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From 'Raging Bull' to Directing: Valerio's Cinematic Journey Inspired by Marco Tiburtini

Steven Long Director of Global Film Exhibition in coversation with

Valerio Cecconi

Valerio, could you share a bit about what initially drew you to the world of directing and writing, and how your studies with Marco Tiburtini at the Actors Studio influenced your filmmaking approach?

“Raging Bull” for sure. In general, this movie makes people want to try out a career as an actor, but instead it inspired me to become a film director. I saw it when I was 15, when all I’d ever seen were superhero movies or movies about great men; I could have never imagined that there could be a movie about a fat, paranoid, self-destructive man.

The movies I knew about told us the stories my teachers used to tell me: work hard, good and evil should never mix, don’t react, don’t let your flaws show, be nice to everyone, God sees all, and He hates the bad guys. I was so fed up with that stuff; when you’re a child, teachers represent the establishment, and you end up thinking that you should listen to them if you want to become a good adult. But “Raging Bull” whispered to me: “Hey friend, there’s more to life… and God doesn’t hate you.”

If things were really like that, then I could bring to light the sides I kept hidden, and I could heal them through my creativity.

I took the course with Marco Tiburtini in Italy, in a town an hour by car from Rome. I had some doubts, but my father encouraged me to try it out. The course was attended by another twenty people. Marco is a screenwriter and a theatre director who worked a lot in the United States and had attended the Actors Studio school in New York; he’s also a great guitarist. So, as soon as I saw him, I realized he was a person with vast experience and a great creative streak.

I’ve always written short stories, sometimes they were an outlet that managed to overturn my everyday life, but I didn’t know how to build structured stories at all. Thanks to Marco’s advice, my stories slowly got better… by understanding the basic structure of a screenplay, and then through the method he knows best: write about your character’s typical day, don’t ever portray anything that doesn’t have a past, every one of us has a vast range of emotions we can use and shape to our own liking. You’re unable to write a female character? Know that memories have no gender: instil them into the female character.

Thanks to Marco, I also discovered the whole journey that is re-writing; thanks to him, I understood the sheer amount of patience and the knowledge you need to fix plot issues, and I learnt how to take advantage of the visualizer: if something is missing from the scene, you’ll discover the details that are missing.

I kept on working with him after the end of the course: other than writing, I studied direction under him. What I learnt then I continue to study now, because I still need many more years before I can say I’ve completely absorbed it. When I become overconfident, I tend to forget, and then I always end up retrieving my old notes.

"We love Nouvelle Vague" seems to have a special place in your heart. Can you tell us about a memorable moment during its creation that stood out for you, and why it's so significant?

I called Henoc, and I told him: “Tomorrow we’ll be shooting on the road.” He was shocked because I usually overthink things at least a hundred times before I do something. In that precise moment, I was asking him to shoot without a screenplay, while driving a car. I answered Henoc by saying: “I’ve created a character who’s obsessed with death, who loves Billy the Kid and loves women even more so.

We don’t need anything more to begin, the road will tell us the rest.” It might seem presumptuous, this way of creating, especially when it’s a director who hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar or a Bafta. But you must understand the time period. My time period, my mindset at the time, was: “I’m not capable of shooting a good short film, I won’t even try it.” To destroy these thoughts, I had to jump into the void, knowing that I had a faulty parachute, one that probably wouldn’t even open.

My cinema was born like this, and that’s the reason why “We love Nouvelle Vague” is important to me: it was the birth of my cinema. A birth that happened not in a hospital, but on the road.

A funny thing happened, near the end; after the first dialogue, the protagonist should have given a lift to a hitchhiker, chatted with him about life and death, ditched him on the road and then robbed him: I was the hitchhiker. Henoc, who played the role of the protagonist, should have ditched me at a point in the road we’d already agreed upon, but Henoc decided to take it easy, he stretched out the dialogue and overtook the point we’d said. When Henoc finished talking, there was no way he could have stopped the car, because the road wouldn’t allow it. We didn’t know what to do at that point, we were still shooting, right? Henoc was waiting for a hint from me, I was expecting him to improvise something… at that point, to fill up the space, I moved the camera, and it was the best shot in the entire short film.

