Federica Alice Carlino and Manuel Antonio Gullotta

Federica Alice Carlino is a director, writer and casting director from Milan, Italy. She showed her love and passion for movies very early in life. Her family moved around Europe for work, so she had the opportunity to meet new cultures. She grew up in the Netherlands until she was 6, then moved back to Italy for most of her education, she also studied in London at Richmond Upon Thames College. She studied filmmaking, acting, photography, editing, VFX and makeup in Milan and makeup prosthetics in Rome with Dario Argento's makeup artist, Sergio Stivaletti. She moved to Los Angeles in 2016 and she is a New York Film academy BFA graduate. She has experience in directing, casting, writing and acting. Founder of Morgana Film Festival in 2023. As of 2022 she is among the most awarded filmmakers in Italy and she is featured in the IMDb book dedicated to Italian Filmmakers.

Manuel Antonio Gullotta
was born in Milan on April 14th (1990), in Italy. He fell in love with movies when he was a child watching the movie Godzilla (1998). He attended acting classes in high school, he was part of improvised shows with Teatro dell'Invisibile when he was 16. After high school, he showed interest in short movies and started to produce them with a few close friends. He then met Federica Alice Carlino in 2012, their collaboration will include the award-winning web series The Rise of The Villains, and a few award-winning short movies. He worked with Virtual Screen Company.

The Rise of the Villains episodes playlist:

Federica Alice Carlino:
LinkTree: https://linktr.ee/federica.alice.carlino
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/federica.alice.carlino/
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm8960305/?ref_=hm_rvi_nm_i_3

Manuel Antonio Gullotta:
LinkTree: https://linktr.ee/admin/manuelantoniogullotta
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lumberjack_az5/
IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm9206723/?ref_=tt_ov_st

1. Your project has entered our festival. What is your project about?

F- The Rise of the Villains is a web series inspired by DC Comic Books about Batman. This time we decided to express our take on his Villains.. They're just too good not to get their deserved attention, so we explain their backstories and we "justify" their willingness to be vengeful and vicious.


2. What are your ambitions with your project?
F- I am already very happy with its perception. Our first episode was supposed to be only a short, but it was so well acclaimed that we started to get a following and people started to ask us for a second chapter. Its name was Arkham Asylum but it quickly changed into The Rise of The Villains- Chapter #1 Arkham Asylum. We shot 6 episodes and it went well. The season finale aired in April and it's our last episode, but I hope that whoever discovers it, even in the future, will appreciate it.

M- I hope that the people who watch the project can understand the emotions that we want to express and the hard work behind it. We shot in difficult conditions, in very cold weather and hellish summers, some locations weren't film friendly, so we had to adapt to many situations.

3. Tell us something about your shooting? What pleasantly surprised you?
F- The first chapter was shot in an abandoned asylum in Lombardy, Italy. It was a challenging day because since it was abandoned, there was no electricity and everything was powered by batteries. The asylum was very cold and humid, so our batteries died fast, so we had to find a bar nearby to charge them. It was such a fun experience and the outcome was even more satisfying, considering the conditions in which we shot it. What was surprising for me was how much people appreciated it to the point that they begged us for a whole series. Also, I would add that I worked with Luca Mondaini (Two Face) and Manuel Antonio Gullotta (Gordon/Scarecrow) in a comedy show before and their performance in a drama was what surprised me a lot. I knew they were capable of it because I would have never chosen them, but they went beyond my expectations. I'm very proud of them. We posted a casting notice and auditioned Emanuele (Joker) from Rome, he was perfect and he didn't know anyone and the way he just came on set and did his thing was such an incredible thing to witness.

M- I saw the scene in front and behind the camera, it's surprising to see how things can change and every shot can be important to change the meaning of a scene.

It was difficult for me to impress somebody so powerful and so strong (James Gordon) and a character totally different from him (Scarecrow), it was hard but it gave me a lot of satisfaction.

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4. For what group of spectators is your film targeted?
F- Definitely comic book lovers, but we got a lot of followers that didn't even know about these characters and just got invested with their stories. I guess it can be for everyone.

M- I think that it's for everybody, no one needs to know the origins of our character because our story is written like an original timeline.

5. Why should distributors buy your film?
F- It can be a different take on Batman's villains, we started preproduction in 2013, before Suicide Squad and the Gotham series, so when it came out was a new thing to watch. I guess it can still be. Joker and Harley Quinn aren't the only bad guys in town, Batman's enemies are definitely more..

M- it's a new point of view, and a different kind of expression. If they wanna buy it, they buy every single character and everything can evolve in something bigger.

