Locations, Italian Style

Country's 21 regions attempt to lure filmmakers

While the golden age of Italian cinema lasted roughly from the end of World War II through the mid-1970s, a new one is in full force right now in the form of regional film promotion.

Never before has such an array of financial, technical and logistical support been available to filmmakers looking to shoot in the Bel Paese. All of Italy's 21 regions offer some kind of incentive to promote shooting, with budgets on the rise in most parts of the country.

The reason is simple, according to Silvio Maselli, director of the Apulia Film Commission, located in the heel of Italy's boot-shaped peninsula and one of the up-and-coming commissions in the area.

"We are catching on that cinema is a great way to promote a region," he says.

Increasingly, the national government is getting into the act, too. The famed Cinecitta Studios, built in the 1930s and a major force in the local industry throughout the golden age, fell on hard times during the '80s as local production diminished. But Cinecitta has seen an uptick in activity related to the Italian government's tax-incentive program.

The studio reports that productions like the George Clooney vehicle "The American"; "The Tourist" with Angelina Jolie; and "Letters to Juliet" starring Amanda Seyfried are among a group of recent films that have saved a combined $10 million by taking advantage of the tax incentives, which went into effect two years ago. The incentive package, which must pass a "cultural test" as determined by the Ministry of Culture, includes tax breaks equal to a quarter of the overall production costs, up to $6.6 million. Best of all, films can be shot anywhere in Italy and be eligible for the incentives.

"It's one of the most generous programs available and it has done a lot to make Italy more attractive to filmmakers," says Carole Andre-Smith, one of the heads of Cinecitta.

Here is a rundown of what some of Italy's most prominent regional film commissions have to offer.

Apulia Film Commission
c/o Cineporto
Padiglione 180, Fiera del Levante
Lungomare Starita
70132 Bari, Italy
Tel: +39 080 975 2900
Fax: +39 080 914 7464

The Pitch: With a total budget of $2.1 million, the Apulia Film Commission awards grants of up to $193,000 for productions that shoot for at least two weeks in the region, employ at least 30% of their crew and cast from the region, and spend at least 50% more than the amount of the grant. The commission also offers promotion service and help scouting locations.

"Apulia's Cineporto concept is new, but in the space of a few months it has already helped with several casting projects, film preparations, testing and costumes for both films and cultural projects," says Silvio Maselli, director, Apulia Film Commission. "In the future, this will be even more common, with a further integration of the Cineportos in Lecce and Bari, with urban laboratories in some 160 cities throughout the region and almost anything else an aspiring filmmaker could need."

Recent productions shot in Apulia: "Loose Cannons" from Ferzan Ozpetek; "The Black Man" from Sergio Rubini; and "We Believe" from Mario Martone.

Studio facilities: none

Friuli Venezia
Giulia Film Commission
Via Milano 25
34132 Trieste, Italy
Tel: +39 040 372 0142
Fax: +39 040 372 0142

The Pitch: The Friuli Venezia Giulia Film Fund offers between $6,600 and $185,000 per production, depending on the length of time the shooting will take place in the region (ranging from one to seven weeks). Total spending in the region must be at least 150% the amount of the grant, and the majority of the shooting must take place in the region.

"Friuli Venezia Giulia offers a wide variety of beautiful locations, ranging from the beaches of the Adriatic to the mountains in Carnia and the hills of Collio Gorizia," says Federico Poillucci, president of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Film Commission. "The FVG Film Fund was created to help promote this magical region, and, in addition to financial support, it offers help in searching locations, hotel accommodations, assistance with the necessary paperwork and to liaise with institutions and local authorities, including access to an online database of skilled professionals."

Recent productions shot in Friuli Venezia Giulia: "As God Commands" from Gabriele Salvatores; "The Unknown Woman" from Giuseppe Tornatore; "The Girl From the Lake" from Andrea Molaioli.

Studio facilities: none

Lombardia Film Commission
Ufficio Comunicazione e Produzione
Corso San Gottardo, 5
20136 Milano, Italy
Tel: +39 02 894 10090
Fax: +39 02 894 22766

The Pitch: The Lombardia Film Commission offers free help scouting locations, office and production space, as well assistance in acquiring the required permits for shooting and conducting research for professional services. Financial support is decided on an ad hoc basis.

"One of the services particularly appealing in advance planning for a film is the use of digital equipment and the location of laboratories for postproduction all with the best cost-benefit ratio," says Alberto Contri, president of the Lombardia Film Commission. "The commission plans to organize a conference in late 2010 on product placement and branded entertainment, including a competition for screenplays, for short films dedicated to fashion and design and a series of workshops and seminars to help with networking between young talent and professionals."

Recent productions shot in Lombardia: "Happy Family" from Gabriele Salvatores; "Leonardo Who?" from Salvatore Nocita; "Dreamland" from Sandro Sebastiano Ravagnani.

