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Interview with Ivan


Storyworld Name

We Live Among Volcanoes

Year of Production



Canary Islands, Spain


How did you find the story in the first place? Why did you think it was an interesting story to follow?

Both stories I have done so far for LYFTA, We live among volcanos and Marine birds (in post-production), were born out of pure curiosity. This is how I normally start a project. I find a subject or a story that calls my attention and from there I do research and find the characters within that can carry the narrative. Sometimes the character is not a person but a landscape or something more abstract.

For example the film about the volcano started like this: during the eruption the local TV broadcasted 24h a live view of the volcano cone with the only sound of the explosions and the tremor. I watched hours of this live broadcast at night during the first weeks of the eruption. I usually fall asleep listening to the radio but during those days I changed the radio for the sound of the volcano so the curiosity about the science, the experience of such a natural phenomenon and the people who study it on location grew and then I decided to contact LYFTA with a proposal to go to the island and make a short film about the scientists studying the volcano there. Basically I use my projects as an excuse to live experiences I am interested in.

How did the relationship with Lyfta come about?

I lived in Finland for some years and there I got to know a film producer that became a good friend, Sami Jahnukainen. He was working for LYFTA at the time when he contacted me to see If I had any stories that could be made into a film for the platform. He told me about how LYFTA works and the educational approach to filmmaking as a tool to engage children and young audiences with stories they could both learn from and feel passionate about.

How did you find the process of working with Lyfta?

I find easy working with LYFTA. Filmmaking is often a long and tedious process and It is refreshing to work with a platform that helps make things straight forward. Once LYFTA gave the green light to the project I felt I had the support and the freedom to develop the film. I usually work alone and that is the way I get access to some stories that I wouldn't If I was to carry a team with me but this sometimes leaves you feeling too much weight in your shoulders. I didn't feel that way with LYFTA, I was accompanied all the way by the team there.

How did you approach the prospect of making work for young people / children? What did you have to think about?

I had to think about filmmaking as a tool for education, one thing I rarely needed to think about in previous projects, and that made me more conscious about the structure, It had to be emotional and inspirational at the same time. I wanted them to feel the same curiosity that drove me to make the film. That is a huge responsibility I guess. I had in mind my years as a student and how some teachers and experiences really left a mark on me as a child. I think you can not win the attention of children purely with information and facts, you need to attract their emotions. They have to learn by feeling I guess. When I was shooting my main character in the film about the volcano, Pedro, we talked a lot about how he became a volcanologist thanks to a book his grandfather had with pictures of volcanoes around the world. That was the seed of everything for him. A film can be that.

What were the challenges of this production? Especially thinking about the volcano eruption and other physical challenges!

Well, the town films I've done for LYFTA so far had been specially challenging and sometimes the shooting got even dangerous. During the volcano shootings I went up to the cone a few times and was very close, only about 50m, from the lava explosions. On the second time there the main character, Pedro, started shouting about the imminent danger of a new explosion and we had to run basically. So much that I left two 120mm film rolls on behind, will never know If those were my best analogue pictures of the volcano! But the most challenging situation I have had so far during any shooting was during the production for my second film for LYFTA. I was going to a remote island in the Atlantic coast of Galicia with a group of marine biologists and the captain of the tiny boat that was sailing us there didn't read the weather right. That ended up in a pretty scary situation where we were certain that we would end up sinking. It was worth anyway. That same night I spent it on a cliff listening to the incredible sound of the shearwaters returning to the island to relieve their partners on the nests.

What do you want people watching to think and feel when they watch the film?

I guess I would like people to see a bit of the complexity of life. I don't believe in or like films to be purely entertainment. In the film about the volcano one of the ideas was to put human life in perspective and I thought the eruption was the perfect event for it. Uncontrollable and hugely powerful. But then I made a film about a gentle beautiful bird that spends his whole life in the ocean excepting the short period when is nesting in the cliffs. So far from the violence of an eruption and yet somehow part of the same circle. Probably the shearwater made me feel smaller than the volcano. There are also those characters that carry the film. I would like people who watch the films to be able to feel the same passion these people have for their work, which is not only a work you do as a way of living, is their life and thanks to that dedication we know so much.

How did you find doing the 360 material? What opportunities did it give you?

I never worked with 360 cameras before so I was unaware of their possibilities, even a bit skeptical. But after using them for the LYFTA films I discovered it can really be a strong tool when It comes to narrative. There are some things that you can only do with 360 and the potential to share information and new perspectives with the viewer within the story is huge. It gives the public the same chance to observe that you experience in a gallery or museum where you choose where to go and what to experience. You can jump from one space to another quickly or spend a long time examining one room for traces of the story.