September 1939. A cryptographer in an attic is decoding some secret/military transmissions when suddenly some familiar sounds come to the radio.
Hi Paolo thank you for talking to The New Current, how are you held up during these very strange times?
Hi! I'm doing well, thanks. I hope this situation will get better with time. Maybe cinema and arts in general will work as good medicinal relief for people these times.
Has this time offered you any creative inspiration?
Of course yes, while doing this interview I thought back to my filming sessions and thought about how I could film The Buzzer in other ways!
Congratulations on The Buzzer being selected for this year's First-Time Filmmaker Sessions, what does it mean to you to have this type of recognition for your debut film?
Just being selected for my first film really means a lot to me, it's like a big reward after some hard work. Of course I hope to get to the finals but I'm really happy just with the "nomination".
Can you tell me a little bit about The Buzzer, what was the inspiration behind your screenplay?
The Buzzer came about from my latest experiences in life where I managed to overcome some difficult situations. In the film we have the cryptographer who does the same. He can't handle another war so he commits suicide. He doesn't have direct communication with people and society, in fact there is just the radio. The radio is a kind of veil, a filter, between the protagonist and society. Of course it is all a big metaphor of what life really is and I think that everyone will find something personal in The Buzzer.
As a first-time filmmaker what have been some of the biggest challenges you've faced bringing The Buzzer to life?
First of all, the heat! I shot the film early this September and here in Italy it's still very hot! Jokes aside, it wasn't easy to make all those things alone, without "another vision" of what I was doing. But at the end I'm really proud of the result (though there is always something to improve).
What was your inspiration for filming The Buzzer in black and white?
I think "The Lighthouse" by Robert Eggers and David Lynch in general had a good influence on me and on the project itself.
How did you manage all your creative roles on The Buzzer?
It wasn't easy, really. For example I went back and forth with each take to check composition, focus and stuff like that. I was going crazy! Anyway I hope I did my best, this experience has taught me a lot!
What would you say has been the most valuable lessons you have taken from making this film?
I think the biggest lesson for me was acting. I have never acted before and I don't know if I'm going to do it again, but in this project I really wanted to do everything by myself. However I had a lot of fun!
Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?
Certainly the first movies that affected me were the animation movies like Toy Story, Antz and Spirited Away. I also remember that when I was a child, my grandfather showed me some Sergio Leone's film, the Spaghetti-western ones, and I was crazy about them. Then growing up I started going to the cinema and watching a lot of movies.
You are also working on your miniseries Black Room which is a murder mystery, how did this project come about?
This is a really fun question. When someone asks me that I always laugh because the story behind Black Room just doesn't exist. The first episode was just an "experiment" with my brother because I wanted to try my new camera. We decided to publish the video on youtube and then people went crazy about it and everyone was asking for the sequel. So I had to write a type of script, but in the end it was pretty much improvised by me and the actors on the set.
How different was your approach to Black Room compared to working on The Buzzer?
With The Buzzer I started writing the script 2 months ago, and then when finished I started to make some storyboard and compose the film visually. With Black Room it's really just for fun, although as the episodes progress, the final work was always more enjoyable
"We decided to publish the video on youtube and then people went crazy about it and everyone was asking for the sequel."
Do you think filmmakers should push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?
Definitely, if we don't, who will?
Are there any tips or pieces of wisdom you would offer a fellow filmmaker?
I don't know, I still feel insecure about this. But I can say one thing: don't be afraid to make mistakes!
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from The Buzzer?
I hope people will consider this film as a reflection on life and the choices that we (don't) make. Fear and pain are around the corner, but life is still good (that's why there is a happy song in the closing credits!).