Filmmakers Making A Social Impact: Why & How Filmmaker Eitan Pitigliani Is Helping To Change Our World
I wish someone had taught me to speak to people without fear, open-heartedly, and to share love with them digging deep in the connection with one another, which is the moment when you feel alive and can learn a lot people are just beautiful, even the ones that look a little worse than the others, and understanding them is the most challenging and intriguing part of the journey there’s a few exceptions, of course, and they’re probably the ones that would be most important to reach with a film and its message if you can get across the message to them, then you’re successful.
As a part of our series about “Filmmakers Making A Social Impact” I had the pleasure of interviewing Eitan Pitigliani.
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, and I started writing stories very soon, sharing a profound emotional inner world with my mother, who has always inspired me and pushed me to be myself and fight to be what I wanted to be. She made it possible for me to get on the right track, and to be honest with myself and with the people around me. She was special, and if I am any good in life, as a human being and a director, I owe it to her. She also gave me the first money to make a short film out of a story I wrote. She believed so much in me, and wanted me to be realized, and have more chances than the very few ones she had in her life… She lived for me, and now through me.. And that’s how I started off as a director, until I found real producers who produced by shorts and now the features… But yes, she was not only my role model and the love of my life, but also my first and most beloved producer.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I think I was born this way, I started seeing life from the point of view of a writer and film director, watching from the outside, sometimes feeling more alive than when I actually was in it, and that led me straight away to writing scripts and turning them into short film, and now features. A lot was thanks to the fact that I had an extraordinary mother who is still my role model and guides me towards always becoming a better person…
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your filmmaking career?
Probably the funniest and most incredible was when I was filming Sissy. I said this in the Q&A after the screening in Cleveland. I was a little worried about filming under a bridge, where homeless people live and I felt like we might disturb them and that it would seem indelicate to do so in their actual home however, when my incredible producer Martina Borzillo — she’s amazing — went to talk to them and told them about the story and its special meaning to me, about a mother of a guy who choses to live among the homeless who comes from the afterlife in the shape of a 7 year old girl to save her son there the homeless people stood up and, instead of being annoyed or bothered, they actually started helping us to get the passers-by away from the bridge, in order for us to get the most beautiful shot ever, and it’s thanks to them, who were really like PAs for us, if we have a wonderful opening sequence where the camera dollies and wanders under the bridge without people getting in the way showing the world of the main character Luca, caught sleeping on the ground, after quite a long shot. That was funny and very surprising and special, and that made me realize I was right in choosing that way to describe my suffering for the passing of my mom. Life, and people, are sometimes incredibly surprising.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
There’s many, but probably the most special, along with my actors from SISSY, Vivenzio and Dea Lanzaro, is Ed Asner, the American legendarian actor, winner of 5 Golden Globes and 7 Emmy Awards, with whom I had the pleasure to make a short film entitled Like a Butterfly, that won many awards and that meant a lot to me as a film director. Ed was such a wonderful and inspiring person, and he and his teachings will always be in my heart God bless him. Along with Ed, I’m surrounded by so many wonderful people, and they make me a better person every day.
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?
My family, for sure and the people I love the most, but I was lucky to have the most special mom ever, a woman who went through a lot in her life, and that did everything for the people (she was the head nurse at a very important hospital in Rome, taking care of kids with leukemia, and ultimately she did all she could for me (I was the 7th attempt after 6 miscarriages), she lived through me, and did that until the very end, when she sent me away, probably knowing that was her last moment, and she didn’t want me to be there… she wanted me to be in Hollywood where attending a festival, and the last thing I remember her saying, while she was at the hospital for a random check-up (after 5 months of a terrible illness) was when she screamed, with her arms raised in the air, “Hollywood” That’s why I am so proud of SISSY, because it’s my short, but what makes it magical is that it comes from my mom and from her being special.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
There’s a line that Ed Asner says in Like a Butterfly, when he tells the young protagonist, played by Will Rothhaar, that in order to live life to the fullest, we must unchain our hearts and “developing empathy, to realize what other people are going through, in their struggles, their pains, their weaknesses. That’s what my mom and the most important people in my life taught me, and that’s how I like to look at life, and that is an everlasting and an always ongoing Life Lesson Quote.
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 means everything we’re all different, and that’s the beauty of us, and of life itself. Diversity is important because we can learn from each other, thus we can feel alive and we can look within ourselves, and also because otherwise this life would be so boring. Those who can’t stand diversity are just too stuck in their mind and that’s a shame, cause only opening up to one another and unchaining our hearts will we be able to live our lives to the fullest.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m working on a feature dedicated to my mom, which is the story of the relationship between a young man and an old paintress, that start in a very awkward way, with a very intense face-to-face where they hate each other, then little by little becomes a great friendship with the guy discovering that the woman is sick, and from that moment on, he doesn’t leave her for a minute planning a special mission for her. Then, I have a second magic project that I’m writing, about disability, and it’s a story that makes me very excited and that I can’t wait to get off the ground.
Which aspect of your work makes you most proud? Can you explain or give a story?
I like the magic in my stories and my shorts, for now, and I can’t wait to make features, that of course will have a different pace and structure, but still I will have the magic as the central part, the core of the stories shown on the big screen. I am proud that, no matter how hard this life is, I can still see the magic, feel it, and look at the world from that perspective.
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.
I wish someone had taught me to speak to people without fear, open-heartedly, and to share love with them digging deep in the connection with one another, which is the moment when you feel alive and can learn a lot people are just beautiful, even the ones that look a little worse than the others, and understanding them is the most challenging and intriguing part of the journey there’s a few exceptions, of course, and they’re probably the ones that would be most important to reach with a film and its message if you can get across the message to them, then you’re successful. Secondly, I would have loved to be told to travel as much as I can to know different cultures and languages, which I did when I was 20, but I would have started before if I had known or had been told. The third thing would be to write down all my feelings and emotions as much as I could the fourth would be to study music and play guitar and the fifth, last but not least, would be to keep continue studying as an actor, to feel even closer to them when you direct them I did it when I was young, and this I will definitely start doing again it’s on my list.
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?
It depends if it’s a short, and what kind of short, or if it’s a features, and that’s when the situation gets more tricky also, there’s features and features. I would say that they all have their importance, but what counts the most, at least in my opinion, is to create a true and heart-warming story, and make a great film out of it, without being artificial and audience or financiers or critics driven. You gotta be you, for better or worse and that’s when people will take you seriously, no matter if they like you or not, but still they will think you are honest and genuine people in the audience don’t want to be fooled or cheated they want to see something true and screening the film in front of the audience is always the most important part of the journey.
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 would say that what I care the most in life is unconditional love, so my movement would be to care about each other with no boundaries, to help those who suffer and who have less, and share love with them love can surprise us, and it’s really all we have in this life… that can’t be purchased or traded… it’s just natural, and if you have it, you’re just damn lucky.
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. 🙂
There’s so many It’s the toughest question ever. I would say composer Gustavo Santaolalla, I am so in love with his music, and my dream is to make a film with his soundtrack. There’s no day that goes by that I don’t listen to his masterpiece Iguazù, which is my favorite. I am simply madly in love with his music. Well, if towards the end of the lunch we could be joined by Brad Pitt and Miley Cyrus, that would be the best day ever.
How can our readers further follow you online?
I have both an Instagram page and a Facebook page, and also Sissy has its own Instagram page to which we post the latest news and the updates we’ll soon share great news about a huge festival coming up.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Filmmakers Making A Social Impact: Why & How Filmmaker Eitan Pitigliani Is Helping To Change Our… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.