SebRT.com welcomes ROBERTO BENTIVEGNA a British / Italian film director that first grabbed my attention with his latest film “Rest Stop for the Rare Individual” I wrote about my first impressions of that movie a few days ago, which you can check out here. Roberto and I had a great chat yesterday during which we talked film-maker to film-maker about the good times and bad times producing his latest film. Roberto and I watched his film together and he gave me an exclusive first Director’s Commentary from a director who is sure to be very important in our field in no time at all. After you read the interview you can check Youtube for Roberto’s other work.
Hello Roberto, now we have our sound problems sorted out and I can hear you!
I saw your latest film just the other day and just had to talk to you; does your work have that effect on a lot of people?
With this film more than the others. It has definitely struck a cord with people. The AIDS documentary was quite moving and people really responded to it, and the film before that, The Mirakle, got some very nice responses as well. But the thing is, with short films you really have to do so much self promotion if you want people to see your work. I guess I didn’t realize this in the past. You don’t get reviews in Empire or Variety and therefore I have decided to push “Rest Stop for the Rare Individual” more than I have with other past films.
How did you start out, at what age and why?
I was about 19 and I went to Emerson College in Boston. I got a degree in English and Film. I always wanted to make movies but I never really knew how to do it. I had a Hi-8 camera and I would do very bad documentaries about bumble bees and little Hitchcock spoofs. I didn’t even know about editing so I would cut in camera. Everyone has their own rhythm and some take more time to figure it all out than others. I got into it gradually, but I was always obsessed with it and I knew that I wanted to make films from a very young age- 8, perhaps.
I liked the way you shot “Rest Stop.” Was there a particular look you were going after for that film?
There was definitely a look. My three huge inspirations are Kubrick, Lynch and Scorsese and of course Hitchcock, for educational reasons. I don’t love Hitchcock films but I absolutely admire them and am in awe at his technical proficiency. And I guess I injected some Hitchcockian elements into “Rest Stop” by exposing the “straight man” to some really fucked up stuff happening around him. I wanted an all American, good- looking guy in the picture that looks like he was totally in control. A.J was great for that reason. As far as the locations go, I shot in the pink room at the Chelsea because I got great vibes from it and it worked well with the whole homo-erotic theme in the film. Paul literally falls into the rabbit hole. I like to have a connection with the place I am shooting in. Sometimes you walk into a place and get a really good vibe, you know?
Speaking of looks, what kind of camera did you use to shoot “Rest Stop”?
It was shot in Digital on a Panasonic HVX- an HD Camera. It’s good, it’s really good. It’s got the body of a 1970’s Oldsmobile but the engine of Ferrari. It’s not terribly expensive anymore, I think it around 5000 dollars.
When you walk around as you wonder your world are you constantly seeing shots you could use in some future picture?
I do, of course. It is very hard to switch off. I think you are always constantly worried about something or thinking about your next film. I think what we do is surprisingly underrated. People see the Academy Awards, but they don’t know what the guys in the tuxes actually do. They must have spent days and hours being happy and sad and miserable and elated, but they are all dolled up for that one night, at the awards, because they have created something special together and are sharing it with the world. It’s really surreal to watch. It’s a very conflicting world. You have something so superficial but so deep and so consuming.
What was the production time for your latest film, from start to complete package?
I wrote the screenplay in mid-July in London. It came out of nowhere. I thought it would be cool to do something in the Chelsea hotel. I write very quickly once I know what I am doing and I had the script done in about a week. Once the producers agreed to fund we got everything going. Took three weeks for pre-production, we shot for four days and then we did post and it took me about a month and a half to edit. Unfortunately we lost the scene with Felix in the data transfer and had to go back to the hotel and re-shoot it. So it took about 4 months from start to end.
Even though it is a rather simple looking film with no extreme SFX or VisFx, Rest Stop must have taken money to produce…as a student how did you finance the film?
The final cost of the film was 4000 dollars. I would just like to thank Capital Media Arts, Hanley Braginsky and Jason Keis, who were simply fantastic.
So when is your first feature and can I be your AD?
Sure, if we meet in person that would be great! (Read below for feature news)
Do you recommend any books for aspiring film-makers?
On Filmmaking by Alexander Mackenrick
Movie Maker’s Masterclass
On Directing Film by David Mamet
Making Movies by Sydney Lumet
Who are your role models as a director?
Federico Fellini, Stanley Kubrick, Luchino Visconti, Brian de Palma… and so many more.
What’s next for Roberto Bentivegna?
I am going to film this very very low budget immigrant film within the next couple of weeks that I am very far behind on at the moment. I should be working on it 24 hours a day if I am ever going to be ready for it when we shoot… but you can never be completely prepared. That’s what makes it so exciting and terrifying at the same time. I am interviewing film-makers on www.ifc.com – this year. So there is a lot going on at the moment. Not to mention that I am hoping to do a feature very soon – I am hoping to film a thriller in Shanghai.
Where can the readers see your work and how can they contact you if they have a story they want you to print to film?
Sure, you can check out my website at www.robertobentivegna.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Well thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview Roberto, you certainly are a director to watch!
Thanks Sebastian, its been a pleasure!