Simone Bartesaghi is an Italian award-winning filmmaker who has been recognized by the Directors Guild of America (DGA) and AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producer) as an artist with “Extraordinary Ability in Directing”.
At the age of 24 Simone received his Master’s Degree in Economics at the University of Pisa, Italy. Three years later he established a successful Consulting Company specializing in Corporate Organization and Planning. In 2001 he gave up his thriving career to pursue his childhood dream.
Two years later he won several prizes as the Writer/Director of short films, but the highest recognition came when he won the first and second place at the Milan International Film Festival, and became the recipient of both the Top and second Award, TWO Scholarships for THE LOS ANGELES FILM SCHOOL.
Only four years after his arrival in the United States, he directed his first feature film DOWNSTREAM, that acquired a theatrical release and also received the prestigious Accolade Award.
Simone’s second feature RUN, a 3D film that he wrote and directed, has won several prizes including Best Screenplay and Best Emerging Director and is distributed in USA by Millennium. The movie is about the new discipline Parkour (Freerunning) with a rich cast including Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight), Adrian Pasdar (Heroes), Kelsey Chow (Pair of Kings) and William Moseley (Chronicles of Narnia).
Simone’s accomplishments and communicative skills have been recognized by many educational organization around the world and he is now an Adjunct Professor in Filmmaking at the prestigious Santa Monica College.
Simone is also a published author with his book “The Director’s Six Senses”, an innovative, unique, and engaging approach to the development of the skills that every visual storyteller must have.
The Director’s Six Senses is an innovative, unique, and engaging approach to the development of the skills that every visual storyteller must have. It’s based on the premise that a director is a storyteller 24/7 and must be aware of the “truth” that he or she experiences in life in order to be able to reproduce it on the big screen. Through a series of hands-on exercises and practical experiences, the reader develops the “directorial senses” in order to be able to tell a story in the most effective way.
Enjoy my conversation with Simone Bartesaghi.
Alex Ferrari 0:00
This episode is brought to you by Indie Film Hustle Academy, where filmmakers and screenwriters go to learn from Top Hollywood Industry Professionals. Learn more at ifhacademy.com. I'd like to welcome to the show Simone Bartesaghi how are you doing Simone?
Simone Bartesaghi 0:16
Very good thank you. Very good.
Alex Ferrari 0:19
Thank you so much for coming on the show. I worked. I worked hard on that name pronunciation. So I hope I did. Okay.
Simone Bartesaghi 0:25
Very good. You did very well. You did very well thank you.
Alex Ferrari 0:32
So thank you for coming on the show my friend, I wanted you to come on the show because you have a book called The director's six sense. And I have the book here. And everybody should definitely check it out. And we're going to talk all about your approach to directing which I'm really excited when I you know, when I was looking over the book, it was a very interesting approach and how you do things. So before we get into the meat and potatoes of the book, how did you get started in the business?
Simone Bartesaghi 1:00
Well, I always had a passion for storytelling in general. Since I was a kid really and for for part of my life, I went to a different direction, I didn't think that I really even at the seven was actually a director or a screenwriter behind I was just watching them and being excited and actually writing the stories when I was back in Italy, but then I got my MBA from University of Pisa get a business started and got married and life was proceeding in a kind of normal direction. And then slowly, the desire to do more creative work so to emerge, and my wife is way smarter than me for Christmas, give me a gift and it was three months attendance, night class about filmmaking and at the end of these three months, we are meeting every Wednesday night for three hours and at the end of that we will shoot a short and so for the first time in my life I had a project to say action. And I still remember that night I still remember this man I still remember everything about it because it was the moment that I thought okay, these were the progress of my life. Then moment of focus of everything, everybody around you're working so hard to achieve a common result and then that momentous shift between the real world that is as preparing and working with lives and always to many people in this small space. And then on a sideways when you say action everybody just stop reading. And the only thing that comes alive is actually the what you created what the fantasy that you had until you sang before. And so that transition became kind of a ritual and something else over certain religious religion element for me. And I got hooked and I started to shoot more shirts and a few years later I want actually a festival you need I was filming an international festival and that festival that year, I was very lucky the price was actually the full tuition for the egocentrism school program. Yeah. So they shipped me here in 2004 When my wife decided to do this adventure together and at the end of the 12 months we were ready to go back to Italy when I got the first offer for the job and and now you're still here
Alex Ferrari 3:40
You're stuck there you haven't escaped yet. You haven't escape yet.
