EYES WIDE OPEN is a short film based on the influence of knowledge, friendships, and global perspectives Eddie Allegretti experienced during his unusual semester abroad in the spring of 2020. The short film presents an audio-visual trip through the eyes of Eddie Allegretti, featuring his debut single "EYES WIDE OPEN (Revolution Song)". A week after being forced to abruptly return to the United States in the middle of March, Eddie would eerily prophesize the state of our nation and world alike in lyrics that seem to have been summoned from a realm beyond mortal comprehension. The raw acoustic nature of Eddie's style of performing, writing, and production lends itself to the rawness of footage captured throughout this brief blip in time. "EYES WIDE OPEN (Revolution Song)" blares its warning siren to the world through the title track's shocking and aggressive musical arrangement.
The world is changing rapidly. What are your optics? How will you use the short time you have been gifted in this life? You can scream bloody murder all you want with your eyes closed... You will never see a thing without EYES WIDE OPEN.
We spoke to Eddie Allegretti about Eyes Wide Open.
What draws you to filmmaking and the cinematic language?
My life seems to be entirely serendipitous in many ways, which often leads me to believe that life itself is just a movie. With personal perspectives and tales to tell, I believe most people want to be heard in their own way. The power of cinema’s ability to convey a story is what truly draws me to filmmaking. As a lifelong musician, martial artist, and skateboarder, I am heavily influenced by films created by multi-talented indie artist that are deeply passionate about the content they produce. To me, my story and the art it inspires does not feel complete without this cinematic element. I truly respect film as its own art form amongst the others I pursue, and wish to continue to expand my understanding of cinematic language to best tell my story.
Do you believe in film schools or does making a film teach you more than film school?
Nothing can replace raw experience, but I am definitely an advocate for film schools. Much like how I view all education standards, I would hope film schools embrace the individual artists’ strengths and simply provide them with the tools, knowledge, and skills to go out in the world and succeed. I have personally only taken one film studies class during my final semester of high school. Here, I began developing my cinematic eye by dissecting every aspect of the film from the shot, to the scene, to the overarching picture being painted. I am incredibly grateful for the awareness I developed about the way cinematic perspective subtly, yet undeniably enforces the emotions of a story being told. As a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign graduating this year with a degree in environmental sciences, I can say that I would much rather spend my next few years learning at accredited film and music production schools than pursing graduate school for my current field of study.
What makes cinema stand out more than the arts for you?
I do not know if I can honestly say cinema stands out any more in importance than other art forms to me, but as I mentioned before, cinema feels like the artistic icing on the cake. For myself, I have discovered that my art tends to always come back to music. It is the spectacular centerpiece of emotion and passion to what I do, but I learned through the creation of “EYES WIDE OPEN” that cinema has the power to dig many layers deeper into the themes portrayed and stories being told.
Did you choose a certain directing style for making this film based on the script?
First off, there was never any script for this short film/music video. Even the interview section of “EYES WIDE OPEN” was entirely off the cuff without any set talking points. The closest thing to a script would be the song “EYES WIDE OPEN (Revolution Song)” that I wrote during March 2020 (along with over 30 other songs) just after being forced to return home halfway through my spring semester studying abroad in Beauvais, France. Shortly after my return I would write these lyrics that eerily predicted the riots and civil unrest to come in the following months across the country. My only goal for the film stylistically was to create a living image that best reflects the insanity, pain, and confusion many people feel today: A theme I feel I was able to capture through the song’s authentic and expansive acoustic musical arrangement.
How did you choose the cast and the crew of your film?
“EYES WIDE OPEN” the music video was originally created to fulfill my obligatory final project for a class that coincides with study abroad programs, so I honestly never really thought to cast anyone. The class instructors had been bugging me to report back the entire semester while everything in the world was hitting the fan, so needless to say I was focused on creating something positive for myself that would equally be an “F U” to the folks at my university running the study abroad class. Thus, “EYES WIDE OPEN” the short film was born. It was not until my parents suggested that I submit to film festivals did I ever give such a thing the thought. The only crew member other than myself to touch this project was my good friend Ryan Monson, an independent photographer and content creator. He had recently gotten a drone, and I wanted to try and get some cool shots near Chicago on this perfectly gloomy day. I really have to thank Ryan for the incredibly cinematic drone skyline shots (as well as a couple photos) that are featured in this project.
How did you fund your film and what were some of the challenges of making this film?
“Fund” and “budget” are two words that are in no way associated with “EYES WIDE OPEN”. The effective budget of the film was $0.00. That is unless you count the $10 I threw Ryan for gas to drive us into the city the one day we got the one and only drone shot (seen in the final cut) before getting kicked out by security. I made complete use of everything at my disposal as far as videos, photos, recording and editing software and equipment, although resources were minimal. That was a challenge in itself to say the least, but I am proud to say that I was able to film nearly everything (besides drone shots) on an IPhone or IPad, while doing all editing in iMovie on the IPad. Needless to say, I had an extremely limited amount of resources, but I didn’t care. I was hell-bent on bringing this story to life in any Frankenstein type of fashion I possibly could. I’m not a trained film maker by any means, but this little experiment solidifies my hunger to dive much deeper into the world of cinematic production.
Do you consider yourself an indie filmmaker and what would most be the most difficult thing about being an independent artist?
While film is not my primary medium of creative inspiration and passion, I will gladly wear the badge of an indie filmmaker. It is a field that I have had an interest in for as long as I can remember, so it feels surreal to receive such positive feedback from so many people in the film industry especially considering “EYES WIDE OPEN” is my first attempt at film making. There is a lot of hard work that goes into the lifestyle of an independent artist, but the most difficult part of it all is being able to remind myself that when times get rough, I do what I do because I LOVE what I am doing.
What is the distribution plan for your film?
“EYES WIDE OPEN” is publicly available on YouTube, and is also being shown on the Independent Shorts Awards page of the short film streaming site Xerb for being nominated for best music video and best original song in their October 2020 festival circuit.
What is your cinematic goal in life and what would you like to achieve as a filmmaker?
My cinematic goal in life is to continue to work hard, build connections, and produce content so that I can be at a point where I am producing high budget cinematic experiences to supplement the music I create. At the moment, I currently have two more new singles lined up for release with their own music videos, but my sights are locked on producing a full length feature film to accompany my fully written debut album when the time and resources are right. All I can do is trust the process.
What kind of impact would your film have in the world and who is your audience?
My audience is aimed at anyone on the global scale. I hope that “EYES WIDE OPEN” is capable of shocking people from all backgrounds, cultures, and creeds in a way that makes them open their eyes and question what they think they know about the world. After all, everything comes down to perspective.