‘Totally Free’ dir. Daniel Soares

Rollerskating used to be everywhere, but these days it’s nearly impossible to find people on roller skates. ‘Totally Free’ is a short documentary that explores these weirdly wonderful roller skaters, how they got into skating and why it keeps them alive.

Directors: Daniel Soares
Cinematographers: Noe Chavez & Brian Frank
Original Score: Hanah Saxton
Editor: Daniel Soares

C8: What drew you towards the topic of roller-skating and at what point did you realise that you had a documentary on your hands?

DS: I’m genuinely intrigued by people who follow their passions no matter what. The Skaters from Golden Gate Park struck me visually when I first saw them. They just seemed amazed with what they where doing. At first glance they looked weird. And I love weird. So I approached them and we started having fun conversations. Right away I felt from those conversations that this could be a strong piece of film. There where so many strong characters.

C8: How did you approach the participants for the film? Did they easily open up to you?

DS: As the film reflects, these people are genuinely lovely and open-minded. They also are mostly extroverts which helps you in the process of interviewing. I showed them my genuine curiosity and fascination about what they where doing. I think you can tell when someone is faking it. But if you genuinely open your heart to them, they in turn will do so too. Sometimes it’s quick, sometimes it might take longer. But gaining that respect of the people is what really intrigues me about this documentary style of filmmaking.

C8: What was the biggest obstacle you faced during the shoot and how did you overcome it?

DS: We shot everything in two days. So it was hard to get all the great shots, true interviews, gain their trust and at the same time keep the bigger storyline in mind. This was also the first film I directed so obviously everything was hard. Also in the editing process, I struggled a lot, I’m not going lie. But my wish to reflect these guys passion was bigger. So I kinda learned and improved on the go.

C8: If you could complete the whole process again what would you do differently?

DS: I think there is a lot I could improve. Especially the technical parts. But I love imperfections. Yes, I could think about going back and try to fix things. Or just take my [experience] and think about the next film I want to do. I prefer to think about tomorrow’s lunch rather than reflect about yesterday’s dinner.

C8: Tell us about the camera and technical equipment you used. What was the reasoning behind this choice?

DS: We had a BMPCC mostly on a skate and a rig to get the closer, and more action based shots. Those beautiful and energetic scenes you can see in the movie. And then we used the Panasonic GH4 for all the slow-motion shots and the cleaner more panoramic shots. Noe Chavez and Brian Fran on both cameras where so essential for this. Without them this would never have happened. They are both crazy talented.

C8: The score from Hanah Saxton assists in building the film to a climax. How did you work with her to score the film?

DS: Hanah is one of those people with the perfect attitude. I briefed her about what I had in mind, but then I also gave her a lot of creative freedom. As she was sending new versions through we were correcting things and getting closer to the final version. We did this for about one month. She is great. And also super talented.

C8: You also work as an art director on commercials. How does that influence your work as a filmmaker?

DS: As an advertising creative you have to think in how to convey a creative message quick and effective. So I think it’s a great advantage for me when I’m doing a film because I’m always looking to cut out unnecessary scenes or to find a quicker way to tell something. I love art, but for me, if it doesn’t add to the viewer’s life there is no sense in doing it. I always have an eye on the message, and if the viewer will easily get it.

C8: What initially attracted you to filmmaking?

DS: Touching people [emotionally]. I feel that filmmaking combines so many forms of art. I love ideas, but I also love graphic design. I love photography but I also love telling a story. With film I have a chance to do that. It is also the most challenging thing I ever did.

C8: What, in your opinion, makes for a good collaboration?

DS: Finding like minded people who are motivated and all aligned. I don’t like to work with people who are in it just for the money. I want to work with people who’s blood starts to race once we talk about the topic in question.

C8: What is on the horizon for Daniel Soares? Any exciting projects lined up?

DS: I try to create great commercial work and at the same time I’m always on the search for the next great personal project or story to tell. I’m very picky about when to go for the next project, because once I’m committed to it, I can’t think about anything else.

You can follow Daniel Soares on Instagram: https://instagram.com/dani5oares/