Filippo Scotti

Relieving trauma has Filippo Scotti revisit parts and memories of himself

Filippo Scotti wears a worried look as he fires off apologies for being five minutes late into the call. He was helping his friend with a project and lost track of time. He asked him to pedal fast when the two breezed through the street on his friend’s bike, hoping to catch the interview on time. After a bout of reassurance that he has nothing to worry about, he drinks from his 1.5 liters of water bottle to fight off the 38 degrees celsius heat crashing over Rome. Drinking tons of water forms part of his daily routine along with hours of physical training for his next project. NR tries to break through the secret project, but Filippo’s lips remain sealed. The only piece of information he gives is that “imagine wearing a t-shirt when it is 10 degrees out there. I have to prepare my body for that.” He assures us that he will not be doing jump stunts like Tom Cruise. Even if that were the project, Scotti would buckle down in a heartbeat to physically prepare for it.

On starting out

Scotti started out as a theater actor in Naples at the age of 16, and even before that, his mother had encouraged him to try his hand out at acting when he was 11. While on tour with his theater group for shows, an agency signed him, the gradual shift of the young actor from theater to cinema. His new lineup brimmed with auditions where he would prepare each day to spew out his memorized lines with depth to match his character’s emotions, almost melding with his own. Those moments culminated in Scotti earning the role of Fabietto Schisa in Paolo Sorrentino’s The Hand of God (2021). Now that he is thinking about it with NR, he admits he got lucky.

Working for the movie nudged Scotti to look at the cinema industry as a spider web where he always has to move, audition, secure roles, act, and go on press tours. The cycle repeats, and he admits it took him a while to get a hang of the rhythm. But his strike of luck keeps him in the spotlight, project after project. “I am also lucky that people whom I worked and work with trust and have taught me how to be and stay in character, to always be ready for what is coming. I am always learning and never stopping, and that is a double-edged sword for me. It scares me, but at the same time, it excites me. The whole experience is just wonderful,” he says.

On preparing for the shoot

From luck, the conversation flows to how mathematical he sees the process of being on set is. Everything seems to be planned – a miscalculation in schedule, equipment, script, and post-production means shooting delays. The viewers see the finished product flashed on the cinema screens, but it only scratches the surface of what happens behind the scenes (not the bloopers that seem to detract the attention from the hard work invested in producing and making a movie).

Scotti tells NR that often he wakes up early only to start shooting late in the afternoon or at night. The physical and mental preparation he undergoes also comes in handy when his first hours are spent idly waiting for his turn. Then, when he acts in a scene and the first take is not good enough, it might take two, three, four, five, or more takes before he can settle down. “During the shoot, I block out any thoughts so I can stay focused on my character. When I do more than five takes – even four because I always target a maximum of three takes – I start to hit this wall and fall into this repetition. It affects the way I act, so I strive to get it all done before the third take,” he says.

On relieving trauma

For The Hand of God, some takes took more than three times, and as the shooting went on, Scotti found himself in the shoes of Fabietto’s character, beyond the biopic he was portraying. He would think of ways to tap into Fabietto’s pain and tragic experiences, but would end up feeling obligated to play the role. Sorrentino noticed, sat with him, and told him that he should give his truth to the lines of his character. “If I am to say my lines, I should think of my truth – the painful events that happened in my life,” he says. Scotti followed the director’s advice and soon, he relieved his truth, even if it meant digging up the past he had already buried. “While I did not live the tragedy Fabietto lived, I felt the pain he felt as I remembered my past,” Scotti tells NR.

When asked about the experiences he went through, Scotti pauses. Seconds of silence have passed before he speaks. “I am only going to share one event that was strange for me,” he begins. When he was in high school, Scotti enjoyed the company of his friends, the topics his teachers delved into, and the theater classes he had in between. Yet the young actor felt as if he was in limbo, the weight of an unknown sensation seemed to be putting him in stagnation. He felt stuck and he could not pinpoint why. “Until now, I find it hard to describe the feeling,” he says. “I wanted to study, but I did not want to study. There was this push-and-pull feeling that tired me out.” Suddenly, Scotti was playing a role of a character who was stuck and wanted to find a way out, a real-life portrayal of a role he saw in movies. Like a coming-of-age movie, he figured out that he felt free after he pursued acting full-time. He still studies for pleasure from time to time, but he no longer has time to beat. His pace, his time.

Relieving his past traumas for his role in The Hand of God made Scotti realize how, at times, he has to take off his mask and acknowledge and understand his vulnerability. “To accept it is difficult sometimes,” he says. “But I feel lighter afterward, knowing that I have understood what it meant.”

On fame and recognition

Scotti has experienced being recognized on the street for his role as Fabietto. When asked if the gradual build-up of fame surrounding his career affects him, he says that he is more focused on the emotions and depth he dedicates to his roles rather than the recognition he receives from the public. It pleases him to know that he can influence viewers with his acting – he even receives direct messages on his social media, which he reads, double taps, and treasures – and Scotti reminds us that the Scotti who portrayed a role in his previous project differs from the Scotti today. “Am I the same person? Would I be able to do better in the next project? Responsibilities come and go. I love being the message people can relate to, and I hope to continue that.”

On moving beyond acting

During his press tours for The Hand of God, Scotti was asked at times if he wanted to be a director one day. He could not remember when he had said that, or if he had even said it at all, but somehow, it piqued the press’ curiosity over his next venture. For NR, he says he loves writing and the idea of crafting characters over directing a movie, but that above all, he would love to produce movies. “If I were to have the opportunity in the future, I would love to open my own production company,” he says. “It would be difficult but worth it at the same time. The idea is exciting, to be honest.” 

Scotti already has a name for his production company, but he says he will keep it to himself for now. As for the movies he will produce, he wants some gut-wrenching scripts based on reality. They do not have to be drama or tragedy. He envisions his movies as means to address topics that the general public might not be open or ready yet to talk about or reflect on. While he is unsure of specific themes, his statement circles back to how he dealt with his trauma, a potential overview of the visual narratives he wants the public to see.

On reflecting on his own

As a fan of words, Scotti used to bring a notepad in his pocket to jot down his thoughts. They were gone the moment they crossed his mind, and he wanted to keep track of these phrases, hoping they would make sense when he revisits them in the future. Touring and traveling means he stays far from home and finds himself on his own. In the times he is in his own space, Scotti ponders on life, love, movies, his career, his next path, his decisions, his regrets, and what he might have forgotten to say or do. “For example, I am living in Rome and my family is living in Naples. It feels far and close at the same time. I check in with myself on what I feel when I experience this. Then, I write down my thoughts,” he says. He has replaced his notepad with a ‘notes’ app on his phone. He reminds us that his thoughts are not poetry, but just jumbled words that made sense to him at the moment of writing, a set of word vomit he feels acquainted with.

Filippo Scotti appears hesitant to share one of his personal thoughts. He fumbles on his phone and stammers as he finds an excuse to refuse. We assure him it is fine if he does not want to share anything. He calls his typed-down thoughts shitty and bad. We disagree. He turns his phone to the camera and shows a long list of saved thoughts on his app. He clicks on one and purses his lips. “Last night, I dreamed of your pain. Up close, I can see the waves of the sea,” he reads. Earlier, he said he wants to base his acting on emotions for people to relate with, a mission he eyes to fulfill by playing a character. His delivery for NR can attest that while he still has mountains to climb, he is already on his way to reaching their peaks.


Talent · Filippo Scotti
Photography · Bobby Buddy at Kaptive
Fashion · Victoire Seveno at Kaptive
Hair and Grooming · Miwa Moroki
Set Design · Clara de Gobert and Nico Plinio Lanteri
Agents · Carole Congos and Amal Jefjef
Fashion Assistant · Flore de Sermet
Special thanks to Gianni Galli


  1. Full look PRADA
  2. Full look PRADA
  3. Full look PRADA
  4. Full look PRADA
  5. T-shirt RON DORFF, jacket, trouser and shoes BOTTEGA VENETA
  6. Full look PRADA
  7. Jacket ACNE STUDIOS and t-shirt RON DORFF

Christine Haroutounian

“I’ve always had a desire to go from the unreal to the real”

Founder of the production company Mankazar – a platform to explore independent cinema in Armenia and beyond, filmmaker Christine Haroutounian works between Southern California and Armenia. Her work explores transnational life, ancestral inheritance, and darker layers of humanity.

Attending an Armenian school in Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley, Harourounian didn’t head down the filmmaking path immediately, as she was first an art school student, then a photographer. Her time studying for an MFA in Directing/Production from the UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television was when she produced both her shorts ‘Fixed Water’ and ‘World’. They have received Official Selection in International Film Festival Rotterdam, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Palm Springs International ShortFest, and more. Mankazar is currently in development with Haroutounian’s first feature film, set in post-Soviet Armenia.

