Mario Torella is recent graduate who has cut his teeth in the film world here at digiio. He speaks to us about his early love of film, the joys of Italian cinema and what it’s been like to join the digiio team.
Mario, tell us about how your joined digiio?
I joined digiio in September 2022, having graduated from the University of Kent in January 2020. I read for a Batchelors degree in Italian and Film Studies, which included spending a year in Salerno, near Naples and the Amalfi Coast, studying film. Then I continued at Kent to gain my Masters degree in Film with Practical.
Have you always known you wanted to work in the film industry?
I’ve always had a passion for film, so doing a degree in film studies seemed like a natural route to take. For my Masters I had to make a film for the dissertation element. But, even then, my tutors as well as people in the film industry were warning me that it’s really difficult to get a job in this industry.
Do you remember which movie inspired your love of film?
My mum tells this story about how I was in a baby walker in front of the TV when Dr. No was playing and I loved the scene where Ursula Andress walks out of the water. I just walked towards the screen. I was about one year old, so I guess I’ve been into film all my life. James Bond remains my favourite film series ever.
I think the first Italian film I watched was one of my dad’s favourite horror films from the 1970s: Deep Red. My dad’s family are Italian originally, so growing up I watched a bunch of Italian films. They have a pretty good knack for cinema.
Can you recommend your top three Italian films for us?
Deep Red would have to be number one. Life is Beautiful by Roberto Benigni is really good. Benigni won two Oscars for it. It’s very emotional and very different from my first pick! There are some great Italian horror and police films from the 1970s. The Bicycle Thieves is another of my favourites. The neo-realist cinema after the war from 1945 to 1952 is really excellent with some very heavy hitting movies.
Then there’s the spaghetti westerns – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly has to make my top three. Honestly, I can’t pick a top three! I’d have to spend hours thinking over a top fifty, really. And that would be difficult!
So how did you move from loving film to working in film?
We were warned at University that it isn’t easy to find a job in film, but I didn’t want to do anything else. I was prepared for it to be hard work.
I started off really small, just working as an extra. Anything to get film experience. I did a few jobs as a stunt double and a stunt driver – I did all the driving for the recent ITV show The Hunt for Raoul Moat. That happened just by chance, really.
From there, I got work as a freelance runner. I was working as a runner on Antiques Roadshow when I got the call from digiio. I knew quite a few runners and none of them worked full time. So when a job offer to work fulltime at digiio came up, it was an attractive proposition.
Tell us about your experience with the digiio team?
I’ve been to some amazing places, working with some amazing brands.
I feel like I’ve learnt more in my six months at digiio that I ever did at University. Sarah and Freddie wanted me to try my hand at a bunch of different things. I learnt a lot about the equipment and the technical side and the different software we use.
It’s great to know that you’re learning on the job. How does that feel?
It’s crazy the amount of stuff I’ve learnt while working at digiio – and that’s a good feeling. It’s great to know I have adapted and become more proficient in industry-standard tasks.
I think at University I felt a bit like a jack of all trades and a master of none. Now, I feel so much more confident than I did before.
Tell us about your new role as Assistant Director?
It’s my job to assist on set. So I set up the autocue; I speak with the guests to make sure they are comfortable and perform well on camera; I help with the equipment.
As long as I am behind the camera and I’m seeing how everything is being filmed, I’m happy and in my element!
It has been a steep learning curve but I never feel that I’m struggling alone; I always feel like I can ask one of the digiio team for assistance. If I learn as much in the next six months as I have learnt in the last six months, it’s going to be exciting!
It's great for me because my skills are developing every day at digiio and I’m doing the thing that I studied and that I love.
Can you picture yourself being part of the digiio team?
We’re always on the look out for talented individuals who share our love of all things film, technology and creative marketing. If you've been inspired by Mario's story, please send your CV to: email@example.com
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You can reach us on: 020 7902 1190