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Simona Calo: “Writing Is Re-Writing”

Well, I know I’m stating the obvious here, but “writing is re-writing”. I know many screenwriters who send their first draft to producers. It’s hard to get attention, so I wouldn’t waste the only opportunity I might have with a script that is not ready yet. As a part of our interview series with the […]

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Well, I know I’m stating the obvious here, but “writing is re-writing”. I know many screenwriters who send their first draft to producers. It’s hard to get attention, so I wouldn’t waste the only opportunity I might have with a script that is not ready yet.


As a part of our interview series with the rising stars in pop culture, I had the pleasure of interviewing Simona Calo.

Simona Calo is an award-winning screenwriter and director. In 2018 she was a semi-finalist for the Golden Plume in Cannes with “The Dark Side of the Law”, a feature drama/thriller script about racial and religious issues. Her short films “Ovunque, ma non qui” (Anywhere, but here) and “Hasty Decisions” won several awards in Europe, the USA and Canada.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve always loved writing screenplays just for fun, and for many years that was my favorite hobby until a friend of mine suggested sending a script to a script consultant in Los Angeles. I was undecided because I didn’t think my scripts had potential, but, to my surprise, he gave me very positive feedback, so I decided to start writing professionally.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Last year my short film about bullying and mass shootings, “Hasty Decisions”, was screened at a Film Festival in Cannes. The jury comprised producers of blockbusters such as “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and it was really great having the chance to discuss my short film with them.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Three years ago I was location scouting for a short film, and I found an office that looked really good. Although the room was very small, I only had two actors in those particular scenes so I thought it would be ok. On the first day of shooting I realized there wasn’t enough room for me, the camera operator, the sound engineer, etc… and, on top of that, the office was filled with mirrors, so the camera operator had to struggle a lot to get the job done. Now I pay more attention before deciding where to shoot.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m in post-production with a zero budget short film about the recent lockdown. It was shot in April with actors based in different countries (the USA, England, France and India). They never met or talked to each other. They basically just followed my directions and the script. I hope the result will be good enough for film festivals, but it was lots of fun anyway.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

Two years ago I participated in a workshop in Cannes. It was held by one of the producers of “The King’s Speech”. It was really illuminating. He worked with very popular actors and told us some funny stories about them.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Well, I know I’m stating the obvious here, but “writing is re-writing”. I know many screenwriters who send their first draft to producers. It’s hard to get attention, so I wouldn’t waste the only opportunity I might have with a script that is not ready yet.

Can you share with our readers any self-care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.

I think spending time outdoors can be really inspiring. Every morning I walk for a couple of hours and listen to some music. It helps me a lot with the creative process. I think about characters, plots, twists… It’s really useful, and healthy for my body too.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Be patient. We always rush into things because we can’t wait to shoot, but all the phases in filmmaking take time. Like I mentioned before, even finding the right location is important.
  2. It’s all about the story. Some people, for example, focus on expensive cameras. They can help, of course, but if the story is good enough you can shoot with a good smartphone and get a great result.
  3. Distribution. Film festivals can be expensive, especially if you consider that you’ve just spent a certain amount of money to produce your movie. Don’t waste your time with small film festivals just to impress your friends with selections and awards. Try to be included in one of the IMDb qualifiers because you’re gonna need lots of IMDb credits to get producers’ attention.
  4. Script consultancy. I think script consultancy is mandatory before shooting. Getting the green light from a professional is a guarantee that you’re not wasting your money on your project.
  5. Get a professional for each role. Many indie filmmakers try to cover several roles (directing, shooting, editing…). I think it’s better to focus on a couple of roles and try to find pros to work with. I know sometimes it may be expensive to hire them, but if they like the script you may get some very good deals.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“It’s going to be hard, but hard does not mean impossible”. Working in the film industry is really hard because only a few achieve what they want, but nothing is impossible. It may take many years of hard work and a bit of luck, but never stop dreaming.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’m very grateful to Phil Clarke, my first script consultant. I found him on Twitter, and I was impressed by his experience in this field. He’s worked with the giants of the film industry. He helped me a lot improving my writing skills, taking my scripts to the next level, and he supported me in my darkest time when I wanted to quit.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’m obsessed by global warming and climate change. I know it’s not an original idea, but I would like to make a movie about these issues to grow awareness about this important topic, and maybe that could be the first step towards creating a movement that will make a difference. Sometimes movies can have a huge impact on people, so you never know.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

I have more than one person, actually, but I think I’ll choose Jodie Foster. I think she’s accomplished so much in her life, both as an actress and director, and yet she’s mentioned quite a few times that she’s not totally satisfied with her life. I’m very curious to know why…

How can our readers follow you online?

I use Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/SimonaCaloFilmDirector/) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/simy_calo/) on a regular basis. And I also have a website (https://simonacalo.com/) with my portfolio and a contact form for producers or people who would like to work together with me on awesome projects!

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!

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