Next year Italian TV viewers will see Terence Hill hang up his cassock although he will still be “A un passo dal cielo “” A step away from heaven” (the title of the TV series to be broadcast by Rai Uno in 2011), playing a forest ranger in the mountains of the Alta Val Pusteria valley.
It is expected that the TV series will bring greater visibility to the Alto Adige region which will certainly be used more frequently as a backdrop for movie and TV stories.
In September, the German period feature “Der Sommer der Gaukler” was filmed in Bolzano.
Around the same time, work began on a documentary about the legendary mountaineer Reinhold Messner: a necessary location for a territory that has an important tradition in the documentary genre thanks to the Zelig Documentary, Television and New Media School of Bolzano.
These titles are the first fruits of a project launched last year by BLS (Business Location Sà¼dtirol Alto Adige), an entity responsible for establishing businesses in the province as well as for territorial marketing on behalf of the Autonomous Provincial Government of Bolzano.
Last fall, these activities were channeled into a division dedicated to support for film productions.
With a staff of three led by Christiana Wertz, this division assumes the functions albeit not the name of a Film Commission, offering all services provided by such structures.
“Ours is a strictly economic vocation: to create new development opportunities for the territory”, says Wertz .
“First and foremost, we are looking at creating all the infrastructures for audiovisuals, as well as local crafts and the tourist-hotel sector”. The driving force for attracting production companies will be economic incentives implemented through a support Fund.
“I know that the landscapes in the Alto Adige are very beautiful, but I know that there are other areas that are just as beautiful and it is no secret that producers go where the money is”, says Christiana Wertz, adding:
“The 3 million Euro Fund will be operational from 2011. It will finance documentaries, films and TV series, as well as feature films for the cinema, and can be combined with other contributions.
The selection criteria used will privilege “training proposals and the strengthening of the Alto Adige cultural and media hub”.
Movies do not necessarily have to be set in Alto Adige, but the main requisite for accessing the Fund is expenditure in the territory, from 100 to 150 per cent of the contribution: the greater the visibility given to the territory, the lower the expenditure obligation.
“The involvement of infrastructures and professionals from the area is a priority”, insists Christiana Wertz.
Financial subsidies can reach a maximum of 1,500,000 Euros per project, and cannot normally exceed 50% of the cost of the movie. This limit can be extended for smaller products such as documentaries or works by emerging film-makers.
Generally projects are required to already have a theatrical or TV channel distribution contract.
“We are interested above all in projects for which national, international and/or festival distribution is possible”, confirms Christiana Wertz.
“We are open to productions from all over the world but are focusing on three countries: Italy, Germany and Austria, and would like to be a meeting point for the industries of those countries”.
BLS is willing to collaborate with similar structures in neighboring areas. Christiana Wertz considers cooperation with Milan to be “very interesting because we have some very special locations whilst they have the postproduction infrastructures”.
SOLVING CASES JUST ON STEP AWAY FROM HEAVEN“Un passo dal cielo”, the new Lux Vide series starring Terence Hill, to be broadcast on Rai Uno next season, is set in the Alto Adige region. We talk to the executive producer Daniele Passani and the general organizer Alessandro Tonnini
Terence Hill is about to become the television face of the Alto Adige. He is the star of “Un Passo dal Cielo “” A step away from heaven”, the 12 episode TV series directed by Enrico Oldoini, produced by Ettore and Matilde Bernabei‘s Lux Vide in collaboration with Rai Fiction, which will be broadcast by Rai Uno next season.
Terence Hill plays Toni, the head of the forest ranger team in a small mountain town to which he has retired to find peace after a terrible accident ended his legendary climbing career.
Vincenzo (played by Enrico Ianniello) is a Neapolitan career policeman annoyed by the excessive tranquility of the town and the length of time it takes to get things done.
The two men find themselves sharing the same accommodation annexed to the barracks that are temporarily hosting both the police force and the forest rangers.
The location is near the Lago di Braies, whilst the main character, whose mission is to save lives and nature, lives and works in San Candido.
Terence Hill and Enrico Ianniello are joined by Katia Ricciarelli, Francesco Salvi and Gaia Bermani Amaral.
