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A Journey of Self-Discovery, Love, and Dance – Filmmaker Apollo Bakopoulos Shares It All With Us.



In a candid and insightful conversation, filmmaker Apollo Bakopoulos opens up about the deeply personal journey that inspired his latest film, ‘Aligned. Drawing from his own experiences of seeking self-love and acceptance, Bakopoulos crafts a narrative that explores themes of intimacy, identity, and the transformative power of dance. Set against the vibrant backdrops of Hellas and New York, ‘Aligned is a heartfelt exploration of what it means to truly connect with oneself and others, providing a fresh and authentic portrayal of LGBTQ+ relationships in the process.


1. Can you share with us what personal experiences, if any, inspired you to create this film?

Apollo Bakopoulos:

I became aware that for me to feel comfortable and love myself, I relied on external validation and the approval of someone else. I operated under the deluded sense that I was lacking something. I clung to the lie that I would feel more complete if someone else loved me enough. With this awareness also I noticed my reaction towards rejection and what it meant for me when an expectation was not met. It was a profound, life-changing realization.

As I dove into self-love and acceptance, acknowledging my responsibility for my own well-being I committed to write a film that would reflect my journey and feel relatable. The mirroring of the character’s development from fear and rejection to a wiser self recognition of the divine within, is a personal dance. Finally, Hellas, New York and dance were subjects I love and wanted to introduce to the film.


2. Aligned explores themes of self-discovery, love and intimacy using dance as a context. Can you tell us more about what motivated you to tackle these themes?

Apollo Bakopoulos

Those were the themes that I was exploring in my life at that time and as I always loved dance, I decided to use it as a context. Exploration through dance has helped me embrace my true self. I wanted to fill a void in film by creating a story of intimacy between male dancers.


3. How did you arrive at the title Aligned and how is it related to the film’s story?

Apollo Bakopoulos

Alignment is being grounded in my practices such as meditation , journaling , breathwork and dance . It is my daily responsibility to show up authentic and present to avoid seeking external validation. My heart, dreams, and vision must be in harmony to manifest a meaningful and fulfilling life. Peace, happiness, and self-fulfillment don’t happen automatically. They are outcomes of discipline,  inner work and the practice of living according to principles.  The story line follows two main characters who are learning what it is like to become Aligned with their own vision.


4. How important was it for you to make this film and tell its story with the help of dance?

Apollo Bakopoulos

Self-shame and self-hatred can be transcended through the love of dance. People become more authentic and liberated as they dance, breaking barriers about how they should move their bodies in ways they wouldn’t typically. Having worked with dancers and studied movement for years, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for it. The poetry and sensuality of dance move me deeply. I relish capturing moments that reveal the essence of a person’s experience, allowing others to connect and share in that same experience. It’s incredibly liberating and visually inspiring as the audience discovers access to a rarefied place within themselves through the witness of such artistry. Contemplation of the art of movement instills a sense of freedom and possibility that can permeate all aspects of life and reignites the capacity to dream.

Dance was the practice that helped me unlock my own story. So much can be communicated through dance that cannot be expressed in words. Dance has enabled me to embrace my true self, embodying principles like joy, discipline, and freedom both on and off the dance floor. It serves as a reset, quieting busy thoughts and allowing moments of genuine freedom where I can be wholly authentic. Dance encompasses not only performance art but also the art of living; can I embrace both? Moreover, it fosters a deeper, more authentic connection with others and helps me overcome any internalized cultural shame associated with intimate dancing among men. My journey led me to confront these limitations and create a film that inspires genuine intimacy, grace, and freedom, encouraging individuals to express love in ways that feel natural to them. While reflecting on a video from a dance retreat in Costa Rica, showcasing an intimate male pas de deux, I was struck by its beauty and felt a sense of joyful neutrality. The portrayal of an intimate dance between two men holds immense potential for positive impact in our world.  Public displays of men dancing together remain rare. I envision a more inclusive society where such expressions are embraced openly and paint a picture of men as peacemakers.

Apollo Bakopoulos

 5. Can you elaborate on the decision to cast professional dancers rather than actors for the lead roles?

Apollo Bakopoulos

The beauty of professional dance is what moves and inspires me. I love the energy. My last years have been more focused on working with dancers, with most of my projects revolving around movement, dance, and spirituality. We can build and create vulnerable moments without relying heavily on words. It was important to me that the visual experience when watching the film could be “felt”.  I focused on collaborating with people who could embody the principles I was looking for, while exhibiting an innate personal chemistry.


6. You filmed in both Greece and New York. What challenges did that pose for you?

Apollo Bakopoulos:

Matching locations photographically to maintain a coherent overall look over the seasons was challenging . Also actors availability, and raising money especially when COVID hit. However, we used this time for post-production. Taking on a debut feature film shot in two different countries as a producer and director entailed numerous responsibilities and challenges to overcome but the most significant challenge was managing my own expectations, staying engaged in the process, and committing to personal growth. I needed to evolve into the person I knew I needed to be and trust that there was a new version of myself I could embrace and feel safe  in. Staying motivated throughout this process was crucial to completing the task.


