A former board member and longtime volunteer, Jim Colletti returns to this year’s Sedona International Film Festival in an entirely new role: first-time filmmaker. Originally from New York, Colletti moved to the East Valley nearly 20 years ago – buying his first home in Chandler and opening a business in Gilbert before relocating to Mesa. He has been living in central Phoenix for about 2 years now, where he runs his graphic art/advertising agency Element Design along with his artist management/record label OEO Entertainment.
A documentary short set to the music of his client Adam Smith, Colletti’s “And The Sky Will Never Be The Same Again” explores man’s initial dream to fly and the grave, unforeseen consequences that have transpired as a result. A deeply personal 5-minute short that not only showcases the talents of Colletti and co-director Ben Fama, it's also sure to garner Smith a whole new crop of fans in Sedona and beyond.
With the festival fast approaching, Colletti recently chatted with the Tribune about the concept for the movie, in what way it’s “100 percent recycled” and how he feels about his 10th anniversary with the event.
Q: To begin with, what inspired the concept for this short film?
A: Singer/songwriter Adam Smith is a client of mine through my artist management company, and he gave me a new song that he had written and produced called “Lightspeed.” I was headed up to Sedona so I put the CD in my car and I was listening, and I literally put repeat on that same song all the way from Phoenix to Sedona. I was just listening to it over and over, and I got this very clear vision of what this film should be. When I got to the other end I contacted Adam and said, “Here’s what my vision is, is it okay and can I do it?” He said to me, “Well as a matter of fact, that’s exactly why I wrote the song so of course you can do it.” So it all came together perfectly.
Q: How long did it take to put together and what was the process like getting all the clips that you used?
A: I immediately contacted videographer and filmmaker Ben Fama. He’s a student of the Sedona Film School and he’s someone we’ve worked with on several video projects; one of several of Adam’s music videos had been done by Ben. I proposed my concept to him and he saw the same vision we did, and agreed to work on the project. He spent a couple weeks researching archival footage and our goal was to create a film that was 100 percent recycled. So there is no new film footage whatsoever in the creation of our movie; everything is either archival or newsreel footage that we were able to get free-of-charge through several different outlets on the Internet.
Q: Did the idea for the film or what you wished to accomplish with it change at all over the course of the filmmaking process?
A: It did slightly. My initial thought was to try to chronicle this idea of – and using of course, the sky and flight as a real metaphor for a lot of different things in the world – but try to chronicle the idea of man having a vision to fly and having dreams of flying and it being a very positive vision. There is no malintent whatsoever and then, of course, the long, hard road of finally getting up off the ground. As man starts to use flight, we find bad things to use it for and bad things come from it – things like air disasters, terrorism, war, and all of those things.
I was trying to show in the movie, kind of ask a question, you know, was that even a consideration when man was trying to get up off the ground? And if it was, would it have changed their course? I didn’t answer that question, I just kind of put that question out there through the film and to the audience. In doing so, I kind of saw it as going from good to bad and during the production, Ben presented some ideas about showing footage of flight being used during rescue.
What I realized was that it kind of came full-circle. It was a good idea that started being used for a bad thing or had negative consequences. Then the same thing – flight – was being used in light of those bad situations to rescue lives, save people, pull them off of rooftops. That was a change that happened during the production.
Q: Any directors or short films that you’ve seen influence your work in any way?
A: Not specifically. Ben is a documentary filmmaker so for him this is very natural. For me, this all came from one very specific incident and that is each time I drive from central Phoenix into downtown Phoenix, I’m watching the planes coming into land at Sky Harbor airport. When I watch them land, they kind of fly behind the buildings of the Phoenix skyline and I’m constantly reminded of the images of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers. Of course they don’t crash, they go and land, but it’s a visual that every time I see it, I’m brought back to the moment in my memory of the crashes on 9/11.
That’s what for me plays into the hook lyric of the song, which is the title of the movie, “and the sky will never be the same again.” For me, the sky will never be the same again because I have that visual memory of 9/11. For others, it might be the space shuttle disaster when they see a cloud formation in the sky, they’re reminded of that. For those that lived through wartime, it may be the sound of an aircraft flying overhead – there’s that fear of a bomb that comes along with that.
For all of us, having had an experience in the sky, that sky will never be the same again and that’s a metaphor for life. We have experiences in life and our lives are never the same again. For six minutes, it’s a pretty intense discussion that can go along with it.
Q: How do you feel about having your film shown at the festival and what do you hope audiences take away from the experience?
A: I’m very excited about it. This year, I’m celebrating my 10-year anniversary as a volunteer and sponsor of the Sedona International Film Festival. I served 7 years on the board of directors and have been off the board for 3 years now. I’m returning to the festival this year as a filmmaker, so that’s very exciting for me as well as the staff and the board of the film festival to have someone come back that’s had their hands in the growth of that festival – from a small 3-day festival to now a 9-day festival. I’m back in this capacity and it’s exciting, it’s unique, it’s appropriate that I’ll now kind of get to be a beneficiary of the hard work that had been put in the 10 years I was involved.
In particular, the Sedona International Film Festival attracts a very sophisticated, film-loving audience. These are people who want to have a conversation, they want to be challenged and they want to think. People don’t go to Sedona thinking of it as entertainment, they go there to the festival because they want to learn, to discuss and talk about things. I hope that during the Q&A after the screening of this film there will be some really, really intelligent conversation and there will be at the very least, a lot of people who can make their own personal connection to this idea but also be able to have discussions on all sides of topics on what’s good and what’s bad, and what works and what doesn’t.
“And The Sky Will Never Be The Same Again” shows at the Sedona Film Festival at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre and 9:10 p.m. on Friday, March 1, at Harkins Sedona 6. For more information about the film and the 158 other films playing at the festival from Feb. 23 – March 3, visit www.sedonafilmfestival.org. For more information about Adam Smith and his music, visit www.adamsmithmusicart.com