The Panharmonion Chronicles (EXCLUSIVE)

-How was your project title ‘The Panharmonion Chronicles’ born?

The title of my graphic novel and music video is made of three parts. The first one is “The Panharmonion”. I’ve imagined that this could be a harmonic frequency that contains the fundamental “code” of our reality. This frequency could be accessible by some humans, under rare circumstances and expressed through a musical score, which then could be shared with everyone on the planet.

“Chronicles” is from the Greek word “Khronika”. It usually refers to the record of past events, real or imagined. As stories are usually produced by “cause” and “effect” I’m wondering whether there could be circumstances where causality could be reversed. It’s a complicated mental exercise but fascinating on a creative and philosophical level.

“Times of London” is a play on words. This refers directly both to my fiction story and to official history. When we talk about London, we usually assume that it is the city, capital of England. But there is another “London” located in Ontario, Canada. It is also a city with a river called Thames, located between Detroit and Toronto. The city and the river were named in 18th century by British general John Graves Simcoe, as a statement to claim Canada as a colony. In my novel, I postulate an alternative history where events are changed in the 19th century and therefore in the 21st century, with surprising results. Because history in my story is changed by the actions of the protagonist, we follow an audio-visual narrative that blends technology, fiction, and reality into an aesthetic style that I call “Electro-Steampunk”.

-What goal do you dream of achieving?

The Panharmonion Chronicles is a long-term project. I started writing the story five years ago and more than 2000 pages later, I’m still writing. There is a main story arc covering 160 years with many branches into the past and the future. Each branch can be developed with specific characters, locations, and events. The first story “Times of London” is now out as a 200 page graphic novel. The second one, “Ghosts of Sound”, is being illustrated now and will be published early 2025.

In the meantime, I’m polishing a script for a pilot and an outline for an eight-part TV show, for which I’ve started creating a library of visual assets for props and set design. I’ve also written a few songs and electronic music tracks to create a particular soundscape for the story. In future, through my production studio Supanova Media, I want to collaborate with other international professionals to develop the multiple strands of this fictional world in as many media as possible, including games, animation, feature films and live performances.

Ultimately, I want “The Panharmonion Chronicles” to fund a charitable platform to sponsor literacy and education in art and science, across the world, especially for disadvantaged demographics.

-)What inspired you to create your project?

It’s an idea that had been evolving over 10 years. It first started to form after I visited Toronto and Montreal several times. The two cities are relatively close geographically but are culturally two worlds apart. I was intrigued enough to start researching the history of Eastern Canada and what I found was a complex web of colonial conflicts over centuries juxtaposing the actions of Britain, France and the USA which were conflated with immigrants from all over the world and with a large diversity of First Nations indigenous people. So, I started writing a novel based on that, when separately, as an interior designer, I was also working on the development of several Victorian houses in the borough of Camden, London. The idea was to create a boutique hotel based on an alternative history of Scotland. As we were digging the basement I found a strange artefact and could not find any explanation or references for it in the British Library. So, I decided to create my own origin story and connected the object to a new plot in my existing novel, which became a time-travel mystery thriller.

Then, because the main protagonist of my novel is a music composer, I thought it would be interesting to write songs and produce music related to The Panharmonion Chronicles and start filming music videos. The first video is a synthesis of many arts coming together, what in German is called “Gesamtkuntswerk”. I’m the writer, director, producer, editor, actor, set designer, sound, special effects and props designer. You could say it’s the ultimate indie microfilm, but also it’s much more than a music video: it’s a teaser and “proof of concept” to give a flavour of what a future film or TV show might look like.

-Which awards have your project won?

The music video is still going around the festivals, having been selected by many. So far, it has won “Best Music Video” from “8 & HalFilm Award”, “International Gold Awards”, “London Movie Awards”, “Milan Gold Awards”, “4 Theatre Selection” and “Cine Paris Film Festival”. It also won “Best Sci-Fi short” at the “Florence Film Awards” and “Best Production” at the “Europe Music Video Awards”, “4 Theatre Selection”, and “Cine Paris Film Festival”.

“Group” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with William R.A. Rush

-Who is William R.A. Rush?

That’s a question I am still trying to answer. I have been a trial attorney for nearly twenty years. I have education backgrounds in law, eastern philosophy, psychology, creative writing and journalism. I have three daughters; Victoria, Mary and Adriana. I have an incredibly talented and supportive wife, Xxena N. Rush. All of these life experiences professionally, educationally, as a husband and father, have shaped my filmmaking. I started shooting my first short film, the Stephen King adaptation for “One for the Road” in late 2022. I hope, if I continue to work hard and improve my craft, that I can simply answer this question as follows: I am a husband, father and filmmaker.

-What inspired you to become a Filmmaker?

