Interview: Antonio Padovan (2011)

antonio-padovanMy teacher used to say that having a degree in film is equal to having a degree in poetry,” Antonio Padovan says, regarding his film school education. He’s a young, up and coming filmmaker living in New York who took an incredible risk in switching from his career path in architecture to instead follow his passion in film. Fortunately, he’s able to see the similarities between the two fields. “To make a film, often you need the same amount of money, people, stress and time that you need to make a building.” In just a few short years and beginning with just eight weeks of formal film school education, Padovan has already written and directed two award-winning short films and has lined up several projects both here and abroad. Padovan entertained a few questions by Working Author to discuss his changing career paths, review his body of work and get his opinion on the state of the film industry.

Originally from Venice, Italy, Antonio Padovan moved to New York in 2007 to work in architecture after graduating college. “I think I started to develop an intimate and strong feeling for New York after 9/11,” he says. “I was a teenager and I believe that everything that happens to you when you are between 12 and 18-years-old stays with you forever. After three years of college I couldn’t see any other choice other than moving here.”

“Architecture is my background,” Padovan continues. “Originally I wanted to try to work here for a couple of months, but my studio ended up hiring and sponsoring me. They made it possible for me to stay and I will be forever thankful for the opportunity.” Padovan mainly worked on interior design and restorations in New York since it’s difficult to build something new, which he’s grateful he never had to do. Nevertheless, those curious to see Padovan’s handiwork can find it in Diesel stores as well as their headquarters on West 19th Street. He also worked on Domenico Dolce’s penthouse in Chelsea.

Surprisingly, Padovan’s switch to filmmaking could easily be described as impulsive. On the other hand, the move exhibits a kind of courage that very few possess to follow one’s passion wherever it may lead. “I was in the office 9 to 8, and often weekends, which is pretty normal for an architect,” Padovan explains, “but I realized it wasn’t for me. I’ve always loved films, I own myself probably 2000 DVDs, but back in Italy I never thought I could have been part of it.” As he describes it, one night Padovan went to see a movie and the next morning enrolled in film school instead of going to work. “I did an 8-week program at the New York Film Academy, where if you go with the right approach is a great school, and at the end of the program they gave me a full scholarship to come back for another year. I’ve been working in films since then.”

His first short film Socks and Cakes was a New York Film Academy project that not only won a Golden Ace Award at the 2010 Las Vegas Film Festival, but also impressed the academy enough to award Padovan with a full scholarship. He recalls the shoot fondly. “We had a few days to shoot it and it was in winter. For me [it’s] all about the experience of shooting; I want to have fun. So I came up with an idea that took place all in interiors, in this beautiful loft in the Village. I didn’t want to stay outside for hours and freeze. At the end my crew was the only one that worked in short sleeves, inside.  It was very relaxing and enjoyable.”

His second short film was his student thesis called Perry St., which has been accepted into 16 film festivals and continues to be well received. It has already won four awards and an honorable mention. Perry St. is a romantic comedy about a therapist and patient who struggle with the issues within their separate love lives. The film distinguishes itself with an engaging story and wonderful production. “Our producers did an amazing job,” Padovan says. “Some of them worked [with] me on previous projects. They liked that I am a very cynical filmmaker; I like to work on projects that can happen soon and can be done soon.  I can’t write something that I intend to shoot in a year or two, because that idea scares me. I write knowing how to shoot and when, so that everything runs easier.” Perry St. has recently been accepted into the New York City International Film Festival, which runs August 18 through the 28th.

Padovan isn’t sitting on his laurels, however, and he’s working on several projects in various states of production. “I just finished shooting the first part of a feature, called Tillman – shot between Queens and Long Island. The producers are in the process of finding the funding to shoot the rest of it.  It’s my first experience ‘outside the city’ but it was very nice. I am co-writing a horror film – which is a genre that I have never explored before – that should be shot this upcoming fall.  I have a project in China and I recently started to write a feature film that I hope to shoot next winter.” As a writer and director, Padovan gets to experience both sides of filmmaking, but he admits that he prefers directing. “Of course when you can do both it’s a win-win. I usually tend to feel guilty about the idea that I can possibly ruin someone else’s script.”

Antonio Padovan on set.

Before the interview ended, Padovan shared a few critical, but fair thoughts on the state of Hollywood films. “The movies that are in the theaters nowadays are usually worse than movies that were in theaters years ago. There are probably two movies out of twenty that I am interested in seeing right now. In Europe there is a better selection. But on the other hand, the quality of most of Hollywood films, technically, is still the best.  People are always going to complain and accuse it of being a moneymaking machine – because that’s what it is – but the most professional way to make movies is the way they do in Hollywood. I am talking about the process, the photography, the editing, etcetera. Unfortunately, usually the story is not worthy.” He also doesn’t like the current use of 3-D in film. “Films are magic because they capture reality in two dimensions in a unique way. I believe that it should be the story that takes you into the film rather than an obnoxious pair of sunglasses.”

It’s still early in Antonio Padovan’s filmmaking career, but for now it’s refreshing to see someone who still receives such obvious joy from what they do. “I think that the feeling I have when I wake knowing that I have a full day of shooting in front of me is equal to the feeling that a singer has before a concert. The best part is that you can’t wait to work. To like what you do is the key to do a good job. Doing films, I understand how my old boss felt about doing architecture.”