Kiara Mezzina is a Gold Coast based writer and director. Last year, she completed her graduate film “Nino’ which follows a little boy from Italy as he navigates Australian culture with the guidance of his cousin Salvo. The film has screened at countless festivals and is a testament to the talent and work ethic of Kiara. Read on for more.
Where did this idea come from?
“It’s a story about my father. My family are immigrants from Italy. They always told me stories of growing up in Australia and how they were treated. I really wanted to bring that to light.”
Your writing process, day in and day out. What writing looks like for you?
“My attention span isn’t that great. Writing a beat sheet and planning a treatment doesn’t really work for me. I write dot points for the beginning middle and end and then I get into writing the script.”
“Since it was my dad’s story, it was a big collaboration with him. The writing sessions were sitting with him and then trying to translate it into a film.”
What were the struggles of shooting it in this time period and in Italian?
““We had a limited amount of people show up for auditions as we needed young boys who could speak and act in Italian. A very niche pool in Queensland. Me and my dad went door knocking around Italian restaurants, cafes, and areas. That’s how we found some of my actors and extras.”
“I grew up listening to Italian because my family speak it. I understand it but can’t speak it. We had an Italian translator come on board. She translated it in a formal way but when the actors came on board, they changed the dialogue to make it sound more natural.”
“We were shooting on the Gold Coast, which isn’t a particularly old city. We had to door knock on period appropriate houses to ask if we could shoot at people’s place. Eventually we had an older couple who were super nice and let us use their house.”
How do you maintain motivation during the three different stages of production?
“Having a good group of friends and having your family support you. My family was the best. Also, my editor Connor Wikaira was super supportive and kept me going when it got really hard.”
What films and filmmakers inspired Nino
“Cinema Paradiso was the number one influence on this film. The tone, feel and nostalgia of this film was something I was trying to replicate. It also balances some hard hitting themes with a light hearted undercurrent.”
Favourite films and filmmakers?
“Cinema Paradiso, Some like it Hot, The Birdcage and Back to the Future.”
“For filmmakers its controversial but Woody Allen really inspired my love for period dramas and contemporary dialogue. Greta Gerwig and I know its stereotypical but Tarantino.”
One filmmaking wish?
“If I could go back in time, I would want to be a part of the writer’s room for the Office. I love the idea of consistent work every week on a comedy show.”
Talking the Future
Where do you want the Australian film scene to move?
“I think we really need to start looking at how we can tell stories in 1-3 minutes for socials. I know it sucks but its where the industry is moving. I want to try and find ways of telling stories in the shortest amount of time.”
What is next for you / are you working on anything new?
“I am collaborating with someone from Nino on a TV series. We are currently just writing it. We are hoping to pitch that at some point. It’s like an Australian version of stranger things. I am also working on an online series about dating and single life.”