Your new movie Christmaz
- in a few words, what is it about?
On Christmas Eve zombies arrive like unlikely gifts and a young boy shoots them by mobile
phone! For shooting, we have used the stuff that makes
ourselves perfect zombies: Smartphones and webcams!
my first co-directed full length movie, and in this way it’s a little
different from my “solo” projects! It’s a healthy dip in collaboration
with a friend, Bruno di Marcello, a beautiful experiment
of relativization of the ego, in sight of a mutual working!
Bruno: Darkness Surrounds Roberta was the first movie in which me and
Giovanni worked together, but only on the screenplay. We have directed an episode of
P.O.E. Poetry of Eerie together: Gordon
Pym. That time we decided to direct together again.
Key question of
course, what made you choose Christmas as the date of your zombie
Because it’s funny! It’s the best period of the
year, especially in
Italy, to imagine the destruction of a family, of the families!
Why a zombie movie to begin with? Is that a
genre you're at all fond of, and some of your genre favourites?
Giovanni: I graduated from University, in 1990, with a thesis about The Trilogy of the
Dead by George Romero, 800 pages, the best work I have written
in my life! I
adore zombie movies. I like “political” zombie movies like the many of
Romero, but also the athmospheric and sadistic movies by Italian directors
like Fulci [Lucio Fulci bio -
click here], Andrea Bianchi or Frank Martin. My taste in horror movies
and cinema as such stops in the
80s. I hate digital effects and fast editing! I have never made a
zombie movie before for the simple reason that it’s expensive to create all the
my favourite genre is the ghost movie, but I've seen a lot of zombie
movies because they are very fascinating to me. And we have never seen a
zombie movie at Christmas and shot like a found
footage movie too!
shot Christmaz found
footage style. So what attracted you to that method of filmmaking, and
what are the advantages and challenges filming that way?
Giovanni: I don’t like the found footage
style. It’s the most “false” idea in cinema’s history. In my
opinion it doesn’t work, I feel the falsity of which I am seeing! We
have chosen this style because we thought that it was better for our
movie: Everybody is obsessed by filming tons of shit with a cell phone,
so finally in our movie they shoot something important - their own final
hours! In our movie we don't have a cameracrew like in many found footage
but people that shoot with smart phones ... and when they become zombie,
they continue to shoot! Our choice of using found footage style was a
“philosophical” choice (and was very amusing! And the movie it’s
Bruno: I don't like found
footage, either, but filming this way it was very interesting. Looking for a
"language" to be understandable for the audience but going on
with the illusion of casual found footage... it was exhausting too, for
our body and our mind, because we are two very "classic
features quite a bit super 8 footage shot decades earlier - so what can
you tell us about that footage?
Yes, there is super 8 footage from ’82 and ’88!! Two of my old horror
movies that come from the analog world!! They were shot on film, they come directly from another world. The boys in
Christmaz found this
vintage stuff on the web, and maybe, I don’t know, maybe all this mess
and the zombie invasion are caused by this cursed old movies!! [The
original titles were: La Chiesa (The Church,
7’) and Auguri! (Best Wishes,
Bruno: It was a very risky idea, but many people whatching the movie told us "the
was the most frightening thing of the movie, the most disturbing
stars Canadian pin-up/web model Kelly Abbass, who has never been to any of
the main sets though. So what can you tell us about her, why did you
choose her to begin with, and how did you integrate her footage into your
Giovanni: Kelly Abbass is a bright goddess that I
have come to know via the web (only via the web, alas!!) in 2006 when I made my
Argento/Corbucci giallo homage Darkness Surrounds Roberta. She sang
a beautiful song with her great voice over a stunning sex scene!! We
remained in touch and finally we were able to work with her on Christmaz. She is a “nude”
model (her pictures are very sexy but also extremely sweet!!) and a great
singer in the group she formed a band called Pristine with husband's
daughter Steph Dilts. So Kelly in the movie is the good heroine, she is naked and
lustful, but also pristine!!! Her roleI is important because suddenly
with her appearance the movie changes from local movie (a typical bourgeois
family of South of Italy) to a global movie between
Italy. Her nudity will save the world!! We have shot her section talking
to her via web cam… Her husband shot her with his camera, uploaded the file
to a private page of her site, and Bruno and I controlled the shot. When
the shot was good, we downloaded it on our computer: World movie!!!
