We’ve all found ourselves on a late night doom scroll, lost in an infinite stream of posts we’re not even interested in. The hold social media has on us is just as all-consuming as the chemical induced trip a young clubber loses himself to on a hedonistic night of drugs, music and Instafame in LOVE U 2CB. A follow up to Sami Schinaia’s 2021 solo directing debut NOPE! exploring modern day addictions to social media, LOVE U 2CB sees the Italian filmmaker leaning into his love of clubbing and background in music videos and advertising, resulting in a visually alluring, stylised short where every beat, colour and costume choice was carefully thought through to serve the story. LOVE U 2CB is not supposed to be a warning against the perils of addiction but rather a fun and captivating snapshot of youth, the clubbing scene and people’s perception of their own realities. Ahead of today’s premiere, we caught up with Schinaia to chat to him about his take on modern relationships and social media, why he wanted to feature protagonists from distinct socioeconomic backgrounds and deploying his slick and surreal aesthetic through all elements of production.
What did you want to talk about in this film?
The film is the second chapter of a trilogy designed as a personal gateway to narrate the current presence and relationship with internet addiction and drugs. In this second chapter, the two central themes land on 2CB and Instagram. For both protagonists, Instagram represents the only reality that matters, where they can achieve fame and be loved. Pleasure is all they desire. This film portrays a clear perception of a completely altered reality, with a humorous tone, punctuated by slapstick humor and a highly sophisticated aesthetic. LOVE U 2CB doesn’t aim to accuse anyone of improper use of social networks and drugs but rather offers an external and lighthearted view of the new generation.
Social networks have become akin to drugs as a form of instant pleasure and I liked the idea of associating them.
Why are you drawn to telling these modern stories and how are you applying your own lighter, non-judgemental lens to them?
I believe that addictions are part of our human nature and I think they shouldn’t be judged as a person’s flaw. Social networks have become akin to drugs as a form of instant pleasure and I liked the idea of associating them. Being myself addicted to social networks, I wanted to narrate my struggle in a funny way. Yes, I waste a lot of time watching silly cat videos.
Tell us about your working relationship with writer Ernesto Giuntini on this project.
I met Ernesto for the first time at the premiere screening of NOPE!; he was extremely shy but had a great desire to collaborate. Later, I told him that during the editing of NOPE! I found myself dealing with a lot of structural problems. I had just written the outline for LOVE U 2CB and didn’t want to repeat the same mistakes. Ernesto’s enthusiasm was crucial in preparing the screenplay, from structure to dialogue. He particularly delved into the characters not only during the writing phase but also in the preparation with the actors. He served as the guiding figure for my characters during the shooting, always reminding them of their backstories and their relationships to each other.
Why did you want our two main protagonists to be from such different social strata?
In my work as an advertising director, I’ve transitioned from being someone with very little money to periods of economic success. This is likely to continue in my life as a freelancer, and I believe one’s perspective on life drastically changes when you have the freedom to not worry about fundamental things like food and having a decent place to live. The two protagonists represent the fluctuating sides of my economic situation.
Can you please go into detail on the cameras and the lighting used for those integral club scenes and how you built the luscious and vibrant cinematography with Luca Esposito?
Luca Esposito is one of my best friends and we also hit the dance floor together. I won’t deny there’s a bit of him in the two main characters. He was the one who chose the location and worked on the club’s lighting, a crucial scene for the film’s beautiful cinematography.
The use of Zeiss Supreme lenses with very open apertures enriches the frame, almost like a watercolor, sometimes having its own depth, beautiful blurs, and at the same time, a modern and sharp look, when desired.
Luca Esposito: For the realization of this short film, I chose to shoot in large format, specifically with the Arri Mini LF paired with Zeiss Supreme Prime lenses. This combo is a set that I really like, both for the generated file (with Sami, we often use it in its native format, almost square) and for its color depth and sensor performance. The use of Zeiss Supreme lenses with very open apertures enriches the frame, almost like a watercolor, sometimes having its own depth, beautiful blurs, and at the same time, a modern and sharp look, when desired. As for color and contrasts, our light reference has always been Euphoria, both for the themes addressed and for its pop colorimetry. Of course, we’ve reinterpreted it and made it our own, bringing some scenes closer to the world of clubs and electronic music and others inspired by classic American cinema. All in an Italian key, or rather, all in a Viale Padova, Milan key. In this case too, I mixed modern LED technology with tungsten, an ancient legacy of classic cinema from many years ago.
Your actors are young, attractive and captivating, take us through your casting and what you look for.
I’ve chosen the cast for my shorts by following signals I encounter along my life’s journey. I met Ilyass Fahmane and Gabriele Gratti, Momo and Fred, at my editor’s place, I didn’t hold auditions, I simply felt they were perfect for the roles. As for Taraneh Ahmadi, who plays Bride, I found her on Instagram. She posted a video that went viral where she was cutting her hair for the rights of Iranian women. I thought I needed a character like that for the DJ, a woman who decides to set out and change the world.
The costume design also plays a part in immersing us in this world. How did you develop the aesthetic and what did you want it to add to the story?
I worked with Francesco Mautone to find a modern and current style while also giving personality to our characters. Fred is the one with the most style, well-off, but doesn’t even make an effort to seem so. Momo would like to imitate him but doesn’t have the same financial availability. Therefore, the jacket he wears is a somewhat exaggerated piece of style, intending to show it as a symbol of wealth status that he doesn’t actually possess. DJ Bride, on the other hand, is a tough girl who travels the world but doesn’t want to give up her femininity.
The music is obviously central to everything, at what point did you start working on that and what guided your selections?
I immediately thought of Tamburi Neri, I’m a big fan of theirs, and I’ve found myself experiencing those psychedelic sensations in their tracks. What they convey through sounds and lyrics perfectly describes the emotions I wanted to evoke in the audience; it was a beautiful match. As for the rest of the music, I had some ideas in mind before shooting, but it was during the editing phase that we had fun experimenting with different things.
As we know, the workflow for short films always demands ten times the time and patience compared to a TV commercial.
Talk to us about this edit and the experimentation which led to the final form of LOVE U 2CB.
The editor Tobia Peruzzi is also one of my best friends who followed not only the entire writing phase but also my life. He was, therefore, fully aware of what I wanted to convey in every scene, from the most realistic to the more surreal ones. Above all, he contributed stylistically by working simultaneously on sound and video, focusing on emotions as much as the narrative structure. As we know, the workflow for short films always demands ten times the time and patience compared to a TV commercial. After the initial draft, we allowed ourselves the right amount of time to digest, review, cut unnecessary elements, or delve into crucial passages for the film’s understanding.
So…what is the third part of this trilogy looking like so far?
I’m a bit stuck artistically. Initially, I thought the third short would wrap up the trilogy so I could start working on a TV series format. But someone suggested something interesting: the third chapter could actually become a feature film!! I’m waiting for the right moment to start writing. I’ve got plenty of ideas, but I’m waiting for the one that will help me close this beautiful circle.