It was always a dream, it seems. My first theatrical experience was a second run showing of E.T. sometime in 1985, when I was around four years old. I was absolutely captivated, entranced. I found myself lost in the world of E.T. I was roughly the same age as Gertie, played so perfectly by Drew Barrymore. There was this girl, my age, and she as running around in a troubled family, caught up in the magic of hope. I was caught up in that magic as well. The first time I saw the art of film, the complex innerworkings that created the final work caught my eye. I began to see film very differently. Other films began to force me to look beyond the picture to how it was made. “Jurassic Park”, “The Departed”, “The Matrix”, “Inception”, “Amelie”, “Wild Tales” and, in particular, “Mulholland Drive” were primary examples of this immersion into the world of what goes on behind the scenes. It became a fascination. Once the pandemic hit, I started watching the films I’d always wanted to experience. With every film, this passion to know, to learn, to do, grew stronger. Finally, episode 5 of Mike Flanagan’s “The Haunting of Hill House” solidified it for me. I decided it was “now or never”. My wife, Xxena N. Rush (magnificent producer) encouraged me. In fact, Mike Flanagan himself encouraged me. I reached out to Stephen King’s office and requested the rights to “One For the Road”, pitching my ideas for it. Less than two days later I had a written contract. I had one year to write, cast, direct, edit and finalize the film. I did it, and it was pretty good.

In the back of my head I knew I could do better, I knew I had a better film in me. I had been writing “Group”, I finished it in short order. I wrote three additional features in 2024. I finished “Group”, shot “Immersion” and am scheduled to shoot “Fetish” in September. I truly believe every film I ever enjoyed planted a blossoming seed into my mind that fueled this desire in me. All I want to do is be a good husband, a good father, and make films. That is how I became, and hopefully shall remain, a filmmaker.

-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in the society?

It’s the naïve answer, but I do. Art is important. I see finished cinema as an artistic nirvana. This applies to any film, even those people deride or that are unsuccessful. In order to get from an idea to a film, so many artistic disciplines and masters must work together, somehow. You must have, as the foundation, a compelling story that’s understandable or interesting to a random reader. That story must be written in the language of cinema. You then need the organizational “big picture” thinking of producers to see the possibilities from the story. Acting is a very specific craft that I certainly have no skills in. But it’s a craft I admire beyond words. It’s magic to me. Just look to Marcello Mastroianni and you’ll see how I try (quite inadequately) to carry myself, the style I choose professionally. The ability of a performer to make you cry with words and the expression of emotion. It’s a glorious and beautiful calling. Set designers are part-architects, part-painters, part-concept artists, often a combination thereof. These people create worlds. It’s a spectacular fete. If you look at any Tarkovsky, Kubrick, Wes Anderson or Ken Russell film you get a glimpse into a world that is viscerally real. Months or years after seeing these films, you remember the fictional places as though you’ve visited them. Your sound mixers have the ears of the masses. They can listen to everything, background noises, creaks, the soft hum of an air conditioner, but what they hear and what they capture is incredible. They know how the film should sound in front of a large audience a year from now. Michael Competielle, or sound man, seems to hear the film from the best seat in a theater as we’re filming. The director of photography, in my case the great Michael Joseph Murray, is a photographer who can capture and properly light the equivalent of 86,400 photographs per hour of footage recorded. I can visualize something, write it, describe it, and this genius can look around a room, whatever the natural weather or external factors, and use light and camera to make the vision reality. The first assistant and second assistant camera can make any place become anything you want. It’s remarkable. Instagram filters take something real and make it seem fake. Cinematographers make something entirely manufactured and make it appear more real than your own living room. Costume designers not only bring the beauty and style to the characters, but also work to make the actors comfortable physically and emotionally. All of their work and skill shines through in the final film.

The editors take these raw, often disordered pieces and make them a cognizable whole. Miranda Jean Larson and Bradley Shupinski are my editing superheroes. Whatever we are able to do on set, however good, is but a chunk of marble before they complete. Even if all of the above is done to perfection…and everyone involved always strives for perfection…it lacks a soul until a great composer paints a symphony over it. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without Gary Mutch. He gives the film it’s soul. His scores and sound design evoke emotion, they resonate with the unconscious sensations borne of memory and experience in each viewer. Without music and sound a visual masterpiece like “2001: A Space Odyssey” would fail to stir the viewer. It’s all but impossible to think of Steven Spielberg without thinking of John Williams, or Tim Burton without Danny Elfman. Musical composition is a similarly involved product made of many brilliant artists bringing their specialties to the studio and creating a singular piece. I cannot help but think of Brian Wilson overseeing the “Pet Sounds” sessions. Finally, a director must be able to adopt the story into a vision, express that vision clearly to all involved, and organize the various artistic factions together to captain the brilliant collective toward the destination of completed work. It’s an incredible amalgamation of individuals with different artistic mastery, at the top of their craft, working together to create a singular piece. It’s art that can only exist through the collective and collaborate works of many great artists, each at the height of their creative strengths. Honest human emotion allows the viewer to escape. Art is mean to designed to remove you from reality during the time you consume it. So I believe cinema can, does, and has changed society. I am certain it will continue to do so, hopefully for the better.

-What would you change in the world?

Access to healthcare, proper healthcare, for everyone that needs it. This would include mental health care. My film, “Group”, has a very strong statement about that very concern weaved in throughout. Many people work very hard, often through tremendous pain, often in invisible professions. Those people are one injury away – often caused by their job, often caused by someone else – from becoming impoverished and desperate. Mental health is stigmatized. To live in a world where a life-saving mental health diagnosis could result in the patient being ostracized or professionally ruined is the ultimate Catch-22. Someone can either seek treatment to get the help needed to manage the condition and consequently suffer serious personal, financial and professional consequences, or they can avoid treatment altogether and suffer. That’s not any kind of life as I understand it. That’s hell. Healthcare for all, without financial harm or societal prejudices, is what I would give the world if I could change one thing. I think many other related (and seemingly unrelated) problems would be solved if this wish were to come true.

-Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?

Technological advancements, whether 100 years in the past or the future, do not make or define the course of cinema. It’s the filmmakers who use the technology to create their visions that define the course of cinema. I believe that will always be the case. I am certain Artificial Intelligence programs and software will become more prevalent. Indeed, some film festivals are already offering submissions under such categories. There is tremendous fear in the industry over A.I.’s growing presence and influence as well. This will likely go on for a while. Some proponents of A.I. have likened the critiques of A.I.-driven film to those stars of the silent era who railed against talkies. I find this comparison spurious at best. The stars of that era were concerned about being replaced by stars in a different forum, more for fear it would fail or undermine the art than anything else. Of course, it elevated the artform.

The difference in effect between films with sound, or the advent of colorization and the like and the current “threat” from A.I. is apples and oranges. A.I. can make something visually stunning, maybe it can approximate emotional resonance. But it lacks, and will always lack, the soul needed for film to be film. It will lack the element that makes it timeless. It will never escape the uncanny valley. Soul is what feeds a film and makes it feel real. If you take it away…and A.I. largely does take it away…the husk that remains, however beautiful, will have an element of the uncanny that will be unappealing.

No computer program or app can ever create what visionaries like Bergman, Fellini, Varda, Argento, Ducournau, Cronenberg, Jordan Peele or David Lynch can bring to life. This is because they have lived. Part of the filmmaker resides inside the films they create like a beating heart. Audiences feel that humanity reaching out through the screen. A computer program is lifeless, soulless, robotic, algorithmic… Audiences don’t feel algorithms or binary code. It’s not part of living. It’s not part of the human experience. The movie industry’s recovery from the pandemic has shown that people long for great cinema. Audiences will be there to embrace it, to escape into it.

“An impossible secret” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Sofia Mavrou

-Who is Sofia Mavrou?

I am an independent filmmaker and actress with no formal training in filmmaking and acting. I love the art of film as it is a very powerful means of communication.  It can convey messages and emotions through images, music, movements, lighting and camera angles. ”An Impossible Secret” was my directorial debut and I thoroughly enjoyed the process of writing the story and then bringing it to life. I read books about filmmaking and script writing in the past but through the process of writing and directing my own film I learned so much more. It has been an amazing experience for me and it has given me the encouragement to carry on with my next film. 

I studied Primary Education and Psychology at University which helped me develop skills that are very useful for screenwriting and filmmaking such as writing, analytical and communication skills, problem solving and teamwork. Also understanding human behaviour and the underlying causes of our actions is very important when you create your story and characters for a film.

-What inspired you to become a Filmmaker?

I have worked as a careers adviser for the last 15 years in high schools and although I enjoy my job and the interaction with young people I felt that I needed a hobby to channel my creativity. As a child I loved reading and watching films. In primary school I started writing my own stories and some of them were read in class but I never had the confidence to take part in any competitions. I loved going to the cinema as a child and always thought how wonderful would be to create your own story and then turn it into a film. However as filmmaking has always been a hard industry to break through I chose instead to go into teaching.

Last year I decided to write my own story and turn it into a film. My inspiration came from an Italian family friend. Her dad was an Italian prisoner of war who came to Wales to work on farms during the Second World War. ”An Impossible Secret” is my first film.  It took me a long time to gather the courage to get my story out there as I had to first learn how to turn my story into a screenplay. I am very lucky as I had very supportive cast and crew members that helped me bring my story to life. 

As there is a lack of female filmmakers I think it is important to break those barriers such as gender discrimination and stereotyping in a male dominated industry. Female filmmakers are not only interested in women’s stories. They can make movies about any matters that they feel are important to be addressed.

-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in the society?

Cinema is a powerful means of communication as it combines music, art, theatre. It can give the audience an unforgettable experience by immersing them into a world of strong visuals, emotive music and performances. Cinematic films can bring a  positive change in the society as they can convey messages and emotions and get the audience to start reflecting on their life, beliefs and feelings. 

Cinema can change the world for the better by touching us on a deep, emotional level and inspiring us to take action. We all remember those films that had a significant impact on us because we connected with them on an emotional level. We will never forget how a film made us feel whether it was a tale of triumph over adversity or a tough exploration of social issues. Cinema can also push boundaries and challenge what is considered acceptable in society. Some films may do this in a more subtle way and get the audience to reflect on their own prejudices and beliefs. I strongly believe that cinema has the power to challenge social norms, question current attitudes and therefore promote a more inclusive and diverse society.

-What would you change in the world?

I would prefer for the world to be more inclusive and diverse. No stereotypes such as gender, race, age, nationality, religion, social class as they do lead to inequalities in society. For example gender stereotyping feeds into gender discrimination. Gender stereotyping can limit the development of natural talents of boys and girls and limit their educational and life opportunities. I also wish the world would value personal happiness over materialism, integrity over dishonesty, altruism over selfishness, kindness over ruthlessness.

-Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?

