"Fertile" (excerpt from short film)

Bianca Poletti

Epoch Films

What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
Planned Parenthood's “Be Seen” was my first professionally directed commercial work, and that was in December of 2020. For narrative work, my first piece was a feature film that James Franco produced and I co-directed with three other directors. It was a psychological thriller set in the 1800s.

How did you get into directing?
I studied film at USC. Shortly after graduating, I assisted director Lisa Cholodenko on her film The Kids Are All Right. It was my first time being on a huge, professional movie set and I was beyond nervous. I ended up having the most incredible time and ever since have jumped on as many sets as I could, always trying to soak up as much as possible. I was lucky enough to begin my commercial career by working at a very well-known production company. The owner knew I wanted to direct and he went out of his way to be encouraging, as did the production office as a whole. They allowed me to assist and PA on multiple commercial shoots so I could watch and learn hands-on. I remember I used to drive from Los Feliz to the west side every morning at 7am, work from 8-5, and from there hop on any current night commercial shoots. I’d then happily get up and then do it all again the next day! I was exhausted, but I absolutely loved it. It felt so good to be on set and immersed in a work culture that accepted dreamers. After my time with that production company I continued to work different jobs in the commercial world, including being a treatment artist. I’ve now been directing full time for a little over a year, and there’s no feeling in the world that could match it. I love it.

What is your most recent project?​
Commercially I just wrapped directing four spots for a Starbucks holiday campaign. It was an incredible, unmatched experience. The creative team was so kind and actively encouraged my ideas, truly a wonderful team to collab with. As far as narrative work, I’ve recently finished directing a dark comedy short about two Millennials on a date.

What is the best part of being a director?
Oof.... am I allowed to say everything?! It’s a lot of work, but it’s the most rewarding job. I especially love the collaborative aspect. It’s such an incredible feeling to dream up different worlds and then get to watch them come to life, which is of course only possible because of the hard work from the crew and actors. I also love that every time I do a shoot it feels a little like camping! We all go off on this adventure together and it’s stressful, exciting, and challenging, but in the end always rewarding. I also really enjoy the process of working with actors and getting to play in imaginary worlds, it’s so much fun!

What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, television, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre--comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
I’m currently really enjoying shooting commercials. You get to create such magical worlds, and it allows me to explore so many different aspects of filmmaking in a short period of time. It’s challenging in a great way. Creatively and visually there’s so much room to play within the commercial space. I’m also working on a TV pilot based on my short film, Fertile. There’s so much good TV out there right now, and I’d love to dig into some longer-format narrative work, too.

Who is your favorite director and why?
I have a lot of favorites, a few being Paul Thomas Anderson, Agnès Varda, Andrea Arnold, Xavier Dolan, and John Cassavetes. I love all of their work for so many different reasons. Xavier Dolan’s films are incredibly beautiful, every frame is so rich in color and emotion. I’ve seen Mommy at least 10 times! Paul Thomas Anderson is the ultimate filmmaker to me. His characters are always so rich with personality, and he has such a classic but consistently unique way of building his characters’ worlds.

Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
My parents are both Argentine. They moved to the states in their twenties and had my sister and me. We grew up in San Diego, and I went to USC to study film. Once I graduated I decided that I wanted to leave California for a bit and try living in the Pacific Northwest. I sold my car and left with about $500 in the bank moved in with my boyfriend at the time, who lived in Seattle. I spent the next four years riding my bike everywhere and doing mostly photography and some styling. At a certain point, I began to realize how much I missed Los Angeles, and that I finally felt ready to start moving towards my dream of being a director. Once back in LA I started from the bottom and worked my way up very slowly. I worked at a couple of different production companies doing small jobs, PA-ing on several commercial sets, and assisting commercial directors. I eventually started to do treatments in-house for a production company. After working there for two years I went freelance for a bit, all the while doing my own personal projects in my spare time. I started with small music videos and then moved to several personal short films that I funded myself. I’m honored to say that one short in particular, Fertile, received a decent bit of recognition, which led to me signing with Epoch this past December. I’ve been directing full-time ever since.

Contact

Epoch Films: Contact EP, Jacki Calleiro via email
Website