Andrea De Sica • Director
by Sixtine Neulat
- Cineuropa talked to Andrea De Sica about his first feature, Children of the Night, which had its international premiere at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival
Andrea De Sica – the grandson of the great Vittorio De Sica and the son of Manuel De Sica, a musician who specialised in composing soundtracks - saw his first feature, Children of the Night [+see also:
interview: Andrea De Sica
film profile], premiered internationally at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival. This co-production between Italy and Belgium tells the story of Giulio (Vincenzo Crea), a 17-year-old boy who successfully manages to survive the solitude and harsh disciplinary environment of a boarding school for upper-class children thanks to his friendship with Edoardo (Ludovico Succio), another boarder at the school. Cineuropa met De Sica to talk about his movie.
Cineuropa: You have already made a number of short films, TV series and documentaries. When did you realise it was the right time to direct your first feature?
Andrea De Sica: I'd had this idea for a long time. As family matters a lot in Italy, I had this kind of responsibility on my shoulders, but I wanted to be well prepared enough to make my first film. The series I made was for kids, and I was working with 13-year-old children, which was an enriching experience. From there, I started thinking about making a feature-length film, but it took some time to find the producer and the financing, and to write a decent screenplay… The whole process took about four years, but that is the most common way to make your first film nowadays.
Where did you get the inspiration for Children of the Night?
It came from a guy I knew who was in a boarding school. He was mysterious, nice, elegant - a very beautiful person. But one night, he went crazy and almost killed another guy. I was so shocked and started wondering what had happened during his years at the boarding school. That’s what gave me the inspiration to delve into this world and try to see what the childhood of a future leader could possibly be like and what his path to becoming a leader was likely to be.
How did the shoot go?
It was complicated because of the kids; it was stressful because there were many roles and many different tones, and it was freezing outside because of the snow. We had to be careful to never make it too ironic or too melodramatic. But it was an amazing experience because we were completely isolated, all sleeping in the hotel [the boarding school].
How did you choose the actor for the role of Giulio?
I chose him because he fitted the character perfectly, perhaps because he is really young and comes from this kind of environment. Vicenzo Crea is actually very different to Giulio, but somewhere inside of him, he has this strength; he is able to transform from this normal, elegant, high-society guy into a villain, which was really interesting for me.
You composed the music yourself. What was the process like, and what is its role in the film?
The music sets the tone of the film. I wanted to create a thrilling, suspenseful and scary environment through the music. I think the score gives a certain coherence, a path for the audience that can lead you into the story very comfortably. When I started to write it, I didn’t even know how to write a soundtrack. But I bought a synthesiser and started playing, and after a month, I sent a demo to my producer, who was very enthusiastic, so I went further. However, I don’t know if I’ll do it again; I felt much more responsible for doing the soundtrack than directing.
Your father was also a composer and your grandfather a renowned director. Did they inspire you in any way?
My father was kind of my guru. All of my knowledge of cinema comes from him. I never knew my grandfather, but I really felt his presence ever since I was a kid. He is this kind of myth and legend everywhere I go in the world. I really love his movies; I think he is one of the world's five masters of cinema. But I never felt like I had to compare myself to him, which is maybe why I decided to make a different kind of cinema, my kind of cinema. I think the most important thing is to do it your way, to show that you have a way to do it. I developed my own style while making my short films and documentaries.
Did you have any difficulties finding funding?
It is always difficult when you begin because nobody knows you. But I was lucky because I have good producers, the co-production went well, and Vivo Film was really good. We got Eurimages on board and financing from Italy, so for a first film, it was not too difficult to find the money, and I hope that my second one will be able to get even more. However, it was a slow process - you have to be very patient, especially in Italy.