By Sophie Sadler
Film director and producer Lou di Giorgio was stranded
in Sagres by the COVID pandemic. Rather than be idle,
he brought together local talent to produce
a short movie, Locked Love.
By Sophie Sadler
Film director and producer Lou di Giorgio was stranded in Sagres by the COVID pandemic. Rather than be idle, he brought together local talent to produce a short movie, Locked Love.
Lou is Swiss-Italian and lives in the Seychelles, but shoots typically in Spain. Five years ago, he bought an investment property in the Martinhal resort in Sagres and when the COVID pandemic spread across the world, he was unable to return home.
Lou is best known as the producer of the feature film El Clan from the Spanish film director Jaime Falero. While twiddling his thumbs in lockdown, he researched and made some connections with other professionals in the film industry he read about in Tomorrow magazine and through the Algarve Film Commission.
Two years ago, he discovered a music video and commercial and drone expert living in Sagres called Telmo Antunes, who owns Antigravity. Telmo worked with Madonna on the music video for Dark Ballet, from her album Madame X, which was filmed in Portugal. He also took the drone shots and worked on the cinematography for the Netflix investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Telmo became co-producer on Locked Love.
Lou built a team using Portuguese, South African and Polish crew and actors based in the Algarve. “For many of the crew, it was their first time on a film set, and it was a challenge to teach them everything about sound, lighting, and health and safety in three days, but it went surprisingly well.”
Lou did have to put some of his own money into the movie to cover all the costs, but it was one-sixth of the price it would normally have cost as the crew worked on a voluntary basis. “In this industry, you have to practice your craft; otherwise, you lose the feeling with the equipment and working as a team, so you can lose the skill. So most were happy to be working despite only receiving a production bonus.”
The finished movie is about 26 minutes long and was shot in four-and-a-half days from 4 January. The idea came from one of his neighbours Gilles Rocher, with Lou wanting to address the people who are not taking the pandemic seriously.
“I wrote the script thinking of how people can have a relationship in the time of the COVID-19, especially during lockdowns. I wanted to bring into the movie the full spectrum of emotions from passion to friendship, from missing your freedom to the sadness of a tragic moment we are all experiencing nowadays.”
In the movie, Michelle comes to the Algarve to meet her boyfriend but quickly understands that this will be a lonely journey because his flight was cancelled. Eager to not waste her time, she decides to explore the area on her own. Soon she meets a group of surfers in Sagres and finds in one of them – Nathan – the perfect replacement for her loneliness. After some passionate encounters, Nathan gets sick. The poignancy of the movie lies in dealing with the burden of self-blame.
The movie was made by Film Algarve and Antigravity Portugal, in association with Film Aim (Spain) and Gázól Filmes. Among the cast, we see Vianca Meyer for the first time on screen, a South African based in Algarve. Lou says he was “surprised at how good she was. I got goosebumps watching her performance”. Marcus Andre, known in Portugal in TV series like Na Corda Bamba, starred alongside her as Nathan.
The film used the Martinhal Resort as a location and other landmarks in Sagres, like the Pousada, the Pontalaia apartments, the Cabo de São Vicente lighthouse, and the Armazém restaurant.
Lou envisioned the film set in romantic scenery and a stunning array of colours and usually sunny climate; however, filming was very tricky, not least because it rained so much this winter, but also because of the COVID regulations, which the crew and cast stringently followed. “It was interesting to make a movie here. Normally there is a lot of sunshine and not many people around, so it is easy to move around, but the hardest thing about filming here is the lack of support in finding locations. My Portuguese crew helped me get permission to film outside the Pousada, which was fantastic to shoot, but it was hard work getting it.”
Lou had a huge advantage in that he had the support of Martinhal. Owner and founder Chitra Stern told me: “We are really happy that Lou’s film, which addresses such a current topic, was shot in Sagres and Martinhal Resort. Our location, weather conditions and facilities are excellent for winter and spring film shooting and the Algarve’s light is very special! This adds one more pillar to my brand statement for Portugal being 'the California of Europe'!"
Lou became interested in movies at a young age as his father owned the biggest movie theatre in southern Switzerland. He was involved with the Locarno Film Festival, one of the largest festivals for new filmmakers and still the one with the biggest open air screen in the world. “So I was involved in this my whole life and used to go to Geneva with my father to buy the next big films for the following year. I remember buying Saturday Night Fever with him. I had to help to project the movie as it was so popular.”
Lou learnt his craft from many professional photographers. He started in photography at 14 years old with a Cibachrome colour house lab. By 19 years old, he had a professional colour lab in southern Switzerland with six employees. After four years, he sold the business to them to move to the “other side” of the camera.
In 2004, with the digital movie era dawning, he bought one of the first Red One cameras. The camera was used in the first Warner Bros’ Clash of the Titans movie, shot in Tenerife where Lou worked at the time. After a decade of renting movie and video equipment in Tenerife and the Seychelles and producing TV commercials, a documentary and El clan, Lou decided to “cross the line again” and to produce and direct the movie Kristel which began shooting in Portugal in 2020 and stopped because of the pandemic. He has also worked on sets as a cameraman, director of photography, and sound recordist, as well as a support actor in Ron Hopper’s Misfortune starring Vinnie Jones.
The latest string to Lou's bow is Locked Love, which has been just selected for La Jolla (California), one of the most prestigious film festivals around the world.
Lou now hopes to get home when the lockdown lifts but, before he leaves, he will be at the private premiere of Locked Love. It is being held near Lagos on 10 April, in the open air in a private property with a four-metre screen, and a small select audience. He is hoping to generate some interest from streaming companies like Netflix and Amazon, who may start to see Portugal as an option for film-making.
Locked Love has certainly unlocked something very positive from the pandemic.
For more information and to participate in the premiere, please visit:
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