7. For a film like this, you had to collaborate with a cinematographer and choreographer. How easy was the collaboration between these two different creative departments to be able to achieve the tone of this film?

Apollo Bakopoulos:

I collaborated with my key crew, including the director of photography and choreographer by engaging in meaningful discussion. We shared our vision and aligned on common values. Our focus centered on an LGBTQ+ narrative, striving to portray positive examples of intimacy within the community, and celebrating the connection between the two characters. Assembling a simpatico group of colleagues was important. I knew that I was in good hands with the choreographer, Yannis Adoniou, as he had ample experience working with male dancers in San Francisco; and the two directors of photography, Stelios Pissas and Dan Kneece, were passionate about telling this story. Stelios is a marvelously talented Greek cinematographer, while Dan worked on David Lynch films such as Mulholland Drive. Most importantly, both were committed to telling this story. We were all driven by passion, playfulness, and enthusiasm as we undertook our work.


8. Were there any specific scenes that were particularly challenging to film or make the story complete?

Apollo Bakopoulos:

Shooting in Times Square and the Brooklyn Bridge were two challenging locations because they are so crowded. The scene in Hellas at the beach when they jump into the water was shot during the wintertime. It was a windy cold day on a secluded beach where you had to hike and carry in all the equipment. I had to convince my actors to jump into very cold water while I was sick with fever and covered in blankets—They were literally screaming. Commitment, love, and passion helped us capture a beautiful scene.


9. What aspects of LGBTQ+ narratives did you aim to highlight and celebrate through the characters and their relationships?

Apollo Bakopoulos:

I wanted to create a healthy representation by providing positive examples of intimacy between men. Normalizing diversity and offering positive role models that promote a healthy self-image and authentic expression was our goal, and we successfully achieved it. Nowadays, we experience more of a blending of gender roles through dancing. Dance opens us up to the possibility of experiencing ourselves in more neutral and fluid ways, which can help us embody these principles into our lives as well.


10. What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers who want to explore themes similar to what you had in this film?

Apollo Bakopoulos:

Commit to daily practices that make you feel grounded within yourself first. Stay disciplined and seek the support you need to achieve your goals. Use teachers , mentors, groups, reflect on past challenges, how you overcame them, and share the lessons learned. Be a part of something bigger than yourself where you can be of service. Stay committed and persevere, regardless of how many times you may fall you learn. Our  experiences shape who we are. Don’t give in to fear.


11. How do you hope Aligned will resonate with audiences and people from different cultural backgrounds and beliefs?

Apollo Bakopoulos:

I believe the core existential issues presented in the film are universal. Most people from different cultural backgrounds can relate with the pain of living a life based on self limited beliefs. We invite people to turn to the beauty of dance and love of the body as art on the journey of revealing hidden parts of the self. I believe we can all relate to some extent with this experience.


12. What future projects or themes are you considering as a filmmaker, in your films subsequent to the release of Aligned ?

Apollo Bakopoulos:

I am exploring similar topics to Aligned but at a much deeper level. I aim to delve into various aspects of identity and intimacy, and to create films that suggest tools which, when implemented into one’s life, provide an impetus for a fuller expression of principle in one’s day-to-day experience. I aim to keep holding safe space for empowerment, deep exploration of identity, sexuality, self-love, and acceptance, particularly with LGBTQ youth; to normalize diversity and provide positive role models that foster a healthy self-image and encourage authentic expression. I’m creating a new genre in film narrative, one which is a more motivational way of storytelling.


13. Lastly, what’s the message that you would like viewers to take away after they have seen this film?

Apollo Bakopoulos:

The audience should expect some of their values to be challenged as they embark on a journey in Hellas and New York. It is my hope that they will fall in love with both places and perhaps pose these questions to themselves: “What does self-love mean to me personally? What do I truly want out of life? To find my bliss, what am I willing to let go of?” Additionally, the aim of the film is to inspire the younger generation to consider an example of healthy sexuality, a representation that sometimes seems to be lacking in popular media. Learning to love and accept the self in this moment allows for the expression of life’s immediacy and vitality.


As ‘Aligned prepares to make its mark on audiences worldwide, Apollo Bakopoulos hopes the film will resonate deeply across cultural boundaries, prompting viewers to reflect on their own journeys of self-discovery and acceptance. By challenging societal norms and showcasing the beauty of intimate connections through dance, Bakopoulos aims to inspire a new generation to embrace their true selves and foster a healthier, more inclusive representation of love. With future projects on the horizon, Bakopoulos remains committed to exploring the complexities of identity and intimacy, continuing to use his unique narrative style to empower and uplift the LGBTQ+ community.


Second on my list of addictions is Movies.. the only thing I could possibly love more is my Dearest Waakye lol. Nothing else does a better job of reminding me that ANYTHING is possible with the right amount of effort. I have great eye for details and flaws in scripts. Shallow scripts bore me. I am an avid reader. Your everyday Mr Nice guy. Always the last to speak in a room full of smart people. Half Human, half Martian but full MOVIE FREAK.

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