Simone Bartesaghi 3:43
No, no no. Actually, now even American citizen so we do the the full transition.
Alex Ferrari 3:51
That's amazing. I always like to refer to what we do as the beautiful sickness. Because it is it is it is exactly that is beautiful. But it is an absolute sickness is a compulsion that we have to continue to make movies and create and there's no logic behind what we do. Like in the sense of like, a normal human being with leave after certain like if you get beat up as much as you do in this process.
Simone Bartesaghi 4:18
Yeah, and you know, the dishes that you know, because it comes out through passion. It doesn't die and you almost would be willing to pay to do it.
Alex Ferrari 4:31
But that's the sickness. It's it but that's the sickness that's the thing and you just you you would it's like I You mean I get paid to do this. Like I still remember the first time I got a check for directing. I'm like, wait a minute, I would have done this for free. I have no problem doing this for free. But of course not of course not. And of course not. I'm way past the days of I'll do it for free. I've got a family to support when you when you're 20 something and sleeping on a couch somewhere. Yeah, you could do for free. But it is it is this kind of compulsion to continue to create. And I always tell people, once you get bitten by that bug, it never goes away ever. It can go dormant for decades. But it always shows it's it's ugly and beautiful head. Now, was there a film? Was there a film that kind of lit your fire? Was there a movie that you saw that you just like, oh, wait a minute, I think I want to go down this road, that's something that kind of sparked the idea.
Simone Bartesaghi 5:32
In movie in particular, I mean, I movies has always been kind of part of my life, and they've been inspiring in different ways. You know, the very first movie, ever, so was Star Wars and then I always say that, that, you know, you have a little taste of that one, it's a pretty good, then, more influential for me, were later on Dead Poets Society, because I was watching exactly when I was in high school. And I wanted to create my dead point, society, and nobody would follow me. But the idea was there. And then, and several American music came at a moment in life where the feeling of a sense of a crisis or thinking about, you know, what you really want to do in life was more present. And again, the, the possibility is actually to have that an opportunity that we had in 2004, to really change everything is not easy to come. So can it can kind of at the same time. And so this relation it was from, from American Beauty, and literally even from Matrix eventually, of course, was actually to think about, you know, who you are and what you want to do. And that's what when managing started to spin around and strange enough, one, three, that I just remember that when Star Wars Episode One came out, in my way to deal with my creative side, was actually on Saturday afternoon to play, do role playing games. And I mean, at that time was already 2829. So usually, you stop sooner, but I was gonna be doing that in my Saturday afternoon was my ritual with role playing games. And we decided actually to put out a little play with costume and lightsaber and everything. And I clarified the entire fight and, and the whole thing, and then we presented the event on the stage. And that's where I think I had the first taste of food together team and have the sense of how collaboration incredulity can really bring something is bigger than the sum of the single parts. Exactly the time is when my wife started to feel that I needed more to release my attention in some way. And when I went to the that school, so all those things kind of happened at the same time.
Alex Ferrari 8:12
That's, that's a great story. Now, let me ask you, how do you what is the six senses, in your opinion of directing?
Simone Bartesaghi 8:21
Well, the basic idea is that when we tell stories, especially when we tell stories in the film, we are telling stories about human experience. And the basic of human experience is our life. Right? So I felt that I could compare the six senses, to way to pay attention to things that are happening to you in your life, that in a certain way, will resonate and will help you later on while you're making your movie. In some ways, very basic way of thinking relates to the fact that everybody can be a director if we pay attention to things in a certain way. And we look at him feel things in a certain way. And of course, the v1 is, you know, when you when you watch something new compared to using the camera or other elements, like when you touch things, it's compared to production design, and a little more complicated things like smell that he's about better performances. And the final one is the sixth sense that represent the vision of a director. And so analyzing and comparing the fact that when I was started writing, and I was starting to think about the study on the Intel, many studies were coming out out of my personal experience, and the more I was authentic, and the warning was honestly what I want to tell, the better. I was working as a director and a storyteller, and that's how the whole idea of the book came out. Also the time I started to teach, and I realized that there were no books about be in a director, there were many how to, you know how to do a breakdown of a script, you know how to hire a writer, or how to do blogging and this kind of thing. But there was nothing about how to be how to leave, and how to, you know, some way pay attention to all the inputs that life is giving you in order to become a better director. And because there was no book about it, I wrote it.
