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APART: An Interview with Luca Pirero

Please tell us about the projects you worked on before making ‘APART’. How did you start, and how did you learn to make films?

Before APART, I worked on another short film project. In that case, I developed the script written by the leading actor and created a pitch deck to promote the project to a producer. Then, I guided the two main actors through rehearsals, preparing them before shooting. During that time, I was also directing a play, so I couldn’t direct the short film, which continued through production, post-production, and was subsequently submitted to different film festivals around the world. The title of the short film is "STROKE OF MIDNIGHT," and it received good feedback and rewards.

Before APART, I also directed two theatrical plays and a short film that I made while studying film at Kulturama school in Stockholm. It was 2013, and at the end of that year, I got also the opportunity to work as an assistant director for the Nobel banquet night, performed by the opera singers Divine. It was an amazing experience: the show was a live TV broadcast, and just that aspect was very challenging. We received an excellent review in newspapers the day after, and for me, it was a great honor to be part of the team.

Regarding how I started, I began writing and singing songs in my hometown, Sanremo, Italy, when I was a teenager. During that period, I composed poems and started studying classical guitar with a private teacher and participated in a choir. Within a couple of years, that choir evolved into a musical group, and I began acting and singing on stage.At the age of 26, I moved to Sweden, where I later pursued studies in acting and filmmaking, driven by a strong personal need for storytelling. My first opportunity to express this personal need came through directing a theatrical play, followed by screenwriting and film directing.

My learning journey then had its roots in music, writing, acting, and directing—different disciplines that naturally guided me into the world of filmmaking.


Tell us about ‘APART’. How do you describe it?

"APART" is a film that explores various themes on multiple levels. At its surface, the film portrays the relationship between the adoptive mother, Ingela, and her adopted son, Jakob, who has become a right-wing extremist. However, on a deeper level, the film aims to delve into the idea of identity.


There's a paradoxical element within the story: despite being adopted from another country himself, Jakob vehemently opposes immigrants, thereby either unconsciously denying his own origins or having forgotten his roots. This psychological aspect adds depth and intrigue to the narrative.


Additionally, the film aims to examine how an adoptive mother might react upon discovering that her adopted son has become someone very different from what she had hoped for. It explores the emotions she experiences and the decisions she makes in such a situation.


Despite the escalating political debate involving different characters, the film is not intended to be political. Instead, our aim is to allow the audience to delve into the emotional worlds of the characters, who use strong rhetorical language as a shield to protect their status and their fragile sense of self. In reality, there is a lack of communication. This is another paradoxical aspect that gives an additional dimension to the film.


Moreover, an intriguing aspect we want to portray is the diverse reactions people have to news reported on TV or in newspapers, and how challenging it is in today's world to be critical and discern what is true or not.


The idea of a debate taking place around a dinner table within a Swedish family context was very interesting to experiment with. In Sweden, as in many other countries, political discussions are often avoided—it's almost taboo. In contrast, in Italy, my home country, political conversations can occur at home, and people aren't hesitant to engage in them. Therefore, it was exciting for us to explore how Swedish individuals might approach such an inevitable political debate.


Please tell us about your favorite filmmakers.

I can mention some of them: Michelangelo Antonioni, Ingmar Bergman, Andrei Tarkovsky, John Ford, Nicholas Ray, Fritz Lang, Federico Fellini, Stanley Kubrick, Bernardo Bertolucci, and the great masters Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu, Masaki Kobayashi, Akira Kurosawa. I feel that their voice is still resonant, endeavoring to convey profound insights about the human condition through a unique style that mirrors their personalities. Thus, the use of the camera, alongside the cast and crew, followed that distinctive voice, imparting the final product with a discernible "fingerprint." Moreover, I believe that achieving such results relied heavily on how they navigated the limitations on set, both technically and economically, by seeking ingenious and creative solutions. Today, we may have become overly reliant on technology, facing probably different challenges and seeking different solutions than they did.Another fundamental trait among these directors was the inclusion of a philosophical-existential dimension in their works, which is something I deeply admire.


