Jennifer Farris
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Women Making History: Diana “Spaghetto” Manfredi

Diana “SPAGHETTO” Manfredi is an Italian director who earned her B.F.A in Video Art at the Fine Art Academy of Milan and her M.F.A in Directing at the School of Cinema in Barcelona. She started her career really young with Spaghetto Child, a skateboarding brand through which she produced and directed various skateboarding videos and her first movie “Skaterz”, a portrait of five skaters from Milano and their friendship, which sold out theaters and won the “Paesaggi Umani” grant. From there she directed her own commercial for the MTV “I’m Different” campaign and the TV show “Spaghetto Child in da House”. She took part in the “Urban Edge Show”, the biggest street art exhibition ever organized in Europe, with her skateboarding photos and also directing a documentary on the exhibition.

A few documentaries later Diana is touring Europe and the US with “District Six”, a movie about a Muslim family who, like many, were forcibly removed from their home in Cape Town during Apartheid. After presenting her documentary to universities, non-profits, and festivals worldwide, including the NYC Diaspora Film Festival, LA Pan African Film Festival and SF Black Film Festival, she moved to the US. Diana has worked as a producer (Spaghetto Productions) and director in California since 2005 and won the Audience Award at the 7 Day Film Festival for her narrative short film “Talking to Mr. Wall”.  She has directed over forty works comprised of music videos, documentaries, and commercials, and writing/producing two TV shows for the Italian channel Bonsai TV. She currently lives in LA where she is writing her first feature-length narrative movie “Websters”.

Spaghetto is more than just a filmmaker. Spaghetto is more than just a hardcore punk/hip-hop/singalong enthusiast. More than just a martial artist in the dojo of light and angles. What Spaghetto captures are the moments you smile to yourself about the night before. The inside jokes from last weekend. The times when you sing in the shower and dance in your kitchen and think that nobody is watching… and there’s Spaghetto. Spaghetto takes the everyday creative outburst and turns it into a gorgeous discovery of blue-collar genius. They say a performer needs his audience. Spaghetto likes to capture the performer in his rare moment without an audience, rather just himself and his craft. Spaghetto Productions: a genuine fly-on-the-wall making dreams come true everyday.

What woman, besides your mom or grandmother, do you find inspirational?

I find inspirational any woman who doesn’t ask for shit. Who has her dreams and goals in life and just go for them without even thinking “Wait! But I’m a woman!”

How did you get your start as a filmmaker and photographer? What came first for you?

I started in Italy, when I was a teenager. My friend Camilla gave me a super old Hi8 video camera and I started filming my friends and hardcore/punk shows with that. The camera was so old that they stopped making tapes for it after a few months I had it! I think around that time I started taking pics. I had this all manual Yashica camera that I really loved. All my friends were skateboarders/graffiti writers/artists and most of them were in bands, so I was taking pictures and filming my reality and the things that were happening around me. After a couple of years I met my boyfriend, he was a pro skater and had a mini DV camera. We started a skate company together, SpaghettoChild, and I was making a bunch of videos for it. When I wasn’t filming I was editing. I always had to borrow a camera, I couldn’t afford one. But I had a computer…a super slow PC with a cracked version of Adobe Premiere installed. So I learned how to edit videos and I became addicted to it. That’s pretty much how I started, figuring stuff out by myself, with the worst equipment ever!

How did the name Spaghetto come about? Do you just really love pasta?

In Italian spaghetto is a singular piece of spaghetti. I had this skateboarding company called SpaghettoChild and that was also the name of our crew of friends and artists. When I moved to California and I started my own production company, I called it Spaghetto Productions. Cause my roots as a filmmaker are in the SpaghettoChild crew and Diana Spaghetto was always my nick name.

What’s your favorite piece photograph and film that you’ve taken?

I have many…right now I really like some b/w photos I took of my sister in Sicily. Sicily is such an amazing and inspiring place, I love it. One of my fav videos is for sure a skateboarding video I directed for MTV years ago. The message was really hard for being on MTV, in a moment where everyone with a skate was considered “cool”. They were always putting skateboarding in random videos just cause it was trendy at the time, but since they didn’t know anything about it, they were hiring all these wannabes and all the videos were looking super fake. So when they finally asked me to make a commercial for the MTV “I’m different” campaign, we couldn’t miss the chance to talk hella shit about the posers! I remember I had to fight with the producer to keep the video how I wanted it to be, but it was fun. I was hella young, I didn’t give a fuck about anyone who was trying to tell me what to do and how to do it. I shouldn’t really blame on the age too much tho, I’m still really stubborn.

Your short film Face Off with Estevan Oriol is great, how did that project come about?

Thank you! I love his work and we have mutual friends. So when I moved to LA I asked him if he wanted to do a video with me and he accepted. He is a tough guy and his subjects are most of the times really tough too. So I wanted to underline that aspect and that’s how the idea of the western-style duel where both the photographer and his subject points of view are shown came to my mind.

Who do you want to photograph? Who do you want to work with on a video?

I like to photograph random situations I witness. My pics are never staged, so I can’t really tell you a name. But there are a lot of people I would love to work on a video. I’m really inspired by a lot of different bands and artists right now. Some hip hop artists I really like hit me up to direct music videos for them. But I don’t want to say the names yet, I wanna wait until I’m sure it’s happening for real!

What part of taking photos and shooting film is the most challenging and do you dislike the most?

Everything that comes before the shoot is the most challenging for me…I hate to look for $$$, be in meetings, etc. Everything that is not creative I pretty much dislike.

Any advice for ladies who are just starting out in a career path similar to yours?

Don’t wait on people. Do as much as you can by yourself. Start 100 projects at the same time, at least one will happen and you can go from there. Don’t give up!!

What’s next for Diana Manfredi?

The movie “Websters” I am writing and my first photo book called “5 fucking years”. I am excited about them! Stay tuned! <3

Check out some of Diana “Spaghetto” Manfredi’s videos below - including the just released CBG Nope video…

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