BY MAREK. Z
This Halloween sees the launch of the crowd-funding campaign for the Italian/Spanish giallo short film Deep Shock from Italian director Davide Melini and as massive fans of gialli here in the Gore Splattered Corner we could not resist the opportunity to speak to the acclaimed director exclusively about his past work and upcoming film.
Now we know what you are thinking…not another crowd-funding campaign, however this one promises to be more Haysom’s Yellow than Lane’s Invasion of the not quite dead and with a strong calling card regarding his past work, this is one project that all fans of gialli should keep an eye on and support.
GSC: Your first short film, “Amore Estremo” (2006) is somewhat of a mystery and has set a path for your future short films, what is it about the genre that appeals to you?
DM: It plays with one of our primal instincts: the fear. Studying fear in all its forms and detail is something I cannot explain. I love all film genres, but every time I start to think about a new story, the first thoughts that come to my mind are gruesome and horrible. It’s something natural and I really don’t need to force myself! The word “fear”, for me, does not mean to show as much blood as possible, but it’s something that has a lot of little nuances…
GSC: Which screenwriters and directors have influenced you the most in both your style and methods?
DM: I’m influenced by everybody and anybody. I mean, while I’m watching a movie, I analyse it from all the points of view. Watch a movie and study – this is the best school! But after that, every director has to be able to develop his style.
GSC: Your short films have received many awards and much critical acclaim, have you considered making the move to feature films?
DM: Making a feature film is the dream of my life. I think the only way to make it happen is making short films: they are my business cards. I’m a kind of guy that doesn’t like to ask favours from people. I like walking alone, on my own legs. I have to add that in the past I’ve been very close to direct my first film. In 2008, an Italian production house called me, offering me the direction of a film project. It was a film with a budget of more than 1 million Euro. The producers and I presented this project to the Italian Department in Rome, but we failed to receive the money by just a few votes (we classified as number 12 of more than 60 projects, and there was only money for the first 10). And this is the real problem! The figure of the producer has completely disappeared and today people have to go through the Cultural Departments in order to receive a grant for their film… And I can say that it’s very difficult to receive money for a horror film!
GSC: In ‘The Puzzle’ (2008) you manage to craft a number of tense scenes, how was this film born and how did you develop it??
DM: When the co-producer gave me one night for the shoot, I began to think about many stories, but it was very difficult. What could I do with so little time? I knew to do a four or five minutes film and I bet everything on rhythm. It was the only thing that interested me. I thought that if I could not tell too much with the story, I would have to rely entirely on the visual (part) and this is exactly what I did. I really like the performance of actress Cachito Noguera: she was perfect in the role! It’s a special film in my career and I have to say that I keep a very good memory of it.
GSC: At just over three times the length did you find “The Sweet Hand of the White Rose” (2010) allowed you to breathe a little more and experiment as a director while still working in the mystery genre?
DM: Yes. Working with more time has favoured me. Moreover then, I wanted to experiment with a new genre: the fantastic. ‘The Sweet Hand of the White Rose’ is a purely fantastic short film, it’s a dark fairytale, full of dramatic moments. Compared to my previous ‘The Puzzle’, this film is more gentle, less claustrophobic. If in the first one all happens in a house, in second one, I have focused on large spaces. Even the camerawork is more quiet… Two films completely different in terms of theme, style and tone, but united by one thing: the fate!
GSC: Music plays a more integral and emotive part in “The Sweet Hand of the White Rose”, how important is this aspect to you and for the genre?
DM: I always try to make the best film possible each time, and to do that I don’t have to leave anything to chance, but to study meticulously every detail. And the music, of course, is one of the fundamental parts of a movie, so it requires a very deep job, almost obsessive. I must say that Christian Valente has composed a really good soundtrack and perfectly adapted to images.
GSC: You always shoot in English, is this preference for commercial reasons or practical and will “Deep Shock” be in English or Italian?
