Insights from talented Filmmakers

Alexis Sweet

“Perseverance, yes. Do not underestimate it, do not take it for granted.”

 

Alexis at work

Alexis Sweet, Director

 

ALEXIS Sweet (50s) is an Italian-British Director who’s been hitting hard the European TV world in the past ten years, bringing in new energy to the Action genre. His TV series peaked at number one in Italy and other European Countries for multiple seasons. We met him at the Miami Independent Film Festival, June 25th-26th 2016, during the Mindie first annual event, where he held a brilliant workshop on the importance of Storyboarding. Alexis is a professional who started from the bottom and gave it all to achieve international success: an inspiration to emerging Filmmakers.

 

INTERVIEWER

Hi Alexis. Let’s start and try to understand: who are you?

 

ALEXIS

Who am I in the deep, my apprehension and angst?

(ironically doubtful.)

Not sure the battery of your recorder would last enough.

 

INTERVIEWER

(laughing.)

Ok, ok. Let’s start again. Tell us about you, Alexis.

 

ALEXIS

Ok, great. I’m a Director: Alexis Sweet is my real name. I’ve been working in the industry since 1981, I started in England with videoclips, advertising and a lot of adventures. I went on working as an assistant director, then developed numerous advertising campaign that made me travel around the world. In 2003 I received a call from Pietro Valsecchi (a well known Italian producer, Ed.). He offered me to direct the first season of the Italian TV serie R.I.S. and my life changed: I started working mostly in Italy on TV series. I think this story should be useful to emerging Filmmakers: I was unknown to the audience until that moment. I had worked hard, but I had no personal connection with that first important producer when he choose me and gave me carte blanche.

 

INTERVIEWER

(nodding.)

This is inspiring, sure. What after that experience?

 

ALEXIS

A very long relationship started. I’m still working with Valsecchi and his production company. It’s a long lasting relation based on the success of the productions and the specific personal connection that derived between us. We laughed a lot.

(reconsidering.)

I was lucky too, I guess.

 

INTERVIEWER

Luck is a requirement. Not the only one, though. What is at the roots, at the very basis of your passion for Cinema?

 

ALEXIS

Even though your talent is necessary, your luck represents a sound percentage of the outcome. And I was lucky, again, thinking about my first approach to Cinema. My uncle was a collector of films: he recorded and archived films from all around Europe. I was part of his team. When I was twelve, I had already seen the whole filmography, for instance, of Billy Wilder. We had 6.000 VHS. I was exposed to the highest masterpieces of Cinema: it was essential, like eating bread.

(beat.)

So that passion grew inside me. I wanted to make films. I was encouraged, not spoiled, and that’s crucial to achieve your dreams. Throughout all my life I have worked only in the Filmmaking industry.

 

INTERVIEWER

This is perseverance. Is it another requirement on the way to success?.

 

ALEXIS

Perseverance, yes. Do not underestimate it, do not take it for granted. Many people give up in time, who knows, maybe because they don’t get any acknowledgment. But you don’t have to let yourself go. Never lose your courage, in particular after receiving a disappointing critic. The worst critics come from yourself. You have to fight, to struggle. To search for a market. Somebody’s is always looking for new talents. Upload your work on YouTube: if it gets one million hits, professionals will watch it. So, a suggestion to anyone who want to do this job: do it. To work well, you need to work. Even when you make a mistake: do it.

(boldly.)

My first movies were so bad they were hard to watch. When you’re young you often make a movie like you’re throwing up. It’s all about you and what you want to draw. You don’t really think about the audience. It’s very personal, selfish. Then, you learn how to make it better and you often reconsider the importance of the audience’s perspective.

 

INTERVIEWER

Is there any other necessary condition that a young Filmmaker should satisfy to emerge, in your opinion?

 

ALEXIS

So many different personalities has achieved success. This job is multiform. But for sure you need to be able to work within a team. You are neither a pianist in front of his piano, nor a painter with a canvas. You have to be able to make one hundred people converge on your project. And you have to coordinate, let them work, learn from them.

 

INTERVIEWER

Are you a director who delegates?

 

ALEXIS

They say I don’t. Well, I like to keep control. But you cannot have a complete control. You are forced to delegate. That’s why it’s so important to choose people you trust. You know, your editor might destroy your vision. Or, on the other hand, he might find some aspects of your own vision that you had, but you didn’t even understand. In this case he’ll amaze you. Because he’s another person, with his own sensibility. He can make your vision richer.

 

Alexis on set

Alexis Sweet on set

 

INTERVIEWER

Sometimes when you watch a film you bump on a character, not necessarily a good one, you think:”I could be this guy. He reminds me of myself, somehow.”. When did it happen to you? Which characters?

 

ALEXIS

It happens. It happens. Often with the bad guys. I can see me, depending on how good is the director at showing a bad guy. You can find something similar to you, to humanity in general. The flaws. Envy, anger, some irrational side of our ego. When it’s done with craft, I can recognize myself.

(beat.)

Taxi Driver. He doesn’t look like me: but he suffers as I did. Loneliness, desperation. In that sense, you feel you have something in common.

 

INTERVIEWER

Which is the work you have done that you loved the most?

 

ALEXIS

When I was young I worked as an assistant on Hart to Hart, the american tv serie (1979 to 1984, Ed.). A wonderful chance, a great production team. Of course I wasn’t the director, but I loved that experience. I was motivated to learn because I felt people around me was loving me. Same thing I felt as a Director on “Il Capo dei Capi”. The atmosphere was great. Also the second season of the thirteenth Apostle.

 

INTERVIEWER

Notable: you didn’t choose the answer on the basis of the final result. It looks like you rather appreciate the feeling during the making of.

(smiling.)

One last question to say goodbye: your favorite quote from a film.

 

ALEXIS

“I’m a man! / Well, nobody’s perfect!”.

 

INTERVIEWER

Thanks for the great talk Alexis, we’re sure your advice will be as precious as gold to our readers. Indie Filmmakers, the world is waiting for your work. Long Live Indie Cinema!!

 

Alexis Sweet’s website

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