INTERVIEW WITH sara alessandrini-Filmmaker

Sara Alessandrini is an Italian filmmaker, now based in Los Angeles. She has been the director of different music videos that have been viewed by international audience in the various film festival around the world. She also works as manager of the historic Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles, keeping her two passions for management and filmmaking running at the same time. Her true love is with feature movies, but she enjoys making music videos because she has the freedom to display stories of human beings and their struggle in a non linear way.

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Tell us about your background and when did you decide to become a filmmaker?

I  developed a passion for movies when I was very young, and as a kid, I  was so obsessed with movies that I was always trying to reproduce the  scenes in it. Being raised in a small town, I never thought I could make  my dreams come true, but one day a teacher of mine told me that I was  born to become a filmmaker, and from that moment I could not stop  thinking about it. At first, I got scared and tried to push it back.  Since my academic background was very technical, I decided to study  Electronic Engineering and forget about being a filmmaker. But I was not  happy, so I decided to take my destiny in my hands and move to Rome to  start my career in Filmmaking. 


Films that inspired you to become a filmmaker?
Many  are the films that made me desire to become a filmmaker, but the  triggering point came with The Lord of the Rings. I was so impressed on  how much effort, life time and passion people can put in something as  simple as the making of a movie. I was amazed that because of a movie  people had to change their life completely, spend most of their time in a  new country, learning a new way of life, learning new skills, and  creating new long lasting relationships. I loved the idea that just  because of a movie, the people involved gained so much more experience  in their life, that they would not have achieved otherwise.


Who is your biggest influence?
That’s  a tough question. I never felt I had a specific person influencing or  inspiring me. I like to get a little from everybody. 


What were some of the challenges you had to face in making your films?

Definitely  finding the right people to work with. Very often I found people that  either expected me to tell them everything they had to do in their job,  or people that wanted to take over my job. Finding the right people to  work with is key, and very often I prefer to work with people that are  not professionals, because they have a genuineness and passion that very  often professionals have lost.


Do you have a favorite genre to work in? Why is it your favorite?

I  don’t have a favorite genre to work in. When I approach a project, I do  it with the intention to explore a specific theme, and talk about  something that is important to me. Some themes that are recurrent in my  projects are the relationship between human beings and our disconnection  to ourselves and others; the connection between past, present and  future; dreams and delusions; and the analysis of the solitude that  affect all of us indiscriminately.


What’s your all-time favorite movie and why?

It  is hard to pick only one, but maybe I would say Rear Window. I love  movies with a mystery to solve, but that also do a deep analysis of us  as human beings. That movie is full of symbolism and everything that  happen on the screen is extremely connected to the inner journey that  the main character is constantly going through. What I love of that  movie is that in the surface it seems a very simple movie, but the more  you analyze it, the more complex it becomes. 

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If you could work with anyone in the world, who would that person be?
I  don’t like the idea of working with people that are recognized and  already successful. I think that having famous people in a movie can  very often take away the audience from the story. People in the audience  would constantly expect that movie to be something specific because of  the previous career of that actor. I don’t want that. I want my audience  to be raw and not to expect anything from my movie. If I could work  with anyone in the world, I would like to work with someone that is  genuinely passioned about moviemaking and willing to experiment and  grow.


Tell us something most people don't know about you.

Most  people see me as an extrovert person, who make jokes about everything  and that cannot be serious about anything. Careless many would say. But I  am actually very reflective, focused and I think more than I say. I am  very sensitive but I try to keep it a secret most of the time. 


The one person who has truly believed in you throughout your career.

That  would be my cousin Valentina. She always supported me and my desire to  become a filmmaker and she was there with me when I went to Rome the  first time to see my future movie academy. We also did a music video  together where she was the dancer performer, a video that talks about  becoming adults and the difficulties of making dreams come true. 


What was the most important lesson you had to learn as filmmaker?

