Interview with Filmmaker Cristina Pippa (UNMANNED)

UNMANNED was the winner of BEST DIRECTION at the March 2022 Female Feedback Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

At the Festival of Media Arts in Las Vegas, Jonathan D. Mabee mentioned that he had an idea for a short film about a female drone operator, inspired by his time serving as a marine. It felt synchronistic because I had started writing a short about UAVs called Unmanned but had set it aside. We decided to collaborate on a new script and applied for grants to produce it.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

We had the idea in April of 2019, wrote the script in just a couple of weeks that summer, and we were scheduled to film in April 2020. Of course, we had to delay production until August of 2021, and we finished post that December.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

intense, emotional

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Like many filmmakers, our biggest obstacle was Covid. We had to wait until we could figure out how to film safely and to secure enough tests.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I was blown away by the audience feedback video you created. It was one of the most gratifying experiences of my life as a screenwriter and director to hear from audience members I’ve never met who went on the exact emotional journey I had hoped for.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

After I earned my MFA from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop, I moved back to New York City and had the opportunity to write coverage for an independent film distributor. Reading so many scripts and then seeing them on the big screen inspired me to write and make films.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I’ve seen Casablanca more than any other film, because I’ve shown it in universities, community colleges, and prisons. Every time I screen it for a class, I think I’ll read or write something in the corner, but I’m drawn back into the story.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

It would be wonderful to be connected to other filmmakers whose work you think would resonate with us. I’ve loved meeting other directors and screenwriters at festivals, and that’s more of a challenge since we’ve moved toward virtual screenings.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

FilmFreeway makes festival submissions seamless.

10. What is your favorite meal?

My family is from Sardinia, and I love fresh fish — especially sea bass. But in truth, my favorite meals are always a result of the company rather than the food itself.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

I’m currently in post-production for a musical fiction podcast and I am looking forward to adapting it into a new film!


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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