With less than a week before "Lost In Florence" premieres on selected theaters in the US, as well as on VOD, the film's writer and director Evan Oppenheimer was kind enough to answer some of our questions.
"Lost In Florence" tells the story of Eric Lombard, an American at a crossroads: does he continue to pursue his long-shot dream of playing professional football, or does he start the next phase of his life, and apply to Law school? As he struggles with this decision, Eric – along with his longtime girlfriend, Colleen – visits his cousin in Florence, Italy. On the last day of their trip, he proposes to Colleen - but, to his surprise, she shoots him down and goes back to the US. Eric stays in Italy, brokenhearted and unsure about his future. That's when he gets involved involved with the ancient local sport of Calcio Storico – and falls in love with an alluring local woman... who has a boyfriend. Now Eric must decide what he really wants, and how hard he's willing to fight for it.
The movie was filmed in Italy, between June & July 2014. Stana plays Anna, Eric's cousin who lives in Florence, is married to an Italian & teaches the language to foreigners. You can watch the trailer and sneak peek on our page dedicated to the film.
I asked Oppenheimer about his inspiration for the script, Anna's role in the story, how Stana came to be involved in the project, fans visiting location, and his future projects - that might or not involve Stana...
Stana Katic Brasil: You wrote and directed "Lost In Florence". What was your inspiration for the story?
Evan Oppenheimer: Well, the inspiration for using calcio storico was, of course, calcio storico itself. It’s a real-life sport that’s played every summer in Florence, and it’s unique. From the first time I saw it, I wanted to somehow utilize it in a movie. The emotional inspiration is a little more complex. I lived in Florence briefly long ago, and was at the time in a challenging relationship with a woman here in New York – I thought being apart for a little while might help us find some clarity. So I was at a similar place in my life that Eric is, in the movie – wondering what my future held, wondering who I was going to spend my life with. And not knowing if any of my aspirations would be realized.
SKBr: How important was it to film on location in Italy? Did you have any difficulties since you shot so many scenes in public spaces?
EO: We briefly discussed trying to shoot the movie somewhere besides Florence, for budgetary reasons. But that seemed like a foolish decision. As someone who has shot many movies in New York City, I can appreciate the difficulties of certain locations — but commensurate with the challenges are the rewards. An initial visit with the Tuscan Film Commission was encouraging; “nothing is impossible” they said, when we asked what locations we might be able to use. Of course, we had to very careful while shooting in public spaces – we avoided shooting in the crowded tourist areas during the day, and only shot in the busiest places (like the Ponte Vecchio and the Piazza della Signoria, probably the two most famous locales in Florence) in the middle of the night. Which is why they’re strangely empty in the movie…
SKBr: You had many fans visiting you guys on location. Did you expect it? Did you have any problems with them?
EO: I was a little surprised by how many fans we had visiting us, especially fans of Stana. I knew she was popular, but I was unprepared for just how popular – especially in Europe. Her fans were amazing. They came from all over the continent, just in hopes of getting to see her and maybe exchange a few words. Stana was insistent that we treat her fans with total respect, so we refused to lie to them or mislead them. That said, there were times when we had to change locations just so we could get things, since the fans’ exuberance could sometimes get in the way of our shooting.
SKBr: How was the process of casting Stana for the role of Anna? Had you seen her in previous works, or was she suggested by a casting director or something to the sort? Did Stana give any input on her character? What do you think she brought to the part that other actress wouldn't have?
EO: I’m embarrassed to say that I wasn’t very familiar with Stana before we shot. I knew about “Castle”, but had never watched a complete episode. When Felicia Fasano, our fantastic American casting director, suggested Stana, I immediately asked my wife about her. My wife, who HAD watched a lot of “Castle” episodes, gave an immediate thumbs-up. Of course, I quickly educated myself on Stana, and was quickly sold on her – especially once I learned that she spoke Italian, as her character does! I think the unique thing that Stana brought to her character of Anna, was her tremendous empathy. Stana is such a wonderful listener, such a supportive person and actress, that it was natural that she brought out this aspect of the character. She wanted to be sure that Anna was never snarky, or impatient with Eric – she just wants him to be happy, and wants to be his sounding board so he can make the right decisions.
SKBr: What can you tell us about Anna and the role she plays in the movie? How does she fit on Eric's story?
EO: Seems that I just answered that one. Anna is, of course, Eric’s entry into Italian society (especially through her husband, Gianni), but her most important role is to be the person Eric can talk to, the person he can trust, the person that he knows cares only about his best interests.
SKBr: Do you already have a new project in your future?
EO: I’m working on a low-budget, streets-of-New-York screenplay. I call it an art film, because I’m not sure how commercial it’s going to be. It’s about a family of (hopefully) interesting New Yorkers, and what happens to them on one particularly significant day in New York. For now it’s called “The Magnificent Meyersons”, and I’m hoping to shoot it this summer. There’s even a role in it that I’ve written with Stana in mind, if she happens to be interested and available...
I think you'll all agree when I say: DO IT, STANA! 😝
And that's all for this interview. I'd like to say a huuuuge thank you to Evan Oppenheimer, for all his patience and kindness for the past few months! If you can, be sure to check "Lost In Florence" in one for the select theaters from January 26th: Laemmle (Los Angeles); City Village East (New York); Vogue Theatre (San Francisco); Facets Cinémathèque (Chicago). The film will also be available from January 27th on iTunes, Google Play and other platforms.
Be sure to visit our gallery for posters and behind the scenes photos of the film: