Your movie Report 51
- in a few words, what is it about?
Giuliano Tomassacci & Alessio Liguori: We
could define it both a science-fiction, supernatural thriller and a human
journey. Itís about four friends just searching for some holiday and fun
that inadvertently get involved in an extraterrestrial plan of
destruction. Their confrontation with terror and unknown soon turns out to
be confronting also with their real feelings, their relationships and
their sincere emotions. An inevitable step into awareness and
responsibility. Itís a movie about friendship and love, fear and
courage, otherworldly threat and human willpower.
What were your
inspirations for writing Report
51, and is the alien invasion genre a genre at all dear to you?
GT & AL: Yes, we have always
shared a great passion and interest for sci-fi in general and for the
alien invasion/abduction subject in particular. We drew inspiration from
various sources, spanning from movies to literature and serials as well as
popular belief and collective thought.
did the two of you meet in the first place, and what was your
collaboration on Report 51
GT & AL:
We first met some ten years ago on the set of a feature, we were both at the beginning. Some times later we have started
collaborating respectively as a cinematographer and a director. During the
years our partnership grew, and so did our mutual esteem - we collaborated on
diverse projects including short movies, commercials, TV-programs and
videoclips. When, by the end of 2010, we sought the chance to develop a
personal project we jumped at it. We conceived, wrote and produced Report 51
together. Apart from that itís been as always: Alessio
directed and Giuliano lensed.
knew Giuliano for a long time, we worked together a lot. I was long
pondering to shoot a feature but I never thought about a found-footage.
One day I was having a walk, I phoned Giuliano and quite toying with the
idea I said him: ďYou know, it would be great if someone would shoot a
found-footage with the aliens. Nobody has ever done one (so it was at that
time).Ē Giuliano, usually very pragmatic and prudent, that time, without
thinking twice about it, suddenly told me: ďLetís do it.Ē I stood
speechless. From there Report 51ís long journey began.
Why did you choose the found footage-approach for
51? And especially regarding the many CGI effects, what were the
major challenges of this approach?
GT & AL:
We chose the found footage-approach for a couple of
reasons. First of all we were pretty much interested in the kind of
POV-style language of the genre. Films like Paranormal Activity,
Cloverfield and REC really tickled us a lot, especially for what concerns
the possibility in terms of narrative and shooting. We were also
interested in experimenting and expanding the approach including other
shooting-devices. Secondly, unfortunately here in
science-fiction is kinda of a taboo genre at the moment. It would have been
quite impossible to find a production interested in the project, let alone
we also decided to shoot it English (another rarity in Italy) to reach as
much audience as possible. The found-footage approach was optimal in this
sense because the style and the necessity of realism allowed us to
limit the production expenses and allowed it to produce it by ourselves on a budget
as an indie movie.
The CGI effects are vital to this kind of movie. And
considering we were making a found-footage flick a very high level of
integration with the live-action was mandatory. And still we were on a
budget: so we opted for having a much longer post-production than
usual to reach the best results.
would like to add that a found-footage movie is a unique experience that a
filmmaker or an actor should try at least once in a lifetime. Itís an
extreme experience, without filters. Youíre inside the movie at the
highest possible levels. The long shots with the camera operated most of
the time by the actors and the diegetic cinematography at the moment of
action make you a privileged and invisible viewer. Not one of the set, but
one of the film itself. Sure youíre deeply concentrated in your work but
the narrative modality reduces to the minimum, if not totally, the filters
between you and the action. For actors it's even more extreme both
physically and emotionally.
Speaking of the
effects: You just have to talk about the effects work in your movie for a
GT & AL: Thereís only one
sequence shot in green-screen Ė the levitation sequence - and a couple
of effects done in-camera with the old-school methods. By the way all the
aliens footage is CGI. Itís been a complex work and Real Vision reached
some incredible results in terms of compositing considering the hand-held,
shaking camera effects that dominate this genre and that obviously
complicate all the tracking and rigging job in each frame.
