Anton Califano, The Passionate Filmmaker

Anton Califano, an award-winning filmmaker, has been making films since the mid-90’s, originally trained as an editor. His experience in film making includes working on feature films, television documentary and drama. His short films have been shown in over forty film festivals worldwide. Anton also has over ten year’s experience of delivering professional training in practical film and video production. Recently, Anton has delivered workshops to international students in Portugal, Poland, Iran, Argentina, and the United Arab Emirates in Final Cut Pro editing for the Documentary Filmmakers Group (DFG). I was lucky to meet him during his stay in Abu Dhabi.

You are a multi-skilled filmmaker, Producer, director and Tutor. What is your real passion, and why?

Filmmaking is my passion. Whether I am producing, directing, or editing it is the process of constructing a story from images and sounds and engaging in that creative process that excites and motivates me. Making a film is a way of temporarily controlling reality and reflecting on it in a way you can’t with real life. Trying to tell a meaningful story to an audience is a big part of why you do it. Obviously when you are directing you are the one who has the most creative control of the project, so for that reason, directing is what I enjoy most.

How did you start working with DFG?

I first started working with DFG when I was asked to teach on a two weeks intensive Doc lab course in Poland in 2006.

Tell us about your Experience teaching students in Abu Dhabi. Is there anything special about them?

Abu Dhabi was interesting for me, as it is a very modern civilized country with a lot of money and well-resourced. In some ways it is not that different from London where I live. It is a big busy city with a lot of people from different backgrounds. The students themselves were what made it worthwhile for me, especially the fact they came from all different countries mainly in the Arab world. I have a few friends in London from Arab countries, but being in Abu Dhabi gave me the opportunity to extend my knowledge of Arab culture and thinking. Working with the students (mostly women) on their films gave me the opportunity to share something unique and personal with them about their view of life in Abu Dhabi.

Did you enjoy your stay in Abu Dhabi?

I enjoyed my stay in Abu Dhabi a lot – though most of it was spent working. On my day off I went to the beach which was the most fun part of the trip.

In The Arab World, young filmmakers struggle to get funding for their projects, is it the same in the UK?

It is more and more difficult to get proper funding in the UK to make films. New technology has made it cheaper and more accessible, so more people can make films with less. However, for more experienced filmmakers who want to work with a reasonable budget there is more and more competition for the funds all the time. There are a few funds to help new filmmakers of which I am an Executive Producer on one small fund based in East London called the Eastern Edge Film Fund. I support filmmakers to take their first steps into independent filmmaking.

In your opinion, how could documentaries be more appealing and attract more viewers?

Documentaries have had resurgence in the last few years and are becoming more popular. They are quite appealing to TV channel because of their relative low cost compared to drama. I would like to see a more diverse range of views represented in documentary filmmaking. Big important global subjects are not the only things to make films about, and I would like to see more films made about smaller more personal subjects, ones about the everyday experiences of ordinary people.

What is your future dream or goal as a director?

In terms of my goals, I simply want to be able to continue to make better and better films which can reach as wide an audience as possible.

Your wife is Brazilian. What are the Pros & Cons of multi-cultural marriages?

Being married to a Brazilian, life is never boring. Because Brazilians are so direct, and the English are very indirect, we compliment each other quite a lot with our differences. The UK and Brazil are two completely different countries, so my wife and I have a lot to talk about and to learn about each other’s origins. Being married to a Brazilian woman also means I eat great food and have wonderful holidays! Family life has a big emphasis to Brazilians too, more so than in the UK which is more individualistic, so I think have come to appreciate why families are so important too through being married to Rose. The down side is sometimes the fact that there are things you feel comfortable doing your way, and not the Brazilian way. It also means that the extended family is very far away. So in terms of my daughter’s grandmother and cousins in Brazil, she has only met them once which is a shame!

What did you find special about the Arab women?

I don’t know a great deal about Arab women. Though firstly I would say physically that they tend to be very beautiful and have very strong features. The Arab women I have met on the whole seem ambitious and take pride in what they do. Many of the female students on the course in Abu Dhabi seemed very determined and able to work without getting stressed about what they had to do which was nice. They got on with the job and took initiative in making the films happen. They genuinely seemed to appreciate the opportunity that had been given to them and were easy-going to work with. They had strong ideas and cared a lot about making sure they were making something worthwhile.

What do you think Women Want?

In terms of ‘what women want’: well Mel Gibson made a film about that already. I think the answer is a very hard one to answer for a man. What one woman wants is not necessarily what another woman wants. What a woman wants today is not what she might want tomorrow. What she says she wants is almost certainly not what she really wants! I think sometimes what a woman says she wants is actually more a product of the society than maybe what her gut instinct actually is telling her. I think it is the same for men, though generally in the world men have been granted more freedom to express their desires and act of them, than most women. I would hope that women want to find happiness in their lives through finding love of some sort or other. Having a successful career and earning money to buy material possessions can give you a lot of satisfaction and self-esteem but ultimately it’s great to have someone to share your life with!

What are you working on now?

I am currently shooting a documentary about a political activist who works for the Labor Party and is responsible for several seats in the North West of England. I have also been working recently on the Eastern Edge Film Fund as an Executive Producer supporting 5 new and emerging filmmakers. I’m also working as a producer on the One World Media Awards for the 3rd year. It is a very prestigious awards event, which gives prizes to journalists and filmmakers working to cover stories in developing countries.

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