If you were given a good budget, what would be your ideal project?I’m currently developing a story about an executioner, with the intention of adapting it into a film. Thus, securing a substantial budget for this project will be essential.


In general, an ideal project for me involves the creation of a feature film driven by an exceptional story, brought to life by the “right” cast and crew. When I refer to the "right" cast and crew, I emphasize not only their experience but also their ability to interact harmoniously throughout the entire process. While technical proficiency is undoubtedly crucial, I believe that the dynamics within the team are paramount. Therefore, I am committed to investing in extensive preproduction work, dedicating resources to assembling the perfect team, fostering chemistry, and creating the necessary atmosphere for them to perform at their best. I would aim to fulfill their artistic and financial requirements. Additionally, during this phase, I would conduct thorough research on potential distributors to ensure a well-planned future for the project. Throughout this process, I would maintain my role as director rather than assuming the role of producer, but I would definitely assist the producer as a co-producer if needed.

Ultimately, my vision for the ideal project transcends the mere creation of a film; it embodies an unforgettable collaborative journey marked by artistic ambition, curiosity, diligence, and humility. Thus, filmmaking becomes not just the production of a product but a profound life experience through storytelling.


Describe how you would ensure that production is on schedule. What steps would you take?

I would start by emphasizing that setting deadlines for all departments as soon as possible is fundamental. However, merely setting a deadline is not enough; the most important aspect is the commitment to meeting it. Therefore, monitoring the work building confidence and showing both authority and empathy is extremely important.Everything revolves around preparation and effective communication.A meticulous location scouting is essential to anticipate and mitigate potential technical challenges in advance, which could cause delays. The evaluation of various strategies to address potential on-set issues in advance, such as weather conditions, injuries, or illnesses during shooting, is also crucial.Encountering a problem or limitation may necessitate a change, but such adjustments can also lead to improvements in the final result. Therefore, maintaining an open mind and fostering clear communication are always paramount.Additionally, thorough preparation of actors through rehearsals prior to shooting is vital. This helps prevent delays in the shooting schedule or the need for additional time, which actors often require.Maintaining regular contact with the producer, cast, and crew throughout the preproduction period is essential. This involves addressing their personal needs, stimulating creativity, and keeping everyone motivated.On set, having a competent assistant director who can oversee operations with attention to detail and ensure the well-being of the team—providing nutritious food, sufficient rest, and designated rest areas—is an important key to get production on schedule.In terms of the shooting schedule, it's advisable not to underestimate the time required for each scene. If you anticipate shooting a scene in one day, it may be more prudent to allocate two days for it.In the case of our production, shooting for ISÄR spanned two days, totaling around 16-18 hours of work on set. The scene filmed around the dinner table was completed in six hours, with actors well-prepared due to rehearsals during preproduction, including a half-day spent on location for costume, lighting, makeup, and photography testing.


What was the hardest part of making ‘APART’.

The most challenging aspect was managing dialogue, especially regarding the timing of actors during the dinner scene, which also includes an important monologue. Once the editing was completed, the next challenge arose with subtitles, which proved difficult to synchronize with the pacing of the editing. Sound design presented another difficulty, and we opted for simplicity to avoid overwhelming the audience, considering the already demanding nature of the dialogue.


If possible, tell us about your next work. What plans do you have for your future work?

I’m currently writing a short film about an autistic little girl and an elderly homeless man who meet each other. The plan is to direct the film and submit it to various film festivals worldwide. Simultaneously, I am searching for producers in Sweden and other countries for the realization of a script that another author and I finished writing a few months ago. The good news is that a famous Swedish international actor has read the script and wants to play the protagonist. The bad news is that the budget for the film is too high for Swedish producers, so we need to either reduce the script's costs or find producers in other countries. The title of the script is "ROSE OF ROSES," and it revolves around a lost Swedish doctor of Chilean origin who discovers a secret beneath a tattooed rose he received from his grandmother as a child, just before moving to Sweden.Currently, the plan is to find the right producers, distributors, cast, and crew, and my big aspiration is to direct the film.


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