By Michael Grondin
CALGARY – Nick Luzietti is the Secret Poppo, an eccentric artist who uncovers a mysterious conspiracy while trying to find his missing granddaughter. Through twists and turns, introspection and detection, this quirky and colourful production showcases the wild mind of Jonald Byron (Luzietti) as he picks up clues and goes on a quest in a bizarre mystery.
The Secret Poppo was co-directed by Sean Pierce, Zach Harris and Nevi Cline and produced by Karen Schmitz of Chicago’s Punctuation Productions. It’s second film produced by this crew of friends following Meathead Goes Hog Wild, which also showcased Luzietti and screened at CUFF 2015.
“It’s a film we made because we love Nick Luzietti, and basically we wanted a movie that celebrated how awesome he is and showcases who he is,” explains Sean Pierce during a phone call from Chicago.
The Secret Poppo is versatile and dynamic, with rich colours and quick camera movements that take you inside Jonald’s mind with interludes on green screen reminiscent of old spy films.
“Nick is larger than life, and we wanted the colours to pop off the screen and follow his thoughts. He improvised almost all of his lines and he brought tons of energy to the project,” says Pierce. “It’s a starring vehicle for Nick Luzietti the person.”
Luzietti, an architect and designer from Chicago, says he had a blast transporting himself into a new reality within his own spaces.
“These guys are pirates. They just know how to steal… you, and who you are. They had a cool story,” he says. “But who am I going to play? ‘Me,’ they said. I’m picking out my clothes in the closet, I’m walking around my house, looking at my art, my accordion. But, we really went to new places because we were so immersed.”
Luzietti says the initial ideas of the film went through a lot of evolution, given the free interpretation he was given to the story.
“This film changed and grew and flipped over and did a couple somersaults, and tripped over itself and turned into a few different things before it got to the end,” he explains. “What’s beautiful about this movie: it’s layered. Some movies are very chronological, and that’s not what this is.
There’s one story, the one where the Secret Poppo is searching for his granddaughter, and then there’s the other story of what he’s thinking, what’s happening in his head.”
Luzietti, who will be in attendance at this year’s CUFF along with some crew and cast, says small independent films such as The Secret Poppo give way to ideas you can’t find anywhere else.
“It’s kinda like a jazz band in which each one of these instruments talk to each other, and the story in Poppo, and the images, and the voiceover, and the crew and the cast are like all of these different instruments playing the same song, but the horn never sounds like the piano, you know.”
The Secret Popo will screen as part of CUFF April 20, 9:45 pm at The Globe CinemaCUFF, The Globe Cinema, The Secret Poppo