What can you tell us about the rest of your cast,
and why exactly these people?
and Bruno: The cast comes from Caserta, a little ancient town near Naples,
and from Naples itself. They are not “famous” actor, but they were
enthusiastic and very good. Some of them come from the theatre scene that in
these towns of South Italy have a great tradition! The movie was made
according to an elaborate sequence plan, and they were great to act
through their scenes greatly and quckly!! (ee have shot the movie in 12
days.) Theatre actors are able to act in long sequences and they are also able to
improvise!! And I love how
they have personalised all the human miseries of the middle class bourgeois
family: Jealousy, betrayal, alcoholism, pruderie, bigotry, racism… A
bunch of great people, they did a great job, from the young ones to the
older ones!! (Mapi Verona, Luigi Di Salvatore and Giovanni Galletto are
expert theatre actors, also Maria Teresa Verona comes from theatre;
beautiful Francesca Di Rienzo is a talented dancer; Max Oliva comes from
cinema; Anna Delli Paoli is a journalist; introducing the young and
talented actors Pietro Orlando – as the main character – Vincenzo
Casertano, Ilaria Sorbo and Nereide Terranova.) And congratulations
to our FX-zombiemaker Fabiana Furfaro: she is only 20 years and she did a
great job! And also a great job in the make up section was made by the
Beauty & Nails Academy of Napoli. Stefania Visconti also appears In the
movi , a beautiful shemale model who acts with myself in a mythical duet!!
(I act a Santa Claus zombie!!) Stefania had acted in many cult independent
movies (also with great Sebastiano Montresor) and she will be in next
ghost movie by Bruno di Marcello.
Do talk about the shoot as
such, and the on-set atmosphere?
shoot was very strange, without a traditional camera! It was a guerrilla
movie, without a moment of rest, but we made it!! All the movie was
organized by three persons: Me, Bruno and costume designer and set
designer Giovanna Vasapollo. It’s the fifth movie I have done with
Giovanna, and this means that we work well together. About the on-set
atmosphere I attach a picture: we are friendly all together and we drink a
beautiful cup of coffee! About the scenes with Kelly: A night time of beautiful and sweet work admiring her beauty and talent!
We were shooting in this empty house, many hours for the make-up of all
these zombies. I took care of the cinematography too (as I've just done for
my slasher The Terrace, ten years ago). It was the same
situation as in an old comedy of mine, Engagement Party: Many
in the same large room for ten days, acting as a middle class family... I
know well it can become a nightmare for everybody! This time the
atmosphere was good instead, probably because this is an horror one, not a
A few words about
audience and critical reception of Christmaz
and Bruno: The audience reception is always very good: They are surprised
by the vivacity of a living dead movie! And everybody loves the characters
and the use of the different media. And everybody is surprised by the
good acting of the young actors!! And of the strong presence of the adult
actors! And of the beauty of the Italian an Canadian actressess!! The critical
reception is not bad, but sometimes I feel that people are too much
intrigued with rape horror, or with stylish movie, or with videogame-derivated
movies… We hope they will understand our very different movie. It’s
a movie full of humour, but also splatter and real meat!
Any future projects you's like to share?
Bruno: I'm preparing a ghost movie with
Stefania Visconti, written with Antonio Tentori (Fulci [Lucio
Fulci bio - click here] and Argento's
screenwriter) and with the special effects by the italian master Sergio
Giovanni: I am “stationary” at the moment, after 7 movies in 10 years I need a little rest! But
anyway I’m preparing a zero budget 9 episodes movie with Stefania
Visconti called Edgar Allan P.O.V.. We have shot the first episode,
Berenice, P.O.V. style!!
got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal
education on the subject?
Giovanni: I began
to shoot in the
using my super 8 camera, and I learned to make movies on my own. My
university’s studies were only “theoretical”. I began to write
screenplays in ’95, I also won a European Script Found with a project. But it was
impossible to make the movie and so I was obliged to work in the porn
industry for 3 years writing screenplays and being assistant to the directors.
I learned a lot on those sets!! I made also a lot of documentaries, also
for the Italian television (RAI),
about Serbian people, tattoo, piercing,
heavy metal, young techno fascist dancers, the crisis in Jugoslavia, and
Bruno: I learned to organize
and making movies on set, working as assistant director and production
assistant for many years. I worked
for advertising, music videos and full length movies. My university’s
studies were only “theoretical” too. I started making movies directed by
myself with a giallo one, All Souls Day (in 2000), after two
or three shorts. Then I've worked (and still work) for television shows
like documentaries series and so on.
What can you tell us about
your filmwork prior to Christmaz?
