Interview by Andreea Boyer // Edited by Chris Charles of Idol Features
German-born filmmaker Dave Ardito has worked in the film industry in several countries throughout Europe, as well as in South Korean and the US. His 2019 short film, Vicarious, which was shot mainly in Berlin, has earned seven nominations from Mabig Film Festival.
Andreea Boyer: Where are you from and what can you tell us about yourself?
Dave Ardito: I’m half Spanish, half Italian, born and raised in Bavaria, Germany. I’ve lived in Berlin since 2013 and I work mainly as a director and cinematographer. I’ve worked in Hollywood movies, German cinema movies, commercials music videos, Netflix shows, and TV series.
Andreea Boyer: Have you been working in the film industry mainly in your country or also somewhere else around the globe?
Dave Ardito: I have been part of projects around the globe. For example, I was three months involved in action design for a TV series called Osmanlida Derin Devlet in Turkey. (I’ve also worked) For a Netflix Show in Los Angeles, and other projects in the US, Korea, Switzerland, Poland, and Italy.
Andreea Boyer: How did you start your career as a filmmaker and what has your motivation been? What has inspired you?
Dave Ardito: When I was a little kid, I always wrote short stories as soon as I learned to write my first words. I cut out pictures of magazines and glued them into my notebooks with descriptions attached. Stories like Indiana Jones fighting a T-Rex to save the city. I showed all my little stories to my first audience in my life; my parents. A few years later, at the age of eight, I saw my first Jackie Chan movie, The Young Master, and I knew in that moment that I wanted to make action movies. But my biggest inspiration was a game called Metal Gear Solid created by Hideo Kojima, which made me the filmmaker I am today.
Andreea Boyer: When did you start with your career as a filmmaker and has filmmaking always been your main focus?
Dave Ardito: I filmed my first little projects back in 2000 as a 12-year-old boy with a huge black and white camera from my grandpa. After a few years of practice making action scenes, short clips, and fight choreography on playgrounds with some kids from my neighborhood, I started to work as a professional stuntman at the age of 18 in the film industry. One of my first stunt jobs was for the movie Ninja Assassin by James McTeigue. I loved being a stuntman, but always felt the urge to tell my own stories. After I was a stuntman and fight choreographer for several projects like Bis aufs Blut – Brüder auf Bewährung by Oliver Kienle and Withered Flowers Blooming by Martin Schreier. I finally fell totally in love with directing. Since then, I focused not only on action, but also on storytelling. Other side jobs I had to do for making a living were nothing but means for the purpose to becoming a filmmaker one day.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about the cast and story from your movie Vicarious?
Dave Ardito: I met Volkram Zschiesche who plays Eli Tray a few years before on the film set of Urban Fighter by Mike Möller. I was so impressed by his acting skills that I asked him to be a part in my short film. Jade Dregorius, who plays the role of Tonia Roche is a professional stuntwoman known for several Hollywood movies. After I told both about my script they were super keen to be a part of it. The story is about a young office worker (Jake Thompson) having exciting daydreams. After he noticed that he is not the protagonist of his own boring life, he wants to change that by beginning an extraordinary adventure. A life changing decision waits for him as he faces his inner self.
Andreea Boyer: Where did you film your movie?
Dave Ardito: We filmed Vicarious mainly in Berlin, Germany. The action scenes were shot in Folgaria, Italy. The travel parts were made in Korea and some parts in Germany and Poland.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about your other films and work?
Dave Ardito: I learned a lot about cinematography, lighting, camera work, editing, acting, and directing throughout the years and had the opportunity to learn from the best out there like mentioned before; Oliver Kienle and Martin Schreier (Bad Banks and Cro Movie, respectively). Also from Vi Dan Tran (Into the Bandlands), who let me be a part of his crew at some of the music videos for Lena Meyer Landruht, Motrip, and Nico Santos.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about your best experiences and which moments in your career have been the most influential ones for you?
Dave Ardito: The action design work at the Turkish TV series, which took more than three months, showed me one thing very clear. I am a storyteller in the first place. I always loved to shoot action and to perform stunts in front of the camera, but it showed me how much more I want to be a director and storyteller! I tried to create own videos on set every time we had a break or a day off. I got frustrated by watching the director and not being able to express myself with visions through compositions like I was used to. After this experience, I was never a stunt performer again.
Andreea Boyer: Which moments on the film set have been the most difficult ones for you?
Dave Ardito: The most difficult experience that I’ve had as a director, actor, and performer was at the action shoot of Vicarious on Base Tuono, Italy. A five-man camera and light department crew canceled our shoot in the very last minute, which made the shooting Hell on Earth for us. I got a kidney stone while shooting the fight scenes and the doctors told me that we have to stop the shoot because of my condition. I managed to finish the fight scenes even though I was in extreme pain and we had more than 35 degrees Celsius heat. We lost a whole day. Everyone was stressed out to the maximum, but we made it.
Andreea Boyer: What is your advise for all young independent filmmakers on how they should work on their goals and reach the best audience for their individual work
Dave Ardito: The best advice I can give to young and independent filmmakers is that if you really want to tell a story, make it one that you love yourself. Write a story about something you feel the need to tell or you can’t go to sleep. Something that will keep you awake for many nights and will force you to take action. Don’t tell stories about mainstream stuff just because it might be popular at the moment or social critical topics just because you hope it will get you good feedback and critiques. It has to be something you really love because if you love what you talk about and you are passionate about it, then people will see and feel it in your finished project. You will give them the same feeling you had when you started this journey in the first place which will make you a true filmmaker.
Thank you, Mr. Ardito. We wish you continued success.
See more of Dave Ardito and his works at his IMDb page.