Our recent intern, designer, photographer and filmmaker Aurélie Nydegger photographs Creative Film Production MA student Leonardo Greco and asks him to chat about his work.
Leonardo Greco was born and raised in Catania, Italy. While studying in “Liceo Scientifico” (scientific high school) he got closer to the arts, with special regard to cinema. After graduating, he decided to follow his passion by enrolling in Catalyst’s Film Production Bachelor. He’s now continuing his journey with us as a Master’s student in Creative Production. Besides his commitment to school, he has had the chance to work as a freelancer on side projects such as commercials, music videos for local artists and short films. His latest film, You Don’t Know Them, which he wrote and directed, was awarded Best Short Film at the Mexico International Film Festival. Leonardo is currently working on two short films and the script of his first feature film. I asked him to tell us more about his work.
I can't see my reflection in the waters
I can't speak the sounds that show no pain
I can't hear the echo of my footsteps
Or remember the sound of my own name
I decided to make films because it makes me happy. It's the thing in the world that makes me smile. We live in a world where you exist through your work. Imagine not being happy when you go to work. I tried a few activities when I was a kid, and film was always the feeling that brought me the most passion, the most joy. So I thought, why not write stories, do something about it, create? I tried it and then I loved it. Every day I'm more excited to go to work. There are a lot of challenges, but it makes me feel alive. It's a way to express myself and make my dreams come true.
For me, film is about telling a story. When we tell it, we decide to mix images and sounds, and we choose the format, the shots, and the actors to tell our story. The story can be anything, because cinema has a lot of freedom, no limitations. You can express your dreams with a film. It's like writing a book but bringing to life what you saw in your head. It's really free as an expression, without limits. It's a new art, without many rules. Before I was a filmmaker, I was a cinephile. I watched a film to lose myself in the story, to feel something. If it was an action film, I was excited, a horror film I was scared, if it was a drama I felt the emotion of the character. When I make a film, I want others to feel what cinema made me feel as a child. Maybe my subconscious wants to send a message through my film.
An example is the story I'm working on. At one moment, two characters meet who were not supposed to. This creates interest and suspense. I like that moment of anticipation when I'm telling and seeing a story, because you didn't expect it and what happens next. I like people's reaction as well as my own. Stories that surprise you and bring you new things, things you didn't expect. That's why I particularly like the writing stage. I write while waiting for a response from the audience. It's always a surprise for me to see the reaction of others to one of my films. I never get tired of it.
"How can we aim for a better future if nobody is leading the way?"
This short film is something I am personally attached to because four years ago I left my home town, Catania, Italy, to come to Berlin to study. After a long time abroad I, for the first time, felt I didn’t belong anywhere. I felt out of place in Berlin, just like I did when I was in Catania. If you don’t have a home, you have nothing, and if you have nothing, what’s left? You. And here we have the big question: who am I? Or worse, who am I expected to be? In my case, the answer seems to be ‘a man’, but what does it mean to be a man? Do I have to be strong? Do I have to be powerful? Do I need to have a lot of women? Am I allowed to have feelings? I’m a bit confused, who could I look up to? Some successful men, like Berlusconi? Weinstein? James Bond? Dirty Harry? It is becoming clear that we are living in a moment where masculinity is having its worst crisis and society is not offering any solutions. Toxic men are hunted down, the idols that have fallen are not replaced, leaving all the boys, myself included, without a hero anymore. How can we aim for a better future if nobody is leading the way?
Dante, the main character of the short, finds himself in a similar place: he doesn’t have a home, he doesn’t have anybody, he is left alone with his quest, to find where he belongs. What he doesn’t know yet is that first he needs to find himself. I truly believe that who we are is defined by our actions and with whom we decide to do them. I think this is something worth telling, something worth sharing.