Alex Ferrari 10:29
Right, right. I got you. Now, in your book, you actually, you had a great, great chapter of how to smell a bad performance. It is a great, great question, because so many directors don't understand the difference between a good or bad performance. It's not something, it's hard to teach it. It's something that you have to have instinctually, you can give cues. But I'd love to hear your definition of how to smell a bad performance in an actor.
Simone Bartesaghi 11:00
Well, again, it said, even before working with actors, it start with your research and your openness to look at how people behave. Because after all, especially in film, different Academy in theatre, where everything is kind of more fake in some way, in the production of The Voice, everything but the larger life. But in movies, we can be as sophisticated and as subtle as we want. And, you know, having the opportunity to pay attention to how other people behave, and also apply a strong empathy to how people behave around you and how they react to things that you say or more each other. It's a great source of inspiration, because you use you see around real life. And then when you apply these elements to, to the acting, for me is always getting to the harnessed level of the of the actor, there is lots of layers of sophistication of training in other things that get into real emotion. But in the end, what we need to see is honesty and all those layers of protection that we create on our in our life, and being put aside in order to give something to the to the audience. And the process for me goes from a very simple word that is the trust. So the ability to create a relationship with the actor, in knowing that the actor is trusting the director to always push to the limit, to be honest about the performance and never short can because of necessity. And on the other side, the trust of the director to the actors to know that they're going to push themselves and they're going to be willing to open themselves up. One of the processes I follow a lot is to actually work with the actors before as much as we can in pre production so that we can understand the character as much as we can. But also there are two points that I try never to avoid or to break. One is actually avoiding casting. It's, I try to have meetings at lunch or coffee. I like to meet the person before meeting the character. Because usually when you do casting, there's always that element of selling yourself in some way. When you have lunch, when you have lunch, or dinner, all those barriers, quickly, they go down and you really meet more real person or is realistic. And the second element is the fact that I rely a lot on their instinct in terms of, of blocking and owning the place. So I have my shortlist, my blocking diagram, I have everything ready. But I like the fact that once we get to the set, they must feel it is their that is their environment to to deal with. And I take lots of time, usually in during the day to make sure that that part comes as honest as possible. And I have my own recipe that is kind of a checklist for blogging, because through that process, the actors start to lose the feeling of performing, but they start to actually feel the environment and the environment itself gives them inputs and suggestions on what to do. So I'm just trying most of the work is to try to eliminate the focus on the performance and on the lines and to more on the leaving the moment and only in the moment.
Alex Ferrari 15:01
So that that's a bad answer really covers, which was going to be my next question, how do you work with actors? But is there a technique you use? Or what is the thing that you when you see a bad performance? Like that's something that you it's hard to, it's really hard to pinpoint. Like, is it? Is it because it's stiff? Is it because it's not honest? Is it because it you're not feeling it? What is there any little cues that you can any advice you could give to directors listening?
Simone Bartesaghi 15:26
Well, there are there are elements that are instinctive, that you feel that there is something that is not working, right. And the nice thing is, can we time and time comes with? Also how much you know, the character, how much you know, well, your world and how much you do your researches. But I'd say that there is one element that I always pay attention to, that is little, little east to embody language that actor sometimes have, you might see someone delivering a line and then having a little moving forward or on the side, that would you have a sense of their actor had an instinct to move to do something different or to react in a certain way. And those little moments, I feel a lot of attention to them in blocking and during rehearsal, because usually, they mean that we are not done with the quality of the performance that we can get. Because there is a level of uncertainty in owning the moment that we can keep exploring. And usually, the actors themselves that are giving me the sense of, oh, there is a moment that is stiff, there is a moment that doesn't really work because their body language itself in some way, give away. That is something that is not working. So what I look for is a moment of uncertainty in body language, literally the little gesture that doesn't work. And what I do I go to doctor says, And he said, I noticed that when you said that line, I, I felt that there was something more you wanted to do something stimuli and maybe you didn't do it, because I told you to stay there. So feel free to do it. And from that moment, usually, again, there is more trust, but also there is the understanding of exploration. And the other thing that for me is really an indication that we were a little far away from direct performance, is when there is too much staring in the eyes, when they keep looking at each other for the entire dialogue. That's where I feel that is totally not authentic, they will never do something that's in life. And so I always try to give them some activities of some business to do to make sure that these help them to not be stuck with the with the staring moments that are very unreal.
