A Conversation With Guillaume Campanacci: A New Rising Star Of Filmmaking

 Director Guillaume Campanacci. Image By: Cesar Arredondo
Director Guillaume Campanacci.
Image By: Cesar Arredondo

By: Cesar Arredondo

Moviemaking wasn’t a top career choice for director Guillaume Campanacci. He may have been born in Cannes, home to the world famous French film festival that bears the city’s name, but apparently the movie bug didn’t bite him. Or so he thought.

In the early 2000s, long after earning two degrees in engineering but choosing instead to work as an international model, Campanacci decided to go into movies, first as an actor, then as a writer and other roles. This week his first directed full feature “Devils in Disguise” will be screening in Hollywood.

The psychological drama will have its world premiere at Dances With Films, an independent festival, on Friday, June 5.

“It’s very exciting and scary at the same time,” says Campanacci during an exclusive interview in Los Angeles with The Art Of Monteque.

Filmed in the nearby cities of West Hollywood and Malibu last year, “Devils in Disguise” is about two female roommates who join forces to exact revenge on a abusive and sadistic boyfriend. The movie stars Magen Mattrox, Montanna Leigh Gillis and Campanacci himself.

He penned the screenplay himself. However, this is not Campanacci’s first feature script. The French filmmaker says he has written many speculative screenplays for other people before. Also, his writing credits on the Internet Movie Database website include five shorts he previously directed. With the arrival of 2014 came a desire to pen a full feature for himself. “I wanted to write a film I could actually shoot.”

He chose to explore the dark side of the human condition. “I like characters that go and do anything to accomplish their goals, almost sociopaths like (in) ’The Talented Mr. Ripley,’” says the screenwriter/director. “I like to explore the darkness where people can go.”

He imagined “Devils in Disguise’s” abusive boyfriend, Alain, thinking of himself. “I wanted to play this character,” Campanacci said. Planning to multitask on the set, he made sure Alain would be out of the picture soon. “I wrote him to be killed early on so I could be behind the camera,” he explains. The actor/director worked as a cinematographer, too. He is also credited in the movie as a producer and editor.

“I love to write, direct and act, I love everything,” Campanacci says. But he also enjoys working for others.

That is precisely what the director did after wrapping up “Devils in Disguise.” He set off to Fairfield, Iowa to act in “Land of Nothing,” a film commissioned by the David Lynch Foundation, a nonprofit founded by the Academy Award-nominated director of “Twin Peaks” and “Mulholland Drive.” “It was amazing,” he recalls. “I did not have to think about anything other than being my character. And that was such a relief compared to what I was doing (wearing) all these hats in ‘Devils in Disguise.’”

It is apparently clear that Lynch is one of Campanacci’s favorite directors. “Fairfield is where David Lynch got his master’s of arts (degree),” he seems eager to explain. So when the call came to act in the music video entitled “Mysteries of Love” inspired by the soundtrack of Lynch’s Oscar-nominated film “Blue Velvet,” he was happy to oblige.

The video was shown at “The Music of David Lynch,” a fundraiser by the David Lynch Foundation that took place in Los Angeles in April. There, Campanacci spoke to Lynch backstage and got compliments from the veteran director. “He told me he loved my performance” in the music video, states the French filmmaker, showing a wide smile. “(Lynch) said he also saw the trailer of my new feature, loved it and wants to see the film.”
Recounting the experience leaves Campanacci excited and almost lost for words.

“When David Lynch says that to you… Wow!” he says, “I did something right.”

Still, Campanacci is nervous with the imminent world premiere of “Devils in Disguise” this week, which he considers a great accomplishment a man who was born in city home to the Cannes Film Festival but chose to study engineer instead and took many more years to finally realize that filmmaking was his ultimate call.

“It took me a long time to be able to understand what I wanted to do in life,” he says, “but I decided I didn’t want to work from 9 to 5.”

Looking back at his past choices, he does not regret having spent time getting both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. “A lot of people tell me you did all these studies and lost a lot of time,” he says in a serious tone and adds, “That is not true.” He applies his engineer background in the planning process, working with teams of people and always looking for better ways to achieve a goal.

On the other hand, modeling took him to Athens, Paris, Singapore, Hong Kong, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Miami, New York and enabled him to meet famous people. One of his biggest projects was a 2013 commercial for Lorea’l along with Hollywood actresses Eva Longoria, Jane Fonda, international models Barbara Palvin and Doutzen Kroes. “It was a lot of fun,” he says.

He also looks back at his childhood years in France when his father would take the entire family to see the Cannes Film Festival from the outside, the lights, the glamour. “I thought all that was normal. I was a kid and all that was not a big deal for me. Now all I want to do is make movies. May be, after all, filmmaking was there in my subconscious all along.”

Campanacci, who currently resides in Los Angeles, now dreams of someday going back to Cannes in a special way. “I want is to show my movies there. It would be amazing. I promise you that I will have a movie in Cannes one day.” [TAOMR]

Director Guillaume Campanacci Interview