We had the good fortune of connecting with Elias Ressegatti and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elias, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
That is one of the hardest questions to ponder. The answer changes constantly, depending on one’s state of career. I’ve had chats with various folks in the creative industries (fine art, film, tv, music) about this: when do you consider it a failed path? Some said: “Success will come eventually if you just stick with it long enough. Most quit too early.” But that doesn’t apply for everyone, it assumes a base-level of talent and a few other ingredients. You read stories about the Mad Men creator waiting 9 years to get the show onto TV. Ang Lee sitting in his chamber at home with his wife providing a meager income for a decade before making his first film. The stories are great, but we always only hear from the winners. How many have tried for a decade and then had to concede for every Ang Lee out there? And how does that feel, having to confess to oneself that the dream is just that, a dream? Does one feel better after that? Or develop a drinking problem because of it? I’ve hit several dry patches during my career as a commercial director. Sometimes a year without a single bid/pitch. Whenever I got close to throw in the towel, the next milestone project came up, sometimes out of the blue, sometimes as a result of passion projects that went until then unnoticed. After my father passed in 2015 and not having worked for a year I was ready to call it quits. A project from an old producer friend of mine – a brief that was totally outside of what I considered myself an expert in – made me fall back in love with filmmaking and the honest and emotional reaction of those involved as well as those viewing said project reinforced the idea that my work was valuable, there was a need and a place for me in this world. So that’s where I’m currently at, having not worked since Covid19 hit.
Please tell us more about your career. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
What sets me apart from others? That’s not really for me to answer, though I’ll try nonetheless. I always believed in the ‘reduce to the max’ principle. Cut the crap, cut the unnecessary parts. My process usually starts out with a feeling, or a single image. I ponder on it sometimes for months/years, sometimes for a day or two. Eventually a story forms around the image: how did life lead to this image happening? What are the feelings the people in this image experience? Then it starts having form, layers get added to it, it catches life. After that, I doubt myself. I doubt the worthiness of this story, the sincerity of the feeling, the convoluted mess of inputs and story beats I want to hit. Eventually, I manage to cut all the crap that is unnecessary and find the red line through it all. I doubt myself some more, never fully able to trust myself that this reduced approach is the right one. But an inner feeling will prevail and I’ll get to execute it. And then in the edit I’m usually very sure of the film, even if I need help ‘killing my darlings’. So yeah, in this overloaded noise machine called content we access every day I believe I add something that isn’t just added noise for noise’s sake but instead something the audience can use to flee reality for a moment, to connect to, to feel with. It’s a gut thing in the end, really.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Due to the current Covid situation I’d advise them to take day trips into the mountains surrounding Los Angeles and experience the fantastic roads we have. Eat at some taco trucks, pick up a good sandwich, and stay the fuck away from people without masks. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Most of that credit goes to my collaborators: Cinematographers like Daryl Hefti, Adam McDaid, Josh Kraszewski. Travis Moore for his edits, all the musicians that composed for me: We Are All Astronauts, Great Garbo, Ajimal, Joanna Katcher at Nicemanners.tv , Alban Shelbert, to name a few. John Seabright for producing all these low-budget projects with me in NYC, the colorists Jaime OBradovich and Bryan Smaller at Co3. And for those that share their thoughts and inspire me with our talks – as often/seldom as they may happen: Danny Hiele, Kegan Sant, David Altobelli, Stuart Perkins, Scott Weaver, Elia Marinucci, Ben & Eliane Jaberg, Marc Wilkins, the Posternak twins. And it all wouldn’t be possible without the producers/agents working on my behalf: Sophie Gold at Eleanor, Marion Kutta at Global Players, the ladies at GoEast, Michela at Chocolate Films and a host of other people that guided me through this life.