Alex Ferrari 17:55
No, that's, that's excellent. That's a great that's a great, great, great advice on how to pick out some bad performances. Now have you ever on set? I mean, I've had this happen. I've seen this happen, you know, it's all about trust with with an actor if the actor doesn't trust you. They can go off the reservation. Have you like on day one when an actor shows up been tested? Like testing to see am I safe? A seasoned you're a seasoned actor depends on who it is if it's like Meryl Streep, Meryl Streep could do it in any conditions like I don't care I'm Meryl Streep, I'll be fine. But but for other actors, they'll test the the the director just to see if they're in a safe space and that will determine how far they go in their performance that will determine a lot of different things and if they don't feel safe, they act up they push they create problems there's other things that are they'll just not listen to you and do their own thing because like I got to protect myself How is how have you dealt with that one that one has had has happened to you in your in your career?
Simone Bartesaghi 19:00
Well to be honest, that I had a more kind of this situation with less known or less prepared actors. Yeah and we professional actor very well, you know, well known are professional actors. The test actually happened before happen almost outside to set the dinner I did it at dinner. Exactly. That's the moment where you really you feel if they if you own them, if you if you trust the trust is really up or not. And little hiccups on set. They are normally they're part of the research is what we do all the time. So that's usually we very good actors. They they eventually help you if you are if you're in trouble, more than anything. I mean, I heard that in the Marlon Brando, testing directors and other situations there but so far to me, we just kind of actors I never had any any issue and I with some very good one. So most with with less known actor or less prepare, that they have actually the biggest issue that they don't own their method yet, whatever that method is, in terms of their approach to the material. And sometimes their uncertainty built up on moments of mistakes and moments of difficulty that happened on set. And my solution is always very, very simple, is you're taking five minutes and talking on the side and figuring out if there is something that actually the tension has created. And I'm very honest, I mean, I remember one time I went and said, Listen, if you don't like me, I understand. But you need to like your character, that actually was a villain. So it was even more complicated. But you need to, it's going to be your face on the screen. So it's not delivering or keep being distracted by the thing that everyone said. And actually, it was it was a little bit of stiffness in the performance, but mostly was attitude on set that was really preventing these actor to deliver. And I feel that in that moment of honesty, where I explained exactly what I was feeling, and I didn't have any problem in saying, you know, we don't need to be friends, we just deliver and agree on what to deliver, everything went. So to go in the right direction. One thing that I tried to avoid is to trick the actors into something that the classic example of telling them, You know, I think your cat will feel better if it goes, you know, to open the door or lean backward or deliver the line with a specific performance. Because I think that if there is a technical necessity for me, because I need the next clause of done in a certain way, they understand better than me, because they've been on more set than any other director that they work with. Right? So just statistically. So when you when you tell them your necessity, and you're honest about what you want to do, they should react in the right way and help you that way. When you try to treat them. In defense, that is a difficult situation, because sometimes you might actually lose that trust, because they see that you're lying. Right? Someone said the actor is a lie detector, right? So as lie detector, they can see through you very, very quickly if they do the job.
Alex Ferrari 22:42
Now, with that said, I know a lot of times when you're a young director, or inexperienced director and you walk onto set for the first time, a season crew will smell it in a seconds. And how did you deal with and have you ever had to deal with, you know, department heads, crew people, grips, DPS production designers, who, who test you and push you into like, oh, this kid doesn't know what he's doing. I'm going to do whatever I want. And you've got to take command of it. You know, and I my famous story is I, I worked on a set of a show that I was producing. And I was like the production company behind it. And I was literally writing the check the paid this guy. And he didn't know who I was. He just saw this, this director. And he was like this frustrated first lady who wanted to be a director, you could tell he just was very frustrated. And I didn't hire him. And he started giving me crap, day one. And within a few hours, I had to pull him aside and I said, Look, man, I can do this without you. I've been doing this for 20 years, I don't need you here. Me and my DP had been working for a long time together, we can run this set without you. So either get in line, or you can leave. And oddly enough, he was very sweet after that. He was very nice. And it worked out well. But though sometimes as a director, you want to keep a nice harmonious set, but sometimes you gotta show a little teeth every once in a while. So what's your experience?
