The choice of why to film in Italy for all the films was basically the same, the location and the pleasure of working with an Italian crew.
Regarding “The Black Stallion”, we found the desert island locations in Sardinia after looking in many places and Cinecitta had its great tank in which we could film the shipwreck, and, of course, studios.
Regarding “The Black Stallion Returns”, there were some locations in Italy and the studio work could be done at Cinecitta.
But most importantly, the film was essentially an all Italian crew with a major part of the filming in Morocco because we needed the desert. The choice of why to base in Italy with an Italian crew was because it is always a very rich experience to work with Italians, the Italians were knowledgeable about working in Morocco, travel easily, and are very open to working with crew members from other countries.
“The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “Under the Tuscan Sun” were both filmed in Italy because the stories took place there (Editor’s note: both are based on novels) and shooting in the real locations increased the beauty and quality of the films, and contributed to an increase in tourism in those areas, amongst other things.
Since producing “Under the Tuscan Sun” in 2003, I have kept looking for other films to make in Italy, but it’s very hard to find a suitable project for my work with a major studio here, but I keep looking and hoping.
In all the films I have produced in Italy, I have worked with a great Italian producer and have produced “the Italian way.”
In other words, I did not bring Hollywood to Italy, the films were made in the Italian culture and with great caring and respect for everything about Italy.
In fact, in all the films, the minimum number of Americans/ foreigners were brought to Italy, and the ones that did come to Italy were ones essential to the production and the director. I
t was my great pleasure to film in Italy, I love the place, I love the people, I love the food, I love the attitude and the Italian pleasure with life.
In terms of what were the greatest difficulties, I would say it would be the search for locations: at the time these films were made, the Italian producers negotiated the best possible rates for hotels and locations but I am told now that information on locations throughout Italy is accessible without having to travel to all the possible places.
I am told there is an Italian tax incentive now and have heard just a few of the details.
From what I know, this Italian tax shelter is better than having nothing, but it is complicated and requires being in business with an Italian producer and in the end, it provides very little money.
Knowing this, there could be a benefit for independently-financed low budget but I don’t know whether it would be seen as a benefit by the major American studios.
What I can say is with the difficulties in the American film business, and the need to try to control costs as much as possible, producers are going to places where they can get the work done at the lowest possible cost and hopefully with some tax incentive.
The result of this is that some of the filming has moved East from Czechoslovakia to Romania and now to Bulgaria.
TAX CREDIT: WHAT IS AVAILABLE TO FOREIGN PRODUCTION COMPANIES?
Section 335 of article 1 of the 2008 Finance Bill says: “Tax credits shall be granted to national executive production and post-production companies for the tax period subsequent to the period underway on 31st December 2007 and for the subsequent two fiscal years, for movies or parts of movies filmed on Italian territory using Italian labor and commissioned by foreign production companies. The said tax credits shall be equal to 25% of the production cost of the individual movie for a maximum amount, for each movie, of 5,000,000 Euros. Tax credits are not, therefore, granted directly to foreign production companies.