Igloo, a short film by Gianluca Cavaleri, tells the story of a man still clinging to memories of a former lover.
Gianluca joins us on Close-up Culture to give us insight into his visually and emotionally compelling short film.
Q: I believe ‘Igloo’ is your first narrative short film in some time. What compelled you to tell this story?
A: The financial cost of making a film is always a hurdle and kept me away for awhile. I spent more time in recent years writing and working various jobs on set to gain more technical experience.
For a short film it’s best to tell a story as simple as possible, and Igloo is a very simple story. It’s how you tell it that makes the difference. I wanted to create a little magic out of nothing.
Q: ‘Igloo’ looks at past relationships and how we cling to memories. What did you want to explore and why were you interested in this image of an igloo?
A: Our past is always a part of us for better or worse, but sometimes it can be too much a part of us. Charlie (Jacob A. Ware) is stuck in the past and unable to move on from some wonderful memories. The igloo is a home; a place of love. Charlie desires to be with Sierra (Francesca Anderson) in this igloo, but doesn’t understand that it’s unobtainable because she is just like an Eskimo.
Igloos are temporary homes. The Eskimo builds one where there’s good game and then moves on and abandons it to build another one somewhere else. So Charlie’s dreams and desires of being with some beautiful wild woman to reach happiness is misguided because it’s an impossibility. Igloos don’t last. They are just temporary. And Sierra can’t be tamed.
Q: Out of curiosity, where did the igloo documentary come from footage?
A: How to Build an Igloo by Douglas Wilkinson, National Film Board of Canada 1949.
It’s the sort of thing you might find playing on some random cable channel. I like the vintage quality of the doc, and you may notice the whole film has that sort of vibe. I’m a big fan of film-noir, and even though this film isn’t a crime story I feel it has a bit of noir to it.
Q: The initial chemistry between Sierra and Charlie is key to the film. Can you talk about working with Jacob A. Ware and Francesca Anderson? What did they bring to their characters and to the project?
A: They are both professionals who love their craft. They wanted to know all about their characters so they could give the best and most realistic performances. I had them rehearse in a hotel room so they could get into their characters easier. To me it’s really important for an actor to rehearse as physically close to the scene as possible as opposed to sitting at a table reading off a script, and this really helped build that chemistry.
Francesca is very charismatic and captivating. She has a femme fatale quality about her. Jacob is so great at hitting all these emotional notes bouncing from desire, boredom, joy, and sadness in a subtly beautiful way. He’s a great talent that gave our small project 100% – he would leave the set of Gotham once he wrapped, to head to our set immediately.
Q: I have to ask about the beautifully shot scene with Sierra in the snow and the igloo. What was that like putting together with Francesca and cinematographer Horst Dieter Baum?
A: It was the most fun and less stressful part of the shoot. Francesca is naturally sensual and full of energy so it was easy for her. Dieter and I think the same visually so shooting was automatic. I wanted the scene to feel surreal as if Sierra and the igloo are in some infinite space in Charlie’s mind. Dieter knew exactly how to light it to get that mood.
We set up the igloo, hung lights, blew a bunch of fake snow in the air and rolled camera. It was all very ridiculous, and we were laughing in between takes. There’s a lot of gorgeous shots that didn’t make the cut unfortunately.
Q: Can you tell us more about your background and what brought you to filmmaking?
A: I went to film school at NYU, but have bounced back and forth from the real world and the film world, frankly because if I’m not the writer or director I don’t have that much interest in participating on a production. I get bored easily if I can’t be fully creative.
I was mentored by Ron Daniels, a world renowned theater director who has also directed some films. I wrote a script for him that Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal wanted to star in. We had meetings but ultimately the subject matter of the script was too controversial to go forward with. Another one of my scripts that wouldn’t suit a low-budget is being shopped around by a producer and former MGM executive.
Q: I hear you are working on a new script. Can you tell us anything about it and the type of films you want to make in the future?
A: I just finished a pilot that centers on weird happenings in a resort town and am writing now a crime-drama feature. I am also preparing to shoot a proof of concept horror short.
I may seem to bounce around from genres but all my stories share common themes that interest me: suburban dystopia, loneliness in the modern world, and our insistent search for the unknown truth. I try to keep in mind that while it’s important to make a good point, a film should first and foremost be entertaining.