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18th BFI Future Film Festival, 2024

"It's an incredible privilege that the Roundhouse offers every year to selected filmmakers, and there's very few prizes like this in the UK for emerging talents."

What’s this noise? Who’s that skater down the alley trying to land the same trick for the nth time? If you want to know better, have a look at the animated pages of the Skatebook, which reveal the thoughts, memories, hopes and fears of the expanding skateboarding scene in London.

Hi Sofia, thank you for talking to TNC. How does it feel to have The Skatebook part of this year's BFI Future Film Festival?


I am flattered! I have always looked at the BFI FFF as a springboard for the best young talents in town and.... I am part of it now! It's also symbolically the closing step for the Skatebook's festival season, and I couldn't have wished for a better festival to do so - in the same city where everything started for my film!


As well as getting support for The Skatebook from the Roundhouse Film Fund, in 2022 you won the Emerging Filmmaker Prize by the Wiggin Foundation and Roundhouse. What did it mean to you to get this type of recognition for your work?


I couldn't believe it, you know. Up to that point I have always made films for the joy of making them and sharing them with the right audiences. That prize made me realise this is actually a career I can pursue and other people believed in it - so much they wanted to support it. It's an incredible privilege that the Roundhouse offers every year to selected filmmakers, and there's very few prizes like this in the UK for emerging talents. 


Are there any nerves ahead of the screening?


The Skatebook has been screened to 11 festivals so far throughout 2023, but every screening is a different experience and context, so yea, I am really excited. Definitely more nervous about the Award Ceremony, where I'll find if I made it as Best Documentary.... fingers crossed!

How important are festivals like Future Film Festival in creating a platform for short films and emerging filmmakers?


Festivals like this showcase incredible talent that has fresh eyes and hands - filmmakers of a new generation that see and portray the world with different perspectives that we need to see and share. These films are made with the heart, they come from a place of real passion for the medium. In most cases they are made with very little budget, no rules and no expectations, but just a big desire to make things and share them with the world. 

What more can be done on a local/national level to offer short films more visibility to audiences outside of the festivals circuit?


Have a dedicated night where a selection of the shorts gets screened on national channels, or sharing snippets of them on different kinds of social media that are not just part of the film industry circuit. 

Can you tell me how The Skatebook came about, when did you first discover the London skateboarding scene?


In 2021 when restrictions were lifted, a friend of mine asked if I was ever interested in trying skateboarding. I said yes straight away, remembering my teenage years spent filming and taking pictures of my skater friends back home in Italy. Finally I could give it a go without any pressure, and little did I know how far this decision was going to take me. I met some of the most important people in my life now, it gave me so much more perspective on who I am and the world around me. I wanted to portray this joy and diversity in skating, so I started interviewing people about their skate journeys, and animating some funny loops on top of their interviews. These clips were really successful on social media, so I decided to pitch this idea as a film to the Roundhouse Film Fund in 2022. 

"Long live the bedroom-made, DIY films! I am a big advocate of making things whichever tools and experience you have, just make them."

What was it about this unique scene in London that inspired you so much?


10 years ago or so, when I was a teenager in Italy, I was hanging out with the skateboarders in my town as their filmmaker/photographer. Small beach town skaters were not really friendly and open to having girls in their parks. I always accepted this as the status quo. However, when I moved to London for uni, I realised how much more diverse and multifaceted the skate scene was. In most parks in the city there's no hierarchy, nobody cares too much of who you are and where you come from, as long as you just skate and enjoy yourself. People come and go as they like, without ties attached. And sometimes you build really tight connections with people you wouldn't have ever met otherwise. It's incredible. 

What’s been the most valuable lesson you’ve taken from making The Skatebook?


Don't make an animated film in only 3 months, I guess! I lost my mind a little bit for that deadline, but it was very worth it. Next time I'll try to adjust my workload to the deadlines given!

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?


I have always drawn my whole life, and never stopped, but I didn't want to end up as an illustrator. It wasn't enough. At the same time, I have trained as a ballet dancer for 13 years, so my love for animation came out quite organically: it meant inducing performance into my drawings. When my drawings started moving, I realised this was the only thing I would have kept doing my whole life. It gives me so much joy, despite the long hours, the pressure and the competitiveness in the industry. 

How much has your approach to your films changed since you started out?


I am definitely more open to talk about my own experiences in my films. I tended to mask the emotional part of me in my filmmaking, while now I am definitely more open to put my real self out there.

What does The Skatebook say about you as a filmmaker and the stories you want to tell in the future?


Long live the bedroom-made, DIY films! I am a big advocate of making things whichever tools and experience you have, just make them. People get scared of getting stuff done for lack of support/funds/materials. With my films I want to demonstrate that you can do so much starting with what you already have, your creativity and imagination will do the magic. The stories I want to tell are stories told by real people for real people. No sugar coating, no romanticizing. We talk of the real deals here.

Before you started your own filmmaking journey was  the best piece of advice you was given?


Oh wow, I can't remember any specific good advice because I was lucky to be surrounded by very inspirational tutors since university. One advice I was given once I embarked on the animated documentary road, was "on the screen you don't have to show the truth, but the honesty of your message".

And finally, what do you hope you audiences will take away from The Skatebook?


Come skate if you always wanted to try! There's no age/gender/ability restriction, it's very much a game you can play with your own rules. 

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