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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



Interview with Writer/Director Marco Calvani for 'The View from Up Here' (2017)

Interview with Writer/Director Marco Calvani for 'The View from Up Here' (2017)

New York based Italian writer/director Marco Calvani's latest short film 'The View from Up Here' (2017) is a drama about contrasts in culture, worldview and perspective in today's geopolitical climate. Set in New York, neighbors Claire (Melissa Leo) and Lila (Leïla Bekhti) face a complicated situation when forced to live beside each other despite their polarized differences. Produced by Falling Up Films and Move Movie, it held its world premiere at the 2017 Savannah (SCAD) Film Festival and most recently screened at the 8th Annual Napa Valley Film Festival. 



You're an actor, director, writer for stage and film. Is there a medium you like the most or is it all fulfilling?

MARCO: I began my professional journey as an actor when I was a teenager. Only a few years later, when I was in my early twenties, I started to write plays and then to direct my own work. In retrospect, I can see how one path helped and nurtured the other spontaneously. However, I haven’t acted in quite some time now. To be an actor you need time, energy and patience and right now I’d rather give all to tell my stories.


Can you tell us about your latest work that has been going to festivals this past year, The View From Up Here? 

MARCO: 'The View from Up Here' was originally a play commissioned by The Actors Studio and directed by Estelle Parsons. The production was very well received; and when producers Dean Ronalds and Emanuela Galliussi at Falling Up Films approached me with the idea of turning the play into a film, I immediately embraced the opportunity and decided to make my cinema debut. When the movie script was ready, we realized that the material was indeed very strong and timely, so it all happened very quickly. I found myself surrounded by a “dream team”- award-winning French producer Bruno Levy decided to co-produce it, Bruce Weber jumped on board as executive producer, Tony nominee Jeff Mahshie came on as head of the set and costume departments, Emmy nominee Mauricio Rubinstein as cinematographer and internationally celebrated composer Diego Buongiorno was in charge of the original theme. All very exciting and extremely flattering.


Is the film based on real events or mainly inspired by current geopolitical issues? 

MARCO: I was inspired by the current situation all around the world. It was beginning of 2016 and, at that time, Trump wasn’t even officially running for president. But the terrible tragedy of millions of refugees and the increasing fear among western citizens were already incandescent. My work is always driven by the political climate we live in and I always try to give voice back to the people who have lost it in the world.


You have some incredible talent in your film with Melissa and Leïla. How were they to work with?

MARCO: It was indeed incredible to work with them. I’m so blessed to have been cinema-baptized by these two amazing actresses, two real forces of nature. Both of them knew they were at the mercy of an important message. They worked so hard and with such relentless creativity and sincere depth. They really made my words shine, more than I could have ever imagined. It was amazing to see Melissa getting past her fears of being “too mean”, and to see Leïla facing the challenge of playing in a language not her own for the first time. 


Do you feel it's easier working with actors as a director being one? 

MARCO: Absolutely! Great actors are very delicate creatures who constantly put all of themselves into the work, leaving their lives behind the door and welcoming a new one in front of the camera. To do so they need to feel safe, they need to be in a trustful environment and most of all they need a director who can empathize with their creative process. 


In your opinion, is it difficult to make and distribute indie films among today's majors Netflix, Amazon, etc.? 

MARCO: The opposite. With these Streaming services and Online services it's now far easier to get your films in front of an audience, since they not only create and distribute their own shows, but buy others. Look at Netflix for example, where many low budget "indie" movies that never got a theatrical distribution are available with them, even if numerous may have also had DVD sales. Of course, you may not get the money you would like, but "indie" filmmakers generally do it for the love and not the money!


How has your film festival experience been this year with audiences seeing the film?

MARCO: Unfortunately, I had the chance to attend only a few of the many festivals where the film was screened. I was in Savannah last year for the world premiere at their awesome festival, last Summer in Galway (Ireland) and most recently in New York for a special event at the Lincoln Center. Audiences have been so different, so kind to me and so responsive to the work. In all of the above mentioned occasions, a Q&A followed the screening and it was such a gift to be able to meet the audience, answer their questions and to share visions and feelings.   


I've heard you have something interesting in the works. Can you speak about what you're working on next?

MARCO: 'The View from Up Here' was such an incredible experience that I immediately felt the need and the desire to go back on set as soon as possible. I have another short film in pre-production called 'A Better Half' due to be shot in New York beginning of 2019. I am also writing two features films, an American one and a French one, both with amazing talents already attached. Sorry, I can’t reveal anything else at the moment. And last but not least, my play 'Beautiful Day Without You' just recently world premiered Off-Broadway under the direction of Erwin Maas in New York.



Interview by Vanessa McMahon


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