Simone Bartesaghi 24:16
Yeah, well, I mean, they were right in some way because I, at the time, I was on this project that someone else started directing. And I was doing behind the scenes from for a production company on several other projects. And at the same time, I was shooting shots on the side and I remember showing my directly reel to the producer and say, hey, you know, whenever project that maybe you think I'm right, I would love to direct them. I've done several shorts and several festivals. And we'll, we'll see. And, and he told me Listen, this could be this could be the project I already have The writer, but if something doesn't go the right way, I would like for you to write these words. And when the writer said yes, it was good to do it, I told him, Listen, give me a chance here, I will write three webisodes really the stories to put on the DVD or to start a web series, whatever, based on the same character in a different moment of their life. And if you like them, then we can, you know, you can use them, but at the same time, I can start to slip my legs as a director. And, you know, I can prove you that I can do it maybe for the next time. And of course, the situation started to be that I was evolving the whole production because I was scouting with them, because I was going to do the shooting in the same locations and using kind of the same resources and so forth. And so I knew the project and the script, I knew the, the actors from the casting, I knew the location, I did the whole preparation with them. And when I studied when we probably said that there were certain dates on which the main crew will shoot in a corner and I will be in another space nearby to shoot my little shots. And whatever it was that the pressure wasn't doing very well that producer wasn't very happy about the relationship and the style, literally the visual size that the writer was using. And then when I started to show him my material, he liked it a lot he was you know, I liked it the Tony like the style. Also, I overcome certain kind of very difficult situation and still deliver something usable. And, and the producers at one point said listen, we were working with other directors, directors is now working. I want you today to direct it. I was like I cannot tell you I mean this morning it's Saturday I cannot be the director I didn't prepare the scene. Nothing certainly is a give me two weeks to regroup and figure out what we are missing what is that and because we are really like one week into production, so only two and a half weeks project. So it wasn't that it was much theoretically almost more than half of the Moon was shot. And so he granted these two weeks i i sent work with the same DP kind of same crew but the only people that knew what was happening was me the producer, the DP and another person that was a rental equipment that that was on board with the project, they knew that I was going to be the new director. And then the the day of the night before the first day of shooting on my shooting, we regrouped in like I said in the hotel, and the whole crew was there nobody wanted to start a movie again because it was very miserable whatever before nobody believed that we could go anywhere even the actors there were some friction and some issues mostly with the previous director. So when I was introduced to the crew the crew was like so now for from the writer The reason I did a few feature we go to Director lecture was the behind the scenes again, what's going on here. So the very first day on set was trial by fire on every level because the crew was just waiting to see me failing and having no expectation it was very hard today and nobody wants to be there again because it was too hot. And you know in the desert we like Aimia like I said it can be quite brutal. Remember that that hey, you know that the big change was because the welfare said I was a few on a different location from the base camp. And we went there to do the setup. And we did apparently something that the crew didn't do before it was a Dutch angle. It was just a very quick simple shot Shimpo simple but we did a silhouette the the side of the gun, something very strong for that kind of genre right that the you can see Madmax himself. So apparently I didn't know these a friend of mine told me later that one we're shooting voice came back to base camp for that actually, this director maybe we knew what he was doing because the style was totally different, the styles etc. And we are doing some new action things that weren't even in the script and they were like very quick and what we are doing. And by the end of the day, it was the first day actually finishing the 12 hour and when we went back to the hotel pretty much everyone It was very odd that they applauded the returning together, the dinner that we had was a very jovial and happy moment for everybody. And from that moment on, kind of the crew was behind me one other percent. And as either it was, just by doing it and not trying to be arrogant about what I was doing, it was literally I know, it's difficult. Actually, I did something that I still remember, when I did it, I thought, this is going to be backfilled so badly, because they think that I'm just a rookie, or I think it's something that is so he, when he when everybody was looking at each other and saying, you know, what's going on here? Why this guy is now the director. I stopped and I said, Listen, you know, I don't care. What is your agenda with this movie as an idea here, because like, the scripts are like the producer, you want the money or you want experience, the only thing they need from you, is to make sure that tomorrow morning, when it comes to the set, you remember when you were in the dark place called theater, and you were dreaming to do this? Can we that attitude, and we'll get to do miracles together. And I really can't get everybody. I can't get a couple of people that well enough to give me at least a little bit of chance, a chance in the morning. And then throughout the day, I kind of gain my my their trust.
