"From North to South" is a short documentary which tells the stories of small island states from the North Sea to the South Pacific that are among the lowest producers of CO2 yet are the ones most affected by climate change and rising sea levels. Three destinations that share the same longitude, the same threat and the same will to exist.
The film is directed by Alessandro Rovere. Alessandro was born 1984 in Duesseldorf, Germany. He worked in the advertising industry for several years as an audiovisual mediadesigner. Ten years ago he started freelancing as a Director and Editor and went to the Free University Berlin to study filmsciences and intensified his photography skills at the renown Ostkreuzschule, Berlin. He is currently living with his family in Berlin and has young daughter. His clients have been well-known international agency networks and film productions and he worked on documentaries, advertising and fictional projects.
It is our pleasure to speak to Alessandro about the making of his film.
How did you start making films and what was the first film project you worked on?
My first contact with the industry was as an audiovisual mediadesigner at the advertising agency BBDO 14 years ago. That got me deep insights into the whole production cycle and the the relation of all different divisions involved.
After that I made a short detour into the VFX industry at Pixomondo, taking part in working on big Hollywood films. So I basically build a foundation in Postproduction which was a great start since I could see how all the different parts are being composed together in the final
process of filmmaking. Since then I tried a lot of stuff, from Setrunner to Production Manager, Editor, Director, DoP and Producer. Sometimes multiple parts at the same time. A lot of stuff I taught myself over the years, especially the technical skills.
In recent years I focus more and more on the philosophy behind things. The "why" remains the most important question for me. But my first attempts in filmmaking were more technological driven, combined with an aesthetic interest. Hence a good mixture between motivated aesthetics
and technological tryout is also visible in my first fictional shortfilm from 2010, which was about a couple reflecting on a relationship that could have been, if they had decided on a different path in the past. It was an application film for a filmschool.
What genre of filmmaking fascinates you as a filmmaker and why?
That changes a lot actually. I can't really say that it's one particular genre but more the filmmakers that fascinate me. For me a great film never ends after the screening. When I really like something, I dig behind the curtains, to find out what motivated someone to make this or that movie.
I love when concepts get deconstructed, puzzled and assembled in an unexpected way. And that can happen in all kinds of genres, from Thriller to Drama and Sci-Fi. We have seen that in Chris Nolan's movies a lot in the last 20 years. I also love slow movies with a strong emphasis
on atmosphere and aesthetics and of course documentaries. Especially docs underwent an incredible evolution in the last 10-15 years.
What is the most challenging aspect of being an independent filmmaker in the film industry?
Staying motivated. Sometimes it's a love-hate relationship, really. You see the sheer amount of insanely talented and great filmmakers out there, accessibility to equipment gets easier everyday and you feel like a drop in the ocean sometimes. And of course you also want to make a living
or you have to feed a family. So maintaining a balance between making films, which is incredible time consuming at times and also living the other life, can be a challenge. Especially when you get in the zone.
How difficult is it to fund indie films?
All my own projects have been self funded so far so I can't really say something about external funding, in that case. But yeah, financing projects from your own money is quiet expensive. What you invest in a super small project could potentially also be a one year
around the world trip for instance. And then there's not only the money you spent but also the time you invest. You have to make the calculation and evaluate the return of investment. As Werner Herzog uses to say: Money lost, film gained. Same goes with time.
Please name three of your most favorite directors. How have they been influential in your work?
Werner Herzog, Stanley Kubrick, Christopher Nolan. Yes, they have influenced me, all of them in different aspects. I can't claim that their influence is visible in my work though. But their approach and thinking, inspired me very often.
Herzog in his deeply rooted view on the creation of film as part of the holistic story itself, Kubrick in his unique way of motivating aesthetic and coherence in style and detail and keeping the bar as high as possible through all of his works,
Nolan in terms of fragmenting characters and their worlds and questioning our understanding of reality.
What inspired you to work on "From North to South" and how did the film go into production?
The film was part of an exhibition project for the Klimahaus Bremerhaven (Climate Museum in Bremerhaven), currently the most renown climate museum in the world, awarded with the LCD Award (Leading Culture Destinations) in 2020. We had three different creative divisions
working for one six month special exhibition on three floors. The outcome was five films from myself, photographs by the photographer Manolo Ty and a book as well as texts by the journalist Jana Steingässer. "From North to South" was the main film of the five I made.
We wanted to portrait how the life of small island states in the North Sea and South Pacific, had changed during the last decade under the influence of humans into the very complex climate system. Our aim was to show these small cosmoses that basically represent the whole
fate of humanity. Nations being heavily affected by extreme weather, rising sea levels, droughts, floods, food insecurity etc. Think about New York, Tokyo, Shanghai or Bangkok for instance. Megacities in coastal areas that will be affected by these events more and more in the future.
How did you find the cast and the crew of the film? Tell us more about the production of the film and working on the set of the film to create this feature.
We shot over the course of two months from Dec 2018 to Jan 2019, in the North Sea on the storm surge island Langeneß and in the South Pacific on Samoa and the remote archipelago Tokelau. The people we interviewed were partially already an existing part of the exhibition
in the museum. With them it was our goal to gather stories about specific changes in their personal lives. But a big part of the people were completely new, Tokelau for instance hasn't been visited by the Klimahaus before. So the project underwent an extensive research phase
upfront but then of course, a lot of things happen on the go. We went to Tokelau during cyclone season in the Pacific for instance. The state is only connected to Samoa via a supply vessel that goes every two weeks. So we could't really foresee if it was possible for us to take on that journey
and we also had to face the fact, that in the case of a severe weather change we could have been stuck in the midst of the Pacific for weeks.
What do you recommend to other filmmakers regarding the distribution of independent feature films?
My film isn't a feature film but speaking for shortfilms, ask yourself what is your audience. Watch our for the right festivals and then aim for the right distribution channel in the end. This can be video on demand, streamers like Netfilx or free to watch platforms like Vimeo or Youtube.
Just be sure about what you want to achieve with your project and how it pays back.
What is your next film project and what are you currently working on?
There are a multiple projects I'm working on atm. One is a documentary series where I created a concept from scratch with two other filmmakers. We're currently trying to find a distributor for this one.
The second one is a fictional project, the first one after four years actually. It's in a very early concept phase but I can say that it's about ancient highly intelligent civilizations and I will be working on it with a friend of mine who is a composer and his
concept album is basically the idea behind it.
Why do you make films?
Because it's a beautiful form of expression and an art that combines so many different creative disciplines in itself. And because when I lay in bed at night, an idea comes up and I can't sleep anymore because I have the urgent need to do it right now.
That is a call. And I need to follow it.
Watch the film: