a film by Giacomo Gex

At which point in your life did you decide to go into filmmaking?

At the age of 13, I was given a small camcorder and began filming my friends on the streets in my childhood village. While setting up scenes and shots, I always seemed to know what I wanted. It was during these moments that my friends suggested I pursue filmmaking and that was the first time it occurred to me that directing was something I could possibly do as a job. That completely opened the door to the film world for me. I would spend the rest of my time watching hundreds of films and reading all about the great directors of our time. Before then, I was never really aware of the filmmaking process because movies just seemed like these magical mediums that could be seen on TV. So since then, I did everything I could to stay behind the camera. I never wanted to do anything that wasn’t behind the camera. I’m very grateful that I can dedicate my life to film.

Did you ever consider a longer running time?

Originally I didn’t have a specific running time in mind for the film. The most important thing for me was that it was compelling, moving and told a story with integrity, no matter the length. Andrew had so much to say about his life that a longer film could have potentially been made only about him. He had so many shocking and crazy anecdotes that even in a scripted film would be unbelievable. It wasn’t until the year after that I was approached by a producer, from Robert Downey Jr’s production company Team Downy, to potentially turn Repoman into a series. I began some preliminary research with initial interviews of other repo men and women; however, the project slowly receded into the background due to another project that was starting in a different part of the world.

What kind of obstacles did you face in production?

The main challenge we faced was capturing Andrew’s first encounter with his victims. Understandably, many of the people Andrew would approach to repossess their vehicle did not cooperate. We never knew what was going to happen; especially in the moments that the owners would re-enter their homes after being asked to hand over the keys to their vehicles. Towards the end of the film, one guy refused to give Andrew his vehicle keys and threatened to get a gun. The unfortunate victim of repossession also demanded I put the camera down and pleaded to me to stop filming. These are the most difficult moments in documentary filmmaking. As a person, I felt sympathetic towards him and all I wanted to do was put the camera down to respect his request. However, as a filmmaker, I knew how important it was to capture that moment of conflict between both people with equally understandable motives.

Your film played at Slamdance. Do you have any advice about film festivals for emerging filmmakers? Something you wish you’d known before submitting/attending festivals?

Don’t make films for festivals. Make films because you have a strong desire and passion to tell a story visually. Be motivated to tell a particular story that speaks to you personally. It has to start with you, the filmmaker. My other recommendation is if your film is selected for a festival, try all you can to attend the festival with your next project in your pocket. Other filmmakers, especially producers, will ask you what your next project is. If you have something ready it will help hugely to get other people involved and eventually get funding.

Giacomo Gex is a director, writer and cinematographer currently based in New York City. Raised in the Sinai desert and on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza, growing up around diverse cultures and nationalities he has always been captivated by people and their stories.

He is currently working on a documentary film about his childhood friend – Jack, who has been searching for the famed “Yamashita’s Gold”, the legendary Japanese WWII treasure that is said to be buried all across the Philippine archipelago. Jack and his father have been on this quest for over six years and still continue today.