So Lucas, could you tell us a little bit about yourself, who you are and what you do?
Well, my name is Lucas Lombardi Jatobá de Almeida. That’s a long last name because I’m from Brazil. I grew up in Sao Paulo, Brazil and it’s the third biggest city on the planet. When I was 25, I decided to move to Italy because I was not happy in Sao Paulo. There was too much violence and I was feeling out of balance with myself so I attained my Italian passport. My background is Italian so we managed to get them and shortly thereafter I moved to Italy.
I lived in Tuscany, Florence and Sienna for quite a while. I would say 6-12 months I was studying Italian, then graphic design and doing an internship as a graphic designer as well. I loved living in Florence. I thought it was a wonderful experience however I didn’t feel it was home so I moved to Barcelona and that’s where I actually found ‘home’ for the first time.
I spent four years in Barcelona, working in the advertising industry there. After that, my brother was in Australia so I moved to join him. I had a wonderful time and for six years I was there. I also had some tough times but they all helped me to discover who I actually am. It wasn’t until I was 32 year olds that I actually realized what I wanted to do for the rest of my life which was to be a film director. As we speak, I’m back in Barcelona.
Why is it that you felt so strongly connected to Barcelona? What is it about that culture?
It’s hard to explain in words because it’s more like a feeling rather than anything else but I could say one of the things I love about Barcelona is the culture. It’s the city of the artists. You have Gaudi here, you have Dali who is from Catalonia and you have Picasso who is also from Spain. It’s a place that attracts artists from all walks of life. Whether it be painting or architecture, sculpture or music, Barcelona has it all. There’s a very strong creative energy here. I also love the food and the way the city is organized. Overall, I think it’s a city that inspires me.
You mentioned that at 32 you realized what you wanted to do. What was it in that time that helped you to have an awareness of where you wanted to go in your career?
I had to go through a big awakening in my life and a big shock to realize who I was. I think that’s quite normal with people. I think since we’re born, we’ve always been told what to do. You go to school and people tell you to memorize this, repeat that, do this, do that and then you go to university again. The process repeats itself with everybody still telling you what to do and who to be.
The media is also sending the same message. Society is always imposing these ideas and preconceptions onto you all the time so most of us don’t have the time and space that we need to find out who we are.
My awakening began when I was Sydney. Within the same week, I suddenly lost my job and my girlfriend. So, you know, that was a big shock because I wasn’t expecting it. Because I lost my job, I also lost my sponsoring visa so I had no job, I had no girlfriend or companion and I was completely by myself which meant I had to spend time with myself.
I passed two months at home without doing anything, just spending time by myself. That made me realize that my true passion was filmmaking and that’s what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Professionally I felt that was my mission. I felt very strongly about that. At the same time, I endured a big shock, having lost everything I considered important to me. In vulnerable times like that, I think you’re forced to look inward and really consider what it is you want from life, on a deeper level than ever before.
In terms of your film directing career, could you tell us about the projects that you’ve found the most rewarding and the films you’ve made along the way?
I was a creative in advertising for a long time and I realized that I was always coming up with ideas for big brands but most of the time, I felt it was meaningless for the planet. I was coming up with ideas to sell more cars, to sell more deodorants, to sell, sell, sell and I realized I didn’t agree with all this consumerism. I don’t align myself with that, I don’t live like that. I don’t think you need to own things to be someone and to be happy so I started to question everything that I was doing.
One of the first things I did when I left Barcelona to go to Australia was to make a video that was my farewell to Barcelona. I wrote a farewell letter saying that I believed in a world with more compassion, with more help between friends and strangers and with more people giving rather than receiving. I attached an envelope to a balloon (which included a ticket to my favorite theater) and then released lots of them around the city. I made an amateur video of it but that video went viral. It had millions of views and I was interviewed by ABC New York, TV channel’s from Japan, Brazil, England.
It’s global success helped me realize two things:
- People are actually craving creative ideas that are meaningful and that are making the world a better place
- I wanted to create similar films with a meaningful message
I felt really satisfied telling this story that I had created, sharing it with the world and making everyone feel better. I think what I was doing before advertising didn’t make people feel better. It makes people feel like they’re incomplete, like they’re not good enough and I wanted to tell other kinds of stories. So that’s what happened and what ignited me to change.
Is there something other than directing that provides you with a sense of purpose, outside of the professional realm?
I would say that one of my life purposes that I feel very strongly about is storytelling, rather than just film directing. Directing is a way of storytelling but I feel my purpose is to tell stories that will inspire other people to be the best versions of themselves and to create a positive change.
I believe people can only change the planet if they change themselves so it’s an individual change that will be reflected on the collective but it needs to start within ourselves. I think storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to create this kind of change among many others. This can include different forms of healing and practicing the things you love. For me though, I feel my purpose is to be a storyteller.
