#1. – How and why did you first get interested in documentary filmmaking?
I started in the spring of 2018, out of necessity. I’m Italian and I’m the founder and chairman of an Italian charity called Adolescenti e cancro (Teens and Cancer) and I felt the need to share with the world the inspiring story of a local teenage girl named Laura who battled cancer, lived like very few people do and inspired thousands.
Her story had to be told through a documentary to make it as true as it is, so I self-educated myself for months learning about how to shoot a documentary, what kind of questions I should be asking in interviews etc and then, with the help of a cameraman and an editor, I worked on the film.
#2. – What was your first experience making a documentary film like?
The short documentary “Until the last breath – Laura’s story” (Italian title: ConVivere – il documentario) is my first work. As I mentioned before, I felt the need to share with the world the story of this young lady because she is a contemporary hero, someone people can relate to, and her story is so inspirational and unique that you can’t really write this kind of stuff.
#3. – What have you learned about making a documentary film that you wished you’d known before?
Well, I’m still a newbie. I’ve never planned to be shooting documentaries, but I really like it. Maybe the first thing I’d say is to make sure to be surrounded by people who are as passionate and documented as you about the topic or at least who share its values.
#4. – What’s a big challenge or hurdle you’ve had to overcome in leading a #doclife?
The biggest challenge has been to find people who are as committed as me by the project. This documentary has so much humanity and so many values that I didn’t want to work with someone who just came there, filmed the interviews and went home.
I wanted to be surrounded by people who shared Laura’s values which are also my values but unfortunately I had to deal with some people who simply walked away from the project because it was too demanding emotionally or even didn’t care that much about it and simply told me: “We’ll keep filming it when I’ll be available” and gave me no time frame.
#5. – Share a current or most recent project with us.
The documentary “Until the last breath – Laura’s story” (Italian title: ConVivere – il documentario) is my first documentary that will be released around October-November 2019. It tells the story of an Italian 16 years old girl named Laura Massa, who was diagnosed with a pediatric tumor when she was a young child.
She has lived almost all her life with the tumor but she didn’t allow it to stop her.
She was a regular teenager with a particular zest for life and, especially after opening a Facebook page to share her daily life, she became an inspiration for thousands of people around Italy and to those in her community.
The documentary shows Laura through some of her videos and words, but mostly through her family and friends’ memories. I didn’t want to create a tearjerker film, that would have been so easy; honoring and following in Laura’s steps, this film is about true life, love, friendship, smiles and donating.
It’s about living a life that matters, it’s not about how many years you are going to live, but about how you live the time you have been given and the good you do for others.
#6. – How do you get into this project? / Why were you drawn to make this film?
I met Laura in 2014 through my charity. I only met her once but I still remember her beautiful smile. She was a very beautiful soul, wise beyond her years yet she did all the things teenage girls are supposed to do.
I then stayed in touch with her family and about one and a half year ago I had the idea to tell Laura’s story including her loved ones’ stories because the family and friends, having walked that journey with Laura, are pretty amazing themselves.
#7. – What would you like to say to any #doclifer who starting out on their film or who is perhaps struggling to complete their film?
Well, starting out myself I don’t have many suggestions, but I’d say: work on that film only if you believe in it 1000% because, especially if you have no or few funds, is going to be really hard, time and money consuming.
Ask yourself if the story you want to tell is really important and different from other documentaries.
Laura’s story got so under my skin I knew I had to shoot that documentary and share it with the world.
If you want to shoot thinking your documentary could bring you places or you could make a lot of money with it, think twice about that. Do it because you love it, because you want to give a voice to someone who doesn’t have it, do it because through your documentary you will make this world a better place and you could help people.