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MICH: Construction sites and Humans

Tell us about yourself. How did you become an artist?

We never think of ourselves as artists. We are simply artisans in the audiovisual field. Our daily work is the result of passion and patience. Everything starts with a ritual - like a coffee ritual. The Italian "moka" became our inspirational symbol. We started with commercials and still make a living with branded content. We became artisans when we found a good balance between the time spent telling stories for others and the time spent expressing ourselves with stories.

What was your first job in the art field?

As a collective, we have different paths: Paula is a sound designer, starting from an English and Spanish background. Her first job was a short film a documentary on Alpinism (Breaking Myths about Albinism, 2016). Luca Walter and Angelo have been working together since 2016. The first documentary was realized in the jail of Brescia (Fragile Links, 2017). It is the story of a theater workshop for prisoners. Here we started working on the observation of the relationships among different solitudes.

What makes you want to tell stories? In other words, what are the themes/issues you want to incorporate into your work?

We are inspired by fluidity and opposites. Our work, as well, turns into a disposition of opposites and the transition from one opposite to another. Our attention is dedicated to the theme "How to build a human". For example, Mich: Construction sites and Humans was a commercial that became a documentary. The story of a successful architect became the story of a father and his fragilities. Our commissioner became our main character.

It is a story of a giant who runs and runs, and when he stops, starts feeling very little.

We are always interested in the relationship between the feeling of solitude and the energy of ideas. We work a lot on the mystery of family links: as Italian natives, we focus on the importance of the communities and places where relations develop.

Please tell us about your vision and your method of approaching a new project.

We like when places talk instead of our characters, and when our characters act because they are part of a place. Our approach is the result of a complex process of translating meetings into a narrative flow of images and acts, in which biographies and storylines all come together.

Who are your filmmaking influencers? What are the films that were influential for you?

Our main influencer is Gianfranco Rosi (Sacro Gra, Fuocoammare, Notturno). We appreciate the way he builds stories around places, inspired by his sense of waiting and his capacity of observing.

We are also grateful to Roberto Minervini and Jonathan Nossiter: for the sense of the truth that comes out just by recording the "human comedy" hidden behind a social theme.

And we are always impressed by Chloé Zhao and Gertrud Pinkus and their way of melange documentary and fiction. Songs my brother taught me and The value of the woman is her silence (Il valore della donna è il suo silenzio, 1980) is still a valuable reference for us.

How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent filmmaking/creation?

The "industry" is still changing more than the "art". At the beginning of the pandemic, we believed it was the occasion to meditate on the production system. And effectively, since that, something changed: online platforms are more powerful, and cinema is in crisis. Last year there were 492 films in Italy, more than one film per day, but most of them was a failure. People preferred to watch films online. Luckily, there are still festivals, a kind of happy oasis. The industry should stay more in contact with these living moments to find new vitality.

What advice would you give to aspiring artists? What are some of the things they must follow/avoid?

Please, avoid being "story hunters". You need to train your capacity to recognize the stories. And for that, be patient.

At the same time, avoid egoism. We call it to be a Prima Donna: it happens when an artist wants to be at the center of attention and refuses to collaborate. A film is a collective work, we have to remind it every day.

Do you think films/stories can bring about a change in the world?

The poet Anne Carson said that "to break a limitation is to stay human". The stories don't change the world, but the world changes the stories. And stories inspire people. And in the end, people can change the world and communicate this change through films.

What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed people's taste?

Our tastes need to be educated all the time. If there is no more "mass media" orientation, it is because audiences are divided into so many niches. The pandemic has given more power to the algorithms and algorithms work with the same niches. But niches do not mean everybody. The Covid-19 situation stimulated creators and audiences to rediscover relationships and, at the same time, generated a sense of evasion.

Please tell us about your upcoming projects.

We are working on a short film and on a long one: the first is the story of a singular priest and his relationship with the web community of Instagram; the second is about wine and the fight between industrials and farmers.


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