6. How would you specify your work? What characterizes your film?
F- Good and Evil are the main subjects of this web series, but I have to say that we get to discover that nothing is black or white, our Villains are bad, but they can be empathetic and loving, our GCPD (Gotham City Police Department) is of course composed by police officers but can they be vile? Can they be corrupted somehow? Yes, of course! No one is perfect, not even who is supposed to represent justice.

M- Definitely, I see that especially in my characters, I play James Gordon who is GCPD's commissioner and The Scarecrow who's part of the Villains Squad. I had to see both perspectives and both my characters are definitely gray. I can't say that James Gordon is 100% a good person and The Scarecrow is not 100% a bad guy. They have their stories and they act in determined ways because of their past. It felt real because everyone can relate to it.

7. Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?
F- I decided to become a filmmaker because it's my tool to express my thoughts and my ideas. I can mask my opinions with my characters, but I can also make the impossible happen and that's what made me really want to be part of this world.

M- Is a story from the past, the first film that I saw at the cinema with my father.
From that moment I wanted to imprint emotions on camera.

8. Who is your role model?
F- Baz Luhrmann is definitely the closest one to my style. He is very hands-on with his projects. He thinks about every single aspect of his productions and that's what I do. I know exactly what I want and what I need and how it has to look like. I hope I can reach his godlike level one day.

M- I love Keanu Reeves, I saw the bts of every one of his movies. I love how he studies his characters and how he trains to make his own fights, like Jackie Chan and Tom Cruise.
I love how he is totally different from his characters in real life.

9. Which movies are your favorites? Why?
F- Moulin Rouge, because it mixed my two passions, movies and music, Baz Luhrmann's storytelling skills are definitely one of my favorites. Tragedy is what motivates Christian to move on and embrace life after Satine's death, it's just too good. E.T., The Goonies, Stand by Me, The NeverEnding Story.. all the 80's coming of age/adventurous films that grew in me, in my soul and developed my artistic view of the world. The Chronicles of Narnia, if you need to feel like a kid again, if you need to find that sparkle in you, it's definitely the perfect movie for it. If you have a kid at home, it can be your own kid, a nephew, your little cousin or sister, watch it with them and look at their excitement. It will be contagious. The Harry Potter saga, The Lord of The Rings saga.. all that fantasy work from the 90's and early 2000s. All these movies left an incredible legacy, even after all these years and that's what I'm aiming for.

M- There are too many movies, but let's start with Godzilla (1998) that's the first movie I watch in theaters; Reign over me (2007) I felt the movie, all the emotions that are difficult to express and the hard work that people put into it; Si può fare (2008) that's an Italian film about a man who tries to help people with mentally challenged, to improve themselves for a better life.

10. Where do you look for inspiration for your films?
F- Usually my experiences, something that happened in my life, I know people can relate to me and my feelings, so I put everything that might be relatable for them. Even this project, being an adventure/fantasy, has its dynamics, its relationships, friendships, loss, anxiety, addiction... I directed different shorts that were more personal than this such as The Monster's Club or After You that touch very close subjects that are very dear to me. Some of my future works will go even deeper into those feelings and thoughts, so I hope you stay tuned for that too.

M- All the experiences that I went through in my life, either bad or good. After that if there is something that I'm interested in, I read about it and then I try to write something about it.
Basically depends on what I want to say to the people.

11. Which topics interest you the most?
F- My interests are very disparate, it can totally be a fantasy theme, such as Harry Potter or Avatar, but it can also be very raw and emotional such as Shameless or Big Little Lies. I am also into social themes or mental health and traumas issues, which are some topics I'm going to work on in my future projects.

M- I like to feel empathy, so basically all the films that talk about emotions, even if I love sci-fi movies like Alien, and movies that talk about deep bonds with animals in our lives, such as Marley & me.

12. What do you consider your greatest achievement in your career?
F- I guess all the festivals that are noticing our works and ask Emanuele (Joker) about it when he competes in comic cons as Jokers or when he gets interviewed. Emanuele is very famous in Italy among the cosplay and filmmaking community and he truly promoted this project as its own, because it basically is. We see this project as our collective child and we are very proud of it.

M- Thanks to Federica I won 2 festivals as best actor. The first was about the role of James Gordon in The Rise of the Villains, the second was about the role in a short tribute of La casa De Papel (Money Heist) that is called El Ultimo Adios, where I portrayed Luis Tamayo.

13. What do you consider most important about filming?
F- A great atmosphere, having everyone on the same page and working for the same goals. I care a lot about pre-production for this reason, I need to see everyone a few times to explain the project to everyone, cast and crew, so everyone knows exactly what's going on. Can I add coffee?

