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The Directors: Twinset

The Directors 134 Add to collection

Alex Scherillo shares her deep love of film and storytelling, particularly within the fashion and beauty industry

The Directors: Twinset

Twinset is the alias of director and cinematographer Alex Scherillo. Half Italian & half British she is equal parts level headed & passionate, creative & economic, focussed & flexible. Alex has a deep love for film, lighting and storytelling, especially when exploring Fashion and Beauty. She's worked in a vast range of forms and genres from commercials to movies via documentaries, dramas, art series, independent films and more working with some of the best directors, actors and models in the world.


Name: Twinset Aka Alessandra Scherillo 

Location: London / Milan 

Repped by/in: Repped by many all over the World. 

Worked with Debby from Mendoza films here in the UK many times over the years. 

Awards: Shortlisted for 'Oscar Short' while a student at The National Television Film School 

Winner of Samuelson Bursary and Fuji Film Sponsorship 


What elements of a script sets one apart from the other and what sort of scripts get you excited to shoot them? 

A good script is a good script. I specialise in fashion lifestyle and beauty. Coming from a background in cinematography (I have been an internationally established DoP for many many years) the visual aspect formed my first love in film so it’s extremely important to me. Having been a professional athlete for many years movement and dance – physicality in general appeals to me. My family background  is firmly rooted in the Italian fashion industry; so I’m keen on design and aesthetic however it might manifest from architecture, art, design, clothing to jewellery and beyond.

If I can have interesting visuals, architecturally interesting interiors, impressive exteriors, some  movement, some beauty and some fashion all in one place then I am a happy bunny.


How do you approach creating a treatment for a spot?

Instinct is very important. I try not to second guess what people might want but to be true to myself and follow my vision. 

 

If the script is for a brand that you're not familiar with/ don’t have a big affinity with or a market you're new to, how important is it for you to do research and understand that strategic and contextual side of the ad? If it’s important to you, how do you do it?

If I’m not familiar with a brand, I research it, it is part of our duty as directors to understand a brand, its values, its world. I love discovering new things so I ask questions and I listen, I think listening is an incredibly undervalued part of the creative process. If a brand does not speak to me or I feel I don’t feel like I can express their personality right I say so. I’ve learned you cannot be everything to everybody.

For example, I made the decision to work in beauty, fashion and lifestyle. Comedy would really not suit me. I’m drawn to strong female characters, both in front of and behind the camera, there is a stark underrepresentation – women need to see themselves through their own eyes. 


For you, what is the most important working relationship for a director to have with another person in making an ad? And why?

Filmmaking is a collaborative endeavour, I deeply dislike the Prima Donna type. If you want to be a Prima Donna go and become an artist – not that artists are by definition Prima Donnas! I’m very respectful of artists! – But as a DoP you learn early on that collaboration is vital. 

When I started in the film industry I was a lonesome, shy runner. I made my way up via Second Camera Assistant to First Camera Assistant to Camera Operator, so I love and respect and understand the importance of team members and collaboration through teamwork. You can’t survive in the camera department without it, so my crew are my family. It’s important to me to have a happy and respectful set. A good and clear relationship with the agency and client is also paramount and so is the relationship with your producer. When I’m working with Debby (Mendoza) as producer for example, I feel able to work with a clear head; I know she always has my back, will ask the right questions and offer good alternatives which she will elegantly facilitate if required. Her experience and personality makes for a really enriching line of communication, it’s fast, effective and fun. The Gaffers and set designers and wardrobe people and choreographers are all important to me, I could go on and on and on… the point is that to make something cohesive means we need to work together. 

I shoot all of my own work but sometimes I love having a DoP or operator next to me when the directing side requires I be more involved with performance. I try to choose as many women as possible because I recognise the way up is a harder path to navigate for them and we need to support each other. I know from experience, having been one of very very few female cinematographers, especially in Italy/Milan. 

 

What type of work are you most passionate about - is there a particular genre or subject matter or style you are most drawn to? 

Beauty, Fashion, Sport, Dance, Movement and Lifestyle 


What misconception about you or your work do you most often encounter and why is it wrong?

There is no misconception, I am an open book.

If people are uncomfortable with a female director/DoP that is their problem not mine.


Have you ever worked with a cost consultant and if so, how have your experiences been?

Coming from a background in the camera department, I am very good at costing and making things work within budgetary constraints. Having said that, my passion is for my craft and if I think something is needed I am more than willing to put my case across with vigour and emphasis but... you have to pick your battles!


What’s the craziest problem you’ve come across in the course of a production – and how did you solve it? 

Too many to recount to be honest, but it always works out at the end.

Being almost kidnapped and having to bribe my way out of a particular country would rank pretty highly… I’d rather not say where and get into the details.

There was also a time when we got stranded in the Ethiopian savannah because the plane that was supposed to pick us up blew up….we were stranded for days!

 

How do you strike the balance between being open/collaborative with the agency and brand client while also protecting the idea?

I think talking, listening and talking some more and perhaps a bit more listening  Most of the time if I am chosen for what I do I am asked to do just that.

 

What are your thoughts on opening up the production world to a more diverse pool of talent? Are you open to mentoring and apprenticeships on set?

We need more diversity without a doubt, I am a great sponsor and supporter of new talent and have mentored many, from students to young professionals. John Burrows is a wise old DoP director who I assisted for years. He once said to me: ‘be nice on the way up, because you might meet them on the way down’…he was full of good advice. Another one of his was ‘…never say you do not want to do something without giving at least three good reasons.’  I never fail to follow that particular advice.


How do you feel the pandemic is going to influence the way you work into the longer term? Have you picked up new habits that you feel will stick around for a long time? 

I am not sure yet, we will see. I miss the travel but have gradually got happier with conference calls and zoom meetings than I had been before. 


Your work is now presented in so many different formats - to what extent do you keep each in mind while you're working (and, equally, to what degree is it possible to do so)? 

It is impossible. I should know, having had my eye to the viewfinder for the last decade as a cinematographer, we should all learn to give each format respect. But you cannot fit a square into a circle, so we need to plan and then we can make beautiful images in all formats. 

 

What’s your relationship with new technology and, if at all, how do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work (e.g. virtual production, interactive storytelling, AI/data-driven visuals etc)? 

I love all new Technology but I would give my right tooth to shoot again on film! I love film and anamorphic format especially, and I’m good at it. But I’m also happy with an iPhone12 handheld. I’m getting great results. Curiosity in new technology is essential .


Which pieces of work do you feel really show off what you do best – and why? 

Essie Nails 'Damsel in a dress'

Love the light and landscape 


L’Occitane En Provance Pivoine Flora

It is quirky and love the colours 


AgeUK 'Chanson D’amour'

Simple but great casting 


Tallulah 'I do not know why I can get no sleep'

Sexy ..I like sexy 


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Mendoza Films, Fri, 22 Jan 2021 16:10:25 GMT