DM: This can be a curious thing: an Italian director who lives in Spain and shoots his films in English … hahaha. Seriously, the explanation is very simple: English is the global language. My films are meant and than realised to go around the world and this is the reason why I always shoot in that language. Even “Deep Shock”, therefore, will be shot in English.
GSC: Let’s go to talk now about your new ‘giallo’ short film “Deep Shock”. What can you tell us about it and how is pre-production coming along?
DM: Oh, it’s a difficult film, which already gave me a lot of problems… A real nightmare! I really could write a book of all the negative things and the wrong people I’ve met… but it’s better to go ahead well, although slowly, and surrounded by motivated people who truly believe in the project. Recently we have closed the cast and today we are launching the crowdfunding campaign. Currently we are working in several areas (locations, photography, make up, 3D, etc)… It’s a big job, at 360°.
GSC: “Deep Shock” has a stellar cast. Could you introduce actors and their respective characters?
DM: The cast line-up include Laura Toledo (Sarah Taylor), Francesc Pagès (the psychologist Marius Silver), Paco Roma (Father Jonathan McRoberts), Estela Fernández (Caroline Taylor), Erica Prior (Helen Taylor) and Francisco Vidal (John Taylor).
GSC: Will it be a traditional ‘giallo’ or feature a combination of styles?
DM: Let’s say that it is a short film that mixes thriller atmospheres with horror cinema arguments. The goal is to recreate the magic and true intrigue from some movies from the 70s, adapting them to the technical evolution and development that this genre has experienced all along. Furthermore, the plot offers the audience the chance to feel identified and be brought to different challenges: rational vs. irrational, thriller vs. horror, life vs. death, good vs. evil… All of this taking into account characteristic elements of the ‘giallo’.
GSC: The title of this project seems inspired by Dario Argento’s “Deep Red” and Mario Bava’s “Shock”. Why these films?
DM: Because they are the most important directors of this genre. Mario Bava invented ‘giallo’ films and Dario Argento perfected the art.
GSC: Aside from “Amore Estremo”, you always have your movies dedicated to a person in concrete…
DM: This new film is dedicated to the memory of a special person, who passed away a few months ago: my mother. She will continue to live forever in my heart! This movie is for her.
GSC: What is your opinion on the contemporary Italian scene and also the relative resurgence of ‘giallo’? And has living in Spain allowed you to look at the scene from an outsider’s perspective?
DM: I think that something is moving, because there are so many good filmmakers who make very well managed horror short films. Here in Spain, there are three or four very good directors and it’s very nice to see how they work. Even in the “giallo” I see a small, but important revival! Recently, I know that some good films, shot in Dario Argento-style, have come out even from England and Argentina. This is one example that this genre, besides being famous all over the world, is always loved and it has never been forgotten. I really hope “Italian giallo” can be reborn again.
GSC: What can you tell the audience in order to promote the ‘Deep Shock’ crowdfunding fundraising campaign?
DM: While financial contributions of all sizes are much appreciated, I recognise that some people may just not have the funds. But it doesn’t mean they can’t help. You can also help by getting the word out about our campaign to your friends, colleagues and loved ones via social media platforms. If everyone is able to share this campaign with just a few people, we feel confident that we can reach many, many people that may be interested in donating to the cause. So, I invite you to spread the word! Like our Facebook page, where you can get up-to-date news on the production. You will not be disappointed by the film!!!
GSC: Today it’s October 31st, so… Happy Halloween Davide! We can’t wait to see your new movie on the big screen.
DM: Many thanks for the opportunity that you have given me to be here and happy Halloween to you and all the readers of your site.
Deep Shock promises the return of the Italian giallo and shooting will commence during the beginning of 2015 in Malaga and province (Spain) and we are very excited about this project and with a cast including Francesc Pagés (Darkness, Blancanieves), Francisco Vidal (Pan’s Labryinth) and the gorgeous Laura Toledo.
You can find out more about Deep Shock, its crowdfunding campaign and perks here.