Alex Ferrari 31:29
You know and I mean, when I was starting out, I mean, I had I literally had spies on the set to see if like they were reporting back to the producer like I had. On one show. I did a one one project I did. I had the scripts, the scripts he she was literally second guessing me every time. Why don't we do this? I'm like, girl, you need to step back. Like I am the director. Yeah. And I was 26 or something like that was a young director. But I knew enough. I'm like, No, I can do this. And I ended up that day with like, I think we ended up with like 75 setups. I move. I move very quickly when I direct and and we moved really, really, really quickly. And at the end of the day, she went back to the bruisers like he's fine. Yeah. You'll be okay. He's okay. But these are the kinds of things they don't talk about at film school, they don't talk about these things, these, these are things these are politics of the real world inside of being a director. And you know, you just, you can't read it in the textbook even it's like you've got to live it. But at least if you know that there's a potential of it coming. You can somewhat prepare yourself for it. But sometimes it was like I had spies. I had people that would, you know, I had DPS I wanted to take control. And that's why I became so educated in the in lenses and camera and I come from post production. So I could I have I have a language in post production as an editor as a colorist as a post production supervisor as a VFX. Supervisor. So I can just start talking Well, yeah, I know that was like a start talking about lenses. I could talk about that I geek out about that kind of stuff. So that at least I can talk the language with the peacock. Yeah, at least we could talk. I'm not saying I could do what you do. Because I've tried it. I don't like it. i It is a whole other like thing to be a DP. But at least you can show them that you know what you're doing, and have basic understanding. Because there's some directors who are like I hadn't even in my edit room that would walk in there. Like, they don't know anything about the product. Like they know nothing about the process. They're like, so what are you doing? I'm like, this is a rough cut. What is a rough cut? I'm like, Are you kidding me? You need someone gave you $3 million, what the hell is going on here. So which made me a very angry and bitter filmmaker.
Simone Bartesaghi 33:49
But I mean, the the thing is that every time when you start but also when you are in a different kind of pond when you move from one level of budget to another, from one city to another, it definitely be something similar when I was when I prepare a movie to shoot in LA. And then literally two weeks before the shooting, we had to move everything to New York. We couldn't we couldn't bring anybody. So I had a new crew as part of the new cast. And especially the new crew, although kind of we liked each other but literally we met in two weeks before the shooting and they all knew each other so it was kind of them versus me in one way or another time I had this conviction that that I want to be democratic director I want to be the director is always nice. There's always sounds with a huge motivation when there is a yes or no. And then backfire bad
Alex Ferrari 34:43
Oh, they'll tear you apart.
Simone Bartesaghi 34:48
Didn't have any idea of mine because I was listening too much. So I got to the point where at one point I remember there was a setup that was I had my idea It was good. And then the DP came up with an idea. It was good, too. But I said no, just for the sake of now I'm, I need to start to say no, because otherwise is going to go bad. And in the end, everybody was like, Oh, you did three CT one ad, from, you know, not knowing much to do a stellar job at the end, I'm like, Well, I kind of manipulate all of you, because in general, is really what I wanted. But the problem was that I the beginning, the the feeling that there was this country testing was criminals. Also lots of anxiety on me. And only when I started to realize that, after all, we didn't know each other. We know the famous trust and the chemistry was in there. Because really, we started from the from a few days before, and then started working on the relationship also outside the set helped a lot to to move in real actually, a crew that worked together with me, on my vision.
Alex Ferrari 35:59
It sounded very much like an arranged marriage, like your it looks like you, you would like build a relationship with your la crew. And you were like, Okay, these are people I know, I have a relationship with them, I feel comfortable. But then you're like, thrown into an arranged marriage where like, these are the people you're going to shoot with, like, you're going to live with these people now. It's like, what, and then you've got to like, okay, I guess I got to learn how to fall in love with them. Like I learned how to learn how to live them, because I don't know them.
Simone Bartesaghi 36:23
You know, at the end, that doesn't happen. I mean, I really love working with them with considering the situation and other issues. But I think we did a terrific job. And the chemistry, the end was very strong, it was just a matter of let's start to trust each other. And let's start to not second guess too much. But also that lesson as he went deeper for me, because actually, it was one of the things that I realized, and I tell my students all the time in terms of these politics, that there is there that, you know, there is a very fine line between being an arrogant director and being a good writer. And the fact that you have your vision, your ideas, and you need you need to fight for them, doesn't mean that you need to be blind in front of, you know, a good suggestion as these are coming in, I think that the way to see that is most important is after all you are as a director, you're the only person on set that has a full vision of every component, how they're going to work together. So you're the only through judge about these kind of close up, or this kind of shot work because of different elements, again, for music, and again, for words, in order thing, everybody else with all the good intensity they have, they come with a specific agenda and somebody with a specific point of view, that is their professional view. So when an EP comes in and says, Oh, this angle will be beautiful. Well, it's true, it's a beautiful angle, but maybe you want ugly for the moment of the story. And only, you know, that arguably is what you're looking for. You shall do it as much as you can. But you know, you're the only final judge about it. And I think that when you look at the suggestion from these lamps from this perspective of saying, I understand where they're coming from, no need to judge if they build up the world I want to build or not. It's not arrogance anymore. It's just the fact that actually, you're paid for the vision that you have, and the producer choose you or you put together the team, because of that vision. And everything that doesn't belong to that vision is not good or bad. It's just not right for the story. And then I think that the best way to see is not that you want to be stronger or show off or you want to shut down everybody else. The reality is that everybody can come with great ideas that could belong to the project, or great ideas, they don't belong. And you're the only judge about it.
