Italy is one immense movie set. Its naturalistic, landscape and architectural beauties – the country holds a position of supremacy among the 54 UNESCO World Heritage sites – have always attracted directors and producers from all over the world.
Therefore, while productions have started to move towards finding locations that can balance scenic requirements with the need to partially cover the costs, the regions have equipped themselves with economic instruments and structures that are capable of attracting productions to their territory in the full awareness that such an investment could generate a decidedly positive return for the region in terms of employment as well as tourist promotion.
Some places, like Venice and Rome, have always struck the imagination of foreign producers and directors – think about the postcards of the two cities that Woody Allen has sent all over the world through his movies: they have been attracted by the timeless monuments, the mixture of ancient and modern, the folklore and romanticism and more than a few stereotypes.
Rome, in particular, has been the protagonist of many popular returning international productions: from the last 007 Spectre with Daniel Craig playing James Bond dashing around the historical city center and the streets of the capital in 2015, to the second chapter of the Zoolander saga in 2016, in which Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson investigate, in their own way, the murder of a number of celebrities in a Rome which is both ancient and futuristic at the same time.
Last in order of time is the thriller Six Underground by Michael Bay, director of Armageddon and the Transformers saga, a Netflix production with an estimated budget of $ 150 million that includes high adrenalin scenes filmed in some areas of Rome like Calatrava’s “Vela” in Tor Vergata, as well as in the port of Taranto and the historic centers of Florence and Siena.
Tuscany has also always been a great attraction due to the beauty of its cities of art and its undulating landscapes. Recently the Toscana Film Commission has provided assistance to numerous foreign productions. The second season of the Medici series which cost € 25 million and stars Daniel Sharman, Bradley James, Sarah Parish, Julian Sands and Sean Bean is currently being broadcast on TV, while filming is in progress on the third chapter.
The Italy-UK Big Light, Rai Fiction and Lux Vide co-production is distributed all over the world and Tuscany plays a starring role not just because of the reconstruction of Renaissance Florence in various locations between Volterra and Val d’Orcia, but also as a result of the fringe activities such as the creation of the costumes by the Manifatture Digitali Cinema Prato in the high specialization workshop conducted by costume designer Alessandro Lai.
For years Puglia has been experiencing the positive effect of productions that have touched the region also as a result of the con- tributions made available to the people who choose to set their movies there.
Thanks to the Film Fund, three Cineports, a Circuit of Quality Movie Theaters and a network of Festivals have attracted thousands of members of the trade and offered logistical and economic support to hundreds of productions from all over the world.
From the villages of Gargano to the beaches of Salento, passing through the provincial capitals, a seemingly unstoppable wave of cinema has passed over the whole region. Confirming the attention of the institutions to this sector, a few months ago the Apulia Film Commission renewed the Apulia Film Fund with an endowment of € 10 million for 2018-2020.
For years many directors have portrayed the boundless beauties and the contradictions of Naples and the Campania region, crossing national boundaries even in recent times.
After winning the award for Best Actor in Cannes, Matteo Garrone’s Dogman about the “Dog Groomer of Magliana” has been chosen to represent Italy at the next Oscars. The producer, Archimede, took advantage of the collaboration of the Film Commission Regione Campania [FCRC] and a contribution of € 200,000 allocated from the POC 2014-2020 resources for supporting theatrical and audiovisual productions.
For the setting of the movie in the outskirts of Rome the director mainly chose a not exactly postcard-worthy location – an area of Castel Volturno called Darsena Orientale. The melancholic mixture of beauty and degradation to be found in Castel Volturno has, however, attracted various directors: in addition to Garrone, who also filmed The Embalmerand some scenes of Gomorra here, Edoardo De Angelis used it as the setting for his Indivisible and The vice of hope, the latter being the brand- new winner of the People’s Choice Award at the 13th Rome Film Fest.
The first season of the TV series based on the My Brilliant Friend bestsellers, the four novels by the mysterious Elena Ferrante, is an impressive HBO – Rai Fiction and Tim Vision co-production the world premiere of which was held at the 75th Venice Film Festival. Over 150 actors and 1,500 extras moved around the real locations (in the province of Caserta, Naples and Ischia) and the specially created sets. These include the 1950s mock-up of the Rione Luzzatti where the two protagonists, Lila Cerullo and Elena “Lenù” Greco spent their childhood, which has been meticulously reconstructed in the outskirts of Caserta, in the abandoned Saint Gobain industrial area.
In an area of 20,000 square meters and in the space of over 100 working days, 14 small blocks of flats, 5 indoor sets, a church and a tunnel were created.
In addition to availing itself of the assistance of the FCRC, the producer Wildside received € 200,000 from the fund for supporting theatrical and audiovisual productions, allocated from the POC 2014-2020 resources and won a competitive tender of the value of € 550,000 organized by the FCRC (again with POC 2014-2020 funds) for the supply of a package of goods and services for promotional purposes connected with the series.
The Film Commission Torino Piemonte is one of the country’s most active entities.
Over the years it has provided support to many Italian and foreign productions through the incentives made available to films, documentaries and shorts. Giuseppe Tornatore got Jeremy Irons involved in the movie Correspondence and, thanks to a contribution of € 80,000 from the Film Commission, locations like Orta San Giulio on Lake Orta and the Isola dei Pescatori on Lake Maggiore obtained international visibility.
Friuli-Venezia Giulia has two types of regional fund that cover all the phases of the production chain. While the Film Fund is managed by the Film Commission and is aimed at production companies that decide to film in the region, the Audiovisual Fund covers all the stages of development and distribution and is directed towards companies based in the region.
Among the projects that have received production funding are works by Oscar winning directors like Gabriele Salvatores and Giuseppe Tornatore. The former was able to film The Invisible Boy in Trieste in 2014 and the sequel in 2017 thanks to production funding of € 150,000 and € 200,000. A few years earlier, in 2012, the filming in Trieste and Udine of The Best Offer by Giuseppe Tornatore benefited from a contribution of € 70,000. More recently, the second season of the TV series La Porta Rossa, – which is shot in Trieste and exported to 70 countries, – received € 280,000.
The non exhaustive overview described above highlights the myriad opportunities the national and regional institutions make available to members of the trade.
Italy for Movies, the national portal of incentives and locations set up by MiBAC [Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities] and run by Istituto Luce – Cinecittà, facilitates the search for these tools: in fact it offers a broad and constantly updated choice, with descriptions in two languages, of the potential locations to be found all over the peninsula, from highly renowned venues to out-of-the-way villages. Locations can be sourced using a search engine and each search will directly link to the region’s film commission and the relevant incentives and facilities.
Moreover in order to learn about the numerous funding opportunities, producers have at their disposal, in a separate section, a complete review of the incentives available on a regional, national and international level.
These include the Internationalization Funds (read the news), the latest instrument launched by MiBAC to support the foreign distribution and promotion of Italian audiovisual works in collaboration with Istituto Luce – Cinecittà.