Berlin Graduates bring ‘The Hook’ to Sony Future Filmmaker Awards
By Elise Czyzowska
22 February 2023
The Sony Future Filmmaker Awards are a new programme set up to ‘elevate original voices from the globe’ – and with over 4,000 submissions from 140 countries, their reach is clear. With judges including Sir Roger Deakins and Justin Chadwick, one of the films shortlisted in the ‘Student Filmmaker’ category is The Hook, directed by MetFilm School Berlin graduate Pietro Venier (MA Directing), and featuring many Berlin students and graduates across the cast and crew.
The Hook follows 19-year-old Carlo, as he struggles with the choice between continuing his happy life in Trieste, and pursuing a job on the island of Tuvalu. As Director and Co-Writer of the film, Pietro was joined by Karan Shriniketan (MA Screenwriting) as Co-Writer, and Sanjeet Singh (MA Cinematography) as Director of Photography – with many more friends and filmmakers involved in the wider project.
With today marking the beginning of the three-day awards ceremony (which includes all shortlisted filmmakers being flown to LA, and taking part in a two-day workshop programme), we spoke to Pietro, Sanjeet, and Karan about their respective crafts – and how everything came together for The Hook…
Directing with Pietro Venier
Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind the film?
This being my first ‘proper’ project, I tried to talk about what I know, so it was natural for me to set my story in Trieste, the city I grew up in. I knew I wanted to make a comedy/coming-of-age about the sense of feeling lost, and the fear of facing important decisions – a situation we’ve all felt at least once.
I wanted to tell a story that could speak to everyone, in a fresh way, about the problems and doubts many of us face.
How does it feel to have been recognised by the Sony Future Filmmaker Awards?
When we found out, it was a huge surprise, and very emotional. It’s an honour for us to know that our film has the chance to participate in such an important event – and with people like Roger Deakins on the jury!
It will surely be an experience we’ll all remember for a long time. To be selected at festivals takes a good dose of luck, but it’s also a sign that maybe we did something right.
Collaboration is key in this industry – with so many members of your crew being fellow students, how do you know when you’ve ‘found your people’?
In my opinion, building the right team is crucial. You spend so much time with your crew (for The Hook, we were 25 people in a country house for a week!), that if everyone becomes a family, this magic shines through in the end result.
More than talent or technical skills, it’s the human qualities that make a real difference to me. I’m super thankful to have found so many special people while studying – Sanjeet, Karan, Elisa, Imran, and many others both from MetFilm School and my time studying in Italy. It’s thanks to these amazing people that this reckless project was able to see the light, and I’m immensely grateful to them all.
Cinematography with Sanjeet Singh
The setting for the film is beautifully shot – how did you approach working in natural light?
The whole game of working with natural light depends on the time of day you’re shooting – that should dictate your decisions. The Hook needed for the character to be a part of his surroundings, to show his attachment to the city, so it was really important to capture that look. The wide framing, for example, was a conscious decision to blend the characters with their existing ecosystem – the camera work and lighting convey the emotion which binds the audience to the film.
Can you talk more about conveying emotions through your visual storytelling?
Among the first few discussions I had with Pietro, we bounced ideas back and forth, and we knew that the colour blue was an essential part of Carlo’s persona, signifying his longing for freedom and sensitivity.
To portray the emotions of different characters, the idea was to connect each emotion to a certain shot type – from dolly push-in’s, to hand-held, static wide frames… Each portray a certain emotion, and although my decision making was generally more organic, I kept that in mind as I worked.
Were there any key films or shows that you took inspiration from?
The core idea was to look at it as a very Italian summer. We took pieces of inspiration from Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, Paolo Sorrentino’s The Hand of God and The Great Beauty, and Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name. For the camera work, I also took inspiration from Paul Thomas Anderson’s work!
Screenwriting with Karan Shriniketan
Co-writing with Pietro, how did the two of you share the process?
Pietro had a script written in Italian already, so the first thing we did was listen to his story, to understand where the idea came from, and what it meant.
While at MetFilm School, I fell in love with the idea of carding, and so we built the whole story, carded it, wrote out every beat… this allowed us to visualise how the story would progress, and what we needed to do to complete it.
By the third draft (where Pietro wrote in Italian, and I revised the translations), we had a feeling that this was it. As a writer, I felt the script was as perfect as it could get – and that it delivered the vision Pietro had had.
Do you have a favourite scene in the film?
I do, and it’s amazing to see how beautifully it has translated onto the big screen! It’s a scene between Carlo and Sandra, and we went back and forth on whether it needed something ‘more’. In the end, we trusted the scene to speak for itself, and it does: it conveys everything, all without a single word. I may have even had tears in my eyes the first time I saw it!
Finally, how did you grow as a screenwriter from this project?
I came to appreciate and respect the writing process I had learnt at MetFilm School. It’s easy enough to write a script, but I see the process – writing a treatment, a synopsis, carding, creating character biographies… all these things are important cogs in the machine.
With The Hook, we already had a script, but that process is what helped us to polish it, and it’s reflected in our Sony shortlist. I learnt all of this at MetFilm School, and can only express my deepest gratitude to my tutors for making me a better writer.