Gianmarco Donaggio (b.1991, Italy) is an award-winning film director, cinematographer, essay-writer, and artist.
Attentive observer of the role of the image in society and interested in the evolution of the cinematographic form, after several years of professional practice as cinematographer, he continued his research in philosophy of the image and visual culture. Driven by the necessity to walk the forest of motion picture intuitively and critically, within the assemblage of unique optical and recording devices, his works invite the audience to challenge, deviate, and transgress the fundamental assumptions culturally and historically allocated to cinematic expression.
He is primarily known as an avant-garde filmmaker, particularly for his pioneering approaches in cinematography, as for instance, the manufacturing of unique lenses and experimentation with unusual recording techniques. His projects have been supported by companies including Kodak Motion Picture and Lomography. His films screened in several prestigious international film festivals and contemporary art museums including; the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Lisbon, the National Museum of Soares dos Reis in Porto, Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, Palazzo Fondi in Naples, the Pesaro International film festival of New Cinema, the Asolo Art Film Festival, and the Athens Digital Arts Festival.
Education and the early Film Industry career
Gianmarco was introduced to the Fine Arts from an early age, he started his studies at the Liceo Artistico (Varese) at fourteen years old, during this period he had a notable political inclination which led him to become the student representative of the school. In 2010, at eighteen years old, he left Italy for a solo adventure around the European continent. During this trip, which lasted for longer than a year, he started working as a documentary photographer; that was his professional entry into the world of the image. In 2011 he continued his studies in cinema at the Arts University of Bournemouth, where he specialised in fiction cinematography and directing creative-documentary, in 2014 he graduated with two short films shot on the very first Arri Alexa. After graduating he left England and started working as a camera/light assistant on international film productions, his very first job in the camera department was in the Italian thriller Suburra (cinematography by Paolo Carnera), after which he moved to Norway where he joined the light department on The Snowman (cinematography by Oscar’s winner Dion Beebe).
Between 2015 and 2019 Gianmarco lives in Oslo where his career in the film industry had a fast leap from lighting/camera technician to cinematographer/director, in these years he participated in the making of some of the most known Scandinavian features and tv-series, including Occupied (2017), One Night (2018), As I Fall (2018), Stories from Norway (2018), Neste Sommer (2019), Wisting (2019). Internationally he worked with production companies including Working Titles (UK), Cattleya (IT), Nordisk film (DK), Fantefilm (NO), Canal + (FR), Miso film (NO), Feelgood (NO), Motion Blur (NO), 4 1/2 (NO), NRK (NO), Ape & Bjorn (NO), Encore Film (NO), Mer film (NO), Monster (NO), Sant & Usant (NO), Pravda film (NO), Animaskin (NO).
At the age of twenty-four, Gianmarco started focusing more on creative and artistic film productions collaborating on works by authors including Egil Håskjold Larsen, Knut Åsdam, and Victor Kossakovsky with whom he collaborated as gaffer/grip on Gunda (2020), shortlisted for an Oscar for best documentary and nominated for best cinematography at the American Society of Cinematography (The ASC). In 2019 Gianmarco quit his jobs as an assistant to focus primarily on his research and experimentation as an avant-garde director and cinematographer. In 2020 he joined a Visual Culture Master Degree at Lund university in the department of Arts and Cultural Sciences intending to merge his practical knowledge of the cinematic image with the necessary theories. In 2022 he graduated with a thesis named “The dancing qualities of the cinematic space” which became the theoretical foundation of his current films as a director. Although Gianmarco is now mainly active as a director, he still works as a director of photography serving primarily special units, VFX, and projects requiring a highly skilled professional in macro/micro or effect sequences.
Film Experimentation and Theory
Since his early career, Gianmarco developed the necessity of investigating further the medium of the motion picture, whether practically or theoretically, in 2020 he took on the academic path of film philosophy studies, artistic research, and visual culture. In 2021 he published his first article for the Journal of Cinematography (Cinematography in progress) - for which he later served as a peer reviewer - and in 2022 Lund University published his thesis discussing a new method for experiencing cinema based primarily on dance studies and French post-structuralist thoughts.
His films are profoundly visual, somehow referring back to the process of cinema as an art form: moving images, an approach theorised and praised by a few filmmakers and avant-garde currents of the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s. Gianmarco's works are a cohesive whole, not an assemblage of crafts, in his practice so far he is searching for possibilities to present a cinema deprived of the dependence on other mediums; including painting, theatre, music, and literature. He proposes a cinema of optical lyricism, approaching the camera as a means to encounter the world of perception instead of attempting to rule its possibilities. Therefore, he employs the capacities of the camera to unlock enchanted cinematic spaces leading to fields of pure kinetics.