October 8, 2018
In Conversation with Internationally Acclaimed
Film-Maker Lucas Jatoba
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, Barcelona or Florence, I've never felt they were home. My biggest struggle has always been finding a place that I can settle down in. I’m not sure if I’ll ever find ‘home’ but I’m still on that quest, still looking ..."
So Lucas could you just tell us a little bit about yourself, who you are and what you do?
Okay so my name is Lucas Lombargi …. And that’s a long last name because I’m from Brazil. I grew up in Sao Paulo in 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 just too much of everything for me and I was feeling out of balance with myself so I got my Italian passport because my background is Italian so we managed to get our Italian passports and 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, studying 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 that home for the first time. I spent quite a while in Barcelona, I spent four years there and working in the advertising industry in Barcelona. After that, my brother was in Australia so I moved to Australia 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 and only when I was 32 year olds did I actually realise what I wanted to do for the rest of my life which was to be a film director. And now 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 Catalunya, you have Picasso who is also from Spain, it’s a place that attracts artists and grows artists from all sorts of kinds from painting to architecture to sculpture to music. There’s a very strong creative energy here in Barcelona. I also love the food, the architecture, the way the city is organised and I think it’s a city that inspires me.
You mentioned that at 32 you realised 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 and in life?
I had to go through a big awakening in my life, a big shock to realise who I was and 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 memorise, repeat, do this, do that and then you go to university again everybody is telling you what to do and who to be. The media is always telling you what to do and who to be. Society is always imposing these ideas and preconceptions onto you all the time so most of us don’t even have the time and space that we need to find out who we are. What happened with me in Sydney was suddenly I lost my job and my girlfriend in the same week. So, you know, that was a big shock because I wasn’t expecting it and also because I lost my job, I lost my visa which was a sponsoring visa so suddenly 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. So I had two months at home without doing anything, just spending time by myself and that made me realise 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. But it felt this big shock and losing everything that I had, everything that I thought was my life to actually find myself.
In terms of your film directing career, could you just tell us a little bit about the projects that you found the most rewarding and the films you have made?
I was a creative in advertising for a long time and I realised 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 realised 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 people giving more than receiving to help each other. I put a ticket to my favourite theater in those letters and then released them around the city and made an amateur video of it but that video went viral. It had millions of views, I was interviewed by ABC New York, TV channel’s from Japan, Brazil, England. It went everywhere, it went crazy so I realised two things. That people are actually craving creative ideas that are meaningful and that are making a world a better place and the second thing I realised was that’s what I wanted to do. I felt really satisfied telling this story that I had created, sharing this story 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 made me change.
In terms of your life purpose, would you say that film directing would make up your sense of purpose in life or is there something other than directing that gives you a purpose as well outside of the professional realm?
I would say that one of my life purposes that I feel very strongly about is story telling rather than just film directing because 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 change because 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 like different forms of healing and doing the things you love and give you joy but 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 and that’s what I’m doing. I’m looking for stories and then once I find these stories that I think are outstanding and can touch people’s heart because it touched my heart, I then believe it has the power to do the same to other people. When I find these stories I do everything that I can to bring it to life, either through short film or documentary or feature film or tv series, whatever is the best way to tell that story.
And can you run us through a little bit of the process from where you have the vision of a story and then bringing it to the screen. How do you go about achieving and actualising 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 am now talking to the author to get the rights for the visual content and now I’m writing a synopsis of each chapter. So i’m trying 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 goes through 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, I think that’s a very important thing because it reflects our life. We’re always changing and every single moment, with every breath, we change and every time you go through a different situation or challenge or relationship, we’re always changing.
How much of yourself do you think influences or comes into your stories that you’re feeling or do you feel as an artist, because that’s something I find as well in my writing, how much do you think you’re personally disconnected from the stories you’re telling or do you feel 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 because you decided to write that story because you feel 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 to you, either good or bad that you need to see. It’s the same with your work, relationships and friends. Every single 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 like half the protagonist or I could be the protagonist and that’s why I feel so attracted to that story and that empowers me to work on it because I understand it and feel I’m a part of it. If I’m a part of it, I’m capable and empowered to share it with the world.
