“I knew I needed something to save me”
An interview with the people behind ‘Make The Connection’ film.
Last Friday morning I booted up Skype to talk to Albert Sobilo and Antonino Barbaro, two of the people behind the upcoming feature length film on veganism, Make The Connection.
The film, which is due in early spring 2018, explores how social media is becoming a driving force in the vegan movement. It follows Albert’s journey into veganism and tells the stories of other vegans in the UK. The film’s title also covers another aspect which is explored in the film – the hope that the film itself can help non-vegans to ‘make the connection’ between the food they consume, and where it comes from.
There are currently two teaser trailers out for the film, which we’ve included at the end of the interview. Now let’s cut to the chase and get on with the questions.
Where did the idea for Make The Connection come from?
Albert: We were working together in the theatre. We were bored and talking about all sorts of things like life and filmmaking. I told Antonino I’d been trying to do some stuff on YouTube about veganism as that was what I was passionate about. He said, “Why YouTube? Let’s do a feature documentary.”
We worked with so many creative people who are amazing and super talented so we had all the people and skills and passion – we just lacked the money. Antonino asked me how I became vegan so I told him my story and he said it was cool. So the film is a little bit about me and then we wanted to have a journey in there. There are so many amazing places in the UK for vegans. It was really important for us to talk to as many people as possible.
The title covers two aspects – helping non-vegans make the connection to a vegan lifestyle, and the connection within the vegan community. How do you feel the vegan community differs from other groups in society?
Albert: The positivity behind it and the will to make things better and improve things. It’s not selfish or self-centered. Veganism is about compassion and what’s around you. I was in the hospital using my Instagram to find out more about veganism and I was getting messages of support and I started to see the difference. Everyone wanted to support each other.
Through social media people can get to know more about veganism. They can see real people and read recipes and see it’s not expensive to be vegan. And they can see that ‘real people’ are vegan – it’s not just hippies and tree huggers. We really want to show the tremendous role of social media in the vegan movement.
For some background, how long have you two been vegan?
Antonino: I’m actually not vegan.
Albert: That’s one reason why we decided to make the movie.
Antonino: When I met him I was very interested in his story and veganism. In London there are lots of vegan people and places. I was very intrigued because my culture is still heavily imprinted on me – I’m from Italy and it isn’t popular there, in my experience.
I really want to know about veganism and meet vegans and talk to them and go deeper into the philosophy and find out what the big picture is. The people who are active are the people who I want to meet in life.
Albert: I thought making the film with Antonino would be interesting because I’m very open-minded. I don’t like radical people who think life is black and white. I don’t want to teach or preach – I want to make a film about a valuable and important subject. It’s also interesting for people watching the film because this isn’t a film about veganism made exclusively by vegans. This is a film about veganism by filmmakers.
We just want people to give us their time. We want them to watch the movie without making assumptions and then if they want to be vegan afterwards then great.
How long have you been vegan then, Albert?
Albert: I’d been vegetarian for 15 years. I thought I was doing enough and I was doing some activism and stuff. I didn’t have the right people around me to point me in the right direction, I was so centred on ‘me, me, me’. I always thought veganism would be too hard and all the bullshit.
Since childhood I’ve had health problems. Then, towards the end of 2015 it was really bad and I knew I needed something to save me. I ate a lot of shit – I ate junk food. I thought it was time to go vegan so I read books and watched films and found people on Instagram. Through social media I met a lot of people and got inspired.
My health improved and it was amazing and then shit went down. In June I had a serious health problem and they told me that if I hadn’t have been eating healthy for the past 10 months I’d be dead already.
[Albert then told me what the health problem was, but asked that I keep it to myself as it’s a key part of the film]
Albert: So after that, we had to make a movie.
Are you editing the film now?
Albert: Yeah we’ve started. We’ve had a few delays – money and our editor had a cold – it was a little late but now we’re back on track.
Antonino: The full trailer is coming out soon.
Albert: It requires a lot of work. It’s about 90% there. The music is done, the voiceover is done, the colour grading is done. The trailer will be premiering at Vevolution at the end of the month, and then it will be available online. The poster is amazing too. We really want to focus on the art aspect. That should be out next week.
Where will people be able to watch the film once it’s released?
Albert: We have a goal – Netflix, the holy grail on filmmaking at the moment. We’ve made some contacts with people who already work with Netflix, they want to see the trailer so we’re waiting to have the proper trailer done before we really push it. We want to go around some festivals with it.
After that, we’ll upload it to some streaming platform, maybe YouTube Red, or Amazon Prime or Netflix. The only thing we really care about it making it available for as many people as possible. It’s based in the UK and showcases the UK vegan scene but everyone should be able to enjoy it and connect with it.
We want to open people’s hearts so they can relate to other people’s stories. Let’s be honest – people know what happens to animals, it’s not like it’s a shock to them. So these people need to make a deeper connection first. Something needs to happen in their lives and then they can be ready to think about their beliefs and their actions.
Antonino: You need to move people from the inside. We’re trying to plant a seed.
Albert: That’s the point – we’re not pointing fingers or patronising or belittling people. We just want to showcase the amazing people in the UK movement.
Here’s the film’s website.
Here’s Albert’s Instagram.