Haroutounian’s first short ‘Fixed Water’ follows the lives of an older Armenian mother and daughter who are seemingly the same yet worlds apart, delving into a difficult family dynamic. Like her first short, Haroutounian’s second film ‘World’ also explores a mother–daughter relationship, this time with a sharp and impolite rendering of end-of-life caretaking. Each film uses different textural approaches to impressionistic slow cinema.

NR Magazine speaks with Haroutounian to gain deeper insights into the cultural ties in her work and her attitude towards the concept of identity in her filmmaking process.

What inspired you to start your production company Mankazar Film?

My directing style is deeply intertwined with the production process, so it was only logical to start a production company. Mankazar is a filmmaking platform for a new Armenian cinema that works independently to the commercial film industry.

You have an MFA in Directing/Production from the UCLA School of Theatre, Film & Television – what did you learn about yourself during this time? Can you pinpoint a specific moment where you started to really shape your creative vision?

I learned all the rules of filmmaking but ultimately, no school can teach you how to look. In order to move away from a story,

“I realised my whole life had to become a work of art, and that starts with observing.”

You’re currently developing your first feature film set in post-Soviet Armenia. What has this process been like?

It’s been a complete act of faith. Psychic, scary, and ecstatic.

The film is titled ‘After Dreaming’ and is described as an odyssey of selfhood, drawing on the mythologies of freedom, family, and motherland. How have these concepts shaped your identity as a filmmaker?  

I would say that it has shaped my identity as a filmmaker as throughout my life I’ve always had a desire to go from the unreal to the real.

What has resonated with you the most from working across Los Angeles and Armenia?

I feel spiritually vacant in Los Angeles and very aligned in Armenia. The latter is largely viewed as a corrupt place, where there is no stability or future but plenty of romanticism. I feel like people are deceived into thinking Los Angeles is somehow none of these things. It’s fascinating what stories and projections we choose to believe over others.

‘World’, your second short film, is a sharp and visceral take on end-of-life caretaking, and you’ve mentioned that it questions how one should behave as a caretaker and a daughter in the presence of fear and death. Are these things you’ve had to navigate in your own life? Does this presence of fear ever restrict your creative process?

The film is fiction, but I do grapple with fear and attachment because I love life very hard.

“If fear gets in the way of my creative process, it’s usually because my brain is asking the wrong questions.”

Your first short film ‘Fixed Water’ also explores a mother-daughter relationship and intergenerational tensions. Does the filmmaking process ever take on a cathartic role for you?

I don’t use filmmaking as a psychological exercise, but it is cathartic in that I focus large amounts of energy into something that doesn’t exist until it materialises the exact way I envision it.

What was it like growing up in Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley?

I always felt that there had been some kind of terrible mistake for me growing up in Los Angeles.

What things help to develop your filmic voice?

Knowing in my heart that cinema is a gift.

You mentioned that Andrei Tarkovsky’s ‘The Mirror’ and Chen Kaige’s ‘Yellow Earth’ were among the films to make an early impact on you. Could you talk a bit about the specifics of these inspirations?

I am almost an amnesiac when it comes to films and mainly just remember the physical feeling I’m left with. I recall feeling crushed by the landscapes and weightless through the rhythm of time, and also how real the classical elements felt through such simplicity. I should probably rewatch these soon.

What would you say your ambitions as a filmmaker are?

Total freedom!

You’ve described your background as being of a very particular ancestral inheritance, and that being exposed to the darker layers of humanity from a very young age has made you very sensitive to the human condition. Could you talk a bit more about this?

To learn Armenian history and to look at the present, are in many ways a collision with the abject. I don’t have the option to unsee these crude existential realities, and some days, it engulfs everything I do. It’s a forced awareness of what people are capable of, for better or worse.

With the theme of this issue being Identity, I’d love to know your thoughts on how you feel you explore your own identity with your work.

I follow my intuition more than any intellectual concept, and I can’t work from a preconceived agenda. Even if I’m going through something or making work that is informed by my cultural ties, I never experience it as ‘identity’. Nobody processes life this directly. It’s inherent. Simply being is more specific and universal than any one identity.

Where do you see your practice heading? 

Making more films!



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