Asa part of our series about creating a successful career in TV and Film, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Luciano Capozzi.
Luciano Capozzi was born in Marino, a small town just outside Rome. After having completed his studies at the State Art Institute in Rome in 1986, Luciano, thanks to a Costume Designer competition, Participated at the first ever design course to be given by Giulia Mafai, an Italian Costume Designer that worked with directors such as Vittorio De Sica, Mario Monicelli and others.
Luciano started to work in his own right as a costume designer for film, television and theatre. In 2005 he worked as a costume designer on his first international film — a co-production between Spain and Italy, entitled “Los Borgia” by Antonio Hernandez. His work on this film earned him a nomination for Best Costume Design at the Premio Goya Awards (Spain’s National Film Awards) and the award for best costume designer at the France costume film festival of Paris ( Mullen sur Aller).
Luciano’s experience includes period costume design, as well as contemporary and fantasy designs with an unprecedented commitment to his profession.
His stunning work and attention to detail has has made him a reliable choice and go-to favorite designer for many directors.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Igrew up in a small town, the third of three siblings. I’ve always had an outgoing and curious nature. I had always expressed an immediate interest in drawing — in fact, when I was a kid, I collected comics and then tried to draw stories with the heroes I loved most.
On one occasion, I remember my mother taking me to meet a cartoonist, a friend of her acquaintances, who worked for the Italian version of Disney published in Italy. I remember that day like it was today!
After completing my compulsory studies, moving toward an art institute felt natural. After that, in the 80s, I started collaborating with small theater companies, and that experience helped me realize that I could use my artistic abilities as a costume designer.
Those were the boom years of “Made in Italy,” the years in which the designs of big names such as Valentino, Armani, and Versace became a source of inspiration and emulation for many aspiring designers.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I had the opportunity to participate in a training workshop for costume designers directed by the Italian artist Giulia Mafai in Rome. During this course, I had the honor and fortune of meeting professionals of the caliber of Maurizio Millenotti, Lucia Mirisola, and Lindsay Kemp — artists who immediately strengthened in me the desire to try my hand at this craft.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I couldn’t honestly tell you what the most interesting thing was — believe me! I’ve always been curious, but I focus on the task at hand in every job. But, it was very interesting to work on the story of the construction of the Titanic (In Ireland for the television production “Titanic Blood and Steel”).
The early years of the twentieth century, with all the political and social problems in that country, were very interesting, just as it was extremely important to deal with the same biblical theme from totally different points of view: a more epic one for AD the Kingdom and the empire, and more philological and intimate for Paul Apostle of Christ.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. 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?
When I was still a young student, as a ‘reward’ for my dedication and commitment to my studies, my costume teacher gave me the opportunity to be an apprentice in a tailor’s shop preparing a costume film. I was so excited about it — I felt like I was flying! But, of course, I was too nervous.
In accordance with the owner of the tailor shop, I was given the task of working in the dyeing department. So, I began to make beautiful colors on silks. The costume designer (Lucia Mirisola) created a beautiful Gypsy skirt for the protagonist (Ornella Muti). PS. the film was “O Re” with Giancarlo Giannini. I also had to bleach a fabric that needed to be bleached before being used to make a wonderful blouse with special acids. It should have been in the water for just a few minutes. After placing it in the liquid, I realized that in the next room, the pot with the garments immersed in the hot color was releasing the now boiling water, so I ran over to lower the heat and ensure that the color had come out in a uniform manner. The silk had taken on a beautiful turquoise shade, and I was immediately satisfied. Then I went back to check the fabric to be bleached — I took it out to go and rinse it in running water, and my worst nightmare occurred, the fabric, now stressed by the chemical bleach, melted under the pressure of the cold water jet like mush in my hands! Luckily for me, we had more of the same fabric so that I could repeat the operation more carefully. That mistake, which makes me smile today, was shocking at that time, but it taught me not to improvise at work and to proceed carefully and, above all else — never do two things together!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Most recently I worked on the final film of the series “The Last Kingdom.” The film’s title is “Seven Kings Must Die,” an epic film about the birth of the GB, Directed by Ed Balzeguette. It is set to release April 14th of this year. And I’ve just finished shooting a musical, the true story of Romeo and Juliet, which I’m very satisfied with. Timothy Scott Bogart directed it, and it will be full of colors and splendid music. The release is scheduled for next December.
You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
Anyone who wants to undertake this job must know that it is a fantastic job that can be very rewarding but can also be frustrating. It must be clear that it is still tiring, more than many people would realize. They should also be aware that a profession can have hectic seasons and some downtime. Therefore, I would advise you to be very motivated and always balance yourself to avoid feeling “up on the hills.” Also, remember, like all jobs, it’s up to us to make it fulfilling, ensuring that it’s done in an environment and with a team that can really support us.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
That is a beautiful question. Personally, I have always supported the importance of respecting and valuing diversity, starting from the assumption that each of us is different from the others.
Therefore it is precisely our differences that make us unique. Having said that, respect for and appreciation of diversity in the workplace should certainly be encouraged. It would guarantee a more creative environment, with more articulated visions of work projects. Representing diversity respectfully in films certainly helps break down the walls that still exist in our society. It would help the younger ones to tolerate and value their ‘uniqueness’ more without the fear of being rejected or rejected for it. Finally, valuing diversity in cinema could help write stories that are increasingly close to contemporary reality, thus avoiding old clichés that are now obsolete.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
I have to be honest: I’ve always had teachers who have always spoken openly, so I was guided by very capable and knowledgeable professionals. But, I can repeat the five tips I was told, which helped me at the beginning of my career.
When I was younger, I had a more impulsive character, so the first advice was: Luciano, before you speak, count to 10. Over time I have become so good at this that I can count up to thirty!
Be careful; people can be mean. I was told by a teacher who felt that my ‘diversity’ could become my Achilles heel. Fortunately, it wasn’t like this because I’ve always been convinced of my strength.
Nurture your creativity, and don’t let others demean it! This made me understand that our work feeds on our passions. It is only up to us to cultivate them.
Continue to be generous, but continues to do it without hurting yourself. This was recommended by a great Italian theater director with whom I started working from a very young age. Gigi Proietti. He adored my enthusiasm at work. But with that advice, he wanted to warn me of excesses.
I also advise you to cultivate caution. Don’t look for easy shortcuts! This was told to make me understand that the apprenticeship (gaining experience step by step) is important to achieve quality experience over time and refine your talent.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Ours is a complex, solid job. It is obvious that at the base, there is the desire to participate in beautiful creative projects. Therefore the advice is to remain dreamers with your feet firmly on the ground!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire 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. :-)
A movement to make people aware of the importance of valuable jobs for society is some more flexible working hours for everyone, on the condition that some of the unworked but paid hours are spent on socially useful activities. I am thinking of taking care of the city or hanging out with elderly people — things like that can involve different people, but also from a generational point of view.
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?
There are many people to whom I must say thank you. Certainly among these is my dear friend Gina Lollobrigida (who recently passed away), who has always encouraged me to believe in myself and express myself through my artistic work.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“The artist is nothing without talent, but talent is nothing without work” (Émile Zola). I have always considered this quote extremely useful in my private and professional life.
It has always reminded me of the high ethical value of work (whatever it is), to improve one’s life condition and not only from an economic point of view. But also from a relational point of view, work is therefore understood as the possibility of expressing the true essence of ourselves, including our talents.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I would like to have lunch with Tim Burton. I love his gothic and fairy-tale way of making cinema. I would propose him a subject of which I have registered the rights, “The True Story of the Beast,” which is a story about the life of Pedro Gonzales, who lived in the 16th century in Italy and was affected by Ambras syndrome, and which is thought to have inspired the fairy tale of “Beauty and the Beast.”
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
To you too, fingers crossed.