Keeping Cool on the Streets of New York

Published on in Exclusive Interviews

This summer I produced an incredibly fun new series called “The Scoop,” which is a hybrid talk show where I interview people who work in the entertainment industry over ice cream from NY’s top local and independent ice cream shops. But not just anybody in the entertainment industry – I wanted to talk to people who work to CREATE entertainment, specifically Producers, Directors, Writers, Casting Directors, and anyone who works behind-the- scenes. The theory behind this was simple: no one ever interviews these people. And as the arts came under threat this past year, I wanted to show people talking about why they decided to work in this insane industry and why they love what they do, and maybe inspire someone looking to work in one of these fields someday. My guests are not celebrities. They are everyday people making a living in the film and theater industries in NYC.

It was important to me to make sure everyone came across as the real and accessible people they were, but I also wanted the production to look professional. I knew finding the right DP/videographer would be essential, which is why I was thrilled to find Alessia Gatti.

Alessia is an Italian actress, filmmaker and producer born in Fano, a small seaside town located on the eastern coast of Italy. She's the founder of Acid Green Productions, and creator of "Hands of New York" a mini documentary series filmed in NYC. In Rome she was accepted into the Scuola di Cinema, and came to reside in New York permanently after graduation. Alessia is one of the original members of The Lab - NY, an international community of actors and filmmakers who are creating new work in film and theatre on a global scale. Her directing work includes short films, short documentaries, and commercials. Most recently she directed three videos for the Expo Milan 2015 representing her region, Marche. Short films include “Greener,” an official selection at the Santa Fe Film Festival and “ALONE/TOGETHER,” an official selection of the Love Film Festival in Verona, Italy. Additionally, Alessia has won several awards for her commercials for Barilla, Menicon France, William Hill, and TV5 France. In 2015 Alessia founded the Greenwich Village Film Festival in her adopted home, New York City. I sat down with Alessia to talk production, in true “Scoop” style: (To set the scene, imagine Alessia and I are having ice cream at a little gelato shop in Greenwich Village called Amorino, an homage to her home country, where Amorino is a huge gelato chain.)

Jeanette Bonner: Alessia, thank you for being on “The Scoop” with me!

Alessia Gatti: Thank you for having me.

JB: Well, technically you’re already on “The Scoop.” But now you’re one of the interviewees on “The Scoop.” Even though this is technically for ProductionHUB.

AG: I know. I get it.

JB: So I wanted to talk to you about your experience filming “The Scoop.” What were some of the biggest challenges about shooting in different shops for each episode?

AG: Space, sound and customers. Each episode has been shot during open hours while business was running and alive! Customers coming and going, kitchen running and all kind of equipment in motion, it was definitely a challenge for sound and for camera to pick the best angles in a very tight space or in the time available. It was a constant adaptation to the location and the "life" in it. Which made each episode different and unique! And very real!

JB: Yeah, that’s one of my favorite things about it as a producer, but I imagine it’s a bit of a nightmare for a camera and sound team. Some of the interviews don’t take place in the shops, so what factors did you consider when choosing the best spot to do the guest interviews?

AG: Light and sound. These were the main factors since most of the time we had just one hour allocated for the guest interviews, and we had to make sure to be ready to go very fast. Most of the times we were just lucky when we found the right spot at the shop or very close by. 

JB: Did you prefer to shoot in the ice cream shops or on the sidewalk?  In general, do you prefer to shoot indoors or outdoors?

AG: With our kind of equipment (basically camera + tripod and shoulder rig) I prefer outdoors because you can control more the angles and the light while in interiors you can't change the environment and the kitchen lights are definitely  not the most pretty.

JB: That makes sense. And passersby on the sidewalk were all really polite! We didn’t encounter too many crazy people, which I kinda expected to.

AG: Yeah, nobody cared! New Yorkers are so used to shooting and film crew that you can get away with shooting a commercial in SoHo without worrying about people interrupting you or ruining the shots. I love shooting in New York because I think it's an easy city to shoot in, everything is available, you can find anything in New York.

JB: What are the different technical considerations when shooting in New York’s public places, both indoors and out? 

AG: Ehh, there’s not much of a difference to be honest. I'm not a big fan of wide angle lenses, I always try to stick to 50 or up if possible. I don't see many technical differences when shooting in public space, especially because our setup was very basic. We needed it to be easy to mount since we were constantly moving from location to location and all over the ice cream shops. 

Yes, that’s one of the reasons I wanted to keep our crew small. I didn’t know what to expect in the shops
but also I anticipated there being a lot of movement, especially the times when we shot two episodes in
one day.

JB: Do you prefer to have a bigger or smaller crew when shooting on the street?  What's your preferred size team to work with?

AG: I would say it depends on the production and the project of course, if you're shooting a short film or a movie and the street is blocked to the traffic then you have a completely controlled environment and you can have a big crew. In a situation like ours having more people would have been more of a problem because we couldn't block the sidewalk and take too much space inside of the shops.

JB: What qualifications do you look for when hiring a crew?

AG: I usually look reels, resume of course, referrals from people I value work great as well. 

JB: So experience, talent, and recommendations – just like hiring an actor! You're also a producer.  What are the similarities/differences in these two jobs?  Is there one you prefer over the other?

AG: I love directing as much as I love producing, and I believe that both helped me to have a better understanding of filmmaking in general. I think they're two sides of the same coin, directing is more free and creative, but producing is more adrenaline-inducing and problem solving. They're both satisfying.

JB: What did you like best about shooting The Scoop?

AG: The ice cream!!!! And the passion and stories behind each shop. Hearing people’s stories of dreams coming true and success.

JB: Okay, well since you said that I HAVE to ask you this question, since I asked this of all my guests. What's your "why"?

AG: Ahh, great question, I think I have a story that I haven't told yet, I think that's my why. All of the jobs I've done and all the projects I've been part of made me grow and achieve the skills and mindset I have today. I’m working towards making something on my own, to tell a story through a movie. I really want to produce and direct my first feature film that tells a story of a very strong funny and complicated woman, and the goal is to achieve this with an all-women crew. The idea is already there – I want the story to take place in Europe and in the Amazon forest. I’ve actually started working on it with a few people so, fingers crossed, it will happen soon. 

JB: It sounds amazing!! I wish you all the luck. But don’t go too far cause there’s more of “The Scoop” to make next year! Thanks for being on “The Scoop” with me Alessia!

AG: Thanks for having me!

JEANETTE BONNER is a NYC-based actor, writer, and producer. Her original series "Ghost Light,” about a motley crew of theatrical stagehands, has been an Official Selection of the Miami, UK, and Austin Web Fests, and has earned nominations for Best Comedy, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Editing at the Indie Series Awards. It has now partnered with digital platform Seed & Spark for streaming and distribution. Her self-produced solo show, “Love. Guts. High School,” developed with playwright Matt Hoverman, premiered at the Midtown International Theatre Festival where it earned nominations for Best Actress and Best Solo Show, and then went on to the Chicago Fringe Festival (named a Time Out Chicago “Critic’s Pick”) and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She holds a BA in Theater and Dance from Trinity College, CT, and when not doing any of the above, she's introducing tourists to her favorite city in the world as a licensed NYC tour guide, and, of course, eating ice cream.  

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