Interview with Filmmaker Luigi Calabrese (ASPHODEL FIELDS)

ASPHODEL FIELDS, 5min., USA, Experimental
Directed by Luigi Calabrese
Asphodel Fields is an experimental short film that analyzes the cyclical, manipulative grasp that technology has on human beings and the latter’s desperate desire to escape modern life and regain a connection to the natural world. Humanity’s relationship with nature has been distorted, and with time, the devices that we once viewed as modern comforts have turned themselves into objects of control.


Get to know the filmmaker:

What motivated you to make this film?

I had watched all of Hayao Miyazaki’s films for the first time during the pandemic. Those films really struck me – in particular the clash between technology and nature. That was the pillar element that was in the back of my mind when coming up with a concept.

I had the nucleus inside my mind but could not translate it into a film until one Saturday at the beach with my girlfriend I saw a child playing with a kite. He was so happy watching his kite dancing in the wind and he was surrounded by all these adults on their phones and that is what led to the idea of technology being represented by this oppressive geometric figure.

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

The whole process was about three weeks.

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

In Camera, is that two words?

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

I think the biggest obstacle was the shooting process. Everyone involved donated their time, we had limited resources and shot the whole thing in one night. Especially when you are shooting 95% of your effects practically. It was a lot to take on and definitely took a few days to recover.

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

I was touched that the film had an effect on them. It means a lot because you put so much of yourself into it.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

I hurt my ankle really bad in middle school and couldn’t walk for several days. My uncle had brought me some films from Blockbuster and one of them was the Godfather. It can feel cliché to mention this film, especially as an Italian American but there was one scene in particular that struck me in such a way that this memory feels like it happened yesterday. It’s not even a scene many talk about when referencing the film.

Al Pacino is sitting on a bench outside his home pensive and Brando’s character is in bed having just had a heart attack. Nothing happens in this scene, no words are spoken, however, in this moment – through framing and performance, we as audience members feel the weight that Michael knows his life has changed forever and that his hopes and dreams of being a normal person are withering away.

That scene was so powerful for me and made me understand the power of directing.

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

That’s a tough question, but I would have to say Michael Mann’s “Heat”. I used to carry the double VHS in my backpack to school and got in trouble when a teacher saw me showing a friend because they told me the film was inappropriate for my age.

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

This is my first time with you guys but compared to others you go above and beyond and show a lot of care towards the craft and storytelling.

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

Very easy submission process.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Cold pasta fagioli from the day before with a drizzle of olive oil. It’s one of those if you know you know.

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

I am currently adapting a modern version of John Cheever’s “The Swimmer” – it was my favorite short story in school.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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