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Meet Federica Carlino

Today we’d like to introduce you to Federica Carlino.

Federica, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born in January, the 23rd, in 1991, in a little city, not far from Milan, Italy. My mom used to be a marketing consultant, she gave up her job in 2009 but she has found her own dimension and she has a great influence on the Italian Community in Abu Dhabi. She is the head of the art department. My dad has been working for a Worldwide Aviation Services company; his job brought us around for a while. They currently live in Abu Dhabi since 2014.

I actually grew up in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, then I came back to Italy right in time to attend elementary school, and I was quite confused because the kids around me thought I was a foreigner. My childhood hasn’t always been easy, I was always sick, and I was always going back and forth from home to the hospital.

Despite that, I had an amazing childhood, I was very happy with what I had, I always enjoyed playing outside, and instead of sleeping with my toys I would sleep with my favorite VHS. I thought that I was bringing with me the characters from the movies that I was watching on a loop. My mom would always have to play a sort of human shanghai to take all the VHS from me once I fell asleep, every night. We didn’t start with much, but my parents and I grew up altogether, we’ve always been a team, and even if we live far away from each other, our goal in the very future is to be close together again.

I stayed in Italy until the first two years of art high school, then we moved to Richmond, UK and I came back for the last year of high school where I studied French and Spanish in addition to English that I started to study and learn since I was very young. I’ve always had many interests such as singing, dancing, photography, acting, drawing and directing. The movie that got me into directing was “Jurassic Park,” I remember being very sassy at the age of 3 questioning my parents’ stories about dinosaurs being extinct because they were clearly in the movie.

My parents told me that cinema can do that, they can make everything happen, and the next day they bought me a VHS with a behind the scenes and I thought “That’s what I wanna do when I grow up!” and here I am in LA studying at the “New York Film Academy” to be a director. But there’s a lot in between, I’ve started to borrow my mom’s camera when I was 9, and I started to record her instead, then I wanted to create projects with my friends, meanwhile I danced for years starting with ballet and moving to modern and hip-hop, I then got injured at 17, not the best year of my life since I had to say goodbye to dance.

I then started to focus more on directing and acting: I opened a YouTube channel, and I wrote many scripts and shows, and some of them are still there such as “Clapperboard,” a web series where me and my friends pretend to be roommates, I’m the only girl, and it has some “New Girl” vibes. After graduating in High School I started to attend a Film Academy in Milan, I was studying directing, acting, photography and beauty make up, meanwhile I started to create photo books with my photography equipment, working for a dance academy as a photographer and video maker, taking pictures at big concerts such as Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, Katy Perry, 30 Seconds To Mars and many more…

Also in 2014, I’ve studied make up special effects in Rome with Sergio Stivaletti, he has a very long portfolio, he worked with Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava, and to a series that I grew up with, Fantaghirò. In the the same year I won the international section at The Rock and Shock festival in Massachusetts, with “A Challenge in The Haunted Asylum.” Then 2016 one of the projects that really brought me here in LA was “Rise Of The Villains” a web series that I directed that is focused on Batman’s villains and on why they behave in a certain way. The New York Film Academy came to Milan in 2016, and when I showed it to them, during my interview, they loved it and gave me a scholarship to attend the academy, and it was my only way to attend it.

I’ve always been very active, wanting to learn more and more, I’ve always attended, events or TV shows as an audience member to see the behind the scenes, and I try to find those kinds of opportunities everywhere I go, in fact I’ve attended many events here in LA, one of them is seeing in advance the second season of “13 reasons why” and asking questions at the panel with the creators and the cast. Since I started to do that I started to document my experiences on my channel, I started because my family and my friends wanted to live these experiences with me in a way. These opportunities give me the chance to see how this business works.

Also, I truly enjoy attending advance screenings, you know, those private and very secret screening where you have to write a review after the movie to help the filmmakers to touch up the movie. Those are my favorites, sometimes you watch them with still some green screen or editing problems, and you really get the idea of what’s the process of these big movies. This is also a great way to create a network.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It wasn’t a smooth road, it still not easy. Some steps I don’t feel comfortable talking about because they are too personal. I discovered The New York Film Academy when I was 13 while watching MTV, there was this girl, she was shy, and her life coach suggested to do an audition for the school. So this academy has always been my dream since I couldn’t attend it right after high school for many reasons.

So I started to do what I could, inventing jobs even without experiences, such as being a photographer or a video maker, just following my guts, and it worked, not immediately, but it worked. The struggle at the beginning was working for people that didn’t give me enough credit, that weren’t willing to give me retribution or not giving me enough even for reimbursement for gas. I remember that once a very well known person that I worked for didn’t even give me enough to eat at McDonald’s, my friend that was working with me and I had to add some euros to complete the meal.

I didn’t ask much at the beginning because I was still learning, I was pretty cheap and affordable, but in some ways, there were people that were still managing to pay less. Or find an excuse to procrastinate and not paying me at all. It was frustrating because I’ve always worked very hard, I’m a perfectionist, and even when I edit comedy sketch with my friends, I tend to do edit them in the best way ever. Then I moved to LA. That was difficult: leaving affections and what you built even professionally and restart.

Paperworks are an adventure, but my school helped me a lot with that. My parents weren’t exactly the happiest, they were and are very proud, but it wasn’t easy even for them letting me go. I was already living by myself when I left, but they weren’t living far. I will be forever grateful to have them. Being Italian, I’ve found many racist comments along the way, stereotypes is something that I’m willing to fight to avoid this kind of situations.

Once I was working on a set and the AD asked me where I was from and I said “Italy,” and he answered very slowly “Okay I’ll talk with someone else.” Some people think that since I come from Italy I can’t speak English or understand it, then I start to speak, and they say “You can’t be Italian, your English is great!” some may see it as a compliment, I don’t, because I want Italy to be seen as a great place. I left because my field is a bit difficult in my country but overall I think is a stunning place, full of resources, and I find myself being homesick sometimes.

But anyway being an international student is not easy, you can’t work until you graduate and receive an annual working visa from your school, and you can just work in the field that you graduated for. For me is a struggle I’ve been very active my whole life and when I left Italy I was working a lot, so it feels weird not having a job. The schedule at school is pretty intense, so I kinda feel busy anyway, we are always on a set, shooting, creating schedules, taking exams, some classes also end at 10 pm. I have a year left until I graduate and we’ll see how my life will be.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I’m a filmmaker, into Sci-Fi.

My goals when I write my project are:
-make people think about society nowadays
-to never look back and see how we can improve our future.
-I want the audience not just to reflect on my subjects but also to be able to dream and maybe help them to have that answer that they were looking for, at least that’s what cinema did with me.

I’m very focused on my projects; I can’t see a project not finished. I can also spend sleepless nights until I don’t reach what I wanted for that story.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
After my graduation in January 2020, I’m willing to proceed with internships and apply for as many jobs I can. Once I’ll find stability I want to proceed with directing I have many projects most of them are Sci-Fi, so they require a lot of preproduction, and once I’m done with my projects, one of my goals is to attend festivals.

I fell in love with cinema because I liked how it made me feel, how I was able to forget everything and focus on the story that the director was telling me, this is my goal, let people dream with my stories. It’s a long path, but I’m determined.

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