Friday, 10 January 2014

Behind The Lense with Paolo Benetazzo

Originally from Italy and now residing in London, Paolo Benetazzo is a film maker, actor and visual artist, with his own production company, ARTtouchesART Films.

With a very interesting and busy life, I was honoured to be able to interview him for this piece and find out more about his past and present career.

I found Paolo to be intriguing, very friendly and someone you could quite easily spend hours talking to, although I didn’t want to take up too much of his busy schedule.

Through this interview I learned much more about Paolo, what inspired him and how he got to this exciting stage in his career.

Lyndsey: Hi Paolo,
First of all, it’s a pleasure to meet you and an honour to be able to interview you!
Paolo: Thank you for doing this interview…you're too nice, thanks a lot! Appreciate that.
Lyndsey: You’ve had quite an interesting and busy career to date, a master of all trades! Can you tell me a bit more about what first enticed you to get into films/music and where your career has taken you since then?
Paolo: I have loved films ever since I can remember. At the age of 19 I began acting and filming while attending the University of Padua. Experiencing a temporary conflict with the academic environment, I interrupted my studies for some years, picking up different jobs, until I eventually graduated in 2003 with a master’s degree in psychology. In 2007 after travelling around Europe and living in Dublin for a few years, I started working on my feature film directorial debut. Discouraged by the Italian film industry, I moved to London in 2011. The following year, I founded ARTtouchesART Films, which is a film production company focused on true independent cinema. The company is responsible for the production of art house films, music videos and visual art. ARTtouchesART manifesto is “One Artist, One Vision”. I consider filmmaking, like every form of art, an intense expression of individualism: “When you can’t see the line between fiction and reality, filmmaking becomes your lifestyle.”
Between 2007 and 2012 I wrote, produced, photographed and directed my independent film Study. I also starred in the lead role and composed the soundtrack. The film features my art works in several shots.
At the end of 2012 I worked with artist Danny Sherwood in the production of Bitter Ditty. In 2013 I wrote, directed, photographed and edited the music video Salamander for rock band Mount Fabric and Like to Party for electronic producer Cal Strange. The video Like to Party was selected for the BBC Music Video Festival 2013.At the end of 2013 I wrote, directed, photographed and edited the short film Sense, a romantic short film about dominance and submission. It was filmed in a professional dungeon.
Lyndsey: Thanks Paolo - certainly a busy and interesting life you've lead!
Paolo: Thank you Lyndsey…what really took all my energies and time was the feature film...when I work on a short film or music video is definitely more relaxing. Honestly… making a feature film was so extreme that I thought about quitting on several occasions. It was very beautiful but also very hard…was like living a dream in hell.
Lyndsey: Was it the long hours you had to put into it?
Paolo: I'd say more the long years…since it took me almost 5 years. Some weeks you can work all the time, other weeks you have to wait for locations, permits, weather, actors, etc.
I guess it took me so long because the film was made on an extremely low budget and was entirely shot without any film crew.
Lyndsey: Did you feel it was worth it in the end? I had a look at some of the videos from the website and they looked really interesting!
Paolo: oh thank you. At the end I was really proud of what I did…not because it was my film, but because the way I managed to complete the whole project. When you work on micro budgets it's very common to give up or make it a short film instead, but at the end it was a professional art house film and I will always love it….cause it will always be my first one.
Lyndsey: I can imagine that would make it even more special, that you didn't give up despite the difficulties you faced.
Paolo: so true…Many scenes were filmed with no one behind the camera. Influenced by unconventional filmmaking techniques, I worked with an open screenplay and used unknown actors, friends and family. The budget was ridiculous, the film crew was inexistent and I had no connections whatsoever. I consider this film a true independent film. I say "true independent" because these days films made on 1 million dollars are considered independent films as well….They're considered independent because they are not produced by famous studios. Nevertheless they're not made by independent filmmakers with micro budgets.
Lyndsey: what was your main inspiration to make an independent movie? was it the love of doing it, desire to be successful or was money your inspiration?
Paolo: It was both the desire to tell a story in full length film and the chance to get noticed internationally.
Lyndsey: do you feel you achieved the desired recognition internationally?
Paolo: Not yet. Study has been screened and awarded at international film festivals and has since developed a cult following…but the film needs a proper promotion to become famous worldwide.
Lyndsey: I'm sure you'll get there!
Paolo: oh thank you
Lyndsey: so, you moved from Italy to London, how did you find it? and do you miss Italy?
Paolo: I love London, It was rough the first year though. The city is so fast and may be very cynical sometimes, but I got used to it now. The whole world lives in London and that's very inspiring. I don't really miss Italy but I do miss the food and the summer weather.
Lyndsey: Have you been back since you moved to London?
Paolo: Yes, I try to go back a couple of times a year…It's been 2 years since I moved to London.
Lyndsey: Italy is always somewhere I’d like to see.... you must have visited a lot of different and interesting places, what was your favourite?
Paolo: I really like Paris, Berlin and Moscow….but I also enjoyed Scotland…Loved the highlands and the whisky!!
Lyndsey: I was interested to hear your answer to is who/what inspires you most?
Paolo: To be honest with you, I love many of them…at the end of the day watching films is such an experience for me…Every great movie I admire is distinguished by an unique expression of creativity…I love when films possess you, but when it comes to filmmaking I always try to keep a certain distance from them.
Lyndsey: Is that so you can keep focused on it? I’d imagine if you became to engulfed in it you'd start to nit-pick at everything!
Paolo: If I watch the film and I'm into it, I forgot about technics and styles, I'm with the character and it's all about atmosphere and feelings. If I start checking acting and directing it means the film doesn't really seduce me. Some people watching films to kill their time others to feel something, I want to feel something… possibly something really intense, but that doesn't happen often unfortunately.
Lyndsey: What was the last film you watched which made you feel like this?
Paolo: great question….. I saw this film a few months ago….The Hunt (2012 film) It's a Danish film…..that was amazing, original story, great characters, strong emotions. It went under my skin for days. There are lots of amazing films produced by Scandinavian filmmakers. Such a shame when American studios decide to remake them with English, they ruin them.
Lyndsey: I’ll need to check that out!
Lyndsey: ok, I’ll ask you a final question and let you get on... what are you currently working on?
Paolo: I'm working on a set of music videos for new artists. I count on starting to work on a new short film by March next year. A very introspective one.
Lyndsey: Well keep us posted, would be interested to see more of your work in the future!
Paolo: Sure, I will. Thanks a lot for your interest and taking the time to do this interview.
Lyndsey: Thank you for doing it, it's been really interesting
Paolo: My pleasure
If you found this interview intriguing, you can find out more about Paolo, with clips from his past and present work at

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Lyndsey McLaughlin

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