Tuesday, May 22 – Our time in Italy was short but sweet, punctuated with our sound designer Matteo and a stunt team called D-Unit. We went into the fashion capital of Milano, where we went to the only coffee place that resembled Starbucks called Arnold Coffee. Italy is the only European country that doesn’t have Starbucks, so instead they have Arnold Coffee, where they sell huge drinks and pancakes and all that crap. Like France, Italy doesn’t seem to offer “large” coffee sizes, or any sizes for that matter, but rather those tiny cups you drink at the bar, so it was a relief for two Americans to get a big drink for once.
The galleria was massive, with chairs lining the sides that cost 20 € to sit in. The whole place was a tourist trap, a gorgeous tourist trap, and we got out before the twentieth Senegalian tried to sell us another bracelet. There was the Duomo, a massive Catholic church which was like a step up from a “Cathedral”. The outside was tiled entirely with marble, which is incredible if you think about how much a marble countertop costs these days. Police and a Father were teamed up at the front door, making sure nobody desecrated the Duomo by wearing revealing clothes inside. One woman was wearing a low tanktop, and the father shook his head and cast her away. The inside was lined with gigantic paintings and confession booths, some multilingual, carved from wood. Something like the Duomo simply couldn’t be built today. America never even had these kinds of things because it just wasn’t around before 300 years ago. And it never will. So I did what any intelligent person would do and took a bunch of pictures.
Matteo talked about Apple stores in Milan. I brought it up because it’s a hip town, but I didn’t see one. Apparently the nearest Apple store is dozens of miles away, they just don’t have many of them, but when the iPad 3 came out, eager artists and students all flocked to that Apple store to buy it. A critical thinking citizen said, “But the other electronics shops all have it too, and there’s no line! Let’s go there!” and the people responded, “We want to get it in the true Apple way!” Like Americans, Italians crave an experience, however banal it may be. They also seek the prestige not just of owning an Apple product, of but associating with other Apple customers, lined up for hours with equally fanatical consumers to get the latest and coolest. Buckingham said that modern audiences don’t just want what they pay for now. It’s all about the “added experience”. Anything a company can do, be they a production company or an electronics manufacturer, to give the audience more than just a product, makes them that much more marketable. Plus, Apple doesn’t just sell a product, they sell “creativity”. If you buy Apple, you’re buying into a cool marketplace that sets you apart. If as filmmakers we can tap into that extra selling point, in the form of a “movement” on top of the film’s basic premise, it’ll really set us apart. Seems to work for Apple, even when there are almost no Apple stores.
After a lunch of mozzerella and prociutto, we passed through a castle, which was another tourist trap. We made our way to Monza to meet with Loris Rippamonti of D-Unit. There were signs for Monza everywhere, so we assumed it was close. Big mistake. We ended up on the freeway, walking for what felt like miles trying to navigate the Italian bus system. My broken Italian got us to a train, which turned out not to go to Monza anyway. Loris told us where to find a McDonald’s, where we waited for him. McDonald’s in Italy, obviously, looks nothing like a McDonald’s in Oakland. There aren’t even trash cans in the bathroom. I bought another tiny but super-strong coffee (at this point I had really started to hate these) and Loris arrived.
It felt as if I had met a long-lost brother. Loris, Mirco, and Ivan of D-Unit have been taking gigs in Italy for years, trying to break into the action scene like any of us, except of course with the added disadvantage that the independent film market in Italy is skewed toward certain films that get government funding, and D-Unit, God bless them, don’t turn to dramas and documentaries to take advantage of that. They’re action people, and Rebecca and I joined them for their stunt practice session at a big gym in Monza. Loris gave us some D-Unit shirts, we practiced tricks and taught each other new stuff that I’m excited to take back with me to SP practice, and shot a little fight scene, which I’ll post here soon along with photos.
At a pub we got a better handle on D-Unit’s situation in Italy. Apparently the Italian action film market is embarrassingly bad, and I started feeling guilty for my frequent thrashing of America’s market. Differing standards aside, they are face with an action film market that, like all the others, requires a name actor. They have the writing, directing, editing, and action, all key elements of the Action Kickback model, but they don’t have the name, which means they don’t have the complete marketing parkage, therefore they don’t have the funding. It’s the catch-22 we all know: to get a star, you need money, and to get money, you need a star. Meanwhile they all keep their day jobs and do stunt gigs, the latest of which had fallen through without their even being told. Hopefully on one of these gigs they can meet an actor who can bring them some financing, and Loris can become the Luc Besson of Italy.
We parted ways that night after they drove us back to Matteo’s. The next day was spent entirely on the train, traveling back to Cannes, where we’ll spend one more day checking out what we missed at the market and maybe catch another screening.
Check out D-Unit’s Facebook page here and their YouTube channel here. Thanks Matteo and D-Unit’s Loris, Mirco, and Ivan for introducing us to the best of Italy.
Rebecca Ahn and I are attending the Cannes film market this year in May. Production designer Ejay Ongaro is likely attending as well. Death Grip isn’t in the film festival, though. That deadline’s long since passed. Our sales agent Wonderphil will be there selling Death Grip to distributors. Here’s hoping for the best!
At the very least, we’ll get to enjoy some good French food, which is my kind of stuff.
I’m honored to be one of the candidates for Breakout Action Star in this year’s Action on Film Festival, taking place July 24-31 in Pasadena, CA. Dogs of Chinatown’s been accepted to the fest, and it’s received four nominations. They are:
Breakout Action Star – Male – Feature
Best Sound Design – Feature
Best Fight Choreography – Feature
Action Film of the Year – Feature
Additionally, the film “Sexual Tension” which hired me and Ray Carbonel to do stuntwork has received nominations for Best Action Short, Best Comedy Scene, Best Comedy – Short, Best Spoof, and Best LGBT Project. SP’s got quite a bit of representation this year!
I’ll do my best to attend the awards ceremony, but given it’s during the same weekend as Comic-Con, it’s possible I won’t make it.
(Here are two photos of me from Dogs of Chinatown, taken maybe 2 weeks apart. One’s my cool action hero pose, the other is me holding a machine gun behind my head. Jokes aside, I figure if the one on the left is too much, the one on the right should cancel it out.)
Dogs of Chinatown will be showing at the Phantasmagoria Film Festival on Sunday August 16, 2009. Tickets are £4.50 per film, £8 per Friday ticket, £20 per Saturday or Sunday ticket, and £35 per Weekend Ticket.
They kick ass, take names, and look gorgeous doing it. Steve and Stephen, a pair of renegade vigilantes, are out for justice. But when a new, orgasm inducing drug known as “booche” starts becoming an epidemic, their once quiet streets are quickly transforming into a sex-crazed wasteland. Features stunts by Eric Jacobus and Ray Carbonel of The Stunt People.
Location: Roxie Theater
3117 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103 US
When: Saturday, May 30, 12:00PM
Jose Montesinos, brains behind The Deadly Finger and The Winds of Time, was featured in an SF Weekly article regarding his Hell’s Kittens trailer. They had some great things to say, as well as posting a photo of Anne kicking me in the gut:
This is exactly what DIY filmmaking should be: crude, odd, and rough, but easy to watch and funny. Jose Montesinos seems to have Robert Rodriguez‘ innate sense of nuts-and-bolts composition and sound, John Waters‘ egalitarian potty humor, and Russ Meyer‘s love of butt-kickin’ babes. Sharp editing means the pacing is right, and sharp editing is hard work. Montesino’s Hell’s Kittens, the boner-joke–spitting little sister of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, is currently our favorite piece, but his other work — a kung fu soap opera, for one — shows that he is reliably good at making movies.
Apologies to Jose for posting this so late. I told him I’d do it months ago and completely forgot.
Thanks to our good friend Raoul, Contour will be showing at the Phantasmagoria Film Festival in the UK. Friday July 11, 2008 @ 1:30 PM
“PhantasmaGoria is the South West’s premier genre film festival showing an eclectic array of horror, fantasy, exploitation and martial arts movies.” The festival takes place at the Swindon Arts Centre July 11-13. More info at http://www.phantasma-goria.co.uk.