Marco Prestini is an Italian director based in Milan and Los Angeles specializing in music video, fashion, and commercial content. Throughout his career, Marco has directed projects for artists and brands including BMW, Gucci, and Tierra Whack. We had a chance to sit down with Marco and learn more about his career this far and how he creates.
How did you first get into directing?
I had started studying economy right about the time DSLR’s and 7D’s and 5D’s were booming up. I had never been much into photography my entire life, and this is me at 19 studying in Milan. My father, on the contrary, is a very passionate photographer, but as a hobby. He owned every camera, and every holiday in the past, he would take tons of photos. So when it came time to study Econ, I was pretty good at it and after I did pretty well in my first semester, my dad bought me a 7d, and he got himself the 5d. From that day on, I just kept basically playing around with both cameras.
I kept on studying business, but at the same time, this new passion got me into fashion photography in Milan, making videos, getting on sets, and by the time I graduated I really thought I had something going on and I could be good at it.
I wanted to study the craft because I really didn’t know shit about film. I was incredibly naive but eager to learn. So I came to LA with my father to look at some schools, like USC and UCLA, and then finally stepped into Art Center College of Design and just fell in love with it.
It was a very small school, focused more on art, visuals, and aesthetics. I applied, got in, studied for three years, and graduated while shooting a few things here and there. That was two summers ago and I’m really still figuring things out, but so far so good.
How does your workflow change from music video to commercial content? With the Asahi campaign, do you come up with the idea for the whole concept, or does an agency tell you what they want?
In commercials the agency always reaches out to directors with a creative. It’s different though whether that creative is fully fleshed out or is only a general broad idea. In the case of Asahi, it was very defined from the beginning and they already had a very solid animatic. It was more about finding the right way to execute it. I shaped the idea by adding things and taking out others, as well setting the look of the film since we were working on stage and everything had to be built. Sort of interpreting it with an art direction and a technical knowledge of how to execute it.
Sometimes, especially in the past, I used to do the creative side myself. When you start out it’s almost impossible to even be part of a pitch, and my very first gigs were all direct to client. I learned a ton from them and I still love developing ideas. In the end, I want every project to represent something that comes straight from me, especially if I decide to take on a commercial.
How would you describe your aesthetic? What are some of your inspirations?
It’s a tough one because I’m not a bit fan of my aesthetic ahah. Sometimes I think it’s too clean and sterile, I wish it had something else to it, but It’s very subconscious with what I do. I think I’m obsessed with color and perspective. Kubrick has always been a big reference for me, as for anyone else I guess. I’m also obsessed with control and I hate handheld, or anything that makes you sense the presence of a person behind the camera. I personally like when things seem very well thought out rather than improvised.
What’s been your favorite project in your career and why?
I feel like there’s never a specific one. Overall, I’m happy to look back as everything seems to fall into place nicely. I like to think the reel is starting to build into an identity, which is important. Looking back though, none of the single pieces stand out as representing of myself. I do like the Gucci film. It’s very naive and incomplete, but I do like the energy and the personality that it has. I also like the two projects we did for Golden Goose because I developed the creative myself and managed to make it happen when I was still in school and had no money for production.
The more you get into bigger scripts and jobs, you lose that kind of relationship with your work because there are so many people involved. It becomes hard to maintain a vision and you have to fight constantly for it. But I think it’s fundamental to fight for your vision all the way, or else you lose track of why you’re even in it.
You use a lot of the same people on your projects. How important do you feel as a director to have a consistent team? Or is mixing it up more beneficial?
It’s funny you say that cause I’ve actually been constantly working with very different crews these past years. If you look at my jobs, it’s always a different production company, different producers, different approaches, and different crews. I’ve never shot with the same dp more than twice for example, but that’s not always by choice.
I like the idea of serving the project and finding the best person for it. I like to shuffle, work with different people, and get a better understanding of myself through that process. When you can’t rely on a prior relationship with people to help, you have to really invest yourself 100% to direct people you’ve never worked with towards the same vision. I do think it’s invaluable though to find the people you can carry on with, it just might take a while for me.
Knowing what you know now, what’s one thing you wish you had known back when you started?
It never gets easier, it’s always gonna be hard as fuck. Every project is a new challenge and you have to get along with it. The moment you feel relaxed and completely in control, that’s the moment you’re probably not doing anything great. You’re either making something for someone else and not caring deeply or not making anything new. I’m a maniac like that sometimes. Sometimes I don’t sleep at night because I want it to be so good, and it’ll still be like shit ahah. But it kind of feels good to be on the edge.
Do you have any upcoming projects you could tell us about?
I wish I could say yes but at the moment I’m just pitching really. The turn around is so quick: either I just finished shooting something or I’m in a pitch. I’m developing different ideas for a short, and I think it’s about time to put myself in that world.
What are your top 3 movies of all time?
I would say Dr. Strangelove, La Notte, and La Dolce Vita.
What’s your dream project to direct?
My goal is to step into movies, because there’s more of a challenge and a career. It’s also a tough transition because when you’re doing commercials, they throw tons of projects at you and you have no time to think about it. That’s why I respect and admire those directors that can switch between music videos and commercials and still put out a short or plan out a feature.