Interview with Filmmaker Robert Bean (ELEVATE)

ELEVATE was the winner of BEST SPORTS DOCUMENTARY at the December 2021 Documentary Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

By chance I bumped into Matteo in a bicycle shop in Northern Italy and after a few moments chatting I was blown away by the sheer size of the challenge he wanted to take on. As a keen sportsman myself I’ve done long distance rides and runs, but 300km of cycling PLUS the highest mountain in Europe was just mind blowing. We were looking to take on a project this year unaffiliated to the brands we work with, and this seemed to be the perfect fit. Also, another addition behind our ‘why’ is Matteo’s energy. He’s keen and driven but at the same time thoughtful and kind, and you can feel this immediately with him.

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

It took approximately 3 months from meeting Matteo and the initial concept, to the day of the challenge, to the final edit. We pushed out the edit over 5 days back to back together with our editor.

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

Bella vita

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

To be honest, the shooting of all the entra b-roll was a breeze, but driving at 30kph for 10hrs while Matteo was cycling was the biggest challenge. We had a few moments where our blood sugar dropped as our focus was on shooting content. It’s an extra challenge on the day to focus on keeping yourself in check and not just getting the perfect shot. Add in a temperature swing from 35⁰C and humid to mountain dryness at 10⁰C and you’ve got yourself a challenging day!

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

It’s a great pleasure to get feedback on any work that we do. Sometimes you send it to festivals and an ‘official selection’ is enough feedback to know you’re going in the right direction, but it’s amazing to hear firsthand from people the responses that we hoped to hear from people. The way we set out in creating this story was to create something that wasn’t the standard sports challenge film, and it’s great for us to see that it was perceived in the way we intended.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I’ve always been interested in film & photography, and started making films 3 years ago for fun and eventually small client ad work, but I came to a greater understanding this last year that emotional storytelling was totally something that speake to me. The deep human connections we’ve managed to create with the characters of each film far trump any film experience I’ve had before, so this fuels the fire even more to pursue this direction.

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

V for Vendetta. It seems a little out there and dark for a superhero film (matching the likes of Watchmen), but it has many similarities to the world we actually live in today. I’m a little ‘antiestablishment’ so it’s totally my vibe.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

We love the idea of feedback, and many festivals don’t incorporate it, so it’s a nice touch, but we’d love to see constructive criticism added in the feedback. It’s great hearing what people liked, but it’s also incredibly helpful from a creative perspective to hear the things that perhaps were missing. It allows an opportunity to improve in the next project that isn’t there if the feedback is 100% positive.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

Fantastic so far! Elevate is our first submission, and the platform works incredibly well for finding festivals all over the globe. Not sure what we would have done without it!

10. What is your favorite meal?

Having lived in Italy for 6 years I sway towards pizza. Cliché but it’s true. But its gotta be a thin crust Neopolitan-style oil-drenched one to satisfy my tastebuds!

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

My partner and I just moved to Colorado! We chose it as a place to properly launch our storytelling studio, find our tribe, and creatively connect with a collective that is doing good for the planet.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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