Then Henoc saw a clearing where he could pull up the car, he swerved and stopped. I saw his face and I understood that he wasn’t sure if we were still shooting or not… So, I thanked him like a stranger would and I got out of the car. At that point, Henoc had realized we were still shooting, so he took out the gun, lightning-quick, and shouted at me.Every time we see that scene, we laugh a lot; my father repeats those final lines sometimes, and it always makes me laugh out loud.

Your short film "Sons" has received a remarkable amount of recognition and awards. What inspired the story behind it, and what does it mean to you to see it celebrated in such a way?

When I shot “Sons”, I’d just finished shooting “We love Everywhere” and I was editing it. “We love Everywhere”’s editing seemed never ending at the time, and there were a few bureaucratic issues to solve to finish it off. I was also looking for a new job; it wasn’t a good time for me.

So clearly, to understand the future, I had to shoot something new.

I often go on walks with my dog Pablo in Collerampo, a beautiful area full of green, an ideal place for a walk. One day, while I was walking, I saw that someone had abandoned a mirror on the edge of the road.

Now, because of my education, I know that objects are quite important when you write. You can see a mirror in the road and think: “What an asshole; only a beast would do such a thing.” Or you can see it and think: “This mirror has lived for years in the same house, all the family members have seen their reflected faces here for years, and then they threw it away. These people have thrown away their reflections, they have thrown away everything they are, and they did it in such a violent way.” These thoughts drove me to write a story about a criminal who often travelled to a calm area to talk to an abandoned mirror; while doing that, the criminal was certain he was talking to God.

I showed the screenplay to Henoc, who started to clothe this character. He asked for a black suit (mine), a particular tie (he took his father’s one), a pure white shirt (my brother’s), a pair of dark sunglasses (mine again) and a pair of shoes (his ones). He found the perfect style, but I told him the shoes should be white: I wanted to show that evil had taken over his whole body, but God still had his chest and his feet. Then we went shooting. We moved in front of the mirror, and Henoc started acting.

I watched the scene again that evening, and I thought we could do better. I told Henoc the next day: he didn’t take it well, but he still said: “Let’s shoot it again right now.” That was funny moment: he was angry, but he still wanted to do the whole thing again immediately. I explained the lines and the character better, and in the end, he did it really well, exactly as I imagined it. Then I said: “Okay, we can go.” And he said: “Wait, my character still has things to say; you keep filming no matter what.” I obviously told him yes.

Henoc improvised the second part in its entirety, everything you see in the final scenes. He didn’t distort the short film; he just gave it a different perspective. His words weren’t so different from mine, they just showed the future of the protagonist, while mine showed his past. This helped me create a final edit that was more dynamic than the original idea, and it gave the entire short film a hint of much needed unpredictability. If an actor truly understands how his character works and thinks, they can speak even when nobody gives them permission to. This is what Henoc did, and this was how we managed to finish “Sons”.

“Sons” helped me face my most cowardly side, it helped me befriend it.

When the film started receiving recognition, it was nice for us. My biggest satisfaction was the fact that we spoke about God, one of the least popular subjects in film festivals. And yet, we still brought home accolades, from various parts of the world.

It was satisfying receiving an award from a festival in Paliano, the town where I live. The festival’s called “Corto…ma non troppo” (literally, “Short… but not too short”). It helped me make peace with the town where I live: after that award, I thought about Paliano quite a lot, and it helped me get to know the people there after I’d distanced myself from them. They aren’t as bad as I thought; they’re good people, creative even. It took an award to see that, but never mind; the most important thing is reconciling with one’s past.

Actually, my biggest satisfaction when it comes to “Sons” might be the fact that it’s on the platform Cineariaperta, a platform that’s available only to convicts in Puglia. Rosa Ferro, the president of the Nuova Fantarca association which cooperates with the Puglia region, made this possible. I find this beautiful; one day I’d like to talk to them about my short film or anything else.

The feature film "We Love Everywhere" takes a fascinating approach by involving passers-by in Trastevere in the filmmaking process. How did this method of improvisation shape the final film, and what was one of the most surprising outcomes from this experience?

For some time, we’d wanted to take the character Nouvelle and drive him to madness; it was Henoc’s idea, but we didn’t know when nor how do to it.

One day, Henoc was quite upset about a personal problem, and he had quite a lot to say. It made me think about the character in “We Love Nouvelle Vague”. I saw him as a sort of superhero, one that kept saying: “I’m your life force and your sadness, show me around, I can’t wait to say this to someone.”

