Ten Made in Campania movies were presented at the Venice Film Festival, a farewell bid to a summer that has been invigorated by national and international sets, welcoming in an autumn that promises to be similarly filled with productions.
There are a great many Neapolitan directors working on sets in the month of September: Mario Martone with “Capri Batterie”, Vincenzo Salemme with “Una festa esagerata”, Antonio Capuano with “Achille Tarallo” and Lello Arena with “Finalmente sposi”. And while Gabriele Muccino has taken the set of “L’isola che non c’è” to Ischia, the Amalfi Coast is hosting Kevin Spacey who plays the American writer Gore Vidal in his refuge of choice: Villa Rondinaia in Ravello.
After being abandoned for 15 years, this magnificent villa has been brought back to life thanks to “Gore”, the Michael Hoffman film produced for Netflix (through Sympathetic Ink, with the executive production service by Mestiere Cinema): “Set design work rather than a structural restoration was involved”, explains Enrico Ballarin of Mestiere Cinema, who we interviewed during the filming, “although the owners will keep a lot of the interventions: we painted all the rooms used, reactivated the swimming pool, the plumbing and the electrical system, we have also done a lot of gardening work…all using almost exclusively local companies”.
After around ten days in Rome, on 30 August the cast and crew moved on to the Amalfi Coast. To Cetara, “a very charming village, but more manageable than Amalfi which was indicated in the screenplay, because it is not as famous.”
In truth the whole of the Coast is a high density tourist area, especially in the summer season: “The dates were blocked because of the lead actor, Kevin Spacey, who in the spring was busy filming “House of Cards”. For this reason we were forced to count on the assistance of the Film Commission: it wasn’t easy to nd accommodation for a cast and crew that sometimes numbered 130”.
A good 30% were local workers: “But we couldn’t take their availability for granted,” adds Ballarin, “because in the period we chose most of them were working on another big production – the TV series based on the books by Elena Ferrante” (“ e Neapolitan Novels” by Saverio Costanzo, produced by Wildside and Fandango).
The Film Commission’s support also covered institutional relations with the various municipalities involved in the filming (“Cetara, Ravello, Maiori, Capri where we filmed at Villa Jovis, Naples, where a day of shooting at the Archeological Museum was planned”), the Polo Museale della Campania (for Villa Jovis) and the management of MANN.
Apart from the throng of tourists and productions, comments Ballarin, “the work took place in a very pleasant climate; the welcome we received in the region was excellent. Our relations with Netflix are also ‘idyllic’, it is a precious partner which offers us absolute freedom”. (Before “Gore” Netflix had already filmed part of the series “Sense 8” in Campania with the Italian executive production service by Italy Film Production Consultants).
Even though it is produced by a big name like Netflix, the budget is that of an independent Hollywood movie, “around 11 million Euros”.
The production requested financing from the new Regione Campania fund: “a decisive contribution”, concludes Ballarin, “we are waiting for news quite confidently because the film, 80% of which was made in Campania, has the necessary characteristics to ‘earn’ the funding and will produce an important spin-off effect in the region”. [Editor’s note: the decree assigning a contribution of € 200,000 to “Gore” came out on Monday 18 September].
Another villa in Ravello, Villa Cimbrone, was the protagonist of “ e Trip to Italy”, the film made by Michael Winterbottom in 2013 and produced by his Revolution Films for the BBC. It stars comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon described by Melissa Parmenter, the film’s producer, as “the British Benigni and Troisi”, who play themselves traveling around Italy reviewing restaurants. In addition to spending a night in Villa Cimbrone and passing through the Amalfi Coast, the pair also stopped o at Le Relais Blu restaurant in Massa Lubrense and then Pompei and the Cimitero delle Fontanelle in Naples. “The assistance of the Film Commission was essential for gaining access to the archeological sites as well as for coordinating with the traffic police in the scenes lmed in the narrow streets of Naples and on the coast where the two actors drove around in a Mini Cooper”.
In addition to “Gore” and “The trip to Italy”, between 2005 and to- day many international films have been made with the support of the Film Commission: blockbusters (“ e Man from U.N.C.L.E.” by Guy Ritchie, “Eat Pray Love” by Ryan Murphy, “Angels and demons” by Ron Howard); arthouse movies (“Apres Mai” by Olivier Assayas, “Love is all you need” by Susan Bier, “Passione” by John Turturro); and some Indian productions (“Herogiri” by Ravi Kinagi, “Andhagadu” by Veligonda Srinivas and “Jaggu Dada” by Raghvendra Hegre).
Some of the most internationally famous Italian directors have also worked a lot in Campania: the Neapolitan Paolo Sorrentino, possibly the best known and biggest award-winning director on an international level filmed his first movies here, as well as “The Family Friend” and “Il Divo” with the support of the FCRC; the same goes for the already mentioned Mario Martone (who also lmed “Leopardi” and “We believed” here).
In 2016 Gianni Amelio set “Tenerezza: Holding Hands” in Naples, and Matteo Garrone, who has filmed nearly all his movies in Campania including, most recently. “Gomorrah” and “Reality”, will start filming “Dogman” in November, produced by Archimede Film, whilst another Italian film of international significance currently in preparation is “La Paranza dei Bambini” Claudio Giovannesi’s cinema adaptation of Roberto Saviano’s third novel.
Lots of water (and lots of films) have passed under the bridge since the first steps were taken back in 2005.
The producer Tilde Corsi who, together with her partner (in R&C Produzioni) Gianni Romoli, returned to Naples this spring after fourteen years, can claim two records: she was one of the rst people to lm in Scampia when the Film Commission was just an idea in Maurizio Gemma’s head. “I met Maurizio when he was trying to set up the film commission in 2003, and we were filming “Vento di Terra”, Vincenzo Marra’s second movie, at the Vele” (a place that subsequently became famous all over the world thanks to “Gomorrah, the Series”, the third season of which was filmed this year and is due to be broadcast soon).
The second record claimed by Tilde Corsi is that the new movie by Ozpetek, “Napoli Velata”, that she produced, will be the first film to benefit from the new regional fund and will be released in cinemas on 28 December, with Warner.
She found a completely different Naples, not just with regard to the locations which, this time, are far away from the suburbs.
She says: “I have discovered a modern city which has still preserved its traditional, ancient side, both in terms of the beauty as well as the warmth of the people. Naples is a metropolis with the same professional impact as Rome, it has an industry with long-standing professionals and you can feel a great desire to get things done and to be there”.
Rocco Messere, the film’s line producer goes even further: “there is a decade-long production tradition here, I am thinking of Rai productions like “Un posto al sole”, but also arthouse movies from Marra to Martone. It is a professionally mature city that is used to cinema but hasn’t lost its enthusiasm for welcoming film sets”. Especially those of Ferzan Ozpetek who has had a very intense relationship with the city ever since, explain Corsi and Messere, he directed “La Traviata” at San Carlo, “from where he drew his inspiration for this film. He wanted a non postcard-type of Naples where the symbolic places are never at the center of the scene but can be found almost accidentally in the frame, they are part of everything, of the story”.
Amongst these Messere cites the Galleria Principe di Napoli, the Museo Archeologico, the former Conservatorio di Santa Fede Liberata, a space occupied and valorized by the city council as an alternative meeting place for the neighborhood, the Cappella di San Severo and the Farmacia degli Incurabili, “where we reorganized the lighting system”.
Plus the Rione Sanità, Piazza San Domenico Maggiore and Piazza del Gesù, Piazza Bellini…“
Places that it is not usually easy to access, but where we never encountered any difficulties because of the city’s great love for Ferzan, as well as thanks to the ongoing mediation work of the lm commission that followed all the evolutions of the work plan step by step and helped to avoid any problems. Naples is a huge vortex if you look at it from the outside, a caravan that can be frightening but then, when you throw yourself into it, you discover a marvelous order”.
The film received € 200,000 from the FCRC fund: “the maximum amount because it is set entirely in Naples, the city is also in the title, and has many first class Neapolitan actors like Peppe Barra, Anna Bonaiuto, Lina Sastri and Luisa Ranieri. We also used 500 extras and over half the technical crew consisted of local professionals”.
The film will be presented to international buyers at the American Film Market by the international distributor, True Colours, which also handles the foreign sales of another film made in Campania: “Indivisible” by Edoardo De Angelis (currently being distributed in the USA).
In addition to the second series of “I Bastardi di Pizzofalcone” by Alessandro D’Alatri (production by Clemart with Rai Fiction), various for- eign television productions have also chosen Campania: a yacht moored at the Molo Luisa in Mergellina is the set of the famous US reality show “Below Deck”, on the Bravo Network. Shooting ends on 17 October and also encompasses Capri, Ischia, Sorrento, Positano, Amal and Naples.
“In recent years I have done a lot of location scouting in the Mediterranean, seeing as every season we use a different place”, explains Dan Volpe, the producer of the show for 51 Minds Entertainment, “and I have fallen in love with Naples and the Coast. I had already thought of lming here last year. The Film Commission immediately made itself available by presenting Massimo, the owner of the Molo Luisa, to us, a great yacht expert who helped us understand where we could take our yacht, where to park it, what the rules are …But then we had to postpone everything because of time issues, this region is possibly more chaotic than others and needs greater organization. But working here has been a wonderful challenge also thanks to the precious help of Panorama Films (Editor’s note: the Italian executive production service): Naples is an electric city, in addition to giving us breathtaking views it is extremely alive, full of an energy that infected the whole cast and crew”.
Campania will also provide sets for the German TV movie “Wenn Nicht, Dann Jetzt” directed by Matthias Steurer (prod. Saxonia Media for Ard Degeto – Executive Production Service – Pointmedia) which will be filmed in October in Castellabate, for the famous MTV reality show “Teen Mom OG”, and for the BBC documentary “Operation Vincent”.