In the Spotlight: Enzo Zelocchi
We interview multiple award winning filmmaker, actor and influencer Enzo Zelocchi
"People that can wear multiple hats are extremely valuable in order to save time and create powerful projects"
Enzo Zelocchi is an Italian-American Hollywood film director, producer, actor and social media influencer. He is best known for his success with the movie My Little Princess. During his career in the entertainment business he received 34 movie awards and several nominations as best actor, writer, producer and director. In this exclusive interview, we chat with him about his latest short film, No War which tells a poignant tale of a CIA operative's connection with a little girl against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war.
Hello Enzo, welcome to Cineddiction Spotlight and congratulations for your new film, No War. It was pleasure to watch your film. How did you get interested in filmmaking and how has this journey been so far for you?
Thank you! I’ve always been inspired by movies since I was a child. The power of some great Hollywood masterpieces made me start to dream big. It’s been definitely an interesting journey where I developed many skills and mastered patience, consistency, and persistency.
We heard that No War was initially conceptualized as a completely different film. Is it true? What prompted you to change trajectory and choose the Russia-Ukraine conflict as the backdrop for your film?
Yes, we were supposed to shoot a zombie project but after that I’ve seen all the locations, equipment, props, costs, etc.. My brain, heart, instinct and intuition made me change my mind and taking a big risk. I basically made “No War” with no script ready and few days of pre-production. The Russia-Ukraine conflict was the big matter on the news and considering that the location looked like Chernobyl in Ukraine and all the military equipment available.. It was the perfect fit in my head.
Given the budget of the film, No War is an impressive feat of technical prowess. How did you manage to take on a production of such scale on a limited budget? What were some of the biggest roadblocks you hit and how did you overcome them?
People were happy to work with me and some literally worked for free and some for very little money (expenses). The biggest roadblocks were the little experience of the crew and different work timing but they did their best and listen. I managed to overcome everything by focusing on the final goal and never on the problems in between.
How difficult is it to act and direct simultaneously and what do you enjoy more, acting or directing?
I was wearing many hats on that set and it is never easy but I followed my heart with strategic thinking. The stress was high and everyone were looking at me for answers but thankfully I developed a good amount of experience during the years and I was able to lead both in front and behind the camera. I love acting more and I like to work with directors with more experience and achievements then me. I love to learn and I don’t like the feeling of wasting my time.
Tell us a little bit about your casting process especially regarding the casting of the little girl. How difficult was that?
It’s been a miracle like the final result of this project. The general casting process was relatively smooth. Regarding casting the little girl, a production assistant introduced me an actor that was involved with volunteering and more specifically with Ukrainian refugees in Italy. They started sending me photos and when I found the perfect one, I wanted to meet her with her mother in order to see her behavior and character (I had a phenomenal translator with me).
The production design of No War is commendable. How did you and your team accomplish that?
It was another miracle! We just did some minor adjustments because we had access to an incredible abandon military base (where nature took over) and to one of the most beautiful churches in Europe. Lots of favors and good connections.
There is a cockpit shot of you in a fighter jet that is very reminiscent of Top Gun. Was that a conscious homage? Tell us a bit about the challenges of filming that sequence.
No, I was looking to increase the production value and I got access to an entire private airport, thanks to some friends. Shooting that sequence was a great experience. The instructor and the other pilot suggested me to stay light at lunch and thankfully I did. The pilot did a number a great acrobatics maneuvers with me inside while one camera was rolling inside the plane and one on the ground.
Michele Ballarini does a commendable job as the editor, colorist and cinematographer of the film. Given that you yourself are a multitasker, are you naturally inclined towards hiring people who can juggle more than one responsibility? How important is that for independent filmmaking?
Working with talented people is key in any business and in filmmaking. People that can wear multiple hats are extremely valuable in order to save time and create powerful projects.
I discovered my friend Michele Ballarini many years ago while he was just a photographer. I consider Michele one of the most talented photographers in Europe and with a good career ahead in the entertainment business.
Who are some of the artists that you would consider as your inspiration and why?
Definitely people like: Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola, Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, Denzel Washington, Jack Nicholson, etc.. And many more have been a great source of inspiration thanks to the power of their performances and masterpieces.
How has the response to No War been in the film festival circuit? Tell us about your release plan for the film and what are you working on next.
Not bad. So far, we have been honored with 9 awards. Currently our release plan is to submit “No War” to film festivals to increase the value and consider distribution later on. I’m already working on a few very interesting projects that I will start to promote soon.
Thank you for your time and our best wishes for your future projects.
Interviewer: Kshitij Sharma
For Team Cineddiction
Read our review of No War:
Connect with Enzo Zelocchi on instagram: