From bottom left clockward - Emanuela Panebianco, Jordi Caballero, Giovanni Moriconi, professors Doni Whitsett and Yuxin Pei. Photo by Menghuian He
From bottom left clockward - Emanuela Panebianco, Jordi Caballero, Giovanni Moriconi, professors Doni Whitsett and Yuxin Pei. Photo by Menghuian He

Let me introduce to you the three main characters of this new international endeavor, a high-end experiential learning tour aimed at familiarizing Chinese women with Los Angeles and, the magic of Hollywood. 

On Sunday, September 4th, I had the opportunity to attend a special reception and certification award ceremony in a sumptuous villa in Malibu, and, to meet there the key figures behind the scenes.

Editor and one of the tour’s mentors, Giovanni Moriconi. Photo by Menghuian He

Native of Rome, Italy, Giovanni Moriconi, CEO of Digimoric Productions, LLC – a company specialized in film post-production – is a talented editor with over thirty years under his belt and decided to launch the tour program in collaboration with sociology professor in China, Yuxin Pei  and international business consultant, Emanuela Panebianco.

After a successful editing career for major Italian TV networks, the likes of Mediaset, RAI and SKY Italia, Moriconi traveled to the US, where he produced and directed four documentaries on car shows for the satellite channel Nuvolari. 

After a taste of the American dream, he decided to open a new chapter in his life in Los Angeles. 

Editor Giovanni Moriconi next to his life companion, Professor Yuxin Pei (in white dress) and a few students. Photo by Menghuian HeEditor Giovanni Moriconi next to Professor Yuxin Pei (in white dress) and a few students. Photo by Menghuian He

Editor Giovanni Moriconi next to Professor Yuxin Pei (in white dress) and a few students. Photo by Menghuian He

Yuxin Pei is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Social Work at Sun Yet-sen University in China. 

In 2014-15, her experience as Fulbright Visiting Scholar at USC, sparked her the idea to link cultural ties between China and the US. 

Last but not least, another native of Rome, Emanuela Panebianco, helped the couple plan and launch the Tour.

An accomplished marketing executive and fundraising strategist with a 25-year track record in international development and communications, including her recent role as Executive Director of the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce West, Panebianco took care of tour and event logistics, contracts and communications resource. 

Actress Julienne Davis as she teaches her students how to act. Photo by Menghuian He

She is also a Professor at Chapman and California State Universities and serves on the Board of Directors of non-profit organizations and philanthropy event committees including the Association of Fundraising Professionals (LA Chapter), National Philanthropy Day, LA Chamber’s World Trade Week, and the Italian Studies Council at Chapman University. 

So, the US are not a new marketplace for neither of the two Italian entrepreneurs from Rome. 

In 2009, Moriconi edited his first feature film, Hopeful Notes, directed by Valerio Zanoli, with whom he worked again in The Opening (2011), starring Maria Grazia Cucinotta and Danny Quinn, and in All You Can Dream (2013), starring international singer Anastacia. 

In 2014, Moriconi was awarded at the Golden Door International Film Festival of Jersey City, for his editing of the disturbing thriller, African Gothic, by Gabriel Bologna, with whom he’ll work again on the upcoming, Tango Shalom.

From bottom left clockward the key mentors   - Emanuela Panebianco, Jordi Caballero, Giovanni Moriconi, Lee Curreri,  Kristel Elling, Julien Davis, Tongtong Huang and professors Doni Whitsett and Yuxin Pei. Photo by Menghuian He

From bottom left clockward the key mentors – Emanuela Panebianco, Jordi Caballero, Giovanni Moriconi, Lee Curreri, Kristel Elling, Julien Davis, Tongtong Huang and professors Doni Whitsett and Yuxin Pei. Photo by Menghuian He

Most recently, Moriconi has partnered with Argentinian director and music producer, Martin Guigui, for post-production of The Bronx Bull, a biography about middleweight boxing champion, Jake La Motta’s life. 

Also long awaited is Guigui’s action/drama Nine Eleven, starring Charlie Sheen and Whoopi Goldberg, with Moriconi’s special post-production touch. 

Before giving the floor to Giovanni Moriconi, allow me to wish an Happy Mid-Autumn Day, a.k.a. “Moon Festival,” to all our Chinese readers! 

How did the initiative of an 8-day tour from China to Hollywood come about? 

Yuxin Pei, and I decided to build a cultural connection between China and the States. We devised an 8-day program of activities, targeted to Chinese women, related to Hollywood and its web of TV and Film productions. 

With Emanuela’s help through planning and implementation, we offered everything from acting and stand-up comedy to dancing and singing, directing and special events. 

Actress Julienne Davis, who starred in Kubrik’s Eyes Wide Shut, stirred our participants to come out of their comfort zones and express themselves, through acting. 

Julien was sided by actor Brad Greenquist – who starred in the popular series, ER (season 12) and the first seasons of Sleeper Cell and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – in facilitating their acting skills training. 

Actor and musician, Lee Curreri – best known for his role as Bruno Martelli in the film Fame and its spinoff TV series – taught our guests to sing. 

Jordi Caballero, Catalan actor, dancer and choreographer, twice nominee for the American Choreography Award, showed them the ABC of tango dancing. 

Talk show actress and counselor, Karen Forman, provided them with dating tips in the US. 

Supervisor of the tour was Dr. Doni Whitsett, Professor of Sociology at USC

My role was to show them the importance of film editing. Each of the 23 students shot a scene from a different camera angle and I edited them well enough to illustrate how good editing, is key to storytelling. 

This initiative is not just another commercial Hollywood tour. It gives each individual the chance to experience first-hand performance and visual arts with Hollywood’s pros. 

However, we didn’t exclude must-see tourist destinations either, like the Griffith Observatory, the Getty Museum and Warner Brother’ VIP Studio Tour. 

How did the selection process work? 

Tongtong Huang, a well-known journalist and blogger in China, helped us to market our Hollywood tour overseas. We gathered a total of twenty-three applications through word-of-mouth. 

Are you going to replicate the tour? 

Of course, given that it was an absolute success! We’re planning to organize the next one, in late January coinciding with Chinese New Year, then possibly May and the first week of October – a sort of Chinese Labor Day.

In conclusion, here are a few words of wisdom from Emanuela Panebianco.

How did the initiative of an 8-day tour from China to Hollywood come about? 

Initially, Yuxin Pei knew that some of her Chinese students would be interested in a cultural exchange with Los Angeles, such as the one she experienced as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at USC. 

My friend, Giovanni asked me to help with planning, special events, business documents and tour logistics, lodging and transportation. He already had an established professional network in the film and TV industry, but an 8-day program for 25 people involves a lot more than that!

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