M- I totally agree with Federica, when there's a great affinity and togetherness, everyone is motivated in the right way and working doesn't really feel like anymore.

14. Which film technique of shooting do you consider the best?
F- I am in love with 1917, that "endless long shot" technique is something that left me speechless. I admire how it's cleverly cut in between strategic takes, but it's so flawlessly executed that it is brilliant. I would love to achieve that one day.

M- I like movies that introduced new techniques like Doom (2005) which put the POV inside the movie, and video game-like movies as I'm a huge fan of the genre.

15. How would you rate/What is your opinion about current filmmaking?
F- I'd say that current filmmaking is lacking depth, everything looks majestic, and quality wise it has significantly improved, but I feel like the focus is mainly on that. I used to cry a lot in theaters and I feel like I'm impressed more by how they technically achieved something, rather than thinking about what was behind it. I miss movies like Stand by me or What's Eating Gilbert Grape. It would definitely be an honor to be on any movie set, I wouldn't complain at all, but that's what's bothering me the most. An honorable mention is also influencers being involved in movies. I can understand cameos, to attract younger generations in theaters, but giving them a main role is definitely not the right move. I would also like to watch something new based on an original script, more often.

M- I think that now people are hard on critics because, in movies, Hollywood tends to use the same ideas, but the new changes are too forced in my opinion.

16. What can disappoint you in a movie?
F- Keeping the same quality for its own duration, it might sound easy to do, but it's definitely not. A great example can be any horror movie. They might start off great! Incredible backstory, an amazing opening, intriguing plot and then it goes south very fast it becomes a comedy. It's so hard, but when it's well done, it's a masterpiece. Something that disappoints me even more is the unnatural writing of dialogues, some don't feel real. It's like whoever wrote those dialogues has never interacted with people before, or maybe they use dialogues to explain stuff, that is already very clear. SA in movies also are not really necessary for me to appreciate the plot, or the characters' traumas. I am very disturbed by those scenes and I think that the message can come through even without actually showing the act, that's something I either skip or switch immediately.

M- I don't like that now in all movies there is the necessity to have humor, most of the time is not funny, not necessary and cringe. After that I don't like when movies have a great plot but it's not well-developed.

17. Who supports you in your film career?
F- Definitely Manuel, my closest friends who most times are on set to help me and my family and the community that we built around our projects. It's difficult to explain it to someone that hasn't experienced a set once, how hard it is, it might seem easy from an outside perspective, but there's a lot of pre-production work, a lot of money involved, and a lot of stress, but it's definitely worth it.

M- Federica and all my friends support me, my family too but they don't really understand how much i love this so they support me just because they believe in me.

18. What are the reactions to your film? (opinion of spectators, film critics, friends and family)
F- During these years, The Rise of The Villains gathered a lot of followers and people that appreciate the series, when it ended in April, last year, it was such an overwhelming feeling, as people truly expressed their sadness. We had live premieres online and in theaters and seeing how much they wanted to be vocal about their feelings, made us realize that we did something and that if people cared that much it was because our characters and our work did something for them. I hope they will follow our future projects with the same passion.

M- People love what we made because they saw how hard we worked. Yeah, we all know that we are not perfect. But we do our best and have people waiting for something new. And I take it like a good reaction.

19. Have you already visited any of the prestigious film festivals?
F- For The Rise of The Villains, Azure Lorica, Venice Film Awards, Los Angeles Film Awards and Geek Fest. We had a great time and we attended Q&A Panels with an incredible audience.

20. What are your future plans for a filmmaking career?
F- I have a proof of concept short for a mini-series, it's called The Monster's Club (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PT5qSQrYV0g&t=6s) it's set in 1999, and it talks about three teenage friends decide to organize a prank to be on TV, but things turn deadly. 20 years later the past comes back to haunt who's left. I also have different features ready to be shot in LA. I'd love to film a documentary in New York, about someone very dear to me. These projects are in talks for now, so since I'm very superstitious (I'm Italian, duh) I won't say more until it's all set and ready to go. I hope I keep working with Netflix as a show reviewer and Q&A panelist but I hope it develops in something more executive. Working on it!
Thank you for having us!

M- My dream project is to work on something about my favorite video games or comics. I'm a big fan of this genre and I want to stay on this path. I love inserting details and clues in my videos, like Easter Eggs for example. I made a short film about a creepypasta because I love this kind of subject, but now after all these years, I see all the wrong choices I made technically, from the script to the scenes.. But I keep them in my heart, they felt like the right thing to do at that time. I was going to do another project during the COVID, based on the video game "The Last of Us", but unfortunately I had to cancel it due to crew issues. I believed in that project, but I hope to be able to take it back one day.