intervals. It must have been a strange sight for your first night on the festival to walk into a hallway filled of sweaty tired youths roaming and mumbling to themselves unable to hold a sustainable conversation.
Prior to this was when I had first met Denis. Just after the production meeting we struck up a conversation regarding our work schedule for the week. We went for a stroll through the city to look for inspiration. I talked about a short quirky story that I wanted to produce. This story would be interupted by every old car and building that caught Denis' eye where he would go on to say, "We could make a big production, if you want". When returning the the school, similar to most peoples first night in a new place, we got lost. We stumbled across an weathered looking garage that was still open despite the time of night. It was an old family run garage. After talking to the owners for some time, just nods and smiles being my side of the conversation, we had found our primary location for our film. We were going to make a 'big production'.
The film we made was called, 'American Dream', named after the bar that we shot a scene in. Im not completely sure but I think this might have been a deal sweetener that Denis made while getting us the location. The script was poor and the acting wasnt exactly up to scratch so we wrote in a scene with lots of beautiful girls to make up for it. It strangely did. We spent two days shooting the most terribly and random short 80's musical. The finished product still confuses me but it was indeed a fun few days and as always it was more then motivating to see the work on a big screen.
My positive experience with the Italian hospitality was strengthened with the shoot we did in the garage. Not only were we easily given permission to turn this family's garage into a set for a morning but whenever I called action on set all the workers would stop whatever task which would only resume with the sound of "cut". Towards the end of the shoot one of the brothers arrived beside us with a bag of refreshments, handed it to me, smiled and went back to work.
This week was my first experience acting in a film. I played the role of a stressed out camera operator in a short film called. 'Action'. It was a great experience to be on the other side of the camera. The short film came third in the festival and I like to believe it was thanks to my performance. I was also a subject in a short documentary called 'adrift'. This acting in this was a little bit easier with my direction being to simply, "float in the sea". So for my first week as an award winning actor it seemed I had been training for the two roles all my life.
The main highlight for my time in Reggio Calabria was a short film I shot for a good friend of mine called, 'Run Human Run'. Shot in exactly thirty minutes and following the simple story of a human running to his death followed up with the most basic edit. It's perfect. It is exactly what shooting short films should be. Fun. Which is exactly how it came across at the screening. Although the screening location wasn't ideal with the street lights in the distance slightly obstructing the screen, any outdoor screening is going to be good regardless. After the screening, once again we said our goodbyes to the people in the town and jumped on the bus to Nova Sire where I went on to write and direct, 'Isola'.