Years ago I made a film whereby I walked the Camino de Santiago. This film has been very popular, not a week goes by where someone doesn’t contact me from somewhere around the world thanking me for that film.
One such person who contacted me was a television editor from Luxembourg. What started as a string of emails became the idea of taking a roadtrip through Italy to make a film. Michele had never been in front of camera before, and in some strange luxembourgish logic, decided it would be easier if we played characters instead of playing ourselves. So an idea was formed; do Italians know best how to live la dolce vita – the good life.
Michele organised a schedule that took us to some of her favourite parts of Italy. She also managed to get some luxury hotels interested in the idea and organised to meet up with family members from her dad’s side, that she hadn’t seen since she was a child.
So over two very hectic weeks, we filmed, scripted and acted in our own 2 person crew film. We did everything, and what’s even more amazing is that english isn’t even Michele’s first language. Sometimes in a scene she would have this contemplative deep look on her face, a look every actor would die for, that James Dean, Marlon Brando brooding ‘what’s on their mind’ look. In most cases she was just struggling to find the right english words! In fact all the people who appeared in our film were first timers in front of the camera, and we thank each one of you.
People we met seemed to love the idea that two strangers, an Australian and a Luxembourger, travel Italy in a small car, called Caldo (hot in italian) because the air conditioning didn’t work, to make a film about two strangers traveling Italy! It was such an audacious act and I’m so glad I decided to get involved in what was a ridiculously short amount of time to produce a film!
I want to tell you one story about my co-pilot for this intrepid undertaking. We wanted to visit the last free camping beach on the Cinque Terre – Guvano Beach. The only problem was, to get there, one must walk over one kilometre along a pitch black underground railway tunnel. And then at the end of the tunnel, one must pass the gauntlet of a gang of homeless thieves called the Punk Bastards, who have been known to hassle visitors for money. Michele was warned not to visit this beach at night by a local, ‘No one can hear you scream down there’ he said.
The picture above shows the reality of our bare bones production. This was just before we left for Guvano Beach on dusk. A borrowed tent, sleeping gear stuffed into shopping bags, it was a shambles. But I love this photo, because it captures the valour of our production. Michele knew visiting Guvano beach at night could be dangerous, but she put her trust in me that I’d protect her no matter what!
As we left the dank, dark tunnel, sure enough we were confronted by some rough looking men gathered around a makeshift wooden shelter. I said hello to a man who approached me speaking quick italian. He wore circus pants and a goatee beard and pony tail. I didn’t understand a word he was saying and smiled and just kept walking. Michele on the other hand understood every word. He started raising his voice and waving his hands around like a mad old Preacher. We walked on and found a campsite on a cliff face overlooking the ocean.
Michele nervously told me the man with the circus pants had said I was rude not to stop and talk with him (ie give him money), and that tonight he would visit us and slice our tent up to teach us a lesson. I told her he would do no such thing and not to worry. But I made sure my tripod was close at hand in case he decided to pay us a moonlight visit.
I think that experience at Guvano Beach sums up the spirit of ‘In search of la dolce vita’ We just went out there and did it, we didn’t let anything stop us! Before every shot, I’d set up two cameras, mics and lights. No crowd control, in public spaces, crying babies, loud scooters, meals gone cold after numerous takes, you name it. I didn’t even have time to run a comb through my hair before most scenes, and you can tell!
And Michele, trying to converse in a language she doesn’t speak every day, learning the cold hard reality of the time and energy it takes to make things look like we are having the most relaxing dream vacation of all time, and then hopping into Caldo the car to drive to the next location, windows down air-conditioning, always racing the clock.
For her first experience in front of a camera, and working in the field on a production, it was a baptism of fire. It is amazing we looked so calm and unflustered, at least in the takes that made the final cut!
So I hope you enjoy our little film, a glorious romp through some of Italy’s most picturesque locations. Meeting the locals that make it their home and asking them what defines the good life. Here is a brief rundown of the storyline:
Two strangers travel through Italy searching for la dolce vita, asking local people about love, life and happiness, and finding answers themselves along the way.
Scott is an Australian wineblogger who had minor success with his first novel. He has lost interest in writing and is undergoing a midlife crisis. Charlotte is a Luxembourg fan of Scott who befriended him online and invited him to join her on a trip through Italy. She has been a librarian for 15 years and feels ready for a change, but is unsure what.
On a roadtrip taking in some of the most scenic parts of Italy – Aosta, Lake Como, Venice, Cinque Terre, Tuscany, Umbria and the Amalfi Coast, Scott and Charlotte meet the locals and learn the secrets of what makes a good life!
Food, wine, tradition, family, love and more wine!
To view the entire 40 minute film, please follow the link below ~