Cinematographer Pietro Villani has been shooting movies, commercials, and documentaries worldwide for 20 years, with his films screening in theater, at festivals, and on TV around the World. We had the opportunity to hear from him on what it’s been like working on set in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Can you tell us a little about your most recent project?
I just finished a string of work, and one of the shoots I had the pleasure to do was a Farmers Insurance commercial starring JK Simons. The commercial was done at the beginning of LA’s opening up for shooting during Covid. A lot of people were remote (director, AD, producer, and agency folks). I was one of the few allowed on set. New frontier. Just goes to show that the industry is always in flux.
How did you get involved in the project?
I got involved in the project under the recommendation from the actor JK Simons. It felt great when the producer called me and said you were recommended to the production directly from JK. I have shot him in two feature films, and he is always a pleasure to work with.
What was the most difficult part about working during the pandemic?
The most difficult thing was doing things with a limited crew and all of the Covid protocols. I would say that dealing with the director via zoom was difficult, because the director/DP is a very close relationship on set, and now you have a disconnect not being in the same room physically. I was fortunate that my director Kim Nguyen bridged that gap, and she was so good it was almost like she was there.
How are you keeping up to date with new regulations and requirements? What are resources you’ve found helpful?
I am a union cameraman so they are posting info weekly, and they just came out with the agreement that they have been negotiating with the producers.
Also, I am reaching out to friends to see what they are experiencing on set and what their production protocols are.
What are things students and other alumni can do to set themselves up to find work during this time?
Look, as always you need to keep in touch with people who hire you and friends who are working. It is more difficult to find work. The commercial
market is going crazy, but film and TV are cautiously starting up. Just be ready for the call when it comes.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
In five years, I would like to be at a point where I am doing TV (non-network), so it’s not a 10-month gig and I can run off and do a feature or two. I love doing features, but TV is where it is at now.
For more information visit www.pietrovillani.com