Where are you based and how did you first get into this line of work?
I spent the last 15 years working as a writer and creative director in advertising, but always wanted to be a filmmaker one day. Agency life was great in many ways. I was able to direct the occasional commercial, and often worked closely with directors on shoots, but recently started feeling like it was time to try something else. So I shot Roam last year, almost as a personal proof of concept, to see if I really did want to do this full time (the answer was yes) which led to me leaving my job to open a production company here in Vancouver.
How did you come up with the ROAM project?
My wife was expecting our first child, and the gravity of being a father in the crazy social and political climate we’re in added up to a lot of self reflection. I decided I had to make a short film to explore these topics, and took a month off work (and the internet) and went to the desert to write this script. I wanted to try and escape technology, but I realized it was impossible to escape, so thematically that’s what the story is about. But on a more immediate level, I wanted to tell a coming of age story loosely inspired by my experiences, so that my son could see the world I grew up in, before the internet allowed us to document everything.
What gear/cameras did you use and why?
I was fortunate to work with an incredibly talented DP, Bobby Shore, and we wanted to capture the feeling of the streets at night in a raw, cinematic way. He shot on an Alexa Mini with old panavision superspeeds using mostly available light. We did use a couple sodium vapours to emulate the yellow glow of the streetlights.
Did you plan out the story structure from the beginning or did it come out in post?
The story was definitely scripted, though there was some room for the actors to improvise a bit. I worked with Graham Fortin on the edit, and we spent weeks trying different assemblies, in the end we cut the film pretty close to the initial script.
What do you do differently from other filmmakers?
Well, I’m an old guy for one thing, which means I’m going to approach things a little bit differently—I think a lot of the new generation coming up now have access to really powerful gear and are incredible image makers, but deeper storytelling often comes from experience and learned empathy. Also, because I’ve spent most of my creative life in advertising, I think a lot about concept—what the choices on screen mean and why we are making them, beyond just stylistically.
If you had to go back and do it all again, how would you get a foothold in the business?
Contradicting my previous point, I would have started earlier! I was always so worried it wouldn’t be good enough, which will always sort of be true. If you have good taste, what you make will never be quite as good as what you know it could be. But that’s ok! As long as you’re making stuff, you’re getting closer to making work to be proud of.
What is currently the best part of doing what you do?
Talking about film every day. Every meeting I have now is related to film-making in some way, and I’m loving that for sure. Also, beyond just thinking about my own work, I’m really loving working with our roster of talented filmmakers. Helping to find them jobs and seeing them do what they do best brings me a lot of happiness and helps me learn as a filmmaker too.
What are some of your favorite stories or web videos that you’ve gotten inspired by?
I’m inspired by so much, but for Roam specifically I was really feeling work by Andrea Arnold, in particular American Honey and Fish Tank. I’m blown away at how she captures the essence of youth and the raw energy of people—she’s a phenomenal filmmaker.
Where can people follow your work?
My personal Vimeo is at https://vimeo.com/milardo
My Instagram is https://www.instagram.com/
And they can check out the work our company is doing at www.kiddofilms.ca