Ginevra Gentili is a British-Italian film director coming from a photography and cinematography background. She has been directing since her early twenties and runs an independent production company, North Harley Films. Ginevra has both directed and produced award-winning short films like Martin (2020), Tell Tale Signs (2016), music videos and music documentaries (Eivør Talks Tour). In her films, Ginevra mostly focuses on dramas and films based on true stories. She’s in development for her debut feature, Anime Divise, which she hopes to begin production for soon. Her latest short Borrowed Time (2022) has just began festival submissions. Ginevra recently won Best Female Director at the 2021 annual Independent Shorts Awards.

Follow Ginevra @gentili.ginevra

Please tell us a little about you?

I was born in Tuscany, Italy, and raised between Italy and the UK. I left home as a teenager and studied in Switzerland for four years, pursuing my passion for photography, music, and writing. From there came my London calling, where I moved to at 18 in 2011, and it was in London that my filmmaking journey properly kicked off.

Describe yourself in 3 words?

Passionate. Stubborn. Honest.

How did you get started with filmmaking?

Motion pictures were a huge passion from childhood, but I started off as a photographer. It’s funny; I guess it was almost like a love story — filmmaking was always right there in front of me, staring right at me, but it took for me to make a few wrong turns to realise that’s with who I belonged! When I finally did, I realised I had all these stories and ideas I wanted to tell. But I had no clue about writing for the screen! So I took courses to get used to the format. After a lot of late nights, research, and hard work, I never stopped once I figured it out. It wasn’t long before I was making my first short films independently. Whether they were good is a whole other story!

How has this changed your life?

So far, it hasn’t helped my bank account! Jokes aside, I would say it’s impacted every aspect of my life. Filmmaking is fast-paced, requires a lot of commitment and sacrifice, and is hugely rewarding when it pays off. Being a filmmaker is a continuous discovery — it’s a growth process. As a creative in general, you have the unique opportunity to make a difference with the stories you choose to tell, with what you create, whether it be because you want to entertain, move, or provoke. It’s an opportunity I feel lucky to have.

What is the best and worst part of being a filmmaker?

As an independent filmmaker, you want to get your film out there and your story seen at film festivals. So I would say the worst part is rejection — and that’s because it involves so many people coming together. There is so much work and complexity behind the making of a film. So the rejection always hurts for that reason, because of all the work that goes into it.

The best part? There are too many! I love everything about it. Maybe a favourite is the moment you arrive on set for the first day of filming, and see it all click and the story come to life.

How do you prepare for a project?

I make sure to have a clear vision, know what I want from a film, and explore the best way to tell that story. For example, what would be the right mood for the scenes, colours, do I see a lot of camera movement. I do a lot of research and homework. I like to start pre-production as prepared as possible. I find the clearer my vision is, the better I work with every department.

Tell us about your work on the new film ‘Borrowed Time”.

“Borrowed Time” is my latest short film, and it’s by a majority female crew. It’s a story based on true events and a dream of mine to make for many years. I wrote (with the support of a lot of people), directed, and co-produced “Borrowed Time” via my production company, North Harley Films. We completed the film in February this year and are now waiting for it to kick off its festival run. The story tackles the big and challenging topic of grief and the silence that too often comes with it.

What challenges have you had to tackle?

Too many! Some of the biggest ones were rescheduling the shoot because of CoViD one day before filming, which followed with the production losing almost half its team. We also had issues in post-production — one of the key scenes was a car accident, and we didn’t have the whole scene covered, which meant we didn’t have a film. So we had to arrange pick-up shots on a very tight budget!

What is the most rewarding part of your work?

When your work gets seen — when your story finds its audience. It’s so rewarding to see the film’s impact on an audience and the different things people take away from it.

What would you say are the greatest lessons you have learned so far in this business?

As a producer, always plan for something to go wrong and plan for all possible contingencies! As a director, remember to listen to your team.

What is your own definition of happiness?

Happiness is a fleeting moment. It comes and goes. We must learn to savour it and appreciate it when it hits us.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?

One of my favourite actors ever, and I think one of the best actors of all time, Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Best advice ever given?

For every cause, there is an effect, and for every effect, there is a cause.

Do you support any charity?

Yes, I support Cancer Research UK and Dogs Trust, and I hope to be able to support them more significantly in the future.

Where do you see yourself and your career five years from now?

Life is unpredictable in general, and right now, we live in highly unpredictable times, but I only ever see myself continuing to make films. I would also like to see my production company grow — I started it with a dream of making unrecognised voices heard, and I want to make that dream a bigger reality.

What do you think of Social Media?

In my opinion, it has more downsides. I like how it started as this great new way of communicating, making everything more accessible to everyone. Now, we’re a little bit too consumed by it. I appreciate it’s part of our world, but I think there’s too much concern over social media, whereas there should be more concern towards other aspects of a brand, an artist, a person, of life really. I struggle to find the time to keep up with social media, to be honest!

Where can we follow you?

You can follow me on IG @gentili.ginevra and IMDb, and find my production company @northharleyfilms on IG, Facebook, Youtube, and Vimeo.

Book: One I only read recently, The Alchemist.

Quote: “Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.” Paul Coelho

Movie: Two reasonably recent ones I love are The Place Beyond the Pines and Whiplash.

Tv Series: Can I pick three?! The Man in the High Castle, Stranger Things, and This Is Us.