When we got to Trastevere, the sheer energy of the place slammed into us. We asked ourselves: “How can we become the masters of this place with only a handycam? Not even a Hollywood equipe with fifty cameras would manage it.”

We had to change our attitude; we had to become good anthropologists: we couldn’t conquer the place, we had to become part of it.

While we were walking, we saw a sign that said, “free exhibition”. We came inside a room full of paintings and sculptures. We chatted with a nice sixty-year-old lady who’d done one of the paintings: at the bottom of it there was a rock, above it the sea and a ball that invoked childhood. We told her we were doing an experimental movie and then we asked her if we could shoot there. She told us: “I need to ask my teacher.” All the art in the room was the product of a course organized by Claudio Valenti, who was present there. He gave us the go ahead, and added: “Do whatever you want, and stay however long you want.”

I started recording, Henoc shook out a cigarette and placed it in his mouth the other way round; I started to film half of his face and half the face depicted on a painting: I was thinking about Godard of course, but I was also thinking about what we were living through. We were living through a new birth, one that didn’t happen on the road, but thanks to the help of the people around us.

It kept on going like that: roaming the streets of Trastevere, talking to the people we met and filming when we saw something interesting happen. Everyone was friendly, helpful and even great when they accepted to film something themselves.

What shaped this film? Trastevere is never-ending chaos, made up by a concert of words, words hailing from all over the world. There were a lot of tourists, and we decided to lose ourselves amongst the chaos, without caring about the fact that we had to shoot with only a few takes and with strangers at that; if anything, that uncertainty was a huge source of adrenaline. That way, if the character needed to lose himself in the chaos, if he needed to talk about himself and if he needed attention… We told ourselves: if we want to narrate this character, we need to share the experience with him.

This was our modus operandi.

The most surprising result might have been the scene with Coco. Around 4 o’clock in the afternoon, we were wandering about looking for a new scene. While we were walking, Henoc told me: “Stop, turn around.” I turned around and it was like being hit by Sugar Ray. Coco was in a street made up by “sanpietrini” (the typical cobblestones you find in Trastevere), and she was drinking a cappuccino in an open-air bar.

Now, I need to clarify a thing. In Italy it’s weird to drink a cappuccino at 4 o’clock in the afternoon: no Italian would do it. I understood immediately that she was a tourist, and that was even better: that day I wanted a tourist to recite in this film. However, her style was what compelled me the most. She had golden hair and golden earrings, a white, angelic dress, with quite a long and wide skirt. There were a lot of girls walking around those streets, but hardly anyone had that kind of style.

That day, I don’t know why, I had a bad feeling; I was afraid we might annoy someone. However, when we saw her, I said: “We absolutely need to get her to act with us.” As expected, Henoc replied: “Yes, but… what scenes shall we do?”

We started “writing a scene”, and Henoc mentioned something about the typical Q&As you do in school. This made me think that maybe Henoc could ask Coco questions that required long and detailed answers, and Coco would reply with only a yes or a no. Then I gave Henoc a few lines, the bare minimum.

Henoc had everything else he needed to improvise and complete the scene. Then, he went to talk to Coco, to try and convince her, while I stayed away. Why? Because I’m a coward with the biggest heart, that’s why.

Anyway, I saw from afar that Coco was smiling and that she seemed relaxed and happy to talk to Henoc.

At that point, I came closer, and I discovered that her name was Lindsay, but she preferred Coco; that she worked as a hostess for an important American travel company and that she was around my age. After exchanging a few words, I immediately understood that we’d get along; she seemed familiar with my kind of personality, maybe because I’d listened to a lot of my teacher’s stories about New Yorkers.

Anyway, Coco agreed to shoot the scene; she seemed amused by the fact that she had to reply yes or no to questions that she couldn’t understand at all, given that she only spoke English. The scene went well, but what impressed me the most was how Coco drank her cappuccino, in such a natural way. It might seem simple, but people study their whole lives to succeed at being a natural on camera. She didn’t understand a word, but she still filled up the scene with simple, natural gestures. After watching the scene, I told myself: “No, I won’t waste this girl for a scene so simple”.

I told her, with my basic knowledge of English: “Now, you’ll ask some questions; we’ll do it the other way around.” Henoc widened his eyes, and I knew he was terrified of facing the scene in English. But it was exactly what I wanted. You need to know, his character is a sort of Latin Lover who ponders life a lot; a sort of Belmondo transported to Trastevere, cigarette always at hand included.