Furthermore, some scenes needed a particular work of
picture-in-picture to simulate the specific function of an on-screen
device. Spirito Soundís detailed sound-design work furthermore increased
the level of integration and realism.
I think the locations are a key factor of
51 - so how did you find them, have you written the movie with the
locations already in mind, and what was it like filming there?
GT & AL: Concerning the Italian
locations, we relied on the greatly suggestive estate of our location and
set manager Silvano Di Murro: SDM Farm in Montelovesco, a wonderful
countryside land in
that includes some vast woods and a typical farmstead that we used both
for the house interior and exteriors. By itself the estate and its
backgrounds are breathtaking, also we got one of the hugest snowfalls in recent years while filming in December 2011. This further contributed to
the stunning scenario. We
wrote almost the entire plot outline just before scouting locations in
Montelovesco and surroundings, but we tripped back and forth while we were
writing the screenplay, so we functionally wrote or adapted scenes to
fit the confirmed locations. This helped a lot also in enhancing and
improving the script. Originally our plan was to shoot the ending of the
movie in another location in
Italy, but bureaucracy and some other issues obtaining the permits to shoot
finally forced us to abandon the first idea and turn to
Belgium. Our first assistant director and dialogue coach Emiliano Manzillo
submitted us a lot of interesting locations all over the country: we
finally chose the high-school institute SISA/Stedelijk Lyceum and
Antwerp, along with some capital exteriors in the abandoned city of
Doel. All in all we think the replacements fit even better than the
originals. We also adapted and extended the screenplay in order to get the
best from those incredible places.
can you tell us about your cast, how did you find them and why exactly
GT & AL:
The cast is the heart and the engine of Report 51. We
couldnít be more pleased and grateful to them for the stunning work
theyíve done. Not only did they have to act in another spoken language, but
they also had to stand some incredibly demanding physical efforts in
adverse temperature and climate, not to talk about the fact that they
operated the camera for almost the whole movie. All of the cast were our
first choice for their respective roles.
We first worked with Michela
Bruni (Amber) on the short movie La Rete, back in 2010, and we were
highly impressed by her excellent, multilayered performance. We also had
the occasion to met Viola Graziosi (Linda) on another short and to
experience her tremendous dramatic skills. Damiano Martina was among the
protagonist of an American singer videoclip we worked for and his acting
attitude was just perfect for John. Ann Pierssens (Ann) was introduced to
us by 1st AD Manzillo and we had the chance to witness her acting during the shooting of the short
Nigredo, that he
directed just prior to the shoot of Report 51. Luca Guastini
was the only exception in the sense we didnít know him nor have
worked with him prior to entering production.
We were pondering some candidates for the role but still hadnít
contacted anyone when Michela suggested Luca, whom she previously
worked with on stage. We were pretty much impressed by his showreel and by
our first meeting with him we knew we had found James.
the cast also collaborated to the dialogue, something we thought was
crucial to better stress the realism of interactions and relations of the
characters needed for this kind of movie.
Do talk about the shoot as such for a bit,
and the on-set atmosphere?
GT & AL:
The set was a great adventure and a one-of-a-kind
experience, both professionally and humanly. Knowing most of the cast and
crew from previous projects already, having prepared much of the work
together when still in pre-production and being a smaller crew than usual
due to the production and shooting approach, led us to easily establish an
extremely positive mood - which was good considering that, for the very
same productive and shooting reasons, it was also a tough and very
demanding adventure. Principal photography took a week in Montelovesco and
three days in Belgium. Apart from some of the interior, we showed the cast each location for
the first time only just before starting to work to the corresponding
scene. We were on a tight schedule and we kept adjusting it on a
day-by-day basis mostly due to the climate changing, but we finally made
it all as planned. We usually started each shot by blocking the scene
while actors went over the script with our dialogue coach, then we blocked
the scene again with them in order to explain directional and photographic
guidelines. It was not a typical, technical rehearsal because the action
had to be also explained in term of camerawork and detailed as a sort of
choreography, being the actors were also the operators on most of the coverage.
Subsequently, after the blocking they left the set to join our great
make-up artist Annalisa Liuzzi to be prepared for the scene. Once ready,
just a last general rehearsal and we were ready to shoot. As evident, the
movie is made up of some lengthy continuous-takes and this added
difficulty to the shaping and accomplishment of each sequence and to the
actors' work. In some cases the complexity of a shot reached considerable
levels. There is a sequence where Amber rushes alone in an abandoned
school in search of a map. We shot it late at night and it was an
exterior/interior. Itís an example of how demanding a shot could be for
the actors. Michela had to run round-trip through an entire wing of the
school, examining each classroom while operating the camera. Due to the
context of the scene, the dramatic needs in terms of acting were at the
top. As always the camera movements had to follow a precise path,
including some halts at pre-marked points. Plus, to accommodate some
abrupt variations from the diegetic lights of the school to the exterior
and vice versa, she had to duly perform some iris-shifts on the run, as
smoothly as she can. Last but not least, the sequence called for three
different aliens appearances, to be obviously added in
post-post-production and so to be only imagined by the actress on the set
according to Alessio's indications. After she mastered the shot with us for
a while, we did a series of complete takes in a row. It was exhausting for
her but not only the takes were very good, each one was better than the
previous. Not to say, shortly after, the very same night, she was ready
for another sequence with Luca. This is what happen when you have such a
great cast and they believe in the film, trusting your vision. The same
abnegation and professionalism are the basis of some incredible, bravura
performances Viola delivered in prohibitive weather conditions, again
within conspicuous long-takes, and to a much challenging nude sequence
Luca managed at the peak of his character complexity. Damiano and Ann also
did an incredible job confronting with some elaborate effects shots and
frenzied ones that, having also to be later composited with the aliens in
CGI, challenged them to realistically interact with invisible opponents.
They all succeeded greatly in every hard task, and sometimes their
personal touch originated by the acting momentum and by the reaction to
the environment enormously enriched the final results. And 99 percent of
the time the result was not as the two of us envisioned it or wanted
it, it was better. Thanks to them.
addition to this, another test which the entire cast was subject to must be
suffering! The extreme experience they underwent included physical effort
and endurance, long racing in long-takes (sometimes keeping another fellow
in their harm), in the frost wearing few clothes, in confined wet, snowy,
muddy and rocky spaces. Memorable
and moving is Amber and James escape sequence from the farmstead. An
emotionally strong scene in which James is shocked by physical problems
due to his kidnapping and Amber has a psychological breakdown. All on a
hill covered with inches and inches of snow, among branches, at night and
with bare hands. At the end of the long shot their hands were frozen and
they were shaking but their only concern was to know if we were satisfied
with the scene. Working with such a cast is a great privilege.
What can you tell us about
audience and critical reception of your movie so far?
AL & GT: Report 51
has been a
winning bet for us. We both had a learning about cinema market and trade
in general, but the movie has been a unique and formative experience. We
relied on our skills but most of all we had to learn many new things,
trusting our instinct at the same time. We soon started a precise campaign
in order to draw attraction to the movie. First of all we unleashed a
viral: a clip from the movie
in which we hear the shouting of the two unfortunate protagonists as they
enter a room in a crumbling military structure. They are recording all in
POV with their camera. Suddenly you hear some barefoot steps and aback a
window an angry alien Ė a Ďgreyí one Ė pops up. We pretended this
clip to be uploaded by a fake scientistís account who claims he
purloined the video from authorities and wants to share and reveal this
discovery. The clip was presented as ďclassifiedĒ. So at the beginning
we didnít reveal the videoís real nature and we left it to circulate on
the web as a presumed non-fiction document. An intense and interesting
activity has then sprung around the video, which has been shared, posted
and commented many times. This great advertisement flywheel made possible
for us to create an audience that we then directed on the movie's official
site (initially a ufology board then transformed in a proper site for the
film) and then on the trailer, which over time has surpassed the
one-million viewings. At that point we also released numerous
press-releases, posters and character-poster with predetermined cadence.
