Diversity is the essence of a human being. We live in an awakening period. We are starting to feel stronger how diversity can be also manipulated and put us one against another. We have to be conscious about that and focus on mutual understanding, respect and on true cooperation. Only when we experience that can we realize we are not so far away and we begin to appreciate more of our shades and differences and we recognize it as a great value for our life experience and understanding.
As a part of our series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became A Filmmaker”, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Carlo Christian Apano, Director of Wild Planet #3-AI LA.
Carlo Christian Spano was born in Rome in 1973. Graduated in Law, he decided to follow his lifetime passion, photography. In combination with the three-year diploma in Photography and Video Editing at IED — European Institute of Design of Rome, in 2001 he begun his experience in film and digital holding, covering all the roles pertaining to the camera department. As a cameraman, crane operator, Steadicam operator (SOA 2007 Steadicam Certificate of Completion), drone operator and photographer, he worked with Italian channels, international channels, independent productions and institutions. An avid outdoors man, he specializes in filming documentaries on nature and society, hunting and fishing, sports, performing arts, architecture, industrial video, military operations and photo reportage.
He is a Photographer and Filmmaker that is strongly influenced by nature and instinct, with a tendency to convey a simplicity that is inherent in his work as a means of self-expression of his continuous search for inner knowledge.
In co-production with the Chinese Globaltrekkingclub.com based in Beijing, he is producing a “Wild Planet Series” of documentaries on the top extreme trekking routes in the world.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?
I grew up in Rome in a classic big family environment and when i recall my childhood i feel deeply grateful. old aunts making hand made pasta and my grandfather painting are just two images which make me recall the lightness of the 80’s. when i was 10 my father sometime used to take me to his office at the airport. I could go walking alone in the departure terminal and stare at people wondering about their lives and destinations. soon came the first trip to Africa only at one condition by my mother: no complains about food, sleeping or any other kind. This instruction had a great effect on me and my curiosity for traveling and discovering has never changed.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
In 2001 I was traveling with friends through Guatemala and we got to Tikal after a 16 bus hours. In the middle of the trip, while i was reading a reportage photo book, i suddenly had clear in my mind my next step. At that time i was living in Holland and i decided on the spot that when back in Amsterdam i would have moved back to Rome in order to deal full time with photography. Till that moment i used to consider photography just as an hobby and i never considered it as a real job. At that time i didn’t know how powerful and energetic ancient sites could be and how human body can interact with that energy. I like to think it went this way for me.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your filmmaking career?
In 2004 I had my first shooting day with a famous hunting journalist. at the end of a pheasant’s resettlement activity he asked me to help him to film the killing of a pheasant for his previous doc which was missing only that shooting detail. i feel inside with no excitation when something is right or wrong or just true or fake. after he explained me the action which at my eyes looked more like an execution, i declined without considering the consequences for a future working cooperation with him. I knew he was looking for a cameraman and my firm refusal was not a good beginning. At the end of the day, on the way back, we had a chance to talk in a such sincere way that we decided to work together and we had a long cooperation and many hunting experiences together around the world.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
In 20 years I had the privilege to interact with people of all kinds. This aspect represents a big value in my life experience. my attitude suggests me to approach to people in a sincere gentle way and i always feel it as something valuable. I believe this is the key to establish a good connection and a better understanding about the person i am interacting with. I have to be real to get the real back. Be real means no shortcuts of any kind. No shortcuts means conscious effort to the right direction. As an emphatic and enthusiastic person i feel very confident and open to all kind of situations. I had the pleasure to work with artists, professors, soldiers, hunters, fishermen, mafia affiliates, sport stars, mountain porters, actors, farmers, pilots, religious. Among all those personalities I enjoyed the lovely and crazy personality of Marco Lucchinelli (1981 MOTO GP 500CC WORLD CHAMPION) and Francesco Totti (soccer world champion 2006).
What I really got out from all these different people is their love for what they were doing and their attitude to be faithful and firmly believe to reach their goal.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
The person who always supported me was my father. Even though at the beginning he was not so happy about my choice cause he expected me to follow my law studies He always encouraged me. many years later he told me he was truly proud for my path and for my choice to follow my passion.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
One of the most important things I experienced is that when things go in a wrong or unexpected way is life itself giving you a sign you have to change something or look at things in an alternative way. Only when you firmly take this opportunity and you start to go with the flow you can create a new direction. Through the years this observation has became more familiar to me and helped me to live in a lighter and more propositive way. It’s a little like saying “When the student is ready the teacher will appear”.
