ALIVE Q&A: Local Film Director Alvaro Aro On His New Kickstarter-Backed Movie, 'Sophie'
A new film project is about to kick off in St. Louis: After surpassing his Kickstarter goal this month, local writer and director Alvaro Aro will begin shooting short fantasy film “Sophie” on March 12. The movie offers a look into an unknown, eerie world where a young girl finds herself trapped in an epic fantasy adventure. With a detailed eye and guiding hand, Aro allows the set, makeup and costume design to transform the script into an intriguing and intricate realm. ALIVE was able to sit down with him before production kicks into high gear to discuss his vision and experience creating “Sophie.”
ALIVE: In your own words, what is “Sophie” about?
Aro: Sophie is the story of a young girl who gets lost in a world of her own. This world is bizarre, mysterious, almost confusing, and in this world, she meets a series of characters that either help her or go against her when she tries to come back home. There’s a point where she realizes, “Okay, I have to get out of here,” and that’s basically what the narrative is based on.
ALIVE: You were able to raise enough, financially, to exceed your goal for “Sophie,” how does that help the film moving forward?
Aro: It’s a big weight off of our shoulders because you get pretty nervous. We are so thankful for the support that we’ve had. There’s really no words.
ALIVE: How would you describe your directorial style?
Aro: I like to plan things to the last detail, and I get a little bit annoying to some people. To me, pre-production is probably the most important stage in a film or any project, but I also like my characters to own the roles. I’m not the one that goes, “Okay, this is the script: Word-by-word this is how it’s going to be.” In that way, I guess I’m very relaxed. I like to hear from them, listen to them, and go based on their feedback.
ALIVE: Is there anything that you want people to know about the film beforehand?
Aro: One of the things that I’ve discovered, being really new to the area, is that there are a lot of creative people in St. Louis. And “Sophie” is basically a collaboration of many people: We have Elizabeth Parker in the production design; Scott Breihan doing costume design; we have a great producer, Stacey Nation; makeup artist, sound…each department is really good at what they do. In a way, “Sophie” is a display of this collaboration, of what St. Louis people, artists [and] designers can actually do and, hopefully, make at a level that is comparable to big productions in L.A. or New York.
ALIVE: Was there a particular person you were thinking of when you wrote the character Tristan?
Aro: Well, I was thinking of Edward Scissorhands … with a mix of BeetleJuice. It’s funny because they’re both by Tim Burton. I think going back to the style, once we decided, this is Brock Russell who’s playing Tristan … we started a discovery process within the story and him. He brought a lot of details that are making the character a little bit more interesting. For example, he’s got a pipe he didn’t have before … and the voices he’s going to have, the awkwardness, the weirdness that he’s got is just amazing.
ALIVE: Sophie is played by St. Louis native, Nicole Ogden, what has she brought to the character?
Aro: I didn’t really know any of the characters beforehand, and when Nicole showed up and she did her part, which at the time was a very emotional part for the audition, she just nailed it … I think her experience in theater is going to help a lot of the performance she’s going to be doing.
ALIVE: You wrote that you want to put emphasis on the costume and set design. What elements do they add to this film?
Aro: The visual aspect of this I’m hoping to be very intriguing and interesting, because with the work of Scott, the costume designer, and Elizabeth in production design, we are really, really working in details. I want to go on set and be like, “I’m in a different world.” Hopefully that will be something that is displayed in an effective way on the film.
ALIVE: How has St. Louis contributed to your career as a writer and director?
Aro: I think the people of St. Louis have been nothing but supportive since I started. I got out of the Marines, and then I started this company [Vimage Studios] with my friend, Katie Hunn, and right away we started seeing that the reactions and the positive attitudes we were getting were just amazing. I was lucky to end up in a city like this. There are so many awesome people, designers and creative people. I wish they had more recognition because some of the stuff that they do is just amazing.
Filming will begin in March. For more information and updates on “Sophie,” visit its Facebook page.