It’s rare that projects with an emotional backbone will come across our social media and urge us to engage with them in the way that Joao Lopez’s work did. His recent video asks a deeply striking question that welcomes all sorts of responses: “What is Love to you?”. It’s not just the fact that a number of these questions were asked within our very own Colindale space, but mainly the creative way in which they are presented. Read through a behind the scenes of Joao’s creative process before immersing yourself into the inspired video…
What is it about cinematography that you find most appealing?
Cinematography can be very educational, and it has a very important role in society right now. I am still discovering my place in this big industry and which genres I want to focus on. I have this passion for cinema, where I find everything appealing, but over time, I want to share or express something that has a specific meaning to me. It can be an experience of life that I want to share, or it can be a feeling that I had, and I want to talk about.
What inspired you to create your latest video?
The idea to make the video came one year ago, but the substance of the project came four years ago when I lost my grandmother. At the time, I didn’t feel that I had spent that much time with her and I felt that I didn’t show enough love to her. I became very attune to small things around me, I started to paying attention to the little details, such as going to the shop with my mom, something that I don’t like but will do because it’s a gesture and it’s time that we get to spend together. At the end of the day, both of us will be happy. I started to see the world a little different, I started to question what is love, how can we do better… Now, I am this person that believes in love and people, I am moved by these two things. The idea came with all of my experiences over the past four years, and my need to begin a conversation with different people, from different backgrounds, about Love.
What was the most intriguing, touching or overall memorable moment that you experienced during filming?
I found every single interview special and I didn’t call it an interview. I call it a conversation. Every single conversation was touching, it is not by chance, that almost every conversation surpassed the ten minutes. It was very special to hear these different opinions and to feel that they can share almost everything with me. It makes me feel grateful.
The conversations will stick to mind because they were a very touching experience for me. I did this video for a module at university. One day I had a meeting with my teacher to talk about the project, how everything is going, creative process, interview, and other details. At the begging, she said if I want it, I could interview and she could answer, but I didn’t have my camera or a microphone. We continued to talk about other things, and she gave me the idea to interview people without a camera, just with a mic, so people would feel more comfortable. Then she turned to me: “You do have your phone with you, right? Can you record this? I want to answer the question.” When I said that she could go ahead, she said something that left me speechless: ” Last year I lost my mother, my sister and one of my closest friends. When grief is mixed with love, it becomes quite a different thing. You became very attune to the very small things that are around you.”I didn’t know how to express myself or what words with. I felt every single word in my heart and, at that moment, I thought this lady is a fighter, I want to give her a hug and said everything is going to be fine.
What do you believe to be the most challenging element of cinematography?
I think the most challenging element of cinematography is to be creative and to find a different way to tell your story. We live in this society where everyone can make a video, so you need to be creative for your video to stand out. Every topic has already been shared or talked about, so you need to find an innovative way to present it.
Where would you say you normally draw inspiration from to come up with themes for your projects?
So far, every project that I make needs to be something relatable to me, it needs to be something that I have experienced, felt or lived. I don’t want to do something that I don’t feel passionate about or I don’t have a personal connection with. If it is something personal, like this project, I will go above and beyond to share the best story possible. As a cinematographer, so far, I want to do this type of project. I want to share experiences, feelings and I want to keep it simple and raw.
What was it about The Stay Club’s spaces that urged you to use it as one of your filming locations?
I recorded some of the conversations on the seventh floor of The Stay Club Colindale. I found it so beautiful and creative. The design, as a whole, at The Stay Club is amazing, but that floor, is something special. I have two friends that live there, so it was a combination of the useful and pleasant. It turned out to be a great experience.
What did you think of The Stay Club when you first came across it?
The Stay Club was one of my first contacts in London. I first visited with a friend of mine who lives there. First of all, the area where is the Stay Club is located is very good and so peaceful. My first thought was, it’s a very good place to leave! It’s comfortable and you have everything that you need nearby. The Stay Club is just wonderful, it’s modern and the design is great!
Are you originally from London? If not, why did you decide to move here?
I am originally from Portugal. I decided to move here for one year. I had finished my bachelor and wanted to go further with my education, so I decided to do a master’s in film. I want to follow the cinema and to add new experiences in my life. Right now, I am doing the master’s and would like to stay here for a couple of years.
What are your thoughts on London’s cultural scene?
It’s been amazing, one of the best things in this new experience. London’s cultural scene is what makes London so special. I have friends from different countries in the world, I never thought I would find this culture. I am learning some much from it, it helps you as a person, to have this diversity of people. It’s something indescribable, even from a culinary perspective, one day I experience Asian food, and the next it’s Portuguese. It’s been the most positive thing in this journey.