Is there one in story in particular that you would like to share with the world or is it a collective that comes together?
I think there’s thousands of stories that can be shared. One of the most important things that I have to do as a person and, also as a film director, is to find those stories that are life changing. That’s what I’m doing.
I’m looking for stories. Once I find these stories that I think are outstanding and can touch people’s heart because they touched my heart, I then believe they have the power to do the same to other people. From there, I do everything that I can to bring them to life, either through short film, documentary, feature film, TV series; whatever is the best way to tell that story.
Can you run us through the process from when you have the vision of a story and then bringing it to the screen. How do you go about achieving and actualizing that process?
Okay, so usually it starts by reading something, somewhere. It could be an article on the internet, it could be a book. Right now I’m working on adapting a book to a TV series so after I read the book a couple of times, I talk to the author to get the rights for the visual content and then write a synopsis of each chapter.
I try to identify what are the best moments of this story so I can start writing the screenplay of the TV series. I think one of the most important things a story must have is that the protagonist endures a change. The way the protagonist starts a story and the way the protagonist ends a story; there must be an incredible change. It’s called the character’s arc and I think that’s a very important thing because it reflects our life. In life, change is the constant.
To what extent are you personally disconnected from the stories you’re telling? Or, do you believe that your personality and your worldview always has a place in your storytelling?
I believe it’s impossible to disconnect from the story you’re writing. You decided to write that story because you felt strongly connected to it on different levels and in different ways. I believe everything in life is a reflection or a projection of yourself. Everybody you meet is reflecting something onto you, either good or bad that you need to see. It’s the same with your work, relationships and friends.
Every thing in life is a reflection of yourself so when I’m working on a story it definitely reflects a lot about myself, about my values, about my principles, about the things that inspire me. It means that I’m 100% connected to that story and in many cases, I feel half the protagonist is me. That’s why I feel so attracted to that story and that empowers me to work on it because I understand it. If I’m a part of it, I’m capable and empowered to share it with the world.
What has been, other than your struggles in Sydney, one of the most challenging but equally insightful times of your life?
I think looking for a place that I can call home has been one of the biggest struggles in my life because even if I love places like Sydney or Barcelona or Florence, and I have lived in those places for a long time, I never felt they were home to me.
I feel my biggest struggle has always been finding a place that I can settle down and call home. I’m not sure if I’ll ever find ‘home’ but I’m still on that quest, still looking for it and I think what I get from this struggle is that I’m always travelling and moving around. I’m always learning so much because I’m living different experiences.
Every time you go to a new place and you’re in a new country and culture, it’s like a shock. Everything is different and you have to adapt. The way to survive and the way to thrive in your environment is always to adapt. You’re always putting yourself in that place, giving everything you have and showing people how you are inside. But, in the end, you simply adapt, learn and as a result, extend yourself so incredibly much. Even if I had spent 1000 years in school, I would never have learnt what I have learned from travelling, moving abroad and being in different countries. For that, I’m very grateful to all those experiences.
But would you say Barcelona is the closest you’ve come to feeling at home in a place?
Not really because I’ve been here for a year now which is the second time living in Barcelona and although I really like this city, I think it’s an amazing place to live and would recommend it to anyone to come and live here, I would say it’s still not entirely home.
I’m still encouraging myself to explore and I’m determined to keep looking. I plan in one or two years to move somewhere. At the moment, I have Portugal in my heart and again I cannot tell you why, it’s just a feeling, an intuition. Since I’ve started thinking about it, all the time I come across people who are talking about Portugal. I mean, they’re the ones to start talking about Portugal, not me. It’s one of those synchronicities of life and then suddenly I realize and think, ‘why are we talking about Portugal?’ I’m 100 percent that I didn’t start that conversation but these things happen that make you think. I just I’m paying attention, trying to be aware of the tips and the signs that the universe has been giving me and using them in the best way that I can.
Do you believe ‘home is where the heart is’ applies to you? You’re not connected to a physical place but rather, a culture which enables you to experience that sense of home.
Oh, I agree with that quote 100 percent. If you manage to center yourself and to find the inner joy, you can be happy anywhere. That’s what I’ve been trying to do since I left my hometown. I’ve always been looking for inner joy and inner happiness, regardless of the place that I’ve been in. Of course the environment is very important but being well within yourself and feeling that inner joy, that’s the most important thing.
Another important reason why I agree with this is because of another belief I have. I recognize that many people will have a different belief but I believe no one is from the earth. All souls have been created somewhere else in the universe; we are not humans with a soul, we are a soul having an experience as a human being on planet earth. That’s why many people experience this feeling, ‘I’m not at home, I don’t know where home is.’ You’re not home, you’re simply having an experience here for learning, for evolving and for growing but it’s important to remember that no one is from earth.