Cinematic ambition plays out abroad


    It’s called “Il Mio Viaggio in Italia,” and half of the dialogue is Italian and the other half is English.It sounds like a foreign film, and in a way, it is.

    Last July, 18 radio-TV-film students overcame the language barrier to make a film in Italy.

    The film, directed by TCU professor Charles LaMendola, is 38 minutes long.

    The film is about an American college girl named Haely who answers an online advertisement to go to Italy to take care of an old man for the summer in exchange for room and board.

    What Haely doesn’t know is that the old man’s daughter ran the advertisement behind his back. He has no idea she is coming, and doesn’t really want her there at first.

    “The story is really about the difference between cultures, and the difference between generations,” LaMendola said.

    Haely is connected to her world through technology, and the old man is connected his world through more personal means. Haely begins to see that although she is technologically connected to her friends, she isn’t really connected to anyone.

    This was the first time radio-TV-film students and faculty went abroad to produce a film, LaMendola said. Students learned a great deal not only about the process of making a film, but also how to interact with people in an entirely different culture, LaMendola said.

    “The students did 99 percent of the work,” LaMendola said.

    The radio-TV-film department offered two classes for a total of six credit hours in Italy.

    John-Michael Powell and Jonathan Nicholas, both senior radio-TV-film majors, were part of the crew that made the film.

    The students made the film in Tuscania, a town 100 miles north of Rome. The town’s population is about 7,000, Powell said.

    Everyone in Tuscania was excited to have American students in their town, Nicholas said.

    “We were 18 American film students,” Powell said. “Everyone knew who we were.”

    An American crew couldn’t just go to Italy and make a film, Powell said. They had production help from an Italian college.

    “The logistics part of making the whole production run was completely dependent on the fact that we had an alliance with the Lorenzo de’ Medici school of arts in Florence,” Powell said.

    The Italians had a laid back approach to life, Powell said. Americans are on a much tighter schedule, and the difference in cultures made getting things done on time a challenge.

    The process of making a film in a foreign country was challenging, but it was a great experience, Nicholas said.