Clayton Vomero, (b. 1979). A NY-born artist and filmmaker. Working in film, photography, music, and text, his film GANG earned significant attention upon it’s release in 2015 for it’s emotionally raw depiction of NY youth. He's continued to explore themes of isolation, spirituality, loss, and memory in his subsequent films Pai Nosso and the soon to be presented at Sheffield Doc/Fest for its UK Premiere, 3OHA.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I always use the Proust questions as starting points for interviews, but even though I’ve tortured people with that question, no one has ever actually asked me that. I don’t know. I can’t imagine being happy other than times when my family were young and full of life and everyone was singing and drinking wine. That’s probably what people always imagine as being heaven. But heaven doesn’t exist like that. So I guess perfect happiness is when I can recognize the moments when I’m purely happy and then just enjoy the feeling. I had it in the park a couple weeks ago with a bunch of friends. Oh! And in Venice too recently with a bunch of friends. That’s perfect happiness! When all your friends are happy and calm and enjoying being stuck somewhere with you. That’s nice.
What lies at the heart of your own desire to make films?
I think my family gave me a deep sense of how telling stories can create empathy and love and communion and these themes are strongly represented in Italian cinema. I guess my own desire is to one day be recognized as a filmmaker in Italy in some way. It would feel like ending up somewhere a Vomero was always meant to be.
What are the first things you do in developing a film idea in response to a subject?
I read as many books as I can find related to the subject and start making a map. For 3OHA the two books that most heavily informed the film were Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich and Generation "П" by Victor Pelevin. Maria Babikova (the director’s assistant on 3OHA) and I charted out massive mind maps of all the strands from the books that we could connect to culture now and then reached out to everyone we could find. And from there we kept a constantly evolving map that served as a script basically. It was the most research I’ve ever done for a project.
What’s your favourite film and why?
The Gospel According to St. Matthew captures so deeply the hope in the hearts of peasants in the South of Italy. There’s a book called Christ Stopped at Eboli and basically the title is derived from a saying that Christianity never came below Eboli. As if Christianity were the religion of the wealthy elite and the poor of the south could never understand it, which was obviously untrue. But for Paosolini to bring his film to Basilicata gave such a sense of dignity to the non-actors in the film. For them to interpret the Gospel that they were supposedly too poor to understand gave such a power to the film. Then stitched together with songs from Odetta and Missa Luba by a gay atheist marxist. I mean it’s everything that a film should be.
Choose 1, 2 or 3 of your all-time favourite music tracks!
After Laughter (Comes Tears) by Wendy Rene
In The Rain by The Dramatics
From your favourite poem – could you give us a few lines that mean something to you?
Verrano i passeri,
verrano le mosche,
nel giardino dei poveri
- Rocco Scottolero
What is your greatest extravagance?
Wine and food. It’s the only place I spend money I don’t have.
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
The places I’m from. Staten Island, NY, my first home. And Italy, my last home. The reverse voyage of the original Vomeros.
What is your final word?
Chi va piano va sano e va lontano
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