Giorgio Arcelli

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I remember how we met, Giorgio. On that October day in 2018, I was rushing to the airport and had stopped at your shooting location in Brooklyn. I believe you've worked on "American Marriage" at that time. Tell me about this movie and what forces you to make it real.
I wanted to make this film because it talks about immigration, and about the Green Card. And it's a very hot topic now. It has always been, but especially nowadays, and we always make the mistake to think that immigration only concerns poor people and illegal immigrants. But as, as you know, we all, artists and foreigners, have to deal with immigrations, visas, and problems to stay in America. And this is something that we have to deal with, all of us. So I think that it was about time to make a film about the green card and about the problem getting it and to stay in the country for everybody. I think that also, I wanted to make this a comedy because it would be too easy to make the drama. I like to find the funny aspect of everything and especially when telling a story about an Italian guy who falls in love with an American woman. And, I think that when we talk about important issues, we should always do it with a smile, otherwise we'll never get out of it.
You had released that short film in 2019 on North Hollywood CineFest. Why it's important to show your product at festivals first? Is this always a necessity?
It's very important to go to festivals for two reasons. The first one is to get some visibility. So you can post it and people know when they won awards, when you have to make another project. You can show that you won some awards so you gain more points for producers and crew and actors and everything, but I think the main reason to go to festivals and to attend festival is to meet other artists, other filmmakers that can help in the future with your project or you can help them with their projects. So this is the best thing about going festivals.
What happens to the film after participating in the festival? When it could be shown to the public?
After the movie goes to festival, I found a distribution company which is really difficult for short films. And it's an option, possibility for us to stream it on some platform. But besides that, nothing much happens. So basically what happens after participating to festivals is to make a feature film. That's the only way you can screen in theaters.
Let's go back in time for the moment. How many years have you been in this field? And how come you set one day in the director's chair?
I've been working in films for 20 years now and I've always wanted to be a filmmaker even when I was in high school. I always loved the art and I love creating, painting and writing. So, I thought that filming was a mix of all these arts because there are images, there's music, there is obviously script and acting. And I've made some short videos when I was a teenager and I went to university for media and all this stuff. And I decided I want to be a director and that's what I want to be for the past 20 years and I'm little by little making it.
Were there such moments when you told yourself: "I am done. I don't want to create and work on movies and scripts. I'm going to Italy. Will grow apricots there, play the piano, read books (like heroes from one of my favourite movie "Call me by your name")?
This is a funny question. Because an option is to go back to Italy and grow tomatoes which could happen, but I never thought that I'm going to give up trying to make films because that's what I like to do. I always come up with some ideas. And even though it takes a long time to produce a short film or a feature film, even more, and a lot of money little by little light I do it. I don't know. My next film might be like in 5 years, so I'll do it. I'm not gonna give up.
Back from tomatoes and appricots. What is the most difficult part of your profession?
Well, this connects to the previous question. Meaning that it's very difficult to make films. It's very difficult to find the money and to find people that believe in you and you're always by yourself with your ideas and with the difficulty to make them happen. So, it's very easy to give up. I gave up on many projects. The most difficult part of my profession is being alone. And the tip is try not to be alone. Try to find people who work with you and share your enthusiasts for an idea.
Got it. How about other problems? What kind of them do you like to solve?
Problems to solve. Well, I love to solve problems in the script, especially now we're writing the feature film of American marriage, which is the development of the short film that I think you saw into feature films. So we wrote different version of the script and when I read it to other filmmakers, they give me suggestions and they show me some problems in the script. And the best feeling is that when you rewrite and you solve a problem. You find an idea. You create a new character and that's just lovely. So the writing part is the best part of my job.
Describe me success?
Success for a director is making his films. That's it. Successful director is making film. I guess yeah. The ultimate success is getting paid to do that.

Let's speak about your past projects?
My past projects. The biggest thing is a feature film I directed in Piacenza in Italy 10 years ago. It's called Part-time Princess. It's a romantic, dark comedy set on the beautiful hills of northern Italy, where a woman pretends to be an aristocrat in order to have like a real aristocrat falling in love with her, but then his mother invites her over and so she has to pretend she's a princess. So that's why Part-time Princess because she's not the real princess and it's on iTunes now. It's called the Part-time Princess. Then I made another short film in the United States called the Love Roulette about people meeting online on this website that was popular many years ago, called Chatroulette. So they meet there and they have sex online and then the baby is born on the computer and it's a crazy thing but very funny as well. And then I recently made another one called The New Roommate, another short film about my girlfriend moving out and I have to find a new roommate and this old guy shows up who is all-vegetarian and like all-weird so I had to make friends with this old guy, the new roommate. Then I recently played a leading role in a feature film called Dance Again With Me Heywood!, where I play a guy who walks around New York and he falls in love with an invisible woman. And he's mad because nobody can see her. He's the only one who can see her. It's kind of Feelennial kind of film. And it was a nice experience. My girlfriend at the time and now wife, Sasha, did the cinematography of it. That's it. These are major projects...I think.
Oh! That's wonderful. I saw some of them. I know that you have a production company. Do you? You also shoot both: fashion and commerce (advertising, events). What is more interesting for you: movies or commerce?
Yeah, I have a production company for mostly events, fashion, commercials that pays the bill for sure. Making narratives. It's much more interesting, but for now I use the money that I make in advertising to pay for my short film. So I need both.

