Following on from the SS’12 collaboration with director, David Altobelli and the film, ‘ROMA’, the launch of the AW’12 campaign sees an escalation in 55DSL’s commitment to fuelling creativity – each season, the ‘Kids In Italia’ campaign gives artists the opportunity to showcase their unrestrained creative vision of 55DSL’s brand heritage: celebrating youth, freedom, fun and Italy. ‘Beyond Mountains, More Mountains‘ is CANADA’s first short film; an epic Italian road-trip, shot over two weeks, traveling from the mountains of Northern Italy, down to the Sicilian Island of Stromboli in the far south of the country.
London photographer Jonnie Craig joined the 55DSL crew on the road in Italy when they were shooting the film Beyond Mountains, More Mountains. Ready at a moment’s notice, his aim was to shoot the photo campaign while the film crew went about their business. A regular contributor to VICE.
You’ve shot all over the world. How did you find shooting in Italy?
It was really beautiful. I had never really been particularly interested in Italy as a holiday spot until I was over shooting in Venice a few weeks before the trip we did for 55DSL.
How did this shoot differ from others?
This shoot was a little bit tricky for me be- cause the main focus of the trip was to shoot the film. I was making do with ten minutes here and there to shoot a full campaign. That said, I can’t complain about a 12-day road trip down the west coast of Italy, chartering helicopters and stopping by some of the most beautiful parts of the country.
What’s the craziest situation you’ve found yourself in on a shoot?
I think the craziest situation was a shoot I did called Streaking in London. We were shooting a VICE editorial in 2008 which basically con- sisted of naked girls and guys running around Soho and central London. We came across a homeless guy called Graham who was appar- ently up for a good time because he joined us. That photo of him in Soho became the cover of the photo book I did with the publisher Morel in 2009.
What else have you been working on this year?
This year I’ve been working non-stop on a new series called I’ll Kick You in the Head with My Energy Legs. It was just released by a Swed- ish publisher called Dokument Books and has also manifested itself as a film for Channel 4 in the UK.
What advice would you give aspiring photographers?
You’ve got to be ready to be broke for a while. Realistically, the only way to make a living in photography is to take on commercial work, so get over the whole art vs commercial thing quickly if you don’t want to work in McDon- ald’s on Saturday nights. Of course, you can try to secure an arts grant, but they are extremely difficult to get. Stick to what you know, listen to advice from people you respect and disregard advice given from peo- ple you don’t.
Are there times when you consider yourself an artist and not a photographer?
It’s all the same really. I don’t mind if some- one wants to call me an artist or a photogra- pher or whatever. I think of my personal work as artistic in its concepts, so I suppose I do consider myself an artist of sorts.
Do you think digital culture has cheapened the photograph?
This is something that I often think about and find myself swaying between opinions. In some respects, I think digital has taken away the magical qualities that photography used to have but at the same time it has opened photography up to the masses, which has ob- viously had a dramatic effect on the way our culture works. I guess if you’re talking about photography as ‘art’, it’s still there. You just might have to look a little harder for the good stuff. Digital has definitely made most of us take the beauty of photography for granted.
How often do your family ask you to take photos?
Not often, actually! My mum occasionally asks for a photo of whatever plant that’s in bloom in her garden to go on the wall in her front room. I usually agree but by the time I get round to it, the plant has usually passed its sell-by date. Maybe one day.
Earlier this year, award-winning Spanish directors CANADA spent 12 days driving around Italy with a small film crew and two models shooting the new 55DSL film Beyond Mountains, More Mountains. The result is a dreamy and playful road movie centred around the hunt for a missing boot that looks like it was made in the 1960s by J. Godard.
Your film is a love letter to Italy. Where did the inspiration come from?
From Italy itself and what we know about it, which is not too much. All three of us were brought up surrounded by hints of Italian cul- ture, from ancient Rome to Italo-disco. When thinking about what to write, we thought about the Italian artists, the poets, writ- ers, painters and filmmakers that we love, and how we know Italy through them. In the search for ‘that Italy’ we came up with the idea: this Italy we are talking about may not exist anymore. So we found it more realistic to portray our own experience confronting that idea of Italy that we have, historically, and the existing post-Berlusconi Italy we were to find, the contradiction itself. That’s why the film starts with Victoria losing her boot: she is trying to find her boot, just like us.
You avoid filming Italian clichés like pizza, the Trevi Fountain, gondolas and gelato – was that on purpose?
We knew if we filmed certain monuments we would have seen nothing but tourists. We ac- tually wanted to shoot the tourists holding the Tower of Pisa when making their pictures. It was going to be a travelling shot of the tower straight, with the camera tilted and the tourists leaning.
Where was your favourite place you visited?
Stromboli, by far. We wanted to shoot the volcano, which is always active, but when we went up with all the equipment, the volcano was covered with a cloud. It started raining heavily so we left with nothing good. It was a real shame. We managed to shoot something in the island, though. The last scene is filmed on the beach in Stromboli.
What are the songs used in the film?
They are all by Riz Ortolani, an amazing Ital- ian composer who has made more than 200 film scores.
Did the trip go according to plan?
Everything changed every day, and we were almost never able to shoot according to plan. But we actually knew that was going to hap- pen, and we planned in the knowledge that everything was liable to change. We had to be ready for new challenges.
Did anything go disastrously wrong?
Stromboli, yes. And many more things. We went to an area where Michelangelo got the marble for his statues. The film crew went ahead with me from Milan and the actors were supposed to come an hour later. The ac- tors got lost and we were at the quarry the whole day waiting for the actors. They finally got there, but we could just shoot a couple of really quick shots before the sun went down. We lost an entire day when we were supposed to shoot a lot. That was the second day of shooting. We soon learned that was going to happen all the time.
Does Victoria ever find her boot?