Giovanni: In 2003
I directed my first horror movie, Nella Notte - Night’s Vampire,
produced and co-directed by hardcorne porn producer Lorenzo Onorati
(it’s not porn but a “political” splatter, Lorenzo shoot
the first 20 minutes, I made the other material). After I met Bruno di
Marcello and with him executive producing (and also producing as such) I made all my movies:
Pilgrimage (satanic horror episode for
American movie Red Midnight), and the full length Darkness
Surrounds Roberta, both produced by American actor/producer Joe Zaso; La
Canzone della Notte, musical horror noir, Embry” (episode
for Finché Morte non Vi Separi, horror movie produced by Bruno di
Marcello, a movie about the crisis of couples), and now Christmaz
co-produced and co-directed with Bruno di Marcello. With Bruno I have also
co-produced and co-directed Gordon Pym, an episode for the
Italian anthology movie P.O.E. – Poetry of Eerie, a project created by
myself and Domiziano Cristopharo (distributed in the
USA). I’m preparing a no-movie: me and my friend Stefania Visconti, one
mini dv, one light, no director of photography, no music: Edgar Allan
aside from the short films, I've directed the giallo All Souls Day (2000), with a small village
in the south of
as background. It was full of atmosphere, as I like to make movies; Engagement
Party (2002), an amusing comedy about marriage traditions in Italy (still seen in USA on Amazon)
inspired to famous theatrical comedies from Naples; the slasher The Terrace (2007), a personal homage to
1980s John Carpenter's movies,
with a group of young people besieged by a mysterious friar killer during
a summer party (still very appreciated by VOD audiences); the episode Gordon Pym co-directed with Giovanni; the episode
Premonizioni in the full length Till Death Part You. Plus,the
very amusing homage to italian giallo Darkness Surrounds Roberta, me and Giovanni have written
together. He was very passionate of those years of Italian cinema, I was very
passionate of giallo/investigation plots: the perfect (but odd) couple!
would you describe yourselves as directors?
Giovanni: Fast as
a shark!! Ah ah!! (And always very friendly with actors.) I love to work with
actors, I remember some of them: Yassmin Pucci, Iuliana Ierugan, Giada
Vadalà, Giorgio Filonzi, Maurizio Rapotec, Giulia Morgani, the American
Joe Zaso, Raine Brown, the English Eileen Daly, the Canadian Kelly Abbass,
and all the cast of Christmaz!!
Bruno: I like to work
on characters very much, and on angles to shoot too. One has to be fast on set
independent movies, so I generally prepare my work shot by shot months
before to obtain what I'm looking for, drawing a storyboard by myself
too. I generally like the "invisible" editing to give the
audience the illusion to keep part to the story without any filter.
Nothing of those things was possible in a movie like Christmaz! I was very scared!
who inspire you?
Giovanni: I like
Romero, Carpenter, De Palma, Doris Wishman, Werner Herzog, Pasolini,
obviously Lucio Fulci [Lucio Fulci bio -
click here], Mario Bava [Mario
Bava bio - click here], Andrea Bianchi and a lot of Italian
the 70s/80s. Joe D’Amato [Joe
D'Amato bio - click here], and also rather unknown directors like
Amasi Damiani, Raniero Di Giovambattista, Luigi Petrini… and Lasse Braun!!
Bruno: I'm more main stream:
Fellini at first, then Antonioni, Pietro Germi, Dino Risi, Pasolini,
Hitchcock, Spielberg, Carpenter, and essential Woody Allen. But also
Monicelli, Comencini, Corbucci, Magheriti, Bava, Fulci, the great
Scorsese, John Landis, Joe Dante, Tim Burton and a lot of others.
Your favourite movies?
Giovanni: Dawn of the
Dead, Escape from
New York, Salò, L’Aldilà, Dressed to Kill, Fata Morgana (by Herzog).
Bruno: The Fog by
Carpenter; 8 e 1/2 by Fellini;
Ed Wood, Gods
and Monsters, Crimes and Misdemeanor by Allen, Le Mani sulla
Città by Francesco Rosi with Rod Steiger.
and of course, films you really deplore?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Giovanni: All the movies by Steven Seagal,
the rape movies, and stuff like Saw. I like extreme movies, also violent
movies, but I hate bully-movies, made only for sadistic bourgeois
Bruno: All the idiot stuff. Particularly the horrible Italian comedies from '70s
like Pierino, or American stuffs like Porky's or American
Pie, and the extremely violent movies without reason
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
That’s all! Thanks a lot!!!
for the interview!