What happens when a serial killer and his victim are both addicted to social media? Adam is about to be murdered by the notorious Balaclava Killer, but all he thinks about is: to take the perfect selfie and get thousands of "likes" on his social media page. Killing Adam is a fierce satire about the abuse of social media, which created an army of lonely people who are unable to discern real life from virtual reality.
Dino Sardella was born in the South of Italy, in a small town called Brindisi, when he was exposed very early to theatre and arts. After attending Classical studies he moved to Rome and then London when his passion for theatre and arts became a real job. After years in Theatre and Art business in London, he moved to LA after hewas accepted at the UCLA TFT Screenwriting Program. After a series of fortunate (and unfortunate) connections in his career, he switched to Filmmaking. It is our pleasure to interview the director of Killing Adam.
What was the inspiration behind the making of your film?I always found fascinating how society has changed after social media became so prominent. I feel that there is a large part of population that, by the misuse of social platform, grew in solitude and insecurity. I met people that lost touch with reality because it's way easier to interact with the world from behind a phone than actually put shoes on and make the effort to go outside and try to establish connections in person. The image of these three girls sitting together at the restaurant but spending the whole dinner taking selfies without even talking to each other was sad, grotesque and funny at the same time so I thought "what would they do if they were chased by a criminal?" Killing Adam's script was the answer to this question. What is the most challenging aspect of working in this particular genre?Comedy is never easy, dark comedy is even more complicated because it's not about making people laugh, you can do that by having somebody falling on the floor in a ridiculous way, but it's all about creating laughs through situations, actions and dialogues that stimulate the audience's brain and make them think about the real message behind the funny story they are watching. In a certain way "comedy" is similar to "drama" in its attempt to talk about contemporary social issues but the "laughing" component is certainly the most difficult aspect in the genre because to induce "intellectual" laugh is probably the most difficult thing to do for a film-maker.
When did you realize that you wanted to work in media and make films and what was the first film project that you created as a director?My passion for storytelling, reading and literature is what made me understand that I wanted to use a broad platform to express my view of the world and it happened pretty soon, I was probably 8 or 9 when I drew my first comic-book (or, at least, what it seemed to be a comic book from an 8 year old boy's hands) and I started to write stories and theatre plays when I was 11. It was a way to give form to my thoughts and imagination that ended up becoming a call to film-making. The first film project I created as a director is actually Killing Adam, after years of writing scripts and theatre plays for others, I decided to write one for myself and give it a go. It worked well I might say and my previous experiences in directing stage plays and actors on stage was definitely the biggest help I could have on set.
How did you choose the cast and the crew of the film and what was the most challenging aspect of production? It was important that the two main characters had a great sense of comedy. Timing is very important in this genre and not it's not something that you can teach, you either have it or you don't. When I saw Havon's and Anthony's audition I immediately understood that they caught the inner tragedy (and comedic aspects) of their characters since the first reading. I had to chose them for the parts.As per the crew, I wanted to have a particular photography that resembled the old '80s slasher movies without being too cartoonish and I wanted to work with Nicola De Prato on that because I saw his previous works and I knew he had the right eye and the right hand to bring the story to live. I trusted his judgement about the other members of the crew and we ended up having the most professional and creative set I could imagine. But, obviously, when you deal with such great talent and creative personalities, you have to be able to communicate with each of them in a different way and try to make everybody's thoughts and ideas moving towards your own. So probably this was the most challenging aspect of production, make sure that everybody felt valued and respected. On a technical point of view? The biggest challenge was shooting in DTLA at night, perfect lighting but a lot (and when I say a lot, I mean it) of sudden and unwanted noises, which can be a serious problem especially when you shoot a dialogue-based story.
What genre of filmmaking fascinates you as a director and which genres do you prefer to work on? Definitely Dark Comedy with an element of mystery. I love murder mysteries for example because they make me guess, think and have fun. I feel involved in the story and I like to follow the main characters as they try to find out "who done it". I think murder mystery is a healthy and fun way to discuss about social issues and, especially, human psychology. And if it has an element of comedy in it, is even better. Nothing better, in my opinion, that having a laugh, then being shocked by a plot twist and then again think about what just happened on screen and what it really meant. A film or a book (or a TV show or a cartoon) that starts an open discussion on contemporary themes, is always something that needs to be seen (or read) and appreciated.
How can cinema change the world and have an impact on society?
Cinema is something that entertains, that scares, that make people think, that make people discuss and that shows, in a way or another, how is the world we live in, how we got to this point and where we are going. Cinema is something that shows you what you want/ need to see whenever you want/need. It offers you a horror/thriller when you want to be entertained, it offers you a rom-com when you want to have a laugh, it offers you a drama when you want to think and it offers you a documentary when you want to know. This is the biggest impact that cinema has in our society, it makes us better by releasing our desires and, in a certain way, our daily stress. Without us even noticing it, it makes us more aware of what we have around us, it is a mirror of our world year by year, decade by decade and, like books, by watching old films, we learn more about our past, to understand better our present and try to create a better (when possible) future.
What is your next film project as a director?
I will soon start shooting another short film called "Myriam", it goes without saying that it will be another Dark Comedy that, like Killing Adam, will try explore the difficult relationship between people in our times and how, the lack of education and civic sense, can make this relationship even harder. Maybe this will lead to a feature project but right now, let's focus on delivering a great, funny and dark "proof of concept".