We all know that artificial intelligence is here to stay and it will also have an impact on filmmaking. AI is opening up new possibilities in film production processes. It is a development that I am still not sure where it will take us in the film industry. For example suggestions have been made to use algorithms to replace human imagination in scriptwriting, performance and the creation of moving images.

The SAG-AFTRA strike in Hollywood last year showed us that artificial intelligence could be a serious threat for everyone involved in the film industry including actors, screenwriters, visual effect artists. Union members expressed concerns about how artificial intelligence could exploit performers by using their likeness without fair compensation. The real threat is that many professionals in the film industry including actors, writers and visual effect artists could be replaced by AI within the next couple of decades. However the positive potential of AI cannot be ignored. It could make filmmaking accessible to more people. Aspiring filmmakers could potentially create their own films just by using their smartphones and artificial intelligence technology. There is also the argument that AI could reduce the need to reshoot scenes and take over more mundane tasks. I think that AI will be used in the film industry in the next 100 years even more but I do hope that it will be used in a way that will enhance filmmaking and make it an easier process for everyone involved without though replacing human imagination in scriptwriting and performance. It will be exciting to see the new forms of art culture it is going to bring and how the audiences will engage with the new forms.

The form is not published.

“The Memory Album” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Cameron Ryan Soedi

Who is Cameron Ryan Soedi?

I’m just someone who’s always been fascinated by the deeper questions in life, you know, the ones that really make you stop and ponder. And for me, the magic of cinema has been the perfect vehicle to dive into those mysteries. I love weaving stories that take folks on a ride, whether it’s through the glaring lights of reality or the deep, mysterious shadows of imagination—that’s my gig.

When I’m knee-deep in a film project, it’s like sailing across an endless sea, exploring new territories of the human mind. It’s a wild adventure, where I get to plunge into the very fabric of existence itself. Through my work, I want to shake people up a bit, make them see the world with fresh eyes, and question everything they thought they knew about reality. Because, in the grand scheme of things, we’re all just like shadows dancing on the walls of Plato’s cave, trying to figure out what the heck is going on around us.

What inspired you to become a Filmmaker?

Inspiration is this crazy mix of the everyday and the otherworldly, you know? Becoming a filmmaker, for me, was the natural next step in my ongoing fascination with life’s big mysteries. The dance between light and shadow, the rollercoaster of emotions, and the downright puzzling essence of existence—those are the things that pulled me into the mesmerizing universe of filmmaking.

What really gets my gears turning is the power to create a world that mirrors the depths of the subconscious, a dreamscape where reality and illusion tango together. It’s the ability to conjure up a visual symphony that lit the spark for my journey into the expansive and exhilarating realm of cinema.

-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in society?

From where I stand, the screen is like a window into the collective soul of society. When a filmmaker hits the sweet spot of the collective unconscious, stirring things up, cinema has the potential to ignite change. It’s like weaving a lingering dream that sticks around long after the lights come back on, showcasing the profound impact thoughtful storytelling can have on individuals and the broader cultural landscape. But let’s not forget, the real power lies in the hands of the audience. It’s their engagement and connection with the narrative that ultimately shapes the lasting influence of a film.

-What would you change in the world?

Ah, the world, a real head-scratcher. The world is quite a complex place, full of beauty and darkness. If I had to pick just one thing, I’d aim to foster a deeper sense of unity and understanding among people. I’m a firm believer in the power of storytelling, be it in film or other mediums, to bridge gaps and connect us on a fundamental level. It’s about embracing the diversity of our shared human experience and finding common ground. In that interconnectedness, we might stumble upon a path towards more empathy, compassion, and a shared appreciation for the mysterious journey we’re all on. A bit more love and understanding could go a long way in navigating the sometimes chaotic and confusing nature of our world.

Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?

Now, that’s a mind-bender. The film industry, like life, is ever-evolving. Technology will keep pushing the boundaries of storytelling, and who knows what new dimensions we’ll explore. But no matter how advanced the tools become, the heart of it all is the human experience. As long as there are stories to tell and people hungry to hear them, the film industry will keep on rolling, and that’s a beautiful thing. Just keep your eyes open for the unexpected – you never know when the next masterpiece might hit the screens.

“SEA FULL OF TEARS” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Akal Demir

Akal Demir, actor, director, and cinematographer extraordinaire, reflects a whirlwind of talent and creativity that has garnered him numerous awards as a writer and director. To Akal, filmmaking isn’t just a career; it’s a burning passion that ignites his soul and drives him to express his unique vision.

The allure of filmmaking lies in its ability to transport audiences to new worlds, provoke deep emotions, and challenge societal norms. For Akal, it’s the ultimate form of self-expression, a medium through which he can unleash his innermost thoughts and dreams. Every frame he captures, every line he writes, brings his creative vision to life and inspires others to see the world through his eyes. But Akal doesn’t stop there. He’s a catalyst for change, a force determined to make a tangible difference in the world through his films. With every project, he meticulously crafts stories that not only entertain but also inspire, educate, and uplift. Through the power of storytelling, he aims to ignite a spark within individuals, encouraging personal growth and pushing the boundaries of what society deems possible.

Peering into the crystal ball of the future, one can only imagine the thrills and marvels the film industry holds in the next 100 years. Technological advancements will revolutionize the cinematic experience, propelling us into breathtakingly immersive worlds filled with awe-inspiring visual effects that defy our wildest imagination. No longer will it be enough to watch a film; it will be an all-encompassing journey that transports us to realms we never thought possible.

