Filmmaker, screenwriter and actor Ariel Lavi has just completed production on the hotly anticipated documentary project “The Corona Diaries” which shares stories of people from all over the world during the pandemic.
Having studied screenwriting since the age of 15, the filmmaker set himself an ambitious task to produce a a film that could share personal experiences of people from all backgrounds and cultures during the pandemic. While completing his studies at the University of Haifa, Ariel worked 20+ hour days to bring his vision to life, launching his global casting call which saw participants from around the world get involved in the ambitious shoot. “The Corona Diaries” is currently completing post-production.
Discover Ariel’s extraordinary journey in producing the film with people taking part from 5 continents, and learn more about his latest projects in our exclusive interview.
In discussion with Ariel Lavi
You’re in post-production on “The Corona Diaries.” How did this project come about?
Ariel: I posted on social media and asked people who were interested to participate to contact me with their stories. Dozens of people from many countries jumped at the chance and approached me. We have a participant in Norway, an alcoholic, who in the middle of filming went to jail. We have very poor cast members from Africa and also a Hollywood producer and actress whose career has stalled, and she tells how she overcomes the lack of work. It was amazing to see how many people wanted to participate in this project. Within a day, my email was full of messages. I wanted viewers to be exposed to the stories and personal experiences of people from all over the world during this challenging time. It turns out that there is no better place to live right now than your home.
What were some of the challenges you faced during the pandemic?
Ariel: The challenges stemmed first of all from the great fear of the disease, the limitations, the inability to have physical contact with people but I discovered that the positive side of life can also be found.
How did you organize your shoot globally to include so many participants from various countries?
Ariel: Everyone documented themselves using private iPhones or with a private video camera because of the constraints. We made the film with no budget at all. We also had a lot of exchanges of participants. We wanted to reach the right participants for this project, and sometimes a participant who started with us, did not fit and I had to tell them that they won’t continue with us anymore and it was not easy. As an actor, being the one who says ‘no’ to the participant, it is not easy at all. When the finalists were selected, there was a fear that they would suddenly disappear. As a student at the University of Haifa, I had to work on the film at the same time, and at the same time conduct strange conversations at night with people from the other end of the world. Sometimes I would only sleep two hours a night and then get up for school.
Can you share some insights into your production company and the types of projects you work on?
Ariel: I started with a partner named Shahar Gaham – director and video editor of a new production company in Los Angeles called Golden Space Entertainment. We are currently producing two films – one about a robbery, and the other of a client with special needs who wrote a very exciting and interesting script and we expect a well-known actor to join the film.
When you decided to study acting, what did you discover? How did this shape your perspective on a creative career?
Ariel: I started screenwriting at the age of 15, and already at a young age I played in the Studio Theater in Haifa. This theater is considered as a major fringe theater. That’s where my journey in this field began. I participated in plays by Shakespeare and Moliere and American playwrights, so I can say that I have ten years’ experience in the field. I am a union actor and writer in a few international guilds such as The British actors guild Equity, The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and The Dramatist Guild of America Broadway, and in many other guilds. I studied screenwriting at British universities; I studied with a Hollywood acting coach and in The Lee Strasberg Film & Theater Institute. I’m also working on my English demo reel and I’m working on my American accent.
How did you first get your break into the film industry?
Ariel: Mainly thanks to determination and perseverance.
When can we expect to see your latest film? Will you be submitting it to festivals?
Ariel: I cast and produced a short film called “InHouse” which took us almost a month. My partner Shahar Gaham wrote, directed and edited the film, and one of our actors went into isolation just before filming. Finally, after some uncertainty, we managed to meet the task and were accepted to a new international short film festival called Hbayta with a panel of referees from Hollywood like Nancy Spielberg and Ayelet Zorer – it was a crazy experience.
What advice would you give to others that want to make it in Hollywood?
Ariel: First, to believe and not be afraid to think big. Do not relate to what others say and just believe in what you are doing
Any projects in the works we should know about?
Ariel: So right now there are the two short films, and there are two scripts that are in the process of being written. One of them is very different and a revolutionary horror film, and the other one that talks about rape and intercourse with a teenager that is an Instagram anchor by a famous character. I also plan to produce a psychological thriller based on a story I have written. There is always something to work on.