Award-winning film instructor directs musical set in Venice

Santa Monica College's new film instructor Simone Bartesaghi is leading a class that will help produce a major show for The Broad Stage. The production, titled "Venice Beach," will premiere in November 2014. "Venice Beach" will tell a Romeo-and-Juliet-style tale of forbidden love between a rebel surfer and an upper-class valley girl in modern-day Venice. The musical will feature a wide array of multimedia content to go with live acting, and will be produced by Bill Borden, who is best known for producing "Glee" and "Mission: Impossible III."

Bartesaghi says he has never imagined himself working in anything film-related.

"I always loved watching movies and did a lot of editing with vacation footage," he says. "When I was a teen, I liked writing stories, but never saw any hope in being a writer. So I studied economics and business and became a consultant. That was my job for seven to eight years."

At the age of 30, Bartesaghi decided to try something else, and his wife convinced him to take a filmmaking class. Soon he began shooting his own films and won a festival award which included a chance to study film in Los Angeles, all tuition expenses paid.

Since then, Bartesaghi has directed several award-winning features, including the 3-D film "RUN," which recently won best director and screenplay at the Los Angeles 3-D Film Festival.

After catching the attention of SMC film professor Salvador Carrasco, Bartesaghi was given a film teaching position at the college with a focus on filmmaking.

His first major project will be producing the video segments of the musical "Venice Beach."

Carrasco will be the studio executive and supervisor of the project, who will be "the one making sure that the vision is coherent with the project and what it wants to achieve," Bartesaghi says.

During the project, students who mount a full musical will undergo training for the real industry while working with professionals.

“This is a very interesting combination," Baresteghi says. "It is a way to bring [the students to] the industry. It is a musical a very well-known producer is bringing together."

He hopes that the team of students will be able to create a truly immersive experience that will transport the audience into the musical’s world.

“Our goal is to create an experience that is totally unique," Bartesaghi says. "When the characters surf, we will have images of waves on the screen, but the actors will surf on the stage. We’re doing a lot of experimental stuff."

The challenge will be bringing the very sights and smells associated with Venice to life within the walls of the theater, he says.

"It will be a lot of fun to recreate Venice and make sure the audience can experience it," says Bartesaghi. "We want to make them feel as if they are walking on the Venice sidewalk, smell the ocean and the incense of candles."