Jean-Luc Servino is an italian director, screenwriter and editor. He make movies since 2014 winning several awards including “Best World Cinema Short” at the Culver City Film Festival, “Best Cinematography” at the Los Angeles Film Awards, “Best Director” at the Eurasia International Film Festival, “Best Experimental Film” at Los Angeles CineFest, “Best Drama Short” at the Under The Stars Film Festival etc..
He studied at the London Film Academy and the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. In 2016 he wrote a book entitled “The vision of Ben”. In 2017 he also approached the theater winning the regional prize for “Best Musical”. His movies are available on Amazon Prime Video.
Hello Jean Luc and Thank you for granting us this interview
[MIS] How did you get involved in the business of film making?
[JLS] I started to create stories when I was a child with my action figures like actors and sometimes I shot those stories with my father Ferdinando’s camera (it was very giant for a kid but mirrorless and mobile phone didn’t exist yet… other times). He had a strong passion for photography and videography, so I think that he passed it on to me, but only in 2014, after a lot of amateur videos and shorts with my friends, I participated for the first time to a Film Festival with live screening in Sorrento (Naples, Italy) winning the audience award. It was exciting and from that moment, from that stage, I realized that filmmaking would be my future. The movie was a micro short like “How About…”.
[MIS] What motivated you to tell the story of How about…?
[JLS] I needed to show my point of view about life, humans, environmental issues and our self-destructive syndrome. “How About…” is a 5-year project and contains 3 experimental shorts linked by a virtual graphic work completed during first covid-19 lockdown, cause the pandemic has represented the right “end” to this project.
[MIS] What were the challenges in making How About…?
[JLS] The mainly challenge was to create shorts and videos in 5 years (also during my travel experiences like you can see in several timelapse or stop motions from Los Angeles to Thailand) that would join the same artistic project. The second challenge was the end, but is came in a natural way.
[MIS] Your style is like a mix of French Nouvelle Vague, Italian neorealism and Russian existentialism, what is the reasoning behind that choice?
[JLS] It wasn’t a real choice, but maybe it is what appears when you look my movies. More than once I have chosen common people like actors, also to interpret themselves (or I talked about them). I love to talk about human psychology, philosophy and I constantly wonder about life or afterlife answering to myself with short films. About Nouvelle Vague, “Letter from professor V” could be remember that genre. I think this combination of three movements that lives in my films is coming out in a natural way.
[MIS] If you had the chance to meet a Fictional Character in real life, who would it be?
[JLS] Dr. Emmett Brown, I definitely want a friend like him! Edward Scissorhands could be my barber, Dale Cooper my coffee friend, BoJack Horseman my drinking buddy and Yoda could be my mentor. Christine Daeè would be my inspirational muse!
[MIS] In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of an Actor who goes for directing?
[JLS] In many cases the actor falls into the illusion of being able to direct a movie because he believes that directing the actors is the main thing. This is very important, sure, and this could be a pro, but when he finds himself behind the camera, directing a lot of people behind the scenes and full of pressions, he understands what that means. This choice often turns out to be a kind of presumption that makes you lose, there are few successful cases. If you are an actor and you want to take that step, you need to study a lot, its the only way to see real pros.
[MIS] Let’s talk about the directing in Letter from professor V, you chose slow pacing editing, straight / jump cuts and a monochrome color palette, tell us more about these choices.
[JLS] When I thought about “Letter from professor V”, on Castiglioncello Beach, I instantly pictured that kind of mood and structure: I wanted a theater mood where the skill of the actors was evident. With the passage of time and working on screenplay, I found myself in a lovely French atmosphere which led me to other directing choice like the amateur style for the only one external shooting for the Naples streets. The contrast between monochrome palette (to give a vintage look) with the scene of Professor V saying “Ok Google” makes me hilarious! Anyway, I studied V as a trilogy and I hope to do this kind of work with the main actors (and co-writers for dialogues) Carlo Verre, Tilde Girardi and Luigi Milosa.
[MIS] If you could change one thing about How about…? what would it be?
[JLS] The main actors, for sure! I’m kidding, Moeh Esse and Danilo d’Avino were great, especially to take part as actors in a mysterious project like this. I wouldn’t change a thing of “How About…”.
[MIS] What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?
[JLS] I’m in love with movie like “Roma” where the power of each frame is absolute, every single image make sense, an atmosphere that makes you want to take your camera and make movies. Another movie that inspires me, for cinematography, is “Barry Lyndon” for the exclusive use of natural light and a lot of Nouvelle Vague period, but the most influential movies for me are “Mulholland Drive” (and all David Lynch filmography) and “The Holy Mountain” of Alejandro Jodorowsky because I can see my kind of artistic mindset in them.
[MIS] Who are your favorite directors?
[JLS] My contemporary favorite directors are Pawel Pawlikowski, Alfonso Cuaron, Christopher Nolan and Lars Von Trier, while about the directors of the past certainly Federico Fellini, Fritz Lang, Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein and Ingmar Bergman. My favorite artist is David Lynch and my favorite “magician” is Georges Méliès!
[MIS] What do you consider to be the enemy of creativity?
The fear of being oneself and showing up own ideas, especially when there are out of ordinary. Unfortunately, we often talk about certain topics only because they are hotter and get more attention, losing sight of the art essence. In some cases, especially in specific parts of our crazy world, the lack of means stops a lot of people with great ideas and that’s too bad. I hope that one day everyone will have a chance to express himself.
[MIS] What advice do you have for filmmakers who are just starting out?
[JLS] It’s important to believe in your own ideas, to experiment a lot and try not to be influenced too much from other filmmakers or imitate someone else. Find your artistic view by making your mistakes. Another super relevant thing is the humility, otherwise you will never grow up. Try to learn from everyone, because everyone knows something more about you and something less, but few people are able to take the best part of everyone; fall in envying for someone is counterproductive and useless for your personal growth. You need to study to learn and refine techniques, obviously not for your creativity, no one can teach creativity. Perseverance.
[MIS] Any final thoughts at the end of this interview?
[JLS] We are indie filmmakers, artists who live of emotions that you only feel when you sweat and win with your strength. I use to say “if you believe in yourself, you can walk on water”. Believe and respect your dreams! The art is the thing that reminds us who we are, where we going and the world of shit that we risk to build. Thanks to the MIS for this interview, I want to officially announce my next movie: “Goodnight Mister Johnson”.