Los Angeles-based cinematographer Pietro Villani has been shooting movies, documentaries, shorts and commercials worldwide for 18 years. With the March 2019 release of Rubber Tree Productions’ I’m Not Here starring JK Simmons, this highly respected Emerging Cinematographer Award honoree of the International Cinematographer Guild Local 600 is garnering a great deal of industry attention and praise.With proven expertise, integrity, and collaboration with fellow filmmakers, he has amassed a diverse portfolio of work with genuine depth.
I’m Not Here, directed by Michelle Schumacher and set for national release on March 8, is an intimately filmed, haunting study on memory and the paths in life that lead to unplanned places. Pietro’s strong affinity with actors infuses every frame. Along with Academy Award® winner JK Simmons, the film stars Mandy Moore, Sebastian Stan, Max Greenfield and Iain Armitage.
Two of Pietro’s recent films have received accolades in the US and internationally. Nathan’s Kingdom, directed by Olicer Muñoz, had its World Premiere at the 2018 Sedona International Film Festival, where it won the Director’s Choice – Heart of The Film Festival Award. It then had a significant run of film festival screenings including Dances With Films, Heartland Film Festival, and in March 2019 Nathan’s Kingdom will be shown at the First Glance Film Festival in Los Angeles, where it has four nominations in the festival’s Closing Night Awards. It will also screen at the Magnolia Independent Film Festival(The MAG) in Mississippi and San Diego Latino Film Festival, and then in April at the Reel Abilities Film Festival in New York, the most recognized film festival dedicated to films about disability and autism.
In addition, Pietro won Best Cinematography at the 2016 Ghana Movie Awards for the feature Like Cotton Twines, which was shot in Ghana, directed by celebrated Ghanaian filmmaker Leila Djansi. Like Cotton Twines also screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival and won Best Narrative Feature at both the Savannah Film Festival the River Bend Film Festival that year.
Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Pietro had been working on film crews for several years before graduating with a BFA from Chapman University Dodge College of Film & Media Arts in 2002, and then with an MFA in Cinematography from the American Film Institute Conservatory in 2004. While attending AFI, he interned for legendary cinematographer Allen Daviau ASC. Along with his formal training, Pietro cites the experiences of working under some of film’s most influential cinematographers, including Paul Cameron ASC, Bill Pope ASC, Steven Poster ASC and John Lindley ASC, as some of his best education. Pietro’s greatest cinematography influences include Vittorio Storaro ASC AIC, Conrad Hall ASC and Roger Deakins CBE ASC BSC.
With Pietro’s credits covering an array of independent cinema and made for television features, he has long been the cinematographer of choice for numerous filmmakers who regularly rely on his discerning vision.
Says Pietro, “As cinematographers it’s not about us, it’s about the integrity of the movie. We must uphold that above all. Be true to the work, by creating images that support this. Sometimes great cinematography doesn't mean ‘Look, here I am!’ — a lot of time images can be subtle but powerful.”