It’s #FollowFriday and this week’s #FeaturedFilmmaker is Alessandro “Panda” Lopes, creator of a web series called City of Hope. The series is a fictional depiction of a true story taken from the points of view of the four main characters who have been thrown into the dark world of the human trafficking trade. The story is told from the vantage point of the victim who is the main subject of the story, the FBI agents investigating a king pin of the trade, an NYPD officer whose sister was kidnapped, and the king pin himself.
In our interview, Alessandro tells us he started writing City of Hope about a year ago. From the start he reached out to various women’s organizations to help promote the series. All of which have been great at supporting him throughout the process of this project. “Right now we’re in the middle of production. We are about a fifth to a quarter of the way [through filming the series]. We still have a long way to go.”
Part of the promotional endeavor for the series is a photo project called “Women of the World”, where a photographer will take pictures of women around the world which will be accompanied with a profile of them, what they do for a living and how they think they plan to change the world. This will not only promote the film but also promote awareness to their online community on the topic of violence against women. That this can happen anywhere and to anyone.
On set Alessandro wears a number of hats with this project. He’s director, writer, camera operator, cinematographer and eventually editor. “We have a crew of about 20 to 25 people. It’s a big crew mainly because of scheduling. If someone is not available there is someone else available [to take their place], so it works out. I’m really thankful to have so many people [working on the project].”
Family is a big support system as well for Alessandro as well. His dad is a director /producer, “who pushes me to be better.” His mom is always encouraging and supportive as well. “I am proud of myself but not enough. I don’t want to be too proud of myself yet because I know I can work harder with anything, especially my films. I always take with me something my football coach in high school said, ‘If you work your butt off now, things will come easier in life. You will get better results and you’ll be happier with yourself.’ And they do. I’ve been taking that with me since my senior year in high school.”
When I asked where he sees himself 10 to 20 years down the line, he said the following: “Right now with a few friends we’re putting together a production company called Pandaworks. My nickname is Panda, and I have a panda tattoo. I help out at a nursery school a lot and the kids always hug me and call me Panda, so that’s where that comes from. I want to be a cinematographer. I like to watch Adorama’s tutorials online about how to light and how to do anything, it really helps me. I’m really enthusiastic about lighting and camera work. Trying my best to learn everything about it.