Julio Vincent Gambuto AB '00 is a writer and director, based in New York City. Team Marco, Julio’s debut feature film, is now available nationwide in the US and Canada, from Samuel Goldwyn Films. Check it out. Julio also wrote that viral essay about the pandemic that 20 million people read around the world. Now, he’s a weekly contributor to Medium.
Q. What about your upbringing in Staten Island first inspired you to write, direct, produce, etc. and get involved with the film industry?
A. Being an artist in an Italian-American family can be tough. We’re the children of immigrants, so when you get the chance to go to Harvard, the last thing your parents really want to hear is that you want to be an artist. My family has always been remarkably supportive, though. They trusted me from the beginning, and it’s really only because of their love and support that I was able to stay the course. Specifically, I think Italian-Americans are natural storytellers. We are a very dramatic culture — at least in my family — so stories are how we communicate. I actually discovered that for myself at Harvard. I realized freshman year that a lot of people around me communicated only through intellectual sparring — not all, but many — and that was a different form of communication than I had been used to from a working-class family. I just wanted to tell stories. It’s how I connect to people.
Q. What motivated you to continue studies at USC in Directing?
A. To be honest, I was just very frustrated that my acting career wasn’t going anywhere. I had a movie deal with an independent film company to make a film based on my one-man show (Julie from Staten Island), but it fell through during the recession in 2008, so I put myself back in school.
Q. In what ways did you get involved in film while at Harvard?
A. I was very involved in theater with the HRDC. I loved it. I came to film much later in my life. I was an actor right out of school. I did a lot of downtown theater in New York, working with an LGBTQ+ theater company. I did some improv and then went into standup comedy to prepare for my one-man show. The show was really a turning point for me. I ran it in New York monthly for two years, then in LA. We had an independent movie deal, but it fell through in the ’08 recession, so I put myself back in school and went to film school at 32.Read more