Bird in the Wild is a unique film, a film that was made by the 6 year old Giosué. Tell us when and how Giosué showed interest in filmmaking. Does his interest in cinema run in the family?
Giosué started out expressing himself through painting and writing little stories. He was also acting in a few films. During the quarantine he woke me up in the middle of the night and said “Mommy you’re the best mom but you never got me a filmmaking class!” The next morning I called my friend the amazing director Tony Kaye (director of American History X) and asked him if he would teach Gio directing. He gave Gio an assignment to take still photographs and write stories about them. Within a day or so, Gio finished that and wrote the script to Bird in the Wild. (originally called A Day in The Forest). I told him if he was serious about making it, he needed to make a shot list, a call time, get the costumes together, ect, like a real movie. He was so thrilled to do it! We filmed in the LA Arboretum which was the only place open at the time. I am an actress and a writer. I write novels and screenplays. His dad is a musician from Rome from the band Gabin and has composed many songs for films in both Italy and Hollywood.
Learning the technique and craft of filmmaking at a young age will have a great effect on how young filmmakers get ready for the future. What plans do you have for Giosué's future in cinema?
My plan is to continue to support Giosué fully with all that he needs to pursue his passions for making films, art, and all that’s within him. I will always believe in him and help him in every way I can. He is writing features now and editing things he filmed and he was using my computer (for the iMovie) so I had to get him his own so I could work too! There is so much I want to build for him. We just started a little production company together called “Bird in the Wild Productions” named after his first film. Gio wants to learn animation as well. We are writing a feature script together. I am so glad that we share the passion for making films so the future is endless. I never imagined he would be doing this at such a young age. Supporting him also means listening to his film ideas for which could talk for hours about his story ideas and it’s easy to get lost in them! And when he paints, those are also stories.
Where did Giosué get the initial idea for the film? How did you shape it into its final form?
Firstly he loves watching movies and stays watching until the very last credit. He was never the kid to utter a peep during a film in fact he would tell everyone to be quiet! We are always the last ones to leave the theatre. We had movie nights every weekend at the Cinemark in North Hollywood. He doesn’t get popcorn because the crunching sound disturbs the film! I’m the same. We both really miss that place. But the initial idea to MAKE his own films came from taking the still photos and writing stories about them. One was about a bird and a boy who saw it in his dreams and so he went looking for it through a forest and then he tries to help it fly away. That’s how he got the idea for the film. This film shaped itself and Gio stayed quite faithful to the script he wrote. Some things appeared into the film just being in the forest, like the peacock.
Giosué appears in Bird in the Wild as the main character, and we hear his voice as the narrator. How did you decide on these things? Did you advise him as what approach you can take to the story?
Gio decided to do some talking and some voiceovers. Sometimes he had sound issues because he wasn’t miked. Many times a tractor was driving by so the voice overs helped. He did the voice overs directly into the iMovie so there was also no mike for that. He somehow figured it out as he went. The most difficult part for me honestly was not correcting him too much. I helped him with only a little of what I knew with iMovie but now he knows far more than I do. I advised very little with what shots to take which was almost impossible for me as a movie loving mom! I had to let him make mistakes, as that’s the only real way to learn.
As Giosue's mother and someone who has been by his side during the shooting stage and who has worked in promoting the film to a larger audience, how useful are film festivals in helping young, talented artists get seen and heard? How was your festival run so far?
When Gio made Bird in the Wild it was only to show his friends and cousins. We never thought we would submit it anywhere. A film director suggested I send it to festivals and he said “why not!” Now the film is in seven festivals. When I tell Gio, honestly I think he’s too young to understand what it fully means, but he is of course so happy. For me it’s so inspiring to know people are seeing his films and that he has the support from the film community. This is amazing. The festivals have been so exciting and special and again, I have received many emails wishing Gio a great future in film and I cannot tell you what this means to us. But I keep reminding him that of course you make films, art, everything for the joy of it, not for recognition! Days can be up days can be down but you just stay true to creating from your heart. And never think you have to do it “right” or like anyone else.
What genre or type of films does Giosué like? What are some of his favorites? Does he talk to you about his ideas and plans for his film(s) during the day?
Gio loves action, adventure and fantasy. He loves many different kinds of films, from Cinema Paradiso to Frozen 2. He talks all day, hours and hours about all his film ideas and acts out the stories for me, films them with his stuffies as pretend actors, and takes up all the space on the phone filming. He wants to film in so many locations even outer space, caves, countries…
People have always said that the way to learn filmmaking is by trying it out yourself, by practicing. What kind of an experience filmmaking has been for Giosué? Has it been a difficult, stressful experience or a fun, joyful one?
This has been the most joyful, incredible hard working but adventurous experience for both of us, thankfully durning a very difficult moment for children. In LA there is no school since March (I homeschool him) and he misses his school and friends, playing soccer, and going to the movies so much. The filmmaking came out of the time in quarantine and Gio was so busy prior to it that perhaps he wouldn’t have had all this time to create. There is always something spontaneous that happens while he’s filming. For example, a few days ago we drove out to the desert an hour outside of LA to get some footage for Gio’s next film, and there were Mexican cowboys riding by on horses and Gio got to film them it was a magical and a priceless shot he didn’t know would be in the film! This morning I took him to film a Christmas movie he is working on and he needed Christmas trees so we found these snowy white Christmas trees on a little field and the owner let him run along and film whatever he needed. Life is a set! But of course it is hard work.
Similarly, what were the challenges you faced during the shooting stage? Tell us about Giosué's and your experiences on the set.
Yesterday we were filming with a big actor and the tripod broke. The shot was completely crooked because of it. We don’t yet have proper film equipment, but I’m sure we will soon. One of the most memorable experiences on set with Gio was about the bluebird from Bird in the Wild. It fell out of the tree into poison ivy. Gio was very upset because we needed that bird for the last shot of the film. He’s even still sad about it! There was no way for us to get the bird back and he was sadly trying to change the ending but when we got home, he discovered that he somehow had another one of those birds in an old toy birdhouse! So the bird in the tree is a different bird than the bird in the bed. Hence the magic of cinema.
How did the audience react to Bird in the Wild? What did they like about it?
The first audience was Gio’s cousins, three kids aged 4, 6 and 8. They watched it over and over again! They loved it when the boy found the bird and turned into a prince.
This film is experienced through the eyes of a 6 year old boy and it has been quite successful at creating that kind of atmosphere. But it is always more difficult to stay on your path and continuing what you have started. What kind of topics or stories does Giosué think about? What ideas does he have that might be suitable for his next project(s)?
Gio thinks a lot about big adventure and fantasy films like The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia type of movies. He likes stories where good overcomes bad, with many obstacles to get there and epic visuals. Living in LA right now he thinks about landscapes, places to film, and a lot of stories about animals. I think the best stories for him are ones about overcomers.
What is Giosué working on at the moment? What is next film about?
Gio is working on two films at the same time right now. A film called LA from a Childs Perspective which is a documentary about how a child sees LA, all the beauty and also all the homeless. He is also working on a film called The Christmas Book which is a short about an orphan kid who is looking for one special Christmas gift. The kid finds a few possible gifts but none of them are right. In the end he finds a little nutty family. I play the mom and actor Richard Edson plays the dad. These two films will both be done by Christmas!
It might be too early to say it, but what do you think about his future career as a filmmaker?
I think it’s absolutely amazing. Gio has many gifts he is really good at math and science, music and painting so I think filmmaking is the one art form the can incorporate all the other arts and all his other interests! I think his love for film will continue to grow his whole life because there is no end to the beautiful stories he can share!