“We wanted to create a series that revolved around the concept of preserving nature, different from the many other television products that normally depict the various aspects of its degradation,” says the executive producer of Lux Vide, Daniele Passani.
“We also discovered Alto Adige’s fatal attraction. Some scenes were just born to be filmed there. It is an area in which we found wonderful nature as well as excellent cooperation and hospitality”.
The setting enhances the narrative plot.
In fact, Toni’s excellent knowledge of the woods and mountains make it possible for him to solve cases that the police find difficult.
“The local professionals were very useful for developing the story.
The wood craftsmen, for example, made us some beautiful sculptures and also gave Terence Hill lessons.
In fact, woodwork is the main character’s hobby”.
Filming the series did not just maximize the culture and lifestyle of the territory, but also contributed to the training of local people.
“We tried to identify professionals who already had basic training,” explains the executive producer, “recruiting them from the various organizations linked to the Zelig documentary school, and we taught them drama techniques which require different methods with respect to documentaries and commercials.”
The TV series was filmed over a 6 week period in June with another 6weeks in September (until mid October), each preceded by four weeks of preparation.
There was a crew of 40 people, “plus around 20 local technicians, including location managers, director’s assistants, wardrobe and make-up assistants, electricians, around 700 extras and thirty or so local actors”, explains Alessandro Tonnini, the general organizer.
In addition to the Lago di Braies and San Candido, the locations used included Prato Piazza, Dobbiaco and Ponticello.
“Un Passo dal Cielo” has a 8.5 million Euro budget, 1.5 million of which will be provided by BLS as soon as the support fund is activated:
“This support”, emphasizes Passani, made it possible to realize “a higher profile product with regard to location and entertainment value: we have managed to obtain some material that is extraordinary in terms of beauty and light. And we really appreciated the simplicity of relations with local government, the loosening of red tape”.
“It is clear that Alto Adige is truly backing quality”.
1780:SUMMER AT DR. STREITER GASSE
Last Septmeber, Bolzano and the Alto Adige Region were the locations for the German movie “Der Sommer der Gaukler”
Dr. Streiter “” Gasse, in the heart of Bolzano, is a long street punctuated with medieval houses.
Horses, carriages, sand on the asphalt and an arch built to hide a modern building brought the street back to 1780, the year in which “Der Sommer der Gaukler” is set.
The movie, inspired by the novel of the same name by the German writer Robert Hà¼ltner, is about Emanuel Schikaneder who wrote the libretto for Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”.
During a trip from Nuremberg to Salzburg with his theater company, he gets stuck in a small village on the border between Germany and Austria and they all get involved in a miner’s revolt against the owner of the local mine.
“In the whole of Nuremberg we couldn’t find a medieval street as long and as beautiful as Via Streiter that would allow us to film such wide shots”, explains Thomas Blieninger, the general organizer for the production, who also admits that the economic support offered by the BLS was a decisive factor in the choice of location.
In fact, the production received a contribution of 100,000 Euros (towards the total budget of 3.5 million Euros), by choosing to film for five days in Bolzano, Burgusio and Val di Vizze in the second half of September.
“We only decided to film here seven weeks ago, so we didn’t have much time to organize everything: we would have certainly liked to stay longer also because it is very convenient here, the various locations we needed (a city street, a mountain village, an actual mountain), are all very near each other.”
The most spectacular and striking scenes were shot over five intensive days of filming which also involved transporting equipment via helicopter.
“We were able to obtain the cooperation of local professional climbers,” explains Blieninger.
“We did some very complex filming in just a few days with the support of the newly created BLS”. With very satisfactory results:
“There is a great atmosphere here, there is a kind of newness in the air and the people are very open”.
The crew, of around 70, also used a number of local craftsmen and six extras.
The German release, which is being handled by Movienet, is scheduled for the fall of 2011.
“We would like to hold the Italian premiere of the movie inside the Cinema Film Club which is on Via Streiter.
The premiere could possibly take place in April 2012 during the Bolzano Cinema Festival – which was set up 25 years ago to promote movies by Italian film directors and up and coming directors from countries neighboring the Alto Adige”, says the Festival’s director .