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Member Spotlight: the Cool Ambition of Frankie Caradonna

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Frankie Caradonna. A born-Italian filmmaker, too much of a free spirit to spend most of his life stuck in an office. Frankie is an ambitious creative, and one can just glimpse at his works to realise that his ambition is channeled through his creative projects.

As most filmmakers, Frankie's creative process is fascinating, and it entails being ready to draw in inspiration from life itself. Though he states he doesn't have a method or creative process for starters, reading his words we know that not to be true. What we think is true is that Frankie has made his creative process subconscious, opening his heart to creative inputs from his team, the world, and the countless locations he loves to travel to.

And one may easily argue it is exactly when you stop thinking too much about your technique and start embracing inspiration, that your art will truly shine.

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How did you get into the industry?

When I was at Uni I used to take pictures and make videos for some artists from the hip hop indie labels in Bologna and Milan, Italy. I also spent some time in Kingston, Jamaica, recording reggae tunes with many artists. I’ve always played with cameras and I always loved music.

After I got my MA in Moral Philosophy though I did not know what to do. I never saw myself working in an office and I knew that in some ways I wanted to put photography and filmmaking at the center of my life as an artist and a professional. My mum found the chance I was looking for on a newspaper and shared it with me. I applied to a one-year tuition scholarship in Milan for a filmmaking course which included an internship, and after a selective process, I won it.

At the end of the course I chose a post production house and there I became a junior offline editor. It was awesome to learn from four senior editors and see first hand the whole vfx pipeline, it was magic. Then I joined a production house where I worked on set on many productions and where I directed my first short films, art films and short documentaries. It was then that I moved to London, where I consolidated my career as a film director and mixed media creative.

Where are you based now and who do you work for?

I’ve been living in London since 2008 and now I’ve been doing back and forth, London/Milan, for a while. I love the fact that my job allows me to see many places around the world, in fact before the global pandemic I was always travelling. I work globally for the art, movies and advertising industry making films, documentaries and branded films.

Recently I’ve been successfully experimenting with virtual productions and interactive contents too. Since 2015 I am proudly part of the international roster of directors of Great Guns UK with which has been love at first sight. The range of clients I’ve worked for is quite as eclectic as I am: from the automotive industry to culture departments and museums; from the wine and food industry to the travel and tourism one, from fashion brands to charities. I love telling stories and creating experiences, using a language that is a combination of beautiful visuals, strong narrative and powerful authenticity. 

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

I would most probably be a free-diving guide in an island surrounded by pristine coral reef.

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Can you explain your creative process?

There are no rules or habits really. Being it while writing, creating a photographic series or directing a film my creative process is always made of a combination of elements. Research and spontaneity, authenticity and intuition are the most valuable though.

To research means many things; from knowing the narrative raw material that I will have to sculpt into cinematic scenes to interviewing people, specialists, strangers; from being aware of trends to doing everything I can to be myself; from going through books, museums, websites, libraries and archives to seeking inside myself, meditating, doing yoga, walking, taking the Tube, talking to people, listening to their stories…

Last but not least, listening to my closest collaborators is also a part of my creative process. Filmmaking is a highly collaborative job. Once you have a vision of the story that you want to create, you need to be a good listener and let your collaborators interpret your vision: cinematographer, art department, sound composer and so on.

How has technology affected the way you work (if at all)?

Technology has affected my work in a positive way. As a film director I’m very interested in experimenting through new languages and innovative technologies. I’ve been recently directing some projects using the virtual production tools. One film I’ve created for Lamborghini has been selected in the Best of Unreal Engine Automotive Experiences and showcased by Epic Games during the Build Munich 2019, last October. Technology brings new languages and opportunities I guess, and as a creative it is exciting for me to know that there are new toys available to play with. 

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What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?

I don’t know, really, I don’t have a secret to staying inspired… I am a very curious person and I keep bombing my mind with inputs from the art, science and design world; I have many different interests and I just love what I do and that keeps me motivated. To express myself through storytelling is a necessity. I welcome the challenges that every new projects brings in, and it is quite natural for me to push a little bit harder every time, do as much as I can to improve and give back a little bit more.

What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?

With no doubt the “F##K OFF CANCER” charity short documentary for Breast Cancer Now. It was my first film with Great Guns UK and it was meant to be screened at the Breast Cancer Now gala event in London, BIGGER BOUNCE, so the pressure was very high for me.

The film helped raise more than 1 million pounds for the charity and has been selected by the Thunderdance Independent Film Festival in London. It was a challenging work experience and I’m very proud of it. It is not easy to talk about cancer and make a film about it in a tasteful, respectful and truthful way. I interviewed many people on Skype or on the phone and then I chose the three protagonists that you see in the film. I then edited the recorded interviews into short soundbites and played them while shooting… It was devastating really, as most of the crew started crying.

How do you recharge away from the office?

I love to travel. I am a nature lover, I have always been, so the seaside is where I go as soon as I can when I am not working. Hiking is something else I really love to do, especially through mountains and valleys. To be able to spend some days in the middle of nowhere and detox from the city is my favorite way to recharge. If I’m in the city I just hang out with friends and have fun: parties, exhibitions, movies, food experiences… wow! That makes me feel nostalgic right now…

Don't be in a hurry and don't copy others. Just be yourself. Be authentic.

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What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives looking for work?

First of all aspiring creatives need to know that the competition is very high out there, that they will confront themselves with wonderfully talented people from all over the world and that in order to make it, especially as freelancers, they need to study and work hard. In general I would say, try to look for an environment that can inspire you, where you can grow as a professional and where your creativity can thrive. Find a mentor, get feedback on what you do and be brutal with yourself. Be ready to learn, work long hours and draw inspiration from what senior artists and creatives that you love are making.

Don’t be in a hurry and don’t copy others. Just be yourself. Be authentic. 

What’s your one big hope for the future of the creative industries?

My big hope is that we will see in the future more responsibility, sustainability and 'brand government,' that is brands doing what governments cannot or don’t want to do. We all need to play in the same team from now on, so I would love to see more and more brands and creative agencies thinking about the world and communicating to its people as one, because really we are one global organism, the butterfly effect has never been so true like these days. I would love solidarity to be cool; sustainability to be cool, true mutual love to be cool… the creative industry can play a key role, and of course, hopefully, the good role.

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