But the future of film isn’t solely about technological marvels. It’s about the power to spark change, to influence hearts and minds. Through the lens of storytelling, filmmakers like Akal will rise, armed with the ability to shape society and make a profound impact. Their works will challenge social norms, provoke conversations, and shine a light on the most pressing issues of our time. In this brave new world, the film industry will be a platform for unity, diversity, and inclusivity, celebrating the myriad of voices that deserve to be heard.

So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready for a cinematic journey unlike anything we’ve ever seen. With Akal leading the charge, the future of filmmaking promises excitement, inspiration, and boundless possibilities. Together, let’s embrace this electrifying evolution and witness the birth of extraordinary stories that will shape our world and change it for the better……

“Virulence” (EXCLUSIVE) with Christopher Pennington

-How was your project “Virulence” born?

When I first started screenwriting in 2013, “Virulence” was only the second screenplay I’d ever written and my first attempt at horror with the idea to write a low budget movie set in one isolated location. In 2021 after a six year break from writing I decided to go back and revisit Virulence, re-writing dialogue & changing certain scenes until I was fully satisfied with it.

-What goal do you dream of achieving?

Ultimately I’d love to find a home for the screenplay with a production company that can see its value and potential in the horror market, and with this being one of seven screenplays I’ve written it would allow me to focus on other projects.

-Who inspired you to create your project?

The biggest inspiration for Virulence was John Carpenter’s 1982 masterpiece, The Thing. Being one of my favourite films of all time I loved the concept of people being trapped in a hostile environment with no help from the outside world as they fight for their lives against something they both can’t control nor understand.

-Which awards has your project won?

I’ve been very fortunate to win a number of awards for Virulence, these include:
Best Feature Script – 8 & A HALFILM AWARDS
Best Action Screenplay – FRIDA FILM FESTIVAL
Best Unproduced Action Screenplay – LA SCI-FI FILM FESTIVAL
Nosferatu Prize for Horror – Best Unproduced Screenplay – LOS ANGELES MOTION PICTURE FESTIVAL
Jury Award Winner – Scariest Script – HYSTERIA FEST
Best Feature Script – BOX OFFICE CINE AWARDS
Best Original & Feature Script – IF INDIE FESTIVAL

“The Screecher” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Lazar Karov

-Who is Lazar Karov?

Lazar Karov is a Macedonian writer and actor. From poetry to short stories and plays, novels and screenplays, he keeps his readers attached to his suspense stories where always the moral and the universal love win over ego and wickedness.

-What inspired you to become a Filmmaker?

Not just for entertainment but encouraging the individuals to come out from the daily affairs that shape the super ego and engage with various aspects of life.

-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in the society?

Stories in general are always inspiring that evoke emotions and imagination.

What would you change in the world?

Nothing. It’s a perfect world.

-Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?

Nothing we come up with, make and build, is able to surpass over our comprehension.

“Demon” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Daniel Calderone

-Who is Daniel Calderone?

I am a filmmaker and creative director from Toronto who is obsessed with the art of film
and keen on developing my skills as a storyteller to creatively and culturally enhance
the cinematic experience. I made a breakthrough in the film industry without any formal
film education by becoming the founder and CEO of NinetyFour Productions Inc. in 2020.

This is a Toronto based production company dedicated to filmmaking, videography, photography, marketing, and social media distribution. Over the years, I collaborated with independent filmmakers, professionals in the field and assisted in various film and music video productions across Toronto and LA. My obsession with movies have led me to work for the Toronto International Film Festival as a marketing
distributor, Warner Bros. Canada as a publicity and promotions coordinator, and Entertainment One as a theatrical film marketing coordinator. I am currently working as a creative producer for a YouTube food travel series called BEYOND THE BLADE under the cutting edge culinary company called Dalstrong. My innate philosophy has been to leave behind a legacy no matter what it is you choose to do in life. Filmmaking has consistently allowed me the opportunities to explore my imagination and creatively tell
the stories that have the potential to inspire lives.

– What inspired you to become a Filmmaker?

For many years, I was enamoured with the idea of leaving behind a legacy with the passion I chose to pursue. Since the day I was born, cinema has very much been a part of my life, which I owe greatly to both my parents who originally introduced it to me.
Every Saturday night as a new born child, my mother and father would ritually include
me in their movie going experience by sitting me on the couch and letting me watch
some of the most dramatic, entertaining, and memorable movies I’d ever seen. I began
developing a relentless obsession with watching films, that I noticed it was consuming
my entire life. I’d see the world through the lens of the camera and the perspective of a
potential story. Upon learning about my new obsession, I decided to further explore the
people who were responsible for making the films that I love. This is when I discovered
a proud film aficionado that changed the whole trajectory of my life from studying
marketing in business school to becoming a professional film director – Quentin
Tarantino. Once I laid my eyes on his captivating films, I knew where my heart truly
belonged – the cinema. And after learning that he never went to film school and became
a director on his own merit through incredible tenacity, I knew it was possible for me.

-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in society?

I believe cinema is a poignant artistic medium that allows society to collectively explore
and crucially understand the human condition. Experiencing this visually captivating art
form carries a unique capability apart from other expressions that can significantly
Daniel Calderone 2 of 2 address and influence societal values. While music, art, and theatre possess the same capabilities of societal change for those who consume it, cinema gives the audience a
unique perspective by offering all of them at once. Using the power of storytelling
supported by striking visuals, melodic music, and emotional performative art, it is truly
an unforgettable experience if done authentically and correctly. My argument for this
strong conviction is cinematic films have the potential to evoke certain resounding
feelings through their unique qualities that can give an audience different perspectives
on their life, their purpose, and even themselves. Understanding such a provocative
notion will make people see that cinema DOES have the power to bring a change in
society, yet only in the matter to which it presents a story and tells it truthfully. Only then
will society witness that spark for change when a film dares them to question their own

– What would you change in the world?

A very interesting question to answer as I could think of many different aspects that I’d
like to have change in the world. Personally, I’d prefer for the world to return to the
traditional values that made our society more respectable in the past. I’m not saying that
people’s freedom and empowerment should be limited or removed, but I do wish our
society would uphold the values of family, integrity and, respect. I strongly feel our world
is devolving into a value system that prides success over fulfillment and materialism
over gratitude. I grew up in a fairly conservative household so maybe my desire for
change can be argued as biased, however, these inherit values I champion for society
are the ones I believe that make for a more fruitful life. Be grateful for your friends and
family, never disregard your integrity for anyone, and pursue something of meaning
rather than of monetary pleasure.

-Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?

Even though the general public may push the narrative of streaming services taking
over the theatrical experience, I believe the film industry as a whole will ADAPT in the
next 100 years. Like in the last 100 years, the film industry adapted to new venues and
new technologies. But the movie going experience and the art of telling stories proved
to remain. I say this with great conviction because despite the cynicism of film being
dead or there are no new great ideas, there will always be someone like myself ready to
tell a compelling story. The beauty of film does not rely on its entertainment value to be
successful, rather on its potential to become timeless. People will always remember
how certain films in history made them feel, not by just the visuals or quotable lines, but
the message it served them and the influence it had on their own life. There is no
perfect story to tell. There is no limit to telling stories. There is only the art of storytelling,
which will eternally belong to the film industry.

“Michelangelo and Me” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Colleen Shannon

-How was your project “Michelangelo and Me” born?

Michelangelo and Me (novel version titled Heaven’s Rogue) came to life during millennium fever in 1999. I had written three single title releases, all lead titles, for Dorchester’s fairy tale imprint and my editor liked them all so she asked me to write a millennium book and when I pitched her my first concept she wanted a trilogy. I was on a family trip west with my sons and husband and while he drove, I looked at the beautiful scenery and wondered what it meant to live to see a new millennium. Very few people in human history live to see that change. The last one, in the year 1000, was also a time of turmoil: the dark ages, famine, pestilence, war everywhere. But if I wanted to tell a moving, uplifting story about such a rare human experience it had to be meaningful in scope. Who were we, who are we, and where are we going? So what was the best example of humanity through the ages? Michelangelo’s David. Who was he, why did Michelangelo pick him for the model (historians don’t know who he was) and manage to capture so much vitality, nobility, yet human struggle too at an insurmountable task ahead? I tried to visualize what Michelangelo thought of while he worked. That’s the way I always create my characters, trying to walk a mile in their moccasins as they would if they really lived. Michelangelo was both gay and very religious– he used to self flagellate. So what if he had a childhood best friend, virtually perfect physically, who was also rather arrogant and unruly, a bastard without title or money yet so charismatic everyone loved him, especially his best friend. What if he commits an unforgivable sin and gets turned to stone? So everything came from that. The famous ‘what if?’ every fiction writer faces as worst challenge and best inspiration….whether script or novel.

-What goal do you dream of achieving?

Preferably getting Michelangelo and Me produced and distributed world wide as the first in a possible extended story, either film or pilot and streaming though this story is so visually interesting it’s probably best on the big screen. Also to start being involved in producing of some type.

Why I think I’m ready: I know I’m older than most people who attempt this, but I started young as a novelist (at 26 sold myself to Berkeley Putnam the first full length book I ever wrote before it was finished). It was followed by five more single title releases for them, 10 for Dorchester, and most recently three for Kensington. They’ve all been cross genre books as are my scripts because I only find rich stories with characters I care about in worlds that interest me compelling, and it shows in both my scripts and novels, I think. They’re different because I think differently. I used to have NYT romance novelists at conventions etc. tell me I wrote ‘above the genre.’ I have fan mail from all over the world. I’ve never self published though I may consider it if this doesn’t pan out. I’ll hire a publicist and write under two different names for romance and thrillers. I know I still have a readership because my first Ranger book, Foster Justice, hit #1 on Amazon Kindle’s Western Romance list when it came out. Not an easy feat even in genre fiction and it had been many years since my last historical because I didn’t write when I was working as a VP in development in Los Angeles. People reading this should be aware I’m willing to move back if financially motivated. My sons are grown with families so it’s just me and I still have friends in LA .