I am very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Diversity is the essence of human being. We live in an awakening period and we are starting to feel stronger how diversity can be also manipulated and put us one against another. We have to be conscious about that and focus on mutual understanding, respect and on a true cooperation. Only when we experience that we realize we are not so far away and we begin to appreciate more our shades and differences and we recognize it as a great value for our life experience and understanding.
“Ai la” explores different perspectives from the eye of a Chinese American and engineer. He makes a long journey around the globe to understand from different point of views how I could impact everybody’s life in the next coming years. Artificial intelligence is something regarding everybody, no matter if we analyze it with a diverse or uniform look. As professor Floridi says in the documentary humanity has to go full circle to get to the same point it started in order to take the next step. I feel we are probably living this phase.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Just before the lockdown I started a documentary project on soccer about as Roma fans which are well known in Europe for their passion and support. I would like to explore the origins of this tradition and it’s strong identity. By now the production process is slow due to the restrictions. Italy is suffering much more than other European countries with this lockdown policy.
I’m also reading about archaeology, archaeoastronomy and making some researches about our next #4 documentary of Wild Planet Series.
Which aspect of your work makes you most proud? Can you explain or give a story?
What i really appreciate of my work is the sense of wonder i feel every time I deal with a new experience. being a filmmaker it’s like entering in a time machine and live new lives for short periods. I like to put myself in the shoes of others, get in contact with their realities and find the right way to express through film their essence and message. i love to listen to people and pay attention to their inputs which could be useful for me, give me inspiration and learn from them.
When I went to Afghanistan in 2012 i wasn’t in a good moment. As soon as i arrived i met some soldiers and i started to follow them during their tasks and duties. Their good mood and attitude touched me really deep. They were totally concentrated but their attitude and consciousness seemed to me as something i never experienced before. When i got back i felt totally recharged and grateful for that experience. the same morning i got back home i started to work on editing. It was just all so intense that i didn’t want to take some days off from that experience, i just needed to keep following the mood. I remember i edited for 35 days being like in a trance with only two days off. “grado Mission” is a sincere portrait of those great men and soldiers and i’m proud it has been awarded in military festivals and got an humanitarian award as the last prize.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
According to my life experience i never had this kind of wishes or experiences to share with you. I had my own lessons to learn and i used my limited tools to succeed. I believe the most important is following your instinct and believe in yourself. I learned my lessons through my personal failures but i could transform into films my thoughts and intentions with instinct and imagination.
When you create a film, which stakeholders have the greatest impact on the artistic and cinematic choices you make? Is it the viewers, the critics, the financiers, or your own personal artistic vision? Can you share a story with us or give an example about what you mean?
As an independent filmmaker when i work for other people i have to understand their ideas in order to film and create what they need. Sometimes directors expect you to execute what they want whereas other directors expect creativity and suggestions.
A different situation is when i deal with my personal projects and i can decide every single tile of the mosaic.
At the moment i feel very grateful for all the wonderful experiences i shared with my Chinese working partner. We know each other since six years and we have a total trust to one another.
Even though we have a different approach on many things we enjoy to share our impressions and doubts in every single aspect of the production process. I feel We took the best from our diversity and we recognized it as a value which offered a chance to be more flexible and open to every situation.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I don’t believe in movements because nowadays everything and everybody at a certain level is manipulated.
Nowadays What I would really love to recognize in our society is just morality. A man without morality doesn’t know the difference between the good and the bad. This is the moment we are living right now and we have just to resist because sooner or later there will be great changes in a positive perspective.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
I would like to meet Vittorio Storaro in order to talk about the decline of Italian cinema occurred in the last 20 years. Despite he won 3 Oscars as cinematographer i always admired him for his humility and his attitude to encourage younger generations. We are both from Rome so i would be pleased to invite him for lunch in our beautiful city.
How can our readers further follow you online?
Carlochristianspano.com is my personal site and I’m also on Facebook and LinkedIn.