Having garnered plenty of experience shooting fashion films for international brands, Luca Spreafico decided to explore the ‘narrative soul’ that was apparent in so much of the work he was creating. The result of which is Alex, his first narrative film which combines elements from his previous works whilst containing a more story-driven centre. Alex is a piece showcasing self-confrontation via a therapy session where we witness a woman physically confront issues of childhood trauma through elements of spontaneous dance. It’s a gorgeous and thought-provoking film and DN is proud to premiere it today. Following the film below, we speak with Spreafico about the creative motivations that informed his piece and his decision to move away from fashion for his first narrative venture.

What drew you to turn from the fashion film into more narrative/dance-centric work?

This is my first narrative piece, but I do come from a fashion photography background. Alex was a chance to experiment with a new medium; as it’s a personal project I didn’t have a client to respond to so this was my chance to see whether I could really move beyond stills. The dance element was brought into it as I’ve always perceived movement as a way to let go and free oneself from one’s doubts and fears. Effectively it is about the exploration of the subconscious, dancing becomes the tool that the lead character employs to work through her trauma.

The dance element was brought into it as I’ve always perceived movement as a way to let go and free oneself from one’s doubts and fears.

What was it specifically about that concept of childhood trauma that you wanted to explore?

In some ways, we don’t even realise but we all carry a certain amount of trauma from our childhood into adulthood. Of course there are levels, but this fear of abandonment feels so human and natural to all of us. Waking up one day and not finding the person who’s looked after us our whole life has to be one of the biggest challenges we have to face and something that eventually we all experience.

Did you work with a choreographer to orchestrate Silvia Bonavigo’s movements? Was there anything distinct you were looking for her to convey?

I worked with choreographer Olivia Lucchini to create something that fits Silvia’s image and body. You could call it experimental, in the sense that there is a spontaneous element to the moves. We also worked to bring Silvia into the space. The dance is to be seen as the interaction between her and the house, which represents her subconscious.

The villa really is such a stunning location and backdrop. What was it that inspired you to shoot there in the first place?

I know, it’s perfect right? I got a tip from the production company I worked with, The Blink Fish. It’s a historical villa just outside of Milan and as soon as I saw it I knew that it had to be it. It was the staircase really that did it for me and the wooden floor. It just added an extra layer of warmth to the story.

Given that you were exploring the narrative centre that you had found in some of the fashion work you’d done previously, how did you seek to relate the clothes Silvia was wearing to what the character of Alex was experiencing?

I was looking for an iconic item and coincidentally my girlfriend creates iconic capes! She is the designer behind Kappe by Federica Bonifaci, which is a mono brand product. The capes really emphasise and complement Silvia’s movements, so I thought it was perfect.

Telling a story and trying to stay with the viewers, sharing your emotions and moods, it’s not easy. But it’s indescribable when it happens.

On a more general note, what is it that motivates you to tell stories through the medium of film?

The mix of images, light, acting, costumes, sounds and location. When all these elements come together then you have your magic. Telling a story and trying to stay with the viewers, sharing your emotions and moods, it’s not easy. But it’s indescribable when it happens. Though I’ve probably still got some way to go.

What role does the score play for you in Alex? Who did you work with in developing it and what did they bring to the project?

The score played a very important role in creating the hypnotic effect of the film. I worked with Composer Riccardo Amorese, who’s made a lot of music both for films and series. A friend suggested I reach out to him which again goes to show the importance of having a strong network. Working with him was very easy. I simply told the mood that I was trying to recreate and with that he suggested a few options. After that it was a case of fine tuning to perfect the score.

And finally, what new projects do you have coming up?

I’m working on a project with some of my ‘lockdown friends’ composed of a video as well as photos. It’s a series of portraits of characters and people that I’m attracted to and who I find fascinating for several reasons.

Directors Notes is honoured to present the premiere of Alex on our pages today. If you would like to join the filmmakers sporting a fetching DN Premiere Laurel, submit your film now.

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