“Being in close proximity of people who are genuinely making stuff- that’s never a bad thing.”
– @NickCitton, on filmmaking
Filmmaker David Ariniello wasn’t supposed to be a director. Raised on a film set by his working actress mother, Ariniello worked as a dolly grip right out of high school. He was on the fast track towards unions, benefits, and the nice, calm life of holding the camera from film to film. But directors aren’t exactly nurtured, they are who they are by nature. Ariniello had a sense for cinematography and writing and found that his experience of making a film gave him an edge. He set aside his funds to attend college and later went to school to obtain his Ph.D. in English.
During his Ph.D, Ariniello began to reimagine his former dolly grip self. “I ended up writing my thesis about Joseph Conrad’s work,” says Ariniello. “What intrigued me about him was how he had been a sea captain. He wasn’t a family ship captain at first, he started off as a hand and he was a very physical guy until he transitioned into becoming an intellectual and a writer. I feel like filmmaking for me is this kind of combination of the physical and the intellectual, and that you’re actually making this thing and you have crews. It’s a very physical job when it comes down to it…It’s very collaborative; like this sea captain-type activity.”
It was Ariniello’s wife who introduced him to Nick Citton, a Film Independent fellow and graduate of Ariniello’s film school alma mater. The two were nominated to be a part of a writer’s workshop and soon began to collaborate. They read each other’s work and wrote together with success. The duo submitted a treatment to The Lincoln Motor Company with hopes of revitalizing the 70s Heist genre for the Lincoln Reimagine Project™, and were selected. It was then that the physical work began.
Director David Ariniello, on filmmaking: “It’s very collaborative; like this sea captain-type activity.”
Citton was born to Italian emigrants and raised in Vancouver, Canada. His mother, a medical secretary, and his father, a brick-layer, have a love of cinema. His two younger brothers are “immersed in the corporate world” and have a deep appreciation for the hard work that goes in to making a film. Citton depends on his family for feedback on his work. “When you’re in film school and in this academic environment, things can get very heady very fast,” says Citton. “Then when you have people that you rely on that are providing an instinctive, intuitive response to things it is, I think, invaluable.”
Citton moved to New York in 2002 to attend film school and stayed there for the better part of a decade. He fell in love with the city and attributes his sensibilities as a filmmaker to being a New Yorker. It was a hustle, he admits, but one that made him a better writer and more prepared director. “In a weird way, New York makes you really have to define what you want and what you have to bring to the table, and how you’re different,” says Citton. “And that’s not a bad thing, necessarily.”
One summer evening, Citton returned to his New York apartment to find that an unidentified person had fallen onto his fire escape and died. The jolting event awakened something in Citton and he packed his bags for Los Angeles. He arrived just two weeks before the writer’s strike of 2007. “Everybody was a zombie for six months,” says Citton. “Nothing was really going on, but in that time I just kept my head down and wrote and wrote and wrote, and actually wrote a script.”
The script, based on the events of that fateful summer night, got him the fellowship at Film Independent, where he would meet Ariniello. The two men, one from a background of physical labor and another from the labor of a New York City hustle, got a crew together and set sail on their first collaboration, ‘The Incident.’
Ariniello is currently writing another road heist film and Citton is editing his film about a town’s grave-adorning traditions in Arkansas entitled Decoration. They don’t know when their next collaboration will be, but perhaps the sea will be calling again soon.