All this activity attracted various sales-agents. We are particularly
happy with our actual agency, EuroObscura, in the person of Marco Magni.
He immediately understood and shared our beliefs and our expectations for
the movie. Heís doing an extraordinary job.
future projects you'd like to share?
projects are really many. The next movie Iím working on is called In
the Trap. Some teasers have been already shot - and theyíre online -
in order to find producers. Itís a horror movie and it deals with the
story of a young proof-reader trapped in his own apartment for two years. Heís convinced an obscure force is trying to enter his apartment
but the meeting with Debby Ė the girl from top floor Ė calls everything into
question and unleashes disturbing visions of his past. The movie is also the
vehicle to start a franchise consisting of a novelization, a comic-book,
events, attractions, apps, a TV serial, a sequel and a prequel. In the
meanwhile, while having contacts with potential producers, Iím working
on the movieís pre-production and shooting videoclips.
GT: Iím concentrating on cinematography and at the
moment Iím not conceiving other production/screenwriting project like Report 51. But you never know. Among other works Iíve also had the
pleasure and privilege to collaborate again with Alessio shooting two
videoclips he recently directed for the band Entropia (for the song
La Direzione) and for the pop singer Giacomo Docimo (La Piý Bella
del Mondo). Recently Iíve also made a new foray in short-movie lensing
the drama Io ci CredevĒ, directed by Vittoria Citerni di Siena.
How did you get
into the filmworld to begin with, and did you receive a formal education
on the subject?
Since I was a kid Iíve been fascinated by the cinema medium. I saw the
birth of the home-video. I saw the growing of the digital era. And still
today I get excited as in the past when Iím in a movie theatre or I
watch a blu-ray or a dvd. The attentive screening of movies, reading and
apprenticeship have been my first, important approach to my work. To see
or read what the great and little masters have done and how they have
done. I was a young boy when I asked my mother to take me to the first set
of my life. They were shooting a movie in my hometown. My mother gently
asked a production assistant to let me in promising I wouldnít bother
anyone. I was not yet fifteen. And with bright and admired eyes I was
seeing this parallel reality taking form, impressed on film. The director
couldnít see me, he was very focused, but my eyes were on him with great
admiration. I remember every moment of that day. Then the gates opened and
I hugged my mother. Still Iím very grateful to her. Then I graduated as
director-programmer for cinema and TV at the DAMS in Roma 3 University, in
Italy. I learned a lot from the academic studies, all that you canít learn on
the field and vice versa. Last but not least the law classes I attended at
university have been very useful, along with dance, music and visual
education. I also had the fortune to study in workshop with some of the best
Italian movie authors. Then again a lot of apprenticeship and studying,
always with an eye and a great admiration to the American cinema. I lived
as a student and as a spectator all the American cinema wonders of the 80s
and 90s, I could not have hoped for more. I worked as an
assistant-director. Then I landed to commercials, videoclips and
In each work Iíve brought with me a wealth of
experience and new knowledge. And after some short-movies it finally comes
the magic moment for the first feature. Report 51
has been more than a
movie to us. An extraordinary experience of life and work. One day we were
in the snowy woods, shooting a moving and difficult scene with our
protagonists Bruni and Guastini. The atmosphere was rally magic and
unique. I was in an high
position to watch the long take and from there I realized that the
fifteen-years-old boy was
still there, hidden in the shadow seeing the magic of a story that comes
to life. You have to be a sponge and thatís what Iíve always tried to
be. Every experience, concerning life or work, is important. Thatís in
brief my training. You should always have thirst for knowledge. And until
that fifteen-years-old boy would wake up I would always keep looking with
the same wonder at what life would bring to me and I would always be
amazed as the first time.