It was exactly what we needed, a strong personality that would show another side of his character: Coco was the perfect person to make our character’s beliefs crumble. And if he had to crumble, Henoc had to do it first, with the knowledge that he had no control over the scene. I started directing Coco, even though the language barrier was still an issue. However, as soon as I said the word “Lynch”, she jolted and something in her eyes changed. She told me: “I know what you want to do.” I shut up at that point, because I knew that saying anything else would worsen the situation. Coco started asking questions, and I immediately noticed she was completely different from the previous scene: she was more confident. Henoc started replying to her questions with a yes or a no, but after a bit he let himself go, he started acting, in English even! Having said that, Coco took complete control over the scene. At times, I couldn’t even manage to record all her hand movements: I wasn’t expecting anything like this.

Coco uncovered something new about the character that even we didn’t know existed, and she uplifted Henoc’s acting, by helping him abandon his comfort zone and show what a versatile actor he is.

With the successes you've achieved and the challenges you've faced, what advice would you give to emerging filmmakers who are looking to carve their own path in the industry?

What a strange, but spot-on, question. I think I can give a good answer, but at the same time I’m still submitting my film to various festivals around the world; my film isn’t being screened in movie theatres, it’s still looking for its right path. I can answer this question, but I’m still aware that there are plenty of people who are more experienced and better involved in this sector. Having said that, I believe you need to develop your identity as a director.

After Scorsese finished “Boxcar Bertha”, he showed it to the great John Cassavetes, who said: “Do you want to this shit for the rest of your life? This movie doesn’t talk about you. You need to do intimate movies. Tell me about the movie you want to shoot more than anything.”

Scorsese’s answer was “Mean Streets”.

I want to do an intimate film; I can do it thanks to the modern technologies, but I don’t want to do it with the added pressure of having to be the new Scorsese or with the fear of seeing my film destroyed by a random critic on their blog. If you’re a rising director, your best weapon is the desire to take on the world; ruminating on Scorsese or on hypothetical critics, will make you docile and it will cut your healthy self-confidence in half. You must ask yourself: “What film would you like to direct more than anything else!?”

If it’s a 10-million-dollar film, don’t cry, but work around the costs with your creativity: everyone can make a good film with 10 million dollars. If a teacher tells you to study 3 years before shooting something, don’t listen to them. If you feel the need to shoot immediately, do it; if you don’t feel ready, you can take 5 more years to think about it, but do it, because you need this. Maybe you have to live through life a bit more before you feel ready to say something.

Now, we can talk about topics that are popular. Do you want to talk about identity? Do you really want to tackle this topic? Well, while you do that, ask yourself what kind of artist you are, and then ask your dad what identity means to him, and then go and ask your mother, your friends, everyone: live the research. You can’t talk about a story without research, without listening to the pain around you. You must live what you research: you must become the chaos, the street, the prayer of a man praying in front of a mirror.

What parts of the Nouvelle Vague movement really sparked your imagination and how did you weave those inspirations into your own filmmaking adventure?

I did a short film in 2018 titled “Problem Solving”. I shot it with Henoc Mboyo, Lucrezia Vittori and Adriano Vittori. At the time I was still a writer trying to figure out film direction: I had no idea what I was supposed to do. That short film helped me understand the difference between writing and directing.

When you’re a director, you deal with real people; everything is different. That short film helped me understand how to move the camera, how to edit. I wasn’t very happy with “Problem Solving” and I wasn’t much in touch with direction at the time. I still had other things to do, experiences to live through; I needed to distance myself from cinema, I needed to look around myself. Although, distancing myself completely was a mistake because it made me lose touch with people that had helped me.

Throughout the years, Henoc has become one of my greatest friends; other than what I taught him, he took an acting class and became an even better actor. He’d told me, at least a hundred times, that I had to watch Godard, that I’d love his stuff and so on. After the umpteenth time, I decided to watch one of Godard’s films: “Pierrot le fou”. Immediately after watching it, I told myself: “What the f- is this stuff?” While I was watching the movie, I had the constant urge to pause it and ask Godard: “What the f- is happening?”

Watching that film helped me break free from the many burdens I’d carried for a while. I immediately knew I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to. I already knew the saying: “When you understand a rule, you can also break it.” I needed a practical example of that rule, and that example was “Pierrot le fou”.

