Nico founded Komeda Films in 2015 – a dynamic, modern studio creating visuals for music, live events, documentaries and films. Nico tells about his route into filmmaking, taking inspiration from his childhood in Rome and how to work with failure…
How did you get into filmmaking?
“It all started in a derelict cinema in the centre of Rome. I used to go there with my father on Sundays. I have very fond memories of arriving late, as we always did, and not understanding a thing. We’d then stay in our seats till the next screening and watch the beginning of the same film. I think my passion for cinema started there. During my years in film school, I started borrowing a video camera from a friend and in my free time started shooting short music videos for the London Contemporary Orchestra. They seemed to like my experimental style and recommended me to someone else. After a few months, I had a pool of clients and decided to set up a company called Komeda Films. We film events, make adverts and all sorts of short-length content. With the same camera I also filmed my first short films, mostly romantic comedies and I’m developing my first feature film.”
Where do you get your inspiration from?
“My main source of inspiration is my childhood memories in Rome. Since I moved to the UK, I look at my hometown from a distance and realise how much Italy is a gold-mine of romantic lifestyle, picturesque characters and absurd situations. I started seeing my parents, my Italian friends and most importantly myself as an infinite source of comedy-writing inspiration. Ideas seem to spark from the contrast between my Italian upbringing and my present life in London. That’s why I try to travel back to Italy as much as possible – not only to see my family, but to gather potential comedy material!”
What are you working on at the moment (if you’re allowed to tell us!)
“I’ve just wrapped a feature documentary I’ve been working on for a few years with my friend and co-director Nick Calori. The film is called “Letters from the Blue” and it’s an investigation into Death Row inmates in the US who exchange letters with women in the UK and how they help each other in their daily struggles. I’m also working on a couple of film ideas – firstly, adapting a short novella called “The Ball” by Irène Némirovsky, for which I recently acquired the rights. Then a comedy called “A Place in Rome” about a young Englishwoman who inherits a property in Rome from her estranged Italian father and soon discovers the dangers of owning Italy’s most sought-after asset: a parking space.”
What’s your favourite thing about my job?
“I like the very beginning and very end of each project. I like writing, storyboarding, casting and rehearsing for a film. It’s exciting and everything seems possible. You play the film in your mind and it plays beautifully! Also the end of the project when you’re putting the final touches and feel like you’ve done everything possible to make it the best that it can be. Now the film will travel and hopefully collect some awards. The actual process of making a film is instead really painful. It puts you in front of all the limitations you might have not considered. There’s never enough time to do everything. Also getting cast and crew to row in the same direction and with the same rhythm is tough. That’s why I tend to work with the same group of people. They end up becoming your trusted friends – every decision they take is to make a better film.”
What’s been the biggest learning of your career?
“To be more selective with projects. I used to have a “yes-man” attitude after leaving film school where I’d accept any work that would come my way. I’d have more money in the bank, but I’d be demoralised because I wouldn’t have time to take care of my creative side. Life is too short and it’s so easy to get tangled in a career path that you don’t want to be part of. I think it’s important once in a while to reassess one’s priorities and work on projects you find stimulating (if you’re lucky enough to be in that position). Possibly with people you feel could enrich your understanding of the craft, or just people that are fun to work with!”
Do you have any words of wisdom for filmmakers just starting out?
“Don’t be afraid of failing. I had a dream a few nights ago, my father and I were watching my debut feature film. I was watching it and thinking that it was a really, really terrible film. It was unwatchable and made me feel ashamed. I then turned towards my father and noticed he was in tears, proud of me for having achieved something. I woke up with an urge to write, sort of anything really. I realised that we put too much weight on our first film, our big project and it’s a castrating feeling. These are exciting times where you can make a film for almost no money at all and very often limitations create better storytelling. The main thing is to do it – you’ll only learn how to make films by making films.”