Nope! is your first work as a solo director, after over years as part of Sämen. What led you to go solo? And what were the pros and cons of working as a duo?
After ten years of collaboration, we both wanted to explore our own perspectives. It all was quite natural. We have learned from one another and we felt ready to take this step, both as friends as well as professionals. Working as a duo definitely had its advantages: it was nice to know that you would always have someone to rely on during the most difficult of times, and it was also so much fun to travel and experience things together. Obviously, there were moments where we may have not one hundred percent agreed on the vision for a specific project, but when this happened we let the other person take the lead in complete trust.
With Nope! what were the challenges involved in illustrating addiction in a light and playful way, while steering it away from it becoming a criticism of society?
I wanted to move away from all the drama that is generally associated with this theme. That’s why I focused specifically on drugs that aren’t as addictive – natural ones – as a way to entertain and have fun with the viewer. We all have a darker side – some of us are open about it, whereas others are a bit more secretive. I don’t think it’s fair to criticise the way people choose to lead their lives. It’s not up to me. I simply preferred to share the story as an outsider.
You’ve worked with a super-young and super-talented creative team, supported by the Milan-based production company Basement. How does the new generation of creatives look, think and work? What should we learn from them?
Well, here too there are obviously some pros and cons. I have to say I worked really well with the troupe, both the creative and the technical teams. What I did realise is how these young talents do not know their own potential, and struggle to express and fulfil it. They are yet to become fully aware of their own professional personas, so it was my role as director to guide them and lead them without blocking their creativity. It was just wonderful seeing what they came up with. I’ve definitely become more appreciative of the creative freedom that results from a lack of experience; it allows you to experiment without the limitations imposed when working with a client.
How did you go about representing the characters’ trip? Take us through your creative process and how you translated it into cinematic language.
I was obviously inspired by my first psychedelic experience. For example, the shot with the clouds was “based on a true story”. But in order to truly describe the trip, what was missing was the emotional connection. Here, musician ZMA solved our dilemma. We listened to a few tracks before shooting. The one we chose represented perfectly that feeling of togetherness you get with those around you, as well as the connection with nature and an understanding of what we are doing here on Earth.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m mostly focusing on commissioned projects; that is, advertising and music videos. We actually just shot the first video for ZMA (the musician for Nope!), which will come out soon. As far as more narrative is concerned, I wouldn’t mind exploring the world of TV series. Especially in Italy at the moment. it feels like there’s a bit of an opening towards more interesting projects, rather than producing the more traditional Italian content.
Sami Schinaia website