I love the way Godard describes women. He films their faces in a magnificent way. What I love the most is the fact that he portrays women not as victims or perpetrators: they’re anything else. They’re childish, they’re mean; they have age-related crisis; they’re joyful, they’re domineering, they’re fragile, and many other things still.

That beautiful nighttime car scene in “Pierrot le fou”: what a dream! Belmondo asks Anna Karina’s character a few questions, and she gives amazing answers, like: “I don’t want to talk about myself, what makes me sad is the fact that life and books are different.” Then she hums a tune that annoys Belmondo. I’d never seen these kinds of women in cinema; they aren’t saviours who’s only job is to save the man at the centre of the movie. They’re fantastic characters, ones you never know where they’ll lead you.

The thing I like the most about Godard’s female characters is the fact that they’re in touch with their mortality and their beauty. When Anna Karina sings in Pierrot le fou… What a beautiful scene. She sings about her imminent death, but she’s still beautiful. Godard states in one of his books that he knows that beauty is extremely unforgiving, and in this case, he compares it with death.

In the other car scene, Anna Karina asks Belmondo: “Who are you talking to, darling?”

He replies: “With the spectators.” “Ah” she answers, like she means to say: “Ah, I don’t care about those damned annoying snoopers.” And the editing! I was used to seeing 5-7 second cuts. In “Pierrot le fou” a cut can happen after 12 seconds, or just 1. It seems ordinary, obvious even, but it’s anything but. If you think it through, it can open your mind and help you do things you never thought possible.

That movie had destroyed classic cinema, and I had found my way of doing cinema.Specifically: “I can’t do classic cinema? Well, I’ll destroy it then.”

When I called Henoc to tell him we would shoot “We love Nouvelle Vague”, the first thing he asked me was: “If you’re the cameraman, who’ll be the hitchhiker?”

Me, I answered him.

Before getting to know the Nouvelle Vague movement, I would have gone looking for a random person to ask them if they could please take the role. But I didn’t need to do that anymore, not when it seemed so outdated to me.I’ve only talked about the first movie I saw of the Nouvelle Vague movement, but obviously I’ve watched many more of this genre, and I still watch them today.

There are many extraordinary directors that influenced me, and still do so today: Melville, Truffaut, Rohmer and Chabrol. Another French director who inspired me was Louis Malle, who wasn’t part of the Nouvelle Vague. We’ve quoted him more than once, and Henoc even did it directly in a line of the film. We’re completely crazy over “Ascenseur pour l’èchafaud”, “My Dinner with Andre” and especially, “Le feu Follet”.

I'm curious, how did letting your character roam free on the streets shape the story you were telling in "We Love Everywhere"? It sounds like such a unique way to develop a character!We were the ones following the character. When we were wandering about, Henoc and I didn’t talk, we were connected to the character, and talking would bring us back to our own lives.

The character wanted to talk about himself to everyone; he’s self-centred, he loves women. But he didn’t just love being with them, living with them and kissing them. He loves talking to them, being chased by them and especially thinking about them.

If our protagonists breaks up with a woman, he spends the next few months pondering where he went wrong, if he could have said or done something different. He thinks about it constantly, but he doesn’t suffer while he does that; he himself is the only one capable of doing that.

We slowly understood him better thanks to the feelings that Trastevere gave us. What defined this character were the traumatic experiences Henoc and I lived through, experiences that we managed to overcome thanks to the chaos of Trastevere. This merge, the synergy, helped us slowly but surely build the character. His development happened only when we were in Trastevere shooting. We didn’t touch him anywhere else, especially, God forbid, at a desk. There’s nothing wrong with writing at a desk, but this character would have exited the computer and ran away in search of some girl; then he would have told her than someone had kept him locked in a computer and who knows what else.

Filming without a script is quite daring! Could you share a fun story or a challenge you encountered during this process and how you tackled it?

The third evening in Trastevere we were struggling; we began worrying about the fact that maybe we’d ran out of scenes to shoot and that maybe those streets had already given us too much.But then Henoc saw an establishment; we were in front of the cinema in Trastevere. I looked inside this place, and there were some beautiful lights on.

I saw a man inside, behind the counter, quite tall and big; you could tell he was a true local from the way he moved his hands and the way he talked. Instinct told me he was a good man, so I went inside, and I started talking to him. Usually, it’s Henoc who does it, but that time I did the talking.

