Archive for the 'director' Category

Filmmaker ROBERTO BENTIVEGNA Speaks to

January 14, 2007

roberto 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?

Yes. Absolutely…

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 – 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 or email me at

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!



Roberto Bentivegna – His New Film – Definitely a Director to Watch!

January 10, 2007

I am a member of the forums at IMDB which is of course the Internet Movie Data Base. I have started hanging around in the director’s and the writer’s forums and have been able to read some interesting material. A lot of posts link you to some pretty mediocre film work as you get all kinds of people on forums, but a lot of the material advertised there is pretty good, even REALLY good, like this one.

The video above is from the director and writer, Roberto Bentivegna. The piece is called “Rest Stop for the Rare Individual” and in my opinion is the finest short film I have seen. The acting in the short is dead on and from the beginning it had my attention right through to the end of the credits.

There are only a couple of things I would like to point out that I would have done differently should it have been me in the director’s chair.

-At the beginning of the picture the teacher’s acting seems a little wooden, not totally but in places. I think it could have been hammered out with another take or two. Maybe Roberto was under the clock and he didn’t have the time to retake that sequence.

-There was some camera shake when Paul is climbing the stairs and the camera’s POV is from above. This may have been intentional, such as the nasty guy watching him come up the stairs and we are seeing through his eyes, but I think it is just a tiny production oversight.

Although I am not bothered myself, I think that the content of the video should be given an adult rating, not just for the swearing because it seems that swearing is everywhere these days but for the content of the bad guy’s soliloquy towards the end and the inappropriate sexual references to minors.

I say I am not bothered by the fact that there is no rating and I was not bothered by the content because there are people like that and showing one of film, especially with the recent fad or so it would seem of the media crucifying pedophiles, is an extremely innovative and courageous act on the part of the writers. The actor plays the character very well and effectively gives the viewer the creeps.

I would definitely say that Roberto is a director to keep your eye on in the next few years. He is coming up with original and abstract ideas and I am going to see about getting him for an interview here at I have a feeling I could learn a lot from him and relish the opportunity to speak with such an obviously skilled writer / director.

My Cardinal Rules For Producing a Music Video

December 11, 2006

I have to admit that I am guilty of annoying people when they are trying to watch MTV. When I tell them what I think of the editing of the video that they are enjoying. I frequently say something like “You know, if that video were cut more on the beat it would work so much better.”

When I’m not bothering others I usually tap the beat out myself, and decide where I would cut it, if I were the editor. So I decided to write about this topic if for no other reason to simply help me organise my thoughts.

I genuinely believe most music videos that are being produced could profit from some better editing. For example, the artist could be walking along, but in perfect rhythm to the music. With the proper coverage and the director and artist paying close attention to the rhythm of the music this is the kind of raw material the video editors need to really work his or her magic.

Even less than perfect footage can be transformed into dynamic, visually charged material for the video that might have otherwise ended up on the “cutting room floor.”

The video above is brilliant example of both sides of the equation. It is one of my all time favourite songs, but it was not until yesterday that I saw the music video on YouTube. The song is happy, the beat is lively and the colours used in the video are vivid. Not only is the video’s cinematography exciting but the editing is, for the most part, quite good. There are several points in this video where the editing is not good and is not executed directly on time.  You can not only tap your foot to the beat of the song and to the beat of the cuts the editor executed. The activities and movement of the characters in the video are enhanced by the precision editing making this a truly excellent peice.

There are a few cardinal rules that I use when editing video footage to music, including but limited to:

  • Create Entertaining and Engaging Visuals
  • Fast cutting, But not too fast that becomes distracting.
  • Cut the video to music, not vice versa.
  • The use “tap your foot” method I described above

Watch the music video above with a director’s eye and you will notice everything I am describing. Start tapping your foot on the first beat of the song and watch the visuals closely. In the first few cuts, watch the singer tapping the bar and the raising of the ketchup bottle, even the sweeping brush is going with the beat. The perfectly timed editing occurs throughout the song. Particularly note its use when the sink is spewing water towards the end, the action in the video is ON the beat.

To a music video editor, the concept of rhythmic editing should be the most obvious and important factor. But for those who “don’t get it”, there is still hope! I am no expert at producing music videos, but I have directed, produced and edited a few and I always try to follow the “rules of rhythm” when editing music videos.

I owe a lot of my understanding of rhythm and “editing on the beat” to my studies of the record spots produced by my friend Joe Klein. His tutelage has helped me grasp some of the fundamentals of editing audio and I was able to carry them over to my video editing endeavors. If you have a music video project that you are working on and have found this useful, feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment.