Leopoldo Caggiano is a young director based in Milan.
Lifestyles, fantasies, real life: you sum all this by also adding excellent ‘dreams’. And you define yourself a dreamer, not only a director. Which is the secret recipe to keep dreams and reality together in a filmic story?
There are many ways in which you can do it depending on the type of storyteller you are: illustration, animation, special effects. My way of keeping the dreams and reality together in my films is to forget about the dreams and make the reality come through. Reality is stronger then dreams to me. My way of dealing with them is by sculpting the reality around the dreams and not the opposite. I don’t do anything that is outside the world as we know it, right here, right now. I try to stick to the reality of things and speak about dreams with the behaviours of my characters.
I really like when someone is able to make something abstract and imaginable very tangible in the real world, without adding elements coming from outside the reality.
Is the director Leopoldo sculpting the world starting with his own life, hurdles and experiences or the biography of the man is kept aside each time you create a story?
I think this is not an easy question to ask a storyteller ’cause almost everyone of us writes the story he or she wants to read at first, I guess. In this pattern, there is always a little part of you that you cannot ignore. In my experience as a writer and filmmaker, I always tried to avoid writing about something that happened to me in a literal way. By writing movies I do the opposite: I freely write about other real people’s life, or what I imagine it could happen to the character. Only when I finish the writing I find the richness by the analysis of what I wrote through my own life: I try to understand what I really meant when I wrote it and how does that apply to my life. So in this sense, I apply the tactic in reverse, if you think about it.
First comes the character and then myself.
As for what we saw in Dear Susie at the last Venice International Movie Festival, today the world of interpersonal feelings is sometimes gathered in non-senses and is not easy to be expressed.
You seem to choose a very forgotten media, the paper mails, to try to communicate with the person you like. Is the ‘correspondence’ something you use as a metaphor or do you still like this mean?
I always write my notes on paper ’cause I like that particular sign of the words I cannot find in bytes or in pixels on a screen. Paper has something that phones are loosing, that is “timing”. I use correspondence to communicate to my girl, or with other people, to let them know that what is written on paper is about a single moment of our life, and when they read it is crucial. A message on a phone can be read and read back everywhere, billions of times. A message written on paper needs the paper to be in a place, it needs you to be there with it, it needs you to find it. It doesn’t come to you, you come to it most of the time. Or if it comes to you, there’s someone that brought it to you. That is why I used it in Dear Susie, I found it funny but also very deep. Leo really wants to give the girl a letter, he clearly does not want to simply add her on Facebook. The phone is there in the scene, he could send her a text message, but he does not want to. He wants his letter to find its perfect moment to get to her.
I like to play with the idea of “Time”, to add timing to what can be done even on a phone or a laptop.
What place writing has in your life and especially creative writing?
I write a lot everyday. Messages, little notes, I rarely write something long or complex. The complexity of what I like to write in the creative writing process is always a sum of all the little moments I collect every day, and this is the most peculiar piece of writing I can write. I love interacting with people, and the collection of these moments, the union of all things that happened become my piece, my short, my feature. I want to make people always enjoy what I write so I tend to use creative writing everyday, I don’t use a lot of emoticons, I don’t use a lot abbreviations, I always go for something that’s a little more creative even in a text message or a chat.
It is exhausting sometimes, but my reward is to be able to communicate feelings and not just things.
Which encounters do you normally have in your daily work routine? Please make a portrait of one of these.
One of the main reasons why I chose my work is because I love to work with others. I don’t like working alone at home or in an office, to create something. I prefer to have friends around when I write or edit my movies. But I am usually a very complex person. Which is not an easy thing to me.
I overthink, I am the kind of person that creates a lot of problems for myself. One of the most usual encounters in my work is people that are really good at just one thing. They simply do what they are best at, they don’t spend a lot of time over-complicating the system around them, they want you to know what they think in a very simple way. One of my recent encounters was on set with an electrician who does residential electrical services but wants to become a DOP (director of photography), he was bold, with no hair whatsoever. He was so keen on making lights great that I felt like it was such a gift to speak to him, he was so passionate about his work.
These encounters make life simpler in its hurdles and make me think straight about what I am doing with my life.
What about you as a reader? Which is the book with you now and where is it placed?
Zen and the Art of Archery (a short book written by Eugen Herrigel). A suggestion by my first and only archery master, and it’s about the philosophy behind it. Most of the books I read are suggestions from other people, so I can collect another point of view either then my own. It is currently placed on my couch that is the only place in my house where I stop, and forget about the outer world. It is simply the place I stay.
Which music is with you now?
The soundtrack of Inside Lewis Davis by the Cohen Brothers, a mix between folk and country
music in a movie that talks about sadness. Every single track is simple, human, sometimes just one instrument and a voice. That music reminds me that even in sadness that is something precious that has to be pursued.
Describe a fantastic happening you, as person, have had in recent time.
I am amazed by life every single day, so it’s hard to say. I am sorry all the news I have to share are all work related. But If I have to pick one, it has to be the amazing sensation of the time in Venice when I presented Dear Susie, and I was surrounded by my family, my woman, my friends, my crew. This is what makes me feeling truly trusted; this is when work doesn’t feel like work.
What your city is giving to you and vice versa?
I just got back to Milan. Coming back to having my friends around, having life nearby. Living here is stressful and challenging but also very fulfilling. I don’t know exactly what I am giving to this city, but I feel like it gave me friendships and I am giving friendship back. I usually think more “global” then “local”. I lived in Milan since the beginning of my career, I am working at growing in my job and the feed the culture around it, I am trying to connect with like-minded people and try to give a lot of positive energy back to them.
Can you share your favourite cooking passion?
I love to cook quite a lot. My passion about cooking is in the preparation process before starting to cook. I really enjoy choosing the ingredients, getting them ready to be cooked at my best. And I like also to experiment by starting to know the recipe and then just following my instinct.
Which is your favourite wine or drink?
It sounds like a very girlish answer, but I have to say Moscow Mule.
Which is a talent you have and the one you miss?
I guess I am pretty good at telling stories and entertain people while at it. I chose Cinema as a medium, but I like to consider myself as someone who would be able to choose any means to tell a story. As far as the talent I miss… Gosh, I have so many I miss I don’t even know which one to choose! Maybe being really well organized is the one.
What did you learn from life until now?
We humans are the most interesting and unpredictable animals on Earth. What I have learned is that you cannot trace only one path for humans, ’cause in a way or another every one of us is improvising in their own way in life. Maybe destiny exists, maybe not, but the main point is that we have to deal with it.
To learn more about Leopoldo’s movies: https://vimeo.com/leopoldocaggiano