“LFS wasn't just a school for me, but a real life-changing experience.” Francesco Gabriele

LFS graduate and award-winning Italian filmmaker Francesco Gabriele’s debut feature film 'Blue Hollywood' has been officially selected as part of the Coronado Island Film Festival in California, following on from a fantastic run in festivals all over Europe.

The film, written and directed by Francesco as his graduation project and produced by fellow LFS alumna Devorah Corona Mendez, is an international co-production between the UK and Italy, which tells the story of “how dreams crash when faced with ugly reality, and how souls can be consumed by ambition.” When reckless Italian Alessandro meets cautious Englishwoman Celeste at a London acting school, they decide to move to LA together in the hope of striking gold in the Hollywood film industry. Sharing the same dream, the two young actors embark on a journey filled with desire, determination and disappointment.

“LFS gave me the confidence to make a feature-length film and this is something that I didn't think I'd be capable of at such an early stage in my career,” says Francesco, who graduated in 2016. “Currently, the film is doing very well in the festival circuit and I'm looking for distribution deals.”

Francesco worked for several years as an actor before beginning his MA and in 2014 he founded his London-based production company, Thespian Films, with the aim of creating projects which emphasise the creative role of an actor on set. “LFS wasn't just a school for me, but a real life-changing experience,” he says. “Coming from an acting background, it gave me the chance to fulfil my technical skills and made me understand that directing is mostly about coordinating different departments, and the more I learnt about them the better I was at conveying my vision. I didn't just learn how to operate a camera and equipment at the school; it was a tough process, but it forged me, and most importantly it helped me find my style and the stories I wanted to tell. In addition, I got the opportunity to direct two short films in 16mm! Something very rare nowadays.”

Francesco credits the school with helping him establish the creative relationships that made this film a possibility. “Throughout the course, I made so many connections, in particular my cinematographer Giacomo La Monaca (MA Filmmaking 163) and my producer Devorah Corona (LFS, MA Screenwriting 10),” he says. “Without them, I wouldn't have been able to realise Blue Hollywood - so thank you LFS!” 

Francesco is currently based in London and has produced and directed several short films that have been selected and awarded in numerous international film festivals. His most recent short film, Italian Miracle, played at over 35 festivals worldwide, including the Oscar & BAFTA Qualifying LA Shorts Fest and won, among other awards, the Jury Award for 'Best Short' at the Stony Brook Film Festival in New York. 'Blue Hollywood' premiered in August at RIFFA in Canada, where it was awarded the Best International Feature Award, and had its UK Premiere in September at the BT Tower in London as the closing night film of the British Urban Film Festival. It has also been screened in Italy, Bulgaria and Sweden.

Cinematographer Giacomo, also from Italy and now based in London, graduated from London Film School in 2009 and has since worked on productions ranging from fiction, music videos, commercials and documentaries in London and around the world. Producer Dévorah Corona Méndez, who hails from Venezuela, graduated from the MA Screenwriting programme in 2015 and now works as a senior researcher. She has worked with many LFS graduates, including with Maria Balduzzi on her recent graduation film, 'Wolves'.

Blue Hollywood represents the true spirit of collaboration and creative ambition that London Film School stands for, and we wish the whole team the best of luck for its continued success!

The film will screen on Saturday, 11th November at 4:00 pm at the Black Box Theatre, Coronado Island. Watch the official trailer and find out more about the two feature-length projects which Francesco is currently developing at www.thespianfilms.co.uk.

Photo: left to right: Devorah Corona, Francesco Gabriele, Helen Watkinson

Festival Information

The Coronado Island Film Festival was founded in 2016, and takes place in California, across the bay from San Diego, from November 9-12. Last year’s inaugural festival was called “nothing short of a home run” by film critic and author Leonard Maltin, who served as the Honorary Head Juror. The awards ceremony takes place on Sunday, November 12 at the Coronado Performing Arts Center-CoSA Main Stage Theatre.  There are awards given in all categories – narrative features and shorts, documentary features and shorts, and animated features and shorts – with student films being evaluated separately.