BY MAREK Z.
Sonno Profondo, the debut film of Argentinean director Luciano Onetti follows a killer, traumatised from childhood memories, who receives a mysterious envelope after murdering a woman. In Onetti’s film, the hunter soon becomes the hunted when he discovers that the envelope contains photos that show him killing the young woman and someone is out for revenge.
The Gore Splattered Corner recently caught up with Luciano to discover the process behind the film and why when many contemporary gialli look towards the art scene, he has decided to go back to the roots of the genre with a strong 1960’s and 70’s influence.
MZ: The name reminds me of Dario Argento’s ‘Non Ho Sonno’ and ‘Profondo Rosso’, was this a conscious link or just coincidence?
LO: It was really a bad coincidence because I always knew that the name Sonno Profondo would recall those film names. I thought about putting (naming) in the first instance ‘Comatose’ but that name already existed, also that name gives something very specific of the plot from the very beginning and Sonno Profondo was the best name that went with the movie. Deep Sleep is a stage or state of coma, where reality mixes with dreams. However I think that it is the best name for the movie despite the unfortunate coincidences with the Argento movies.
MZ: What can you tell us about the film?
LO: It is very difficult to describe the plot of the movie, because you’re creating the plot as you’re watching the movie until the final scene where all the ends tie up, which in the beginning may appear confusing, almost like being in a deep sleep, but basically it’s a persecution between a murderer and another, so that one feels stalked and so reciprocally and the reason I can barely explain it and should be seen is because it is a movie that if you tell beforehand the mystery is lost from the first minute.
MZ: The trailers feature a fantastic use of colour and authentic seventies style cinematography, what equipment and processes did you use? Did you record in 35mm and how important was authenticity to you?
LO: I worked a lot with the colour so it really looks like a movie of the time. Not only the colour, but also the quality of the audio, both sound and music. You would be surprised knowing the production of the film. I think that’s why I feel very happy to have achieved more than I expected. I just used a reflector (which can be used with one hand) and a HD camera and some lenses of the 70’s and certain adapters used with my digital camera. And when recording on HD, I retouched the image to remove that HD gloss to give the feeling of a movie on 35mm.
MZ: Made on a very small budget, what challenges did you face getting the film made? And how long did it take?
LO: If I have had some budget I would have bought at the top, a real film camera. Beyond the excellent filming quality, I think my choice to give that retro touch was to hide that beautiful quality that a good film camera has and mine does not.
Why I always say that I had to adapt to what I had and with that to strive even to get something good, that’s why the story of the movie is perfectly adapted to my resources, I did not need much budget to tell my story.
The most difficult shoot was in the hospital, because of the permission required and security. I did not have a filmmaker card, and here if you’re not one known it is very difficult to gain permission. That scene was filmed in less than 5 minutes, very fast and the movie was filmed more or less in 4 months, filming during weekends or whenever the camera had travelled with me and I used to improvise a lot with what I saw in real time and saw if it could be included in the movie and could be adapted quickly to my story. All of the cars from the scenes were filmed appearing because they were there. I came across with them without premeditation.
MZ: You decided to shoot the film in Italian, what prompted this decision?
LO: I think the movie could have been in any language, I think that art is universal and as it is not a movie with much dialogue, I decided to make it widely spoken in Italian. Beyond that the ancestors of my family are from Italy, in fact I have Italian citizenship and in turn I found it a challenge to do it in that language. As in music, I believe that rock (music) is English and giallo is Italian. It at least deserves that respect.
MZ: The film is relatively short at 67 minutes and with limited dialogue and characters (similar in that respect to Amer and Symphony in Blood Red), what do you think the film brings to the genre and what will fans take away from it?
LO: The finished movie lasted longer, but I cut a couple of scenes that I saw as unnecessary. Also there are only a few actors because I wanted to tell a different story in the genre, is what I think that makes it special.
In the classic movies from the giallo genre, one set of characters were the police who were solving a case. I decided to tell it from the point of view of the main characters and I think that the fans will like to go back and see something new in the genre. To achieve something personal in genre but without crossing the line, many directors believe that to differentiate or do something new is to mix several genres and then do anything. The ideal is to do something different but staying in a genre, although ideas are depleted it will always be something else to shoot.
MZ: The film has had a fantastic reception at festivals across the world, how have you found the feedback and did you expect the response?
LO: It was exciting to have been selected to participate in many international festivals. I could present my film at Sitges. I never expected anything like that to happen. I think that the good things in life happen when you do not plan them. It was weird knowing I was going to compete with big budget movies and I have spent practically nothing.
MZ: Music has always been important to the genre, what impression did it make on you when you first discovered gialli and how did it affect your decisions for Sonno Profondo?
LO: Music was something that caught my attention, because there are stages and directors. You have got classical music played with guitar chords and vocals like the Morricone style and then you have got something more Italo-disco and progressive as Goblin. It is the perfect music for this genre. I composed something different in some scenes and when I edited, I realised that the music did not match the image. Therefore I composed a musical style with influences of Morricone and Goblin
MZ: Out of interest, if you could have hired any actor from the 1970’s golden period of gialli, who would it have been and why?
LO: I think that the best acting I saw is from Giancarlo Giannini and Alexandra Delli Colli, good performances and good looking. Nowadays it is really difficult to find an actor or actress with that 70s face (if you decide to shoot a film set in that time).
MZ: When can we expect to see a European and UK release?
LO: Sonno Profondo probably will be available on DVD and VOD in Europe and North America in August!
You can read Marek’s review of Sonno Profondo here.
You can find out more about this fantastic giallo on the official website at www.sonnoprofondo.com.ar for more information on release dates and trailers.