In addition, I expect to be writing to the day I die and there is much longevity in my genetics. Women in my family tend to battle our weight but are healthy into our nineties. If I choose to I could go back to real estate development right now, but storytelling is my first love. My story telling and characterization seem to transfer well to film (see the Hal Ackerman letter, posted at FF) . I decided to try screenwriting one last time when I saw more of the stories I like to see coming out on the big screen (like Shape of Water) and some streaming films/series. I loved Damsel and would write it with probably a happy ending romance. I love female empowerment movies but I think the best stories combine male and female characters and our natural likes and differences, typically in romance, but they can be other types: Skyfall is my favorite Bond movie because the end of the relationship between Bond and M is the story lodestone, a proper exit of one of the best secondary characters ever. Honestly, I think most screenwriters and directors too for that matter, have a hard time getting into the heads of both genders. It comes easily to me precisely because I’ve written so much romance from both PoVs. Honestly I saw the reason for it, and I understand why Barbie has become such a worldwide sensation, but I think it was over the top in its portrayal of Ken and his friends. Yes it’s Barbie’s story, but it would have been a better film with a better, more multi faceted, role for Ken. I love writing buddy movies and huge action sequences as well as romance. Full Circle, at its core, is a buddy movie, though a screenwriter I know called it a romance instead, between uncle and nephew, not just Lily and Rob. And the action sequences are complex. Three of my scripts are based on my own books: Michelangelo and Me, its sequel in progress now, da Vinci and Me, and Foster Justice. Full Circle is a totally original idea, and two of my rough drafts, The Gentle Beast, and Time Will Tell, have completed novel versions. I also have two treatments, plenty of material, I think, for interested parties to gauge my ability. My other unusual characteristic is I’m very savvy in business, have even written one of my own contracts and sold half my books myself. I was only ever late on one book deadline and that was during the birth of one of my sons. Hence I honestly think I could produce as development is similar in task management and I think both logically and creatively.

-Who inspired you to create your project?

In its original form, Heaven’s Rogue, it was inspired by my Dorchester editor who worked with me on my three fairy tale books. I sold to her on proposal but when she got the final version of the Beauty and the Beast tale, The Gentle Beast, she made it the launch book for their fairy tale imprint, with dumps and special promotion and my most beautiful cover ever. Very expensive, step back with embossed gold foil lettering and two different cover images, the hero with and without his mask. Now most covers are digital. I loved working with her, she was very flexible in what she liked and I gave her many unusual ideas, according to her. So when millennium fever hit and they decided to do a millennium imprint, she liked my work and asked me to write a millennium book. I pitched Heaven’s Rogue to her over the phone and she bought it from the pitch, with approval rights, of course. I also suggested the cover idea with the David coming to life, marble to flesh. For once, art and marketing took my idea, a miracle, appropriately enough lol. She wanted another trilogy, so my idea had to loosely link multiple stories. The way I got the inspiration is in the first paragraph of this interview. I never have a problem with ideas; only time to write them. But my most frequent negative feedback on this story has been too much story. Coverage often recommends I need to divide it up between the three heros. That’s Hollywood formula, of course, but question: why does the most lucrative franchise ever made break formula and combine genres so beautifully?

Star Wars. I know what I’m attempting is very difficult, so I sat with a stopwatch and Star Wars New Hope, which is what inspired me to the power of film so long ago, to test my story instincts . It’s over fifteen minutes into the film before you meet Luke and over thirty before you meet Han Solo. Yet they all have their own roles and own lives that blend well with plot and story arcs first as a stand alone then with tantalizing hints of a sequel (Vader spinning into space and the new alliance between the guys and Leia). My throughline in the books is it’s always heaven’s plan to bring David/Dom back to life to give him a chance to redeem himself because his actions will impact humanity in the third millennium. Visually I had to come up with a way to portray that, hence The Sistine Chapel. However, Michelangelo and Me also works as a single film. My first scene in the second story, da Vinci and Me. opens in the chapel with God depressed because he’s not a good comic and a very famous one whirling in to show him how. Not in the books….but I just read a couple lines to the five people in my critique group and they all laughed. But I do have synopses for the next two stories I wrote for Dorchester I can supply if anyone is interested. Heaven’s Hero will be da Vinci and Me (Nick and Isabella) and Heaven’s Warrior will be Rafael and Me (Rafe and Omani, an empath human descendant in the third millennium after we’ve moved to the stars with the last of the human race). All of this sprang from the idea of the world’s best example of humanity, flaws and virtues, coming to life in a new millennium. Why? Who sent him? Who is he? Why is he soimportant? What is his mission and will he succeed or turn back to stone? I always reason through every idea mentally before I start writing, though I don’t outline.

-Which awards has your project won?

The Gentle Beast won Romantic Time’s best British Isles romance for the year and it features Samuel Johnson as a character. It’s far more than just a romance, having history, action, art and suspense as well. I’ve won many other industry awards and made numerous bestseller lists, though never the NYT. Michelangelo and Me, which started as Heaven’s Rogue, has almost an 80% selection rate at FF with five or so festivals still undecided and has been selected in all five continents with many invitations for me to submit in Australia, which would make six. There has to be international interest. As for its original version Heaven’s Rogue, I’m not aware of any awards it won except its place in my ranking: my favorite, again with those cross genre elements mentioned above. I know my editor told me she’d never seen another book like it and she’d been editing romance a long time, and I know the Amazon Romance editor at the time picked it as her favorite fairy tale romance. The book and film versions are quite different, showing I think I understand the differences between both arts. And to me they are arts, not crafts. I’m still learning. I never send out a rough draft, only something rewritten many times. I don’t know if anyone else can see my dashboard but if 8 And A Half and Film Freeway approve I’m happy to share it. I’m very proud of my gold award for best feature script from the Florence Film Festival in particular. There is no better source to gauge my research, obviously, than the place where he was created, has lived for five hundred years and will probably always live. Note I say ‘he’ lol not ‘it’.

