We speak to Daniela Locato, who won the Non-Fiction category in the Filmmaker competition in the 2023 Sony Future Filmmaker Awards. She received praise for her compelling short film The Things You Don't Know About Me, Mom, which tells the sobering story of Luz, a survivor of the Pinochet regime. Forty years after she left Chile, Luz imagines telling her mother the things that she didn’t want to know.
How did you get into filmmaking?
I started my career as an actress in independent theatre and later in film. I didn’t plan to become a filmmaker exactly, but I always loved to write ever since I was a teenager. I’d write short tales and poems and share them with my friends. In 2013 I wrote a theatre piece for two people (me and another actor) that I directed, and after that, I wrote my first script for a short film. I was inspired by some images plus a couple of places in Berlin that made an impression on me. I felt the characters I had conjured up in my head had a story to tell. The process was very smooth and I wrote the script in a week. When I finished, I thought ‘I’m ready to direct this.’ That was in 2014. It was a really exciting experience that completely turned my career around.
What was the first filmmaking project you were proud of?
I’m proud of all my projects in different ways. I realized them with incredibly low budgets but there was an interesting story behind each of them. I felt a real need to make them, an internal need that pushed me to realize them. I think this need that I feel makes every project valuable.
What's the best piece of career advice you've ever received?
Believe in what you are doing and never let anyone stop you.
Who or what are your creative influences?
As a teenager, I loved a lot of different artists. They influenced me and then later my work. Among them are Bernardo Bertolucci, Louis Malle, Francois Truffaut, Jean Luc Godard, David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick and Ingmar Bergman. I’m also really influenced by photographers like Nan Golden, Diane Arbus, Annie Leibovitz, Francesca Woodman and Cindy Sherman.
In your opinion, what makes a good short film?
The emotional impact that it conveys to the audience. If the audience leaves the cinema with an emotional response, it was a good film.
Is there anything you've learned about your filmmaking process since winning your award?
I learned that I need to trust myself more. It took three years to make this film and I had to face a lot of difficulties. With the resources that I had, it was the only film I could make at the time, and even if it was very different from my original idea, I found the courage to do it anyway and it was good to follow my instinct. Some people suggested waiting a few more years and to try and find other grants or financial support in order to follow my first idea for the film, but I thought I would never create it if I had to wait more time. I was too emotionally involved to make this process longer.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on my first feature film (I’m looking for an Italian producer) and also I’m preparing a narrative-led short film that I should start to shoot in the next few months. The film deals with the topic of conflict across three generations. Both of the films have female protagonists and I hope I can tell you more about them very soon!
Have you given your prize a try?
Yes I’m very close to it and look forward to showing you my next work - I’ll keep you tuned ;)
What was your biggest takeaway from your time at Culver City?
It was my first time in Los Angeles and I loved the experience in Culver City, especially discovering the Sony studio lot. I was stunned. It was a huge adventure for all of us, I don’t know, I think it was a magic place and I felt part of it like it was a place I couldn’t miss. I felt it happened to me at the right time. I'm really grateful for this opportunity!
Now open for entries!
Submit your short film to Sony Future Filmmaker Awards 2024