Written by: Adriana Gomez-Weston, CC2K Staff Writer
Every now and then, you’re introduced to a creator who really speaks to you. As a fan of the dark and twisted, Maria Venturini’s art is just that kind of work. Her approach is distinct, bringing a dark and whimsical flair incorporating stylish, twisted fantasies. She’s integrated stop motion animation, traditional animation, live-action, and even high-end fashion into her films. Festivals like Feel the Reel International Film Festival, NXTUP Film Festival, and the Sprocket Film Festival recently recognized Maria’s accomplishments. With a creative style distinctly her own, it is certain Maria Venturini will be a name spoken much more often in the coming years.
Unlike many directors, Maria didn’t immediately discover she wanted to become a part of the entertainment industry until later in life. When she did however, it was a match made in heaven. How else could she channel all the ideas churning inside her busy mind? Her work often channels everything from old French underground films to vintage Polish animation. In Maria’s world, a fine line exists between reality and imagination.
“I was doing photography in Italy and (when) I graduated with my degree, and I looked at my degree. Everyone can take good pictures and post it on social media, so how am I going to be different from those people? I got into filmmaking kind of randomly actually…I moved to a different country. I just needed to change and develop my visuals as a tool to process something that was in my mind. I came to America and I picked a random school in a random city, and a random major. Media was the closest thing that I could choose but it was different enough that I could grow up as an artist. I got really lucky because I can’t even express how much it changed my life. It changed my art and changed the way that I can process my ideas.”
Maria’s Italian background enabled a different approach to filmmaking than her American peers. Italian humor is known to often be absurd and grounded in reality. It’s humor is fueled by social commentary. It may not be understood in other parts of the globe, but it still works.
“I would say that Italians and Americans are really different. You kind of don’t understand how your culture is different until you leave and you live in a culture with different traditions. I can say right now that we have a different sense of humor in Italy. You can see in all these older movies in Italy too. There is this famous comic actor I’ve been watching since I was little. He kind of taught me how to make jokes and make a comedy sketch. I can see that sometimes even if I don’t think about making a sketch, I kind of tend to go there without knowing. I feel the difference between here and there- the way we tell a joke or set a story with a different tone. Writing or acting- it’s a little bit different. I’m learning now the American way to do it and I think you can merge the two. I think it will be more fun than just one or the other.”
I was introduced to Maria’s work while at The La Jolla International Film Festival. Prior to a screening, I had sparked a conversation with a film distributor who shared Maria’s work with me.
“I have a fashion film that will blow your mind!” She told me. And indeed it did! It was entitled Ancien Regime, and the movie existed within a universe where its residents live and breathe Chanel- literally. I wondered…”Have the Chanel representatives seen this? Why isn’t she shooting campaigns for them?”
In actuality, Ancien Regime is one of Maria’s earlier works. After that, her films remain equally visually stunning and fun. After a strong body of shorts, where is the talented director heading next? Maria currently has multiple projects in the works. Including her first narrative short Fosca, she is working on another short entitled Cockrotch. In fact, she is also busy writing her first feature-length script.
“We finished the post-production on Fosca just a couple of weeks ago, so that’s ready to fly to festivals. I’m really proud of it. On Cockcrotch, we’re still in post. It’s a comic way to approach sexual harassment and everything that has been a big topic- especially in Los Angeles…Hopefully it’s different. I have my fingers crossed. We’re about to finish that too. Right now I’m writing my first feature film. I actually have my script in front of me. I’m halfway through and it’s a longer format…it’s a little scary. I guess it’s my time now but it’s a challenge. If it’s it’s going to be a fail or a winner, I don’t know yet, but it’s exciting to try. I think Fosca was my first narrative short. It’s more of a medium format because it’s 20 plus minutes. When we finished, my producers asked me, “So when are you going to write your feature?“
“I think at one point you have to go out of your comfort zone from the short- which is still hard to do. You have to push a little bit further. I had this idea in my mind for a long time that I wanted to do. I always thought it would be a great short film but apparently it could fit into a longer version, so I was like ‘Why not?’ You have to show your baby at one point. They will be the ones saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’. I’m trying just like everyone else.”
It can be pretty intimidating to go out of your comfort zone, but after succeeding in one capacity, it’s time to break another ceiling. Maria’s set her eyes on some new opportunities which will allow her to continue growing in her craft.
“I would love to work on music videos with people I love to listen to while I write or commercials with big brands. I feel like I am really young in the industry, so anything that would help me to show my abilities and help me to define my style so that people can say “That’s a Venturini piece! I think patience is the key in a city like Los Angeles. If I worked hard or anybody works hard enough people notice you and will propose your dream job one day. It’s just a matter of time.”
Georgia-born, (North) Carolina raised, Adriana is now based in Southern California (Migrating between San Diego and LA). As well as being a writer, she works as a film festival Marketing Coordinator. She has always been passionate about film, writing, and creating and celebrating work that champions diversity and feminism. She is also a potato enthusiast and fashion school defector.