In terms of your life’s difficulties, what would you say has been, maybe other than you struggles in Sydney, one of the most challenging times for you but has brought you taught you one of the greatest lessons?
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 I’m always travelling and moving around and always learning so much because I’m living different experiences. Everytime you go to a new place and you’re in a new country and new culture, it’s like a shock. Everything is so 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 and giving everything you have and showing people how you are inside but in the end you must adapt and you just learn so (extended soooo) much. I would say not even if I had spent 1000 years in school would I have learnt what i have learned from travelling and moving abroad and being in different countries, continents and cities so I’m very grateful for 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 home and I’m still encouraging myself and determined to keep looking. So I plan in one or two years I’ll probably move somewhere. At the moment I have Portugal in my heart and again I can not tell you why, it’s just a feeling, it’s an intuition. And since I’ve started thinking about it, all the time I come across people who are talking about Portugal. I mean they start talking about Portugal, not me. It’s one of those synchronicities of life and then suddenly I realise 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 and I just I’m paying attention, trying to be aware of the tips and the signs that the universe has been giving me and trying to use them in the best way that I can.
How much do you feel that the quote ‘home is where the heart is’ applies to you in that you feel maybe not connected so much to a physical place but could it also be being connected to a culture or an individual person or a romantic partner enables you to then feel that sense of home?
Oh, I agree with that quote 100 percent because if you manage to centre 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 with yourself and feeling that inner joy, I think is the most important thing. And I’m going to tell you right now 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 and we are actually not humans with a soul, we are a soul having an experience as a human being on planet earth on the physical plane right now and that’s why many people having this feeling, ‘oh i’m not at home, i don’t know where home is’ because you are not home, you’re having an experience here for learning, for evolving and for growing but no one is from earth.
Could you expand on that a little bit? If you don’t believe we’re from earth, do you feel people are simply souls not necessarily tied to a place or is it something else?
I think we’re all souls created from the same source which is this thing everyone can call God or the universe and then when souls are created they just go on this infinite journey having infinite experiences in infinite dimensions, universes and planets but of course when you have an experience in a place like earth, of course you become a little bit attached to it. It’s like when you love someone, you create a bit of attachment and that’s normal, it’s the nature of the soul. But i believe it’s just one grain of sand of our existence. I believe our lives as human beings is just a tiny bit of something way bigger. Planet earth is a school for the souls and it’s challenging and hard but at the same time we create the reality we’re living and this is one of the biggest lessons we have to learn here on earth; you create your reality and if you focus on joy and things that are positive, if you focus on the things that you love and you enjoy doing rather than the things that people tell you to do, you find happiness and you create a reality. I think we have the power to visualise things with our mind and then create them in our lives and I’ve been doing this now for ten or twenty years, and it has always worked both in my personal and professional life. Visualise and create.
Is there anyone you admire in this world or you look up to or is an inspiration to you? A lot of people, especially creative people, say for me Helen Garner is a big inspiration for me and I really look up to her and read her work and try and be inspired by it. Do you have someone like that? Not necessarily in a film directing capacity but just in life in general?
I can tell you a little bit about some of the books I’ve read in the last five years that have completely changed my life for better and I’d say these authors are the people that I really admire because they’ve inspired me so much and expanded my consciousness as a human being and as a soul. These books and people have helped me to understand how big things are and that there’s so much more existing than we can imagine. These are books channelled by human beings on earth from other civilisations. I’m talking about books from the Lamerian’s which is a civilisation that existed on earth as well 12,000 years ago. I’ve re-read these books so many times because each time I read them again, I learn something new and see things from a different perspective. In the end, there is no truth, there is only a perspective. Everything that happens, there will be a thousand different perspectives and a thousand ways of seeing it and I think what these books have helped me to do is always see things from a bigger perspective and never to get too attached to something and always focus on the positive, focus on the things you want to do, that you love, that give you joy, create your reality from there and that’s the path to happiness.
And talking about happiness because it is a very big part of our society now, everybody is placing a lot of importance on it, do you think that it is more important or more effective to focus on happiness as the destination and then have your life purpose and sense of meaning follow or do you feel it’s more important and better for you to find meaning in your life and then as a result happiness will be found as a by-product?
