Daniela Di Salvo
It’s Desmond (Your Misguided Tour Guide) 
Screening Session: BLOCK 3 
3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival Online
22-28 Feb 2021 | Tickets £5 / £10 Full 7-Day Pass: bit.ly/PRFF-Tickets
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In a world of disingenuous wanderlust's, “IT'S DESMOND (your misguided tour guide)” seeks to reveal the truth behind world travel.

Hi Daniela thank you for talking to TNC, how are you holding up during these very strange times?

As best as anyone is really. By the way, thanks for starting the interview off like this because I think it’s important to acknowledge that it is a very strange and unprecedented time for most of us. And so many people are struggling in different ways and are not adjusting well at all. I think we’re very fortunate to be able to still have a conversation about art, film and creating–so thank you very much again for starting off in this way. And thank you for offering creators a chance to feel as close to normal as we possibly can by discussing what we love. Just trying to stay motivated and inspired everyday has helped even though it’s not easy to push through limitations, but I’m working on it. 

Has this time offered you any creative inspiration?

Yes, for sure. I have plenty of time to devour as much material as possible. Whether that’s a new film, book or T.V show–I find inspiration in watching others create art. I like to surround myself with it as much as possible. 

Congratulations on having your film selected for the 3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of such an amazing lineup of short films?

It’s an incredible honour! I’m always excited (and a little taken a back), when my films get selected for a film festival. It’s such a great and humbling feeling. I can’t wait to watch the other films and to be included among them is just surreal. 

Can you tell me a little bit about your film, how did this film come about?

Desmond (writer and star) reached out to me after he saw another short film I made called, James and the Fish. I think he really liked how whimsical and sweet it was and wanted to bring some of that flare to a project he was writing called It’s Desmond. He told me the premise and sent me some rough drafts of the script.

I immediately felt it had a Moonrise Kingdom vibe and brought my ideas forward about how we could capture that films essence and also bring some of it to ours–it really became a collaborative effort after that. 

What where the biggest challenges you faced brining your film to life?

Oh boy, where to begin…Making any film whether feature length or short is never without its challenges. But the biggest for us was sound. We were filming outside in Niagara Falls which is probably one of the loudest places on Earth. The elements (wind, water, the FALLS!), and also the crowds of people since it’s a top tourist destination. We didn’t have a dedicated sound person on location with us, so we all had to put on the “sound recorder” hat at different moments throughout the duration of the shoot. Let’s just say we definitely learned a lot along the way. 

Looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?


If we had the budget, I would have hired a dedicated location sound

Describe your film in three words?

Quirky, endearing, whimsical

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

I’ve had a lifelong infatuation with film. I was pretty obsessed with it as a kid and was in awe of great storytelling. That hasn’t changed at all as an adult. I never really thought about becoming a filmmaker until about 2 years ago. I had dabbled in acting a few years prior, but never felt comfortable in front of the lens. But something was still pulling me towards the world of film, so I took a few courses in directing and cinematography and fell in love. I also had great teachers and mentors and received a lot of encouragement along the way. I really felt like I had found my calling behind the lens. Filmmaking is a second life for me, I found it a bit later than most people do, but it really doesn’t matter. Being a storyteller has no limitations, age or otherwise.  

What has been some of the best advice you’ve been given?

I’ve received this advice on a number of occasions, it’s to not let other people’s opinions sway or compromise your overall vision. Take constructive criticism and use it to improve certain things–but keep your overall message/vision intact. By the way, I find this very hard to do!

Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?

Of course! That’s the only way to move forward. I think experimenting with storytelling in particular, is so important because it allows us to see a different way of showing something what could otherwise be perceived as mundane or predictable. A great recent example of that is Charlie Kaufman’s I’m thinking of Ending Things. On the surface, it seems like a simple story about a woman going to visit her boyfriend’s parents on a snowy day. But there’s so much more going on beneath the surface. The real meaning of the film defies that simple description. This is achieved by playing around with framing, narration, pacing, taking creative risks etc. You can’t achieve anything as artistic and powerful as this film without pushing some boundaries. 

"Practice makes perfect! Shoot (or write) as much and as often as you can..."

Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

Practice makes perfect! Shoot (or write) as much and as often as you can (I need to follow my own advice here!). Even when motivation and inspiration are lacking, try and do something creative anyway, every day. 

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from your film?

I want people to have fun with it. It’s meant to be playful and silly, so embrace the awkward moments, dive right into them–it’s about Niagara Falls after all!

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