22-year-old Rhode Island School of Design graduate Gabriel Bellone spent most of his college years saving up money through various odd jobs to make his first short film, “I Love Pictures.”
Shot on 16-millimeter film, the short had its U.S. premiere on May 26 at the Mammoth Lakes Film Festival. It had its world premiere last year at Curta Cinema in Brazil.
What Is “I Love Pictures” About?
“I Love Pictures” follows the story of a model who attempts to kill a photographer after a mutual confidant turns to murderous despair. It was inspired by the type of privilege Bellone often sees white male artists being given because of the way they look.
“It very much feels like, in the art world, there’s this, ‘You can do no wrong, you’re an artist’ sort of perspective that’s especially tied to the white male photographic lineage, like William Eggleston,” Gabriel Bellone told MovieMaker.
Eggleston is an American photographer from Memphis, Tennessee who rose to popularity in the 1960s and 70s and is credited with bolstering artistic recognition of color photography.
“I noticed that at RISD, there’s this feeling that if a person sort of looks like the famous photographers or famous painters of the ’70s and ’60s — tall, white, sort of beautiful guys like that — they get carte blanche. And I was really interested in how that carte blanche could be manipulated in the art world,” Bellone said.
“I wanted to make a film where someone was attacked by this white male figure that’s allowed to do whatever they want — you know, the societal problem. But then, instead of attacking the problem, the photographer, which I think she should have, she attacks the woman who is a stand-in for everything that she doesn’t like about this guy.”
Gabriel Bellone Funded “I Love Pictures” By Doing Odd Jobs
A Black biracial and bisexual filmmaker from New Jersey, Bellone made his film without any sort of privilege, other than the fact that he attended RISD, one of America’s premiere art schools. He saved up the film’s entire $14,000 budget not through fundraising campaigns or family donations, but instead, the hard way — by working as a camp counselor, a dishwasher, a dark room technician, and a landscaper, among other odd jobs like carrying wood and working on other people’s films.
As a camp counselor at a children’s film camp in Boston, he met with campers over Zoom during the pandemic and assigned them movies to watch, then lead discussions about the material.
“I was showing a bunch of inner city kids from Boston, like, Russian Sergei Eisenstein films and Vsevolod Pudovkin, and they loved it. They loved silent films more than the films like the Avengers movie I was supposed to show them,” he said.
Working as a dishwasher in a Providence sports bar wasn’t quite as fun, and neither was redoing a family’s botched, very stinky backyard compost pit during his work as a landscaper.
But all of his odd jobs were in service of his ultimate goal — funding his passions as an emerging filmmaker.
“My career final destination is to make long-form pornographic films that are about us trying to exonerate ourselves from these fears of sex that we all have,” he says.
He’s already well on his way.
His next film, “Zoey,” is a 13-minute pornographic short about a person figuring out their sexuality. He’s planning on submitting that to festivals soon and hopes that “I Love Pictures” will be admitted to more festivals this year.
You can watch the teaser for “I Love Pictures” here.
Main Image: A portrait of Gabriel Bellone. Photo Credit: Carter Hiett