Studio facilities: Under construction (to open by 2011)

Roma & Lazio
Film Commission
Via Caio Mario 7
00192 Roma, Italy
Tel: +39 06 3265 6778
Fax: +39 06 9799 0817

The Pitch: The Roma & Lazio Film Commission offers a maximum financial support of $660,000 for feature films and up to $265,000 for first works or "experimental" films. There is also a maximum of $330,000 available per production for production assistance.
"Why film in Rome? Rome is a natural and unique film set in an of itself," says Cristina Priarone, director of the Roma & Lazio Film Commission. "The city has glimpses of the modern and the timeless, such the ancient Roman ruins that dot the entire city. Even the Roman countryside was a protagonist in Spaghetti Westerns. The list of films made in Rome is virtually endless. The city breathes cinema since the inception of the art form and it boasts a rich human and professional element including engineers, directors of photography and designers. Despite the economic crisis, the Roma & Lazio Film Commission remains active. If you need proof just look at the numerous projects in progress from around the world that have landed in Rome."

Recent productions shot in Rome or Lazio: "When in Rome" from Mark Steven Johnson; "I Fiori di Kirkuk" from Fariborz Kamkari; "Il Prossimo Tuo" from Anne Ritta Ciccione.

Studio facilities: Famed Cinecitta Studios is the oldest studio facility in Italy and the biggest in the world outside Hollywood, and includes well-trained crews, about 30 soundstages and 300 acres of backlots. The region also offers access to various smaller television and postproduction facilities in the area.

Film Commission

Torino Piemonte
c/o Cineporto
Via Cagliari 42
10153 Torino, Italy
Tel: +39 011 237 9201
Fax: +39 011 237 9299

The Pitch: The Film Commission Torino Piemonte offers economic support of up to $106,000, depending on the scope of the production. The organization also offers services related to the scouting of locations.

"The first task of the FCTP is to support research and to identify locations, through the location manager and at the request of the film project's director, designer or organizers," says Steve della Casa, director of the Film Commission Torino Piemonte. "The second element of support provides structure for shootings at minimal cost. The FCTP can also provide financial contributions to reimburse for expenses incurred during shooting in Piedmont."

Recent productions filmed in Turin or Piemont: "Fuori classe" from Riccardo Donna; "Quando la notte" from Cristiana Comencini; and "Il sogno del Maratoneta" from Leone Pompucci
Studio facilities: The recently opened Cineporto in Turin offers 100,000 square feet of studio space.


Film Commission
Via San Gallo 25
50129 Firenze, Italy
Tel: +39 055 271 9035
Fax: +39 055 271 9027

The Pitch: The Toscana Film Commission is midway through a two-year, $11.9 million grant to promote film in the region, with about $5.3 million available during the next 12 months from the regional film fund, specifically for screenplays, films and documentaries that "promote the Tuscan identity."

"Productions that come to Tuscany can rely on a high level of professionalism within the commission," says Stefania Ippoliti, coordinator of the Cinematografiche di Fondazione Sistema Toscana. "(As well as) good relations with the cities and towns in Tuscany, the regional government and citizens, a transparent approval process, an extensive database of technical resources and local services, access to the film fund and great promotional support and collaboration for the launch of the project once it is completed."

Recent productions filmed in Tuscany: "Black Sea" from Federico Bondi; "Quantum of Solace" from Marc Forster; "Certified Copy" from Abbas Kiarostami

Studio facilities: None, but plans are in the works for the construction starting in 2011.

Film Commission
Palazzo Danzetta
Via Mazzini 21
06121 Perugia, Italy
Tel: +39 075 575 9536
Fax: +39 075 573 6828

The Pitch: The Umbria Film Commission does not have a set budget to back films financially. Instead, decisions are made on a case-by-case basis based in part on how high profile the project is, the extent to which it creates positive visibility for the region and the length of time shooting will take place in Umbria.

"Extensively equipped for shooting indoors, the Cinecitta Studios in Umbria and the Papigno Studios must also be mentioned," says Stafano Cimicchi, administrator of the Umbria Regional Tourism Promotion Agency. "It's no wonder that over the years many important filmmakers have decided to make their films in Umbria. To support the needs of film producers, the Umbria Film Commission was founded in 1999. The organization was recently merged with the Regional Tourism Promotion Agency and it offers help in all phases of production, from preparation to postproduction. Permits are provided fast, within 48 hours, and the staff can help with location scouting, press conferences and promotion."

Recent productions filmed in Umbria: "Il Sole Nero" from Krzysztof Zanussi; "Come tu mi vuoi" from Volfango de Biasi; and "Lezioni di Cioccolato" from Claudio Cupellini

Studio facilities: Cinecitta Umbria Studios in the town of Papigno includes most traditional studio services, as well as a pool designed for underwater scenes. The smaller Centro Multimediale in Terni offers basic studio services as well.