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 just completed her latest short Borrowed Time (2022).
Tell us a bit about yourself and why you do what you do.
I’m a UK-based filmmaker and run a small independent production company, North Harley Films. I make films because I love telling stories, and I believe in the power and impact film and stories can have socially.
What is a typical day like for you when you are filming?
One sure thing – I get very little sleep during filming days! A typical day also depends on whether it’s a day or night shoot, and a lot can change throughout the day. But let’s say it’s a daytime and fairly straightforward shoot. I start early and try to be the first on set. Generally, we start with a walk-through so the team can begin setting up for the first scene. During prep, I like taking time to myself (if I can) and checking in with the cast. Once the set is ready, there will be a technical rehearsal to ensure we’re happy before going for a first take.
When the camera rolls, I have a director’s monitor set up in a separate room and will watch the scene from there. In between takes, I focus on the actors, see how they feel and what we’d like to try differently. Halfway through the day, everyone gets a lunch break. I take that time to think about the next scene. Sometimes you can also run behind schedule, and shots need cutting – that’s when I’ll make those kinds of decisions. At the end of the filming day, I will frequently be the last to leave the location. When I get home, I always (and I mean always) watch the rushes – it’s important to me to go over the performances and shots we achieved on the day. Then I try to get some sleep and repeat!
Do you have a motto or a mantra you apply to either work, life, or both?
I’m uncertain if it would count as a motto, but I believe in cause and effect. Every action comes with a reaction. Whether big or small, our actions significantly impact the people and world around us. Sometimes we don’t realise how much. I consider this daily in my personal and work life, endeavouring to learn from my mistakes if my actions have adverse effects. You never know what another person may be going through. We all have our struggles, and our inner battles are often invisible.
Out of all of the things you do in your career, what is your top most focus?
I wear many different hats! Writer, director, producer, and others on occasion. But at present, my top priority in my career is on my debut feature as writer-director, Souls Divided.
What are your hidden inspiration sources? How do you generate new ideas?
Sometimes music can be a significant source of inspiration for me. Travelling and nature are two other big ones. Other times, ideas come from experience or something I read, hear or see. But I have a passion for truth-seeking and basing films on true stories.
What is important for you to relay through films?
Relaying stories that look at people in our society, exploring relationships, human connection, and mental health. With my production company, North Harley Films, my focus is empowering female and diverse stories.
Tell us about Borrowed Time and why you made the film.
Borrowed Time is my latest short film. It was recently screened at the 11th edition of the New York Shorts International Film Festival and will have its UK Premiere at the North East International Film Festival this November. It’s a narrative short based on a true story centered around a teenager, Olivia, and the relationship between her and her mother as they come to terms with a painful loss within the family. I based the film on something that happened to me over the course of a day when I lost someone very dear to me. I didn’t make it because it was personal; if anything making something personal is a challenge. It was a unique set of events to happen to someone in real life. At the same time, I wanted to tackle the silence that can come with grief. It can leave a long-lasting trauma on somebody and is often not discussed enough. As a result, a person might not know how to process it or where to find a safe space to break that silence.
What do you have going on in your career now?
I recently directed-produced a music video by London-based Sohodolls. Such a fun project to work on. I’m in the early stages of pre-production for a short film, collaborating with a writer-producer duo from the US. While I am in development for my debut feature, Souls Divided, I am making a short film derived from the story to give people a little taste of what’s to come. So a fair few things are in the pipeline!
Official website: https://www.ginevragentili.co.uk/
Official film website: https://www.northharleyfilms.com/