How difficult is it to find financing for the production of your own films now? How high is the competition?
Yeah, it's hard. I mean, you have to find people that are willing to give up some money for an artistic cause. I think it's the same in all art forms and to find some donors or some investors in my case, because I have a plan for a feature film. So the way that I found money for my last short film is to get some investors who finance it, with the plan to make the feature film eventually is the one that could make money in theatres. Yeah, there's a lot of competition. Everybody wants to make film, especially in America. There are many, many, many films and a few of them make money. Some of them don't. And you have to prepare to keep making films without making money. My wife is not gonna be happy about that, if that happens. That's why I'm trying to eventually be successful also, on the economic point of view, but as an artist you have to prepare to keep being an artist without making money with your art.
I understand.., but that's not all, what is the hardest part of the shooting process?
The hardest part of the shooting process...Hm...
Well, for me, is to rewrite the scenes. Meaning that, when you are shooting or filming a scene, sometimes the scene doesn't work. And you realise that on the spot and you have to fix it. And you have limited amount of time because you have a crew there and you cannot go over time. So you have to find a solution. And that's really difficult, but it's also challenging. I remember in the last short film, American Marriage, in the last scene, I remember that something was not working with the dialogue so I had to rewrite part of the scene. So I was sitting by myself in a room with all the crew waiting for me. And as I was striving dialogues, I had to be inspired. And when you are forced to be inspired, you are inspired. So it was a good feeling as well afterwards, like God, like I was saved by the bell, but I knew it, I could do it. But it's scary and it's hard. So that's difficult.
Am I say that you are a patient person?
I think so. I think I'm very patient. I'm not in a hurry. I always wait, maybe too patient. Many people who succeed, they are not patient, they are in a rush and they insist and they don't want to wait. I did that mistake in the past. I did the step longer than the lag and so now I learned to wait and little by little to create what I want.
Giorgio, please, share the most shameful or very unusual case on the set?
Shameful or very unusual occasion on set. Let me ask advice. Oh yeah, I made the actress cry. Most shameful case on set was when I made one of the actress cry because I told her something. I don't know what exactly, but something like I didn't like the way she was acting in the scene (something like that). And she took it very personally and she was right. But I was acting and directing. It was difficult so I just said what I thought. And of course for an actress hearing that she's not good, it's bad. She cried and I have to explain that I didn't like something she was doing and that I wanted her to do it differently. And I was sure she was gonna be able to do it and then eventually it worked out and she did what I like.
How about the family (experience and support)? It is important for you that people who your love understand what and why you are doing (even sometimes no matter what)?
My family always supported me in my filming career. They always gave me advice. They try to help in all possible ways. And I don't have anything to say about that. I'm very lucky in that point of view.
Great, I am glad that you have support. You mentioned that you are planning a new movie?
I have two projects in the pipeline. One is the feature film as I mentioned before for American Marriage. And the other one is a short film, set in a Chinese laundry, where a girl who comes from China doesn't speak any English. And she finds all sorts of objects in the pockets of the clients and she thinks about the clients lives and the clients are all like from the upper east side. They're all Americans, but they talk in Chinese because it's the Chinese girls' fantasy. And I think that's funny. So it's another little short film. Little comedy about immigration.
Like you moves. Really. I think nowadays Immigration Topic very important. Trump, for example, is going to depart foreighn students who will study online. How do you see the future after pandemic? Will there any dramatic changes in the movie industry too?
I think that after the pandemic, everything will eventually go back to normal. I don't know when. It will probably take like a year, but I think that everything will get back exactly how it was. So no big changes because of the pandemic, just a big break.
How does this affect you? Or it does not and you see this as a resource?
Pandemic, as always, has everybody, affected me on the economic point of view because there's no job. So we're not making money with events, with commercials. The good thing is that we have a lot of time to write. And that's what I'm doing. I'm writing a lot and thanks to the pandemic (for that), maybe I'm gonna finally finish the script for the film. So there's that.
Name me three most important films in your life? Which somehow influenced your own story or maybe even destiny?
Important films in my life. Okay, I know how to answer that. I'm a big, big Woody Allen fan. Annie Hall is my favorite one. Manhattan is another one. I love Benigni. Johnny Stecchino is one of my favorite film. My inspiration is a guy named Massimo Troisi. He's like Benigni. He died when he was very young, but he made the movie The Postman that won the Oscar in 1995, I think. But before that, he made very kind of Woody Allen-ish kind of movies in Italy. I'm thinking about a movie that changed my life. Not really. I mean, most important film for me is an is Annie Hall by Woody Allen because that's what they want to do.
As a director what is your biggest dream?
Honestly, it's to be able to make the movies that I want, to have some ideas for the next film and the next, next film. I just want to do them and be shown in theatres and go to theatres. I think that's the biggest dream, that my films are shown in theatres. That's it. And if they like them or not, it's up to the public. I cannot dream about them but…
May I ask you to give an advice to new directors.
I don't know. I mean, like, advice to new directors. Well, yeah. That's something that I didn't do. So I advise new directors to hang out with many young people that have the same dreams and to create, to be part of a team, to don't be alone. Don't be alone thinking that you are a genius and you're not gonna make anything valuable now. But if you find a good team, you'll make like 2, 3, like stupid films. And then eventually with your team of writers, producers, costume designers, production designers, cowriters, you will make something beautiful but you cannot make it by yourself.
Thank you, Giorgio, now the last one, I promise. If there were no movie industry what would you do?
If there were no movies I would either paint or write or both. If I could, you know what? I would be directors of operas. I'm not gonna say composer because unfortunately I have no musical talent, but I would operas. Too bad that when there weren't operas playing in the 19th century. There were no directors of operas. But yeah, I could do that. Okay, that's it. Thank you.

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