Today we’d like to introduce you to Marielle Cuccinelli.
Marielle, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve been a storyteller as long as I’ve been able to talk. From my early childhood, I gravitated to action-adventure stories, and my passion for them only grew throughout high school as I wrote my own novels, short stories, scripts, poetry – whatever I could get my hands on. As an action movie enthusiast, I felt heavily the lack of female representation that I related to; most of the stories I loved had only one important female character, and she was always the love interest, never the action hero.
Throughout high school, people told me over and over that girls don’t like action; that girls can’t fight, shouldn’t be in the military, could never hope to hold their own in the world, are by design meant to depend on men; that girls are only interested in action movies for the hot male leads; that I, with my weird interest in action stories and my vehement desire for female action heroes, was an exception and did not represent other women.
So I went to film school, where I began self-teaching fight choreography, stunt work, action filmmaking, directing. It was life-changing when I found that there were many other girls like me, who felt excluded from a genre they were passionate about and wanted to be the change. I formed a great community of other women who were passionate about action and became the go-to action filmmaker at my school.
I graduated last year and am now working in LA. I have such a wide range of passions and talents that I can’t identify myself as one thing like most people can; I’m a writer, a director, a photographer, an assistant director, a fight choreographer, an actor, even a producer (when I have to be). I guess if I had to boil it down to one thing, I’d say I’m a storyteller.
I have a fascination with humanity. I think characters are the core of story, and my characters are very alive for me. I go about my life day to day with them actively in my head; some of them have been with me for years, and I’ve gotten to know them better than I know most of the actual people in my life. I’d like to think this reflects in my writing; I think one of the things I’m proudest to say that people tell me about my writing is that my characters feel very lifelike and authentic. And that’s just humanity on the page; I’m just as in love with it out in the real world. I love discovering the inner lives of other people.
And I love helping people create art! It’s so fulfilling to play a part in someone’s journey to pursue their passions and tackle their challenges. I love discovering entire, complex humans behind the faces of strangers, drawing out what it is that I can do to make their lives more beautiful, and making it happen. Because of this (and because of the fact that I thrive under pressure), I’ve found that one of my greatest strengths is assistant directing, a role where art, leadership and helping others achieve their goals all intersect.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Honestly, it’s sort of a running practical joke in my life that challenges and problems seem to seek me out. Obviously being a woman who wants to write and direct big-budget action movies already set me up with a whole load of obstacles. I’m so fortunate to be coming in the tracks of all the women who are trailblazing in the industry right now; thanks to them, I’m going to have opportunities down the road that women have never been afforded before.
I don’t dwell much on the obstacles and challenges in my life, except when I have to deal with them directly, so I couldn’t really rattle off a list of them for you. I suppose a constant ongoing challenge for me, like most artists, is the practical side of art, making money while doing what I’m passionate about.
I guess a practical obstacle that hinders my progress as an action filmmaker is that I have very little formal training. I have a smattering of martial arts background, but training is a financial undertaking and I’m an extremely stereotypical starving artist. I’m not discouraged by this, though, because ultimately I want to write and direct, and maybe act, and I will be more than happy to collaborate with the many brilliant fight choreographers, stunt coordinators and performers, and hard-working, highly trained action filmmakers out there.
We’d love to hear more about your work.
The things people hire me for, though, are ADing and photography. I’m a really kickass AD; I’m really good at pushing people to be their best, anticipating and adapting, and coordinating a lot of things all at the same time without losing track. As far as photography goes, if I’m supposed to be pitching myself right now, I think my main asset is that I like to find the unique humanity in people, and I’d like to think that people show through very authentically in the photos I take of them.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
The biggest shout-out has got to go to my parents and the rest of my family – I wouldn’t be here without them. A ton of people have supported, inspired, motivated and challenged me along the way; my friends and collaborators, the people I look up to, storytellers who have created content that put me on this path. It’s life-changing to be surrounded by a community of fellow creatives, and I’m very grateful for that.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @m.cuccinelli