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Meet Mario Miscione

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mario Miscione.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I moved out to Los Angeles after college with the goal of getting work in the entertainment industry wherever I could. I had always wanted to be a storytelling of some kind – I spent much of my time growing up writing and making short films. After a couple of film internships in college both in Los Angeles and in Rome creating a documentary for the Vatican, I decided that Los Angeles was where I had to be. So I moved to LA and was fortunate to find work in International Film Publicity at Sony Pictures.

Publicity, while different than film-making in obvious ways, was immensely informative for me in both the way films are made as well as how they’re marketed. As an aspiring filmmaker, this is stuff I needed to learn. Plus, the traveling and experiences I’ve had since joining the team have really helped broaden my horizons as a writer as well. Not to mention working in a studio system can be a crash course in stress management and adaptability- key skills in production as well.

In my spare time, I began developing a web series with a friend of mine that eventually became a show called THE VAULT. We created over four hours of that show, some of it shot right in the living room of my Valley apartment! The response to the show was great, we won some awards and managed to find a home for a feature film script we had been developing called CIRCLE, a somewhat experimental social thriller that was eventually picked up by Netflix for distribution. From there I re-teamed with the producers of CIRCLE to co-create, write, produce and even direct an 8-episode sci-fi anthology series called DARK/WEB which just premiered on Amazon Prime Video last month.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I think the hardest part for me has been managing a day job in publicity while still creating in my free time. International publicity is a very demanding field and many weeks I would work well over 50 hours (sometimes over 100!), sometimes while traveling all across the globe.

I would still have to find time when I got home after a long days to write, to edit, to develop projects, to meet with people on the film-making teams or others about prospective projects. In truth, it could have been really easy to just say “forget it, I’m gonna go to sleep early tonight,” and never get anything done. Some nights, I’ll admit, I did do that, but I made an effort to be as productive as I could in my off hours, even at the expense of sleep or socializing because I knew that if I didn’t, it would be much harder to find success in this business.

I’m a firm believer that you cannot wait for something to happen… for someone to buy a script or give you an opportunity just because you had one good meeting. You have to make your own opportunities as best you can – have material ready to go if people are looking for scripts to read. If you’re a filmmaker, invest in a camera and start shooting your own stuff. Build a reel. Find creative friends and make things together… Even if you’re tired and just want to go to bed early!

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
As a filmmaker, I’d say my brand has been “social science fiction”.

With THE VAULT, we trapped 150 college students in a reality show gone wrong. In CIRCLE, we forced 50 strangers to decide who among them was most worthy of surviving a deadly game. In DARK/WEB, we looked at the myriad of ways the internet has changed us for good and bad.

I’m interested in stories about real people touched by the surreal. Worlds and characters that seem normal except for that one twist that makes them strange or unsettling. Representation is also really important to me, we don’t have nearly enough queer characters or characters of color (or queer characters of color!) in our media. In my previous projects, we worked hard to include all different types of people and perspectives, and it’s my goal to continue and build upon that trend for every single story I tell going forward.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I was fortunate enough in college to have a couple of professors who presented me with opportunities that set me on the path to become a filmmaker. Paul Wilson and John O’Leary encouraged me to take internships in Los Angeles at production companies as well as at the Vatican in Rome, at the internet office of the Holy See working on a documentary. Through those internships, I found the confidence to make the leap to move to Los Angeles from the east coast and pursue filmmaking as a career.

In Los Angeles, I’ve worked with and alongside several people who helped get me where I am today. Aaron Hann, who I co-created THE VAULT and CIRCLE with. Ashley Key, an actress and producer on VAULT who helped me get that show over the finish line. Michael and Tim Nardelli, who I worked with on CIRCLE and who I created DARK/WEB with. Marcella Ochoa, who hired me at my first (and current) studio job and whom I’ve written two films with. Plus, of course, my family, particularly my parents, who cringed at the idea of me pursuing a career in “the arts” but eventually came around!

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