This article is published in number 36 of Vanity Fair on newsstands until September 6, 2022
Unexpected journeys start from dead ends. “Two months after reading the book from which it is based The Hanging Sun, my first film, my mother died. I felt like a lost man. Since then, a strange thing has happened: the film has become a film about fathers, about fatherhood. They say stories don’t intertwine with life. But my stories are so intertwined with my life that I no longer know where one begins and where the others end“.
Forty years in a week, Francesco Carrozzini, the face of an actor and destiny of a director, will present his first feature film (an Italian-British co-production by Sky, Cattleya and Greenland) at the next Venice Film Festival. The screenplay is taken from a thriller by Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø: it’s a punch in the stomach against the backdrop of a Nordic landscape perpetually illuminated by the midnight sun. Carrozzini is a son of art: his mother, the disappeared Franca Sozzanimythical director of Vogue Italywas the protagonist of his first documentary, Franca, also presented in Venice in 2016. Former fashion and celebrity photographer, with this debut feature Carrozzini makes a U-turn. An unexpected journey, in fact.
From fashion and famous people to murderers and bad men. Why choose such a black story to make your directorial debut?
“Because I was interested in the fate of the protagonist: not knowing what his next step would be.”
A fate similar to yours?
“I told you: life and stories are intertwined for me.”
And how are you today?
“I’m fine. I have just been to Paris to do some inspections: in the French capital I will shoot a series for Netflix ».
“Yup. And I’m not afraid to say it. For the first time in my life what I dreamed of is happening. I loved being a photographer, but becoming a director was like finding my place in the world ».
How do you find your place in the world?
“By trial and error. And with courage ».
What were his attempts? And when did courage serve?
«I started by studying philosophy. Then, in 2001, I passed the selections for the London Film School. I gave up going there because the tragedy of 11 September soon arrived and it seemed dangerous to leave Italy. It was the first, of many, sliding doors of my life. Later, I realized that Milan was tight on me and I arrived in New York. In life it always happens like this: fears and dreams all come together. And you just have to accept both. With courage. Going to New York was the crossroads that changed everything ».
In New York he began working with the greatest fashion photographers. What have you learned from them?
«From that period I remember first of all my inability as an assistant. I was a mess and I felt uncomfortable. But I didn’t waste a single minute learning. The sets with Peter Lindbergh, Bruce Weber or Patrick Demarchelier have taught me not only everything about focal lengths, about light, about how to frame a face. They taught me to build worlds, to tell stories. Photography is more instinctual than cinema but it has the same storytelling power. Lindbergh made amazing photos out of thin air: a window, a girl and then pure emotion. Their talent was my question: how can I do the same? Thinking back to those moments, I understand how life is a blurred image that comes together little by little, like a puzzle ».
When did you start seeing a more focused picture of your life?
«When I started to establish myself as a photographer. Regardless of my mother’s great support, I started working with artists like Beyoncé and Asap Rocky, very successful musicians who in turn brought success to me too. It’s the advantage of being a celebrity photographer – they know you, more and more people like you. And more and more people want to work with you. Yet it was not enough for me. I was impatient, the more the image of my life came into focus, the more I realized I wanted to be a director, the more I felt like I was wasting time. I was and am impatient. But every little step is needed ».