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Filmmaker Interview with Federica Alice Carlino

Filmmaker Interview by Chris Olson

Filmmaker Interview with Federica Alice Carlino

Hi Federica, thanks for speaking with us. Where in the world do we find you right now?

At the moment I'm speaking from London, UK, but I'm from Milan, Italy.

In 2020 you wrote & directed the short film, The Monster's Club. For those that don't know, what's the film about?

The Monster's Club is a proof of concept (linked in my bio on Instagram) for a bigger project, a TV series, it's set in 1999. Our main characters are three teenage friends, Jackson, the boss, Colin the brain, and Erik aka Dumpster, called like that because he constantly eats, but manages to stay skinny, who is also very unquestioning and the puppy of the trio, decide to organize a prank to be on TV and earn a cash prize, but things turn deadly for one of them. 20 years later the past comes back to haunt who's left, revenge is only the beginning of this story.

Why did you want to tell this particular story?

When I was a teenager, I used to play (very innocent) pranks with my group of friends, one of them fell from a tree to scare one of us and broke his leg, I always wondered what would have happened if something bigger happened, what would the consequences be? It was the early 2000s and now we have social media with challenges, the unhealthy rise to fame, followers, hashtags..and it already happened, and still does, that to follow these trends, people unfortunately have died. It's not only about these (initially) harmless "shenanigans'', but the deeper point of view is about coming of age. We all grow up and see people for what they really are, we've all been there for friends that decided to step back when we needed them the most.

Filmmaker Federica Alice Carlino

Growing up also means losing friends, having your first heartbreak (friendship wise in this case), stepping back from a relationship and understanding what's best for you as an individual is part of the journey. Events like this one, ending with tragedy, open your eyes and you learn that all those fairy tales with happy endings are not telling the truth about life, that the prince won't always save the princess, and that sometimes the princess has to save herself. It's a story that can help teenagers see life as it actually is, no sugarcoating. To be honest I think it would be a great story to any kind of audience.

You now have plans to pitch this as a TV show. How do you feel that format will benefit the story?

Yes, I'm pitching it, I feel like a short is not enough to tell this story.

Everyone who watched the short said they wanted more, and I feel like they're right, we need to know their relationship better, not just between them, but with their families, classmates, teachers and we also need to know what happens after the tragedy: how did the school react to it? And what about the students? How did they behave towards the boys that survived the accident? And what happens once they become adults? In my proof of concept one of them receives the VHS with the prank, but also with how things actually went vs the version that was told to the police, this can ruin someone's life, who sent the VHS? And why?

At the end of the proof of concept is very clear, we want to know what happens next and how the situation ends. I'm being vague, because if the readers want to see the short, I don't want to spoil anything.

What (if anything) do you plan to change for The Monster's Club for a TV audience?

I don't plan to change the story in the TV series, I plan to expand this universe. My proof of concept is just the tip of the iceberg, I want to explore the dynamics between them, for example, Colin and Jackson know each other since kindergarten, their friendship is solid and they are basically brothers, Dumpster moved to Severdeen (a fictional city in California) when he was 12, he is younger than Jackson and Colin, they are 16 and Dumpster is 15.

I want to introduce their families, in the proof of concept we just meet Jackson's mother, Cassandra, she is a Colombian woman who got pregnant when she was 17, her boyfriend left her and she had to raise Jackson by herself, she spoiled him, and it shows in his behaviours as he is used to get whatever he wants.

Short Film The Monster's Club

Colin comes from an African-American family of Nigerian descent, his family had to sacrifice everything to succeed, his mother is a lawyer and his father is a surgeon, they are very strict regarding Colin and his siblings' education, Colin is the smartest and his thirst for knowledge was inherited from his parents. Erik aka Dumpster, was adopted along with his twin sister, Alice, from South Korea, his adoptive mother couldn't conceive kids, her husband and her love Erik and Alice more than anything in the world.

They are not among the coolest kids at school, but not even amongst the losers, you'll know the rest once I get an approval, but basically I want you to know more about them, their crushes, their relationships with others and between them, and I feel like a TV series is the right format, as these character's journey is complex, it's dramatic, not only because of puberty, but also because of the tragedy that they experience in this story.

What advice would you give to new filmmakers?

This path is hard, it looks fun once you start to create and experiment with your friends, and I definitely suggest doing that, but it gets harder once you start to work properly. You need to find a team to trust with your ideas, that is willing to participate and help on set, people that stimulate you and that you can count on. It seems easy, but it is not. Once you find your people, and I highly suggest finding someone outside of your friends' circle (because of DRAMA and lost friendships) you've done most of the work. Filmmaking has become accessible nowadays, when I started, You Tube was barely a platform for vlogs and short skits, now it's a platform for tutorials, indie filmmakers, influencers and creators, which is great, but there's a lot of competition, so try to be your unique self, don't conform to the idea of filmmaking, learn the rules and break them if necessary, and mostly, think outside the box, be unpredictable.

What's next for you?

I'm currently attending an acting course to improve my acting skills, but also to be the best version of myself, personally and professionally, aside from pitching The Monster's Club, and aside from my directing path, I'm also a casting director and I feel like directing and casting wise it will help me communicate better with my actors. I'm also a writer, I have other projects to produce soon, so follow me on Instagram @federica.alice.carlino for casting calls and more infos, because more things are coming and I'm very excited about it! I'm always on the move, so I don't know if I'll still be in London or somewhere else, but I'll definitely keep you posted!

Watch The Monster's Club below:


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