Enthusiastic professionals have been coming to Hollywood for a century now to pursue their dreams. The most common stereotype is that of a wanna-be starlet seeking fame and fortune. The new feature film Say Something Funny features a very different kind of lead female character than this. Without question, one of the reasons why this story is so relatable and unique is the visual approach to the main character[Natalie]’s view of her experiences; a perspective achieved by the film’s Italian DP Lucia Rinaldi. You won’t find any Fellini-esque stark visual moments for comparison in Rinaldi’s work but there is a correlating abundance of heart in her approach. Perhaps it’s an Italian quality or just an inherent greatness in all prominent artistic minds but there is an element of Lucia’s style which envelopes the audience and draws them into the story instantly. So much of a film is about being relatable. Rinanldi notes, “Director Philip Bache (known for his work on the Shanghai International TV Festival winning series Scissor Seven and Netflix’s PRODU Award Winning series Go! Live Your Own Way) brought me on this project. We were immediately down to a possible collaboration as we are both very passionate about coming-of-age stories and I personally related a lot to the main character as I also came to Los Angeles with a dream. Philip really liked my previous work and my style so it was a very easy decision when it was time to pick a Cinematographer for this film.
Say Something Funny is the story of an aspiring comedian named Natalie who has literally left everyone she knew to relocate in LA and pursue her dream. Like so many others, she hangs on by a shoestring; one which snaps when she gets fired from her minimum wage job, has her jokes stolen by another comedian, and her best friend decides to abandon Los Angeles living. Relenting and following suit to go back home herself, it’s a serendipitous encounter at the bus station that finally offers her the hope of manifesting her professional aspirations. Say Something Funny is that rare kind of film which presents so much adversity yet communicates that it’s only those of a tenacious temperament whom are rewarded. The pace and the tone of this film are reminiscent of Damien Chazelle’s triple Oscar Award Winning film Whiplash. Rinaldi describes, “We wanted the film to have a very gloomy feel to it for most of the scenes, using very specific lights and frames that convey the oppression Natalie is feeling throughout the story. We also had a very clear idea of how the camera was going to communicate Natalie’s feelings in a subconscious way. We decided to depict the sedentary and uneventful life that she has been living in her hometown utilizing very constructed and still frames. These were contrasted with her journey to LA which exhibited sometimes feeble movements to relate her possible fears.” The subtlety of Lucia’s lighting designs is an unobvious yet powerful part of setting the emotional environment of this film. The warm natural light of her hometown is a world away from the high contrast lighting of the comedy clubs where Natalie performs. The diner where Natalie gives voice to her discontent following her comedy club performances is lit in a way that seems to allow her to be her authentic and honest self more than either of these other two settings. It’s in this that we understand that Natalie is in a very real journey of self-discovery. Say Something Funny is a coming-of-age story for the modern woman in comedy. While the film’s DP may share a number of experiences and obstacles that relate to this gender, it’s Rinaldi’s talent for creating the emotional connectivity through the camera and her lighting designs which allows the audience a true empathy with Natalie and which propels the impact of the story to a higher level.
The demands of shooting a film during this point in world history cannot be overstated. The experience of creating Say Something Funny during Covid-19 is not something Lucia Rinaldi takes lightly or is likely to ever forget. She emphasizes, “This was definitely a big challenge to me because shooting a feature film during a pandemic really increased stress and the production needs. Working on a very tight schedule and budget while having to respect Covid restrictions was incredibly hard. It was definitely rewarding to shoot an Indie feature film without having to compromise the quality of the visuals or story for any reason. On an almost daily basis, the specter of not completing our day loomed over us due to problems with locations and actors during such a unique moment in history. There was always a possibility of locations suddenly becoming unavailable or multiple actors could test positive and derail the scenes we needed to get. It was the continuous uncertainty that was the most taxing. I’m really proud that we were able to create such a film under these circumstances.” Say Something Funny is expected to release in May of 2021.
Writer: Angela Cooper