had a deep interest in movie and entertainment in general since I can
remember. I started to receive formal education on cinema and theatre in
some supplementary courses during my high-school years and in few
summer-stock in England. Iíve attended the biennium at the
and then Iíve started training as a cinematographer graduating at a
state course and, always in
, attending specialization classes at the Rossellini Cine-TV Institute. In
the meantime I was already working in small-budget shorts, stage
lighting, medium productions, commercials and mainstream features
alternating my first works as a director of photography and various
operating for ENG troupes with some incredibly formative gaffering and
gripping jobs, along with few production duties, having so the opportunity
to work with some great cinematographers such as Blasco Giurato, Giovanni
Cavallini, Patrizio Patrizi and, last but not least, my course teachers
Paolo Rossato and Roberto Girometti. Since 2006 Iíve completely and
definitely dedicated myself to direction of photography working steady on
short and medium-length movies, commercials, TV productions, serial and
What can you tell us about your filmwork
prior to Report 51?
Before Report 51 I directed various important commercials
on national TV stations and projected in theatres. I have directed short
movies, including the thriller-horror La Rete.
Despite one of my earlier work as a DP was a feature, it has never been
released, so Report 51
is actually my first motion picture, not only as a
cinematographer but also as a screenwriter and a fully-fledged producer.
who inspire you?
AL: In every filmmakers thereís something to learn from,
more or less, but everyone has a particular point of view, a taste in
narrative that can enrich you. So to me you must have the most openness
but, obviously, always with the proper critical sense.
Personally I like very much Alex Proyas, M. Night Shyamalan, Clint
Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Christoper Nolan and Tim Burton.
impossible to list them all. Concerning my profession, directly or
indirectly, consciously or unconsciously,
the works of James Wong Howe, Gordon Willis, Gianni Di Venanzo, Sven
Nykvist, Vittorio Storaro, Derek Vanlint, Roger Deakins, Alex Thomson,
Dean Cundey, Don Burgess, Michael Ballhaus, Wally
Pfister and Rodrigo Prieto Ė just to name a few - are continuous sources
of inspiration, motivation and improvement. In terms of directors,
apart from Hitchcock and Kubrick, the list again is very long but
definitely Robert Zemeckis, Michael Mann, Roman
Polanski, Steven Spielberg, Sidney Lumet, M. Night Shyamalan and
Christoper Nolan are among principal favourites.
Your favourite movies?
Dark City, The Dark
Knight, Signs, The Village, each for different reasons.
Vertigo, 2001: A Space Odyssey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's
Nest, Jaws, Network, The Tenant,
Thief, Back to the Future, Cast Away, The
Village, The Prestige. Again, just to name a few.
and of course, films you really deplore?
I think itís not right and fair from me to answer this question. Even
behind a bad movie thereís work and some sacrifice. And this deserves
respect anyway. I beg your pardon if I donít answer.
Canít really say if there are movies I deplore. Surely there are movies
I donít like. But itĎs a matter of personal taste. As a matter of
fact everything lacking a minimum of heart, passion, personality,
stimulus, courage and at least a good and interesting way of telling
stories by images and sounds hardly appeals me.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
AL & GT: We would like to
underline the great work did by set manager Silvano Di Murro and second
assistant director Ivan Fausti. They did a work of big responsibility
considering the climate conditions we underwent and that we were a small
troupe. A job that requires dedication, concentration and sangfroid. Often
the actors walked long distances in continuous-shots and when to
destination they were stranded and physically worn. Itís enough to
recall Lindaís recovery up a hill. Viola was in the cold, in a robe and
covered with a mock amniotic fluid. Silvano and Ivan were always ready and
vigilant, overseeing our precious castís and our own health in addition to
manage on time the set vast territory (populated not only by us humansÖ).
Finally we would like to take this opportunity to underline that we could
never have embarked in such a big and hard job without profound trust and
respect in each other and here we confirm and renew them. The passion for
cinema and the love for our job have been our drive to never give up in
the face of adversity. Never. We completely started from scratch and we
could not have ever done without our close loved ones' support and help. We
would like to take this opportunity to thank from the heart the women who
support and inspire us. Thanks Samanta (Alessioís girlfriend). Thanks
Silvia (Giulianoís wife).
for the interview!
GT & AL: Thanks to you.