Interviewed by Barry Terblanche
Cult Critic – An Italian love story with a touch of Italian mafia for good mix. How did the premise, story come to you… any real-life connection to it?
Sena Tunali – Yes, Love in Italy is a fictional story inspired by a family that I got the chance to meet while I was in Tuscany, Italy. It was such an inspirational place. I met with old twin-flame lovers who married and lived happily ever after for 60 years. Their fight for true love, and reunification after a long separation, inspired me to write “Love in Italy” The family convinced me that true love still exists.
Cult Critic – Well-designed, presented and characterized characters that are very real-life… Writers commonly adopt “a self-character” Is any one of them you? – Do tell.
ST – When I wrote the script, I did not relate myself to any of the characters in Love in Italy. However, one of the producer/actor friends of mine named Michael Veritas (he is a very good actor and has his own production company here in LA) read the script and wanted to give a reading (He prepared an awesome self-tape, by the way). I loved his performance and said you should definitely play this part. He gladly accepted it. After we talked again, I said to him, when we start doing the castings, we should find you a good Denise character, and she should match you, energy-wise. He said, “why did you say that? I was thinking I was going to play with you. And you be Denise. I was like, really? Are you sure? He said hell yeah. We worked together before. And I would love to be in front of the camera with you again. You and I have great chemistry in front of the camera”. Till that moment, I was thinking: Ok, this time I will only focus on Producing and Directing which is behind the camera. But after speaking with Michael, he convinced me to be in front of the camera again in this project. So yes, I am relating myself to Denise’s character.
Cult Critic – Denise and Marco, the main characters. They seem to have inspired your story. Why, if any?
ST – The twin-flame lovers I met living in Tuscany inspired me to create the characters, Denise and Marco. The Tuscan family’s fight for true love and their reunification against all the odds was so inspiring. Sometimes they both lost hope, but somehow, their destiny brought them back together unexpectedly. In my story, the connection between the lovers was so powerful that they couldn’t breathe without each other and eventually came together again. Love as a whole is so inspiring that helpful to me to write the fictional characters of Love in Italy.
Cult Critic – You have a talent for storytelling. Have you written many screenplays, and what is your preferred genre and why?
ST – Yes, I am writing a lot. I love writing. It makes me feel refreshed and clears my mind every time I write. I love true stories and period-piece drama projects a lot. The energy of the true stories is so real and powerful that it’s impossible not to get influenced by them.
Cult Critic – Though you don’t write in camera directing… your writing voice is leaned towards it. Do you intend to, pursue, being a director or producer one day?
ST – I am an award-winning film producer, director, and actress who produced She Is Mine and Anna in 2017. I also produced Who Is Responsible, a film about global warming and environmental problems in the year of 2019. Now, one of the Feature-film projects I participated in, named the Astral story, is in Post Production and will be completed soon. I am also the writer of Zumrut and Love in Italy screenplays. Now I am producing them both.
Cult Critic – Your two main characters, Denise and Marco. Which actors would you like to see role-play them? And why. Further too, do you envision actors when screenwriting?
ST – I can easily envision all the characters I write in all my screenplays. I can see everything like I am watching a movie while I am writing. It also helps me to establish the scenes, the camera angles, etc, when I come to the point where the pre-prod stage of filmmaking starts. Because I already had everything on my mind from the beginning. The locations, the actors and how the look, the placements of the objects, everything is already on my mind way before the pre-prod stage of filmmaking. So, I plan accordingly.
Cult Critic – Any screenwriting advice you’d like to share too inspiring screenwriters?
ST – All I can say is, write as much as you can, truly from your hearts. Whatever comes from the heart always sounds and seems authentic. And the story unfolds.
Cult Critic – What are you hoping the audience will take from your story/movie?
ST – I hear most people, including myself, lose their belief in true love. However, the Tuscan twin-flame lovers convinced me that true love still exists. In our generation, in the year 2022, it’s so hard to see or encounter true love anymore. So with Love in Italy, I intend to make people remember and say, yes, true love still exists.
Cult Critic – Any new project you working on?
ST – I better discuss it here as well, but I have another project named Zumrut, where it’s been written (and will be produced soon) with the intention to find my mother’s side biological grandparents, who are from Greece. Finding my family members is the biggest dream of mine. Finding out where I belong and where I come from is my everything. Now, I am living half missing most of who I really am with the absence of my family members. One’s family is everything and your reason to live. So, producing Zumrut film is the biggest journey of my life. Through the film’s international sales, I will make sure (wherever my grandmother is in the world: a hospital, an elderly center, Papua New Guinea, doesn’t matter) she will watch the film and contact us.