The  most important lesson that I learnt as a filmmaker is that being  prepared and alert in life and on set is the most important quality  someone could ever learn. If you are not prepared on set, you will have  delays, and these delays will necessarily burn through money. But also  no one wants to waste hours doing nothing because you didn’t do your  homework, so if you want to keep good relationships with your coworkers,  you need to be prepared and know what you are doing.


Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular 
thing that you had to conquer to do either?
I  think the most difficult thing is to get started, but sometimes to keep  the passion alive and keep going is hard too. For me, it definitely was  more difficult to start. I had to leave all my family and friends, and  had to start a new career in a place where I didn’t know anyone and the  only person supporting my decisions was my cousin. But when I was living  in Rome I found it hard too to keep going and maintaining my passion  alive as well. Rome is a city that can drain you, and after few years I  was left with a lot of questions of why I was doing what I was doing.  Because of that, I decided to move to Australia to start again from  scratch and in few days I found my answers again.  


What keeps you motivated?
Now  I live in Los Angeles and I work as a facility manager of an historic  movie theatre with a lot of premieres and events. Challenges is what  keeps me motivated, and in my job there are many. Doing this job and  seeing the passion that the audience people have, keeps me motivated not  only as a manager, but also as a filmmaker. Being a manager in such  important venue keeps reminding me why it is important what I am doing,  and knowing to make a difference in the life of people is priceless.

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How has your style evolved?
I  am not sure I can talk about evolution in my style. Definitely my  technique got better. And, especially thanks to the experience that I  earned as a manager, I learnt how to choose more wisely the people  working with me and how to direct them more confidently. My two careers  as a manager and as a filmmaker go hand in hand, I learn from one and  practice in the other one, and vice versa. But I feel that all my  videos, even the very first ones, share a common style and theme.


On set, the most important thing is:
Being  focused and definitely being on track. I don’t like being late on my  schedule, I prefer to shoot less and being on time, then having more  footage for me to use and not meeting the deadline, and have everybody  angry with me. I also feel, as a director, that the best shots are the  first ones, because they are more genuine. Every time I shoot a scene  multiple times, trying to get the best performance ever, I think I get  it in the last shots, and then in editing I realize that actually the  best one was one of the first, so now I rarely shoot more than 3 times a  scene.

The project(s) you’re most proud of:
The  project I am most proud of is the one I shot with my cousin, the music  video "Safe in the Storm” by Little Galaxies. I shot that music video in  a failure time of my life, and because my cousin was experiencing the  same, we decided to shoot a video, that would eventually become a music  video. The idea was to film whatever we thought we had to film, and  then, after finishing the editing, to find someone to make the music.  After few musicians that fell through, I found online this song by  Little Galaxies and I fell in love with it. I wrote to them asking if  they wanted my video to become the official music video of their song,  and they agreed. I didn’t even had to change any frame of the editing,  just adding a minute at the end, it was simply meant to be.

The most challenging project you worked on. And why?
Definitely  it was a cover music video that I did for Jameson Tabor. It was one of  our first projects together and everything went just wrong. We had  everything ready, and once we started shooting, we got kicked out of the  location and couldn’t find another one on the same day. Once we found  the location, we lost our main actor. Once we found the actor, we lost  our DP. When we finally managed to shoot the music video, the SD card  where the files were saved got corrupted and we have lost half of the  footage. That project was simply cursed!

What are your short term and long term career goals?
My  short and long term career goals is definitely to continue my career in  the movie exhibition business as a manager and find more ways to  showcase new talents on the big screen, and also to make my first  feature movie as a director. As a long term project I also want to open  my own movie theatre and open a museum of movies in Rome. 

Your next projects?
I  just released my last music video for the Little Galaxies called “It’s  Natural”, and another one for Jameson Tabor called “Black Dust”. I will  now send these out to various festivals and I am also writing my first  feature movie.

Your social media account:
Instagram @lasava.alessandrini