Interview with Filmmaker Vito Labalestra & Performer Deborah Lotti (THE BEGINNING OF)

THE BEGINNING OF played to rave reviews at the March 2021 Dance & Music Festival.

Vito Labalestra : Film Director, editing and script.

Deborah Lotti : Performance, Choreography, voice and script.

Alessandro Larosa: Producer

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Deborah Lotti : It initially started with the invitation at a dance festival in Brussels for which I was asked to present a solo performance. Due to the Covid situation, this request was quickly modified into a virtual version of a dance piece. Consequently, I decided to take this opportunity to create a short film, to share a message in a cinematographic way and do something more elaborated than simply film myself in a dance studio. That’s when I reached out to Vito, the film director, to present my idea. Sharing it with him, a filmmaker who I appreciate a lot, gave me even more motivation to really go for it. I just thought “all in” from that moment on.

Vito Labalestra : Deborah is a fantastic dancer and I like and admire her style very much. So when she came to me and told me about her beautiful idea to make a poetic dance video with me, I was of course very motivated and ready to begin a new adventure. It was the beginning of …

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

Deborah Lotti : Everything went very quickly as we had a deadline to respect for the dance festival in Brussels. After I presented the idea to Vito, the film director, we started immediately to gather the team and work on the script that same evening. Every day was filled with different tasks and we moved forward at high speed. The shooting itself was done in one weekend. With the post-production included we created the film in three weeks.

Vito Labalestra : It took not very long. I already had a motivated team in place and when there is motivation, inspiration and passion, everything can go fast. So between the beginning of…the idea and the final product, it took 3 weeks. Also I was impressed of the work of Deborah choreography and also of the music composer Adrian Pereira Oitavén.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Deborah Lotti : Change. Happening.

Vito Labalestra : “One moment. A short one. But one that changes everything”.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Deborah Lotti : I would say the weather on the second shooting day when we were outside. It was constantly changing from clouds, to sunshine, to rain, … Catching the right moment to film was not so easy, especially when it came to the right light for the camera. For me as a dancer, this required to be fully present, ready and focused on the
choreography at any moment and to go all in at a very precise moment.

Vito Labalestra : The only obstacle was the weather and the light. But we managed to handle this with a bit of luck and patience.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Deborah Lotti : I was very happy and proud of the team and myself as a choreographer and dancer. I realized again the amount of work we did in such a short period of time. But what really hit me was some words of the feedback, like “alive” or “the beauty of change”. I realized the power of art, how art work can make people feel something, and that is just beautiful. It reminded me why I dance, why I want to continue to create and share
messages like this one.

Vito Labalestra : We got a lot of feedback on our video, mostly from friends. The echoes in general were very positive and there was a lot of emotion in their feelings towards the film.

But when we received the feedback video of your festival, we have become aware of the work that we have created together. This was a gift for all the people who made this possible. So thank you to your festival.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Deborah Lotti : I got the idea during an online Gaga class where the teacher gave the instruction of “finding the beginning of a smile in every movement of the body”. I added to this my favorite quote of my biggest inspiration Audrey Hepburn: “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.” So it started as “the beginning of a smile”.
Smiling and laughing is something essential and very important for myself and I wanted to underline this very precise moment of the transition into this happy state.

After discussion, we left the smile out and focused more on the beginning to keep it open and general. But the element of change was a message I wanted to highlight: to remind myself and others that we are in the driver’s seat and that it takes our own minds to make a change, and especially be aware of the moment when it happens. The transition is a detail, but so powerful.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Deborah Lotti : Dirty Dancing.

Vito Labalestra : The film I see in my life the most is the one who is anchored in my mind and body through the experiences of life and the people I encountered during my short stay on this planet. It’s the one who gives you positive and negative emotions, the one who gives you the energy to create, the one who will continue after my death through the minds of those who remain and had the opportunity to know me through my creations.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

Alessandro Larosa : Once the film is done, it’s time to reach the audience. FilmFreeway was an awesome way to get in touch with the audience on a global scale.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Deborah Lotti : I wanna dance with somebody – Whitney Houston

Vito Labalestra : Jacques Brel : Ne me quitte pas.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

Deborah Lotti : My next project is to create an association which organizes events around jazz: dance jams, live jazz concerts, dance workshops, … a place where jazz music and dance meet, where people who love to move share moments and connect, where many new beginnings are made. ☺

Vito Labalestra : The next film is a music clip of my own song !


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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