Dall’Acqua | Re-Born

An ominous government employee in a dystopian future is forced to fight his own mind and emotions while interviewing a female stranger he is charged with indoctrinating.

Director’s Vision

The short film “DALL’ACQUA | RE-BORN” is inspired by the project “RE-BORN” by Raffaele Ferrante, Savino Napoleone and Nicolò Santovito.

Almost exactly one year ago, in September 2019, I remember approaching my friend, the actor Gaetano Tizzano, with the idea to produce a short film together in the Italian Dolomites. I had just a few rough ideas for a story, but Gaetano was nevertheless willing to participate in the project that I assured him would not take more “than a couple of weeks” to finish. Back then, neither of us suspected that we were about to commit ten whole months of our life to a project that proved to become more complex, more challenging, and more overwhelming than anything I had done before. So, let me tell you the story of a short film that rewrote itself multiple times and that caused us headaches, sleepless nights and frustration but also gave us an incredible experience.

After getting Gaetano Tizzano on board, I approached Raffaele Ferrante, Savino Napoleone and Nicolò Santovito with whom I had made the short film “Il Velo Di Gila” a couple of years ago. I had really enjoyed working with them in the past, and so I figured it would be a good idea to reach out to them and check out what they were working on at the moment. Perhaps it would be possible to combine forces again? And I got lucky, CON-CREATION, the cultural association led by Raffaele, Savino and Nicolò was just preparing a new project with the title “RE-BORN” that seemed perfect for what I had in mind for my short film. The core idea of “RE-BORN” is the very human ability to take one’s life into their own hands, to get up again after a defeat, to find the inner strength to fight what is holding us down and to strive for a better self. I was very excited to collaborate with them and to integrate their core concept into the short film. Thus, the first tangible ideas for a story were born.

I spent the next couple of months writing multiple scripts until we decided upon a story that embodied the ideas of “RE-BORN” as well as my desire to centre the short film around the Italian Dolomites. While writing the screenplay it became obvious that we were not talking about a small project anymore. With the backing of CON-CREATION I decided to get out of my comfort zone and to use this short film to tackle my two biggest weaknesses as a director: dialogue and chronology. To push myself further, I wanted to construct the whole story around one central dialogue – and to do that we needed a second actor or actress. CON-CREATION was at the same time writing the homonymous book for “RE-BORN” and suggested to cast Alessandra Lisciani, who was overseeing the publication process of the book, as the counterpart to our protagonist. Alessandra’s energy and motivation convinced me immediately and I decided to rewrite the part to fit her perfectly. So far so good – we had the finished screenplay, the actors and the locations. The first test of our commitment came when Gaetano and I set out to film the scenes in the mountains that were meant to be the backbone of the short film. Our initially great mood quickly dissolved once we arrived on top of the mountains at the Lago Nero, only to discover that the day before had brought the first snowfall of the year. This certainly was a complication which I had not anticipated and which would change the short film’s whole story. I must admit that standing there, on top of the frozen mountain which felt like it could easily pass as being at the south pole, I was in such a bad mood that I was ready to trash the whole project. Gaetano saw the bigger picture, though, and convinced me to shoot the scenes anyway; and to see the unforeseen circumstances as fortune rather than bad luck. Once you’ve watched the final short film it might be difficult to imagine it without the snow, but the original screenplay was completely different. We spent three days in the mountains: during the day we filmed as much as we could in the freezing temperatures, and during the night we tried to figure out how to incorporate the snowy landscape in the bigger story. After long talks with Gaetano and consulting with Raffaele Ferrante, the creative director of the project “RE-BORN”, I began to see the whole experience as what it was: an enormous gift that would push the short film into a completely new and exciting direction.

Once back from the mountains we started to prepare the most important scenes of the short film: the dialogue. We were lucky to find a beautiful small studio where we could film, and except for some minor technical problems everything went smoothly. At this point I would like to compliment Gaetano and Alessandra on their incredible stamina and endurance as they had to stay concentrated for many hours over the course of two whole days. A few days before Christmas we managed to wrap up the filming of the dialogue, and for the next few weeks I let work on the project rest.

The major problem in continuing the production of the short film was that we still needed footage of the mountains without snow. We had envisioned from the beginning that the story would end on a hopeful note, with the protagonist breaking out of his mental prison. But with the scenes we had filmed up until this point it would not have been possible to conclude the film satisfyingly. As a result, we had to wait for several months until the weather conditions were favourable, and we could consider setting out to film the last scenes. But then chaos hit in form of the corona virus, and the lockdown in Italy and Europe prevented all outside activities. I spent the time in lockdown editing the footage we had so far produced, and in-between consulted with Raffaele and Gaetano what course of action to take next. Luckily, Italy got the pandemic under control eventually, and we were able to shoot the last scenes in June 2020, more than half a year after we had filmed the first mountain scenes.

Once all the scenes were filmed and the final edit began to emerge, I lastly began to feel at peace again. I don’t know why Gaetano stuck with me until the end but without his help this short film would not have been possible. Thanks to Gaetano’s critical and creative input and Raffaele’s creative direction we were able to finish the project and create something we all can be proud of. At least I know that I am.

I hope you enjoy “DALL’ACQUA | RE-BORN” and find inspiration in the story. I know that I am a better director and filmmaker now than I was before the project, and for that I am very grateful.

If you are interested in diving deeper into “RE-BORN” I strongly suggest that you follow the project CONCREATION is doing and to read their forthcoming book!