I think they’re both connected because when you’re doing something that feels meaningful, that will bring you joy. Both are very important and it’s key that what you do every single day, right now, because the present moment is the only thing that happens, gives you meaning and joy. I see past generations, our parents, they say ‘I’m going to work hard now so in the future I will be happy’ and they’ve been tricked into that idea by the media and by corporations to do that. RIght now what’s happening to them is they’re retiring, unhappy and with no money and no healthy. They are unhealthy as hell. It’s been proven by this past generation that this formula doesn’t work. Life is now so it’s important, whatever you do, every single day of your life, you do something you enjoy and that gives you fulfilment and a sense of meaning because otherwise, you’re just wasting your time.
So in talking about our parents generation, what would you say would be one of your greatest wishes for the generations to come? This afternoon I was looking after a little girl and I was thinking about it because we were having a discussion about the environment and about plastic and her mother was saying to her that she will really need to take care of the earth if she and her children want to live a good life and I’m wondering what would you say is one of your wishes for the generations to come?
I think what I would love to see this generation doing is being true to themselves. As I said truth is just a perspective but so I would tell them ‘listen to yourself, and allow yourself to do what you really want to do.’ The problem in the world is people are just doing what they’ve been told to do. That’s why the planet is in chaos because people are saying use plastic, have a job, get married, do this and do that. It’s all bullshit. It’s someone else’s perspective and people are doing something because someone else has told them to. No, no! You do whatever you want to do with your life. Listen to your heart, listen to your soul and do what gives you a sense of meaning and joy. If we only do that, each one of the seven billion of us doing what we love every single day could change the planet in a couple of months.
And talking about doing what we love and joy, what would you say is one of the greatest moments of your life? One of your happiest moments in life.
I would say so far, I’m only 36, but so far the highlight of my life was last year when i decided to backpack across Central America and South America for six months. I just had a ten kilo backpack, no destiny, no purpose. Nothing. I just wanted to spend time by myself and enjoy myself, enjoy the planet and get to know different cultures, people and places and you know, I was doing everything the most every single day because I was travelling, I was surfing and I was writing my films so I was doing the three things that I love the most for six months and that made me a better person. It was a dream come true that I’ll always take with me, wherever I am, I always have those memories and those experiences and those feelings inside me. After that, it was really clear for me what i wanted to do nxt. I don’t think it’s always important to be thinking about what needs to be done next. I think the most important thing is to be well and to enjoy the present moment and that was what i was doing on that trip every single day, enjoying the present moment.
If you could offer yourself Lucas, as a child, one piece of advice that you think would be most important, that you could tell yourself, what would it be?
That’s a tricky question. I would say to my child-self...I think I would say always be true to yourself. That’s one of the most challenging things to do on this planet, in this system that we’re living in. There are moments in my life, especially when I was a teenager, when I wasn’t being myself. I was trying to satisfy others and make others happy but I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do. But I’m proud of myself that most of the time in my life I’ve been true to myself. Even when I was ridiculed or people have criticised me or haven’t understood me, I didn’t care. I kept in alignment with myself and with my dreams and with my joy.
Was there an initially uncomfortable and difficult experience that resulted in an insightful lesson?
Travelling alone. Or you could also say spending time alone because I think most people today are afraid of spending time with themselves because they are afraid of facing their darkest side. We all have a bright, light side but we all have a dark side as well so I think our purpose in this life is to merge these two sides to create balance between them. That’s when we will be able to feel an alignment within ourselves, when you merge your dark and your light side. I would recommend to everyone to travel alone and spend time with yourself because you grow so incredibly much and you learn so much about yourself. From this you can know who you are and the things you want to do. Many people are saying, ‘I don’t know what I want to do or what gives me joy’ so spend time with yourself, spend time alone and travel alone. From this you will be able to know yourself and answer all these questions you have and find fulfilment and purpose in life.
Absolutely, which is an increasingly difficult challenge in this life when we’re always, always, due to social media being bombarded with information but at the same time ironically very socially isolated.
Exactly, and people always comparing themselves to others. One of the worst things of social media is comparing. We are all unique human beings so in that case you shouldn’t compare and do what you want to do, regardless of what others think. As long as you are respecting the environment and respecting others, you are allowed to do anything.
© Copyright 2018 – Sophia Llewellyn