Gabriella Clifford, an up-and-coming Venezuelan-Irish director, has an eye for storytelling with enticing visuals. She’s ready to break into the film industry with her innovative style after signing with London-based production company, Fight Gravity. 

In tarot, the Death card symbolises a dramatic severing of the past and future and while it’s daunting to say goodbye to the past, when Gabriella Clifford saw this card in a recent reading, she welcomed the possibility for growth with open arms. 

“It’s a new cycle starting like a phoenix rising from the ashes,” Clifford said. “It’s a new time with a lot of new ideas and expression, and I’m ready to be a bit free in certain ways and just go for it.”

At her core, Clifford’s dedicated to reimagining how directors interact on a set and with their work. Her style melds classic nostalgia with a bright youthfulness. She draws on her education which she calls highly interdisciplinary. She writes, films, photographs, and even wanted to work in styling for a while. Though she ultimately found herself in the director’s chair, her interdisciplinary work grounds her directorial visions. 

Her films talk a big game. Not only do they show her edgy style as a director as she flirts with colour and movement in 8mm, but her films also show her dedication to ushering in a new era of directing. Her work with major fashion magazines (10 Magazine, Flaunt Magazine) have strayed away from the typical look of print and runway. When she approaches a project, she will first ask herself about what can make her film original and stand out from the pack. 

“I think that with fashion, there’s kind of a unique opportunity to separate from the pack because a lot is very commercialised, it’s a lot of the same models. And I think there’s a great emerging scene with fashion and the modelling scene is evolving into a lot of different looks, and becoming more diverse and open which I think is really great.” Clifford said. 

Clifford's directing style is most apparent in her Vogue x Levi’s film created to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Levi’s 501 jean. New York’s most stylish young creatives are captured in both vibrant colour and black and white as written responses flash on screen to answer, “why the Levi’s 501 jean?” It’s classic advertising reimagined for an artsy, young generation looking for an eye-catching aesthetic to latch onto. 

The true success of this piece lies in Clifford’s dedication to a positive onset environment that’s driven by community, comfortability, and strong relationships. Working on film sets in New York helped her to understand the environment she wanted to create as a director. She also taps into the personalities of those in front of the camera. She says that understanding on both sides of a camera creates for a positive working environment that allows for the personality of the subject and the product to shine through. 

Despite the youthfulness that emanates in Clifford's films, there’s also a maturity and well-roundedness that’s apparent as well. That maturity stems from Clifford's film influences and her life as a filmmaking nomad. She’s travelled extensively and has found herself on both coasts of the United States and in cities across Europe. 

She’s loved the anonymity of exploring the world’s bustling cities and the film references she’s found while wandering through busy streets. During her time in Los Angeles studying at the University of Southern California, films like Boogie Nights, Almost Famous, and Dazed and Confused provided a nostalgic funk that informs her work. Living in Los Angeles felt like stepping into these films at times. 

“I’ve never seen so many characters, and it’s funny because it’s a town where people go to specifically to, you know, ‘make it.’ It was cool to partake in all these adventures and end up at someone’s house at this pool or you get in someone’s car. It can be sketchy sometimes, but super fun and kind of wild,” Clifford said. 

Working on film sets and directing shoots in New York solidified her style, and reaffirmed her love of documenting intimate relationships that span across multiple years. The evolution of time in the Anton Yelchin movie Like Crazy serves as a reference piece for her. She also references the lawlessness and darkness of films like The Place Beyond the Pines and Girl, Interrupted. 

On the other hand, Clifford also finds inspiration in heart-warming classics from directors like Nancy Meyers. While living in London, she ventured out to Shere and Godalming where The Holiday (a movie Clifford can practically quote) was filmed. Engaging with live performance while living in Europe has been a recent inspiration for Gabriella as she hopes to branch into directing music videos. While living in Berlin, she experienced live performances from Troye Sivan’s most recent album Something to Give Each Other. 

“Seeing “Rush” performed twice here in Berlin where the music video was shot was incredibly special, and the play by play and choreography of each production as well as the edit, colours, and life behind each performance feels especially exhilarating,” Clifford said. 

Her nomadic lifestyle informs her work and allows her to constantly search for new sources of inspiration. She’s found creative solace in sexy candlelit cocktail bars and Berlin’s abandoned airfield-turned-park Tempelhof Feld, but she’s always on the hunt for a new place to interact with new styles, ideas, and people. She’s a filmmaker of the world whose constantly learning from her travels.  

Clifford has now signed on as a director with Fight Gravity, a company who she says has forged a new, creative path for themselves in the film industry. She’s excited to join a group of people whose work she deeply admires who also understand her creative style. 

“I am really excited. They understand my work, and really get where I’m coming from and where I’m trying to go,” Clifford said. “I think that’s super important because you want someone to be on the other end and fighting for you.” 

Clifford finds herself at the threshold of a new chapter in her directing career. In this new chapter, it’s clear that she’s ready to shake up the film industry with work that goes all in on creativity, narrative, and innovation while being reminiscent of her favourite kinds of films.