Interviewed by Barry John Terblanche
We interview award winning producer, Francesco Raffo. A producer with more than just an eye for movies, he also produces narratives, music videos, commercials, and several other work. As he states himself; he’s always keeping an open mind to new adventures around the world – No project is too small, no challenge is too big for him.
Cult Critic – Italian born, you live in NYC. Did you start your career in production in Italy or NYC? And or did you move to NYC to better your career?
Francesco Raffo – I was born in Italy, and there I had a brief experience at a production company in Rome right out of high school, that really taught a lot. After that, I went to the UK for film school, and moved to Chicago for Graduate School to focus on production. I graduated in 2021 and have been working in NYC since June of last year. Being in NYC has really helped me better my career, the opportunities here are endless, and I have been lucky to work with so many talented people.
Cult Critic – What inspired you to become a producer?
FR – When I first went to film school, I began talking to all the directors in the program, and just by hearing their ideas and their projects, I knew that my mission was to help them tell the stories that made them so passionate.
Cult Critic – Any “early days” production story you’d like to share?
FR – I think from the very beginning I always adopted a mentality of getting it done, especially when it comes to narrative. With shorts, oftentimes you see the struggle of completing projects, or even getting to production. To me, the goal was always to get the production to the finish line, and to maintain the director’s vision throughout.
Cult Critic – You produce across an array of narrative, music videos, commercials, and other works. In which did you start, and which is your favorite?
FR – I don’t necessarily have a favorite when it comes to medium, I always focus on the creative ideas that are driving the project. I started out with more narrative pieces, but I am always open to hearing people’s ideas and concepts.
Cult Critic – Of these, which is the most challenging and why?
FR – I think they all present their own challenges. Music videos and shorts, especially at the beginning, can be harder when it comes to budget, since resources are limited and you need to wear so many hats on any given production. Commercials can definitely be hard in their own right, but the key there is to partner with the right team and have a support system that can help you get through the production.
Cult Critic – You have produced many narratives for writer/director, Xiwen Miao. Tell us about your relationship with her.
FR – Xiwen and I have a close professional relationship that has developed over the last few years. So far we have made four shorts that have received 30 festival selections and numerous awards.
We have now worked on six music videos together in the past few months alone. Her directing style and the stories she is interested in exploring have always been captivating to me. She is an incredibly talented artist and I am proud to collaborate with her in any project she will have in the future.
Cult Critic – Is there any particular genre you fancy, and or that you’d stay away from. And why?
FR – I am honestly a fan of cinema and storytelling as a whole. Most of the pieces on the narrative end that I’ve worked on have been dramas, but I’m always up for a good comedy, horror or action. To me, the genre of the piece is as important as the vision that the director has for the piece. Every project presents challenges and I like to dive in these and take them on.
Cult Critic – A question from all those screenwriters out there. From a producer’s point of view. To you, what stands out in a script… that makes you want to produce it?
FR – To me it is about conveying the theme and having strong characters from the start. The sooner I get a sense of what you are trying to say with a script, the clearer the vision for it becomes to me, and I can get more and more excited about it.