The Orange Thief (Vinnie Angel, Boogie Dean, Arthur Wilinski – 2007)
Have you ever been impressed by someone’s accomplishment and rationalized it by instinctively pulling out the usual excuses such as oh that most likely took lots of experience, money, contacts and anything else that you can come up with to sooth your ego and inaction?
The reality is that we’re all doing it all the time without stopping to consider the “what if scenario.” What if I give it a try and that could be anything; leveraging your passion for gadgetry and attempting to write a techno-mystery novel, sending your resume to a long shot position, opening a gallery that specializes in rain forest photography or simply bridging your Italian ancestry and creating your own first movie, say in Sicily. Why not?
And if you take a look at the title above, you’ll find three people that actually managed to simply DO IT.
The story behind the making of this film is quite extraordinary and almost overshadows the actual story of the movie. Say your best buddie comes to you and says, remember we saw that catalog of the latest SONY HDV cameras a month ago? Well me and my brother are leaving next week to Italy, actually to a small hill town in Sicily called Lucca-Sicula to get to know better our family roots. Well we figured this could be a good excuse as any to buy these killer cameras and shoot some movie-quality clips now that the technology is available. And by the way we’ll be meeting with a few friends there. Don’t worry about money, my cousin is giving us a house to stay there for as long as we want – are you in? You betcha!
Since no one has prior experience in film making, first month you all take turns in learning how to use the cameras, some try it as being directors, others as actors. Second month, you all feel pretty much comfortable with the equipment and start shooting with local non-professional actors loosely based on Sicilian gags your cousin’s friends keep telling you every evening over pasta, local wine, and old Sicilian songs. And since you’re in Italy why not shoot in Italian peppered with some of these charming old tunes that by now you can’t get out of your head? It sure adds some authenticity, right? This is at least my interpretation of how this film was made based on information the directors share here.
Needless to say the result received amazing feedbacks including awards, which clearly proves a simple truth. It all boils down to a solid storytelling, fun characters and triple dose of authenticity represented in this case, by usage of Italian-speaking non professional actors, the beauty of the rolling Sicilian mountains and the timeless heart-warming traditional music to tie it all together.
The film poetically tells the story of an orange thief (Andrea Calabrese) and his simple love for the land and music. He starts initially without the land, but his love to music finally helps him not only get the land, but also friends.
The fact that you most likely haven’t heard about this fim before tells the immense challenges any indie film faces today where peer awards are nice but insufficient to break through and gain wide public exposure. I found this film by chance, during my routine checks of the Italian category on Netflix catalog that tends to be either static or tilted more towards horror and peplum genres.