Alex Ferrari 38:53
You're the filter, you're the filter that has to filter all this stuff out. And you're you're absolutely right. Because I mean, I've had, you know, I've had DPS who've come on the set. And by the way, just as a as a disclaimer, I love DPS. I love what they do, and they would they're an invaluable part. Many of my best friends are DPS, but in my in my directing career, you've had DPS who come in and they're thinking about their demo reel. Like I can use this production design, I can use their budget to build my reel. And it's not about the story. So they come in with a very egotistical sense of it. And that goes along with every aspect of the business from an actor to a production designer to to to stunts. Oh my god stuff, guys. I love stunt guys. Aren't stunt guys, the craziest people I've ever I've never met a stunt person when I did love them all. They're always tweaked because they're the only ones that go okay, I need you to jump off of that building off the second floor. And then this is what the stunt person will I've never met a stunt person doesn't say this. I could do the eighth floor can I do the eighth floor I want to jump off the eighth and while I'm well let me set the kind of set myself on fire and then do the eight foot but There's no need for fire in the scene. Can we write that into the scene? Can we put it? That's what they're looking for. They're always looking for that thing. They're insane. But I love them for because without great stunt people, you can't make good movies and action movies.
Simone Bartesaghi 40:12
They push you in directions that you didn't expect,
Alex Ferrari 40:15
Right! Because we're scared because we're human beings. We're human beings, and we have fears. So we're like, I'm not going to ask you to jump off the eighth floor on fire. I think the second floor will be fine. And they're like, no, no, no, no, what we can do is then we can take the car and shoot it off the floor will spin the car out like you would what is going on? They always push you good stunt people. Good stunt coordinators always push you and your storytelling but it's it's something that it's it's I've never met a stunt person who's not completely tweaked in one way. And I mean that with all the love in the world. Now, can you
Simone Bartesaghi 40:57
I worked on a movie that was about free running and parkour so those kids they really want to jump from buildings.
Alex Ferrari 41:03
Just like, yeah, I could jump off the 10 storey building like what do you What? What? There's no, there's no, there's no wiring? I don't care. I'll do it. Yeah, that's, that's you? That's, that's absolutely. Now, um, are there any pitfalls that directors should always look out? For? I think we've talked about a bunch of them. But are there any ones that stick to your head to like, you know, I wish someone would have told me this, when I first started.
Simone Bartesaghi 41:32
Yes, yes, the many. But I'd say that probably, to start with one is to understand everybody's role in the production. I, I think that when you are informed, and also if you have experience even more every position or as much as you can, first of all the respect for every position grow, because you realize how much actually contribute with for the for what they're doing to the to the project. And also, you start to realize you can speak the language, as you were saying before, made up about lenses and about camera movement or detail about including all these elements are making the conversation richer, deeper, and faster. Just because you are able to understand their thoughts where it's coming from and what they pay attention to. So definitely, I'd say that one people nowadays, especially coming from now, minasi Teacher, that lots of students, they want to jump into one thing, especially when they want to be directors, and didn't want to try they want to do they want to spend their time doing something different. And that's something different can actually open up doors for them. Like it's different for me to do behind the scenes, but also gives you the sense of everybody position, and everybody contribution to the project. So one suggestion is don't make the mistake of these gigantic pitfall because actually, you are going to carry on longer in your life. Because if you start at the very beginning, and you don't know much, but you're still able to fake it in some way. You keep going in a career, kind of limping. Because you can never really take off as much as I think you can want sexually you know what you're doing. I remember, this was actually to a an editor told me actually, Danny green that his famous editor unfortunately passed away a few years ago, and then he was an editor he was saying, you know, know how to read the camera know how to do change lenses know how to clean them know to push Dolly, and at the school, it was it was at school, we had all these equipment. We even had the Steadicam vest, and I tried to do Steadicam operator. And it was so hard and complicated. So I actually rotated I feel I did everything by Makeup pretty much all position. And every time learning something working on a project in that position, and then how much maybe I didn't like the position but I knew understand what they were doing. And it very connected to this. I think then the other pitfall is not understanding actors and not respecting actors. And I think that the best way is actually acting in the course. Yeah, 90 person in some way also, you know, maybe you do an acting course and you learn a few things if you tricks. But the main goal is to learn how to appreciate the difficulties as they go through so that you can you know, empathize and understand them. But I would say once in a while, put yourself again Maybe you know, in a class of a friend that you know, or something like that, to refresh your mind about the fear of the stage and being in front of the camera instead of behind, because it's something that, you know, sometimes we see give for granted. But that moment where everything is around you and you need to perform, you need to deliver, because everything has been designed for you to do it. The weight of those moments is in the pressure is incredible. And I think that is it, too. Sometimes they will with a reminder, every few years old and pressure to be helpful.