I approached him; his name was Marco. I told him: “What a lovely place, can we shoot a scene here?”

He answered: “Yes, but don’t record my face.” Obviously, he said that in a thick Roman dialect; then he started mixing up the ingredients for a gin tonic. Henoc asked me: “What are we doing?” And I told him: “We’re shooting.” Marco had as good as decided how to do the scene, without even asking me. Complete madness: I couldn’t ask for better.

Marco finished making the gin tonic, Henoc took the glass from him and then started wandering the streets of Trastevere. When we got back to the bar, Marco told me: “I thought you’d nicked my glass.” Again, he obviously said that in his thick Roman slang, with a few choice words about us nicking his glass without paying him. After that, we talked to Marco for a bit: he’s a big fan of the Roma football team. I told him I’m a fan as well, but Henoc foolishly told him he was a fan of the Inter football club instead, and, to add insult to injury, he also said: “Well, we’re kind of cousins.” Marco told him, quite clearly: “We’re not cousins, your team is the cousin of our greatest rivals, the Lazio football club.” (And he obviously said that in roman slang: “Non sete nostri cuggini, sete cuggini ajii’nfami.”)

Anyway, we were all laughing, the atmosphere was very playful. Marco suggested we visit the upper floor for another take, and we followed his advice. I won’t spoil the scene, but I can say that the upstairs floor is really cool. We did a couple of scenes, then we went downstairs to say goodbye to Marco. I told him: “Thanks Marco, lets keep in touch, but we’re leaving now.”

He told me: “Go to the toilet!” (He used the roman slang word for toilet, “cesso”.) I was astonished, because why did I have to go the bathroom? I decided to pretend I didn’t hear a thing, and told him again: “Thanks a lot, we shot two amazing scenes. When we’re done, I’ll show them to you…” And he interrupted me again, with another order to go to the toilet. I really didn’t know what to think, that maybe he was mad or something, so I decided to say goodbye and then go. But when I was turning around, he shouted: “Go to the toilet, I said. The toilet’s like Trainspotting!”And he obviously said that in roman slang:” Vai ar cesso, er cesso è come Trainspotting!”

Now, that made sense: he was telling us to go to the bathroom because it was a cinematic one. So, we did as he said, we went to the “cesso”. When we got there, I saw the mirrors: I love mirrors, and that bathroom was full of them, all of them colourful. It was like looking at yourself in the mirror while hopped up on acid. Marco was totally right: those “cesso” were like Trainspotting. And obviously, as soon as I saw it, I shouted: “Action!”

Engaging with the locals and passersby in Trastevere must have brought so many unexpected moments. Do you have a favorite memory from this experience that stood out to you during the making of "We Love Everywhere"?

Massimiliano, a young man who was playing his guitar in the street with bare feet. As soon as we saw him, we told each other: “He’s made for our film.” We obviously did a scene with him.

A few months later, we had to track him down for a couple of bureaucratic issues but finding him was a nightmare. We ended up talking to a lot of homeless people, and we even became friends with them, and we tried to help them as much as we could. Everyone told us: “Yes, we know Massimiliano, he told us he shot a scene in a film!” That made us happy, but we still couldn't find him. There’s a restaurant near where we shot that scene with Massimiliano, so we asked one of the waiters, who told us: “Yes, but why do you care? That man’s a loser!” We told him Massimiliano was our friend; we should have told that waiter off, but we weren’t there for that, we hadn’t shot a film just to end up fighting with a conceited waiter.

We continued our search, and then we managed to meet some of Massimiliano’s friends. They were quite unique people, with incredible stories: they told us about their past; it was both weird and fun. The person who helped us the most was a man, Battista: he would have been perfect for our film. He was good to us, and told us that Massimiliano didn’t own a phone, but when he saw him next, he’d call us. And he did exactly that; Henoc was the one who saw him again, and after, he told me that Massimiliano seemed like a different person: he owned a pair of shoes, a case for his guitar, and had a job.

It would be nice to reunite the whole cast one day, but I know it wouldn’t be easy, since most of them are people we’ve only met once in our lives and a few of them don’t even live in Italy.Anyway, I’m sure that occasion will arise one day, either at a big movie preview or while simply eating a pizza.

The editing phase sounds like it was a journey from chaos to clarity. How did you approach transforming the spontaneous footage into a coherent story? I bet it was quite the puzzle to piece together!

