As an international student from Italy, Patrizia Bidone-Valdiserra was originally pretty far from her current career as assistant director. She was a chemistry major attending a state university in Milan when she met a SAC student (now her husband) who told her about the school. Two years later, in 1994, she found herself on campus as a full-time student.
Her first impression was that SAC was small and quaint compared to her large University in Milan. Due to her rigorous Italian education, she was prepared for the challenges of college in America. She graduated Santa Ana College in 1995 with a GPA close to 3.89, her only ‘C” in was in English 101, because she had just started to master the language.
Her major and her main focus while she was a student here were centered around our TV Production department. She says the extra time she spent there was enjoyable and worthwhile. Her university in Italy did not offer TV production classes like she found at SAC and her love for being a part of television and movies kept her going.
After receiving her AA from SAC she could have gone to Cal State Fullerton or Cal State Long Beach, after being accepted to both. She opted for neither.
Instead, she made the decision to enter the renowned director’s guild training program, the DGA. After its completion, she returned to Italy and started sending resumes. She quickly got hired as a reporter for a small production company that created a music show for the biggest network in Italy. She fondly remembers going to concerts and interviewing musicians, with a crew of just her and a cameraman.
When she returned to the U.S., armed with more experience, and education, she started meeting people that would introduce her to “the big leagues.”
Now, she calls her career all that she expected. She is at work 15 hours a day, on most days. Patrizia feels her job is a perfect fit for her because her days are different, filled with different people and “a lot of problem-solving, or “putting out fires” as she calls it. Her work days can begin at 5 a.m. or 2 p.m. and she’s usually first on the set making sure everyone (actors, extras and crew) is informed and ready so shooting can start on schedule.
While doing work for Oceans 12, she found herself on a bridge in Amsterdam standing next to George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Although this was the longest, most challenging project she’d worked on, she remembers this moment as almost dreamlike. She humorously recalls being photographed by the paparazzi.
While working on The Aviator as assistant director, she was furiously working setting the extras and looked around and felt like she really was in the era the movie was set, the 1940’s. She even made it on to the movie!
She has also done work on The OC, Everybody Hates Chris, Scrubs, ER, 7th Heaven, The Practice, and Six Feet Under, just to name a few.
The typical career path for an assistant director is from second assistant director to first assistant director then to producer or director, but in a life and career that has been anything but ‘typical’, Patrizia’s hopes for the future are simply to keep working on projects she enjoys.