The story of Frank Chindamo’s grandparents, who, in the 1920’s, emigrated from Cinquefrondi, a village in the Aspromonte (in Calabria, region of Italy), to the United Sates - where they managed to make ends meet, by working in the shoe store business - resembles the ones of many Italian-American immigrants.
However, despite all the hardship, they were now living in North America, the land of opportunities par excellence.
Frank remembers dearly his Sunday evenings, spent in Queens, New York, with his large family, enjoying hearty laughter over plates of smoking pasta.
Growing up, Frank kept and even reinforced his spirit of conviviality. Add to it, a pronounced sense of humor and a great entrepreneurship, and we have the full picture of this remarkable man, who has been revolutionizing video production for both web and mobile devices.
As highlighted by one of his former students, Giancarlo Fusi, himself of Italian ancestry:
“I followed my love for movies and moved from New Jersey to Los Angeles, where I’m pursuing an MFA in Film & TV and I had the pleasure to take professor Frank Chindamo’s web video class at Chapman University this summer.
It was an incredible experience to learn how to produce a web series from one of the world’s foremost experts on the topic. He approaches his class almost like a trade school within a university, where he shows his students that they have all the tools they need right now to start creating content without having to wait for Hollywood to come calling.
But the most amazing thing about Frank’s class is that he is more than just a professor. He’s more of a coach and mentor, who personally invests all his energies to help each student and prod them - whenever he has to - to make the best project they possibly can. And that is very rare indeed. Even now that the class is over, he is still helping me develop and produce my web series, the ‘Best Buds.’ And I am now honored to be able to call him a friend.”
I don’t know if you agree, my dear readers, but, personally, I think that having such a dream teacher is everybody’s dream.
Good news is that you don’t have to be enrolled in Chapman University to take advantage of Professor Frank Chindamo’s wisdom.
In fact, he is about to start a brand new, web video making class at the Hollywood International Film Academy (http://hollywoodifa.com/product/web-video-production/)
Please, introduce yourself. How was growing up in an Italian-American household?
I’m Frank Chindamo and my family hails from Cinquefrondi, a small town in Calabria, Italy. My grandparents emigrated to the United States, where they started opening shoe stores.
We all lived in Queens, New York. Every Sunday, from the 1960s until the ‘90s, we used to go to my aunt, Nancy Napoli’s house and we would all spend convivial times together, while eating lots of pasta. As the kids were playing, the men were playing card games and the women were chatting.
I love and miss them all so much – and not just for their cooking! I see them first every time I go back to New York City.
What do you like about teaching a New Media class?
In the 1990s, I was a pioneer in making little shorts, which were airing on HBO and Showtime, in between feature films.
In 2000, I moved to Los Angeles and started writing and producing videos for the internet. In 2003, I began making videos for cell phones. Soon after, I started to teach classes on videos for the web and mobile devices, at USC and UCLA.
And then you founded your production company, Fun Little Movies, aimed at producing comedic “advertainment”.
We started to do “advertainment,” a successful mix of entertainment plus advertising, for companies like Walmart, Petco, Intel, Chevrolet, etc.
I’ve been awarded with several awards and prizes - including two cars - and one of my HBO films was a finalist at the Cannes Film Festival.
I’m mostly proud of being a professor at several institutions, such as Columbia College, Chapman and Pepperdine Universities. I like passing on my knowledge to 10-20 students at a time, so that they can make 10-20 web series, instead of me doing one. I’m able to inspire a lifetime of creation in my students.
Aside from producing branded content, you also wrote/produced an awarded, unbranded series, Turbo Dates, as well as the multi-awarded series, Mr. Wrong. Did you feel more freedom, working without the constraints posed by a brand?
No, I actually prefer working with a brand. Not just because it’s more profitable, but mainly because when you have an assignment it’s easy to fulfill that one.
For instance, if your task is making the new Chevrolet Volt look good, it’s actually more rewarding to me, than working on a purely creative basis.
Tell me more about your experience of producing the video for the acclaimed producer, Jon Landau’s Ted Talk.
Jon Landau, producing partner of filmmaker James Cameron, for such blockbuster films, as Titanic and Avatar, counterbalances the director’s wildness.
Jon is a very nice and calm person. He also cares a lot about charity and I had the great opportunity to produce his Ted Talk videos about suicide prevention in colleges – a cause I feel personally invested in.
You also serve on the Board of Directors of the International Academy of Web Television. What do you usually deal with in your position?
The IAWTV is an organization for storytellers/producers of narrative videos on the web.
I love working with this group, because we can promote and award the excellence in web video production.
I’m also on the Steering Committee of The Caucus for Writers, Producers and Directors, and they are the cream of the crop in TV, with members like Norman Lear, Chuck Fries, JJ Abrams, and fellow Italian-American Vin DiBona, who produces “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
How do you envision the future of videos for mobile devices?
YouTube has just announced that more people are watching their videos through mobile devices than on computers.
To me, the whole question is irrelevant, because it’s all about the content, rather than the medium you’re using to watch it. We often watch the same video on multiple platforms. What matters is the story, nothing else.
What are your upcoming projects?
On September 20, I will begin teaching a class on “How to make web videos,” running every Tuesday night for nine weeks at the Hollywood International Film Academy.
There is still time to enroll online at: http://hollywoodifa.com/product/web-video-production/
Do you have any contacts with the Italian-American community in Los Angeles?
My favorite Italian-American in show-biz is my friend, Mike Marino. Besides being a very funny comedian, he’s also starring in a comedic web series, Marino 2016, in which he’s presenting himself as an Italian-American alternative candidate for the upcoming presidential elections.