6 minute read

Wild Child

Hybrid filmmaker Giulio Meliani explains the complicated, joyous birth of his debut short film, ably assisted by X-H2S

FUJIFILM Creator Spotlight with Giulio Meliani | Directed by: David Geffin

With his first foray into cinematic storytelling complete, director Giulio Meliani is in contemplative mood. His 15-minute film, Aion, created in unison with FUJIFILM X-H2S and FUJINON Cabrio Cinema Zoom Lenses, sprinted through its production with barely a hitch, but had been in gestation for many years. On emerging, it was not quite what he had imagined. This is very much the nature of such creative projects, he says. “As their maker, you’re like their father.”

That’s a metaphor closely entwined with Aion’s own story. The film follows the relationship of a dad and son, as was conceived and written very much with his own family in mind. It plays with concepts of memory and imagination, but also the lengths we’ll go to prove our love for one another. Giulio recognizes himself, his son, and his own father in the characters, along with his painful separation from the latter.

FUJIFILM Technical Spotlight | Aion Production Review | Directed by: Kevin Israel Castro

Photo 2022 © Giulio Meliani

Giulio explains: “It’s about the passing of time and the way that emptiness stretches out between disconnected people. It examines how we use memories to bridge those distances, like some sort of sentimental time travel. But it’s also about me telling my dad, ‘You’re 300 times the parent I am’, and saying to my kid that he’s a better son than I ever was growing up. I left Brazil to make a new life here in Los Angeles, and the two of them don’t have the relationship I hoped for. So, I’ve had to imagine it in this story; how they could develop a connection, where time becomes irrelevant.”

This is not the first project Giulio has helmed, although it is the first fiction film. “I previously made documentaries, and as a hybrid storyteller, also completed many projects with stills. It’s not like I prefer one medium over the other – it’s just a case of whether the story I want to tell is better expressed through photography or filmmaking. With the right tools – in which I count the FUJIFILM X-H2S – you can always find a way to express yourself. With movies, it’s a little deeper and more layered than stills, and for sure there’s more going on, which is why there are so many roles on a film set.

Photo 2022 © Giulio Meliani

“In still photography, you don’t see the whole picture,” Giulio explains. “It’s intriguing, but also very challenging to tell a story in a single frame. There are always different interpretations, different ways you can feel about an image. Filmmaking expands that approach. It’s still subject to interpretation, of course, but there are more tools to convey meaning and stimulate response. As well as light and composition, you have sound, movement, and language. It’s like you’re adding more magic into the sauce!”

It’s the director’s role to orchestrate those tools and the creative personalities on set, bringing them into harmony to create a story that’s as close as possible to their original vision, says Giulio. “Here, we had upwards of 30 people – so it’s important to have the help of a producer. A good friend is my right hand on these larger projects, and that lets me focus on the creative side. While I was writing the script through first, second, and third drafts in the space of a week, he was getting the crew together, finding locations, and helping with casting. We also had a director of photography, who was amazing. I love to operate a camera, but if I’m directing actors, I can’t do both. It’s too challenging. Some directors out there can do it, but I don’t know how!”

Photo 2022 © Giulio Meliani

Another aspect of good direction is letting the other artists on set bring all they can to the creative process. “With a film, you put so many different minds into it, that it becomes more than one person’s product. We had a lot of great people on set, and often when you release a bit of control, things can end up being better than you imagined. Like we had this wonderful carpenter who built the rocket-ship sets – they really blew me away. The director is in charge, but when a film is being created, it’s always evolving.”

In all that managing and decision making, it’s important for creatives to have tools they can trust – and that’s certainly how Giulio felt about X-H2S. “This is the camera I wish I had when I started out in filmmaking. There were always technology limitations back then, but X-H2S gives you everything you need to make a professional-looking film. The resolution and image quality are fantastic. You’ve got up 6.2K 30p from the full sensor, 4K at 60p and 120p for amazing slow-motion capabilities. There’s internal 10-bit 4:2:2 in Apple ProRes, plus the ability to record externally via a full-size HDMI connection in either F-Log, F-Log 2, Apple ProRes RAW, or Black Magic Cinema Camera RAW. It’s an amazing spec for a camera of this size.”

Giulio was wowed by the potential of color grading from X-H2S. “Using F-Log 2 instead of RAW gives filmmakers options for a more streamlined workflow, and the dynamic range is still wonderful,” he enthuses. “On Aion, I was particularly keen to grade the ‘memory’ scenes a little differently to the ‘real world’ narrative, which helps the viewer interpret the story. It’s so great having that level of control in editing, it takes some of the pressure off filming.”

Photo 2022 © Giulio Meliani

Then there’s X-H2S’s ergonomics and hybrid appeal, which wasn’t lost on Giulio. “For a storyteller like me, working across stills and movies, I think this is going to be my favorite camera ever! It’s just as strong in stills as video, without compromising either, and yet so compact, you can carry it around all day or work without a large rig. We had FUJINON Cabrio Cinema Zoom Lenses using follow focus, but X-H2S has a full suite of next-generation autofocus modes for tracking and subject recognition if you’re using a more run-and-gun style. I just don’t see any professional situation where it’d be found wanting.”

So, what of Giulio’s ‘baby’ now? Soon to be shown at a range of events and festivals, is he proud of how Aion turned out? “Definitely,” he confirms, “but not in exactly the way I expected. The creation of a film is so much like bringing up a child. You might have a vision or hope for how your kid will be, but it’s really just imagination and speculation. It will never turn out the exact same way you thought, because as soon as you put pen to paper or yell ‘action’, a film is running free. It has its own life – and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”


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