Sign – “I’m waiting for you” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Riccardo Santoro

-Who is Riccardo Santoro?

I am 44 years old, I am Italian, born and raised in Naples, but resident in Bologna for 19 years. I deal with art. Specifically visual arts. I try through art to know myself, navigating in a simple way, building slowly and constantly analyzing my work. In art I find the shelter that social life doesn’t give me. I don’t run away, but I resist. Here, in artistic practice there are no cuddles or reassurances; artists know this well. I was born as a painter, then an illustrator. I then began and completed a three-year course in Nautropathy (holistic disciplines), and later specialized in photography, graphics and video art. With photography I work both purely and with photomontage. In photomontage I let drawing, painting and sometimes writing come together, combined with photography. In video art I have more space, as the narrative elements that are added are dictated by the vocal instruments and the music. Giving rhythm by also using still images, such as drawings or photographs, greatly broadens my spectrum of creative action. I really like to experiment and in graphic post-production and video effects software I have found a vast world from which to draw for my inspiration. I prefer to work in a simple and natural way, even if I can sometimes appear radical in my almost sparse use of elements. But this is part of my personality and holistic studies. I believe in the use of poor materials because I believe that in this way we can reach the intimate nature of things with greater sincerity. In my artistic research, my personal condition and the human condition occupy a central position of interest, where the intention is to reveal the nature of a life that is beyond and above humanity. My artistic works, whether video art, photomontages or documentary photography, are always accompanied by descriptive texts that speak of my way of understanding life. The interest I carry forward in Eastern philosophies fills my research. I try, with the support of these studies and through the simple experiences of a human being, to give voice to my considerations and my experiences, through art. My vision includes a universal feeling of things, where the succession of human experiences are imbued with the desire to discover the original spiritual nature.

-What inspired you to become a Filmmaker?

One afternoon at home I was on the computer watching music videos, short films and cartoons, as I did every day. I realized at that moment that the vast majority of things I was watching with interest were videos. And I had been doing it for years. So I thought: why not learn how to make them? It could be inspiring! It was like this that I began to study the art of cinema in a completely simple way. I attended both videomaking and postproduction courses and the video effects tools certainly involved me a lot. What the video gives me is the possibility of creating a temporal narrative that goes well with my lyrics and music, which I love. At the moment I am tending towards the creation of music videos and short films which include lyrics written by me and also music created by me. In these videos writing, painting, drawing, photography, voice, music, video and video effects come together. The latter, video effects, is certainly the one that stimulates me the most at the moment. Here I try to develop animations starting from simple geometric shapes or by manipulating images and video clips with well-finished but elementary effects. It reflects my thoughts, my way of life. The attempt is to give shape to what I feel inside.

-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in the society?

I believe in art. And I believe in cinema as a form of art that can be enjoyed immediately. It involves a temporal narrative that requires constant attention. Through a film we can learn social, historical, scientific notions and we can learn about the thoughts of a director, which can awaken something within ourselves. Having touched the soul of an individual is already the beginning of a potential social change.

-What would you change in the world?

Today we see a very trivial world, grappling with old systems of social control taking on new forms, and with truly sad results. The wars and false democracies of the dominant countries suggest an increasingly poorer future both economically and culturally. Personally, I am for a more sensitive and human approach to life. So I look at the things closest to me. What happens in the city I live in and what happens in my country. I believe that paying attention to the reality closest to us can be very helpful on a social and global level. A state that loves you is concerned with committing its economic resources to health, culture, racial integration, the real implementation of strategies implemented on gender equality, the commitment to guaranteeing a home for its citizens, and in interventions to support the environment.

A state that does not give to the citizen is a state that does not love you. My point of view is not simply linked to the sphere of sensitivity and empathy, but I find that altruism is an intelligent tool for creating solid and changing relationships between individuals. An attitude aimed at caring for people can create a healthy feeling of affection towards one’s land, one’s nation, and would certainly lead to making people stronger.

-Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?

I believe in cinema as an artistic genre. So I’m not worried about new technologies, since they won’t bury cinema as an art form. What I hope is that artists do not allow themselves to be overwhelmed by increasingly powerful technologies, which can lead to a reduction in human commitment through a reduction in workload. Therefore I believe it is important to point out that the ease and speed with which some technologies allow us to create must be carefully examined when we realize that our personal creative capacity is being reduced. In the descriptive text of the video “Segno – Ti aspetto” I also talk about this. Specifically, I am interested in seeing how much human there is in an artistic work. I therefore believe that the further time goes, the more powerful the technologies will be and the more the artist will have to ask of himself. The artist, as always in history, is personally responsible for what he creates. He is responsible for himself and others. Cinema, which was born as a new artistic frontier linked to a great scientific innovation, should in my opinion take on board the experiences of the past and take into account the fact that without human beings there is no art. Two human components that I find important for an artist are sensitivity and courage.