Growing up in the Film Industry: An Interview with Julie Pacino

Julie Pacino is an award-winning filmmaker. The daughter of Al Pacino grew up in the film industry and was fascinated with the cinematic language and started to make short films that have been awarded and shown internationally. Julie is an independent filmmaker with her own unique cinematic language. Her latest short film, Nowhere to Go, was recently awarded on Toronto Film Channel for best short film directing.

It was our pleasure to interview Julie Pacino for Toronto Film Magazine.


When did you realize that you wanted to make films and what motivated you to shoot your first film project?

I grew up on film sets so I was exposed to the artform at a very young age. It was always so fascinating -- this experience of stepping into an alternate reality, in a way. One of my earliest memories is being on the set of “The Devil’s Advocate” and seeing a burned up prop corpse in the middle of a massive oriental rug. I was by myself just staring at this thing and I remember thinking: “This is awesome”. I must’ve been around 5 years old. Maybe that’s why some of my work can be a little twisted! The first movie I shot, I was 9 years old, I got a little DV Camera for my birthday. My friends wanted to go outside and play but I begged them to play different parts in a horror movie I had come up with. They obliged and we had a blast.


What kind of films inspired you as a director?

So many! Here are some that really stuck with me:

Enter the Void


Requiem for a dream


The Passion of Joan of Arc


Donnie Darko


Clockwork Orange


What genre of filmmaking do you like to work on?

Me and my partners at Tiny Apples like to say we’re genre-fluid. It depends on the script. If there’s a script that we’re dying to see as a movie, then of course we want to do everything we can to help make it.


Please name three of your most favorite directors and tell us why you like their work.

Stanley Kubrick, Gaspar Noé, Quentin Tarantino, Ari Aster, and of course Martin Scorsese… to name a few. I love the freedom with which all of these directors tell their stories. They’re bold and confident in their respective styles. Very inspiring.


Do you recommend film schools or does making a film teach you more?

I went to film school for a brief period of time when I was first starting out. It was very helpful to learn the basic language of film, to learn what everyone’s roles are, and to gain a general understanding of the technical side of things. It was also great having access to equipment and other likeminded people to collaborate with. I then jumped right into making movies as a producer which really helped me hone my problem solving skills. That’s such a big part of making a movie, being able to think on the fly and make decisions under pressure.


You have shot many short films in the past few years. Do you plan to continue working on short films or are you interested in making a feature film? What is your next film project?

I love short films. They are a great way to experience the whole process of making a movie on a smaller scale. They can also be more challenging than a feature length version because you have such little time to tell a complete story. I’ll definitely keep making them. I am currently in development on my first feature which I’m really excited about!


About your latest short film, Nowhere to Go, what was the inspiration behind the making of the film and the themes involved?

Sheri Sussman wrote a beautiful screenplay about two people who are struggling with dark thoughts and connect in a seemingly random way. I was really inspired by the conversations she and I had with regard to the mental state of someone who is struggling with feeling stuck; Those repetitive thought patterns that eat away at you. And how sometimes all it takes is a little spark of awareness to shift your perspective and open up a new path.


Why do you want to make films and be a filmmaker in this world?

Because it’s fun.

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© Toronto Film Mag I 2020