Desire to Tell a Story: Meet Alumna Cecilia Palmeri

Born in Venice and raised in the town of Mogliano Veneto (Treviso), alumna Cecilia Palmeri graduated from JCU in 2020 in the Dual Degree Program in Communications with the Università degli Studi di Milano.  At JCU, she was able to discover her passion for video editing. Cecilia is currently attending the Documentary Film Program at Prague Film School to further her knowledge of documentary filmmaking.

Cecilia Palmeri
Cecilia Palmeri

What motivated you to pursue JCU’s Dual Degree Program in Communications with the Università degli Studi di Milano?
I have always been interested in the world of communication, but I was afraid that the Italian university was too focused on theory and too little on the practical side of the field. L’Università degli Studi di Milano offered the possibility of completing half of my studies at John Cabot University in Rome, where I could participate in practical classes and lectures with experts. That’s how I decided to pursue the Dual Degree in Communications Program, and I feel very lucky. In my three years, I had the opportunity to get a very good theoretical foundation at Università degli Studi di Milano and a more practical one at JCU, without which I don’t think I would have started my career as a video editor.

How did you become passionate about video editing?
I have always been interested in photography and documenting my life. I started making videos when I was in high school but before JCU my video editing skills were limited. It was all thanks to Professor Jenn Lindsay’s video production class that I discovered how passionate I was about documentary filmmaking. We studied storytelling and the different documentary genres. The first assignment I did for the class was called San Calisto. The documentary is about the Roman bar that became a very important place for me during my stay in Rome. I received very good feedback from Professor Lindsay, and I started getting more and more interested in this field, so I continued studying video production with Professors Barreau and Thomson.

You worked as a video editor for Sky and Video News (VD). How did these experiences help shape your personal style? What did your role entail?
The first job I had was a two-month internship at Sky Sport during the summer of 2019 and I had a very mechanical job. While I was there, I tried to show my mentors that I was interested in making videos and a year later, when I graduated, they called me back to work as a video editor for the news section. At Sky, I learned how a big company works and it helped me to get into the professional mindset. After a year, however, I realized that I needed something a little more creative, where I could have more freedom and not just execute tasks. I went to work at VD, which is a startup, and it gave me more responsibilities because the video editing team was less crowded. After a year at VD, I was promoted, and I had the chance to experience more fields and be more creative.

You are currently doing a master’s degree in Prague. Can you tell us more about your studies and your project Due tazze di té?
After some time working in the field, I realized that I still wanted to learn more about documentary filmmaking and that I wanted to have the freedom to work on some projects I had been thinking about for a while. So, I decided to enroll in the Prague Film School, and after only three months I already feel I have learned a lot.

Right now, I’m working on the final project for the semester, called Due tazze di té. It is a personal documentary about my family and our experience with the ProTetto: rifugiato a casa mia (ProTetto program: refugee in my home) program sponsored by Caritas. Through this program, my family had the opportunity to host Mamadi, a 25-year-old from Gambia, for two years. At that time, I was experiencing my “adult period,” having moved out of my childhood home, and I was looking at my dad parenting a stranger, so I thought it would be very nice to show that to people.

If you had to give one piece of advice to people who want to pursue filmmaking as a career, what would it be?
I would say don’t consider just the technical aspect as everything, because even if you don’t have a technical background in sensors or lenses, you can still call yourself a filmmaker. What you need is an idea and the desire to tell a story.

What are your plans for the future?
For the near future, the plan is to finish the Due tazze di té project and work on it as much as possible to send it to festivals. And for the future… let’s see what other documentaries life will bring me!