Alex Ferrari 45:39
Now, what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?
Simone Bartesaghi 45:46
Well, today, I think that we are in a very good place, actually, with respect to a few years ago, I think that there are many more opportunities, because there are many more screens that you need to fill out. So there is a need for much more content. Whether it's, you know, it's the classic film for theatres, that is kind of a, in a dire situation right now, or, you know, web material that you can watch on the on the phone, the more and more opportunity to produce your own content, and put it out there and find find an audience. So I'd say it's very important for me to, first of all, be honest with yourself, and see if this is a fire that you really you cannot put out through passion. And the best way to test it for me is figure out a way to be on a set, being a PA, if you if you survive a full production on a set as a PA, then probably have the stamina to do whatever whatever else is needed, or the passion that is needed. So let me experience on set I think is vital. And the other thing is to start working in shooting your own project, write scenes, or even a scene that you see in a movie to like, try to replicate it with your iPhone and some friends. The opportunity to shoot and to learn everything you can from that shooting is so valuable. And then any level of production. So even just by yourself, I think it's it's vital. I think it's worth our heads I did said, every time you're on set, you learn from every minute that you're spending there, correct. And I think I think it's certainly true. And you can learn as a PA, but of course, when you direct your own things, from your mistakes. And actually, also, by your successes, you know much more about your strengths and what you can do to do better to do better next time. And I started that way. I mean, I literally started with basically no knowledge of filmmaking, just reading a few books to understand, you know, crossing the line and a couple of these. But, you know, my, my very first shirt was, you know, a consumer camera and me dancing in front of it for a specific reason that is better as a share. But that shirt was something that actually opened doors because it's it's something that was done with lots of passion, and with a message we wanted to be expressed, it was very clear to me. And still today is something that helped me out at the beginning. We again no knowledge, technical knowledge, but the desire and the will to shoot whatever was happening. And then the technical audience kind of came later.
Alex Ferrari 48:44
Now and what are three of your favorite films of all time?
Simone Bartesaghi 48:48
I think that we go back to what we mentioned before Star Wars, because was the first one then point society because was the one that I watched at the right time. In a moment where I started to understand that my quirkiness or my interest, about you know, filmmaking and writing, were in that crazy but they were actually somebody that could make sense. And later on American Beauty because it kind of came full circle. After that point society that society feels you seize the day. And I might have skipped that moment in when I was in high school and college. And then I'm making really kind of taught me is never too late to seize the day. So when I had the chance to sit around, I grab it and now I'm here. So that's why this is the My trilogy.
Alex Ferrari 49:45
And similarly, where can people buy the book?
Simone Bartesaghi 49:49
The book is on Amazon right now. And probably some bookstores if they still exist, otherwise can be bought on the MWP. Michael Wizard Production, the publishing company and mwp.com. And you can find it there also other discounts.
Alex Ferrari 50:11
Simone, thank you so much for coming on the show. It was been a pleasure talking to you talking shop with with fellow director and talking about the trials and tribulations of being a director and hopefully we've inspired and scared the hell out of some people listening today. So thank you, my friend for being on the show.
Simone Bartesaghi 50:28
Thank you. Thank you very much. It was great being here. Thank you.
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- Simone Bartesaghi – Official Site
- The Director’s Six Senses: An Innovative Approach to Developing Your Filmmaking Skills