Sunday is the worst day of the week in Scampia. It is far away from everything and near to nothing”.
This image is taken from one of the many articles published last January in the daily newspaper Mattino di Napoli, during the controversy surrounding the TV drama series “ Gomorra, la serie”, inspired by Saviano’s novel, and set in Scampia.
It is difficult to avoid “literary” temptations, even for a paper that, better than any other, captures the moods of the local community. It is inevitable that a work of fiction runs this type of “risk”: a risk that has raised the alarm in the community of Scampia, worried that the TV drama will mark the return of the Scampia-Camorra tag.
Contributing to the protest was Angelo Pisani, president of the Municipality of Scampia, who, according to news reports, has denied “any authorization to exploit images and places to the detriment of the territory”. Basically, Scampia doesn’t want Gomorra.
Shooting should have started at the end of January, but the protests have blocked everything except for the controversy that has now reached the highest levels of the local institutions and intellectual circles, right up to the mayor De Magistris and Saviano himself, thus forging uncommon alliances and rekindling old rivalries.
“If I have to reproach myself for anything”, admits Maurizio Tini, head of the TV sector at Cattleya, which is producing the series, “it is possibly that I slightly underestimated the particular nature of the territory, the seriousness of the social and environmental problems, as well as the high level of exasperation felt by the population as a whole. We needed to pay more attention and, I repeat, perhaps we did not adequately evaluate the situation at the beginning: we needed to understand how to move, to explain our needs but also to listen”.
Cattleya has looked for and found support in the Film Commission Regione Campania which, emphasizes the director Maurizio Gemma, “immediately pointed out the complexity and seriousness of the problems of Scampia and the suburbs of Naples”. Gemma has launched a process of mediation between a community “that feels it is the victim of a media assault” and the requirements and intentions of the production company.
This is a dramatic example of how a Film Commission can participate in and interpret different and, at times, conflicting needs. It is a delicate role to play in a region like Campania, even more so in Scampia where the people are tired of being depicted in stories that are only told from the viewpoint of the negative characters.
It is true, as Tini confirms, that the series follows the rules of the “genre” and the protagonists are baddies. But Tini rejects the parallels some have made with “Romanzo criminale” (also produced by Sky and filmed by Stefano Sollima): that series featured the Magliana band, thus allowing for a relative “historical distance” that is not possible with the Camorra, the characters could be treated in a literary way, and some of them were even likeable, “obviously in narrative terms”. There is none of this in “Gomorra”, the producer assures us: “the viewer’s moral judgment will be unequivocally negative”.
But that is not enough for the people of Scampia: “granted that the problem is not talking about the Camorra but the Camorra itself ”, Gemma wishes to emphasize, “we are faced with an exasperated community that wants us to show the “normal” side of Scampia as well. As a man of cinema I have to say immediately that you cannot ask a filmmaker not to tell a story; as a citizen I believe an effort has to be made by the production as well as the territory to find solutions that satisfy both parties”.
So, “in agreement with the Municipality and City Council of Naples”, continues Gemma, “I sounded out the possibility with Cattleya of making another product, parallel to the series, which shows the daily life, the work, of the many good people who live in the quarter. We want to take advantage of the media power of Sky and the professional skills of Cattleya to represent – possibly through the eyes of young local film- makers – the people who live normally, who try to fight back against the criminals with a life of hard work, on an institutional level as well as in normal civilian life”.
The proposal was welcomed by Cattleya: “We had already thought of providing an extended “backstage” view” says Tini, “then, talking with Gemma, and in the light of what was happening, we thought we could modify our initial idea and transform it into a kind of documentary, a story documenting a variety of different experiences, starting with the world of associations and clubs which are very common in Scampia”.
Although the project has not been finalized (“We need confirmation of Sky’s participation”, which means finding a place in the schedule), “Gomorra, la serie” is taking a new path from the one originally planned. The spirit of collaboration will be reflected in the product which will place more emphasis on the positive characters.
“The story” emphasizes Tini, “already contains characters that, for thesake of simplicity, we could define as ‘positive’. What we will do, which is actually normal during the redrafting of a script, is to portray these figures with the maximum depth and truth”. And, with regard to the locations, “We realized that it will never be possible to film exactly in all the places we would have liked to film, so we will limit the filming in Scampia to what is strictly necessary”, the rest will be reconstructed in other areas of Naples.
The exchange of information with the Film Commission continues, “not just in order to find locations but also to identify local professional figures that can be involved, and for establishing relations with local institutions”.
“There are Film Commissions that have a lot of resources, others thathave fewer, and those that, like the one in Campania, have nothing at all”, comments Maurizio Tini at the end of the conversation. “Those who have no Fund have to make up for this by accompanying productions in a more intense way.
It is a job that Maurizio Gemma does very well”. Filming will start on February 25th.
THE SERIES/FROM SAVIANO TO SOLLIMA
“Gomorra. La serie” will be a series of twelve 50 minute episodes, produced by Cattleya and Fandango for Sky Italia. Gianluca Arcopinto is the production organizer.
The project is the result of work carried out by Roberto Saviano and, according to the production notes, “his willingness to adapt for the small screen, in serial form, a narrative subject of such substance as to only be partly inspired by his novel ‘Gomorra’”.
Roberto Saviano has also been involved in drawing up the story-line and worked on the screenplay with head writer Stefano Bises. The artistic supervision is by Stefano Sollima (“Romanzo Criminale – la serie” and “Acab”) who will also direct the first 6 episodes, whilst Francesca Comencini and Claudio Cupellini will direct the following six (three episodes each).
Filming will begin on February 25th and the first episodes of the series will be broadcast by Sky Italia in the first half of 2014.