Sometimes having that kind of material was a dream; others, a complete nightmare. I hadn’t shot a lot, and I’d discarded hardly anything: I had to make do with what we had. The material we had, we’d gotten it in the street from strangers, people we’d met a few minutes before shooting. And every single scene we’d managed to shoot, was a small miracle. Obviously, if there were errors, we couldn’t just go back to Rome to shoot the scene again, not even by recreating the same scene with different people; that would have been a betrayal of the meaning of the movie.

Fortunately, during the actual shooting, I’d made sure everything made sense, even the mistakes we’d made. While I had my camera in hand, I had to figure out where the film was taking me: in a chaos packed with mistakes and plot twists. I clearly had to find the meaning of all these scenes, give them unity. The day after shooting, I’d always edit them; by doing this, I managed to understand where this film, and our souls, were taking us.

For example, while I was editing, I immediately understood that the voices in the background shouldn’t be removed; rather, they should be amplified. Trastevere’s chaos had to stand out, and never mind the fact that it might be annoying or that it might make understanding the protagonist’s words harder.

Sometimes, other than the people acting, I’d record other people around us. I should have removed these takes, but how? I could only think about the least tiring way to get rid of these scenes; sometimes though, problems can unexpectedly become an asset. I removed the people, but I also created something new.

There’s a scene, at the start of the film, where you can clearly see the face of a person wandering about. It reminded me of the movie, “Branded to Kill”, where Suzuki had cut off the image. I cut that scene, but I clearly did it my way, cutting off the eyes of the girl at the start, who still managed to play a small but significant part of the film. That scene is very important, because for the first time in the film a female face appears, and the music starts playing: a fundamental scene! I worked on it a lot, and I’m very satisfied with how it turned out.

When I came across the same issue of having recorded people I shouldn’t have, I cut off the frames, giving it a Reel effect. This was essential, because the protagonist is a man from the past living in modern society. Having the protagonist talk inside a frame that’s so modern, created something compelling. By working like this, with new ideas to overcome problems and by seizing what the images were suggesting, I created the style of the film.

How did I merge the scenes? I won’t say much, but I can say that in this case I took control of the editing. I didn’t let the images inspire me or anything, it was an old-school editing process. I saw the final edit many times, but I also sometimes stopped working on it because I was doing something else, or I just couldn’t manage it. And six months later, we still were missing the music.

In the first few edits, I’d used Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”: the music isn’t copyrighted, but I’d taken it from a pianist on YouTube, and that’s not allowed. The only thing we could do was find a pianist to play for us. But where could we find one? It seemed straightforward at first, but it took us a long time.

We first went to prestigious school in Rome, an elite one at that! We were certain we would find a student happy to help us. However, as soon as we came inside, I knew we wouldn’t have much luck: everyone looked down at us, and when I tried to stop a teacher to ask him if he knew anybody, he told me: “I need to make a call now.” Who knows, maybe he needed to call the Pope?

The thing that surprised me the most was the fact that these people want to make music, so the least they could do was give the film a chance. If it wasn’t their thing, they could just tell me. But how would you know without giving it a chance to see if there’s an actual opportunity there? It was shocking, how elitest these students were… they’re even studying art. Oh well, I just hope I’ll never see them again.

Henoc managed to find a great pianist just around the corner from our homes: her name’s Nicoletta Evangelisti. We went to the school where she teaches piano, and as soon as we got there, I knew she was what we were looking for. I listened to the last few minutes of her lesson with a pupil who seemed happy to be there. Nicoletta not only did the music we asked for, but she even altered it to suit the different scenes.

In the film, there’s also a track my great friend Matteo Tufi did: he re-interpreted Erik Satie’s “Gnossienne n°1”. In the end, other than his track, there were also 17 different versions of “Swan Lake”, all done by Nicoletta! Only then, with the music finally sorted out and the fast-approaching summer, I finally understood my film, and I was finally able to finish it. Those 17 tracks nearly made me go crazy: I had so many possibilities, I didn’t know where to start. But like Sofia Coppola said, touch the limit and then go back. I saw madness, I touched it and then I came back: the final edit of “We love Everywhere” was finally finished.

I hadn’t finished “Apocalypse Now” though, or better, I still hadn’t finished my “Apocalypse Now”.

After all these words, that means something still.

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